The curio cabinet, which was called the largest ever by an unlucky someone who volunteered to move it, houses eight snow globes, 20 porcelain angels and other collectibles.
Kathy is our interior decorator, which is good because I am utterly impaired in that regard. Once outside the home, I cannot with any certainty identify wallpaper patterns and other décor.
Less is indeed more even when it involves repositioning apple crates as a coffee table.
Kathy is free to decorate, but we sometimes butt heads. When we do, it’s best to retreat. With rain falling, too much free time and my wife gone, I took inventory of the wall hangings. There are more and certainly not less than 50 paintings, photographs and inspirational messages. The collection runs the gamut: The Last Supper, a French countryside, a sailboat and Winnie the Pooh and friends picnicking in a meadow.
A suggestion that some should be taken down was not warmly received, and a strategic retreat to the office followed, where solitude often yields productive respite. History’s greatest have done the same.
Thomas Jefferson had Monticello; David Thoreau, Walden Pond; and Teddy Roosevelt, a North Dakota ranch. Napoleon could otherwise be counted among that number, but he was deported to St. Helena against his will. The island’s remoteness — it is located 1,000 miles off the African coast — didn’t prevent London authorities and the French royal court from poisoning the little corporal.
Other than the awful tuna noodle casserole that I made on Monday without the benefit of a recipe, the only thing poisoned in our household is fixer-upperness. A firm shutting of the office door highlighted the rift.
The silence that followed yielded the realization that the office is also filled with stuff. The wall shelf holds two sports trophies, three model racing cars, a power wagon in its original box, an unopened bottle of Mountain Dew circa 1991, a gorilla mask, an autographed Tony Oliva baseball, and a few Rochester Honkers bobbleheads.
Almost all have sentimental value, but none as great as the Singer sewing machine. It had been my mother’s, who spent hours at it so that her children might be made presentable.
She seemed happiest with a thimble on her fingertip and a pattern spread out on the wood floor. Her ability to "make do" extended to cloth feed sacks altered to become T-shirts, pieces of cloth braided into rugs, and jeans patched until there were more patches than original cloth.
The sewing machine’s drawers, once crammed with thread, scissors and buttons, are now empty and its body is in need of repair. But it remains indispensable to me. During those times when the walls are closing in, Mother returns to the stiff-backed chair and the machine springs to life.
“These will fit you now,’’ she says while holding up shirts that had been given to her by the sister who looked out for our family’s well being.
Mother knitted in her upholstered chair near the window where sunlight streamed in and warmed the room. Above her was a formal photograph of her eldest daughter, who died from pneumatic fever complications in her teens. The years had dulled, but not eliminated, the sadness.
The eldest daughter was a beautiful girl with dreams to match. Mother's youngest child was equally beautiful, or so she said when he doubted the truthfulness of it. When he was older and remained out past midnight, she fell asleep in the chair awaiting his safe return.
“I love you,’’ were the last spoken words to me.
It was seldom said when we were together, but it was never doubted.
The office door opened, and Kathy was out of breath because she had carried two big boxes in from the garage.
“It’s time to put up the tree and the Christmas decorations.’’
I resisted the urge to close the door and complain about the ornaments, tinsel and tangled lights. Less is certainly not more when love’s forbearance is necessary.