Dixie Darr

Archive for the ‘Home’ Category

High Country

In Home on January 17, 2018 at 4:40 pm


Let’s talk about beds. I visited a friend who showed me around her new condo, and when we got to her bedroom, I saw that her bed was about three feet high. “Do you need a ladder to get in that thing?” I asked her. She, apparently being more agile than I although not much taller or younger, said she needs a step stool when her grandchildren visit.
I’ve seen these monster beds in interior design magazines, but that was the first one I’d run across in real life. What is up with these things? Stores sell risers if you want to lift your ordinary bed into the heights, but I don’t understand why I would want to.
I like to sit on the edge of my bed to put on my shoes, something I couldn’t do on a bed that left my feet dangling a foot above the floor. I also worry about forgetting I’m at altitude when I have to get up in the middle of the night. At my age, a fall could break a hip.
Someone told me he heard they are to make women feel like queens. Really? I feel like a queen because of the way a certain gentleman treats me, not because of the height of my bed.
Another anomaly is the depth of your mattress. They now range from about three inches to sixteen or more. Maybe we just weren’t buying enough beds, so the manufacturers went crazy and started to offer scores of options. It causes problems when buying sheets, some of which, I understand, now come to fit multiple depths.
My mattress is a standard full size, although queen size is the new standard, so it can be tricky to find sheets in that size. A queen would have taken up all the floor space in my old Victorian-era house, and I only sleep on one half of it anyway. The rest is Radley’s territory. He doesn’t need more space.
If you know what the mania for big beds is all about or if you own one, please enlighten me. I don’t get it.

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TV No More

In Home on January 3, 2018 at 6:15 pm

They called us the TV generation. The first baby boomers were born in 1946, the same year broadcast television started after WWII. Some called it a perfect fit.

We got our first television when I was about 5, a big, heavy piece of furniture with a small screen that showed only black and white shows because that’s all there was. In Denver, we had four channels—2, 4, 7, 9. Amateurish local shows (remember Fred and Fay?) supplemented the meager national shows like I Love Lucy, Dragnet (just the facts, ma’am), and Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts. Everybody watched Ed Sullivan on Sunday night.

The stations didn’t broadcast 24/7. There wasn’t enough programming for that. Instead, they signed off at night and ran a test pattern until programming resumed the next day.

Eventually, of course, production caught up with demand, and television aired all day every day. I’m not sure this was progress, although I certainly took advantage of it. I’d go home from school every day and watch TV or read. Back then I preferred old movies. Charlie Chan was a particular favorite. As I grew older, I stayed up to watch Steve Allen on the Tonight Show. You bet your bippy.

When cable finally came to Denver in the early 80s, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven until I realized that we really did have, as Bruce Springsteen said, “57 channels and nothing on.” We always had reruns. I remained a television devotee through the VHS years when I religiously taped my favorite shows if I couldn’t watch them.

My interest began to wane when the writers’ strike of 1988 ushered in the era of unscripted (really?) reality shows, which with one or two exceptions, I loathe. About then it also began to dawn on me that most TV shows were aimed at an audience of adolescent boys.

Still, cable was getting better, producing more shows for a more varied audience, and I hung in there.

About four years ago, however, I was over Comcast. I cut the cord, bought a Roku and digital antenna, and subscribed to Netflix and Amazon Prime. Suddenly it seemed that there was too much on TV. I couldn’t keep up.

And then something came along that made me more interested in my own life than in the made-up lives of people in a television series. Maybe I’ll tell you about it sometime. I realized that television was just a seat filler in my life, something to do when I didn’t have anything to do. The news is unrelentingly horrible, so I stopped watching everything but my soap opera and The Big Bang Theory on broadcast TV. I watch Longmire on Netflix and just started The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon when I can find the time, usually on Saturdays.

I don’t miss it.

The Christmas Plate

In Christmas, Home on December 25, 2017 at 6:36 pm

I have a special plate that I use for my Christmas meal. I don’t know where or when I got it, but I’m sure it came from a thrift store or garage sale many years ago. There’s nothing specifically Christmasy about it, no holly or Santa or Christmas tree image. Instead, it has a bunch of ordinary flowers–roses, asters–circled by a wreath of forget-me-nots. The plate itself is square with rounded corners and I just have the one, no matching pieces.

