Tuesday, 19 February 2013

A Death-Scented Sofa

This is not Me. 
I woke up with a headache, and doing housework sometimes helps. So I started the day off busy. It did not take long to slide into an epic.

First I wiped the muddy cat-tracks off the back of the leather sofa. The back of the leather sofa was not designed to be a welcome-mat for cats, but the sofa backs up against the window that leads onto the back yard. The window was not designed to be a cat-door, not designed to be opened and closed 46 times each day to suit feline whims.

Things wear out fast around here. Wear and tear are the reason we dropped big bucks on a leather sofa. I would not ordinarily spend big bucks on anything, but I must say the leather was a good decision. The Meseta is an extreme place. Extreme dust in August and September, and extreme mud December through April. This is why what little upholstery we have is leather – it can be cleaned, over and over. Dust does not soak in. Dogs can vomit, cats can track across it, people can lounge and leak and cry all over it, and it will clean up just fine, long as harsh chemicals or sharp blades are not involved.

That is why the other furniture is rattan or wood, and cushions are made of carpet. That is why the rug is made of jute, not wool or cotton, and why the floors beneath are tiled. They hide the dirt and dog-hair and dander, at least for a day or two. And they endure.

It is only by happy accident that all these things work together into a happy harmony. It looks like décor in here, like someone actually planned these colors and textures and geometries. We are lucky that way.

Until, occasionally, our luck runs out.

Today, as I wiped down the sofa, I smelled something bad.

I live in an agricultural town, where fertilizer and manure, wet earth and rotting carcasses are daily aromas. I have a funk-adapted nose. When something inside my house stinks to me, something has gone very bad indeed. I pulled the sofa away from the wall.

It was not a derelict sandwich – dogs love old food much too much to let that happen.
It was not an abandoned rag, left to moulder when someone came to the door and interrupted a long-ago cleaning session.
It was not a leaky windowsill, admitting rain into the dead zone between the drywall and the old adobe wall behind it. No visible mildew.

It was two sparrows, very dead. Or what remained of them -- tiny heaps of feathers, beaks, and claws. Moe´s pantry. I went, to get the dust pan. When I returned, Rosie had one of the bodies in her mouth. She  was headed for the kitchen door trailing a cloud of feathers and at least one cat. I shouted. Rosie dropped the bird. I swept up the down as it settled onto the tiles and the jute rug. I retrieved both bodies and threw them onto the fire. I flipped up the edge of the rug, and saw the great beach of dust and dog-dander that lives between it and the tiles. I sighed. I could almost hear the dominos dropping.

I topped-up my headache pills with an allergy tablet, and rolled the vacuum into the room. Dogs and cats fled. I sucked up the feathers and dust from behind the sofa. I sucked down the spider webs in the rafters overhead and thought about refreshing the paint. I started on the under-rug dirt. I picked up the edge nearest to woodstove, and it came away in my hand. It is jute, natural fiber, always slowly going south, crumbling into the dust beneath. After three years of lying near the fire, it is dried up. It will have to go.

I took a hard look at the other furniture in the room. The wicker rocker´s been knocked-about in the last couple of years, frayed by kitten-claws and gnawing dogs and pilgrim bums. Rosie has decided it is hers, she sleeps there at night. The Peaceable Kingdom-theme cushion-cover is looking tired now, its lions and leopards are folded and grubby.

New cushion covers, I think. Leather. Or carpet. Or maybe replace the whole unraveling chair. Or not. We do not get crowds here any more. No need for more chairs.

The shelf bulges with compact disks. Someday we will master our computers, and our music collection will be neatly contained on hard-drives or Ipods or other such devices. But for now, it is all still on CD – testimony of our obsolescence as modern humans. It is a mess, this great jumble of music. Something should be done. But fixing that will require investment – hours of transferring the disks into digital form, cataloging them in a logical order. Someone will have to show us how. We will need equipment to do that, and time, and patience, and inclination.

And at the end of it all, there´s the very real chance one of us will forget to hit “Save.” Or the power will fail halfway through, or the hard drive will decide it only speaks MacIntosh. All efforts to recover will be met with scorn and humiliation by the 90% of humanity who keep up with media as it morphs.

But I digress.
A new jute rug is in order, and a new cushion or two or three.
The patio needs big pots for plants, and a ton of dirt to put in them.
Two new dog beds, as the ones in here have taken on the charactar of the creatures who use them – dirty, hairy, ragged and smelly.
Salad tongs.
Sheets for the odd-size upstairs bed.

A shopping expedition!
Which means cleaning the back of the car, flattening the back seats, finding what might be lurking in the folds. An odyssey, a day of measuring, list-making and driving, parking and hiking. It means decision-making and consultations on sizes and colors and materials. Yielding not to temptation. Sticker shock, then geometric exercise in fitting odd shapes into the oblong space that is the rear of the car. Then driving it home and unloading it all.

It means Ikea, in Valladolid.
I will not go there alone. I do not shop happily or well by myself. I have sworn a great swear to never again go there with Paddy.

What I need is a girlfriend. A shopaholic, a natural hunter-gatherer. There are not many of those here on the Meseta in mid-February. No shopping trip. Not for a while.

I let myself feel relief.

I pushed the sofa back up against the wall, and tucked the ragged rug-corner under itself, and put off the Inevitable for some other day. I have a headache. It will not do to push too hard. 


strangerthanfiction said...

The old jute rug will make great garden path material....and will subside gracefully into the ground. I'm about to enter into a round of late winter cleaning myself. Its going to be me and the dog for more than a month. I expect great things of myself. You may not have a girlfriend to go to IKEA with but you can take heart that on the other side of the ocean you have at least one partner in the Sisyphean task of trying to keep up with the mess.

Anonymous said...

Yahoo, girlfriend....get me over there...IKEA is an instant headache to me, too, but I have been there before and have figured out their evil ways of getting you to buy 5 times what you came for...Did you win the lottery?

love, k

EileenHamer said...

I laughed in sympathy because I live with 2 cats and occasional grandkids (with a chocolate lab) dedicated to creating chaos in my house. I truly understand leather furniture and not looking under rugs. I often feel I'm only days ahead of the health department, especially those days when I step on slimy hair balls. But I'd go crazy without them.