Here's how to keep your home interior better this winter – Deccan Chronicle

As we head into the cooler winter months, most of us will be spending more time inside our homes, which makes winter a great time to re-decorate. Beating the cold winter is all about indulging in cosy textures and warm hues, along with keeping our interior airy and fresh.

We’ve compiled few interior decorating tips to make your home more comfortable and appealing this winter.

Brighten your home with splash of colours: Being inside a colourful and cheery interior could be your best mood lifter in a wintry afternoon! Set off your bland spaces with a touch of woollen throw rugs, a boldly patterned cushion or some jazzy wall hangings, which will give you a warmth in contrast to the nippy exterior.

You can refurbish your house with a touch of Green to get the feel of Nature as we face a shortfall of it during winter. Purple could also be your choice for a touch of elegance and vibrancy. But the foremost would be the warm colours like yellow, orange and red to ditch a bleak winter day.

Cosy up your living rooms: Since the living rooms turn to be a prominent option for gatherings in a cold winter day, make it cosier by rearranging your furniture. If you have a fireplace, pull pieces in towards the centre of the room and face them near the hearth to make a snugly expanse for winter entertainment.

But if you can’t get the fireplace ready in time for the winter , Just use a few candles to usher in a charming warm glow! Flickering candlelight can turn the dreary and freezing winter night into a magical and intimate setting. If the safety of using candles makes you little bit strained, a few exquisite candle lanterns will solve that problem in no time!

Stowing a sheepskin rug or soft blanket in your drawing room’s divan will not only enhance the looks, but keep the guests warm as well. Incorporation of natural elements like bunch of fresh lilies or tulips, pine cones, smooth pebbles or stones give a winsome touch to the living room. Warm metallics such as bronze and copper, faux fur or cow hide rugs, and leather are all on trend for winter decorating. A delightful winter smell such as cinnamon, pine or orange can help to lift your spirits when you walk into your living room.

Make your windows reflective in the winter: Try to intensify the maximum daylight inside your home as sunlight is must for our well being by keeping obstructions away from your window. A mirror could be placed in a decorative display on a blank stretch of wall to reflect light throughout the space.

Wooden shutters are great for winter nights because they help to retain heat and insulate against the cold and most importantly as the winter approaches check your windows and doors for any leaks. The chunky and eye-catching curtains will not only help to keep your rooms warm, but will enhance the tone of the interior as well.

Luxuriate the bedroom: Being in laze seems to be the best time-pass hence bedrooms should be luxuriated to look warm and fuzzy. While your bed could be restful by adding different layers of beddings like quilt covers, comforters or goose down duvets, rest of the room should have a makeover by adding some interesting lighting or covering up the empty corners with some elegant chairs or stylish couches. Well, this is the season when you actually realise that having a small bedroom is not necessarily a bad thing!

Keep your feet warm: Bare wooden or tile floors can be quite unforgiving as winter starts to set in. Add a few lovely area rugs or carpets in bedroom and passageways. Choose the colour and character that suits your style and colour of home. Navajo textile rugs and blankets are perfect for winter, and they give your home a cosy cabin feel. Adding thinner and smaller rugs as a layer of an existing rug will create an appealing visual statement.

Give your interior a woodsy look: Wood has undeniable natural warmth, and adding wooden accessories to your interior will create an inviting look this winter. A few new wooden cabinets, a stylish new dining table, or even a simple coffee table in natural wood should do the trick.

Incorporating one or more of these interior design tips for winter will help you create seasonably stylish home that is sure to feel warm and ready for the family thanks giving dinner and Christmas celebrations as well.

The article has been penned by Shabnam Alam, The Founder and Head Designer of Design Studio, a brand, emerged eminently in the sphere of Interior Designing as a perfect combination of simplicity and elegance.

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Record number of vendors set for ENC Home & Holiday show – New Bern Sun Journal

The annual ENC Home & Holiday Gift Show will be bigger and better than ever when it opens this week for Friday and Saturday shows at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center, 203 S. Front St.

“We have vendors from the ENC selling homemade jams, pickles, wine and grown-up gummies,” said Julie Alley, show manager for sponsoring ENC Live Events. “Plus, on the way out you can enjoy a made-to-order candy apple. We have vendors from throughout the ENC, plus vendors traveling from as far as Virginia, Florida, Kansas, Ohio, and Texas to be a part of the annual New Bern event.”

The Home & Holiday Gift Show has been a New Bern tradition since 2011.

Show hours are noon to 6 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Admission is $3, or $2 with a canned food donation. Children under age 12 get in free.

Attendees can accomplish all their holiday shopping under one roof, with more than 90 vendors offering gift ideas, clothing and accessories, home décor, health and beauty products, home improvement and much more.

The record number of vendors far surpasses the 2016 total of 72.

The show will have activities for the children, demonstrations and Santa.

Plus, register for lots of prizes throughout the show.

Some of the regional vendors include English Ivy Children’s Boutique of New Bern; Hinnant Family Vineyards & Winery of Pine Level; Lady B’s Boutique of New Bern; Pet’s Personality Bed Mats of Arapahoe; Southside Farms — jams and jellies — of Chocowinity; Timila’s Classic Jewels — lighted glass boxes and jewelry of Kinston; Tangled Turtle — glass and jewelry — of New Bern.

