Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Husband's Hat

This is a view of my kitchen. You can see one of my cats on the back of the sofa. There is a lot of pattern and color in my kitchen. On the floor are oriental rugs. Its funny because some of the oriental rugs were bought in antique stores, one new, and two at the town dump in the recycling department. Some of the rugs are really worth something, hand made, and some are machine made and were bought for about $10. And yet, in my kitchen, they abide well together. It is the high and the low co-mingling. What they share is pattern and color. Oscar Wilde said that the soul of a room was in the carpet. What you put on the floor determines how the rest of the room will look.

My husband's co-worker thinks that it is funny I set out a nice kitchen table with fresh flowers. I worry about the table cloth matching the candles, and usually include some type of center beaded or fancy cloth place mat. I like to switch how the table looks every month, or every other month. He thinks it is funny because we rarely have guests, or even visitors, to our home. And yet I'm obsessed with how the home looks. What we do, we do mainly for our own delight. We aren't impressing anyone because we have very few friends to impress.

Recently my husband bought a new hat to go with his new white suit jacket. The suit jacket was a gift from my mother and used to belong to her companion Pete who recently died. My husband got a lot of his shirts and two other suit jackets. There was a yellow stain on one arm of the white suit jacket that I treated with stain remover twice, and then for a third time by throwing the whole jacket into the washing machine with Woolite on the delicate cycle. The stain became so faint that it is practically invisible, and the jacket is now suitable to be worn.

On the first day that my husband went to wear this white jacket to church he put on the one leather black cowboy hat that he loves. I said no. The black hat did not go with the white jacket. He said that he was going to only wear the hat in the car and outside as we walk up toward the church. Men do not wear their hats inside church. I still said no, a black hat with a white suit looks ridiculous. So he went to church bare headed. It is hard to argue with me when I say no.

Unknown to me, my husband looked inside his black hat, read the label, went on-line, and found a store that sold hats from the same company. He bought a quality tan leather hat for $35. I was told about the existence of this hat after it was bought. My husband said to me, don't I buy dresses and then show them to him after I have bought them? True. Now this hat, it is handsome, with tan leather braiding around the crown, and it goes nicely with the white jacket.

I cannot express how much my husband's hats mean to him. Especially the black leather cowboy hat. It has a band around the crown that was a gift from Mom and Pete. The band is black leather worked with silver and turquoise embellishments. He wears the hat everywhere. To the grocery store and video store. When we go for a walk. And of course, to church when he wears a suit jacket that is dark.

After he bought the handsome tan hat, a thought occurred to me. I said, "When you go to church you leave your hat on a rack above the coats. Once, at church, someone's pocket book was stolen and then found, minus its wallet, in the street. Your hat could get stolen just like that lady's pocket book was stolen because you leave it unattended. You should not wear your nice hats to church."

And do you know what my husband's reply was? He said this; "If my hat gets stolen, then whoever takes my hat needs it more than me. They can have it."

I was astonished. I do not think, "If my jewelry gets stolen, whoever takes it needs it more than me." I think, "It is mine, I love it, I protect it. And I will hate, with every fiber in my being, whoever takes my jewelry from me."

This is a case of two people with very different attitudes. For one, earthly possessions are a passing thing. Even thought I know my husband loves what he owns he is not adverse to giving them up. I, on the other hand, have spent decades of my life accumulating earthly possessions to decorate myself and my home with. It is rather absurd, to think of the number of apartments I have lugged my huge antique ceramic Chinese fish bowl table to and from. And I still get a flutter in my chest remembering selling my art book collection to a book collector in the late 1990's. It is a mistake I wish I never made.

I listen to a little voice inside of me. And the little voice says this; "your husband is saner, and happier than you are."

But I do not know how to change. Just yesterday my husband installed the amethyst door knobs and the way the door stands ajar to the room, the light catches on the purple glass, and I see the glass glow, and I am made glad. As I sit here in bed, writing the blog, I look up and see upon the wall an antique print of a mother with her baby children, sentimental and nostalgic, next to an antique lamp with hanging crystals, and I am made glad. I look at the blue Chinese rug at the bottom of our bed, a bed covered in a handmade blue quilt, and I am made glad at all the shades of blue.

