Friday, April 24, 2009

The Chain Reaction

My family laughs at me when I'm in one of these modes. They say
I flutter like mama bird rearranging her nest. I hop about shifting
items from one room to another. Those of you who know me
personally, know I periodically shuffle my stuff, like a deck of cards.
After it's been in a certain spot for a while, it looses it's sparkle, and
gets stale; and not just because it's covered by a thick layer of dust.

This quirky domestic practice always causes a major phenomenon,
which I fondly call the "chain reaction". I move one framed picture,
and the nail holes, resembling target practice from the last chain
reaction, are annoyingly exposed. So, this means I have to be extra
creative in placing the fresh one, because I don't want to have to
paint the entire wall. Next, the picture calls for a tweaking and
replacing of books, vases and other paraphernalia to balance into a
comfortable "nest" configuration. (By the way, I've heard they're
pronounced "vases" if their worth under $100 and "vaazes" if over.
Mine are vases.)

This chain reaction can last an entire day. You are probably thinking
this sounds a bit on the OCD side, which does happen to run rampant
in my extended family, but I'm a fairly laid back kinda girl. It doesn't
happen that often. The end result gives the illusion of fresh new stuff.
I say it's a good thing; a form of recycling that makes this little Magpie
very happy. And in this economy, it's easy on the budget, too.

**The photo above is the freshly hung prints from yesterday's chain
reaction, above my desk, off the kitchen. (Notice the little side print
to hide the exposed nail holes!) It's an old drafting table rescued
in the 70's from an old school in Kansas City. It's standing height, so
I don't have to sit down every time I pop over to check my blogs.
Love it. I'm tempted to paint it black. What d'ya think?

At the end of the chain reaction, I always have an item or two left.
Heavens to murgatroyd, what AM I going to do with this guy?


  1. No, don't paint the wood. I always feel it is such a crime to cover good wood that doesn't need to be hidden. I likey the warmth. I like that kind of recycling new. It is amazing how many times you can rearrange the things you already have for a new look.

    Re: the fish

    If it winds up on my door step, I'll know my days are numbered and The Godfather has sent Harry the Hitman after me. EEeeks!

  2. Thanks for the peek.

    Polly's painting arrived today and I moved about 5 things trying to take a good photo of it. No such luck.

    And no - I don't think I'd paint it black

  3. I agree with Ronda about not covering the good wood with paint but may I suggest two things if you want it darker: 1) stain it a darker color and/or 2) use Restor-A-Finish on it (either in the same finish or darker) which works wonders for 'tired' wood.
    Love the table; looks almost Mission to me.
    Sorry, no suggestions about the fish!

  4. LOL! I'm totally familiar with this 'chain reaction' thingy - happens here at least a few times a year including the right thing to cover past chain reactions on walls! Thank god I have alot of large paintings - if you painted your fabulous desk black, it would be more comtemporary feeling - I think it would look cool, but I also agree with Ronda that this is a very nice piece as is......

  5. I like the vases/vaazes comment :O) I wish I could set up my desk in such a must be enjoyable to work in an environment like that~!


  6. You are so tidy Willow - you should see me and my mess tonight. I have thrown everything at my feet because it will no longer fit on my desk! I love your table as it is, but if the chain reaction means a paint reaction then don't interfere with the chemistry. As for the fish...heavens to murgatroyd (which means what exactly) I have no idea. xv

  7. I think rearranging is a very good thing. Especially in spring! How wonderful to get a fresh prospective.

    I love the little peek into your world. The sharpened pencils are a nice touch - do you really use them?

    You know, if you keep a bit of your wall paint on hand and a little tub of spackle, those nail holes can be covered over. (But then you might not end up with such creative wall arrangements!)

  8. Gasp! You're a clone of my wife! She rearranged the basement just last week and I have the bruises on my shins to show for it.

    Keep the desk natural, natural, natural.

    Nice fish.

  9. I vote for 'vase' all the time but then I'm English.
    Yes, shuffling stuff does give it a new glitter.
    I love the re-purposed desk.
    Leave as is.....
    The fish is so splendid he must go SOMEWHERE.....

