In Need of Iron and Fizz

Really, all appearances to the contrary...I'm not...

Really, honest, I don’t try to be a Drama Queen. It just happens.

A friend just posted an appropriate passage from Tom Robbins’s novel Jitterbug Perfume. A young Indian woman, Kudra, has developed a passion for scents (and the mixing thereof) only to find herself arranged to marry a rope maker. Robbins writes the following which resonates loudly with me:

Rope. The Gods have a great sense of humor, don’t they? If you lack the iron and the fizz to take control of your own life, if you insist on leaving your fate to the gods, then the gods will repay your weakness by having a grin or two at your expense. Should you fail to pilot you own ship, don’t be surprised at what inappropriate port you find yourself docked. The dull and prosaic will be granted adventures that will dice their central nervous systems like an onion, romantic dreamers will end up in the rope yard. You may protest that it is too much to ask of an uneducated fifteen-year-old girl that she defy her family, her society, her weighty cultural and religious heritage in order to pursue a dream that she doesn’t really understand. Of course it is asking too much. The price of self-destiny is never cheap, and in certain situations it is unthinkable. But to achieve the marvelous, it is precisely the unthinkable that must be thought.

Clearly, I’m not piloting my ship correctly.

While I don’t think I’m “dull and prosaic”, my adventures have been such that my central nervous system feels minced and not just chopped. Perhaps if my adventures had meaning.

I wrote a blog post yesterday morning while waiting on the electrician. He’d rigged things so I had heat throughout the house, but only power in the kitchen – no internet, phone, hot water, or whirlpool baths. I’ll upload that post tomorrow, maybe[There’s newly developed laptop drama.] In it, I lamented having as my goal wanting to be bored. Finally, I was well and truly bored. I’d been stuck in my house, more or less, for a week without power and/or heat.

When did we have to start paying Knights in Shining Armor?

This morning, while waiting on the electrician to come and finish the replacement of my circuit box, I tripped over the cat in the dark and spilled my cup of coffee on the laptop. Guess what won’t work? My entire life is in that thing. Oh, sure, I can get the stuff off the hard drive by taking it to a shop, but if trying to dry it out doesn’t work, I’m going to be living without a laptop. I’ve really gotten attached to that thing.

I read somewhere that in such instances one should immediately remove the battery, dry everything off with a towel as much as possible, turn upside down and wait 24 to 48 hours. This is what I’m doing. I also chant, “please oh please oh please oh please” a lot. We’ll see.

I arrived home to power, heat, a working dishwasher, and a closet bi-fold door that will now shut. I was rather disgruntled at not to be able to curl up on the sofa with the laptop and proclaim my joy to the world. More importantly, I’ve got a boatload of photos and emails that I HAVE TO HAVE. I have a week’s worth of work on there. This laptop thing is a disaster. I’m not even done with one disaster. . . And so I lament the drama of my life.

Wall O'Art

Fortunately, my blue room makes me smile and I used the traditional laptop time to hang the “art” that just arrived in the mail. Yes, Virginia, you can buy prints of fine art for $4.99. The hanging went reasonably well. I bought these new-fangled hanger thingies that made it a breeze. No more wall anchors for this chickie.

For a better balance of color, I had to move things around on the top of the desk. The arrangement still needs work. The Moss West Virginia poster needs to relocate to another room, the one Georgia O’Keefe needs to move to the to-be vacated-wall and another Georgia (Morning Glories, perhaps) needs to be procured to complete that section of the room.

This Matisse *really* knocks me out - Decorative Figure. . .

Over the desk is now the perfect spot for Matisse’s Decorative Figure on an Ornamental Ground – one of his odalisques. I’ve been looking for this thing FOREVER and finally found the print at a reasonable price – next paycheck maybe.

 I have a thing for Matisse –he just knocks me out. I like Georgia, but she’s no Matisse. The two of them together are a yin/yang that please me. Tom Robbins also rocks my world and one of his novels features Matisse’s Blue Nude – I love how the circles of my affections intersect.

[Oh yes, I can hear you art snobs rolling your eyes. Yes, I chose prints to go with the room. But please remember the room was painted the color it is to go with the objets d’art that were already in the room. And besides, I bought prints that I had always liked – I didn’t just go shopping for blues. So there. As for my pedestrian taste – sue me.]

The print I haven't found yet.

