Hot times in the bedroom

006Those of you who hang out with me on Facebook know that I’m still in the seemingly-endless pursuit of organizing The Barn.  I go in fits and starts with this, but lately my fervor has been renewed.  I love an orderly, clean house.  I’m just not very good at it.  (But I’m getting better!)

For all of my short-comings in the house cleaning arena, I’m pretty good about keeping my bedroom orderly, in part because I love my bed.

I have a grand bed.  I think everyone should have a bed so imposing it is reminiscent of a throne.

I bought the bed along with the Beloved Vanity and other pieces a good 8 years ago.  The furniture is so big that they couldn’t bring it up the stairs, but had to lift it to the top of the truck and then from there hoist it through the French doors in the master bedroom.

003I decided that since I spend a third of my life, more or less, in bed, that bed should be a haven, a sanctuary, a symphony of hedonism.   The bed is appointed with luxurious coverings including very high-thread count sheets.  There is a mound of pillows that I remove each night, but leave in place for afternoon naps.  I love sprawling among the pillows and watching the sun come through the French doors.

I love my bed.  It’s king-sized in keeping with my throne desire and I can sprawl all over the thing without body parts hanging off.  The animals sometimes join me in the bed, though not regularly.  There’s room for all of us.

In the winter time, I love keeping the bedroom cold so that I can burrow in the bed like the cocoon it is.  It’s simply delicious to wallow.  It’s only when it gets blazing hot outside, as it is now, that my bed is not quite so wonderful.  The bed linens are heavy especially so with the goose down-filled comfortor.  While I have central air, the construction of the barn is such that cooling the upstairs when it’s 80F at midnight means keeping the downstairs at freezer level.  I don’t want to pay Appalachian Electric that much.  So, tonight I will lie on top of the covers and let the ceiling fan swirl air over me.

I realize this is a first-world problem and that I have no reason to whine.  I’m not whining,  not really.  I think I’m marking the entrance of Summer to what has been a very strange Spring.

The Zen of a Good Sofa


The old sofa with a cushion so threadbare I took to covering it with an afghan my great-grandmother made.

The old sofa with a cushion so threadbare I took to covering it with an afghan my great-grandmother made.

Buddhism, and other traditions, teaches us that contentment lies in losing our attachment to things and situations that are transitory. I think that’s good advice even if I’m attached to all sorts of things.

Home is my happy place. I’m way too attached to the structure and many of its contents. I’ve given up trying to explain it to my satisfaction much less yours. There are all sorts of reasons why being here makes me happy is true even if objectively my love for this heap is probably misguided.

How transitory is something, my sofa for example, that’s been with me for nearly 30 years? The very fabric of it is soaked in the years of my life as a wife and a mother. The sofa witnessed my newlywed years and my divorced years. It held my son and kittens and puppies. It is the perfect sofa for reading the Sunday paper with its curved back and high arms. Stretched out upon it, I daydreamed and plotted, read and wrote, loved and lived. It witnessed the barn’s transformation and was moved from room to room as room function changed with each step forward in the barn conversion.

He didn't see it until it arrived and soon fell it love with it too.

He didn’t see it until it arrived and soon fell it love with it too.

It’s a sturdy thing. It was bought during the Great Sofa Search of 1984. I scoured Wisconsin for a sofa to place in the house I was beginning a new life as wife and mother. Nothing was right. I searched and searched. I visited Huntington, WV a few weeks before Thanksgiving to visit my parents and found the sofa in a furniture store. I went back to Milwaukee and tried to find it there. I did, but as it turned out, it was less expensive to buy it from the Huntington store and have it shipped to Wisconsin.

It was pricey. The Husband was shocked. I was adamant. I’d done enough shopping by then to know that perfect sofas are hard to come by.

It was background for all sorts of photos it didn't star in.

It was background for all sorts of photos it didn’t star in.

