Monday, July 28, 2008

Day 14/365 We Never Have Company...Can You Tell?

This is where I spent most of my day - my office - and people wonder why I don't get things done. I would love to say this was an exceptionally messy day - that normally my desk is tidy and well-organized, the floor is picked up, the bookshelves are not triple-stacked, and the stool is cleared off for a visitor to sit on - but that's all wishful thinking. It always looks this way - usually worse.

I am actually in the process of packing things up so I can get to the wall that is straight
in the center of this picture (and in back of the bookcase with the bright red book -in case you are wondering, it's a biography of Bonnie Prince Charlie of Scotland - that is one of my two Scotland bookcases.)

The game plan is to clear things away from that wall, paint it a little-darker-than celery green, then build bookshelves from ceiling to floor, from one end of the wall to the other, framing the window. We badly need bookshelves (obviously), and the wall of books will also insulate the room in the winter. Right now there is a cool breeze that blows through in the winter, meaning I have a small heater under my desk and wear gloves while I list.

This is one of the drawbacks to living in one of those old historic houses. We have old historic drafts that blow through our un-insulated historic walls. In the summer, the quaint little rooms double as sauna boxes, meaning we have a complex arrangment of floor fans placed to blow the breeze from the air conditioner through the various doorways. On the other hand, the walls are the old plaster - the kind that was mixed with horsehair and then spread about 1/2" thick on wooden lathe - meaning each wall - inside and out - has the paint layers, 1/2" of plaster, another 1/2" of wooden lathe, then 8" of dead air, then another 1/2" of lathe, then 1/2" wooden clapboard, and, in our case, newer siding over the original clapboard.

That wall construction means that even on days like today - July days in Virginia with the temperature in the 90s - the house will stay dark and cool until about 3 pm. In the winter,
we can turn the heat up in the morning to take the chill out downstairs, and once it's heated, turn the heat back down, and the house will hold its heat until bedtime. At night, we can cut the heat down to 50 and the upstairs stays comfortable.

To the left of the picture, behind my chair, is a large double window that looks out onto the wide front porch. We did have benches and tables out on the porch but last summer one of the benches became home to a huge hornets nest, so this winter it was sprayed and removed. We ended up taking all the furniture off the porch - it looks very "Southern porchy" with the furniture, but the truth is the porch faces directly south, and when it's 90 degrees everywhere else, it's 120 on that porch. We prefer the swing garden in the back with the fountains - more private and probably 30 degrees cooler.

After my office wall gets bookshelves, the next wall up is in the livingroom, then another wall in the TV room, followed by the landing walls upstairs. They're all getting floor to ceiling bookcases. And finally - maybe- I'll be caught up with the books, and everything will be clean, organized, and look like a grownup's house.


  1. Okay, tomorrow's photo will probably be of my office --- maybe. If I get the courage.

  2. Loved the explanation of the walls - and the idea of insulating with books.

  3. That's neater than I have seen your office, Carole;) Sounds like you guys are busy as usual! We are back. Mostly unpacked and most of the mail gone through. Now I am doing some computer stuff...need to go to the store. It's not as bad as I was afraid it was going to be here though;)


    About freaking time.