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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Environmental survival

© Another Day in the Country

Where I sleep in Napa Valley, there are wires running everywhere. There are wires for computers, wires for lamps, wires for a telephone, wires to chargers, and now a wire to my laptop.

This bedroom was never designed to fulfill so many functions. It was my oldest daughter’s room. She was in first grade when we built this house. It’s a small room, but then the whole house is only 1,100 square feet.

Through the 45 years of this house’s existence, the purpose of this room has changed. It was my daughter’s bedroom first, then my bedroom, a spare room, an office, a junk room crammed with music paraphernalia, an office again and then a guest room and office, which it remains.

The closet is a storage area where space was cleared for me to hang clothes between the ironing board and stored fancy clothes worn once in a blue moon. Closet doors are mirrors to make the room look larger. Hanging on the wall is a decorative desk or art piece with a bench designed by Jana’s dad. Under the bench is a small, equally artful wooden chest made by the same man.

In the corner between the desk and closet wall is a short file cabinet. In front of that is an organizing laundry basket, where folks in the household put clothes to be washed: dark, colored, white. (You have to be organized to live in a small space.) The desk is open and holds a computer screen, keyboard and hook-ups — hence the beginning of wire proliferation.

Next comes a small table that I bought years ago at a thrift store and decoupaged with sheets of music. Under the table is a strong box that I gave to Jana when I moved to Kansas. It has important documents in it (I assume). I no longer have the key.

On top of the table is a lamp my daughter bought the day I flew into Oakland.

“So you can see to read at night,” she said.

Other lamps in the room are stylish and mostly for ambiance. (Sad to say, it doesn’t really work because it has those crazy new bulbs that don’t give off light; but I haven’t said anything — yet. Just hunting for a regular bulb — 100-watt preferably, but no chance of that in California.)

Also on the desk is a flashlight (in case I can’t find the unfamiliar lamp switch in the dark), a glass of water, my regular glasses, reading glasses, a pen (which I discovered didn’t work), an emery board, some vitamins (for stamina), a postcard from my cousin Alan, a ring I took off, and a small sack of candy that my daughter got for me and brought to the airport.

A clock I bought years ago sat above the table. It no longer works, perpetually stuck at five minutes until five — which drove me bonkers in my jet-lag status. At her first minute off, Jana replaced it with a working model.

Then there’s my mostly empty suitcase — and we turn the corner to find the bed.

Lots of different beds have been in this room. For more than a year (in the dim recesses of the past) I slept on a chaise longue. The current bed is really a couch of Scandinavian design (one of our favorites) which doubles as a bed and is quite comfortable. It’s brand new, a long-desired piece of furniture for my daughter, and I love it.

Then come two tall white decorative lamps (which I unplugged) and we turn the corner to find a small low dresser that we bought 50 years ago, still in good shape. The top drawer was cleared out for me to use. Under the dresser I’ve stacked my shoes. On top of the dresser I’ve been allowed to run amok.

The dresser top reminds me of a tool chest. Almost everything I brought, or think I’ll need, is there — even though I try to keep it organized. There’s a small vaporizer, herbal potions, deodorant, hair wax (for my newest hairdo), hair spray, hair brush, washcloth, fingernail polish, makeup, powdered blush, blush brush, inhaler, pillbox (filled with vitamins, etc.), lipstick, floss, camera, two kinds of my favorite licorice vines, hair conditioner, and nibbles for emergencies — in case no one is eating and I can’t find food (small bags of almonds, pecans, craisins, raisins, cashews).

There’s more, I’m straining to see in the low light. There’s eye shadow (old), a necklace I made and a necklace I bought in Santa Fe and paid too much for but still love. And, there’s toothpaste, toothbrush, battery charger for camera, Q-tips, a little box of toothpicks (infused with tea tree oil to help my gums, made of “renewable birchwood,” really.)

There’s a watercolor brush, one of those electric outlet protectors that you use to keep babies from electrocuting themselves, which I removed so I could use the socket — for Pete’s sake, my grandson is 8 years old. Oh, I see my sunglasses, a borrowed nailclipper, and an almost empty box of Florastor. (I used antibiotics before I came and thought it might be good if I did gut restoration beyond yogurt — these are left over from someone else’s brush with antibiotics.)

Oops, there’s more licorice because we stopped at my favorite world market. Glasses cleaner, a bracelet, and my poor smart phone — which is always drained of energy (a little like me) because of all the roaming entailed — completes the inventory.

All of this not setting on the actual dresser top (for all of you fuss-budgets) because I put down a towel (which I actually brought from home), but that’s another story for some other day in the country.

Last modified July 22, 2015

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