In a few days the paintings, lamps, collections of shells, rocks, and what may be referred to as bric-a-brac heads downstairs to the basement or upstairs to the loft. The painters come with their ladders, buckets, drop cloths, brushes, and small paint splattered radio. Ruby, the lead contractor, leads his contingent of hired painters. First, the ceilings—a coat to cover the water stains from this winter’s ice dam, then the lavender bathroom. I chose a lighter colour for the bathroom and wonder whether it’s too light. Small samples never give an adequate sense of the result. What appears brazen on a piece of paper may turn out dull and passive. Trim in white—not dead white with ghostly overtones, not white imbued with green and black emoting a sickly hue under the glare of eight decorator bulbs. Not too yellow. It doesn’t complement lavender. I want a peaceful, but not a complacent colour.
Shopping for blue rugs, or do I say wall to wall in two rooms, requires entrance into the rarified area of colour names. I want a blue carpet and every company defines blue differently—Navy blue, Cobalt blue, Bonnet blue, Persian blue, Powder blue, Periwinkle, Cerulean, Slate blue—and names that wear their regal background: Royal blue. A carpet sample lit by overhead fluorescent lighting changes as soon as it nears another landscape. Over several weeks I brought home samples—some affixed to cardboard, a few twelve inches wide, and two oversized samples three feet by two feet with whimsical names. One darker. One lighter. “This,” I said to the salesperson when I found Maya blue, “is the perfect colour.” As soon as I placed it down in the room the other blues screamed —conflict, competition, wrong. I found two different blues. They’ll work—perhaps blend in quietly.
Today I left the house and headed to my favorite, or maybe the coffee house closest to home, only to find them serving coffee in the dark. The lights were out and the light darkener shades drawn. It’s overcast today, hovering between rain and consistent concern about rain. “Wait five minutes and maybe I’ll get the lights on. The coffee is hot.” I looked around and even with the lights on the place looks like a cave. It’s a stand-off. Why keep the place so dark? Perhaps the floor is scratched and the sunlight magnifies each blemish? Perhaps keeping it dark encourages conversation and discourages the bookish set or the computer folks who camp out. It’s not as if I stay through the lunch crowd. Last week one shade was up and a slant of light illuminated a table or two. Is it a matter of control? Rather than sit I drove three miles to another coffee house, found a table near the window, and plugged in my computer. With an overhead light, a large storefront window, a bathroom, and three other people sitting with computers—a model coffee house. But the coffee is quite mediocre. Today I tried Café au lait—too bland.