As I write, by my side, on my night stand, is the brass lamp that used to hang in the entryway to my grandparent's mansion. It used to be installed in the ceiling, but I turned it upside-down, gave it a brass colored base with four feet, and had it re-wired. I found it one day in my grandparent's basement and they gave it to me. I look at it and I see history and a piece of the fabric of my life. How I remember being a little princess, covered in a sheet and all my mother's costume jewelry, on Halloween, standing in the entryway, gathering candy from a tray my grandmother put out. The mansion is going to be put on the market soon. This weekend I am to visit it and take out sundry items from the basement before my mother has men come and professionally clean out the basement. My lamp and pictures of my wedding in this grand house are all that will be left to me of it. I remember sitting in the sun in the back steps to my mother's house, and with brass cleaner, making my new lamp shine. Nobody knew its value but me, amidst all the junk in the basement, and it had darkened so much that it did not look like much. It has two arms that loop out to either side and as many brass flourishes as can be imagined. The light bulbs, and the etched white glass shades rise out of a holder of brass leaves. The glass shades are modern reproductions. I had the original shades from my grandparent's home, colored cream glass, but one day a dog knocked the lamp over and one of the shades smashed. Animals have been the ruin of many of my antiques. I used to collect stain glass lamps. Dogs have smashed to bits one of my lamps and left a big crack in the other. The energy of a dog, like small children, cannot be restrained, and like small children, I find it easy to forgive the damage a pet has done. It merely seems to be a part of living. If you have something precious, and you put it out to become part of your daily life, it will get spoiled, perhaps it will and perhaps it won't, but you take the chance.

I am sane enough to let things of value get used, and get broken or stained or worn down in the course of their use. I am not the type to have good china that is never used, or items that sit behind glass, looked at, but never touched. One of my favorite sayings is that "paint travels" and that as an artist, it appears, in other rooms of the house from where the canvas and brushes reside, on the rug, on the arm of a wooden chair, and of course, on my clothing, because I simply cannot create immaculately.

Now I am waiting for a package to arrive in the mail. It is a six yard scarf of fabric, used to decorate the top of a window. It drapes across the top, and then winds around the curtain rod to at last fall down over the curtains on either side. So you end up with two layers of fabric, the scarf and the curtains. Place the scarf well and it will hide all sight of the bare curtain rods. I bought the scarf on-line so there is some mystery as to what it will really look like when it arrives. Only a picture of a small bit of the fabric was reproduced, and pictures of fabric are notorious for not looking like the actual thing. I shopped around at stores in my local area and could find nothing close to the exotic fabric that I found on-line. There is only one window in my bedroom and this is the window the scarf is intended for. So when I sit at my computer, in bed, as usual for hours every morning, this scarf will be directly in my line of sight. I anticipate that it will please my eyes.

I have a name for my behavior. It is called nesting. I feel like a bird that gathers pieces of twigs and twine and feathers and weaves them together to form a nest for their eggs to sit in. It is definitely part of being female. My husband was sitting in the kitchen, waved his hand in a circle, and said, "You are all around me".

Where I live and how I dress is all an extension of my artist's eye. I think, that in my old age, I would like very much to die at home, in the midst, of all my possessions. I can't take them with me into the next life, and I know, I don't need them there. Somewhere in my brain I see the logic of my husband's attitude toward his hat, that it is not essential to his well being, and that as much as he loves it, he can do without it. I struggle with the need for my possessions. I am afraid to admit, that because they delight my eye, my possessions have a hold over me. I just try to limit myself, in some ways, so that the lust for possessions does not overwhelm my meager means of living. I have a weakness. Thank goodness it is not a weakness for booze or cigarettes or really expensive items. I find that I don't need the best. But oh, how I fall to my knees in front of pattern and color, and worship that.


  1. Hi Karen,

    Great blog entry! I am not like you and wish that I could be sometimes, but I can definitely understand your love of pattern and color. Your kitchen is lovely. The room has a sophisticated bed and breakfast feel to it. Someplace homey and relaxed and yet creative and artistic. I am glad that you delight in your things. It's ironic, but I'm studying Buddhism and one of the challenges is to give away to others what you are attached to. In fact, since you gave me the cat pin and scarf, I've been thinking about what I can get for you, but now I'm thinking what can I give to you from home that I really care about. I have a few ideas... It's actually a cool practice and an important one for me, because I hoard things and then don't use them and this makes me feel ill. But the idea of giving to someone you like and respect something you value highly has some magic to it.

    I respect your husband's attitude of being willing to let someone steal from him something he values, an attitude of letting go of an attachment. I guess we both have something to learn from him.

    I am not a very feminine woman, especially since I began suffering from acute schizophrenia. I do like dangling earring and the rings on two of my fingers, but since I put on the weight I care so much less about what I wear and how I look. In some ways that's a relief and in other ways it's a shame.

    I think it is a great thing that you have the energy, skill, talent and desire to make your home and your self beautiful.

    Kate : )

  2. My husband is birthday is near and I'm planning to give him a Wikipedia , I know he'll like it.


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