Creativity Can Be Messy

Creativity can be messy. If you don’t believe me, you probably kept your crayons in perfect condition when you were a kid, organized by color in a box that  nobody ever stepped on and crushed. Go away. I hate you.

I exhibited a creative bent early in life when I took up sculpting with strained carrots. I soon switched to mashed potatoes which I liked better because of their tactile qualities. I made a Devils Tower years before Richard Dreyfus. With gravy. They retired finger paints for the year after I had my way with them in Kindergarten. And they are still trying to scrub the chalk off the sidewalks of the neighborhood where I grew up.

As I got older I became proficiently messy in several media. Some examples:

I spilled a quart of melted wax (during my candle making phase) onto the kitchen floor. My mother kept her composure and within a month, my father built me a workbench in the basement so I could move my operations down there. I never learned what she had to do in order to get my father, a world class procrastinator, to act so quickly. I’m sure it’s better that way.

I got spray paint on the (brick) front steps of our house. My father was so upset he had an out of body experience right there in the driveway. The neighbors were amazed.

I dripped oil paint on the wood floor in my bedroom. This time my mother suffered a fit of apoplexy but we cleaned her up and got her into bed before the neighbors caught on.

As an adult, I got the prize for the messiest person in the pottery studio. My overalls were so caked with clay that if I went out for coffee, people would stop me and try to give me money

Then there is the Jackson Pollack washer.

OK, I am trying to reform. But they say that the darkest hour is always before the dawn, and I am living proof of that. Which brings me to the heart of this week’s post.

I have always wanted hardwood floors in my house, mostly because of my allergies. And now, after 22 years in my little house, I have taken the plunge and the work is in progress as I write. But things are not going swimmingly. My house is the reason. It probably dates to the 1840’s and has been rehabbed, renovated, sanded and expanded over the years. This means that there isn’t one thing in the house that’s straight. The upstairs hallway meanders like a river. The floor in my bedroom has hills and valleys. The bathtub leans to the left; the doorways are wider at the top than the bottom, and the ceilings meet the walls in random places which makes planning for floor to ceiling bookcases rather challenging. Everything is wopperjawed. Kittywompus.. You get the idea.

I have known Robin, the person I hired to install the floors for maybe thirty years. And he is creative. First, he is a photographer and a poet (a good one) in carpenter’s clothing and secondly, he has had to be an extremely innovative carpenter in order to make the hardwood happy on my floor. No, this is definitely not a job for a technician. Robin could very well be to floors what Michelangelo is to ceilings. (If you saw The Agony and the Ecstasy, you know that painting the Sistine chapel was messy too.) It’s all going slowly because Robin must come up with creative solutions to coax the wood into looking like it was laid straight in a tract house and not in a fakakta South Philly house. So as the work slowly proceeds, my house is a mess. But there is a silver lining here: any housework I do at this stage of the job won’t matter. All I can do is move the dirt around. So I am off housework duty (save kitchen and bathroom) for the time being.

Here are some pictures of how things look.

Wood piled in the living room.

Debris piled high in the dining room

The meandering hallway half finished

Plumpton sleeping on Robin’s tool bag

 Plumpton is holding up well even though he has to eat in the basement for the time being.  He is an adaptable Puss.

The lesson for me  is that a hardwood floor is not quickly laid in a crooked house.  If Robin is still speaking to me after the floor is in, we’ll see how crooked things are in the kitchen.