September 2008

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The Guest Room

Well, as promised, here is the guest room.  I love it – so tranquil and pretty.  Sometimes, when Gregory and I want an extra peaceful night’s sleep, we come here.  The bed is a full, so it is pretty cozy with us and the cats, but it makes for such a nice change.

As for the updates to the room, here’s what I did:

The walls are painted in Butterfly Bush, trim He Loves Me (I know – how cute is that?), both from Miller Paint.  I added two pictures above the bed, one I made, one I bought.  The wall lamp next to the bed is the Arstid from Ikea and perfect for reading, as it has a neat swivel head.  I would like to paint the little side table and make a bed skirt.

Painting this chest has been on my to-do list since buying it ten years ago.  Yikes!  Better late than never.  The color is called Frog Belly by Pratt and Lambert.  Isn’t it just perfect?

Here’s what it looks like when you’re cozied up in bed.  Previously, the door and trim were the original wood.  Normally I don’t like to paint wood, but this wasn’t in very fine shape, having taken a beating over the years, so the paint really makes it.  The odd looking spot above the square painting (by Jamee) is a neat ceramic cicada that I bought in France last summer.  Of course it is green!

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If you ever have a hankering for an interesting read, but neither have the time nor inclination to sit with an entire novel, here are my very favorite short stories, perfect when enjoyed in your favorite chair, sipping a cup of tea.

Bartleby, the Scrivener, Herman Melville.  I am not ashamed to admit that I have never been able to get through Moby Dick.  Heavens to Betsy, I get to the part where they are attending the church service before setting out to sea, and I am bored out of my mind.  Seriously people, I don’t care about whales, Queequeg, or Ishmael, no siree.  So thank goodness there is something by Melville that I do appreciate, and that is dear Bartleby.

Set in the days when copiers were actually men working with pen and ink and not machines, Bartleby stands apart from the others who “prefers not to” do anything, yet claims to not be particular.  It is a fine character study.

The Swimmer, John Cheever.  Seinfeld fans will remember that Susan’s father had an illicit affair with Cheever.  But that’s beside the point.  In this offbeat tale, follow Neddy Miller as he swims home across the county, via the numerous pools dotting the way.  Witness how each pool reveals more about Neddy, his family, and the way minds create a reality that may or may not jive with what is actually happening in the world.

Neighbor Rosicky, Willa Cather.  Remember when I wrote about “Fanfare for the Common Man,” and how it makes me cry every time I hear it?  Well, this is the short story version.  A gorgeous tale of wealth, both the kind one measures with love and the kind one measures with dollars and cents, among those living in the beautiful and sometimes cruel Nebraska countryside.  The prose is simple, yet full of detail, sharp as a fine photograph.

The Story of an Hour, Kate Chopin.  A woman finds sweet freedom in the most unlikely of circumstances and pays a very high price in her desire to hold on to it.  I love watching the clouds build before the storm.

Good Country People, Flannery O’Connor.  Oh there was a delightful wickedness about her!  What a marvelous talent she had for twisting and bending people.  She could make the beautiful grotesque, the genius simple, and the simple wise beyond measure.

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Have you ever played Jenga?  Just in case you haven’t, it’s the game that starts out as an orderly stack of wooden blocks that is eventually turned into a leaning tower of Pisa by the careful reordering of the pieces before crashing loudly down to the ground.  My desk looked like the aftermath of the crash until about ten minutes ago.

Only it wasn’t just neat pieces of pine.  I had stacks of paper, tags, receipts, books, magazines, catalogs, fabric, jewelry, and a digital timer piled in that relatively small space next to my laptop – a veritable wonder of physics, I tell ya.  It’s one of those things that drives me absolutely nutty, turning me into a three year old in dire need of a nap.  I am crazy tired and know I should go to bed,  but I’m seriously putting my foot down because there are so many other fun things to do!