It was made by Key City Furniture in North Carolina. I believe they’re still in business. All of their furniture is made to order and each piece is infused with quality workmanship. There’s a reason my couch is 29 years old and just as comfortable as the day a confoozled truck driver delivered it to my Wisconsin home. Usually the truck drivers delivered to stores who then delivered it to the buyer. The guy was shocked to find nobody but my husband and I available to help him off-load it. He wasn’t supposed to have anything to do with taking it off the truck, but upon learning I was pregnant, he and The Ex wrestled it into the house. It’s a behemoth of a sofa.

It’s a beauty – all over-stuffed curves and delicious serpentine lines.

That first day I took photos of it to record it’s arrival in my life never imagining that nearly three decades later I’d again be taking photos of it in a new reincarnation.

The new fabric.

The new fabric.

The years beat the fabric up. Mind you, it didn’t look 29 years old, but it was frayed and looking a bit sad. About ten years ago I began pondering the idea of reupholstering it. For those of you who have never delved into the world of upholstery, this is not something you do to save money. You do it when a piece of furniture is perfect save for its fabric. I quickly learned I could buy a new sofa for what this adventure would cost.

I didn’t want a new sofa.

If I could have gotten the same fabric, I would have, but I couldn’t. It was a beautiful brown tapestry that made me smile until the upholsterers carried it out of the house a month ago.

I looked and looked at upholstery grade fabric. I began to despair.

The latest incarnation of the Beloved Sofa.

The latest incarnation of the Beloved Sofa.

My mother found the new fabric at a craft supply store. It’s beautiful. As my best friend said, “It’s rich without being formal.” The name of the fabric is patchwork elegance. It’s velvety chenille of black and gold and silver and caramel and cream, diamonds and squares and scrolls and starbursts and medallions with a fleur de lis or two here and there. It’s just stunning. The chenille makes it cuddly, the design makes a statement and all of it makes me happy. It suits the room.

The upholsterer finished it within ten days. The weather and my ice encrusted road kept it hostage. Every time I called to schedule another delivery which would be cancelled due to more snow, a staff person would tell me how well it turned out, how beautiful it was, how people wanted to buy it.

With this winter that won’t end, I began to fear I’d never get it to the barn. A window of opportunity opened as did my car windows when the temperature soared to 60 and the snow began melting. I called and scheduled delivery for today at 2 pm. They were late and I began to fret, but by 2:30 it was sitting in my living room.

It still feels like an old friend with new duds.

It still feels like an old friend with new duds.

Oh, it’s beautiful. It’s nice having my old companion back. Tonight I’ll put some soaring opera fraught with love and longing on the stereo, sip a glass of wine or two, and ponder all that we’ve seen together in this world of attachment and longing and the desire for contentment and happiness. Sitting on my beloved sofa, I will finger the Tibetan prayer beads and consider the Zen of a Good Sofa.

[I’m disappointed that my 4 month old draperies are very much the wrong color.  The search for the proper window coverings begin anew.]


Warmth and Sun

Morning Daydreams

It’s getting to be that time of the year when I switch my living arrangements. It’s winter and in the interest of not paying Appalachian Power more than my mortgage, I’m moving upstairs.

The only way to keep the downstairs bearable is to crank the heat to 75 or 80 which turns the upstairs into the Sahara. In fact, I turn the heat down to about 55 at bedtime so that I can enjoy the cool bedroom I like while sleeping. It’s so delicious to burrow into the down comforter and feather bed without fear of heatstroke.

The barn has two temperature zones – cool downstairs and warm upstairs. During temperature extremes one floor of the house is insufferable while the other fluctuates between uncomfortable and pleasant. The reasons center on the cement slab the barn sits on along with the multitude of windows sans draperies.

