Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Showdown at Big Deck

It turned out that the armoire which launched the great citywide shopping spree for furniture did not actually fit up the stairs. I wasn’t there at the time of delivery but Robert assures me that the turning radius on the first landing was only a hair to narrow. At the time he had discussed disassembling the piece but was thankfully talked out of it.

The logical solution would be, of course, to exchange the armoire for a smaller one. But that’s not how we roll up at Big Deck. No siree, Bob. Not by a long shot. The only clear and rational course of action is to take out part of the stairwell. Yep, ‘cause exchanging the thing doesn’t make a lick of sense. The plan is that the contractor who built the home will be there on the day of the re-delivery and he will remove, in a controlled demolition, whatever section of wall that gets in the way. We do have three empty bedroom closets upstairs by the way. But since the dresser that we have yet to purchase and likely would make it up to the second floor is destined to be inside the large closet of the master bedroom, the master bedroom will have no closet space. So, of course, the room needs an armoire; and a big one at that. See how that works.
Another little snag occurred with our brand new furnishings, Robert doesn’t like the color of the dining room table and chairs that we purchased from the Emporium. The set was actually made to order, but there was some mix-up and antique cream white intended for the base and legs was understood to be blond. The store has graciously offered to refinish everything. And here, again, one might be tempted to think that the course of action is pretty straightforward. Have them pick it up, refinish it and bring it back, right? Again, that’s just not how we roll out at Big Deck. We’re homesteaders after all. Robert wants to do the work and has ingratiated himself upon the store’s owner to teach him how to do so. They’ve agreed.
Initially I was not as supportive as I could have been, “Hell, no!”, but I soon gave way to the gleam in Robert’s eye as he ignored me entirely and talked excitedly at the prospect of being a craftsman. My reaction can be traced to childhood memories of my parent’s own failed attempts at FIY. There was the perfectly good kitchen table that my mother decided to re-varnish only to have the clear coat at the centre of the tabletop pit and bubble. For my sister and me, picking at it and peeling flecks up with our finger nails became as addictive as popping bubble wrap. Risking the ire of our mother we stealthily chipped away at every opportunity. Then there was the time my father had decided to oil all the moving parts of the faucet in the main bathroom of our brand new home. Free of any resistance the pressure of the flowing water was all that was needed to open the taps up wider and wider. To compound this self-inflicted problem the hot and cold taps didn’t unscrew at an equal pace. Hot lead the charge. Once initialized, say to wash your face, the process rapidly drove itself to an angry jet of scalding water gushing out of the faucet and burrowing down the drain. I had not known that my father had oiled the taps and therefore this new and seemingly unexplainable phenomenon had spooked the crap out of me. It had been quite a while before I had asked anyone in the family if they had been having a similar experience. I had been afraid they would say no.

But then what then what is the purpose of Big Deck if not for Robert to express his creative side… far, far, away from our home in the city. He has my blessing.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ménage à trois and the chunky brass doorknocker.

A few decisions have been made about our place in the country. First, Robert would like to give it a name. Second, he fully galvanized into action on the decorating style of our home; French Provincial meets eighteenth century Americana meets ‘homestead’. This ménage à trois motif was arrived at thanks to an armoire, the single piece that Robert had set out to purchase one day for the bedroom. His search took him to a few Ottawa shops and had inspired a frenzied spree to fill our home.

When the dust settled arrangements had been made for the delivery truck. Its first pick up would be from Yardley’s Antiques on Bank Street, and the final pick up would be from the Emporium on Main Street. Stuffed, the truck would then waddle off to our little casa in the Gatineau Hills by Rivière Blanche.
Among the more interesting pieces were a neon Labatt’s Blue Beer sign with an accompanying Canadian Maple Leaf that says, “GO ORANGE” (which I assume is rooting for a sports team as opposed to the fruit), and a beat up New York Mets pennant, both of which have found a home in our main floor powder room. Being unfortunately oversized, it has become a sort of in catch-all that, but for the sink and toilet, might be otherwise referred to as shed.
Also within the confines of this room is a rather substantial Moroccan door knocker, which was given to Robert during our recent trip to New York. It is a dividend payment of sorts for Robert’s investment years ago in “Rick’s Cafe” in Casablanca, which an old friend of his who was living in Tokyo at the same time in the 70’s/80’s created, when she was with the U.S. Department of Commerce drumming up trade for America. She loved it and decided to build the one thing Casablanca didn’t have ... Rick’s Cafe.  Somehow a chunky brass doorknocker seems to work alongside the Labatt’s Blue Beer sign, and until we find a more suitable place there it shall remain.

Robert has also decided that he would like a huge wrap-around porch, so he took the logs of the three dead birch trees we had to get cut down and made an enormous outline on the lawn, which framed the house. This was done last Thursday while waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting ...... for the delivery truck to arrive down the steep hill of our dirt road, with the armoire, beer sign, two American/Provençal wing chairs, a Pennsylvania Dutch hutch to be used as a wine rack, six 19th century ‘Arkansas-hills/Quaker-inspired’ fan-back chairs and an accompanying round, hand-hewn, pine dining table.  
After spending Canada Day in the city to watch the fireworks from the 22nd floor of the Westin Hotel, we packed up the Jeep and headed off to the country. When we arrived, Robert first gave me a tour of the new furnishings, ironically, minus the armoire as it had been too big to get up the stairs, and then took me outside to show me his log template.
Then  we sat on the front veranda in our new grey/powder green rocking chairs, made with twisted and turned twigs – you know the kind, but these are curiously attractive -  and marvelled at how nicely things had come together. It was during this discussion that I became inspired and offered my suggestion for the name of our homestead, Big Deck. To my surprise this was not met with a warm reception. Hey, it’s not bragging if it’s true.

Robert’s thinking more in the line of Tara...(the main house in ‘Gone with the Wind’)