Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Home Improvement Part 3: In Which Laraine Marvels at How Much Fur Cats Make

It all started with knobs. We were wandering through Cost Plus one afternoon and they had drawers of funky knobs for drawers. I thought - hey! A home improvement project I (read: Keith) can do all by myself (himself). I bought funky knobs and Keith put them on the two bedroom closets that had vintage 1970s handles. Then, the upstairs bedroom screen had to get fixed. The cats had, over the seven years I've been here, been diligently trying to make their way out of the well-furnished and well-stocked Plato's Cave that has been their home. True Value Hardware rescreened it and suddenly the floodgates opened. This is not my house anymore. Since I do live here, the next right thing to do was to make it my house again.

Everyone is gone now. The men with tools that make lots of noise. Their coolers of water and sandwiches. Their paint-stained radio tuned to classic rock. It's just me and the cats and we're trying hard to figure out who we are in this space.

Did you know that when these amazing men with tools come and lay down flooring, they actually vacuum and clean the cement floor underneath? They even shop-vacced in the walls between the baseboards. Even the walls!! Now, the cats make fur tumbleweeds every day. Sometimes they even play with them like balls of yarn. I can pick them up and put them in the garbage (the fur, not the cats) and the floor is clean. The fur to make a thousand cats must have been in that old carpet. When they pulled out the refrigerator to lay the floor, the cardboard it rolled over collected enough fur for six coats. How do they make that much fur? Maybe the purring is actually a machine generating fur. 

I've always moved like this. I seem to not be doing much of anything (sometimes for years) and then all of a sudden the earth opens up and I completely step out of everything I used to be and move into something new in a matter of weeks. A big explosion of fire like a volcano eruption after years of simmering under the surface. I've always worked this way. Quiet, quiet, quiet ... Ka-BOW!

I'm turning 43 on Friday. Last night I went for a walk in the dark. The Milky Way painted the sky a haze. Bats darted against the street lights and bullfrogs sang by the Hassayampa Golf Course. I remembered how my dad taught me to ride a bike in the parking lot of Idlewild Elementary School in Charlotte. I had training wheels on the bike and then I had his hands on the frame and then he let go, but I didn't know it because he kept moving beside the bike. I was riding on my own, but I thought I was supported. When he stopped and I rode on my own there was a moment of terror when I thought I'd fall, but I didn't. My father is long dead. My mother lives in Phoenix. But they always run beside me, whether I'm reflooring the house, walking through Vancouver, or writing alone in the library. They gave me a foundation. Real wood. Solid structure. A safe place to sleep. And because of that, I know how to make places like that for myself.

This year I am writing a different sort of fiction. I'm moving into a different place with my art and with my teaching. My house has space. The wind blows from front to back through the new security doors. It will not blow me over. It will not chase me out. I know how to stand solid. I know how to ride, and I know how to breathe.

Creating a life is like creating a novel. At first, the Polaroid image is just an impression. Then, we add details. People. Things. Experiences. And over time, the concrete images emerge. The story of a life. Sometimes it seems like there's nothing in the picture and then when we blink, the entire photo has emerged.

Front garden (we're trying sunflowers!)

New security door on front

Backyard garden

New security door - backyard

front door/living room - oak lamin

living room

living room & giant cat tree

Dining Room (such that it is)

Entry way to hall


kitchen floor

upstairs bathroom (towel is wet, not stained!)

new vinyl for upstairs bathroom