  10. Oh, you make me laugh, and that bouquet of pencils makes me smile. Don't you dare paint the drafting desk black... no, no, no! I love those tall, slender openings on the side to hold blueprints and such.

  11. The fish goes in the mancave. When you get my age the rearranging thing slows down considerably. I'm not sure if it's mental or physical or perhaps just a practical thing; too much stuff. Do you practice feng shui? I don't, nevertheless the sharp pointed plant is a feng shui no no. Just thought you'd like to store that bit of minutia; one can never know too mch.

  12. The fish goes in the mancave. When you get my age the rearranging thing slows down considerably. I'm not sure if it's mental or physical or perhaps just a practical thing; too much stuff. Do you practice feng shui? I don't, nevertheless the sharp pointed plant is a feng shui no no. Just thought you'd like to store that bit of minutia; one can never know too mch.

  13. So the desk is not desk high but rather a walk up height? I love that and I believe the wood is fine. I wonder about a muted green (recycle) piece of glass for something different...maybe just for the summer.You are on your own for the fish! ha Love the arrangement.

  14. I have a couple of girlfriends just like you and I always check for chair placement before I sit down and presume nothing! :)

    Your photo is lovely!

  15. The fish goes in the mancave. When you get my age the rearranging thing slows down considerably. I'm not sure if it's mental or physical or perhaps just a practical thing; too much stuff. Do you practice feng shui? I don't, nevertheless the sharp pointed plant is a feng shui no no. Just thought you'd like to store that bit of minutiae.

  16. Willow I watch this "chain reaction" take place on HGTV all the time and it is fascinating!
    I'm gonna have to resort to this if I don't quit shopping!

  17. Ronda, yeah, at least it's not a horse head. Then I'd really be worried!

  18. I understand the aesthetic of the room might scream the need for a darker color wood. On the flip side you might move things around in the future and that color would make the perfect accent. I guess it's just too pretty to paint.

    I'm laughing at that fish! it's your husbands, no?

    laf. i have to agree with Vicki, i'm currently putting everything on top of my desk in bags underneath my desk. I'll force myself to dig in at the end of my semester.

    take care.

  19. Hilarywho, yes! I really use the pencils. I love keeping them sharpened with my handy dandy electric sharpener. I get in the sharpening mood every few weeks and do my pencils, then get out the knife sharpener and do those. too. Therapuetic.

  20. oh my hubby will be so happy to hear i'm NOT the only one who does this!!!
    i get bored quite easily, and start the 'shuffle' as we call it. LOL glad there's a sisterhood of slightly ocd gals out there!


  21. Donna, so my favorite snake plant is a feng shui no no?! Oh, well, I'll file down the points, teehee!

  22. Wuthering, believe it or not, the fish is mine. About ten years ago we went to a huge antique mall for my birthday. And yes, I actually chose it for my birthday gift.

  23. Chain reaction is a fun way to look at it. I just think moving objects around from time to time gives a new outlook & that this often leads to a creative burst.

    We are definitely "vase" folks!

  24. Blue Sky, yes, it's walk up height, so I can comfortably type standing up. Sort of run by and comment on blogs kinda thing. It's very convenient.

  25. I like the idea of staining the table darker. The fish reminds of of the singing one that hangs on my grandpa's wall. "Don't worry.. Be happy" it sings... :-)

  26. NO, don't paint that desk!!! Also, it is way, way too neat (where do you hide the real stuff--please don't poke me with one of your lethal pencils). Virginia Woolf wrote standing up, how's that as an omen for your book?

    As for the fish: does it sing?

  27. lol. my wife does the same thing. the kitchen gets this treatment more often than others. and wonder why i can never find anything. as for the fish...hood ornament? turn him on end and you have another vase? lol.

  28. Baste and bake him?
    (No holes in the wall!)

  29. Sounds to me like the left over items should trigger another chain reaction.

  30. I love the honey color of your desk. So rich! And it brings out the green of the lamp. I would not paint it. Oh and I love your bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils!!!