Maybe that’s why it’s my special holiday plate because, for me at least, it’s one of a kind.

I bought both red and green Fiestaware dishes to use for Christmas, but since they’re my everyday dishes, too, it doesn’t seem right to use them for special occasions.

It always struck me as ridiculous to have a set of everyday dishes and another set of “company” dishes although I think that’s probably the norm in middle-class America. So what’s up with my special Christmas plate? I’m never even tempted to use it any other time of the year.

I like the shape and the colorful flowers, but I like best that isn’t fancy. I bought it for maybe a quarter. It was made by the Crooksville China Co. in Crooksville, Ohio, probably in the early part of the twentieth century. I like that it’s old and well-used.

I used it today for my ham and scalloped potatoes and baked beans. Next time I see it will be Easter. It makes me happy.

Christmas Blizzard

In Christmas, Denver, Home on December 23, 2017 at 6:53 pm

Street lined with buried cars after the Blizzard Of ’82. Denver Post Library Archive

My Secular Advent, Day Twenty-one
Everybody has a story. If you were here in 1982, you remember the Blizzard of ’82. Snow started falling in Denver overnight, and by the time I woke up the morning of Christmas Eve, we already had several inches on the ground.
My parents and I were driving to Fort Collins to spend Christmas Eve with my brother’s family. I knew a little snow would never deter my dad, but because of the heavy snow, I left a little early for my parent’s house. I barely made it.
By the time I slid to the curb at the front of their house, we had well over a foot of snow on the ground and it was still coming down, harder than ever. My parents couldn’t believe I had risked the drive to their house and I was already regretting it because it was clear I’d be there until the storm ended.
If you lose respect for me because of what I’m going to say next, I’ll understand. I decided I couldn’t live without popcorn and Coke, so in whiteout conditions, I walked through snow up to my knees to the convenience store two blocks away. Much of the time I had no idea what direction I was going, so I only made it there by pure dumb luck. Emphasis on dumb.
I ended up with the mother of all colds, sick in bed at my parents’ house for the next three days. My mom and I didn’t get along well under the best of circumstances, and me being around other people for more than a couple hours at a time is not a pretty sight. Somebody could have died.
If you think this will turn into one of those stories where everything works out for the best and the people rediscover how much they love and cherish one another, sorry. The minute my dad and I could dig out my car and the news reports indicated that getting around town was possible, if barely, I hightailed it out of there.
I had to park two blocks away from my apartment, but I was thrilled and relieved to finally be home. My lesson that Christmas was, “There’s no place like home.” So, just in case you’re wondering, I’ll be home for Christmas.
That’s my story. What’s yours?

The Mitford Snowmen

In Books, Christmas, Church, creativity, Home, neighborhood on December 6, 2017 at 10:07 am

My Secular Advent, Day Four

It’s Christmas time in the small North Carolina mountain town of Mitford. Father Tim and his cronies hang around the Main Street Grill to hash out the pressing issue of downtown parking. Snow is falling and they see some of the other merchants building snowmen outside their shops.

It’s a contest,” someone says, with a prize of a dozen doughnuts from Winnie Ivey’s Sweet Stuff Bakery. They do their best work to win that. They add hats and coats and gloves and glasses to make the snowmen look like well-known neighbors.

As the merriment ends, they realize there was never a contest at all, just people having fun in the snow. The mayor declares them all winners and leads everybody to the bakery for doughnuts and hot chocolate.

This is a story about community and a town that prides itself on taking care of its own. This year’s Advent theme at my church is harmony. Pastor Brad told us the story of how the improbable pair of Bing Crosby and David Bowie came to sing the duet, Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy on Bing’s Christmas special. Bowie refused to sing Little Drummer Boy (not one of my favorites, either, David), so the writers dreamed up a brand new song, Peace On Earth, to act as counter-melody to Bing’s singing Little Drummer Boy. It’s a story about being true to yourself and finding harmony with others.

