Learning to See, Indeed

My friend, who sometimes comments as Mrs. Grizwald, said to me the other day at the pool, “I think it’s time you stop mentioning your unmentionables.” or something along those lines.  Seems my statute of limitations had run out on my quest and it was time to move on.

Agreed.  But the the thing that happened next was what was interesting.  Once I’d peered long and hard into my lingerie drawer, it was as if I began to see all of the Dream House clearly.  My life, and more importantly, my home, gentle reader, was a wreck.
Oh, on the surface things were fine.  If you came in with the buoyancy of an evening out and the gentle haze of a cocktail or two it might look OK.  But the sort of thing that can wear on your soul was clearly out of control.  I had started with the boys’ dressers and moved on to closets and under the bed.  This is not of note.  This is survival.

Twice Mr. Blandings has packed the boys’ silver baby cups into a box and moved them stealthily from the cupboard to the basement.  And twice I have looked, head cocked, brow furrowed into his bewildered face and demanded they be returned.  Never mind that they have never been used.  They belong on the top shelf.  And even after the purge they will remain, but other things, as they say, “must go.”  What stared almost 16 years ago as a pure and pristine collection of dishes and glassware has become somewhat of a jumble of stadium cups and paint-your-own pottery.  Breakage has taken its toll, and while I’d love to blame the boys, it is mostly the dish washer (not the dishwasher) that has wreaked the most havoc.

I did replace my daily dishes a few years ago.  Traded in the Botanic Garden for Kate Spade’s Summer Circle.  Ironically, I could still be replacing my Portmerion, while the newer, chicer pattern is already discontinued.  Seems I was the only one who swooned.  Still, I need a few pieces and ordered them at Replacements this week.  The glass ware is beyond beyond, so twelve new glasses in each size, per Mr. Gambrel’s suggestion, should be arriving from CB2 any day.  For under $100, a steal.
The towels were disgraceful.  I’d say my mother would be rolling in her grave, but she was simply not that kind of housekeeper.  A woman who colored her own hair (and, boy, did she, almost any shade known to hair and a few that were not) using the same brown towel for “processing” as long as I could remember, she would have ante-upped for the bottle of Youth Dew before replacing towels any day of the week.  As I had been, but now my eyes were open to the squalor in which I was living.

The electrician has been called to hang the three fixtures that have been sitting on my dresser for the last six months.  OK, nine.  Months, not fixures.  A new dishwasher has been installed to replace the “interim” dishwasher that was to tide us over to the kitchen remodel that is still five years away.   My only words here are “You get what you pay for.” and the old model was a very bad idea indeed.

Jeff Chaney, our beloved painter, is on his way to hang the basketball goal that Mr. Blandings, the elder, bought the boys last year for Christmas.  Fine.  I admit it.  Two years ago.  In my defense, the old one was up until the house was painted.  And he is fixing the damage from the July 4th water leak.  Also, two years ago.  

In addition, with the exception of Mr. Blandings, Blandings are readers.  One of my finest childhood memories is my father’s establishment of my own account at Lewis Meyer’s bookstore in Tulsa.  We could go and charge books once a month.  Stacks and piles of books, some of which I still own and I can see the inside of that shop as if I had been there yesterday.  Mr. Meyer always remembered us and I was thrilled when he took notice of what I was reading.  So it is with this in mind that I march my crew into Rainy Day and Reading Reptile; I love the feeling of owning books.  Of having them and caring for them.  But, as we all know, not every book strikes a chord.  So, the bookcases, literally straining with volumes sometimes less than a 1/4 inch thick, needed some attention.   

My middle child, always insightful, noticed that my pool hat and Mrs. Grizwald’s were nearly the same.  I told him, “That’s why we’re friends; we like the same things.”  “Does she like old, rusty things, too?” he replied.  Not really.  Not as much.  But she likes me.  And books.  And she will listen to me talk about my hair and my underwear and my dishes and my children.  And she will call me if I get mentioned in the local paper; but she will also call me if I don’t.  And she will love me if my dish towels don’t match as I love her in the same situation, because we are not magazine editors, we are friends.  But we will also sit at the pool as our children come to us asking for towels and books and goggles and snacks and the verbal salve that heals the wounds of childhood and say, “Have you tried Prydes?”  
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21 thoughts on “Learning to See, Indeed

  1. Your home just looks like actual people live there! Not every inch of every house can be photo ready all the time….cut yourself some slack! And how about some good sources for white shirts, I need a new batch!
    Love your posts!

