Creating space

My summer seems to have gotten away from me again: in a week, I’m back at work for the school year, with some new responsibilities, so I’m in “Argh, get life in order now!” mode.

I spent Friday at our local IKEA, picking up various items to help with that, which leads to my post today.

Background:

One of the things my covenmate asked me, back when I sent her the Role of the HPS post, what I thought the role was in regard to the covenstead: is it automatically the place where the HPS lives. I have some philosophical thoughts about that I’m still trying to sort out into words other people might understand, but I do know the practical thing it kicked off for me: a desire for my home to be a place where I can say “Sure, come right over, I’ll be here.” A place I can host (small) group ritual in. A place I can teach in. A place I can have friends – or group members – over and be hospitable.

There’s just one trick.

I live in a tiny little house – 400 square feet, the size of a studio apartment, though it’s divided a little differently. There are many things I like about it.

  • It’s the amount of space I actually need for me and the cat.
  • I can clean it thoroughly in about 2 hours, if I have to.
  • It’s far more private than an apartment – there’s at least 15-20 feet between me and the next building.
  • It requires me to think very carefully about how I live, and what I bring into my home.
  • It fits my budget, and a larger space wouldn’t right now.

But there are also challenges. Now that I’ve lived here for a year, I have a much better sense of what they are, and which ones I really care about dealing with.

Some of them are just about the space: the tiny house dates from the mid-50s, and has at various times had tenants who did not take as good care of it as might be hoped. Plus, there’s an elderly gas stove and heater (they work fine, but they are not elegant or shiny or new.) There’s some cosmetic damage to the kitchen floor, a few places where the front room floor is splintering slightly (easy to throw a rug over), and so on. My landlady is aimable about fix-up work I want to do, like painting the bathroom, but money is a limit (on both sides!)

There’s also some limits for group work. My front room is about 8×11 feet, and has 3 bookshelves in it. It will fit 6-8 people, we think, if people are friendly about it (it requires a little moving around during circle casting, etc.) which is around the limit of what we want for the group anyway.

However, to do this, everything in there except the shelves have to be moveable. And yet, I need to make sure there’s enough seating that 6-8 people could potentially sit around and chat and eat after ritual. there’s still a question of seating.

(I should note here: L and I are rotating who hosts ritual: she has somewhat more space, and substantially more outside space. On the other hand, doing things at her place means affecting her partner’s schedule. He’s very amiable about it, but at the same time, we want to keep things balanced.)

Some solutions:

As of this weekend, I have two hard kitchen chairs, a computer chair, and a stepstool that people can sit on. The idea is that these would be easy to move around, but more comfortable seating for conversations and teaching. I also have plans for more floor pillows (something the cat approves of.)

The last thing I want is one or two ottoman footstools (padded, but square and portable) that can be used for seating, and otherwise live in the corner. I’m also considering 2-3 TV trays that can be used for portable tables (or quarter altar space) but I’m still considering where I’d store them.

So, what happens for ritual?

  • The harp is moved into the bedroom alcove, along with any other furniture we’re not planning on using.
  • The computer gets moved from the desk (in the front room) to my dresser (in the alcove). It’s an iMac, so this is fortunately pretty easy.
  • The low bookshelf in the west (usually my personal altar space) is cleared, and used as the west quarter altar.
  • I just got a set of narrow shelves that live by the computer desk (used for the east altar)
  • A flat-bottomed chair and a stool get used for north and south altars, respectively.
  • The desk can also be used to eat around after ritual, with a little planning.

The only part of this that is particularly tedious is moving the computer (and even that is only about a 5 minute process).

There is one other thing I’m considering, which is creating fabric drapes to go over the tall bookshelves, so that people do not need to look at my book selections during ritual. (I’m thinking that light but opaque fabric held on with strips of velcro would do nicely, and other people have suggested that this should work, but I have not yet gone fabric shopping or put them together.)

Inside my head:

But there’s also what it means for my own habits: it means training myself to put things back neatly on visible shelves. On keeping the books down to what *can* be shelved. On keeping on top of dishes and other such things (so that not only are they not distracting, but we have dishes to eat out of afterwards!) The rest of my week is getting devoted to doing a chunk of this and getting things lined up so that I can maintain them when I go back to work.

I grew up with a mother who was very particular about house-cleaning – and I was *not* naturally neat as a child. Naturally organised, yes: I knew where in a pile of stuff things were. But not tidy.

I’ve been learning tidy as an adult (and am currently in a weird place where I strongly prefer things to be tidy, but don’t quite have the habits ingrained to keep them that way even when I’m tired/out late/got lots of other demands. I’m working on it.) I intend to talk somewhat more about this at some point, but some of it is complicated by chronic medical foo (asthma can affect cleaning for me, and as of yesterday, we appear to be having late-summer pollen allergies kicking in: traditionally my worst season. This means I’ve got less energy to spare, and it takes me longer to get moving in the morning.)

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