Thursday, May 15, 2008


Before we moved to Chicago, I spent a weekend babysitting a friend's children. In return, she gave me an old couch, two full sets of plates, a set of cutlery, and a bunch of other kitchen implements. We both were quite pleased with our swap. I was especially pleased because besides our bed and a bunch of books, Peter and I owned practically nothing.

I wasn't too fussed about it. As we could afford it, we purchased more furniture. Peter was always suggesting handy things to have - a dish drying rack, a small litter bin, a soap dish. As long as it was cheap and functional, I didn't care what it looked like.

This all changed when we bought our first house. Suddenly, it became unreasonably important to me that the kitchen towels match the oven mitts. I wanted seasonal hand towels in the bathrooms. I liked the idea of having a grown-up, matching furniture in the living room.

This nesting behaviour continued the whole time we had our house. It had always been difficult to get out of the Target for under $100, what with the kitty litter and the super-huge boxes of detergent. After the nesting started, it was nearly impossible to keep the Target costs down, especially when they had things like cute fleece blankets and matching pillows. (Patterned with moose and snowflakes - how could anyone resist that?)

For me, the strangest part of my nesting phase was my fixation with throw pillows. On more than one occasion, I'd lose my mind and buy a pile of throw pillows at the Target, only to return them the next day when buyer's remorse kicked in. I'd always laughed at girly-girls who covered every upholstered surface with throw pillows. But I suddenly found myself powerless to resist their velvety, fluffy allure. (In my defense, I did stick to blues and greens - I didn't dive into the girly pink deep end.)

In one of my favourite books, Sight Hound, a wise wolfhound observes that "buying throw pillows is in my experience the single best indicator that a female human being is feeling pretty good." I think the dog must be right because I was quite happy in our little house in Wheaton and now I'm fighting the throw pillow urges in the Middle of Nowhere.

I was thinking about nesting this morning, as I watched swallows gather materials for a nest. Toby is shedding like a fiend these days. When I brushed him this morning, I removed enough fur to make a good-sized puppy. Since I was outside, I let the hair just drop in clumps on the ground.

Those sharp-eyed swallows spotted the fluffy deposits and spent the morning swooping in to gather them up. I don't know where the nests are, but I like to think that Toby's fur is the comfy throw pillow of the place. On its own, it's not exactly functional, but combined in a well-created nest, it should provide warmth and comfort to all who live there.


At 15 May 2008 at 20:22, Anonymous Noelle said...

I did the same thing with my cat's hair this morning. I was wondering where it went to.

The place I'm living right now is a total dump, and it makes me want to anti-nest. I just cleaned out my closet, and put stuff in a box that I mentally labeled, "I don't really want to give up, but I wouldn't be upset if it was lost in a fire."

At 15 May 2008 at 21:46, Blogger Kaycie said...

I spent the winter in nesting mode inside the house. Lately, I've been preoccupied with making the outside of the house pretty.

That's probably not the same thing as buying throw pillows, though, is it?

At 16 May 2008 at 02:52, Blogger laurie said...

i totally get the throw pillow thing. though they often end up in stacks on the floor because thye take up too much room on the couch.

by the way, speaking as someone who lives in the land where Target's Target. not the target.

At 16 May 2008 at 05:53, Blogger Noortje said...

To think Ann, that you of all people have such female characteristics. I thought you were above such things. I never took you for a throw pillow kind of woman. More of a burning log kind of woman and "I chopped the wood myself."

At 16 May 2008 at 08:10, Blogger Babaloo said...

I'm not too much into throw pillows. Like Laurie said, they take up too much space on the couch. But I get your nesting habit. Totally.
And no, I couldn't resist the moose/snowflake patterned blanket. No way. Do you still have it?

At 16 May 2008 at 10:04, OpenID conortje said...

sigh, I just love this post. Yo've reminded me that When I moved here ten years ago everything I had fitted in a few bag I had taken with me. Now I have my own apartment and lots of furniture and the like I have acquired over the years. Still no throw pillows though, I wonder what that means...

At 17 May 2008 at 01:04, Blogger Rose said...

Sight Hound? You must be a Pam Houston fan!

At 18 May 2008 at 04:45, Blogger -Ann said...

Noelle - I love your mental labeling. I really must post someday about the cleaning we had to do when we sold our house.

Kaycie - No, it's much more virtuous. :) You get exercise at least.

Laurie - Sorry to offend your grammatical sensibilities. I put 'the' in front of every store name. I think it must be an Irish habit.

Noortje - I know, this surprised me too.

Conortje - I don't think it means you're unhappy, it probably just means you're a man. :)

Rose - Sure am! I've got all her books and I used to give "Cowboys are my Weakness" to any friends who went through bad breakups.


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