Cardboard Forts & Blankets over Chairs

29 Sep

You do not want me designing your house.

Any house I designed would no doubt blow over in the first gust of wind because it was made of cardboard and tape. My characters, however, have no choice. If I say, “Live under a rock,” they’ll live under a rock, by gum. And so I spent my morning developing a rock floor plan for one of the major houses in my story.

It’s very important I do so, you see, because, um, otherwise… Okay, it’s not important. But it was fun.

It just occurred to me this morning that I was viewing this house like a theatrical set. I knew exactly what was on three sides. The fourth, apparently, consisted of my gigantic eyeballs peering through the diorama’s window*. Maybe someday there will be an actual audience of readers there. But I still want to construct that fourth wall.

Last year, I scoured Google Images and sites about Victorian homes to compile a turreted Queen Anne mansion suitable for my family of eccentrics. Between my research and a liberal dose of cut and paste in Photoshop, I wound up with something darn near perfect. Now I’m on the hunt for a two-story craftsman home. I found a great site that shows Sears home plans from the first half of the twentieth century. It’s a lot of fun to look at. It also made me realize that the fourth wall wasn’t my only problem.

I see this house slightly differently in each version of my novel.

It’s not such a big problem because, as I said, this isn’t important, just fun. And no one else will ever know that in my main WIP, the basement stairs are by the front wall and in my NaNo novel, they’re closer to the kitchen, but it still bothers me.  I see these scenes so vividly. To rearrange the rooms seems wrong. An atrocity! (The horror…)

So there’s another opportunity for procrastination later on because my control-freak brain will not let this rest. It was hard enough to admit that just because I imagined the basement studio in a certain position, it simply could not exist entirely outside the house’s boundaries the way Pirates of the Caribbean resides under what used to be Disneyland’s parking lot. This house is on a smallish lot in north Berkeley.


In other news, it’s Wednesday. And why is that news? Because Wednesdays are nerve wracking. I keep getting calls from the school.

First, my youngest learned the hard way what happens to the first kid down the slide on a misty morning, so I had to bring the humiliated creature a change of clothing.

The next week, he decided to hold an impromptu demonstration of his stubbornness talent, and so I got the call to come and end the dramatic performance. When I arrived, the principal was standing guard while my youngest clung to the backpack hooks with all his might and wailed, “I just wanted to learn something, and I didn’t learn anything!” The principal said my youngest wouldn’t go with him, and he couldn’t pick up kids and haul them off, so it was my turn. Youngest climbed into my arms sobbing while I wondered how many kids actually get sent home for the day from kindergarten. Ugh.

Last week, I think we had a break. I forget. But today, not only did my youngest fall off a tricycle before school even started, I once again saw the school’s number on the caller ID around mid-morning. I believe I shouted, “No!”

So far, everything’s been about my youngest, so it never occurred to me that it was about my eldest until the voice started saying that she was from the health office, and they’d had the eldest there. My brain immediately zapped back to last week when I saw an ambulance go screaming into the school lot, and how I freaked out for at least an hour until I was sure the school wouldn’t call me. My eldest has a peanut allergy, and so every day is scary because of it. Anyway, flash to today and the nurse saying they’d had him in the health office. Terror. Why the past tense? Was he in an ambulance now?

Turns out he’d just bonked his head on a pole as he was walking with his teacher, so she’d sent him in for some ice. The nurse said he held it for a few moments then begged to go back to recess. Thus the past tense. I kind of wonder if she was confused by the way I laughed at the end of the call. I just liked the happy ending.

And now it’s siesta time for everyone.


*Just realized not everyone made the same kind of dioramas in school as I did. We’d take a shoebox, poke an eyehole or window in one of the short ends, then fill the box with our 3D scene. We also had to cut a rectangle in the lid and cover it with some kind of translucent paper, like a skylight. I was obsessed with those things — wound up making a bunch of them at home just for fun. I might even have one socked away somewhere.

2 Responses to “Cardboard Forts & Blankets over Chairs”

  1. Your thither October 1, 2010 at 21:45 #

    Ummm… I think you must come visit me asap so we can set about making dioramas and caramel apples. Why caramel apples? Because we will have leftover crafty things such as popsicle sticks after our diorama making. PLUS, as it is fall up here (wearing long sleeves and closed all the windows!) it’s a perfect time to melt caramel and put it on fresh-from-the-farmer’s-market honeycrisp apples. 😀

    • Caroline October 2, 2010 at 08:27 #

      Yeah! And I’m dying for tall boots and cardigans weather. 🙂

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