By January, sometimes earlier, the downstairs carpet will be cold to the touch radiating proof that the slab is frozen. I abhor so the multitude of windows in the barn will also radiate unchecked cold. Indeed, my windows are dressed only in my dressing room so as to protect the mailman, the trash guys and the electric company’s meter readers from my brazen nudity. The airy lace panels do little to insulate. Nevertheless the dressing room is one of the rooms I will decamp to – that and the study with naps in the guest bedroom. Setting the furnace to a reasonable temperature keeps the shivering windows at bay most of the winter. On particularly frigid days, a space heater actually warms the room unlike its behavior on the first floor where the open floor plan defeats its abilities.

With the cold, dark days of winter I go upstairs not just in search of heat, but also light.  The upstairs is much less stingy with natural light than is the first floor.

Along with my dressing table, the dressing room is furnished with the completely ridiculous and much loved chaise. Oh how I dithered before plunking down a silly amount of money to buy it. I kept trying to justify the cost and couldn’t. While it was logical to think the room required something other than the vanity bench to sit on, the chaise was not the best choice.

One cannot just sit on the chaise. With its graceful s-curve, it invites a languorous and prone lounging. One is seduced by the comfort of the upholstery, there is no choice but to surrender and sprawl particularly since that s-curve makes just sitting uncomfortable. So the chaise is completely useless in facilitating the donning of socks or hosiery – my one feeble justification.

A chair would have been far more utilitarian, but much less fun.

Mmmm, sun-warmed silk.

Even with the lace panels, the dressing room is aglow with morning light. The winter sun hangs low in the sky streaming rays that make the chaise all the more irresistible. Its sybaritic splendor is further enhanced by a heavy silk kimono a dear friend gave me. There is a magic about silk that no other fabric comes close to imitating. I wrap myself in the kimono, lounge on the chaise and drink my morning coffee. I can lose hours on the chaise.

The study is also kissed by that morning light, but it’s a brief kiss. The mature oaks standing close to the house that give the room a tree-house feeling in the summer still manage to block most of the morning sun. At sunset, the study glows with the low hanging sunset sauntering in through the room’s one western window. The light is silky amber that compels the room’s furnishings to glow. The grain of the heavy oak twirls and preens while the metal of knobs, handles, stapler and ornaments shimmer. If not for the brevity of a winter sunset, I would lose hours sitting in the study’s outrageously comfortable chair.

The guest bedroom with its one window is the warmest room of the house. After the sun begins it rotation to the west, that room holds the afternoon light in clearly defined beams. The canopy draped over the bed holds the light in a web of glimmer. The bed is like being inside a prism. It’s a glorious place to nap.

In winter, I move room to room to follow the sun – the dressing room for daydreams, the study for deep thoughts and the guest bedroom for illicit naps.

Now and again I think I would love living in a small cottage – less to clean, less to maintain, and less to heat. It would be practical and free up a lot of time. It’s hard to justify one person living in this multitude of rooms.

Ah, but I am a space junkie – usually an unapologetic one. I love all of my single purpose rooms, nooks and crannies. From my son’s old bed tucked underneath the stairwell’s eaves to the tiny book nook under the stairs, each one has not just a purpose, but provides this hedonist with the pleasures of the well-defined ambiance of each.

It is winter and I’m in nesting mode. Besides a thorough cleaning, I plan to use these months to tackle the painting of the stairway and the living room/dining room. These two areas of the house are among those that most irritate my hedonistic self. While I do abhor draperies, I am thinking of installing some in the living room/dining room The planned ambiance of that room may require substantial ones that will wrap around the windows rather than covering them, yet can be pulled closed when winter sneaks up on me. It would be nice to have a winter-livable room downstairs.

Between glorying in morning sun, napping in afternoon sun, and marveling at winter sunsets I’m going to need razor-sharp discipline to excise my predilection for sitting around doing nothing for hours at a time. [I was genetically predestined to be one of the idle rich and something went terribly wrong.]

