Hibernation held me deep in it's warm arms through January. Sleeping in every morning and going to bed early. (Recovering from a long and fun year.) In late January it was time to turn 50. A few days after that was over, I got up one morning and shook the grog from my head. There was enough work to do preparing for visitors in March and the spring workshops starting in April. More than enough work to do. In fact.... way too much work.
Ignoring the realities of limited hours in a day, three construction projects erupted at one time.
The old clay storehouse that sits beside the house had a load of rotten tatamis stacked behind it and all kinds of old wood and junk that was stacked neatly but with no real future. Yucky place. Ignored for twenty years.
It took only a few hours to clear it all away. I sat with a sketchbook and drafting paper for a few days to figure out what could be done in that dead space.
The indigo vats sit as guardians at the front door. They have been there twenty years. I've been solitarily scrubbing indigo off the stones and concrete and walls and glass late at night after all the dyeing fun is over and everyone is asleep or gone home. And cleaning up the kitchen after a mad day dyeing in there. It was time to put it all together in one easy-to-clean area.
That old 70s ramshackle kitchen was likeable. Patched together from all sorts of odds and ends. But the counter was too low. The whole room was beyond ramshackle and fast approaching falling apart. With the help of the towns two best carpenters (Sadly, these old time carpenters are disappearing.) it was rebuilt. I had some very old zelkova pillars from a torn down farmhouse I took to the local sawmill and cut and planed and then put together some drawers. I re-used the countertop and sink, used local wood to have shelves made. The carpenters are perfectionists and it was tough to be on the ball with all the drafting. They were critical of how heavy the drawers and windows I made are. (Not to mention my pathetic attempt at glass tiling in the kitchen.) But they were always helpful with advice and curious to all the design quirks insisted on. Japanese tend to leave everything to experts and not get involved with building except to choose the wallpaper etc. Keeping them happy with coffee and cake while refusing to make decisions until the last minute and changing horses in midstream a few times I managed to get my way. I gave Eros Nakazato an old milk can and asks him to make a hood for the range. As always, he went overboard. Coolest fan hood on the planet. Thank you Eros.
I wanted one at the house for myself and friends and guests. It is almost finished. I made the tub from Sawara Cypress at the local small sawmill. (The owner lets me use the planers and saws as I am endlessly buying wood from him.) As soon as the tiles are on the wall and the stone laid on the floor we can all soak away our stiff backs after a day at the indigo vats. Conspicuous consumption...a little embarrassing. (The bath will help to get over the discomfort of it all.)
It is almost all finished. The first workshop was a success. Spring has arrived. Life is good.