Following Your Heart in Designing: When the Angels Sing
I have a very good friend who fascinates us every year with the story of his annual holiday trudge out into the fields looking for the perfect Christmas tree. Here's the catch. When he looks at it, the skies part and the Angels have to sing. Then he knows it's the right tree. Given his inclination to go to at least 6 tree lots and 3 barren, snow drifted fields a year before selecting this tree (much to the dismay of his wife and child) it is apparent that the Angels don't sing all that often. We tease him mercilessly, but, I have to admit, yesterday I had an Angels moment. It got me to thinking about how we must follow our (or the Angels) intuition in design or we risk mediocrity.
As you know, Derek, Lizzie and I have been restoring the century old farm that we recently bought, Hemlock Lane at Valley High. While it would have been nice to tackle the interior of the house first, we have a responsibility to all of our furry, four footed friends, small and large, to have them in proper accommodations. And, truthfully, it makes taking care of them so much easier!! While this winter was not exactly the perfect weather to build a 3,500 square foot barn, we persevered (a lot like the pioneers) through -30 degree days, frozen foundations heaving and raging blizzards. Fortunately we are over the hump, and the barn and kennels are coming along. We should have everyone tucked in within the month.
Yesterday, Builder Bob, who, in his great defense has lived through over ten years of home and barn renovations with me, showed up with a paver in his hand. Bob was a little grumpy when he said to me, "If you don't pick the product we are using to pave the center aisle of the barn in the next hour (and have it delivered, today, I might add), I am selecting the surface." Well, there's nothing that I love more than a design challenge, especially under pressure. And, while Builder Bob's paver was all right - that is all it was, average and all right. So, I jumped in the car and went over to a little landscaper place where I have had good luck before with surface stones. And they had lots of very interesting things to use on the center aisle that all would have done the trick. But throughout this project, Derek and I have been managing a carefully balanced wire act of what can we do and what materials can we use that are beautiful, innovative, different and, above all, don't break the bank. I had $4.00 a square foot to play with and now, a half hour to find it.
As he was leading me through the stone yard pointing to this and that, the foreman casually said, "Well - there is one other thing - you could always have that..." pointing to a rubble pile of the most gorgeous used brick pavers. As I turned and looked at them, the cloudy skies parted and the angels sang. I suddenly knew what our friend had been trying to tell me all along about those trees. I gulped and played it cool when I asked, "Where are those coming from?" "Indiana brick roads" he casually answered. "They are reclaimed." Could this deal get any better? They are environmentally friendly. They were in my price range. And, he could deliver them the same day. Builder Bob was never going to believe this one- he thought he had finally gotten me. But, a triumph was about to happen!
I raced home, and Builder Bob and Derek met me at the back of the car. I raised the trunk and there was one of my precious bricks. I knew I had Derek at the words "reclaimed road brick" but Builder Bob was another story. "Bricks?!" he said. Are they on pallets, are they clean? "They are gong to be much harder to work with..." He gave me the long, not blinking stare, during which I was supposed to see the light and agree to something more reasonable. But I didn't. I just told him the angels sang. Lucky for me, Builder Bob is such a softy. I had half an aisle paved in reclaimed road bricks by 6 pm last evening. And, if I do say so myself, the angels are still singing everytime I look at it. Those are some lucky Percheron girls!!