grandson is a Green Toothbrush

Claudine Jones - Scene4 Magazine | www.scene4.com

Claudine Jones

Let's go counter-clockwise around my sickie room, the room where I've spent the better part of two years in rehab from a broken hip and on into a pandemic.

My present twin-size bed, bought new for and then inherited from my late mother, will give me a massage if I press the right button, raise my head or my legs, or cleverly light my way around in the dark from underneath. She never said, but her actions translated as impotent fury at that bed—it was too high, she was  falling out, unable to tuck in sheets or blankets, locking the remote, then thinking it was broken—they were never friends.

Next to my head on the right: 2 little bolsters that I cannot use. They're cunning and completely unsatisfying, they won't work behind your neck or under your knees. They are presently jammed on top of my squeezy balance board, just between the bed and my mother's pale aqua colored bookcase.

This my grandfather built at her request, using a handsaw. She painted the pine with industrial strength enamel. I hear her telling me it is 'Tür-kwaz'. It is 7 feet tall, solid, one-piece, 3 shelves on the bottom, another three on top set back to provide a broader space to play with at waist level. How that bookcase survived coming from Missouri through Texas into California and all of the places we lived in this great state, with and without my father, in her final apartment and now on to me from the back of my little brother's truck...I don't know. I often close my eyes during furniture moving.

Fun brain-anomaly: I have until now spent my entire life thinking that it was a triangle-shaped bookcase, because she wanted things at angles and so therefore always found a corner for it to occupy. It took all the way until this last transport for me to behold that this particular bookcase is now and always has been flat.  Up against the wall,  it now holds  books, photos and baskets, trays of sewing supplies, jewelry findings, things I haven't gone through, as well as the bed remote, my watch, my stash of CBD, conveniently at hand. If I remember which container to open, I can also fish out my dad's olive green US Army Issue cloth tri-fold sewing kit, ubiquitous, linked forever with the repair of tears and re-anchoring of loose buttons. My first memory of thread and needles.

Below it on the floor, a petite leather suitcase which had correspondence, now empty, waiting perchance for a current knitting project to be protected.

At right angles facing me, Closet I, contains a carefully curated set of clothing that I simply cannot let go of: I could go look but I'm not going to. I do know there's a green Satin recital gown in which I once sang The Old Lady's Tango from Candide for the retirement party of my first singing teacher at the conservatory. At the end of the song, I snatched the rose I had tucked in my bosom and tossed it to him from the stage. As I approached my seat to rejoin the audience, I could feel the zipper giving way. Made it through the reception and just back to the car.

Next to the closet is my water-rower, on the wall. I was going to row every other day; I haven't gotten it down in a month.

Closet II has no door, but a curtain covering the shelves wherein Secrets lie. Like the vacuum cleaner we don't use and its accessories. Old stairstep foam rubber to use with stretching exercise program. The bag of batteries that must be tested periodically, found still to have life, but nevertheless will not perform when pressed into service. Until recently, a discombobulated old dollhouse  created from plywood and scraps of fabric, carpet, bits of formica, random paint, and absurdly clever brass curtain rods with threads I machined myself to accommodate tiny finials.  Also Paperwork that is  none of my business.

But there is a bantam piano desk on wheels in front of that curtain with a tray on top for all our remotes, our TV glasses, latest Netflix discs, the Hue light switch. The shallow drawer below holds hodgepodge designed only to frustrate. Old passwords, instruction booklets for items long gone.

Under the wall light (see Hue switch), sits the old high-end mesh lawn-chair I got for a song at the hardware store where my son works. Ma needed it at the bottom of the stairs to her apartment to catch a breather after coming back from errands. One of my few unmitigated Triumphs in providing as a daughter should. I think it was the color that got her. (pic?) Chinese Red always, and the particular shade of Lavender that Kim Novac  seemed to favor. The old man shifts it into place by the bed when we watch something.

