Her Favorite Room

There’s a little room on one side of the house that was added on by other owners somewhere along the line. It’s just under 70 square feet total — 7’6″ one way and 9’3″ the other — just a little bigger than a prison cell which is 6 feet by 8 feet as a standard. It has two doors that can let the prisoner free at any time though — one that opens to the outside right under a huge scraggly tree and the other into the living room — which was as big as the house was before adding this wing on and there is no barbed wire except for a barbed-wire heart hanging on the scraggly tree. The add-on goes the full depth of the house so, past the feet that makes the little prison room is what they divided for doing laundry and it’s somewhat bigger than the 7’6″ of the mudroom — but not much and comes off the kitchen and then goes out to the back.

She calls the little prison-sized room the mudroom because she imagines the other people made it as a way of coming in without landing right in the living room and a place to kick off dirty shoes because the door that leads outside is on the front of the house. Visitors have a lot of trouble trying to figure out where to go because, beside the two front doors, there is a studio.

She gave up on kicking off dirty shoes because she traipses in and out all day long and mostly for gardening reasons, so what she does now is keeps extra flips at the door and exchanges wet, dirty ones for less than wet and dirty ones, but still manages to bring in lots of silt, sand and organic stuffs that the kitties love — outside stuff to sniff, sniff, sniff.

She doesn’t come in through the mudroom because the door is trouble for various assorted reasons, so unless it’s a particularly wonderful day outside and the kitties are in the studio, the door stays locked and things are stuffed under it to keep critters like snakes and tarantulas out — she has both of them living outside and wants to keep it that way even though some have already come in to visit.

She took a shower with a tarantula once — it was a Psycho kind of scene. Another time the whole city police force lined up in front of her house to all come in to find a snake. Every single cop she knows of, working in her city, came through her house that night. One really big policeman came out holding a tiny snake and took it across the street to release it in the schoolyard! Mind you, she had called for animal control.

She painted the mudroom Your Highness — an ACE Hardware muted purple color — a very long time ago and has never looked back. It doesn’t make her feel happy per se, but it doesn’t make her feel sad — just makes her feel like herself since that shade of purple says a lot about herself to herself. She’s thought about changing colors, but never does. It is just the right intensity not to reflect too much light so makes the little room a perfect retreat because of its cocoon like nature. The ceiling is low and can easily be touched and the two-in-one window that takes up most of the width of the wall on the south, sloped side is up high and has glass that slides from bottom to top for letting breezes in through screens.

The little room has a sofa that just makes the fit along one wall. She’s tried every arrangement possible and always goes back to the sofa being there. She uses it like a lounge. There are a total of seven pieces of furniture in the tiny space — the sofa, a round coffee table, a nightstand that acts as a side table for a lamp, a little vintage wooden cigarette stand — that has been in the family forever and gone from her to her sister and back to her with her sister adding more colorful paint embellishments — with a smaller lamp on it for subtler lighting and magazines, a swivel chair in the next corner going round and then a three shelf cart that holds a TV for watching VHS old movies that can be seen from the sofa or the chair. The seventh piece is a wooden stool that just fits behind the TV cart and often has a big dictionary on it for looking up good words.

It’s her favorite room to go to when she really wants to relax throughout the course of the day. And even though it is on the west side and therefore gets the setting sun and even though it is horribly insulated because it was a stick-built add-on with a flat roof, a fan is enough in the summer and a little space heater heats it up real fast in winter because it’s so very small. And there is a curtain at the door to keep heat in or let heat out — depending on which is being the bother.

Her sister came to live with her for a few months many years ago now. She’d give that room up in a heartbeat if she could bring her sister back. The room was just big enough for a twin size mattress and the rest of her stuff spilled out into the living room. Her sister loved to keep the door open so she could look out to the scraggly tree and beyond. They had five dogs between them and two cats so after awhile, it became such a nuisance to be worrying about doors and cats getting out that they just flung it all open and the cats had a free-for-all. One of them ran away. He was 14 years old and very beloved but her thinking was that he had wanted out for all those 14 years so it was a gift she would finally give him since it was all too much for her and her sister to keep up with and her sister had to come first. He stayed around for quite awhile but she watched as he kept creeping farther and farther atop the fence footer looking out into the wild blue yonder. He finally made the decision.

Bye, bye Peter Rabbit. He was such a very good cat and they had loved each other well but he had been sick off and on and she wonders if maybe he left to die. Orphan Annie stuck around for many years thereafter.

The house had carpeting in it when she moved there but she hates carpet so it wasn’t very long before she yanked it all out and started painting the concrete floors.

So, she went in there today because the cats were already out in the studio and the screen door that she has propped up to keep cats out could be moved away and let her come and go freely — and while she was sitting in there this morning, she started thinking about how anyone can stand living in a prison cell without going out of their mind and felt very sorry for any of them if they don’t have doors where they can go freely out to sit underneath a tree.

She did think too though that six feet by eight feet is just about as much space as any one person really needs for feeling rather comfy and except for the control thing, she might be able to make herself happy in a little space like that. She’s often thought that she should get a little travel trailer, park it in the carport and convert the house into a sewing center except for all the city issues. The mudroom has served as a dressing room when she was doing alterations and many, many city workers came and went without asking any questions — a lot of cops wanting patches on their uniforms too — but plenty of city workers that might know lots about any codes that she was breaking. No one ever said a word.

