08 December 2023

a day that went sideways

Two weeks to midwinter. Reasons to be cheerful. Other than that, it has been overcast for ever it seems. Today, I got up with great determination and housework intentions, nothing too fast or dramatic, I am retired after all. But in the end, we left after breakfast to bring all assembled sleeping bags and iso mats and the camping gear found in this house to the help-for-the-homeless center. I felt like a piece of shit, with my superwarm coat and my thermo gloves and insulated boots, handing over stuff so others may get a tiny bit less cold when sleeping on the streets. Now, according to official news and the social worker friend we have, nobody has to sleep on the streets in this city but many do not wish to sleep in the emergency housing, various hostels etc. for so-called private reasons. I don't handle these scenarios well or even wisely. I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. 

We then called into a furniture store and purchased a new red sofa. This is how capitalism works. The sales guy was very nice and keen and we did not ask him where he was from because what does it matter that his German wasn't quite there yet and also, asking the "where are you from" question is racism, I have been told. His jacket was the most gorgeous soft tweed and after the sale was done, I asked if I could touch it and he laughed and said, oui madame. (So my guess is Northern Africa, not said I asked for that reason.)

And now we are looking for a good home for my great grandfather's sofa, which looks a bit like this here 


but somewhere along the line, my grandmother chopped off the legs, removed the back and remodeled most of it. About 20 years ago, I redid the covers - same colour, velvet - and replaced the springs in the seat with hard foam. So nothing like this after all. I have loved this piece of furniture for as long as I can remember despite the fact that it is too low and angular to sit on it comfortably. Everybody in my extended family always disliked it, mainly because my grandmother chopped a potentially valuable antique to bits. That was her way of doing things. When my grandfather died (I was five years old at the time), she reportedly attempted to give away his supposedly most valuable stamp collection by handing out one stamp each to various friends and acquaintances after the funeral. 

My father used to smile and shake his head whenever he came to our house but I thought that secretly, he was happy that I had room for this sofa. But now, my father is dead and a few days ago, I said to R, let's get rid of this thing and here we are.

As it turns out, we do have a picture of the sofa, look here:


Next, we stopped at the art museum bistro for lunch which was awful (mine) and good (R's) and when we got home, my intestines were starting their usual cramp colicky routine and R straight away steered me out of the door for a long walk of distraction before the sun set just after 4 pm. I try not to think too much about the upcoming diagnostic to confirm the gastro expert's suspicion of damage resulting from something that was done to me 30 years ago. Walking helps. We looked into the windows of the grand houses further south, their impressive overpowering but ever so stylish xmas decorations and returned with relief to our under decorated small homestead. 

In good news, I have watched all episodes of three seasons of  Reservation Dogs and have found it be moving and funny and goofy but also heartfelt, honest, emotional and educational (to us here).

I was also introduced to the work of Ukrainian photographer Zoya Shu and in the past days, have spent a long time looking and discovering human life and love and pain in her work. Have a look here.

And now I am sitting here with a cup of tea and a heating pad on my abdomen and R is coughing a bit next door and in two weeks time, we will celebrate the winter solstice.


Pixie said...

I had not heard of Reservation Dogs but it looks like an good series. I'll have to look for it.
I wonder if your grandmother hated your grandfather.
I looked at the photographers work briefly, I'll have to go back to it. Jesus Christ, when will people ever learn to stop hurting each other.

Sabine said...

She loved him and he irritated her. She chopped the big back and the legs off for firewood sometime during WW2.

ellen abbott said...

it does look very uncomfortable. I loved Reservation Dogs. a lot of the homeless don't like to stay overnight in the shelters here because they are mostly run by religious groups who demand you sit through a religious service, the price for a bed.

Ms. Moon said...

That old sofa was definitely a stunner! But sometimes it is best to let the past go and let yourself be more comfortable with something that is yours and yours alone.

Colette said...

You did a good thing, but I totally related to your discomfort. What a world!

37paddington said...

This sounds to my ear like a good and real and companionable day, the gift of a long time marriage. What a stunner that sofa was in its original state. Wowza.

Roderick Robinson said...

'asking the "where are you from" question is racism'. That's surely a bit mechanical. Certainly it constitutes shallowness if it turns out to be sole contribution. Deservedly so. But it should be the entrance to a conversation. You'll have a second sentence in hand and, almost, certainly an uncritical opinion of the country. In my experience taxi drivers in Hereford (most are from somewhere else) become quite voluble once they establish that I don't belong to the "bloody foreigners" school of international relations. Besides, I am interested. Genuine curiosity was the only innate skill I brought to journalism; this later developed into a secondary skill of seizing on unexpected conversational byways. And, you'll say, mixing your (ie, my) metaphors.

Sabine said...

Some years ago, I did a whole week of workshops (required by my employer) on what could be considered as racist and this question was one item. The workshops were organised by people of various cultural or ethnic backgrounds and the message was that this question can be seen as what sociology calls micro-aggression by focusing on a person's otherness, be it accent, skincolour or whatever. Even if your intention is genuine curiousity and "well meant", is it likely you would ask that a person who doesn't look different or has no accent? Why do you need to know it? To pass the time? It's always best to wait for a moment in the conversation later on, best if the person brings it up themselves. I ask a taxi drivers often stuff about how they enjoy the job or whether they have another qualification and it's usually then they share about background and problems and hopes and traditions and loss and family and a lot more.

Roderick Robinson said...

Most Hereford taxi drivers are not dermatologically distinguishable. The majority are from the Baltic states. Why do I need to know? Because I'm Autolycus, the snapper-up of unconsidered trifles. I'm catching up on my lack of formal education. I have spent 44 years asking questions; had my manner been intrusive I wouldn't have got anywhere. If, however, I detect restraint I back off; let the questionee pick up the baton if he or she wants to. Most do. Most are hungry for communication but not if it comes in the form of boiler-plate. The trick is to ask questions that can be answered.