  31. Nothing better than moving stuff around. I'm due for some of that myself. You are, as always, an inspiration!

  32. In my house it is more like a nuclear reactor going off because I am decorator challenged. Stop at Ikea today & purchased these colored glass bottles which resulted in all items on the mantel to be thrown on the sofa. Rearranged them 10 times. Put the old candles by the tub. Put the purple vase on the DR table. Moved the vase again. Decided to move a painting, put it back. Husband walks in and says to call a decorator because it has no flow. So the Ikea is now in the bag waiting to be returned & all is as started. So yes I can definitely identify with your chain reaction:) Think I will stick to baking and cooking:)

  33. I'm about ready for a little of that in my house. I'm always afraid to start, because it will never end, but I guess I just have to bite the bullet and do it!

  34. when I lived in a bedsit I used to get this urge about once every eight months and everything had to be moved around at least twice until I was even remotely comfortable.

    Now I've got a whole house to mess about with it's about once in a year that I move the tables to run the vacuum cleaner over the floor.

  35. Ha! That's nothing. When my son-in-law gets restless, he rearranges the furniture. If if he really gets going, he moves whole rooms around. My poor g-kids never know when they come home which room will be theirs. Well, perhaps I'm exaggerating, but only just a little.

    and don't paint the table.

  36. Love to see your workspace - in whatever incarnation it currently presents itself. I would not paint the wood, it's a lovely colour.
    Do you have a metal bicycle sculpture to go with the fish?
    I love to shift things as well and can completely understand the 'chain reaction' concept.


    P.S. I couldn't wait - posted my favourite actors meme today.

  37. delightful result! I think you and your artistic angst is very similar to my own...and the dust!

  38. I do the same thing in my house! But I feel so much better after. I love your new print and your desk space. It's neat just like I like it! The color is really nice now, but I get into my painting moods too and wonder how something will look. Black would be pretty.

    Not sure about the fish though... : )

  39. PLEASE do not paint your lovely desk. I agree that some items look refreshed and beautiful after a paint job (loved Betsy's), but this one has so much character and charm that I wouldn't touch it. I don't even think I would stain it darker as it tends to lose the lovely details of the desk.

    Your reshuffling looks terrific - I think Mr. Pointy Plant looks quite handsome there (hope the Feng Shui gods don't come after me!)

    And, I think Sir Fish (who I would name Murgatroyd if he does not already possess a name) should reside somewhere on your lovely patio for the summer - he might get a kick out of it!

  40. Suza, Murgatroyd is a perfect name for Mr. Fish! Putting him on the patio is a great idea. (under the eve so he won't get soggy in the rain) :^)

  41. That old desk has character! It doesn't need paint. You can always freshen the finish, but I like it the way it is!

    I succumb to the "you might as well" school of redecorating -- as long as I'm doing "this," I might as well do "that."

    It gets me into trouble.


  42. oh I think it's a wonderful habit. I'm wanting to have some of that myself. Does not sound OCD at all, just refreshing. Love the pic of your desk!

  43. I know you probably won't see this because I'm number 41 on the comment list. But I am so jealous. That is such a great spot in the picture, and the fact you can stand up at it to work drives me insane. Since January when we got the puppy, I've been confined most of my day to two rooms. One of them is gthe kitchen. It's a big kitchen, but it's not really that much fun working at the counter next to the cook top on the island.

    Anyway, I totlally relate to that urge to change the suroundings. Some of mus are cursed that sway.


  44. Lordy lordy lordy. I asked my wife of 53 plus years to come out and read this post and she did. I asked her who is sounded like and she said, "YOU!"

    I do the same exact thing. But I now have a large office (since 1981) and there are only two work stations in it. Mine and Pat's. But I still move my stuff at least once a month or so. I like the new look outside that I get. I never liked to work for anybody because they wanted me to stay in one place and I didn't like that.

    I am the same way with pens. I can't use one too long. I am that way with computers. I can't use one very long. I need to get another one. Right now I got 4 and two are in the closet. One is a new iMac which I don't like.

