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Dear Ladies,

My sister and I have entered to win the 2010 HGTV dream home, but we’re not best pleased with the decor they’re offering us this year. You can see the full panoply of pictures on their website, linked above, but I would like to register some specific grievances. First of all, the food choices seem a little odd.

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I am not at all sure that we can eat our way through that many institutional jars of hominy.

Then there is this sort of stick figure in the yard, caught apparently, like a deer in the headlights — a stick deer, as it were — doing, apparently, what two dimensional figures do when they think no one is looking. (Something that involves a giant rock.)

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Then we have this interesting choice of osseus matter — I would say the jawbones of several asses, arranged in a sort of ‘skeletal view of emergent bison doing interlocking deep knee bends’ impression.

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Tear your eyes away from it ladies, for we have another piece of art below which shall challenge us further to do some real soul searching for some sort of answer — and then, flee to another room.

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(I always find it so impossible to browse the internet when being eerily ogled by the giant head of a painted warrior.)

But I think the most anomalous thing in the 2010 dreamhome is depicted below: set among lamps, in a sort of breviary of houseplants. (I looked up the word ‘breviary’ and it didn’t mean what I thought it didn’t: but I’m so frightened out of my wits at the moment that nothing more suitable is coming to mind). It looks like a sacred cakeplate: a sort of teleportation device for outer cake:

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I enter to win the dream home annually, and always count on being surprised by winning (though I actually avoid this website now because I find it so addictive — my sister alerted me that the dream home was going soon.) They will be ambushing (ha. ha. not so funny, considering that painting in the computer room) the winner mid March: Enter for your chance to win a stick figure squatting mysteriously over a rock, a truly awe inspiring engorged head of man, some bones of animals preserved in various forms of prehistoric yoga, an hagiographical dessert display, and forty odd cans of hominy.

It’s a Veterans Day not like past Veterans Days that I remember. This is a Veterans Day of very present death: death by war and death by hatred. But all death is because of sin. Eight Stryker soldiers from my hometown Army base, and the Fort Hood massacre by the lunatic Army psychiatrist made death very present. Air Force Two boomed over my house early Tuesday afternoon; at least I’m pretty sure that was what it was. We don’t get a lot of 757s landing here, and this one was certainly flying low enough for landing. I’ve been reading accounts of Kimberly Munley with admiration. I admire her not just because she’s a hero and she took down Dr. Death, not just because she hit her target while under fire, but because she avers that she was just doing her job; it was confusing out there, she said, but her training kicked in. Nothing special, it’s not about her. She’s clear about that, clear as the shots that rang out on a decently pleasant Texas day no one had any reason to think would be eventful, much less historical.

I’m hanging out at home, a not infrequent occurrence, reading a book on biblical ethics, reading up on news events, drinking tea, and watching the Cat sleep, get up and eat, yank a couple of toys out of his box, and bat them around for a minute before walking off to stretch and lie down. A couple of flickers are aerating my lawn with their long beaks, for what reward I’m not sure, but I wish they liked toadstools. Ours are beginning to provide shade for a microcosmic backyard planet. I’m wearing my red tabard sweater, a gift from my friend Jane that she knit for me a couple of years ago. She inspired me to get back to knitting. Right now knitting is on hold, but I hope that my repetitive strain injury will eventually resolve to the point that I can knit again, even if I can’t type. I can use voice-recognition software to write, but there isn’t any voice-actuated sock knitting software, at least not yet.

Our bamboo, green and tall and lithe, waves languidly against the blue sky and some power lines. We have so much, in those things alone.


Many, O Lord My God,
are Your wonderful works
Which You have done;
And Your thoughts toward us
Cannot be recounted to You in order;
If I would declare and speak of them,
They are more than can be numbered. — Psalm 40:5

 

A little thwarted that we are not to move to Aix-en-Provence, France, Lubbock, Texas, or even Kennewick, Washington — in other words, my entire scope of hoped-for change is dashed beneath an avalanche of inertia — we are, instead, going to hold, at this month’s end, a moving-rehearsal sale. The invocation I pitched to my husband was, “Pretend we’re moving, and may there be no survivors in any crannies or stow-holds.”

 

Actually, my motive was to hold a garage sale to try to raise some money to dent the airfare cost a wonderful young woman is going to incur, flying to Africa this year to be married. I reckoned a multiple-benefit scenario. A garage sale would inspire my husband to clean out the garage. It would inspire me to part with numerous things that have failed to disappear for wishing they would. Rather than disappearing, these things have maintained their spots and their status as curated objects despite their retirement from usefulness, serving only to remind me of bygone abilities. It is time for them to leave, even if it is not time for us to leave.

