Carpet

The in-laws house is carpeted almost wall to wall. With the exception of the bathrooms, kitchen and dining room, and, oddly, the formal living room, there is only plush, soft, beige carpet.

I was raised with an inexplicable loathing of rugs and carpets. Small rugs existed solely to slip or rumple at an inopportune moment, casting you to the floor writhing in pain from a sprained ankle or broken limb, or perhaps scalded near to death by the hot tea you were carrying when you fell. I have never seen this happen, but it must have happened to someone in my extended family for the fear to be so strong.

Larger rugs, including wall-to-wall, served to collect dirt, fleas, and other disgusting things, and were to be avoided at all costs. This made little sense. For millenia the peoples of northern cultures have counted on carpets of various sorts to protect ones poor toes from frigid floors, to keep out drafts, or simply to make a room beautiful. From whence came this 1970s counter-counter-culture that rejected traditional rugs along with trendy shag carpets, insisting on slick wood or tile floors? Or linoleum, in a pinch? I have no idea.

Rugs aren’t common in places I’ve been in Brazil, excepting small area rugs that can make a sitting area more luxurious. We covered the painted concrete floors of our apartment with colorful rugs, and that has been great for acoustics as well as pleasant bare-foot walking. One learns where they are and doesn’t trip over them. Besides, they are heavy enough to stay in place.

In some places it has been the custom to drape tables with heavy carpets. Here’s Saint Jerome at a table covered with a carpet. Not so common these days where I’ve lived, though I’ve come across it now and then!

Saint Jerome, by Domenico Ghirlandaio

Friendship

A friend is long sought, hardly found, and with difficulty kept. Let those who will, allow gold to dazzle them and be borne along in splendor, their very baggage glittering with gold and silver. Love is not to be purchased, and affection has no price. The friendship which can cease has never been real.

-Saint Jerome, from a letter to Rufinus, the monk

You never write!!

A few of examples of Saint Jerome, of great fame, making me laugh.

Offering that there is really no excuse for his own slow responses to letters:

Shall I say, ​”​I wrote often, but the bearers of my letters were negligent?​”​
You will reply, ​”​ Your excuse is the old one of all who fail to write.”

Shall I say, ​”​I could not find any one to take my letters?”​
You will say that numbers of persons have gone from my part of the world to yours.

Criticizing the pathetic letter he received from a distant correspondent:

Why is it that, when we are separated by so great an interval of land and sea, you have sent me so short a letter?

Is it that I have deserved no better treatment, not having first written to you?

I cannot believe that paper can have failed you while Egypt continues to supply its wares. Even if a Ptolemy had closed the seas, King Attalus would still have sent you parchments from Pergamum, and so by his skins you could have made up for the want of paper. The very name parchment is derived from a historical incident of the kind which occurred generations ago.

What then? Am I to suppose the messenger to have been in haste? No matter how long a letter may be, it can be written in the course of a night.

Or had you some business to attend to which prevented you from writing? No claim is prior to that of affection.

Two suppositions remain, either that you felt disinclined to write or else that I did not deserve a letter.

He would rather a cranky letter than none at all:

Wake up, wake up, arouse yourself from sleep, give to affection at least one sheet of paper.

Amid the pleasures of life at home sometimes heave a sigh over the journeys which we have made together.

If you love me, write in answer to my prayer.

If you are angry with me, though angry still write.

I find my longing soul much comforted when I receive a letter from a friend, even though that friend be out of temper with me.

Even having nothing to say is no excuse:

…never at a loss for an excuse, you will perhaps declare that you had nothing to write. Had this been so, you should still have written to inform me of the fact.

Saint Jerome almost gets annoyed:

Now, unless I am mistaken, I have already sent you ten letters, affectionate and earnest, while you have not deigned to give me even a single line.

The Lord speaks to His servants, but you, my brother servant, refuse to speak to me.

Believe me, if reserve did not check my pen, I could show my annoyance in such invective that you would have to reply…

All quotes from The Complete Works of Saint Jerome, on Kindle, or free at this useful site of old Christian texts.

Saint Jerome near his hermitage, with friendly lion, books, and mystical vision of Christ Crucified.