    Anyway. It is neat to know some people do the same things.

  45. Willow, I'm staying late at work so I can pop in on all my fave bloggers.

    Your desk area looks so fresh and airy. I love the bouquet of freshly sharpened "You've Got Mail." Whenever I move pictures in my living room I have the same problem with covering the old nail holes. I've had some pretty creative picture arrangements. It's fun because it makes us step out of the box. I'll have to think about painting the desk...I probably would like it either way. As to the fish....I vote for mancave as well.

  46. My mom does the same thing and I used to laugh at I do it too. I love your workspace!
    Is that fish a yellowtail?

  47. Nowadays they call what you're doing "staging". They have a couple of shows on HGTV devoted to this! And my, but you are NEAT!!
    Fishy could go to a Pisces pal!

  48. I'm with Ronda on not painting the desk. I love its mellowness. The fish -- hmm. Haven't you anyone you'd like to send it to anonymously? Preferably someone who doesn't read your blog -- if there are any such benighted souls out there.

  49. Lovely new arrangement and great table. I once moved my bed. Rearranged my bedroom, you see. My boyfriend entered the room without turning on the light and flopped onto the the spot it used to be. Klunk. Luckily he wasnt hurt and had a good sense of humour.

  50. Noooo don't paint it. Lovely just as it is. I do the same thing, usually starts with cleaning out the bathroom cupboard and leads to an entire closet cleanout. We just moved all our couches from one room into another and swapped them over . .looks like a new house! As for the fish ..please tell me it doesn't 'talk'!

  51. Now I know I've seen that fish recently. Did you by chance lease him out to McDonalds? "Give me back that filet o' fish ... "

  52. You could make fish prints! I was in a shop the other day that sold them. They paint the fish and print on paper with it. Then the print is embellished to taste (no pun intended.)

    My daughter used to rearrange my furniture for me while I was at work. I usually like the result.

    Love the memory of Snagglepuss!

  53. i'm so loving the green lamp...charming little companion

  54. I think everyone likes to 'fluff their nest' now and again! And it does run in the extended family...I even call it by the same name! It's true how your eye gets bored and you don't even notice the things around you. Changing it all up freshens everything...even your outlook!

  55. I love the desk as is,wood is so warm and inviting.

    Here in Australia, we only ever say Vaazes, Dahling! Even if they are only $9.95. :D

  56. Looks so cozy and sunny. I have been wanting to get to my desk this week. What a mess! Don't think I'd paint the desk. Good luck with your fish!

  57. I vote for not painting the desk--it's great! I was going to paint mine, and trust me, I'm fine sometimes with painting wood, but you should definitely leave that one as is. I'm glad I didn't paint mine upstairs. I think the recycling is a wonderful thing--we do that periodically, and it just makes things look interesting all over again in a new place. Your chain reaction was a huge success, it seems. As for that fish--hilarious--I say hold onto it in a safe place, and you may find just the spot in the next chain reaction!

  58. ps
    Way to go, Derrick! I just saw his lovely poem accompanying your beautiful photo!

  59. Hi Willow...just stopping by after reading your blog for a while...thoroughly enjoy it!! The desk would look nice black...but I much prefer the has such a lovely warmth to it. Will be back to see what you decide. Have a great weekend ♥x

  60. Since you asked: I'm usually for painting anything black, but not this time. Stain the desk a slightly darker shade if you must.

    I love the idea of a walk-up desk. That would free up one more chair for all my clutter. (Obviously, my apartment is not as tidy and organized as your place is.)

    And I suppose it's too late to cook and eat the fish? I love seafood, but even I have my limits.

  61. My mum is exactly like that! Always arranging and re-arranging! Never understood why she likes that...I guess some things just...are lol

    Take care
    Peace and love

  62. Yes like you I also take part in a chain reaction ever month or so...and ditto re something always being left over!

  63. Not to worry about OCD, dear. We all suffer from it a little bit. And I have found it to be a good companion. But just.

