I just quit my day job.

Gosh, doesn’t that look all “leap into the void”ish? But no, not really. See, I sew for a living, and I still sew for a living (well ok, I sew for a pittance, really, but it makes me feel like I’m contributing if I say ‘for a living’), but I’ve just told my theatre group that I won’t be their “house costumer” any more.

I have been dithering and waffling and whining about this for ages. I love costuming, it’s fun, it’s always different, there’s always some kind of crazy challenge and problem to solve… but I put too much work into the shows for not enough return, and I can’t bring myself to cut all the corners that could and perhaps should be cut. So I love it, but I’m tired of being tired, I’m tired of spending 10-12 hours a day in an unheated studio all winter, I’m tired of missing two seasons out of every year – I’m not tired of never cleaning the house, but I am tired of the house being dirty!

Designing for the stage is very different than designing a single outfit or even a set, and sewing for the stage means pretty things that just aren’t always quite as pretty when you get up close. Like those Dorian dresses. On the one hand, they’re really cool. On the other hand, what I want to do is make “real” dresses like that, not “period cut/modern finishing” sturdy cotton knock-offs. It’s all part of the jonesing for quality, I feel like I’ve got nothing to be proud of as a seamstress when all I ever get to do are “fakes”. I know that on some levels that is a ridiculous way to feel, and I am proud of my work in its own context… but as a historical costumer I can do more/better, and not doing so irks me.

Not that I expect recreationists to be beating down my door or anything, I’m sure I’ll be doing nothing but quilted satin and crazy stuff like that coat. But that was fun and challenging too, and didn’t eat my life! (Plus it was the wimpiest resignation ever, and they will still hire me to do stuff – I really just arranged it so that I can say “no”.)

Life. I like my life. We’ve been out here for four years and I am still pleasantly surprised every day to find how much I like my life. I mean, I wasn’t kidding with that Laura Ingalls crack a couple of entries ago, I’ve always known that I could live like this, but finding out how much I enjoy doing it, how I’m just freakin’ happy to be getting up in the morning… it’s like being a kid again, a kid in summer vacation. Even the things that you have to do are kind of “fun”.

And just at this moment there is compounded awesomeness going on… some of it is still “imminently awesome”, and I’m not 100% sure it will all work out, so I can’t tell you about those parts yet. (Because I’m superstitious.) But here are few awesome things (non fibre related, as Emily guessed) that are already happening/have happened. I’ll start small, but they get big pretty quick:

Raven put the carriage lights up in the upstairs bathroom. That hole in the wall over the mirror was where the old fixture was – one of those bars of bulbs like in a dressing room, only they were huge round bulbs and the bar was wooden instead of chrome. (Because I guess if it’s wooden it somehow looks classy and antique in a big old house? I dunno.) I hated that stupid bar of too much yellow light. It was ugly, it was a waste of hydro, it didn’t go with either what we’re doing to the poor house, or what anyone else had done in the past. So we got these lamps, which are supposed to go outdoors, but what has that got to do with anything? I was still a little nervous about it, but now I’m not, they look great. Granted, the above picture does not show them to their best effect – and obviously I am still in the process of painting that wall. I had to stop because Raven was going to need to cut holes in it to install the lights, of course.

See, that’s what’s happening to the wall. In purple, eventually. So I am confident that they’re going to blend in quite well. (Yes, I’m just gratuitously showing you my walls. I like my walls, they make me happy too. See? Just like a kid. Wanna see a picture I drew? Like that.)

Ok, next piece of awesomeness-in-progress. This one and the third are maybe about the same calibre, but I have pictures of this, so it goes first.

This is our bog. As in “john”, as in toilet, as in we haven’t had indoor plumbing since christmas, and it hadn’t been working well since the previous September. I will not go into details about the arrangements that have been made, but let’s just say that the return to a simple lifestyle has been taken further in the past few months than most people are entirely comfortable with. So, Raven is constructing this do-it-yourself composting toilet system, otherwise known as a “tree bog”. Inside the box is a big hole in the ground. The box itself only really exists to a) hide the pipe outlet b) vent the hole and c) be lockable, just in case. We know people with children now, y’know?) Around the box will be a willow hedge, which will both conceal the box and – well, recycle – the contents.

Outside the box, comfortably ensconced in the bathroom just like a real toilet, will be a chair with a fancy hole in it. I’m painting the chair now, it’s salvage from someone’s dining room set. And the rest is up to gravity! (Well, gravity and a little water from the charming pitcher I will provide in case gravity requires some assistance.) See, even that sounds kind of fun, don’t you think? Water from a charming pitcher? Ok, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, you might not want to live here, but you’d visit me, right?

EDIT – If you want more information on this ‘bog’ and how it’s put together, there’s a page about it here, which I will be updating as we run and debug (not too many actual bugs, I hope!) the system.

That hen in the bog picture is Brat the Erstwhile House Hen – she was being a diva, so I took a couple of pictures just of her:

They have perfectly nice nesting boxes, you know. Full of soft litter, all dark and safe…

Whatever. On to the third Awesome Thing of which I have no picture (yet): Last night we bought a wood boiler! We are going to have heat!

Let me slide that into context for those of you who haven’t been to my house, since you vastly outnumber those who have – I live in Ontario. Which is in Canada. Now, there are many places in Canada much colder than southern Ontario, and I assure you that in February I am mostly glad I don’t live in them. It is quite sufficiently cold right where we are. Which is in a field, in Canada. With no heat. We have a charming little franklin stove, which really outdoes itself in trying to raise the ambient temperature – in December we can sometimes get the room where the stove is up to 70 degrees F. In January/February we’re lucky if we can hit 60, beside the stove, and it takes all day to do it. Mostly in Winter it is 45 degrees when I wake up, and 55 all day. The kitchen – and it is a great kitchen – becomes The Room You Don’t Go In, because it is (ironically) the furthest from the fire and also the least well insulated. I chip ice off the dog’s water in the mornings.

(I feel the need to insert here that for me this is still “fun”. Cold, damp, and sometimes painful, but “fun”.)

Every year, the plumbing (which was crap to begin with) freezes, and we have no water for however long it takes to get it going again. This year we were about two months with water running to one tap, and it kept trying to freeze. Meanwhile, poor Raven has to crawl under the house and shout bad words at the pipes until they work again. That part is not ‘fun’. So this year, the toilets will not freeze because they will be completely off that system, and soon we will actually have heat! I don’t expect that the boiler will be running this year, because there is still quite a lot of piping to do, and there are other jobs higher on the list of Must Be Done. But it exists, and if not this year then next year, we will have heated floors.


Ok, one more picture, so there’s at least some fibre in this post: Remember that white fibre from Emily? Boiled it in the leftover walnut dye yesterday: