Monday, June 17, 2002

Living with other people’s mysteries

It’s been almost three weeks since I started house-sitting. I had forgotten how much you can learn about someone by what they have or don’t have in their homes. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not going around and snooping in closets and other personal places. I’m talking about what they have in their kitchen, on their bookshelves, in their pantries, on their walls and so on.

Cabala, my co-house-sitter, and I are coping with the lack of a vegetable steamer. The pasta pot or the microwave seem to do okay, even if it’s not what we would choose to use. It took us a while to find things like measuring spoons and dish soap. They were there, just not where it made sense to look initially. Other things had a greater importance in the house and got special treatment. I love the fact that practically every room has a bookshelf in it and after a week or so I understood what was where and why.

I’ve been adjusting to a few short-comings too. I’m a little shorter than the owners of the house and couldn’t quite reach the dinner plates when they were all in the cupboard. I ended up having to move about 4 of them to another place in the kitchen so that I wouldn’t break anything. I was looking for a recipe since I have been in the mood to cook since the day after I packed up all of my cookbooks (odd but true) and got bopped on the head with a little book that was sitting on top of the desired cookbook. Now I couldn’t see that it was there and imagined that it would be safe to pull a book from its high perch. I did bitch a little since I got a little cut on my forehead, but from then on, I would go and get the step ladder to pull down things to avoid any additional injuries.

But being short does have its benefits. An Italian couple originally owned the house and the husband spent a lot of time working on the cellar to add additional rooms to the house. Since he wasn’t especially tall, the ceilings down there are no greater than 5’8” high. This is not a place for the claustrophobic! But at my short (5’2”) stature, I don’t have any problems. I have modified my stretching to be more in front of me than above me since my hands do hit the ceiling if I try to reach above my head.

What I have found most intriguing since I’ve been here is the proliferation of mirrors throughout the house. I’m not talking a couple here and there, but over 20 mirrors are hanging all over the place. At first I thought it was to make a smaller room bigger. But now that I’ve found them out in the garden and in the oddest places, like nestled in a bookshelf, I’m realizing that this is a mystery that I’m not going to be able to reason away. I could just ask Laura, one of the owners, about the mirrors the next time we talk. But I’m enjoying the mystery and coming up with my own stories to account for them. I will ask when the house-sitting job is over, I’m not going to torment myself (or you) without knowing the truth. But be prepared for a boring answer. It might not measure up to the imagination and the stories that we’d come up with.

Send me your ideas and let me know if you want to know the real truth.

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