Linens and Things


Once upon a time, on an unseasonably cool August afternoon, my wife and I decided to freshen up our bedroom with new bedding. Well, actually my wife did. As much as I was growing tired of the thready and massive comforter that has been on top of our bed for eight years, the dog liked it and I simply didn’t have enough X chromosomes in me to care. I would just drop the occasional pithy remark that the bedroom could use an update and that the dog’s nails were making the comforter look as if it were made out of mohair.

            “I can’t find anything I like,” Mrs. G. would say, which struck me as odd because she has an uncanny knowledge of the inventory of just about every store, online or physical, in this country and parts of England.  I know this about England because one day, the mail carrier drove up our driveway and instead of her usual package delivery method of either chucking the parcel out the side door and slamming her Jeep buggy into reverse or sitting in her Jeep and beeping the horn like a shy prom date, she actually got out and lumbered over in my direction.

            “Good morning,” I said. I try to be cordial to her even though she is quite possibly the most ornery woman on

            “Package for you. From ENGLAND,” she sniffed. “You have to sign for it.”

             Out here in the semi-boonies, I take it that packages from ENGLAND delivered by mail aren’t all that common. I know this was my first one, and given the royal nature of it, I signed for it with a flourish using my swankiest signature—the one I usually reserve for those tiny little electronic signature things in drugstores.

            “Thanks,” I said, but she had already turned and was walking back to her Jeep because union rules forbid them from being away from their vehicle for more than twenty seconds, lest they explode, which would require some serious overtime.

            I then walked inside with the package, which smelled vaguely of queen.

            “Honey, you have a package … from ENGLAND,” I said, “and I had to sign for it.” I figured it was something expensive and rare, possibly made out of porcelain or a clock tower.

            “Oh, those are my yoga pants,” Mrs. G. said. Now ladies and gentlemen, I ask you. Do they not sell yoga pants here, in the United States of America or certainly Canada, which is a lot closer than ENGLAND and at least partially ENGLISH? But these were special yoga pants only available online from ENGLAND; so special in fact that a few months later, another (albeit shorter) pair arrived with great ceremony in the mail and the signing process was once again repeated. Our mail carrier must think us to be royalty.

            The reason I offered up that story was to show that my wife will hunt down the exact perfect thing, no matter what continent it may hail from or what widdershins route it must take to get to our doorstep, so the fact that she could not find a bedding set that was less tired looking than the one we had was a great mystery to me.

            So anyway, back to the bedding.

            Mrs. G. had finally found a set online that was the right combination of style, pattern and price, so she ordered the comforter, two normal pillow shams, two of something called Euro shams and the ubiquitous dust ruffle, which we both hate but seems to be a necessity these days.* She bargained a little about the delivery charges and a coupon she had, and then placed the order.

            Several days later, we knew something was up because Milo, our dog, was going completely batcrap crazy at the front window. This sort of craziness is reserved for only one thing: The UPS driver. I grabbed the dog before he pried the molding off the window, and waited while the driver lugged a huge box up to the front step. Milo was simmering at a slow growl until the doorbell went off, which sent him into a cross between a growl and a whine, tinctured with a just a little “let me at ‘em.”

            “Please, please, please let me outside. I just want a little taste of those brown ankle socks,” he pleaded. I waited until the truck was out of the driveway, opened the door and let Milo loose. He bounded clear over the step and landed out in the middle of the driveway, where a second bounce sent him out to the edge of the front yard. I let him bark it out while I dragged the box inside.

            “Package,” I said.

            “It must be the bedding!” Mrs. G. exclaimed. The box was huge, which made me wonder if it did indeed hold just bedding, or did she also order more superfluous pillows because all this gigantic box needed was air holes to hold a family of refugees from a third world country.

            She popped open the box, and began to take out bundled wads of stuff, neatly tied with ivory ribbon and enclosed in crisp plastic bags. Very classy, I thought, and I knew immediately that this ribbon would be saved in the kitchen drawer that holds her first floor decorating accouterments. We honestly have enough saved ribbon in there to decorate every horse in the Kentucky Derby. Twice.

            The process of trying out the new bedding set began with me throwing the new comforter directly on top of the existing set where it sat like a bad toupee. “I like it,” I said, and then went back to what I was doing. This is her domain. I make mushrooms with a chainsaw out of trees that I cut down in the yard. She makes the bed. It’s a system.

