Which is not to say that life is all giggles and gumdrops chez Proper Bostonian this week.
I won't describe into the current family drama, which concerns an elderly relative who is falling apart and won't admit it. I will just tell you what I learned this week:
1. If you want the local health department to help you remove an old person from their firetrap of a house or an awful hoarding situation, get some humane traps. Catch a few raccoons or possums and relocate them in the hoarder's house. Nothing short of that seems to work.
2. If the fire chief is reluctant to do a home inspection, tell him you could always set a little, controlled fire in the bathtub and call 911, ha ha ha. (It worked for me.)
* * *
On Tuesday, I was closing our front door and didn't notice that Possum was having a tall stretch against it in the corner. I began to close the door on his paw; he screamed, I screamed, not realizing what was happening. He raced across the room limping. He wouldn't let me near him. He sat with his paw raised, trembling. I lay down on the floor and apologized as he watched with big, dark eyes. Soon he came toward me to be petted. With minutes, he was running around and playing with all four feet.
I was upset for hours. It could have been worse; I was lucky. I hate causing cats pain and fear, no matter how short-lived or minor. Their lives are too short, and they are too wonderful, for anything but fun and contentment. (Some unpleasantness, like vet visits, is unavoidable).
Accidents can happen if you're thoughtless for 2 seconds around cats. I try to be mindful but it's always an uphill battle.
* * *
On Monday, someone left an accidental "gift" on the bed as I was sleeping late. I don't know whom to thank, but I wish he/she hadn't been in such a rush to leave the bathroom and drop in on me. I sprang into action with Nature's Miracle enzyme cleaner on the coverlet, then power-washed it in extra-hot water, and it's like new. But the down comforter underneath was also smelly. I decided it had to go. It had experienced too many feline accidents over the years, and I've hauled it too many times to the dingy laundromat down the street. And since my husband killed a gluttonous mosquito in the night, it's been streaked with a surprising amount of blood, too.
For weeks as I've been making the bed, I've been noting its many stains, regarding it as a sort of collage of cat memories I'd rather forget. I'm relieved that the "eeww" quotient finally reached breaking point. And it's lucky we're having warm weather this week.
* * *Comforter shopping is tough, though. There are too many choices: brand, size, warmth level, down quality and country of origin, cover fabric, baffles or box-stitching... So I've taken a cue from my college psychology professor, Barry Schwartz (The Paradox of Choice, Why More Is Less), and narrowed my options to two retailers I trust: The Company Store and Cuddledown. Both make their comforters in the USA. Both offer lifetime guarantees, cat stains aside.
I'm something of a bedding snob but I don't go overboard. I look for qualitative differences I can feel; I don't obsess over thread counts. I can tell the difference between lofty European goose down and mid-range down from China, which has a higher percentage of feathers. European down feels more luxurious in pillows as well as comforters, and has a longer lifespan.
Never be covetous of top-of-the-line, 900+ fill-power comforters that cost thousands of dollars. They are often so airy and light that they aren't comfortable; a little weight feels cozier and more natural.
A comforter should be soft and fluffy enough so it drapes all around your body, enclosing you in a warm cocoon. When you have a winner, you hate to get out of bed. A comforter ought to be comforting.
Cuddledown currently has a 700 fill-power model with a silk-and-cotton cover on sale for half price — excellent quality and quite a deal. The Company Store's premium "Legend" comforters always get rave reviews, and I have a 20% off coupon. Both stores have more moderately priced options, too.
How do I choose in these situations? It's simple: I describe the options to my husband and make him decide. Then I buy something else. I don't know why, but it works like a charm.
The hard part comes later: keeping the cats from marking it as their own.
Update: Husband totally outsmarted me. He sensibly chose the silk-and-cotton comforter, which was secretly the one I wanted. And not only did I listen to him, I PAID for it myself!