Friday, November 25, 2016

My Woman Cave

     In the 1990s, there deeloped a kind of place the theoretical need for which arose in prehistoric times. This no doubt is where it's almost universal name came from. That place is called The Man Cave. The idea of its necessity dates back to Cave Man times. Men think that since those beginning times, a man has had a need of a place where he can get away from his woman, his female family members, or even from any females of the species all together.  Today in this space, a man can do what he wants, keep whatever he wants, watch or listen to whatever he wants on TV or in music. He can keep his hobby items and the things he loves such as his beer can collection, or his guns, or all his electronic items, or even his car and mechanic tools. And he need not worry about keeping this area neat, or about leaving empty beer cans around or even yesterday's dirty dishes there. He can welcome his friends there or not -- his choice. Other members of the family and especially his wife must respect this space and not interrupt him there unless it is an emergency --  a truly life threatening emergency. The name of this space -- Man Cave -- reflects the view that such an exclusionary space has been necessary since Cave Man times. But the need in recorded history first appeared in the late 20th century. No doubt, its necessity is contributed to by so called Women's Liberation, the feminist movement. Supposedly we women first asked men to become more sensitive. When a lot of men did their best to move in this direction, women asked them to be more manly. Various other demands led men to wonder exactly what women want of them. Out of this frustration, grew the idea of a place in the home where the man could retreat from their woman's demands, and be segregated, and allowed to do whatever he wanted to do.

       The Man Cave certainly is a common occurrence. It can vary from just a corner of a room with a recliner and TV set to a den, or a portion of the garage or an entire basement space. Just Google "Man Cave" images and you will see how elaborate such a space can be. Here are some fancy ones from the Internet. Some were posted on Pinterest and others on various blogs. These photos were intended to serve as idea sources for the Man who really wants his Cave.


     Of course, the theory behind having a Man Cave is that the entire rest of the house is the woman's domain which she rules. Traditionally she takes responsibility for decorating the rest of the house, for maintaining its neatness and orderliness. This remainder of the house regularly includes spaces where she does most of her housework -- the kitchen, the laundry, the mud room, the bedrooms where she makes the beds and cleans; the bathrooms which all family members use and she takes the responsibility for keeping them clean, the living room which she maintains in a presentable order so that guests can be shown an orderly household. She may have a corner of the couple's bedroom, or a space that she can do crafting, or a corner of the living room where she can read. But usually these spaces do not carry the exclusivity that the Man Cave owns. If Mom is needed,  even sitting on the toilet in the bathroom is not off limits. The children and maybe even the husband can approach the door of the bathroom and make whatever demands they feel necessary at that specific time.

      From this description one can discern that these women's spaces in the home are different than the Man Cave. First of all, many of these spaces are where the homemaker does a lot of her work in maintaining the household. Even a woman who works outside the home is still responsible for the cooking, the laundry, the cleaning. If she doesn't do it herself, she is the one who hires, supervises, and pays someone else to do it. And if a woman does indeed have a space that she calls her own, it is usually not exclusive. Young children, adolescents and even the husband/father will approach this woman in her own space and demand a problem solution immediately.

     A woman who maintains the household, raises the children, often works outside the home has just as much need for her own exclusive space as the man. Although the woman may require a slight difference in her space. She usually wants it peaceful, pleasant, perhaps with space and storage to do the things she loves to do with her leisure. It may include the need for quiet, relaxing music, exercise, or crafting.

       So I googled "Woman Cave" and found likewise many images of spaces that have been created in the home for a woman to retreat and do her thing. I especially like some of the names for this space: In addition to Woman Cave, there is girl cave, she shed, diva den, babe cave, or even bitch cave.