    Your desk looks very tidy. I wish mine at work was the same! Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  64. As for the fish, do you have a nice attic per chance? :)

    I've always relied on moving every year or two for that necessary dusting and re-shuffling. Now that I am approaching the third year of actually living in one house I may have to do my own chain reaction.

  65. Shopping the house is the best kind of fun. It always brings out my creativity to work with what's on hand in new ways.

    I wouldn't paint the desk black--the original finish is part of its charm.

    As for the fish, I say hide it away til the holidays, then display it with a Christmas ornament in its mouth . . . for a new take on roast pig with apple?

  66. My wife would definitely approve of your shuffling and reshuffling. I approve so long as I don't have to go and do likewise.

  67. You know me and the color black,I'm always ready to take the risk and paint, but when I first gazed at the pic, it was such classy (organized)look, that I think the black would adds an organic look that is best left piece BTW...and the fish is sooooo me, even if coming out of a flower pot, he/she will add that bit of mystery about this crazed decorator.

    I'm also applying the 'domino effect' to my workspace as we speak...luv it!

  68. I totally forgot to tell you that standing up with a computer is something I have always wanted to do but so far the tables we bought and the desks we have had don't go up that high. I used to have a really nice Italian Drawing table that I donated to our school because I wasn't using it, and it would go that high. Now I wish I still had it. But that was in the days before computers were around.

    Living in such a wonderful place, that is so different from where I have lived, you might enjoy a look at The Hamlet of Gordon, Ohio. It is where I was born and raised and it is how small hamlets used to be and this one still exists.

    The Hamlet of Gordon

  69. Hello Willow,

    I have a little picture rearranging to do this weekend and I know what you mean about nail holes!

    Looks like you can't paint the table!! As for the fish, there must be someone you'd like to frighten with it?!

  70. Very funny post, Willow! :-) I do understand your chain reaction as I easily get tired of seeing things on the same places for a long time.

  71. I'm with the majority on this one: leave the wood alone. It's beautiful as it is; painting over such nice wood should be a crime.

  72. Love the green lamp! It's a great feeling to have a fresh corner to go to. Happy Friday, Willow :)

  73. Hang him in the shower - he looks a little dry. Vases or vaazes are called shards when they hit the tile floor. Have a great weekend. Pappy

  74. I am intimately familiar with this "chain reaction" phenomena, being a frequent practicer of it myself!

  75. Oh please don't paint it black! Such beautiful character there and love the history of the piece! Love your blog by the way have just been reading the last couple of weeks.

  76. O DO NOT paint it, It is wondeful
    I am a mover too!

  77. Just a come back...

    My namesake got me started in genealogy and I went from day one all the way down to my family. Lots of it was done for me by people smarter than I am since the whole world is/was interested in my cousin, the president and did the genealogy on him and the clan to see, I suppose, how they fit -- if they fit.

    Glad you liked The Hamlet of Gordon. I have some big plans for it and am already getting some interest from newspapers. Imagine that.

  78. Response to Willow...

    Who are your relatives? That's where my whole family came from on my dad's side. I might know some of them or can steer you to a place where you can find out.

    You can get my email address from my profile. Oh my gosh. Wouldn't it be something if we are related!

  79. Abe, well I sure would love to find out that I was connected to both Abe Lincolns! I'll email you my stuff and we'll compare notes.

  80. It's Spring ... . it's nesting time:
    who cares if it's a bit OCD?
    There's nothing like a fresh fluff!


  81. My husband can tell you all about the chain reaction. He even knows when it is going to happen before it happens because he catches me standing in the middle of a room, with a certain look in my eye.

    But you shame me with your desk. I have not seen mine in quite awhile.

    The studio, which is on the third floor, doesn't get a lot of cleaning. I rush back from assignments, throw photos into folders, and notepads, printed assignment sheets, and tear sheets all over the place. When I am done uploading photos to the newspaper, I don't want to be in the room.

    I guess I need to stay awhile and do some cleaning. Even my desktop is a mess; about 500 photos in 30 folders that need filing.

    Like that fish. Is that dinner?