It will be a war of wills with my hedonist me waging battle with the industrious me. I’m already alternatively nagging and promising my hedonistic self that a few months of industry will provide years of sitting year-round in a room that provides splendid sunlight from noon on. A room for reading and gazing out the atrium doors. A room for fine dining on fine china with friends and family. A room to adore a Christmas tree. And a room to watch summer rainstorms and winter snowstorms. .A room in which the pleasure of those activities is not diminished by the sight of needed work.

Adventures in Home Improvement (no doubt to be continued ad nauseam)

Lao Tzu might say Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. It's all Small Stuff. It is. It is.

If not for enjoying the pleasure of how well the blue paint for the family room turned out, I would be in a fetal position.  Today’s meditation is Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.

I’ve mentioned that all efforts in the barn are one step forward, two steps back. Sure, it’s a cliché, but clichés exist for a reason. [Go ahead, ask me about the time the freak tornado landed in Cabell County when the roofing crew was installing the barn’s first real roof. And two of the roofers crashed through the only room of the house with a finished ceiling.]

The craziness started just before the holidays. Circuits kept blowing – either the furnace circuit or the electrical outlet next to this desk (which, by the way, looks absolutely fabulous after a thorough cleaning and set against the blue).

The ancient furnace when it was only 10 years old - now roughly 22 years.

I didn’t think too much of the problem. We were in the midst of that bitter cold and the furnace was cranking nonstop. It’s an old furnace which is on the list of things that need to be replaced and replaced soon.

Then I discovered water in the plumbing closet – dripping from pipes and bathing my walls in a fine mist with significant splashes, and a waterfall now and again. [I believe I’ve effected a fix, temporary, to deal with the problem. Knock on wood.]

And then the dishwasher circuit blew. I’ve already talked about the dishwasher along with the sparks emitted from the top of the hot water heater. Ancient burial ground, I’m telling you.


Yesterday, I loaded the dishwasher with the blue porcelain and other objets d’art to wash, in cold water. I duly discovered the dishwasher soap to be frozen. Since I do, in fact, store the dishwasher soap INSIDE the house, this was a puzzlement. It’s not been cold enough, by a long shot, for stuff to freeze inside a cupboard inside the barn, with a furnace that does, albeit temperamentally, run.

The furnace circuit tripped just after I’d started the dishwasher to wash. I reset the furnace only to have the dishwasher (and light in the laundry room) go out again.

It seems I can run the dishwasher OR the furnace, but not both. (Guess which one I’m going to pick.) I cannot run the dishwasher under any circumstances with hot water.

In the midst of this chaos, I’m on the phone dealing with a Significant Personal Problem and attending to work tasks (the paid employment type) so as to not have to burn more annual leave to deal with domestic crises.

Good riddance despite the cause.

While on hold with the crisis and waiting for work stuff to scan, I dust the banker’s lamp that USED to sit just to the left of the laptop. The lightbulb exploded and, yup you guessed it, sparks flew and the circuit tripped.

It was, to borrow a phrase and mangle it, an Awful, Horrible, No Good, Rotten, Stinking Very, Very, Very Bad Day.


The ray of sunshine in all of this is the fact that this room looks great. And I’m not even done (damn the dishwasher).

My benchmark for decorating success is if it looks like it always should have been thus said decorating is a Great Success. The family room was born to be blue and it’s a pity it took so many years to uncover that fact.

[And losing the ugly lamp on this desk and replacing it with a much loved Tiffany reproduction was a stroke of serendipity – I’ve been looking for the right place for this lamp to live.]

I have a thing for Matisse - I'll probably explain it in another post someday.

After a night’s sleep which included some really bizarre and amusing dreams, I feel enough of my wa has been restored that I can hum Onward Christian Soldiers and deal with matters at hand – all of them including the predicted winter storm that will find me walking the hill again. [Provisions will be acquired today with the time-honored Appalachian Snow Panic Method.].

For the moment, until the ancient spirits get playful and/or vindictive again, I am hopeful that I can maneuver through all this with grace and style. [Famous last words, perhaps.]