     Within the last year, my husband and I have worked to clean out our basement. This is a very large space that stretches under the entire house. It was never finished. And over the 20 years that we have lived here, it had collected a huge amount of detritus. There was a huge amount of left over building supplies from when we built the house -- extra boxes of tiles, carpeting, wooden molding, paint, and various plumbing and electrical fixtures. Also we had moved some "stuff" from the old home and placed it down in the basement. We had torn down a house where we built this house and there were even kitchen cabinets which were new in that house we tore down. We had saved some of those items. We had tax records for our own personal tax accounts as well as rental and income tax records that pertained to the 20 apartment units we owned and managed, dating back almost 20 years. There were also light bulbs, garbage disposals, tools and other items needed to maintain those apartment units. On top of all this stuff a light coating of dust and dirt had settled. What a mess. Slowly, slowly I worked to get through all this stuff, decide what we needed to keep and what needed to be tossed. Slowly we worked our way through all those records and tossed what we no longer needed. Some had to be taken to be professionally shredded for privacy sake. After cleaning a lot of this stuff out, we hired two fellows to paint the cement block basement walls. After some further weeding through things and some degree of organization down there, we then hired the same two fellows to paint the basement floor. They had to do it in two sessions moving around the stuff we wanted to keep, from unpainted end to the painted end. Once that was done, I spent some more time organizing what was left.

       What I created was a space of my own. I haven't decided whether I want to call it my crone cave, or my bitch basement. I need this space because my husband is somewhat autocratic and he basically rules the upper part of the house. He even tries to tell me how to load the dishwasher. And if I do load it, he always moves things around to follow his own rules. He has control of the great room TV and  if he wants to watch sports or something else I am not interested in, I have to watch an old one in my bedroom. I do have a reading chair in my bedroom, but there is no exclusivity. And there is not room to spread out any creative projects that I might have going on now as a retired woman.

       Sooooo...... I created my Bitch Basement. I moved some bookcases that were down there but never utilized. They now effectively divide the basement into two sections. The back section has all those building supplies organized in one place either on shelves, or where appropriate in boxes labeled with what is inside. There are also storage shelves which my husband put up when we first moved here but now there is less stuff on them and they are more organized. In the other section opening immediately as you descend the stairs, I have created my space. I resurrected my two fish tanks which were sitting around empty. I now have a 45 gallon African cichlid tank up and running. And I have a 30 gallon freshwater angel tank. I moved the old kitchen counter with its raised counter over in front of the wine cellar where it can serve as a wine bar. I took all my art books down there and placed them in order onto the shelves facing into the room.. And I hauled my large drawing table and easel down there, set up a table with my art media, and set up lighting to enable me to do my art projects. I mounted some of my previous art works on a wooden wall to the workroom that is adjacent to this section of the basement. Now I can go down there and sip a wine, watch my fish, or work on a watercolor, pastel, or acrylic painting. I can utilize the cleared off counter in the workroom for any more crafty or mechanical project as well. It is exclusive because my poor husband has a bad knee and doesn't go down there anymore unless absolutely necessary for some household needs. Voila Crone Cave, up and running. The basement is not really finished. The rafters, the plumbing and the wiring is all still visible in the ceiling, but it is clean and organized. I love it.

        Here are some photos.
My 45 gallon African cichlid tank.

Various cichlids: from left to right: giraffe cichlid, 3 acei cichlids, red zebra, kenyi cichlid in upper right.

The hungry hordes getting fed at the surface. Left to right: red zebra, acei cichlid, and bumble bee cichlid to the right top.

My little art studio area.

Head on view of my drawing table/easel. Media are placed on side table.

My 30 gallon angelfish tank, which is a community tank with a mated pair of angelfish.

My 30 gallon fish tank: two German blue rams flanking corydoras resting on the bottom.

Petricola catfish on left, a corydora on right, and albino plecostomus in doorway of decorative house.

Big triple spot gourami, head on.
The gourami broad side.
The big male angelfish.
Female angelfish.

One of my three corydoras in the 30 gallon tank.

The albino bristlenose plecostomus.

This big male angel is not allowed in the 30 gallon tank. The mated pair immediately attack him. So he resides in
a 10 gallon aquarium by himself.

The spread of my various attempts at artwork. An overview.

The first of my art pieces.

My first attempt at acrylic painting. This a beach at the Grand Turk, in the Caribbean. Painted it on a cruise.

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