Saturday, December 31, 2011


My parents stayed with me for the last few days, and as they have before, they rained down a storm of house results accomplished while they were here.   My dad got the tub unclogged and got an estimate for fixing my chimney; my mom cleaned floors and got new flowers for the front.  My brother even got in on the action by bleaching my kitchen counters and helping mom unpack my china.*   Housenstein may now be in the best shape of his life after 90 years here, hanging out on this mortal coil.

One of the fun results accomplished was the prettification of my fireplace.  My chimney is not, you know, technically speaking, safe for use.  It's not even really guaranteed to stay attached to the house in the event of an earthquake or other seismic disturbance.  On the exterior, it's made of bricks held together with a kind of sandy substance.  For all I know, it's actually just sand-- when you run your finger in between the bricks, the substance crumbles and flakes out.   Naturally, I live not too far from the Eagle Rock and Verdugo fault lines.

Since I can't use the fireplace, a standing unresolved question has been: What do I do with this un-usable thing?  Answers over the last five months have included:
  • Nothing
  • Scowl at it
  • Paint around it
  • Put pictures on it!
  • Park a large plant in front of it 
  • Have gas company people come look at it 
  • Decorate it for Christmas, like this:

Cute, right?  Christmas cards from my friends are on the mantel, which maybe should be spelled mantle?  But that may be more the meaning of 'take up the mantle' of something.  Then again, 'mantle' may be the way both are spelled.  Which would not make the two words either homophones or homographs.
Or, wait-- maybe it would make them both?
I enjoy the immensely asymmetrical Christmas stockings.  Clearly, one part of me was better than the other this year, and expected big things.

It's cutebut.  As in 'that's cute, but...'  It's cute, but there's a giant black hole in the middle.**

For a while now, my mom has been telling me I should get a candle thing for the fireplace.  You know those candle things?  A candelabra, like this, for your non-functional fireplace?  I resisted this idea, because I kind of thought-- meh.  Everybody does that.  And because everybody does that, I WILL NOT.  I RESIST!  That's when I put the plant in front of it.  That was cute, but...cutebut.  I liked the idea of a fireplace screen though-- in particular these screens at Crate and Barrel:
How perfect would this be with the front door?***
It speaks to me.
It says: You love me.
I say: That's true.

These are both $179 though.  So, no. 

Then, a couple days ago, my mom and I went to Target to get a few house things.   We ended up looking at fireplace screens, and I saw one I liked OK, but...


Me: I kind of like it, but I don't know whether I'll like the yellow color of the diamonds?
Mom:  Well, there's one way to find out.
Me:  Um...what would that be?
Mom:  Open the box and look!

Whaaaaaat?!  Well, OK!  So, we opened a box of one of the accessories that goes with this screen:

 I was not a fan of this yellow, as it turned out.

Also, as it turned out, we were not the only ones with the 'open the box and look' idea.

I ended up finding a simpler screen that I liked for about $40.  And, while were in neighborhood, my mom said-- hey, why don't you get candles for your fireplace!

Mmmmm, ALRIGHT, I said.  I will LOOK.  We will SEE, but I MAKE NO GUARANTEES.

Twenty minutes later, we ended up with this:

The middle candle is my favorite, and it knows that, but I also enjoy them as a cohort.
I love the ikat-ishness contrasted with the metallic and the white.

We debated a bit about whether the candelabra should be in front of or behind the screen.  Eventually, we decided behind was better, and it ended up looking like this:

And the question of: How do I use this un-usable thing? was thus resolved.

Happy New Year, everybody!

*Yes, until a few days ago, my grandmother's china had been sitting in the boxes I packed it in 5 months ago when I moved.   Shhhhh.  I hear you judging me, through the internets.
**No, I still haven't fixed the place where the paint ripped off the cement 'tiles.'  Shhhhhhhhhhhhh.  I hear you judging me again.
***There's a cheaper version of this idea here, at, of all places,   But if I had the Target version, I think I'd always look at it at it tell it that it could never live up to the Crate and Barrel version, and that would just be hurtful.

1 comment:

  1. Awwww shucks, thanks for the honorable mention. It was fun! Still life of fireplace with lights and flame looks great--warm and welcoming. As for the Crate and Barrel screens, lovely indeed. Maybe they'll make next year's Christmas list?