Saturday, November 17, 2007

Can you say "certifiable"?

When I was young, I would watch in amazement as my mother went off on some tangent or other with no visible prompting.

I could come home from school and find every dish out of it's home cabinet and sitting on the kitchen table while Mom decided which cabinet they would move to next.

Or I'd discover that my brothers had completely different rooms in the afternoon than they had that morning.

Or there'd be these weird lights attached to and shining into a sink to "bake" on the new enamel.

Or there'd be a new floor in the kitchen and the refridgerator had moved across the room.

Or the livingroom would be wearing its winter clothes rather than it's spring chair covers and curtains.

And then, there were the couches. Mom had this strange habit of rescuing couches from Goodwill or Salvation Army, and my growing up years were populated with strange and mismatched furniture in the family room consisting almost exclusively of a musical chairs game of couches and one big cedar trunk that served as a coffee table (I wonder what happened to that thing?). Once in a while, a couch would get reupholstered and move upstairs before moving on out the door a few years later as a new couch moved in downstairs.

My brothers and I have laughed long and hard at this predilection of hers. We have made jokes and been know to simply bust out laughing whenever anyone said the word "couch".

But as I've gotten older, I see my mother much more clearly. I know how much she managed to accomplish in limited time with limited money. For her efforts, we had a very nice place to live while growing up, when I'm sure there were times that she wanted to throw up her hands and stomp her feet when her projects went unappreciated by ungrateful children.

See, my mother was gifted with the ability to see possibilities.

She can look at something that appears worthless or ugly or unmanageable and see it as it could be. And then she goes about figuring out how to accomplish this - and then does it.

She called me at home before I headed for work the other day.

My brother Jerry had been staying at the farm recuperating from surgery and lazing on one of the ubiquitous couches when he noticed a rather strong pong. This, coming from Jerry, who spends his days with his nose full of diesel fumes and other automotive-associated aromas, was quite a statement. As it turns out, the cats, pissed-off about the advent of Uncle Dog, literally made their displeasure known on the couch. My father hauled the abused couch into town to a cleaning specialist who literally soaked the thing in enzymes. It lived with the specialist for a couple of days, during which, my mother rearranged the family room to fill the gap that the couch left in her decorating scheme.

And discovered that she LOVED the new arrangement so much that she didn't want to put the couch back in there.

Hence the phone call.

I haven't had a couch in several years. In fact, we are fairly minimalist in our furnishing style at Chez Smiles (remember how much I balked at the diningroom set?), but I had actually been contemplating putting some real furniture into my family room other than the roll-around chairs that used to belong to my grandmother and the chair my father-in-law donated because he couldn't get out of it anymore. I'd had my eye on a very small sectional at our local discount furniture place (located conveniently in a u-store-it-type place called "Big Al's") but had put off purchasing it because I wanted to get painting done first. Painting is a huge thing for me because the "funeral home green" that was on every wall in the house when we moved in (except for the horribly ugly wallpaper in the bathrooms) was extremely depressing, and to me it was the first thing that needed to happen in each room.

So Mom calls me and asks do I want this couch? Dad had to pick it up from the cleaner and if I didn't want it, it would go to Goodwill (ouch-turnabout!!!). I said yes.

Then I emailed work and told them I was taking a personal holiday and I started painting.

Dad brought the couch over, and together we moved it off the truck and into the middle of the livingroom, where it would sit until I got at least half the family room painted. As we manhandled the thing off the trailer, I said to him, "You do realize that there will be a couch blog coming out of this..." At which point he nearly collapsed with laughter. I think he was rather relieved that he wouldn't be the butt of THIS blog post...

My husband came home at the end of his work day and was stunned, surprised, and a little dismayed to find his house in total chaos and a strange, strongly-smelling-of-cleaning-fluid couch missing half its cushions sitting in the middle of the living room. He gave me a doubtful look and asked when he could expect a little normalcy. I told him to give me an hour and he and the boy went upstairs. I pulled off the painter tape from the one wall (the length of the house, mind you) that I'd painted, ran the vaccuum and pushed the "new" couch in. I vaccuumed the rest of the family room, put the chairs back along with the side table and the lamp and one hour later, the room looked normal. Well, except that half of it was still funeral-home-green.

I took off half of Friday to remedy that, and now my family room/kitchen is all one cheery color. The room looks bigger and I've thrown an old comforter over the still strong-smelling couch to try to dampen the smell a little. Apparently it takes about two weeks for the enzyme smell to go away...

Today, ZBoy and I are hitting Wal-Mart to find big cushions to put across the back of the couch, a curtain to hang over the sliding glass door where I took down the vertical blinds that no one likes, and some shoes for his feet that grow without end.

I'm also going to write on my novel some as I'm falling farther and farther behind. I'm at 22,000 words, should have been at 25,000 on Thursday, so I'm probably 5-6,000 words behind at this point.

And I need to get Thanksgiving stuff. And clean house. And mom's cousin might come by for a visit. I did have a funeral to go to, but my car is unreliable enough that I didn't want to take it that far out of town, so I send my deepest sympathies. My husband is working and I have my son to entertain and spend time with. Think I have enough to do?

Uh-oh. I am my mother's daughter.


Sandy said...

So that's the secret! I have been meaning to paint my house all summer long and so far have absolutely nothing painted. Maybe I just need a new/old couch!

Your mom sounds like an amazing lady.

Dad said...

The joy is knowing that you have discovered long since what a marvellous lady I married.

Anonymous said...

Reference to Dad: sometimes it takes us(daughters) a while to recognize and cultivate our mother into who we are as adults.

For me I seem to have a healthy blend of both my grandmother and my mother.

Zboy's feet will eventually slow down.

And you will catch up on your writing I have faith in you as you race around wide open.

love ya

Anonymous said...

Hi Sayre. Just getting caught up with my reading.

When we were kids in the 50's we called it a chesterfield. I don't know if that was a 50's thing or an Ontario thing.