It’s silly.  I also know that it is quite avoidable.  If I took that extra moment longer to put something away, I wouldn’t have any mess in the first place, yet I still don’t do it and then want to tear my hair out when it looks so disastrous – sometimes!  See that?  I was getting a little gloomy there but decided to use my dime store word and presto change-o!  I feel so much better.

My desk surely does as well, now that it can actually see its surroundings – like the nice lamp and all the fun objects on the bulletin board.  Yep, I can hear it singing – “I feel pretty, oh so pretty, I feel pretty, and witty, and bright!”

Hooray for little cleaning frenzies!

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Arms wildly gesticulating, Stanley skips gaily down the sidewalk, though he is neither young nor built for such activities.  That is precisely the point.  At 6’1″ and 200 very muscular pounds, he looks the role of a man, yet, as of late, he’s been on a mission, engaging in behaviors fitting of a small boy.

Sometimes he doesn’t even realize he is doing it.  It has all become so natural.  Like when his wife sent him on an errand to Target for toilet paper and tissue, and he suddenly found himself hula hooping in the toy section.  Deep in meditation, hips gyrating, Stanley is interrupted by an elderly woman wearing a teddy bear sweat shirt emblazoned, ostensibly, with her name, MARGE, giggling with delight, “You’re awfully good.”   The spell broken, hula hoop clattering to the floor, Stanley absentmindedly walks out of the sacred circle of childhood, unable to meet Marge’s eye.

Just last week he rode his bicycle to every park within a two mile radius of his home.  He lumbered around on playground equipment, pretending he was a spy, before swinging high on the swings, feeling that moment of weightlessness at the top.  After which, he spun furiously on tire swings and merry-go-rounds, and much to the delight of a boy one quarter of his age and chagrin of said child’s mother, vomited up his pepperoni pizza lunch.  For his part, Stanley blushed apologetically at the mother and smiled cautiously at the boy. “I’m doing some homework.”

Which was true – it is homework, of the most precious and important nature.  Each afternoon, at precisely 3:30 pm, it is his duty to report to his tiny teacher, bald headed and resplendent with tubes of nutrition and loose fitting pajamas.

“Did you skip Daddy?  Like a crazy man would?”

“Mmmhmm, just like you said.”

“Show me.”

Stanley goes through the moves again, and Marcus, eyes wide, giggles with delight.

“Thank you Daddy, that’s good, very good.  How about tomorrow you tell me a story about the orange giraffes.”

“The orange giraffes?”

“Yeah, the giant ones by the water.”

Stanley smiles and pats his son’s fragile hand, “You bet kiddo, you bet.”

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Purple Paint

Hi there!  I’m giving you a little preview of our updated guest bedroom.  I need to make some watercolors for a couple of empty frames before it is ready for viewing, so, in the meantime, I’m showing you two of my favorite features.  The first is the billowing curtain.  I find few sights in a home more pleasing.  I can’t really say why.  I guess there is something peaceful about it, carefree.  The other photo is the top corner of the door, illustrating the paint colors.  Both pretty and soothing, I love them.

This was the first room we painted after we bought the house ten years ago, and though I didn’t know it at the time, we were quite lucky with the paint selection.  Despite Gregory’s initial raising of eyebrows, “A purple room?”  It was just right.  There was no dread as we applied the first roll of color on the wall, as was the case in the living room, bathroom, and hallway.  Oy vay, what a hassle to spend all of that time poring over chip after chip, getting excited at how lovely they will look to being in utter shock that it just isn’t right.  How can that be?  It’s too mustard, too nursery room, too Amityville Horror!

Since we had to paint the newly installed window, we decided we might as well do the whole room again.  After all, it had been ten years, and it looked it – a bit dirty where the cats jumped from the window and quite faded, save where there had previously been pictures (though that did look kind of neat – like something out of an old mansion).  Since I really did like the color, I saw no reason to change it, with the exception of buying an eggshell instead of a matte finish.

So there you have it – a little peek.  I promise to show you the rest very soon.

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