Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nesting ...

Gemma and I used to live next door to each other in a building on Waveland. We met the night she locked herself out of her apartment on the way down to the basement to get her laundry.

They were adorable little studio apartments, full of character, rehabbed but charming, lots of freshly varnished dark wood moldings and doors, and pedestal tubs on the one hand, builder's special stock white cabinetry and what must have been close-out wall sconces on the other. (I first rented that space in 1994, but the wall sconces had to have been manufactured in the '80s.)

We lived right down the street from Wrigley, close enough that on game days, I could watch the game on TV, and hear the roar of the crowd through my open windows when someone hit a homer. For all my proximity, I didn't go to many games in the park. For the same reason, I suppose, that folks who live in a given city only do the interesting things when relatives come to town. If you live in it or near it, you don't do it. Because it's there. Which makes no sense.

But Gems and I became good friends, and sometimes we'd shop for things for our wee spaces, and it was she who used the phrase one day, "My nest is best," a reference to the children's book. She wasn't saying her place was better than mine. It was just a way of conveying contentment with one's home.

I moved out of my studio in 1997, into a larger apartment, still with the same management company, still with the same renovated kitchens, but this time with more space. I had decided that the time had come to graduate from a studio with twin-size bed to a one-bedroom with a queen. Oh, the luxury.

Today, I live in a two-bedroom house. Apparently, I add a bedroom with each move. And it's surely more space than I need, this house, but I do love it. And this week has been particularly nesty.

It all began with moving my treadmill. In a fit of commitment to getting into shape, I bought a treadmill a few years ago – yes, in January; I'm such a cliché – but the only place for it was in my TV room. The basement would be logical, yes, except that I don't have high ceilings in the basement, so the equation looked like this:

Height of me + deck of the treadmill = Beth's head practically touching the ceiling, so forget about using the incline function

Of course, I hadn't thought of this before I bought it. I thought of it while I was waiting for it to be delivered.

So into the TV room it went.

Except that a treadmill isn't much of a design statement. Not that I'm any kind of designer. Still, in my cozy TV room, with its built-in bookshelves and fireplace and hardwood floors, a treadmill became an interloper. But what was a girl to do?

I had the delivery men place it in the room along a short wall, facing the TV – naturally – but that left it very conspicuous, what with being in front of the window. And so, the other day, I turned it around, so now it faces the wall, And the deck of the treadmill runs underneath the window, and it's still not the ideal location for a piece of exercise equipment, but visually, it's much more harmonious in the space, much less conspicuous. And anyway, when I used to walk on it and watch TV, I wouldn't stay on it for long. But now, with it facing the wall, I'll just use my iPod and music keeps me motivated for much longer.

And believe me, I need to be on it more, not less. I need to live on it, really.

But as I was saying ...

Moving the treadmill meant that I had to move the floor lamp next to the couch. So I put the lamp by one of the built-ins. But moving the lamp meant I had to move the clock. So I moved the clock. And that night, lying on the couch, looking at the corner which now contained the lamp but not the clock, I thought to myself that it would be lovely to have a chair there, with the floor lamp, next to the built-ins, a little library corner, as it were.

And I had a very good idea for what chair to put there, a plan that has been put into place with the help of a very generous friend, and soon it will arrive.

Also this week, though, I was staring at the space above my couch, a wall that has been blank for as long as I've lived here, and I decided that I needed a very horizontal piece of art, and another friend happens to shoot panoramic images that he outputs in a large format, so we chatted about what images might work, and that plan is in place, too.

Of course, now I want new curtains for that space. And I need a new rod. And a blind for the window to hang underneath the curtains. And a new rug. I desperately need a new rug. Well, not desperately. But the one that's there is too small and too solid and too casual and after 10 years, really, it's time for it to go. Somewhere else. Like a garage sale. Or Goodwill.

And the very nice oven-fixer man came by yesterday to fix my oven, so that a) food will now cook at the proper temperature in the right amount of time, and 2) I will not fill my house with natural gas while trying to bake a frozen pizza.

And I cleaned my bathroom to within an inch of its life, not just the usual sink-and-tub once over, but taking everything out of the medicine cabinet and cleaning in there and tossing stuff out, and cleaning the floor, and all the molding of all the wainscoting in there. It's very pretty, all that molding, but there are a lot of surfaces on which dust settles. Speaking of which, I don't think I had ever dusted the top of that door until the other day. That was interesting.

And – this is monumental – I did almost all of my laundry. Including afghans and quilts and curtains and every stitch of clothing that had been piled up, waiting. I still have a set of flannel sheets to go. But the jumble of towels and socks and other assorted somethings are no longer lying at the base of my basement stairs, reminding me with every glance that I suck for letting them sit there. The curtains are rehung in my bedroom and it's nice to have them all one color again, instead of the ombre effect of off-white (the clean part) to faintly grey (the part that hangs in front of the open part of the window).

So, on this lazy Saturday, I have the very happy sensation of not really having to do anything. I can bake again (without Sylvia Plath-ing it), I can read, I can nap. I can go outside at some point and pull weeds (oh, the glamour of owning a home) or I can run a few errands, but for the moment, it's nice to sit in my house and appreciate it.

I've crossed off almost every item on the to-do list I made at the beginning of the week. The remainders require me to leave the house, to pick up things like a 100-watt, 3-way light bulb and a white taper candle. Huge expenses, those.

Although, I think the time may have come to paint the wood that surrounds my fireplace. Which would require taping. And priming. And painting. I haven't been to the paint store in a while, though. I used to be a fairly regular customer. Or maybe I'd like to paint my bathroom. Or install molding in my office. Or retile the kitchen.

One thing leads to another.

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