Futilely, the puppies waited for heat from the vent. I moved the space heater over there to fulfill hopes and dreams. Kerosene heater is on the list of provisioons to purchase today.


[Sigh. The furnace just tripped again and now the circuit won’t reset. Plus the circuit is hot. This can’t be good. I knew the above was famous last words. I jinxed myself. 

It’s all small stuff.  It’s all small stuff.  It’s all small stuff.  Today’s meditation is It’s All  Small Stuff.]

It’s all small stuff.  Truly.

Hedonistic Winter Naps

Nap Haven

The art of the nap is one I developed late in life. From the age of 3 to, oh, 40 or so, I could no more take a nap than I could sing lead at the Metropolitan Opera. (Trust me, folks, I cannot sing.)

Naps are a gift most wondrous.

The best ones are the ones that sneak up on you. Planning a nap sucks the essence out of it – like planning a laugh. The pleasure of the nap is inversely related to the intention to nap. Conducting one’s day in productivity mode and then suddenly finding oneself in bed drowsy with increasing lethargy is oh so good.

Even though I’ve discovered the joy of naps, I am still unable to sleep anywhere other than in a bed – preferably my bed.

Even sweet Babette needs a blanket these days.

Winter naps differ significantly from summer naps. Both are pleasant. The winter nap, however, also serves as a body warmer. Recently, and particularly, I’ve enjoyed the dichotomy of being snuggled in my bed while gazing at the frozen tundra which is my yard outside the French doors. Listening to the wind cause the barn to grown and creak has been a nice backdrop to puppy snores and the hum of the nonstop furnace.

Since I haven’t, for the most part, worn anything but pajamas for days, I’ve enjoyed the feel of thick silk against my sinfully high thread count sheets. We hedonists enjoy such pleasures. There have been incidents of crawling into bed in jeans and a sweatshirt. There’s something somewhat illicit about burrowing into the bed clothed in something other than nightwear. Napwear?

I’ve been running at full tilt for months. I knew I was exhausted, but I’d underestimated the extent of it. When downtime hit, I had a number of ambitious projects lined up. I knew I’d need a couple of days of R&R before launching said projects, so I did plan naps.

I’m not sure you could call them naps. I woke in the morning, drank a half a pot of coffee, went upstairs to change clothes and, instead, ended up crawling back in bed where, with some resemblance to a coma, I clocked another 3 or 4 hours of deep, drool on the pillow sleep. I’d get back up, drink the second half of the pot of coffee and end up back in bed for another 3 or 4 hours of sleep before giving up on it all and just going to bed for the night. I reckon that I slept 18 hours a day for a week or so.

I should be well and thoroughly caught up on sleep by now, but it appears maybe not. [The first order of business tomorrow is to make arrangements to have my thyroid re-tested – even if exhausted this is an insane amount of sleep.]

Eyes of Love

If not for the impending arrival of the houseguest and Chef Boy ‘R Mine’s arrival, I think there’s a good chance that absolutely nothing of those ambitious plans would have been accomplished. Mind you, I didn’t make a dent in any of them, but some order has been restored in my living environment which is a great comfort.

Today is my last day, for sure, of downtime. Last Sunday should have been, but snow storms, car problems, plumbing problems, and electrical problems kept me home much of this week. These problems allowed me good time with Chef Boy ‘R Mine and Girlfriend O’His, but the New Normal is knocking on the door and it’s time to get my stick shift out of neutral and rev the engine.

While I’m not planning a nap, I think one is likely.

Puppy Pile

The puppies are champion nappers and if I do succumb to one, I’ll put them in bed with me where Trudy will serve as a foot warmer, Willy as a stuffed animal to clutch as I snooze, and Babette slumbering on top of the covers while completing the tableau of the Still Life with Snoring.

