Above it all

From about April until the first lifestyle guru plants black pansies into a sugar pie pumpkin, shelter magazines, your local paper, and gardening publications of all kinds will bludgeon you with How to Create an Outdoor Room, and How to Blur the Boundaries Between Indoors and Out.  I don’t know about your boundaries, but I keep mine (commonly referred to as ‘windows’)  blurry by having lots of sticky hand and faceprints at seven-year-old height.  While I have no real insight into the design secrets of the style

Bistro table and chairs. Tables are excellent horizontal surfaces upon which to place knicknacks, tchotchkes, or bric-a-brac.

mavens (or their assignment editors) who craft these evergreen pieces, I DO have garden secrets. The worst-kept

Sweet Million tomatoes and a “Beach Craft.” Drill holes through driftwood and shells and string on a cord. Children love doing this, and it’s pretty, too.

secret of these is my clearing.  After all, despite property restrictions and the possibility (at least to the minds of some) that I might be breaking the rules, I write about the clearing pretty regularly here, where it will become a kind of electronic petroglyph that will live forever on the internets, along with the sexscapades of various pseudo-celebrities and that one picture of you from college that you keep telling your friends not to post but somehow keeps coming back.  My best kept garden secret is my deck.

My house is tall.  Imposingly tall.  It is not abnormally large in terms of square footage, but volumetrically…it suits my wife and I, as we are both well over six feet tall.  We can easily go like this (windmills arms around, does jumping jacks, runs in circle like hyper dog) without bumping into each other or breaking anything.  It’s nice.  There is a level-entry main floor with a nice high ceiling; above that is where our bedrooms are, with extra-high ceilings also.   Above that there is a ‘half -floor,’ which we call the loft and which functions as TV room, craft and play area, and the worldwide headquarters of my wife’s Facebook page an

Why is mommy asleep in just her underpants?”

office.  Essentially, it’s a basement, but it’s waaay up there.  And off the office there is a deck.

Our home is contemporary with a heaping helping of rustic, and the outdoors is just to the civilized side of deep forest.  But the loft deck…equal parts treehouse and fire escape, it is where I decided we needed to be a little sleeker.  I got the overscaled chaise lounges at season’s end closeout from West Elm right as we moved in, and stored them in their shipping packaging until last summer.  They are perfect because we are overscaled, too, and we have a matching bistro table and chairs.  I got two outdoor rugs from someplace like ‘Outdoor Rugs and More Outdor Rugs Ect.’ whose asianglish internet syntax made me slightly concerned about the transaction, but they were cheap and synthetic, and haven’t molded or anything. I take them into the garage in fall, dry them a couple days, and then vacuum and shrinkwrap them for storage. The side tables, from CB2, are

Tomatoes, some type of gigantic blueberry, and a columnar apple; Northern Spire, I think. Sugar snap peas are over.

inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to store out of season.  Cafe lights, colorful pillows, citronella candles, a wall sculpture and a ‘beach craft’ my daughter and I made complete the picture.

This is the only part of our property where we receive all-day sun.  We grow four kinds of tomatoes, two kinds of blueberries, and have a pair of columnar apple trees, all out of reach of marauding nature.* Up here at about forty-five or fifty feet off the ground, we are at eye-level with our midsize trees and have the perfect little patch of

A trio of tomatoes, looking reasonably happy despite the long, wet spring and the stillborn summer. Crossing my fingers against too much (more) rain on the leaves….

privacy in the sky.  I could take a nap and get all lobstery, for instance; my wife likes to get a little sun on her baunch, that important tanning region where butt and haunch meet, free of the prying eyes of creepy neighbors and horny Sasquatches.  If only I could get the apples to fruit, I might have a going concern up here.

I can’t tell you How to Create an Outdoor Room, as I don’t have a staff or an estate, nor am I a ‘designer;’ I can only show you where I have an Outdoor Room, and suggest that you could have one also, should you choose to put some type of outdoor furnishings outdoors somewhere.  I plan my next discussion on seasonally reliable design-related topics sometime after Holiday Season 2012, wherein I will teach you How to Bring the Outdoors In, which is what I call tracking mud into my foyer.

I may have to apologize to my friend Mary at Black Walnut Dispatch , whom I find shares my disdain for the hoary cliches of garden design.  After some thought on the subject, I decided that we can both jab the same cliches. Plus, I wanted to use my photos and I had already written this.  Thanks to Corene and Candace, for defining “baunch.”

*Crop Update: the tomato plants are bearing fruit, and we have been able to harvest and consume a number of cherry-type tomatoes and one full-size heirloom so far.  One blueberry bush was heavy-bearing of delicious fruits; Success! The other bore none whatsoever and needs to say goodbye to you now.

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9 Responses to Above it all

  1. Hey, the design world needs WAY more mocking, in my opinion, so join right in. I love your line about the smudgy windows being your blurry line….I have the same issue only most of my smudges are on our french doors at the level of my yellow lab’s giant, wet nose. Oh, and your Outdoor Room is simply divine, daaaahling. Thanks for the tip about the giant chaise lounge…we are in the market for one of those right now as my husband’s feet dangle waaay off the end of our current chaise.

    Great post!

    • calvincaley says:

      You are generous and delightful as always. Lab nose on the window I get, but I can’t remember why the kid face has to go on the window right after the kid hands, and no explanation is forthcoming from the current child. My other oversize chaise ‘hot tip:’ Since we have no place to store ours, we bought covers for them. Measure your lounges before acquiring covers. Wish I had. Right now is a great time to order outdoor stuff from catalogues, as a lot of it is going on sale now but stock is still on hand. See you around our funny pages!

  2. Deirdre says:

    Very nice. Is that design on the floor the aforementioned rugs or built in?
    My chickens prevent me from growing edibles on my deck, but that was my choice.

    • calvincaley says:

      Thanks! That is the outdoor rugs–they are made from some type of poly material, I have seen them made out of recycled soda bottles and these are similar, if not the same. The edibles on the deck are a nice lifestyle improvement, and our belated summer has been just warm enough to work. Chickens would be fun (+work) but would only wind up predator chow at my house.

  3. croftgarden says:

    How tall? Are we in Sasquatch country? Love the idea of an extra long chaise.

    • calvincaley says:

      About seven and a half feet long (sorry, my metric system knowledge got left behind in the U.S.’ ill-fated push to change over back in the ’70’s)…we DO live in Sasquatch country, at least most sightings were in my general neck of the woods twenty- or thirty years ago. Sasquatch seems to have moved on though, and for some reason most sightings seem to be centered in Oklahoma or thereabouts. I keep expecting to see the Hairy Man of the Forest, however…maybe that is now ME.

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