The Mitford stories illustrate this principle all year long. Every book is a Christmas story.

All I Really Want

In Auntie Flat, Home, work on November 28, 2017 at 11:27 am

Life is pretty good. I have the requisite someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to.

Yet, when most people think of what they want, they think of things to have, not things to do or, even better, to be. I tried giving gifts of experiences with limited success. The biggest problem was giving something I thought was great, but the recipient thought was less so. That’s the way it goes. For years, I gave books as gifts to almost everybody until realizing, much to my surprise, that not everybody loves books as much as I do.

The recipients might have preferred a gift card for Amazon, where you can truly get anything you want, including Alice’s Restaurant. Come to think of it, so would I. That won’t get me what I really want, however.

Servants.

Don’t judge me.

I know I now have plenty of time on my hands, but I don’t want to spend that time cleaning my house. Okay, it’s only a one-bedroom condo. Still I want someone else to clean it, please. Is that wrong? People who offer these services need to make a living, too, right?

And while I’m dreaming, I’d also like someone to cook and deliver healthy, delicious, low-calorie and low-carb meals. Even one meal a day would help. I can handle an egg and turkey bacon for breakfast and a turkey sandwich for lunch, no problem. Dinner gets boring, however, and I usually overcook the meat and forget to include vegetables (unless you count a potato).

While I’m on a roll, let’s include a driver at my beck and call on this list of helpers. Is that asking too much? Yes, I just renewed my driver’s license and got my car fixed, but I never really liked driving.

I’m pretty sure if I had these people in my life, I would be perfectly happy and never complain again.

Santa, are you listening? I promise I’ve been a very good girl.

P.S. Almost forgot the handyman/woman. Please add to above list.

Detritus of Daily Life

In Auntie Flat, Church, creativity, Home, Learning on October 19, 2017 at 9:55 am

As much as I need to declutter my house, I also need to declutter my mind. Things pile up in there and multiply when I’m not paying attention.
If you’re familiar with David Allen’s OCD book, Getting Things Done, you know that his secret is to list everything you need to do. I mean EVERYTHING. Need to do a load of laundry? Put it on the list. That reminds me, I need to put a load of laundry in the washer.
Okay, that’s done. Now I need to remember to put it in the dryer in about half an hour and then take it out of the dryer, fold it and put it away. Sorry, but it just seems dumb to write all that down on a list.
Now Radley is letting me know that once again he got shut in the laundry closet. Coming back from letting him out, I see the dishwasher and remember that I have to unload it and put the dishes away so I can start filling it again with dirty dishes. And I still have a pot soaking in the sink that I should wash and put away.
Will I ever get past these chores and get to the (slightly) bigger things like taking my car in to have the tires rotated and balanced or making an appointment to renew my driver’s license or calling to have my 401K switched to an IRA?
Then I want to get back to writing the mystery I started two years (!) ago. Maybe I should participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November and punch through that.
I did manage to finish the church history I’ve been working on or (mostly) procrastinating for months and just in time for our 125th anniversary this Sunday. Come one come all. It’ll be fun. We’ll have special guests and singing and stories and food. What’s not to like?
Okay, I’m a little distracted.
That’s life.

Sparking Joy

In Auntie Flat, Home, Learning on October 18, 2017 at 7:23 am

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo has taken the decluttering world by storm. If you haven’t read it (the audio version is available free on YouTube) I’ll give you the short version. Separate all your stuff into categories—long-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes, books, etc.–and pick up each item while asking if it sparks joy in your life. If it doesn’t, out it goes.

Nobody needs more help with tidying up than I do except hoarders and they need more help than one slim book can provide. But really, everything has to spark joy? I really need my underwear even if it doesn’t bring me joy (it doesn’t). I also need my pots and pans and towels and flash drives and medications. I like some of those things, I appreciate their various qualities, but not a single one of them brings me joy.

English designer William Morris makes more sense to me, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. While I also believe that useful things can be beautiful and vice versa, sometimes they still don’t bring me joy.

My toy cupboard made for me as a baby by my Grandpa Darr is crudely made and beat up after 69 years of wear and tear. Neither particularly useful nor beautiful, it’s my most prized possession and always brings me joy, so maybe I need to combine Morris and Kondo.