The door to the room stands open. This was my youngest son's space of course, back in the day, and that door still retains its hoary collection of Garbage Pail Kids stickers. The small basketball hoop hooked up over the top, with pictures of players from the Pistons which invariably gets a laugh. What do I know.

Behind that door, attached to the wall is the RFront  Speaker of the 5.1 system (reminds me that the RBack Speaker is on top of theTür-kwaz bookcase) and it has an old Wii Guitar hanging from it. I stopped my Wii playing when it was clear that the grandson was going to take me to the cleaners in every single game we tried, even what I was best at: bowling. Getting beat by an eight year old at bowling...sigh.

The portable music stand that I bought myself for choir rehearsals in the dim past of last January, forlornly positioned next to the RFront Speaker, with a Chi Gung booklet poised for our flailing attention to return.

Ebay Vintage waste bin.

Ah. The Flat Screen. Just the right height, thanks to my oldest, below which are stacked neatly the components, harnessed and earthquake proof. A pile of NewYorkers on top of the DVD player, and subwoofer on the floor. What is different about my TV and I'll wager anybody else's, is that in our innocence when we first took on Grandchild duty, we said no TV.  Not only that, it was also going to be no even seeing a TV. So I was all let's do this thing and rigged up a fancy set of floor to ceiling silky dark red drapes with (I kid you not) a separate set of matching valances at the top. With beaded fringe. Seriously.  Covered everything but the side, so I devised a side covering made of something in my stash of fabric; never could get that to stay put, though.

You could sorta kinda tell something was going on and one fine day a certain person started getting very curious about what was behind the curtains. We kept it up for as long as we could, but at last we heard the dreaded question: Is dat a TeeBee?  Yes, it was. And yes, Nammie and Ap do watch TB, although we don't call it that. We call it HBO. Or Netflix.

The beaded Valances remain; the curtains long since repurposed.

From there we've got:

LFront Speaker

One half of a custom set of short, corner bookcases (other one is almost directly beneath in the entryway, first floor, where I am not going to even begin to describe what has been wrought.)

A Window to the East, staying open for now in the good weather, but toward which apparently one of our cross-the-pavement-and-slightly-uphill neighbors, yesterday sitting on a step beneath one of her garden gates, felt it necessary to unburden herself at FULL VOICE on the phone to a friend that I'm supposing  couldn't quite HEAR her due to her vacuum (?) or perhaps was on the mostly empty freeway going 100mph just to see how it felt, but remaining a loyal listener nonetheless.  I was not there, being on a Zoom at that time, but the old man, who does not shock easily was moved to shut off the program he was watching that he might better confirm the subject matter, whereupon he left the room to give her some privacy. 

2nd Window to the East

My mother's old armchair, hauled up the chair-crseventeen steps to give it a new home and a smart stretchy new look, next to the 3rd Window to the East

My mother's antique desk, the one she never tired of recalling was sold to someone else, but when she went back a month later had been inexplicably returned and hence was available for purchase. It is in front of and exactly the width of  the window.

There are no gaps between these three windows, making it quite lovely when all three insulating quilts are up and the flimsy curtains out of the way.

Now heading North, last Bookcase, next to the bed and below LBack Speaker, holding my phone/tablet charging station and containing an intense collection of Children's books initially destined for the Green Toothbrush, but not really, as he has not managed to stay put. He is in fact a scant inch shorter than his mother.  His favorite: anything Calvin and Hobbes.

Looking around in my mind's eye, I realize of course I missed the small window above my head which neatly accommodates the curtains my mother made me.

For my co-op room at UCBerkeley, first time with no roommate, circa 1969, where I lost half my virginity in a twin bed.



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Claudine Jones - Scene4 Magazine | www.scene4.com
Claudine Jones has had a long, full career as an Actor/Singer/Dancer. She writes a monthly column
and is a Senior Writer for Scene4.
For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives.

©2020 Claudine Jones
©2020 Publication Scene4 Magazine




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