 

We are pacing ourselves to be organized without pressure on opening day. We are actually participating in an advertised neighborhood-wide event. About forty households hold garage sales the first weekend of August every year. This will be our first time participating. Normally, we spend as much time as possible away from home, avoiding the event. The community garage sale attracts every Gypsy horde west of the Rockies.

 

Gone will be the chipped Limoges plates, gone will be the tennis racquets, gone even will be a hot air popcorn popper — though I may need to keep it, even though we don’t like popcorn, just because it is made in the U. S. A.

 

I honestly think the inspiration underlying the idea of the garage sale has to do with the spiritual need of purging: my system is stressed by pain I am unable to purge, I cannot purge my wish for adventure, nor can I sate it; really, I desire change I cannot effect, nor would such change be wholesome. So the garage sale is like a dress rehearsal for a wished-for change, sort of like cleaning the oven used to be before the days of self-cleaning ovens. I moved often enough that I would only clean my oven before I moved.

 

May fair weather, fair fellowship, and a fair jaunt to Goodwill with the leftovers after the sale attend us.

If you have a repetitive strain injury, and it hurts to grasp anything in your hands, one of the less welcome events in your day is a button detaching itself from your pants. But this did occur in my day, welcome or not.

I knew that my only hope was to sew the button on using my sewing machine; shoving a needle through fabric, even lightweight nylon, was out of the question. My sewing machine manual hung on the wall above my sewing machine for years and I never resorted to it. So I put it away someplace. I had no recollection of how to sew on a button, and no recollection of where I had placed the manual. I searched for it, and discovered that it was not anyplace. I tried a few things on a scrap of fabric, hoping that the stitches would simply go back and forth and not down. I chipped two buttons during this experiment, an impressively low casualty rate given the importance of my research.

After about 20 minutes of futility, the words, “feed dogs” inexplicably entered my mind. This was scarcely odd because I haven’t any dogs. Then I remembered, feed dogs, the little ridgy things that make your fabric move along. There was some way to disengage them. I opened the compartment where they would logically be located, and stared down the whole mechanism until it revealed its secret. I nudged a lever and thought something moved. I tried again on another scrap, and, Button Bingo. The needle moved back and forth and not down. I set a new button in place, and adjusted the zigzag width. Within a minute or so, the button was secured.

People need to understand that blue thread is fine on taupe pants. It’s what’s already in the machine that counts. Rethreading would have been a dealbreaker.

I e-mailed Vic and told him of the button adventure. He said, “Blue goes with taupe as Spring skies go with the California hills.” That’s because he’s wonderful.

Never, never, never, never never give up.

–by Lauren

Evidently I have been tapped to join this blog for my vast expertise at homekeeping. Readers should be made aware: my fellow Administrators have never met me. They have never seen my home. They believe what I have told them over the past couple of years, making me, I suppose, passably credible, or them passably credulous. As for our Cat who eats at the dining room table, we find this well within the pale of Titus 2:5 homekeeping.

Cleaning my house and its contents takes a fair amount of time; cooking is a fly-by activity. I usually load the crockpot three times a week, but I also roast briskets and cut them up, and cut up vegetables every few crockpot loads. I am knitting my 13th pair of socks, reading three books concurrently, and walking over an hour a day to maintain a sense of well being. It is a false sense for the most part.

Financial tasks and throwing away most of the mail takes minutes a week. It is this bailiwick in which my efficiency brightly shines. A few times a year I go on an organization binge. The last such foray was the bathroom cupboards. We have no medicine cabinet, but we have cupboards, drawers, and counterspace. I categorized objects by their basic purpose, put them in zip-lock bags, and put the bags in little plastic organizer baskets in the cupboards and in the drawers. I used a tableware organizer in the largest drawer for the various hair and skin things I had been tossing things out of the way to find. My husband has very diligently maintained the order, and has seldom asked for help at finding anything. The bathroom is slated for destruction and remodeling, and then we will consider acquisition of a medicine cabinet. But for now, we shun this pretense of normalcy.

My insurance agent has a sign at the door: “Please pardon the mess: We are remodeling.” The office is far from being a mess, and they are not remodeling; however, I asked if I could have the sign, just to post defensively. We have remodeled so much we have earned every defense in the book. And summer brings yet more projects, indoors and out. Those will be my husband’s purview; mine will be to practice my croquet put in the back yard.

August 2017
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