Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Fault in Our Stairs

There are so many perks to owning or renting an older home in St. Louis: the charm, the neighborhoods, the older trees, the unique floor plans and architecture.

However, there are a few things inherent to the older homes that are problematic at best, the closets and the staircases.

I have been on the lookout for a wardrobe, since my home has one closet; I found one last weekend. After asking around, I got my friend to agree to help me transport it. We were two girls with a truck and the open road limited only by our upper body strength.

As it turns out that was a pretty great limitation. We got the furniture in the truck, back to my place, and on the porch. I suggested we stop there because my staircase is scary steep. But my friend decided we shouldn't give up before trying.

Tried we did.

First pulling, then scooting and lifting stair by stair. At a certain point, I thought we would very likely win a Darwin award for this effort. "What will I say to Steve if I let Natalie get smushed by a wardrobe before the wedding?" I kept thinking. But it made it up to the landing and there we came to a crossroads. Definitely we make a good team and I credit our communication prowess more than any brute strength.

With a lot of older homes, as I said before, the stairs are problematic. One case has a 360 degree turn from bottom to top. The other has a 90 degree angle and right at this bend we had to stop.

Brainstorming, wiggling, leveraging didn't work. After about 20 minutes we had 2 very viable ideas on how to get the wardrobe up the last 4 steps, but we also agreed we lacked the arm power.

And here it sat.
And sat.
And sat.
And sat.

I've imagined many grim and cartoonish scenarios about it sliding back down the stairs, possibly killing me or my cat, and most certainly smashing everything so if I am not killed I will have to pay for the damages to the home.

I have done extensive cat jumping simulations to test it's precariousness. And it has passed, while the fear has remained. I felt better leaving the house after adding a counter balance Because if there's one thing Autumn has taught me, it's that everything's better with pumpkin on it.

And here it will continue to sit until more friends, of the male gender, come and to help me.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Where Do You Go with Your Artist's Heart?

Tonight I got the very wonderful experience of going to an enchanting studio space in Shaw neighborhood.
First of all, if you are not from St. Louis, you likely now have heard about Shaw neighborhood, the recent violence, protests, vigils and Ferguson October. This story, this coverage, this light shone on our prejudices and hate of my beloved city is heart rending.
And when my heart is rent, I need to condition it and coax it back into being whole.

This need for nurturing led me back to the Shaw neighborhood. [Isn't this how so many things go? You go to the painful place to help heal?] I lived on Shaw, worked at the corner of Tower Grove and McCree, dog sat near the corner of Klemm. For four wonderful years, this was home.

Here I was, at the place I had scouted out months ago not knowing what would be inside. I loved the outside sign, font, and name. If there is a such thing, I had shop window love at first sight, I had it. The only other time that has happened was when I saw Winslow's Home going in. And boy was I ever right about that place. And I was right again.

As it happens this window and once empty space I became smitten with while commuting to work turns out to be an artists studio. Union Studio has several artists' work and wares on display, while also providing them with place a to work. I happened to be there after learning about an open studio night. Show up and make things in this gorgeous space? Yes, please.

I met two of the artists, Mary Beth and Leah and after a little chatting was put to work--exactly what I needed. There was a cooked fiber(I don't recall the name, but it's not indigenous of North America) in a pot that one of the artists, Leah, showed me how to pull apart, reform, and flatten into a shape. She seemed concerned and apologetic for using me in this way. How do you tell a virtual stranger, "I can't control or shape anything else in life, let me have this thing?" Slow, methodical, tactile, this helps free my mind and spirit.

I kept at it for 2 hours. And we talked the sort of talk that you have when you're making, about St. Louis, the art scene here versus Kansas City, our backgrounds, the history of paper making, the art in the room and the stories behind the pieces. I'm not exaggerating when I say everything in Union Studio is art: soap, scarves, paper, the table, etc. Even the wet fibers  the ugly semi sticky masses I was mashing together, flattening into discs will turn into something translucent and beautiful.

It was a relief. To come out of the dark into a bright and inviting space to talk and to learn and to try. I recommend, if not here, that you try this "making" with your friends or find an artists guild and meet them.

Oh and guess what? I'm back to writing again. Surprise.