            Well, this got more involved than I had hoped for, because now the colors in the small throw rug at the foot of the bed didn’t work. I will confess right here that I have an uncanny sense of color, and that rug just didn’t go. We had talked about putting a larger rug partially under the bed and partially outside of the bed, and as it happens, we have a rug in just the right size under our kitchen table. I suggested that we take that and put it under the bed, just to see how the concept would work.

            This turned into a chore of ridiculous proportions. The rug had to be rolled out from under the table and then unrolled in a different direction under the bed. In order to do this, the mattress and two box springs would have to be removed. This probably seems simple on paper, but moving a king-sized memory foam mattress is much like moving a king-sized mattress stuffed full of dead kings and as a cherry on this dead load, Milo decided to perch right in the middle and stick to this thing like he was wearing Velcro underpants. Then we started laughing, which only made it worse. We ended up folding the mattress like a taco, with Milo playing the part of the lettuce and tomatoes, and cramming it between the bedroom doorframe. As soon as we let go of the straps, the mattress sprung open and wedged itself there forever. Milo was confused, but comfortable.

           The box springs came up easily and were stacked against the wall, but what happened next was a shocker.

           “Are those hamsters?” I asked.

           “I think they’re kittens,” my wife replied.

           “Well, whatever they are, they’re huge,” I said.  Apparently the dust ruffle we had was defective because we didn’t just have dust balls; we had dust shrubbery.

           “When was the last time this was cleaned?” I asked.

           “How long have we lived here?”  Mrs. G. replied.

            Truth is, it hasn’t been that long since one of us lazily Swiffered under there, but taking the entire thing apart to thoroughly clean under the bed was about a hundred steps below waxing the inside of the gutters on my to-do list.

           While Mrs. G. climbed out of the room over the foam taco and brought back a vacuum cleaner, I grabbed a wet washcloth from the bathroom and started wiping everything down. Once the floor was harvested of dust kittens, we unfurled the rug, centered it, and piled the whole bed system—including the new comforter and pillow shams—on top. Since the dust ruffle was back-ordered until—get ready for this—January, it wasn’t one hundred percent complete, but it looked better already.

           “We need a new rug,” Mrs. G. said, “and new lampshades.”

            The rug part was easy, but the lampshades took a little trial and error. She settled on parchment colored drum shades, and while she was at the store (I stayed home mushroomand cut down a dead tree and made a mushroom out of the stump) she also picked up a dust ruffle. By the time she got back, the tree was cut up into firewood and I was ready to help take the bed apart for the third, maybe fourth time. I lost count. Once everything was in place, we both stared at it as if we were in a strange hotel. “It looks awesome,” Mrs. G. sighed.

            Later that night, we went through our usual bedtime routine, only with every light in the room on so that we could revel in the magnificence of the new comforter under the glow of the new lampshades. Mrs. G. started brushing her teeth first, while I locked all the doors and turned off the TV and the living room lights. After security sweep Delta Charlie, I got my toothbrush and wandered around the house, eventually standing on the front porch while Milo made one last trip outside. It was going to be a cool night, which would be a good test to see if the new, thinner comforter would be warm enough for winter. It felt OK, but if it’s not, we’ll just get a thin blanket and layer it in the mix.

            The whole discombobulation took a day and a half, so as redecorating goes, that wasn’t too bad. The other set lasted almost eight years, but since this new comforter is reversible, I’m certain we’ll have at least twice that until we have to do it all over again. By that time, the dust balls will have pushed the bed up to the ceiling or swallowed us up in our sleep. Either way, I’m good with it.




*Bedding glossary, learned from thirty-one years of being married.

Comforter – that thing that lays on top of the bed, which replaced the bedspread which was the other thing that used to lay on top of a bed, but not any more.

 Pillow sham – A fancy pillowcase that goes over a normal, rectangular pillow but is too fancy to be a sleep-on-it pillowcase. It is used for superfluous decorative pillows.

 Euro sham – A fancy pillowcase that goes over a large square pillow but is too fancy to be an everyday sleep-on-it pillowcase. It is used for superfluous decorative square pillows, which is presumably what they sleep on in Europe, and which look remarkably like a dog pillow. Only fancier and more Euro-ish.

 Dust ruffle – It’s a thing that goes under the mattress but over the box spring and hangs down to cover the box spring, the bed frame, and all the crap that gets shoved under the bed. It does not prevent dust.



 I recently branched out from stump mushrooms into stump tables. This was a two hundred pound red pine log that was sliced, sanded, de-barked and sealed into a one hundred pound table. Sorry, Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware. You’ve got enough of our money in dust ruffles.


stump table (1)



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