It’s hard to believe that 1439 words can be written about one room, but since her days of reading Thoughts Of Home in House Beautiful eons ago and that being the main inspiration for her to want to start writing in the first place, she decided today would be a start of paying homage to that guiding force and every once in awhile now, she will put something in the category of Thoughts Of Home. She’ll try to do something better next time.

 

SpoolTeacher Mudroom

 

 

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Where To Go

The thing to do it seemed was to start packing things up in boxes exactly the way it would be done for moving, starting with things that should definitely travel to the next place – only the utter essentials. That would start the paring. Those boxes could take the spaces where they would be the closest to any of the exits.

Looking to the left the cupboards were loaded and yes, they were handsome for looking at and the shelves had finally been finished in the best rendition of coloring after going through several gyrations – two shades of what interpreted as more turquoise than Moody Blue as it was named. It might be that turquoise could be moody and in fact it did have a way of setting a mood and one that no longer needed any further tweaking.

All the items stacked on the shelves to look at — and they were mostly just for that as seldom were any of them actually used — were colorful and placed such that they would photograph well for an article that might be written for Thoughts of Home in an issue of House Beautiful — another of the things that had long ago been a good intention — and even a main reason for why any writing had been taken up in the first place.

There had been fabulous stories in Thoughts of Home that were still available to re-read in the mile-high stack of magazines that might now be better burning — if they wouldn’t be too sorely missed.

Most of the items intrinsically of value if by sentiment or having aged well were not among the utterly essential category and though they might be sorely missed, could remain safe in boxes that could stay for the time being as well as possibly any of the Thoughts of Home.

Any of a number of complexities for trying to sell the things was outweighed easily by thinking of the joy their absence by burning or leaving might be to ease moving or thinking about them again later or dusting sometime in the future. It might be that after a succession of the events of new living, they would find themselves forgotten or devalued for their ability to distract because a better thing had taken the space that they’d been holding. That was the hope. And that was becoming known of what their value had ever really been, distractions, a thing to dote upon or move around for dealing with neurotic episodes. What a waste of valuable time and no more was available for that kind of wasting if it ever had been. Seemed that true healing was finally beginning.

This had all been done another time when it was thought that a new living arrangement was on the horizon. And though that failed to manifest – old souls deciding that if they hadn’t been ready before they likely would not be ready ever to live together as one – the boxes did well to sit for quite a spell until a collection of animal vases looked interesting to paw through and it all went mad again from there. All of the boxes flung open and their contents spilled out to congregate on shelves where they needed attending to by looking at again or dusting.

What had suddenly become so troubling had more to do with how to realize the full measure of life’s meaning in a way that didn’t require any consideration of dusting or mopping because dusting and mopping kept interrupting far too many other good scenarios of imagination or actual doing, so it was becoming ever more clear — as if it hadn’t always been — that they were not things good time should be spent on.

There was something of a story that still needed full expression – one that included living near a stream or some body of water where there may be a woods and meadow and wild things living and maybe even better weather that could fill the spaces boxed up goods were no good at filling nor any of their contents.

The things that needed to be put in the boxes left for losing had stories that were old and most of the characters in them had aged out and gone to ethereal places where they didn’t need any of the caring they or any of their things had called upon at one time. Touching or seeing any of those things again was an unnecessary repetition and seemed to be doing more harm than any good now. They could remain in boxes until the full measure of their missing could be known — but in the meanwhile, some going must be done and it would only be possible to do, it seemed, if the things were burned or left behind.

It’s so easy to see once the putting of things in boxes starts that the city had gotten too small and there were no meadows and not much evidence of wild things — that the weather was poor and even though congestion was not anywhere like a real city, it was nonetheless congestion — other unhappy people milling around behaving in neurotic episodes not finding any real measure of full meaning — most all of them eating pizza and forgetting about the birds and bees instead.

The only charm the little burg had ever had was a person and some other people that had come and gone by now. And no one else seemed worthy of mentioning so it was starting to seem that rivers or lakes or meadows or mountains might be more satisfying — that story that still needed its full expression. There had been dreams.

There is a man that has a lot of anger and it’s hard not to imagine that people stay together because complaining is easy enough to remedy for a minute or two by cheating — but finding a way to keep happy and moving along in life without a partner leaves an opportunity to not excuse a lack of accomplishment on something someone else held back or replaced in a lesser way. There is no substitute for one’s own full knowing where less anger already exists.

There are people who when coupled are greater than the sum of their parts — people who living whole lives together benefit more than if they had remained alone — a beautiful thing when and if two can do.

Maybe just knowing that nothing but and every utter essential was corralled in boxes ready to exit would be all that was needed to clear the path for leaving. The house could be looked at like it had been at the beginning, but this time not as a place for starting over but a place to leave someone else for starting over. And even though lots of love had been put into it, that also had been done before elsewhere and it had been possible to yank any of those roots to leave with all those boxes.

Grieving is a process but it was starting to seem like the grieving needed to be carried in one of the essential boxes or maybe split up into several of the lesser ones because it was becoming more and more evident that it was likely the only thing keeping her from really leaving — that and where to go.

 

 

where to go