Housekeeping Twaddle:
Boxed Brain
26 November 2014

A few minutes ago, it was snowing. Well, it sort of still is, but you have to squint to see it. A nuisance outdoors without any indoors charm. What’s more, there’s no daylight. The cloud cover is so thick that lamps must be lighted. I had been hoping to see what Ray Soleil’s paint job looked like by day. Last night, after work, he applied a wizardly mix of paint and glaze to the two lesser bookcases, and one coat over that old, dead blue was all that was needed. Astoundingly similar results were obtained on one wing of the breakfront bookcase, the one that I had foolishly painted in Loeb Greek Classics green. When you stand close to the cases, the underlying color peeks through, but from a distance, all is a warm, understated brown, verging on bronze, that suits the book room perfectly. Later this afternoon, I’ll start unpacking books. Yikes!

Yesterday, I unpacked the ornaments — a category that includes everything that doesn’t belong (a) on a shelf with other books or in a drawer with other discs and (b) in the kitchen or about the dining table. There were seven such boxes, and I got rid of five of them. The writing table in the living room — in the part of the living room near the window, which I’ve already taken to calling “the boudoir,” is laden with currently homeless knickknacks. As all the furniture is in place, it’s hard to see how that homelessness is going to be addressed. What to do with the holloware silver is particularly perplexing. I’m thinking that we’re going to have to buy something to put it in, a cupboard of some kind. Or I may just polish it all the time and keep it out. If you actually use silver, you don’t have to polish it very often. There’s a moral there somewhere.

Now the foyer was clear for me to set up the card table, onto which I loaded all the stuff that had been carelessly thrown onto the bookcases in the ten days since the move. When I bought the card table, both Kathleen and Ray cocked their eyebrows, and when I said that a folding table would be very useful in many ways, they fell back on “where will you put it.” Don’t worry: I always find a place for things that need to be squirreled away — sometimes in plain sight. Kathleen and Ray don’t have to put up with those rickety tray tables that don’t hold a proper load. And when Kathleen goes off to a convention, I’ll set up the table in the foyer (which, even when furnished, is about the size of a small but decent dance floor) and work on a jigsaw puzzle. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

Ray will be here shortly after lunch — his shop knocks off early today, in view of the holiday — and I’ve no doubt that he’ll finish the job in a breeze. Also on the schedule is a bit of course correction: fractions of an inch have to be shaved from the bottoms of the closet doors, which are now catching on the rugs; also, Kathleen requires additional poles in her closets. Someone is going to take care of those problems, someone referred to us (and to whom we were referred) by our former upstairs neighbor. I’ll have nothing to do but stare out the window, squinting to see the snow.

Time for another coat of off-white.


It was  more than a little shocking this morning to learn that St Thomas More, the church where Kathleen and I were married, and her parish church for almost all of her life, may be shuttered in August, presumably so that the land can be sold to raise some of the gazillions that are being poured into the renovation of St Patrick’s Cathedral. The word had been that St Thomas More was “safe,” safe from the rash of mergers and closings that were announced earlier this month. Kathleen knew all about from our friend the deacon. When I read the news at Huff Post — one of Kathleen’s cousins had linked to it at Facebook, but also sent me a note via Gmail — I didn’t know whether to mention it Kathleen at all. She is very tired, having been working long hours lately, and of course having been dislocated by the move. (Having been doing the actual relocating, I have fared better.) She woke from a dreadful nightmare this morning with an awful headache. Selfishly, I wanted to get the moment over with, so I told her. She was really too low to take it very badly, and, if anything, it seemed to make her cross, which is a good response.

Curiously, Facebook can’t find the “Save St. Thomas More — Manhattan” page that Huff Post reporter Joe Peyronnin mentions. And our friend the deacon is in Europe.


Meanwhile, my closet door now opens and closes just as it ought to do — without my having to give the rug a thought. And the breakfront bookcase is actually disappearing into the book room. I was tempted to photograph the transformation, but it can’t be done. If there’s one thing that individual photographs fail to do well, it’s to suggest change. So, when you see the picture of a half-painted bookcase, you see disorder and mess. You don’t see anything happening. You had to be here. Even I, who was here, wouldn’t get anything out of pictures taken while Ray worked his magic. So I didn’t bother.

Instead, I prowled about the Great Wall of Books, hoping to find a box with a D or an E label, indicating the contents of the lesser bookcases. But the top boxes were all labeled A, B or C — the three ranges of the breakfront. I’ll have to go digging if I want to find a box to unpack. So I shred instead. That stack of tipped milk crates was just about to make contact with the breakfront bookcase when I began transferring their contents to banker’s boxes. The bulk of a very thick wad of old bills turned to be too old to warrant keeping, and, in a related brainwave, I realized that the place for the shredder is the kitchen, because it makes a kitchen-style mess and works best on a counter. So: I’ll keep it in a dishpan under the sink, and we’ll see how that works.

The closet work is done, and the man who did it will be happy to install the Venetian blinds when they arrive. Sono contentissimo but it’s probably just fatigue. Ray Soleil’s heroic paint job is drying. There’s nothing to do and no end of stuff to be done. What I need is another brainwave: what to do with all those pandan shirt boxes?


What am I cooking for Thanksgiving dinner? Nothing — we’re going out. The moment he heard about the impending move, Fossil Darling made a reservation at a favorite spot in the Village. Before heading downtown, we’ll visit some friends on the Upper West Side.

Here’s hoping for a warm and happy Thanksgiving for all my readers, their families, and their friends.