THE REMAINS OF THE DAY

There is a reason why my house has a “servants” room in the attic. Of course, the attic is neither cooled nor heated, and it has never been. But there is a rudely finished room up there, with walls, a hardwood floor, a nice dormer window, and a corner with a sink. It must have been the place where “the girl” lived in the olden days. In my imagination, “the girl” did all of the things that I now have to do, and she was, I bet, an extremely hard worker!

I spent the day “putting away” summer. We have lots of chairs and cushions on the deck. It also has potted plants galore. There is a table and chairs where we ate meals al fresco, sitting in the breezes and drinking wine. Today, Charlie and I wrestled with those same cushions, furniture, and plants. Dumping soil, carting stuff to the curb. Putting pots in the garage. Sweeping leaves off the furniture cushions, and stuffing them into big trash bags. Lugging the bags into the basement.

On the screened porch upstairs, there is MORE FURNITURE! IT IS COVERED WITH ADDITIONAL CUSHIONS! The screened porch is one of the reasons we bought the house, and it really looks dandy in the summer, with the Boston Ferns, the reed matting, and the many lamps and accessories that I have amassed. TODAY, I HAD TO CARRY ALL OF THAT STUFF INTO THE ATTIC. This is actually a definitive two person job, because one person has to guard the door to the attic, while the other totes everything up there. If we don’t follow this procedure to the letter, CATS GET IN THE ATTIC. You don’t want cats in your attic. At least not in our attic, where there are numerous chinks and crannies. A few years ago, a Siamese kitten managed somehow to GET BETWEEN THE WALLS up there. After emergency phone calls to family members, one of whom had to drive all the way back to Dayton from Cincinnati, we managed to get the kitten out. It took all day, and I had to call in “sick” at work.

Back to the porches. All those chairs and loveseats have winter covers. When spring comes, we tend to be in a big hurry to uncover everything, and so all the covers are jumbled together in a large trunk in the basement. So today, Charlie and I had to devote forty five minutes to COVER ANALYSIS. Truly, these covers all LOOK THE SAME, until we try to actually cover a piece of furniture with one. And it doesn’t fit. No matter how we turn it. So we stood on the deck, and it went a little like this:

No, no, no! THE SEAM should go across the back!”

“If that is the case, then why doesn’t it fit?”

“Ok, then turn it upside down!”

“There is a picture on the tag, and it is of a SOFA, not a ROCKING CHAIR!”

“Well, if you are so smart, why didn’t you tell me to look at the tag in the first place?”

“I am going to watch TV.”

“WE AGREED THAT THIS IS A TWO PERSON JOB!!!”

I am sure that in the days of yore, when people had servants, things moved along smoothly from season to season, and there were no loud arguments between the master and mistress of the house about how to best dispose of dead potted plants and where to store the wicker side tables. In those days, houses of a certain size had folks like Anthony Hopkins polishing silver, dusting in the corners, and changing the slipcovers from linen to velvet in the fall. There were cooks to make dinner. A yardman came to take care of the pesky leaves and to clean out the gutters.

Now we have labor saving devices. But having a dishwasher and a Dyson is little consolation when wrangling recalcitrant furniture covers.

HOW CAN I GET A GIRL FOR THE ATTIC?

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