In the living room, the mantle no longer explodes with glittery branches and ribbons tucked in greenery. It now wears a tasteful and calming tableau of rusty little Mexican lanterns and small blackened bronze objets: an Egyptian dog, a reclining nude reading I suppose not a bible, a candlestick embraced by a dragon, and a bulbous cement item I bought in Georgetown last summer that has no purpose and has been wandering homelessly from floor to table to here.
In the hallway, the mahogany chest is still topped with a cement pedestal and a silver vase filled with straight-limbed bamboo (which unfurls rather wonderfully for two or so years before declining with a sadly undramatic slow wilt). It is here that I particularly miss the glitter, and so yesterday, in a rare burst of financial extravagance (as opposed to the emotional extravagance of which I am so fond), I parted with five bucks and bought baby's breath to stuff amongst the branches. It has a rather snowy effect -- but the sweet scent conjures early spring.
(Which is, absurdly, what it's like most days, despite being early January. Sunday, shoppers flip flopped around Eastern Market in shorts. Monday it snowed. Yesterday, Tuesday, the temperature topped 60. Sweater weather, if that. )
Break here to buy a little brass lamp at the Salvation Army, off-setting yesterday's wild spending. Oh, I do love scavenging. Especially a week or so after Christmas, when unwanted gifts flood the racks and shelves--casting off a new and exceptionally plush kitten-grey cashmere sweater to a palace of thrift is an act of particularly immodest vengeance. Someone was very angry. I, on the other hand, happily forked over five bucks.
The lamp, also five bucks, is added to my growing collection of curious little lamps (and lanterns), with tiny bulbs that do little but cast interesting shadows. Among them is a black lamp with beaded purple shade on the kitchen counter (I do like lamps in the kitchen), a bronze monkey leaning against a coconut palm, and a candlestick lamp with a feathered shade. This new one, with an arm to swing and vaguely illuminate the what nots, will go on my desk.
I've grown to prefer lamps, which is handy since The Prince has done something to the circuitry and few of the overhead lights are working, at least for the moment, or the month. In any case, they say lamp light is more flattering to the slumping jowl. It is certainly more flattering to a dusty house.
I have noticed this month... in one of those eureka bouts of noticing something you've been staring at forever...how Very Clean the homes are in the shelter magazines: House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Veranda, et al. No grimy corners, puffs of dog hair. The whites vibrate. The rugs are combed. No place is that immaculate. Is it? Must be Photoshop, I console myself.
Pause here to collect the mail. My God! Amazon has delivered the Francis Fyfield I ordered yesterday and not a moment too soon as it is raining and, really, what better is there than a rainy night and a fire and an equally dank British mystery? And she, who I discovered on the free table at the used bookstore some months ago, is the best. Open any, anywhere. This introducing a lawyer, from Undercurrents:
"...from stage left came a strange figure, walking so fast he could compete with a jogger...tall and thin and nothing seemed to fit, a suit and coat hanging from his frame like a series of scarves. Business attire if you happened to be a funeral director....a rabbi on a bad day, some distraught unorthodox orthodox Jew, smoking, talking to himself, looking at nothing but the inside of his own skull...he strode past Henry's line of vision, arms waving, cigarette unsteady, engaged in a debate with an invisible adversary..."
In other news, the Meyer Lemon is in bloom in the greenhouse off my office. It's leaves are wet because I gave it an artful spritz for the photo. When I open the door to my office in the morning the scent is enough to paralyze. Quite, quite wonderful.