|This is not Me.|
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.
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.
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.