My terminal boredom has been slightly relieved of late as I have discovered upholstery. My mother used to be pretty good at it and I didn’t spend half my teenage years sewing for nothing it seems. I am lucky, we have the tools and I have a whole factory downstairs with a team of elves that can fix the woodwork in a jiffy. It is hypnotic and the possibilities abound.
This is my “Birdy Chair”. It has been completely remade and “up-styled” as they call it these days. I have put a whole heap of photos on my photo album that show what it was like before.
Next I am going to do the Don sofa-bed that is looking pretty sad in the photo, in charcoal with lime green piping. I think it will be great.
If you want to buy the Birdy Chair, I am selling it for $485. You can email me on Lesley.firstname.lastname@example.org or call me 0274342007..
If you have anything you want done, I might be able to help too. L
PS The back of the chair is striped.
A bit of a laugh
Here’s something to make you smile. It happened today. As you now know, Brian has lost a lot of weight but he is also on steroids. The effect of this is to make him have no bum but a big paunch. He doesn’t care, he doesn’t have any “body image issues” it seems, but it does make it very hard to keep his pants up. I have searched high and low for decent pants with elastic waists but they are not to be found (assuming you rule out track pants), There is obviously a market niche there waiting for some men’s clothing designer to pick up, there are heaps of jokers with paunches after all!
Anyway, today we had a visit from a social worker and so I made the coffee, chatted away and we generally got to know each other over the kitchen bar. Brian behind the bar, me at the side and her on the other side. As we were chatting, I saw out of the corner of my eye, his pants fall off and slide neatly and silently down to the floor. He never moved a muscle. Just kept on looking at her, chatting politely and drinking his coffee. I moved a bit closer, hoping to close the gap so she didn’t see - he kept smiling, and nodding.
For half an hour, he stood motionless, chatting away, pants round his ankles and when she took her leave, bade her a fond farewell still behind the bench. Never moved, never flinched and kept on smiling. That’s my boy!!
Our shadow life is pretty boring really, especially for me. Not working still seems too weird. When I go to town, I feel all left out and shabby, but there are some thrills of course. Just snuggling down and reading my book in bed on a freezing morning – how lucky am I? It is a strange situation though, there but not really there. We cannot make any plans, cannot travel far or look to the future. When you take that out of your life, it is surprising how little is left. But we are finding new things to think about and new ways of enjoying our fabulous city.
I have joined this amazing Facebook group called Wellington Memories and everyone posts old pictures of things and places from when we were growing up here. And we remind ourselves of things like the Kilbirnie skating rink and sunbathing at Oriental Bay. It’s great.
And Wellington, with its bluster and raging, weather that is never still, unexpected pleasures and changes, is fun to re-discover. I have been walking about 50 kms a week for years, and think I have covered every path, every track, every walkway but then sometimes, even going down a track that I usually go up can bring something new. I never care about the weather, a good coat makes up for most excesses and the worst days can sometimes be the best. Getting down in to the still, shady paths of the Botanical Gardens after battling up the hill in the wind is a thrill and a pleasure. There is always a way to get out of the wind and when it is really raining, I sometimes just walk through town under the awnings and look in the shop windows.
Wellington is still changing so much; it is nothing like the grey old town I grew up in and is getting better and better. The cafes and bars are the least of it and anyway, they are so often packed with young thrusters, the other things here seem more interesting to me. Walking round the South Coast with my ipod, climbing big hills and sitting at the top for a breather – ahh small pleasures
But I also went to see “What We Do in the Shadows”, in the fabulous comfort of the Lighthouse Cinema at Petone ( see I can do that in the afternoon now !!) The movie is extraordinary. It is set in Wellington and you can recognise everything. So clever, so funny and so-off-the wall kiwi. There are a few shaky bits but overall an incredible reflection of our little kiwi quirks and some great acting too. If you think all that vampire stuff is stupid (like me) brace yourself and go to it. You will be surprised.
“I’ll traverse the key issues on the whiteboard in a mind-mappy sort of way,” she said.
We sat. We breathed. The sun glittered timidly on the winter windows. We poured water from the tall jugs on the tables. I noted idly that the peppermints in the small glass dishes sat untouched. Did everyone suspect sabotage or were they merely protecting their ageing and increasingly fragile teeth? I crossed and re-crossed my legs. There isn’t really much you can do when it comes to making a mind-mappy sort of thing into something new. Things like that have a habit of staying the same.
My new lover is bald. I am learning new things with him, not the least being the thrill of making love with a shiny-headed man. There are no passionate hands caressing tangled curls or snaking tendrils on muscled necks – but they are seventies thrills, as old hat as Flower Power. Nowadays we all enjoy much sharper, smoother pleasures in our streamlined lives. My bald, bold lover is extremely athletic for his age.
The whiteboard told corporate lies in coherent frameworks and policy paradigms in a trail of non-permanent red and blue marker pens. They cluttered the board like bloodstains and flowering, spreading bruises.
“It’s imperative that we identify our policy expectations and what partnership really means,” she said.
I know what partnership really means. I met him on a train. I saw him first. I sat down beside him but I did not speak. I never catch trains. I am a woman who likes to control where she is going. I am a driver,not a rider. This time I caught a train. This time he did too.
“We need to ensure that we consistently engage in meaningful dialogue,” she said as she stepped forward and pulled the top off a blue felt marker. Her black suit was expensive but that hadn’t stopped it puckering and creasing as it stretched over the soft swollen expanse of her thighs. She wrote M D in large letters on the whiteboard. The row in front of me slumped, heads dipped; new doodles started making their flowery way up margins.
I know what meaningful dialogue means. The train was late. It stopped in one of the seven tunnels that it must pass through on the twenty-seven minute journey into the city. We sat beside each other, breathing in the dark for ten minutes. The air between us crackled and bucked. We got off the train together.
These days, whiteboards, strategic plans, paradigms and frameworks do not interest me much. He is fantastically athletic for his age.
Published in One Hundred New Zealand Short Short stories – 4
Edited by Stephen Stratford
Years ago during Brian’s only real attempt to give up smoking, he gained a lot of weight and we dubbed him Puff Daddy, a nickname that stuck. These days, Puff Daddy still smokes but given the situation he is in, motivation to stop is rather lacking. For those of you who are already tut-tutting, there is no link between Glioblastoma and smoking (or drinking).When looking round for a reason why this has come to Brian, I did find a hint of a link between furniture lacquers and brain tumours but despite my rigorous delving, it seems that link is extremely tenuous. I guess we find ourselves in the same position as many people with cancer,with no explanation or answers to why this has happened.
Every day someone asks me how he is doing and at the moment, the answer is - pretty good. He is stoic and uncomplaining about the limitations of his life these days. He doesn’t really give in to it, carrying on, acting as though this Is not happening to him, helping Reuben with the small things he can do and accepting his restricted life with good grace. He still retains some of his skill and is able to use it where he can. They do a lot of re-caning at Form Furniture and Brian still does most of that and he still has his eye for colour so does a lot of the staining.
Many things are hard for him, he is forgetful and vague but it’s not all bad. His life is very safe and we all look out for him; Reuben never has his eye too far from his father and rescues him from potential tricky situations. He lets me boss him round shamelessly (at last – be careful what you wish for).
He doesn’t do much, reads the paper for about three hours a day, watches a bit of telly and enjoys any food he is given (thank goodness). This is a special time really, kind of marking time but it is time we are grateful for.
He loves going to day-care at the hospice, different people and different things that he has never done before. This week they made very cool pendants and I suspect he has the staff captured as well! The chemotherapy seems to be working very well for him and the course he is on will continue until July. After that we are not sure.