Last night at 4:00 am while I lied awake watching the dark make baroque patterns in the air in my bedroom, I started thinking about how many things about the Palinode's and my household set-up are haphazard. If you wanted to put a nicer sounding spin on it, you could say that we are laissez-faire when it comes to furniture and home maintenance, but that's only if you think it's laissez-faire to use your portable dishwasher as a stepladder. Who needs a stepladder when you've got a sturdy Kenmore dishwasher on casters to roll from room to room?

Also, who needs proper curtains when you've got that piece of Indian cloth with elephants printed all over it that you bought from a crazy bug-eyed man at a street festival who nodded along with you when you joked that you didn't need the piece with the alien heads all over it because you saw aliens all the time anyway. He smelled sour and couldn't focus his eyes out of the middle distance. When he nodded along as though you "got" him, it made you feel twitchy.

For a couple of decades, I built my furniture out of cinderblocks, wooden boards, and plastic milk crates, so I have graduated from my years of impoverished garbage picking as a means to interior design, but I have not graduated beyond its aesthetic. If I took the time and had the energy, I could likely do a bang-up job of spiffing up the place, but I honestly do not notice my apartment all that much.

When I am at home, I am writing, reading, thinking, or knitting, and none of those activities causes me to look up and notice the nail holes left unpatched from the previous tenant or how the finish has worn off the hardwood in the entry. Obviously I am aware of these things, but I don't see them very often. I just don't care enough. As long as I am able to read, write, and knit in relative comfort, I'm happy. A wooden box that held dishes we got at our wedding is our tea towel drawer, I built our coffee table out of two old game boards and some plywood, and our dishwasher doubles as a stepladder, but it works for me.

I just realized that what we've really been doing is turning our household items into multi-tasking machines. I could start an empire.

I would like to be one of those people who cares, though, if only to impress. I want to be someone who crafts a home environment with living plants and warm lighting and stylish throw rugs and doesn't have a mysterious plumbing issue that keeps presenting itself in the form of a pervasive, sulphurous stench. Your cool factor always goes up a couple of degrees when your home is well decorated and doesn't smell like you're having the sewer over for dinner. (We are having our landlord look into that, by the way, and have been able to quell the smell by pouring bleach down the drain a couple of times a week).

I do mitigate the look we've got going with my own eclectic style, though. I'm not completely lost. My decorating is not done solely based on what we neglected to throw out in our last move. One example is the mantle above our fireplace, which has a collection of what-nots that I quite like. See? There are some stone candle holders, a piece of some folk art I made for the Palinode, a wooden clock, a little African thinker statue, and some impregnated matches.

the mantle

No, really, the matches are impregnated. It says so right on the box:

sea-dog matches, impregnated

But shhh, don't tell the other matches about this. They might think it's cool and all end up preggers. We don't need that.

What actually started all this thought about our haphazardness was that while I was lying in bed in the dark at 4:00 am, I remembered that the light bulb in our ceiling fixture burned out a couple of months ago, and although we've been getting by just fine with our bedside lamps, I wouldn't mind it being bright enough to distinguish between the socks in our sock drawer. So, I was trying to figure out if I could move the bed over far enough to accommodate our portable dishwasher so that I could reach the bulb to change it.

Some would call us creative problem-solvers. Others might suggest that we should just go buy a goddamned stepladder already.

Oh yes, and it's time that we bought some curtains for the living room. I am sure that the neighbourhood is sick of my occasional and accidental boob flashings.