So, yes, back to Tom Robbins – I’m lamenting the meaning of all this chaos. The big stuff I can handle – bone marrow transplants, etc. – it’s all this little crap that’s getting to me. I well and truly feel as if I’m being nibbled to death by ducks – the mundane is going to do me in if I don’t find the oars of my metaphorical boat and start rowing in a different direction. Ah. . .but what direction might that be?

Hell if I know. 

I do know I need fizz that doesn’t fizzle and iron that doesn’t rust.  And adventures that are  little less prosaic (and expensive).

The Beelzebub of Bobbinhood

Shudder.

Today was a beautiful, sunny day and after cleaning the kitchen windows – the better to enjoy the sun – I felt a compulsion rise up and overtake me.

Usually, if I eat something with a lot of garlic or shout “Out, out!” I can defeat the compulsion. Today, however, there was no stopping the Evil Demon of Fabric Manipulation.

I had decided to sew.

I’ve been down this road before. It never ends well. Well, once it did – surprising my wildest imagination, but I think that was because it was for a good cause.

 

Ain't he cute?

[Since Chef Boy ‘R Mine was going to be the cutest ring bearer in the history of rings, it was only fittin’ that I have a Mother of the Ring Bearer Dress befitting his glory.]

I tried to resist today, but The Domestic Arts Demon took over.

Lamenting the misery sure to ensue, I began the task.

So much time had passed between uses that I had to clean The Thing before I could use it. As I dusted, wiped, disinfected, I cogitated on why it is, exactly, that I have four sewing machines. I used to have five, but The Ex took one of the antique ones.

I have my great-grandmother’s treadle machine. I have the portable one my mother used to sew my first clothes (and my Barbie’s clothes). I have the one a friend of mine just before she died of breast cancer. And, finally, I have the one I bought at the flea market for me to use.

I know, I know. . .it doesn't look evil.

I had delusions I was going to master The Beast and learn, once and for all, how to sew without ending up in the emergency room, the psych ward, or in an alley sipping Mad Dog. My mother says it has a sweet stitch. I just roll my eyes at her and look for a crucifix to hang from the thread holder.

Other than the Ring Bearer dress, I have spent more time screaming at this machine than all of the computers I’ve fixed combined. (That’s a lot of ‘puters – many of them running Windows 98.)

After cleaning the Cantankerous Clothing Constructor, I got out my fabric – yards and yards of a blue I bought years ago that I intended to be a dress, but came to my senses before making the first cut. Today’s project was a simple, no frills, feather bed cover.

For those of you playing along at home, you will need:

  • Sewing (shudder) Machine
  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Feather Bed (Badly stained by coffee not required.)
  • Aspirin
  • Jim Beam

Pay no attention to the coffee stains.

Luckily, the fabric was exactly the right width. It was a little too long, but I decided to deal with that problem at the end since I had no idea how I expected to fasten the thing.

The plan was simple – fold in half, sew two sides, stuff the feather bed in there, figure out later how to button it or zip it or velcro it. What could go wrong?

Well. It took me 45 minutes to thread the machine. [I have GOT to get my eyes checked.]

After that, I took the aspirin to ward off the coming concussion and splashed the liquor in my coffee to settle my nerves. Sure enough. The Damned Thing wouldn’t go. It hummed and buzzed and carried on like any good demon, but the presser foot would not advance – the needle wouldn’t move. Since I’ve never had a manual, I’m flying blind. I dial knobs around and flip switches and curse like a Marine just out of Boot Camp when finally it decided to play my silly game and let me sew.

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

I did one whole side without a problem. I gaped in astonishment. Almost always, the bobbin gets the evil vapors and tangles, breaks, snaps needles, etc. Nothing. Quietly, I said to myself, “Maybe it doesn’t know it’s me on the foot pedal.”

I started the second side. Things went amazingly well, until. . .

When I was six inches from the end, the bobbin roared curses of damnation and I spent more time sewing that last six inches than it would have taken to hand sew, but it was the principle of the thing. You know?

I took the cover and, with much grunting and groaning (king-sized feather beds are heavy), I pushed, pulled, shoved and willed it into the case.

Damn, I’m good. It looked like I had wanted it to. (I don’t have high standards when it comes to my sewing.)

I'm ready for Three Dog Nights now!

Still having no idea how to fasten the ends so I can get the cover on and off for laundering, I dragged it downstairs to drape over the back of the sofa. Since painting this room, the family room is now my favorite.

