My Narnia cupboard

Have I told you about my Narnia cupboard?

It sits under the slope of the roof behind a pale yellow plaster wall. The last owner of the house was fond of stenciling patterns on things and this yellow wall has a grape leaf border in a soft green running the length of the hallway. With the sloping roof and the spindled banister, it’s all appropriately designed to agree with this octogenarian house.

The door to the cupboard has an old brass handle that has become black with age. Though the door is smooth on the outside, on the inside, you can see that the door was made with interlocking floor boards. there are crossbars four inches from top and bottom and a bar connecting the two that transverses from left to right, making a “Z’ shape to brace the boards. It’s a solid door, the kind you would see on old farmhouses, which I think this house might have been.

It looks quite odd to see a handle on the wall that seems to go nowhere and that’s why I think of it as my Narnia cupboard.

It’s a shame really that our country is so new that people didn’t think to record the history of these pioneer homes, but I suppose they were so busy carving out a living that they didn’t have time to occupy themselves with such things. Now curators eagerly search out scraps of information from official records and saved letters, but the people who lived here first are gone; their memories are gone with them.

When I moved into the house a year ago, there were priorities. All the things that were to go into this storage space were parked in front of it, not put away at all. Being under the slope of the roof, the cupboard is not easy to access. Every time I thought about putting the things in there, I remembered that I would not be willing to do that until I felt it was clean; but that was not going to be easy.

First of all, the cupboard had been painted sometime in the ‘Twenties or ‘Thirties and even then, it may have been done with surplus paint. It was a deep avocado colour that had gotten grungier with age. I wasn’t going to be able to see that it was clean unless it was white. If it was going to be white, I’d have to crawl in there and paint it white.

In winter, the project was a non-starter. It was dark in that hallway and daylight lasted only from eight in the morning to five a night. I had no intention of putting myself in a gloomy space on a gloomy day. Besides, one has to open windows wide when painting, even with acrylic paints.

Now, in July with the temperatures up in the early thirties and the sun showing from five in the morning to eight at night, the sun comes in that side of the house relatively well. I’ve got visitors coming – not just family who are very understanding, but I’ve visitors from Japan. This will be the first time my niece-in-law will see this house and she’s a home economics grad with a bent for neatness. I’ve got twelve days until they arrive.

With the illogical time clock of a retiree, I looked at that pile of stuff this morning and said to myself, “This is the day”. I got out my cleaning equipment, donned my painting attire complete with trophy paint from previous jobs, and went to work.

It wasn’t nearly as dirty in there as I had suspected it might be and that was a bonus. It was an awful colour, but it was clean and dry. I rinsed everything down with trisodium phosphate and then got out my pail of paint.

I can’t imagine how cast in paint my hair must be at this point. Despite my good intentions to work from the farthest corner to the front, the steeply sloping ceiling was a challenge. Every time I made a gesture to stretch my poor curving back, my hair would pick up a fine layer of white paint.

Everything was going well until half an hour ago. Going from dark avocado green to white needs two coats. There is no way around it. I had done most of the cupboard once and was leaving that which was closest to the door for the final paint so that I wouldn’t encrust myself with white.

When I went back in, I must have stepped in a puddle of paint on the plastic tarp I had put down. Then I went back to the bathroom to get some water and found I had implanted white prints on my blue carpet. Sure enough, on inspection, I had three large wet paint blobs on the bottom of my foot. I went hop-hobbling back down the hallway on a single clean foot and balancing with the tip of my big toe of the other to get a cloth to wipe off the decorator foot (feet are not recommended for stenciling) and back to the spots on the carpet to erase them. That was worth stopping for coffee; I’d earned it.

Now the lower part of the cupboard needed to be done. I took a plastic wrapped coverlet that I’d recently brought back from the cleaners as a cushion. It was sure to give my arthritic knees some relief while I tackled the lower shelves; and it did.

I was successfully painting away again, when the whole pile of stuff that had been balanced all winter without mishap decided it was vertically challenged. Gravity rules. It all slid in a disheveled pile onto my legs that were sticking out of the cupboard, onto the floor behind me. The icing on the cake? The top item was a sewing basket and it unlatched as it tumbled – right into the bucket of water I was using to clean the spots off the floor!


Now the cupboard will have to wait for me. I’m having coffee. The pins and needles are drying in the bathroom on sheets of Kleenex. Velcro strips, seam binding, elastic are drying on the towel rack. The felt needle book decorated with a cat’s face is seeping green dye into the counter top. Buttons are spread out tor dry. And I’m here writing out my frustrations.

Could you please tell me again why the cupboard has to be white on the inside?


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3 Responses to “My Narnia cupboard”

  1. Amber Says:

    Who else do u think knows about the Narnia wardrobe?? and how long has the wardrobe been there??? and whats would happen if u moved the wardrobe

  2. Amber Says:

    In Narnia the kids go back 2 Narnia, but how do u when they didn’t go through the wardrobe???

  3. Bert Says:


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