"Could you help me carry a few things in from the garage?"

"What is this?"

"Well. Well, I thought the Dining by Design table needed a rug. You know, to define the space a little better."

"Uh huh. Where did you get these things?"

"Lowe's. Jimenez told me about it."

"How did you get them in your car?"

"Oh, there was the nicest man there; he loaded them up for me."

"And they fit?"

"Well, not exactly. They had to go up over my headrest."

"So, they were basically on your head for the ride home. And you couldn't see out the back."


"And why are we taking them into the living room?"

"I just can't quite figure out what I'm going to paint on them and I can't get a sense of the scale until they are all together."

"You're going to paint them."


"But not in the living room? In the garage. Or how about the basement?"


But he knew from the start that I was going to paint them in the living room, just as the nice man at Lowe's knew that I was not going to come back with a bigger car, but was going to figure out how to take these three four-by-eight pieces of laminate home right then.

I hate math, it's such an inconvenience, but I measured a little then got out the yardstick. I was off, of course, and things had to be reconnoitered. I hate that. So I ignored the incorrectly measured part and went ahead and painted the border. I wanted to paint; I did not want to measure. When I finished the border, I stood back admiring my work, grateful for creative friends and low-priced home goods stores. Painting the floor in the living room was fine, bother Mr. Blandings and his concern.

Then I felt a nudge. Not of conscience or of sense. A nose nudge. About mid-thigh. It's a common experience as it is Rosie's usual way of letting me know I have forgotten her walk or her food or fetch. As I looked down into her amber eyes I realized that I had not quite accounted for keeping the dog off of the "rug." She does not follow verbal instructions as well as the boys, which frankly is not all that well either.

So for a week Mr. Blandings and the boys have said nothing as half of the downstairs is blocked off with chairs and tables as they all work around me.

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