After three days without heat, I had resolved that I would never be driven from this room by cold again.  Four inches of goose down and three puppies ought to keep me warm, don’t you think?

Well. I didn’t think this plan through. (Ha! Like that’s news.) The big, bulky feather bed did not look aesthetically pleasing on the back of the sofa.

It looked right stupid.

Plan B

I folded it in half, placed it in front of the atrium door where the dogs lay, wallowed on it (oh it’s wonderful – feather beds are a treasure) and hollered for puppies. The little beasties now have the Cadillac of dog beds. They’re well pleased with their surprise.

The Cadillac of Dog Beds

And I suppose should I lose heat again, the dogs and I can drag that thing onto the sofa and all wallow together. I’ll have to remember to wash that cover often – at least until spring.

The good news? I’m just tucking the ends under. If it’s a dog bed cover now, I’m going to have to wash it twice a week – it’ll save time if I can get that sucker out of there fast.

The other good news? I bested The Beelzebub of Bobbinhood. Let’s hope I don’t develop a sense of false competence and push my luck.

The Doors to Nowhere Somewhere

Doors to Nowhere

I can’t, now, remember the logic behind it, but one of the very first things we did in The Barn was to put in a set of French doors on the second floor. The idea was to build a balcony. I was in my Shakespeare phase.

The balcony still hasn’t been built. I refer to the doors as the Abbot & Costello Doors, the Laurel & Hardy Doors, or The Three Stooges Door. Each of those comedic teams, at one time or another, used the gag of a door that opened to nowhere and involved a fall. When Chef Boy ‘R Mine was small, we nailed a piece of wood across the doors to prevent their opening. That piece of wood was still there when I re-did the room in 2006. (Re-did, hell, DID the room.)  Despite it being nailed shut, The Ex made a down and dirty screen for it which is still there and still ugly.  Screen doors for narrow French doors are hard to come by.

In keeping with the ridiculousness of doors  that go nowhere by way of an ugly screen, I bought the wrong kind of door handle in 2006 to replace the wash cloth stuffed into the door handle hole that had been there since 1990. HMOKeefe installed the door handle. He never questioned the selection; I am, afterall, the woman who installed her towel rods upside down because I like them better that way.  The handle was a mistake, but I’ve grown to love it.  It’s goofy and the master bedroom might be too pretentious without a touch of goofiness here and there.

Dawn

The doors lock from the inside. Makes sense, no?

I love those doors. Someday there will be a balcony.

[I can’t decide if I want French Quarter wrought iron or Deep South veranda with a pergola, or what, but I don’t have the money so the point is moot.]

The French doors are in the master bedroom which was the living room during Phase I, II, and III of The Barn’s transition to house. When we finally moved the living room, the French Door room was the dressing room and the exercise room. When I had the Happy Divorce To Me remodeling, Burl, the Handyman Extraordinaire, moved a doorway to accommodate the new bed and the dressing room became the bedroom.

I wanted to relocate because the room which used to house the bed (and is now the dressing room) has 5 windows and far too much sun in the morning. I was waking up just past o’dark thirty everyday. The sun was better utilized to illuminate the dressing table; and the French doors are friendlier to wake up to. On hot summer nights, I open the doors and listen to the peepers and enjoy the breeze wafting through the lace curtains – the ceiling fan lazily circling and going nowhere.

mmmm, nap

We had a snowstorm today with significant snowfall. I had no place I had to be and nothing I had to do.

[There’s always plenty to do, but today there was nothing pressing. As is customary for me on such days, I accomplished far more than if I had something that had to be done. I’m oppositional like that.]

Before bed last night, I draped the lace curtains up over the curtain rod so I could watch the anticipated snow fall when I woke up. It did and I did and it was a lovely morning. Eventually, I got up, drank a half-pot of coffee, and decided a nap was in order. I lazed away the morning, snoozing and watching the hush fall over my world through those doors.

I have the keys.

It’s not true that they go nowhere. They’re a portal leading to contentment and comfort. The longed-for balcony won’t change much. The doors, all by themselves, bring the outside in and the inside out. It is my place between the worlds – inside/outside, waking/sleeping, daydreams, sweet dreams, midsummer nights and midwinter naps.

The doors are no longer nailed shut. And when Juliet builds her balcony, the lock will still be on the wrong side of the doors leading to Nowhere and Somewhere and all the places in between. 

I have the keys.