A normal nap does involve street clothes unless it’s summer and I’ve been gardening. In such cases, I strip down and really wallow in the texture of the bed linens. But it is winter. Most likely, this afternoon will find me in jeans, sweatshirt and accompanied by puppies snoozing (and drooling on the pillow) away a couple of hours. (A pox on the power nap! Anything less than a couple hours can’t properly be called a nap.)

It’s all good. While the past ten days have been anything but Total Zen in 2010, I’m feeling pretty grounded and centered. Restored, if you will. The renewal of the New Normal schedule of my life seems doable. A couple of weeks ago, I was ready to wave the white flag of surrender. The opportunity to nap has made all the difference.

Where’s the stick?

I didn’t get the house cleaning/furniture moving gene. Or the vacuuming one.

No pictures. Are you kidding? Let you see the mess I have wrought with one good foot, a bad back, and a Loratab fog?

Last year's Little Tree that started this monstrous horrible mess.

As my father would say, Where’s the stick? [You’re supposed to ask, What stick? And then he says, The stick you stirred this mess up with.]

It’s a flippin’ mess. I can’t imagine what I was thinking. Well, yes, I can. It went something like this.

Mom is coming up eventually to wallpaper the ceiling in the cow bathroom.

While she’s here I should ask her to get the little tree out of the closet for me.

There’s no place for the little tree.

There is a place if I move the sofa forward a couple of feet.

Ah, but, now there’s no room for the desk. [I’d rather die than do without the desk. I love desks.]

OK. If I move the Evil Sewing Machine, I can slide the desk down 10 feet and Voila! room for the tree.

Can’t move the desk. It’s too heavy, I have one foot, and my back already hurts.

Take the drawers out.


One inch at a time.

Gaze in horror at the mess behind the desk. [I found Willy’s toad, may he rest in peace.]

Drag out the vacuum cleaner. [I’d rather clean the cat box with my tongue than vacuum, but sometimes you just gotta break down.]

Oh No!!!!!!!!! Where do I go with all the crap on the desk and the walls.

Connie wrings her hands in panic and considers another Loratab.

At present, the Evil Demon of Fabric Manipulation is in the middle of the floor as are the vacuum and the carpet cleaner. There’s a toad carcass, a forest worth of dried leaves, several acorns, and a letter I never mailed on the floor where the desk was.

The puppies are wild with consternation.

I never move furniture. I never vacuum. And Willy is mourning the toad.

It’s my mother’s fault.

My mother sewed, vacuumed and moved furniture the way some women buy shoes or bake. It was a great comfort to her to stir everything up (Where’s the stick?) and then re-assemble it in a completely different pattern – often using the Torture Implement of Bobbinhood to whip up some curtains or table runners along the way. When she’s stressed, she vacuums. Vacuums when she’s happy. Vacuums when she’s sad. Vacuums because she needs to and vacuums because there is nothing else to do. At any one time, she owns three or four vacuum cleaners. She lusts over them in stores like I do desks (and shoes).

I spent my formative years listening to the drone of the vacuum cleaner and bruising my shins in the middle of the night.

I only move furniture around until I have found the exact perfect configuration. I’ll move it round and round for some months, maybe years, and then I find the one setup that works and there it remains until it disintegrates into a dust heap. I term it finding the spot the universe wants that piece in. The family room and the Christmas tree are always a battle. The exact perfect configuration does not accommodate the tree.  I was not happy with last year’s arrangement and so here I sit.  Completely demoralized as I lose this battle.

And. So. Here I sit. The family room is in complete disarray. I’m completely out of oomph. My foot hurts. My back hurts. And there is a dead toad lying on the carpet.

I hate being a grown-up.  I have to clean this up whether I want to or not.  And it’s going to involve the vacuum cleaner.  And I have to touch [shudder] the Beelzebub of Thread to keep from bruising my shins in the middle of the night as I stumble down here to guzzle Coca Cola.  (I never drink soda, but Loratabs provoke a need for massive quanities of Classic Coke.)