  2. Are we twins? Were you adopted 53 years ago, born 11/20?

    No? We are exactly alike though.

    My wood floors, my poor wood floors – up and down, we need to move out for two weeks and restain. We’ve decided we’d rather just move to a new house instead. I’m also looking at dark flags or slate to just put over the wood.

    And don’t ask about the pots and pans and glasses and silverware.

    psst. My underwear? Target. 3 to a pack.

  3. Dana – the I hop around a bit, but lately have been hooked on the Brooks Brother’s no-iron. I have several fits, but the one I am wearing in the post this week is the Tailored Fit. As you can see, housekeeping is not my strong point, so no- iron is the way to go for me right now.

  4. Joni – cosmic twins, then. My biggest house regret is that we did not re-do our floors when we moved in. I It was so much money, and the paint had to be done, too, so I painted instead. Big mistake.

    And, of all the shopping I did, the pairs from Target turned out to be my favorite.

  5. Dear Mrs. Blandings,
    Just double, no triple nice. And I hope you know that the feelings are returned “eleventy-eleven” times over.

    I wish I could give a more eloquent response, but I am recovering from throwing number 2’s swim bag out my car window onto the parking lot. He wouldn’t take it himself because “it is just too much to handle.” You can swing a little left if you want to miss it…but full throttle right over it wouldn’t bother me in the least, dear friend.

  6. Patricia — currently I live with a lot of upkeep issues that are beyond my control but I think at heart I’m always going to be the girl who goes for the red lacquer chinoiserie box over better towels.

    So I relate.

    Growing up, friends thought my parents were college professors because they had some nice, interesting things around — the 100-year-old Persian rug, the paintings — but they were the last couple, I think, in Atlanta to get rid of their rotary phone and the last to get cable for sure!

  7. Courtney – look at all I’ve brought in while the chaos has erupted! Seems we needed to get back to square one. I would have loved it if my friends thought my mother was as interesting as a college professor. I just had another friend tell me the other day that they were the last to get a microwave – she was horrified.

  8. Very sweet of you to share your humble-ness. When I come to visit, I will gladly be nosey and open every cupboard to see all your well organized items!

  9. Sounds like “home” to me. I always thought people should throw a ten-year anniversary shower for their friends so that the towels, sheets, dinnerware, glassware, etc. could be replaced if not upgraded.

  10. This is a unique and wonderful post. You’ve inspired me to attack over the long weekend: a major stack of unhung prints, daybed in guest room with piles of miscellania three-feet high, unlabeled banker’s boxes (contents unknown) from last move. I may even be moved to explore lingerie drawer if above goes well. As Dorothy Parker said (not sure in what context): “It’s not the tragedies that kill us; it’s the messes.”

  11. Just sounds as if you are very much like the rest of us.

    I have fond memories of those lazy summer days at the pool, chatting with friends on the edge with our children played. Cherish them. They pass all too quickly.

  12. thank GOD… someone else admits to how we all {except those of you who live solo} really live. i mean come ON! this is reality and it makes us all feel ‘ok’ for not putting our homes before our families.

    i once had a friend who’s mother actually roped off several rooms. ROPED OFF. insanity.

    love you for this post gf

  13. Ah Mrs. B., once again making me feel better about the slowly disintegrating hovel in which we gingerly step around piles of this and that. My closet is a disgrace. And there are at least 40 shirts that need ironing hanging on the board, right there in the bedroom, underneath my professional Rowenta iron. What would Charlotte Moss say?

    I can only imagine stunned silence. But the wine glasses are clean and that cocktail haze and low lighting do the trick every time.

    And now, off to do some laundry. Keep fighting the good fight. And thank you for your candid post and the wonderfulness of yourself.

  14. I am with you all the way… struggling to get the house up to standards for a three-week house guest. Someone I don’t know, someone who said that she was a neatnik, someone who’s a doctor. It’s a big favour, and I know I will love every minute, but it’s looking at my house through outsider’s eyes that’s got me in a spin!

  15. Is this my house? It feels just like my house….except for the lack of dog hair. But I know that is my ceiling!

  16. In the 2 years since we moved downtown to this condo I’ve managed to keep my kitchen cabinets neat and organized. That in spite of my inability to pass up small stray bowls and pitchers at tag sales.

    That said, my laundry room is a complete wreck. Maybe Sunday afternoon…

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