I’m embarking on a project to clear more stuff out of my home. If I don’t get it done, I pity the fool who will have to do it after I’m gone.

I never had to get rid of my parents’ things. My dad took care of it when Mom died, and his second wife handled it, sometimes to my displeasure, when he passed away. Friends tell me it’s a particularly ghastly chore.

Since I don’t have kids, my best guess is that some anonymous estate liquidation company will descend on my condo to haul away my treasures. They won’t care that my dad made the spice rack that fits on the end of a kitchen cabinet or that my dear friend made the quilted throw pillows or that the frequently read Dorothy Pillsbury books tell of a magical time in Santa Fe.

Meanwhile, I need to make sure the little cupboard stays in the family.

Let that be my legacy.

That’s Entertainment?

In Books, creativity, Home, Learning on October 13, 2017 at 7:44 am

What do you watch on TV?” has become a standard question I ask everybody I meet. Other than The Big Bang Theory and This Is Us (plus my guilty pleasure, The Young and the Restless—don’t tell) I can’t seem to get interested. We have far surpassed Springsteen’s lament of “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On).” These days, we have literally hundreds of channels and there’s plenty on.

I cut the cable cord several years ago, so old favorites like HGTV are no longer an option. Still, I have Netflix and Amazon Prime and YouTube in addition to my local broadcast channels, and while I dip into them every once in a while, mostly I’d rather read a book or listen to a podcast or write in my journal.

Maybe it’s my age. I’m reminded of the quotation, “I wasted time and now time is wasting me.” At almost 70, I just don’t have that much time left to waste. Plus, 98% or more of all TV shows aim at a MUCH younger demographic.

The thing is, I know there are good shows on. Just this week, I’ve heard good things about Blackish, The Good Place, and Schitt’s Creek, so they will join my growing list of shows I might watch someday–maybe if I get really bored or really sick. And I’m eagerly waiting for the final season of Longmire to start.

I can’t even watch the news anymore because, like Jake Tapper, I’m “overwhelmed by the relentless tidal wave of incompetence, idiocy, and bigotry pouring from the White House on a daily basis.”

I used to love TV, watched it constantly and thought people who claimed they “never watched” were either liars or snobs. As the screens got bigger and reminded me more of 1984, I grew warier. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, far from it, but I have to wonder if they’re watching us whenever we’re watching them.

October

In Colorado, Home, Learning, spirituality on October 2, 2017 at 7:29 am

“Just before the death of flowers,
And before they are buried in snow,
There comes a festival season
When nature is all aglow.”

That was written by an unknown author and is sometimes identified as a wiccan chant, which seems appropriate for this time of year.

Most people name fall as their favorite season and October as their favorite month. In Denver, October usually encompasses three seasons. We transition from fall to winter and, if we’re lucky, back to Indian summer unseasonably warm dry weather after a killing frost. That first frost comes around October 7 and the first snow on October 18. Get ready.

This is the only time of the year when almost everyone takes a drive into the mountains just to see the scenery. You have to be on your toes because fall color doesn’t last long in the high country. Blink and you’ll miss it. We’ve already had our first major snowfall above 10,000 feet.

Here in the city, the leaves turn more leisurely from green to yellow to red. It still ends pretty quickly. One day the trees will be glorious in their fall color, and then a wind comes overnight and the limbs are bare.

That begins a cherished fall ritual, raking leaves. Meanwhile, a few stubborn flowers still bloom –zinnias, pansies, asters, mums. People start stocking up on Halloween candy and decorating their houses and yards with witches, black cats, goblins and ghosts. We ask one another, “What will you be on Halloween?”

First, though, we have to endure the annual culture clash of Columbus Day, aka Indigenous Peoples Day.

This year the harvest moon—the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, which usually comes in September—rises on October 5. I still have my windows and back door open for at least a few hours on most days. The farmers’ markets have ended and pumpkin patches and corn mazes sprout all over.

Grab a cup of hot apple cider, carve a pumpkin, and enjoy the show.

Winter soon will come.