Thursday, January 27, 2011

Furniture Fandango

You know me.
I'm the guy with the basement and the house and the life filled with an infinite quantity of stuff.
When we planned our part-time move to the Carolina shore, we determined that most of the clutter would stay behind.
"Let's travel light," we said sagely. "If we really need it, we'll get it there."
So we did, taking just our "camping box," a large plastic tub filled with most of what you might need to pitch a tent and sleep under the stars, plus a couple of new inflatable mattresses and enough clothes for about a week.
With an unfurnished dwelling awaiting us, we envisioned a spartan, zen-like existence, freed from the bonds of our five-generation collection of chaos. Our initial exploration of our new digs--the much-smaller half of an elevated multi-story duplex--seemed to offer just that, with three floors filled with nothing but cool, stale air and last season's tracked-in sand.
After about eight seconds, though, I wondered just where I was going to sit.
Or how we were going to see where we were going to sit, since only the kitchen area has built-in lighting.
So after unloading the carful of clothes, crates, the ubiquitous blow-up beds, and the coffeemaker and bedding a couple of wise neighbors kindly insisted we take, we set off in search of a few of the things we think we'll need to survive this latest adventure.
It's been a slow, step-by-step process, as our desire to get it done battles an even stronger wish to do it on the cheap. We paid full price for a couple of new floor lamps that first day, plus dragged in our fold-up beach-and-camping chairs to serve as a living room furniture grouping. We collected a smattering of kitchen essentials to go with the few things we brought along
After that, it got kind of fun.
Our kitchen bar is now surrounded by a mix of new, thrift shop and borrowed stools, which means we can feed family and friends in a single seating, though in close, elbow-bumping proximity. The Salvation Army store yielded a small settee of indeterminate age and origin, while a resale shop called The Basement, in an eerie reminder of the one I left behind, provided a true prize, a pair of wicker basket chairs that remind me a little of the one in that famous photo of the well-armed founder of the Black Panther Party.
"We sit in those, we'll be like Huey Newton and Angela Davis," I said to my 60's-hip spouse.
"Yeah, or like Huey Lewis and Angela Landsbury," she replied more realistically.
Our search has led us to to many of the used furniture outlets in Jacksonville, North Carolina, which, as the home of a huge military installation, has more than its share. We even tried our hands at a bit of modified dumpster diving the other evening, as one of us was determined to examine a discarded beach bike in front of an opulent shoreline mansion.
Me: Get back in here, I think that's a police car.
She: Maybe he can help you load this beauty in the trunk.
The bicycle was, alas, too far gone to make the cut. And the cop was kind enough to look the other way, so we emerged from that bit of action with our police records and reputations intact.
We're about wrapped up now, with our last real need a futon or some other piece of furniture that'll double as a bed in anticipation of visits from friends and family. We bit the bullet and signed up for internet service the other day after I was unable to find a stray wifi signal to latch onto, but so far, we've resisted television in favor of breathtaking views and the books we've always been meaning to read.
Just as long as I've got a soft place to sit.
Here's the thing about living very near a 246-square-mile U.S. Marine Corps base and a couple of Marine airfields.
They like to practice from time to time.
Distant artillery fire and steady streams of helicopters and Osprey aircraft are often a part of the sights and sounds that surround us as the 40,000+ Marines at Camp Lejeune train and prepare for deployment and defense.
Some folks probably find the added noise a little annoying. And I admit, I sort of jumped the first time I felt a large-caliber cannon rattling my world. But we're getting used to it.
And while I am opposed to all wars, I'll always support the young warriors who fight them for us.
So make all the noise you want. And come home soon.
Call me buzz.
Those who know me in person know I like keeping my thinning hair pretty short. I was overdue for a trim when I walked into a barber shop just up the street from the Marine base main gate the other day.
"Cut it short, please," I said, as I slipped into the chair.
"Uh, you said short, right?" said the barber after he made his first pass with the clippers.
"Yep," I said confidently.
Let me just say that Marine Corps short is a little closer-cut than my usual style.
But it'll grow, I hope, if I didn't scare it off.
I was thinking about whining online about another chillier-than-normal Carolina morning the other day when I noticed a picture message wailing on my cell phone. It was from son Colin who lives near Fargo, North Dakota. He took the picture on his way home from work late the night before. It was a close-up shot of the outside temperature reading from the gauge in his car.
Fifty-eight degrees below freezing.
Nearly seventy degrees colder than the temps I was complaining about.
Glad I kept my mouth shut.


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