Ponder this:

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Everyday luxuries

I like the wind that has been howling since late yesterday afternoon. It's been a constant background mutter-snarl with spasmodic whoops and shrieks around the eaves. Last night as we got into bed I murmured to the poodles, "It's a Heidi night, boys." This kind of gale makes me feel cozy: Heidi snugged up in her hayloft in Grandfather's Alpine cottage.

This morning I'm thinking of my commonplace comforts, the mundane delights of my daily life.

Our woodstove is an ongoing comfort. We started with a cast iron woodstove. It was a good stove...nothing warmer than woodfire heat...but every morning when I got up and every afternoon when I got home I'd have to start a new fire. This one, installed two or three years ago, is soapstone. Three days without a fire and enough sparks remain among the ashes that I can throw in some wood and have a roaring fire in twenty minutes. Turn it down, flip up the catalytic combustor lever and I'm comfy for twelve hours. White Noise of Wind, and Warmth: what could be better?

I like my coffee grinder and my good ol' Mr. Coffee machine. In the mornings I let the dogs out, grind the coffee, fill the reservoir with the sprayer hose from the sink (I moved the coffeemaker right next to the sink so I wouldn't have to fill and spill first thing in the morning), and start the machine. I turn on the laptop, put water in the microwave for the dogs' breakfast. The thirty seconds that I have to wait for that almost kills me with frustration. I put the kibble in the warmed water and the dogs come back in. I pill them (thyroid for Angus, heart for Max) and by the time we've finished that routine, the coffee's just about ready. Lots of it. I like my freshly-ground Eight O'Clock coffee beans, and I like knowing, as I sit here, that there's a whole pot of nice hot coffee waiting for me to refill my cup. On Thursday afternoon everybody else was singing the praises of Keurig machines. If I ever decide to drink less coffee in the morning, I'll look into a Keurig. My consumption would decrease: I wouldn't be able to stand the fifteen-second wait for another cup.

One of our Thanksgiving group was my friend E. Three years ago when I met E she spoke no English. An American friend of E's mother wanted her children to become fluent in Spanish so she brought E here from Mexico to be the children's nanny. Our friend R knew enough Spanish to begin keeping company with her and when he came to paint our house, he brought E along. R often acted as translator and joked that we would all learn Spanish before E learned English.

Every day while R painted, E and I sat at the picnic table with Vanity Fair and Harper's Bazaar and other magazines, showing each other ads we liked, opening the glued perfumed edges of pages, sniffing and critiquing by means of facial expressions and unstructured sounds. That was My Summer of the Sandals: I treated myself to regular pedicures and wore flashy polish on my toes and fingers. She always came equipped with her cosmetics bag, and when our efforts at communication thinned to wisps, I read and she groomed her brows and nails. I gave her some Burt's Bees cuticle cream; she gave me an Estée Lauder lipstick. So the beginning of our friendship was based on Girly Things. When R and E come to visit, E always arrives bearing Girly Gifts for me.

Thanksgiving Day E brought me a whole array of amber-scented bath goodies, and a bottle of OPI Dear Santa nail polish.

It's lighthearted candy apple red with sparkly bits. She said when she saw it, she said, "Ooohhh, June!"

There were years of my life when I had more than a dozen nail colors in my kit. I had to arrange them in a rotation to make it easier to decide which color should go on on Sunday evenings. The popular wisdom in my Yankee youth (I gather it's different in other parts of the country) was that Mature Women Who Were Not Trashy did not wear brightly colored anything. Either that belief has changed or I no longer care about it.
I have always loved clear bright red nails but I was in my forties before I was brave enough to sport them myself. Having missed out on that joy for so long, I'm not about to give it up. Yesterday while I did laundry and cleaned up and put away for another month all the holiday platters and bowls I took breaks and caught up on my Girly Grooming. I adore my tiny Christmas ornament fingertips. I could hardly wait to wake up and turn on the lights this morning so I could admire myself. Instant Happy.

One more homely pleasure: Wool Wax Creme. A friend gave me a jar of it as thanks for some little favor. Great stuff.


Barb said...

Hi June,
It's really scary how much we're alike! I'll think of you now when I go through our (similar) morning routine. I have a Mister Coffee, too - right by the sink to make filling easier - no fancy machine for this gal! I love bright nail polish but in my mountain life, rarely wear it. When I get the occasional manicure, I like that flash of glam at my fingertips - I may be old, but vanity still matters! What's this creme? Does it help wrinkles??
Enjoy your shelter from the wind.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you got this morning routine down to a science. I like the coffee part.

Tigerbi said...

I felt I was in your house hearing every sound the wind made............you are so descriptive ~

And you are the Queen of truly enjoying the little things in life.

I LOVE 8 0'clock coffee too.......I'd been buying the real expensive brands but kept reading that 8 O'clock was winning all the taste tests.......and it is true !!!!!!!!

Carolynn Anctil said...

What a fun post. I love my modern conveniences, no question! I'm big on warm & comfy too. I've been plagued with terrible nails my entire life, so nothing but clear or pale colours for me. E sounds like a great friend.

June said...

Barb, the best part of WW Creme is its lanolin. It moisturizes, but it makes a protective shield on your skin. You might want to Google it and get some for those mountain walks!

Oh Mr. Lincoln...I like the coffee part too!

Bibi, isn't it good??? No vanilla or hazelnut....just Good, Real, Coffee!

Carolynn, I'm glad you enjoyed this. It was great fun to write. Picture me wallowing in my sensual creature comforts, blinking at my sparkly nails... :-P

Mary said...

Your girly things are wonderful. My hands are an embarrassment.

June said...

Well, Mary, everybody's are. Mine were, until I slapped on this polish! :-)

Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed. said...

It always amazes me how such little things and little rituals can bring us such enjoyment and comfort. Nothing like a fire and I, too, love a good hot cup of coffee. Can't wear nailpolish and paint, so my nailpolish days are done. I though your cream was for a bikini wax but I gather it is a wonderful moisturizer - wool wax???

June said...

Bonnie, you aren't the first to raise an eyebrow at that name. :-P

Von said...

Ah the joys of comfort routines! The simple things please so much and bring us joy.Go Girls!

June said...

GB, isn't that just the truest truth? Such comfort in my homely little patterns.

Lord Wellbourne said...

Simple pleasures bestow the greatest comforts.

Wanda..... said...

We almost have the same morning tradition...I'm always up before dawn, turn on the computer, and go get my morning coffee made with freshly-ground Eight O'Clock coffee beans and watch for the sun to come up!

Joe Todd said...

Brought back memories of my old cast iron stove a Jotul I think. Sounds like soapstone is the way to go. Have you ever tried Udder ointment(no joke) really good product.

June said...

Yes, Joe...Bag Balm? ...that stuff in the green square tin? I did use that until I got tired of the stink. I mean, "aroma."

And yes, again! Our first stove was a Jotul. Good little stove. But this one's better. :-)