For some strange reason, I sometimes like to close my eyes and pretend I’m blind. I’ll do this on occasion when I’m moving about the house, trying to visualize my path as I get a water-glass from my desk to refill at the kitchen sink, or run some other small errand. A few times, I’ve prepared for bed as if I’d lost my sight; changing clothes, brushing my teeth, washing my face … the whole routine. I would notice the hazy rose snow behind my eyelids turn dark as I switched off the light (silly that it was on in the first place) and get under the covers. I’ve even closed my eyes while I’m running, usually—but not always—on long, straight, empty stretches of road where I would count off the seconds as I attempted to keep moving straight. I made it almost a minute once, stumbling every now and then as I drifted off the shoulder, but never falling. I think this helps my powers of observation, it also gives me some empathy for those who are blind.
This morning’s stretch is more of an exercise in visualization than a writing prompt. While you are at your computer, close your eyes and do an imaginary tour of a room in your house. Write out a description, trying to capture every detail. Remember, this is more about memory and visualization than writing beautifully. When you’re finished, compare your description with the reality.
Our living room isn’t a distinct space, but part of an open area that includes the dining room. There isn’t an entrance foyer, so you step directly into the living room from the northeast corner onto a large, gray rectangular mat from which you can view the textured red walls, natural oak floors and the black wool area rug on the floor. Immediately to the right of the door is a peninsula with a granite top. It is usually cluttered with mail, gloves and other stuff that one drops as soon as they enter the house.
The rug is rectangular with a border and an interior of squares containing a variety of patterns. I think cream, gold and dark red are among the colors in the rug. On the left (east) wall just beyond the door is a wooden shoe bench stained a mahogany color with several pairs of running shoes on it. Butting up against that is an old pedestal fan that shouldn’t be there, but we have been using it to try to blow heat from the woodstove down the stairs (which are just beyond, and face, the peninsula) and that is where we put it when not in use. The idea doesn’t work very efficiently so I really should put it back in the garage.
Past the fan is a set of bronze fireplace tools and a black ash bucket; I believe it is currently filled with ashes. Then comes the ceramic-tiled pad and backboard where the woodstove sits. The stove is black, squat and square, with black stove-pipe rising out of it and up through the vaulted ceiling; a magnetic burn indicator is attached to the stove-pipe. It faces the center of the room and has a glass panel in the door, that is pretty dirty right now, if I remember correctly. On top of the stove is a cast-iron black pot and a cast-iron teapot. On the floor in front of the woodstove is a half-circle, gray hearth rug that is pretty dirty, too. It overlaps both the tile and the rug.
Past the woodstove is a small wood rack, empty except for the wood chips and bark, which spill onto the floor around it. Against the wall behind the woodrack is a square black bucket that I use to put kindling in, but currently is stuffed full with brown paper packing material that came in a delivery my daughter received yesterday.
Which reminds me that also immediately to the right of the door are a bunch of empty cardboard boxes from the deliveries made over the last couple days. Oh, I also failed to mention that there are two bar stools at the counter-height peninsula, they have a wood frame and tan, cushioned seats; not technically part of the living room, but they sort of feel like they are.
Now, back to the east wall. Where it meets the south wall, there are two windows at a 90 degree to one another. In the corner, are two large plants, one is a tall, tropical looking thing with big fronds that almost touch the ceiling. The other one is a peace lily, the kind with the neat, white, vertical flower that looks like it is cupping an offering. It is in a big pot on a plant stand that I can’t picture at all. I think there are about ten lilies on the plant right now.
Squished between the invisible (since I can’t picture it) plant stand and our larger sofa is a black trashcan overflowing with a variety of burnable trash that we feed into the woodstove—but obviously haven’t done so lately. Hiding behind that is two boxes of business checks from our old electrical contracting company. My wife found them in her closet and they are also destined for the fire.
On the black rug in the center of the living space is a simple, solid oak coffee table that I made myself. It is a little darker than the floor, with rounded corners. There is a mahjong set in a fancy red box with gold filigree on the table along with several books, including Stephen King’s 11-22-63.
I made the table to complement the sofas, which are blue, with oak banding along the bottom and under the arms. One is a two-person which sets toward the center of the open space and faces the woodstove; the other is a three-person that is in front of a sliding glass door—one of two side-by side in the big open space on the south side of our house. The curtains are the same shade of red as the walls, but have a gold paisley pattern on them. There are four pink pillows on the couches, two off a corduroy material and two that are satin-like. There is a cream and blue checkered fleece blanket over the back of the two-person sofa.
In the southwest corner of the living space is an end table that has two levels. On the top is a poinsettia, still setting on a Christmas-patterned cloth. The lower level is stuffed full of books and magazines.
Chances are you’ll also find little collections of dog hair in various places, since we have a German shepherd/Husky mix that sheds like crazy. What else? I think there is something on one of the windowsills but I can’t remember what; there is a basket of dog toys under the end table; some square glass coasters with pictures of my daughter and son-in-law embedded in them are on the end table, too.
What I missed: the snowman banner that hangs on the east wall near the door, a pottery-like wind chime hanging from a beam in the ceiling, two empty Asics running shoe boxes on the shoe bench, a pair of work gloves on the floor near the woodstove, a log in the woodrack, large tongs laying on the floor (instead of hanging with the other fireplace tools), a white blanket on the large sofa, a pair of Chaitan’s socks on the coffee table, his green hat on the small sofa, my sweatshirt hanging over the back of the small sofa. The plant stand under the peace lily is one of those three-legged wrought-iron deals that have curls at the top and bottom. And the squares in the black rug (which really has more burgundy than black) aren’t squares, but rectangles. The poinsettia is in a shiny tin bucket that has snow flakes embossed on it. There is a lot less dog hair than I thought, someone must have vacuumed recently!
I’m disappointed that I missed some important details, but overall I did remember a lot.