Dreamscaping: Creating the World I Love

dreamscape (noun): The landscape within a dream.”

This past autumn, I lost my very best friend and only sister. The week that Mavis died, when it was quiet and we were alone, I had asked her a question that I cannot now remember for the life of me, because her answer was so profound and lovely that everything else just fell away as the words reverberated in my mind like music far in the distance:

“I wanted to make myself happy.”

If you know me, you’re likely aware that the past few years of my life have been dominated by some experiences that were anything but happy. If you knew Mavis in the least little bit, then you are very well aware that she definitely succeeded in making herself happy in the years before she left this world. It’s a funny internal paradox that needs considerable attention. At least I think so. And whilst there’s a paradox in there, there’s no mystery in the riddle of it.

Making oneself happy is a much different thing than wanting to be happy; the former is active, purposeful, creative, whilst the latter is passive, accidental and usually consequential. As I spent most of this past Winter and Spring sorting through Mavis’ life and things, I kept thinking about those last words of hers, just hours before she became very still and started on her quiet journey Home.

I want to be like my sister, who made herself happy. And that means doing some crazy things…like being a little impractical. Or maybe a lot impractical. And endeavoring not to die in the process.

I’m pretty sure that Mavis has had a hand in helping me find the place where I live now. It’s perfect in every way that counts, sandwiched between two hills, surrounded by trees on a South-facing slope. The lady who orginally owned this farm cultivated plants all around the acreage that have drawn thousands of hummingbirds, dragonflies and butterflies (all favourite signs of mine and Mavis’) this summer and, though the weather has been hot and humid and the rains have let up, I still have a few hardy lighning bugs greeting me as the Fae are wont to as soon as the sun sets behind the hills on the other side of this valley.

When I first moved here at the end of February, I was disappointed to find that there is no bathtub in this house; just a plastic walk-in shower, with 70s-era frosted glass arcadia doors, stained orange from the mineral-heavy well water. That just would not do. And not being independently wealthy, I planned on buying a horse trough at the farm store to set out on the front porch, and just filling it from the garden spigot when I needed to. But before I had the chance to price troughs, something magical happened….

First, though, you’ve got to know that I never met a horse or cattle trough I didn’t love for summer soaks, and these were always an integral part of my childhood, especially when I started working for pay as a teenager with horses and cattle. There’s nothing better than a cold plunge after a few hours of hard work outside. But I have had a lifelong dream of having my very own cast iron clawfooted bathtub. There was a big, shiny one painted a pale, lemony yellow in my Aunt Karen’s big rambling Victorian house when I was growing up that I envied. Mavis had one that she painted forest green and built a special straddling desk-style caddy for in the oak-trimmed upstairs bathroom of the old arts-and-crafts house she lived in when I was in my twenties–that I was five shades of jealous over, and for which I showed up at all hours with bathbombs and sesame oil to camp out in every chance I got, just because she let me. For me, soaking in the tub (or the trough) is almost as fun as swimming in a big pool or lake and having it all to myself, so living in a house with no tub is just…sad. But I have made the decision to make myself happy, and in certain ways, Majesty’s Providence seems to be in agreement with this plan.

You know you’ve come across a really great yard sale when it’s being picked over by a large flock of shrewd Amish women in their starched white prayer caps and billowing aprons, and two months ago, that’s exactly the kind of situation I happened on at the edge of New Philadelphia when I drove to town to buy supplies for the foreseeable future. I stopped because I saw piles of wood boards scattered on the lawn under a big oak tree, but what caught my eye when I jumped out of the truck was overturned in the gravel path that went back to this grandma’s rose garden: a big ol’ lightly rusted clawfoot tub.

Did she want to sell it, I asked?

How much would you give me for it?

All I have is fifty dollars.

And I wasn’t kidding. It was all the money I had for groceries and gas till whenever comes, payment for a small batch of custom soap I had made for a friend. But where else was I going to find (and when would I ever again) a tub like this, just lying there in the gravel like a discarded dollhouse toy? And, to my amazement, the lady offered her hand, we shook on the deal, and her elderly bespectacled husband went digging in her garden shed to find the eagle’s feet and iron nails to pin them back on to the tub.

After getting my 81 year old landlord to come help me the next day to load it up (believe me, that was an adventure in itself), it took me a couple of weeks to get this thing up where I wanted it to be. First I had to roll it up the steep slope of the front yard without dying of a coronary, or being crushed as it slid back down to the driveway (that was fun…not), and then it sat, looking forelorn and legless, in the yard for a few days whilst I figured out how to roll it up onto the porch without scratching or chipping the porcelain. In the end, I used my furniture cloth and a dog blanket, and tipped it end over end up the steps, paranoid and a little sick about possibly crushing my toes. This thing easily weighs at least three hundred pounds, so I’m pretty freaking proud of myself, considering just how bad my back is. Then I used my garden pick to pin the feet in place before flipping the tub over, praying that I didn’t break anything, including myself.

…And you thought outdoor tubs were only found in ridiculously cheesy pharmaceutical ad campaigns….

When I was living in cities around about, I used to have vivid dreams about going home to the mountains, and taking long cool baths in the troughs, watching the sunset over the alpine forests, listening to the birds and the wind in the trees. And now I’ve killed two birds with one stone.

I think this dreamscaping thing is pretty awesome. Yes, it meant eating a lot of (okay…too many) dandelion salads for a while. But I now have the tub I have always wanted. And whilst it may not seem like a big deal, and it definitely isn’t going to be the key to my happiness, I think it’s a fantastic step in the right direction. I’m just going to make myself happy, one tiny dream fulfilled at a time.

…Look at my beautiful tub! I’m such a hillbilly.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sobercatholic
    Jul 30, 2018 @ 00:00:39

    Memories of my childhood. I bathed in an ol’ clawfooted bathtub for decades.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Ann
    Aug 05, 2018 @ 04:24:19

    Small dreams are the path to happiness 🙂
    Will you be rehabbing and painting that tub? You could make it green in honor of Mavis!

    Liked by 1 person


    • MikiDaShrew
      Aug 05, 2018 @ 14:51:40

      I’m thinking about it. Not right now, but maybe next spring, I’ll have it sandblasted and powdercoated to preserve the iron, and then I’ll definitely paint it forest green. Maybe add some daisies or morning glory….



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