  82. like Mick Jagger said..."Paint it Black....."

    great post and a great idea for changing things around... and you know what I think about change...


  83. I do the same thing. Freshening up, I say.

    The fish? Ummm - your husband's study?

  84. No, please don't paint the wood on the desk. Just use lemon oil on it to keep the wood fresh. Natural wood has a beauty of its own.

  85. Well dear, mine are all under $100 (except for a very old Wedgewood Jasperware piece), but we English always call them vaazes not vases! Just like garidges not garaages!

    It's such fun to rearrange isn't it? Doesn't cost anything, and certainly gives new life to ones old bits and bobs! There are even poeple who will come into the home and do it for you, at a price. Don't think I'd like that, prefer to play around myself and tap into my own creativity.

    Off to England tonight - can't wait to be back in the land of those vaazes!!!

    Hope all is well dear.

  86. Talk about fluttering! I actually cleaned out my walk in closet the other day for the first time in years! Seven bags of way cool clothing went to The Salvation Army yesterday. What a relief!



  87. Hi! Willow,
    I agree with Ronda, don't paint the wood...happen if you want to sell (H)eaven forbid!) the desk one day and the first thing out the appraiser, mouth value reduced because of the coat of paint. Otherwise, what a very beautiful desk!...I really like the ("niche")work space that you have "carved" out for yourself. Very nice, clean, warmy and the beautiful touches.(Victoria lamp, a very nice painting, etc, etc, etc...)

    Thanks, for sharing,
    Deedee ;-D

  88. You are a composer. How wonderful is that?

  89. I Too Had A Chain-Reaction this Morning!I woke Up.Shuffled all my pillows + went back to sleep again!I'm a Lazy Bloke!
    Have A Fine weekend

  90. For goodness' sake,
    Put that fish in your son's room. He's in college. He won't mind!

  91. We HAVE to get together someday. We'd drive the people around us crazy!

  92. I'm you 91st comment, I hope you read me :-) I just love your mug with dozens of sharpened pencils. I love pencils, and when i see a bunch of them I feel there is an invitation to write. The green lamp is awesome!

  93. I haven't had a chain reaction like that since having baby number three. Before kids I had them all the time, as crazy as it sounds I miss them. It gives the house a great feel afterwards.

    I love your little blogging space. It's so cozy. I personally like painting wood. It such a cost effective way of getting a "new" piece. Good luck, deciding.

  94. So that's where it all happens!

    (Nooooo.... don't paint the wood. Everything looks just perfect the way it is. )

  95. My oh my... 96 comments! Will you ever be able to read them all?

    Don't paint the drafting table... the green lamp looks gorgeous on it. The old vs. the new (computer monitor/keyboard). I love the contrast. Painting it black might take away the character that you so love in it.

    Oh and I definitely understand the switching of things. I may be about to start on the very same journey in my little writing area.

    It's lovely!

  96. Oh and the fish, I had a fish mounted that I caught... he finally had to go to neverland, but he was fun while I had it. I painted the base Chinese red & hung it over the sink in my kitchen for years!!!

  97. I am all too familiar with that chain reaction. If moving a picture causes a chain reaction, you shoud have been here to see what adding a new chair to the room does!

  98. Seeing your pencils in the container, points up, reminds me of my own container of point-side-up pencils, only yellow #2's allowed, and they MUST BE SHARP. It is good to know that there are other people out there who operate in the same fashion. I don't move things around as often as you do I don't think. My husband is always commenting on things being in a new place but I like the feel of it too. It makes things feel fresh. I'd say paint the wood black because I think it would change that too but then it is so much harder to go back. Not quite as easy as hanging a picture over a nail hole. Much more permanent (or at least much more work when time to change again.)

  99. THAT IS NOT YOUR DESK! You're at a furniture store, right? Awesome. I will not blog until I clean mine May be at it a week. oh woe.

  100. I LOVE that space! Envious!

    I'm calling it my Willow-ness: the obsessive rearrangement of my home.

    :) Sarah

  101. i'm loving your pencil bouquet, a la "you've got mail". hee hee


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)