Monday, May 26, 2008

Laura Ashley

The movers had left and Janice stood in the hallway of the "cute cape cod on a quiet cul-de-sac", holding her breath. "It happened, it really happened," she thought. "I have my first home." The enormity of this life change hit her when she realized that today her two children, Andy and Sarah, would be coming home, not to their two bedroom apartment on Dover Street, but to their new home on Grove Court.

"Well, I had better get started.", she sighed realizing that the boxes of their life would not empty themselves. Janice walked into the kitchen and immediately her nose was assailed by a soured odor. "What is that smell?" she said aloud. In the kitchen sink, she found the culprits, several tea towels had been left behind by the previous owner; still damp and growing a goodly crop of black mold. "The previous owners must have used these for their final clean-up." Digging through the boxes marked, Kitchen, she located a plastic garbage bag and stashed the offending towels, tying the bag with a satisfying twist.

The doorbell rang. Her first guest; her best friend, Stacy. " I just had to pop over to see your new home.", said Stacy breezing past Janice without greeting. "Oh, I love the kitchen, it is so quaint." It was indeed quaint as Janice's new home was built sometime in the late 1930's with tiled counter tops and mahogany cabinets. The sink was low and the faucets were dated. The only apparent upgrades had been the appliances. "Oh, Janice look! The wallpaper, it is Laura Ashely!"

"Really?" replied Janice examining the wallpaper for the first time. "I guess I never noticed. I was going to remove the wallpaper and paint the walls.

"I wouldn't.", said Stacy flatly. "I think it suits the house well."

After Stacy left, Janice set herself on getting the kitchen into order. The children would be home soon wanting a snack and later, dinner. She started emptying boxes and finding new homes for her old things.

As she opened one box, she found her grandmother's towel holder, and she smiled. The towel holder had a wooden plaque with a hole at the top for attaching to the kitchen wall. The wood was dark with age. The hardware at the bottom of the plaque held three wooden rods attached to spring allowing the rods to be positioned horizontally when in use and vertically when not in use.

Holding the towel holder, Janice remembered Sunday dinners at her grandmother's farm. She remembered the clinking of the dinnerware when they cleared the dinner table, the smell of Ivory dish washing soap in her grandmother's sink and her grandmother's muslin tea towels. Janice dried the dishes while listening to the wonderful stories her grandmother would tell, and when they were done, the wet towels were placed on each of the three rods to dry.

Holding a hammer and a nail Janice moved to the wall closest to the sink to hang her grandmother's towel dryer. As she positioned the plaque, Janice again noticed the Laura Ashley wallpaper. It look familiar somehow, with its buttery background and tiny red roses. "I have seen this before." she mused to herself. Suddenly, she remembered the offensive towels left in the sink. Retrieving the plastic garbage bag and bracing herself for the stench, Janice opened the bag and pulled out the towels. Examination revealed that the towels' pattern matched the wall paper perfectly.

Later that night, Janice checked Andy and Sarah as they slept in their new rooms. It had been an exhausting day, and she look forward to her own bed housed in her new room. But, there was one more thing she wanted to do before she went to bed.

Janice descended the basement stairs to retrieve what was in the dryer. With anticipation she opened the dryer and grasped the three tea towels left by the previous owners. They had come clean! The black mold and the odious smell were gone leaving the beautiful buttery background and tiny red roses intact. Folding them carefully, Janice returned to the kitchen and hung the towels on her grandmother's towel dryer. With satisfaction, she read the words engraved on the wooden plaque. - "Jesus Washes White As Snow."

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