Last week was tea with Nana, our bi-weekly, although lately, monthly ritual. Nana and I have much in common even with our 43-year age difference. It would seem that I acquired my desire to "nest" from her, and I've been told, my gift for decorating. Now you must understand, this is not an ordinary gift. Magnificent feats of design and layout have been achieved by this woman, and dare I say, she is in a category not easily described. We have been known to condense the entire contents of a house into one room and never mind what has been accomplished with a can of spray paint and elmers glue. Having the need to be thrifty increased our creativity, and throughout the years, we have scanned the streets of her old neighborhood in Bensonhurt picking up rare finds at every garage and stoop sale we could walk to.
Nana has never lived in an apartment any larger than a thimble, so when I speak of her skill, you need to picture what she has to work with. Since moving to her Long Island home, however, I thought this "talent" was put to the test for the last time. I was wrong. Her zeal continues at 93, and the room she has been sleeping, cooking, dining, and entertaining in for 10 years was freshened and feng shui'd for what I would guess is the 100th time. I couldn't help but notice that she did not lose her flair either. I decided to take an inventory, because, even as her decorating partner, I couldn't believe how much "stuff" surrounded us. "Nana is that new?" This was the inquiry that started all the fun. "Oh", she says, "do you mean my new bird?" "How many birds does that make now?" I asked. She looked around. I looked around. Clearly, there were too many to mentally count. 26 birds (about 15 species) later, I was on a mission, and let me tell you, those feathered creatures had plenty of company with 13 cats, 6 dogs, 2 stetsons, 2 pigs, 1 rabbit, 1 horse, 2 fish, 4 elephants, and 2 eggs in a nest. In case she needed to know what time it was (even in the bathroom) there were 8 clocks. Then 36 picture frames, 10 pieces of faux fruit in 4 baskets, 14 plants and flower arrangements, 8 angels, 30 ginger jars and 2 ceramic shoes, 20 pillows, 13 tables, 3 plant stands, 7 chairs, 1 sofa, 6 dressers, and 4 lamps make it home.
I was a little exhausted after the count and sat down at one of the room's two dining sets. She poured me some more tea. "Donna Ann, did I tell you? When the maintenance man came to fix the window he said that I have the nicest, most well organized apartment in the entire complex!" Before I could answer her, my eye caught sight of a statue near the front door that I must have missed on my first go round. It was a bird and yet another clock in a fruit tree. I smiled. "It's just perfect Nana."