Some unique cash and carry items include hovering soccer balls, wool insulted coolers, Purify Hair Tools and Magic Pens.

There are gift ideas — from garlic grinders to massage pillows and everything in between — along with home-crafted items from wreaths to garden art and ornaments to artwork.

Lots of personal items for the women will be available, such as clothing and accessories, as well as pampering products and hand-crafted jewelry.

Items for the rest of the family range from dog beds, toys and accessories for the four-legged friends, to clothing, books and toys for the children.

There is even a travel trailer barbecue tools for dad.

Home and decor gifts range from exotic cow hide rugs to designer pillows and sheets.

The first 300 guests each day will receive a Tote Bag, compliments of Down East Heating & Air Conditioning.

Thousands of dollars in giveaways will be handed out, including three $200 gift cards. Other winning gifts include a Bathroom Remodel, YETI giveaway and numerous gift baskets.

Upcoming ENC shows include the ENC Bridal & Special Event Expo on Jan. 21; the ENC Jacksonville Home & Garden Show on March 10 and 11; and the ENC New Bern Home & Garden Show on March 17 and 18.

The show is sponsored by ENC Live Events. Call 970-590-0383.

Charlie Hall can be reached at 252-635-5667 or 252-259-7585, or charlie.hall@newbernsj.com. Follow him on Twitter @CharlieHallNBSJ

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Florence taxidermist busy after hunting season – NBC Montana

Florence taxidermist busy after…

FLORENCE, Mont. – With general big game hunting season wrapping up last weekend taxidermists are busy.

Florence taxidermist Shirley Hopkins has a good work load ahead of her. She owns A Memory Saved Taxidermy.

Using dental instruments she was cleaning the teeth of a white-tailed deer a hunter brought her.

She said most hunters she talks to want European skull mounts. That’s the bleached or unbleached skull and antlers of an elk or deer.

“They take up less space on the wall,” said Hopkins. “And they are a lot cheaper.”

But Hopkins also does shoulder mounts and rugs.

“I’ve gotten in two elk skins, a cow hide and a sheep hide,” the customer wants tanned, she said.

In the middle of her shop stands the form of a life-sized black bear. She will begin work on it after the hide is tanned.

The bear was taken near Florence. She said most of her work is with local and Montana hunters.

Hopkins has been working in taxidermy for nine years. But she’s had a life-long fascination with it.

It began, she said, when she was in second grade and visited the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C.

“I remember looking at all the animals that were taxidermied,” she said, “and I thought it was a really neat thing to have a fully preserved animal for history.”

She pointed to the skull of a white-tailed deer on her work table, calling it the biggest “highlight” of this years’s hunting season.

It was shot by a military veteran.

“It’s a Wounded Warrior deer that I got in last week,” she said. “It was a deer hunt donated by Montana Wounded Warriors.”

The group takes wounded veterans on all-expense-paid hunting trips.

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Made In Chelsea's Oliver Proudlock on home ownership – Metro Newspaper UK

MADE In Chelsea star Oliver Proudlock, 31, has been renting his two- bedroom apartment in a converted church in Kensington for two years — but thinks it’s time he got on to the property ladder.

‘Me and my girlfriend found a house in Shepherd’s Bush we really wanted. It was three storeys, had three bedrooms and a garden — but it needed a lot of work. Unfortunately, someone else made a higher offer, so we lost out on that one,’ he says.

Proudlock says he and his model partner Emma are now planning to go on a serious house-hunting mission and want to buy something early next year.

But even a three-storey home in Shepherd’s Bush would be a far cry from the place Ollie spent his early childhood — Grade II-listed country house Lasborough Park in Gloucestershire. ‘It was beautiful and had amazing grounds, but things changed and we had to downsize,’ he says.

‘The perception of people from Made In Chelsea is that we’re all minted. But I work very hard and I’ve been earning my own money since I was 17. I’ve had a good education but I’m not loaded.

Reality check: TV star Oliver looks for some design inspiration

‘We’ve been saving for the last three years and feel that now is the time to invest in property.’

Ollie grew up with his interior designer mother in the Gloucestershire countryside.

‘Mum used to change the house all the time,’ he says. ‘One week it would be all white, the next purple with gold leaf everywhere. And it was featured in interiors magazines quite often. There were shoots happening every other week; it was like a show house.’

Art attack: There are unique pieces in Ollie’s flat

And when Ollie was a teenager, his mother set up a design business themed around denim. ‘She used to upholster interiors with denim. The whole house was denim. My bedroom had black denim wallpaper — it’s still the same now; she hasn’t changed it.’

Ollie says his mother has inspired his work in fashion — he runs and designs for his own label, Serge DeNimes. ‘It’s a link to my upbringing and my mum,’ he says.

There was so much denim around the place that when Ollie returned from doing his Fine Art degree at Newcastle University he clad his Fiat car in it. ‘I even did the hubcaps,’ he says. ‘I drove around in this denim-ed Fiat but I didn’t seal it, so it all fell off after a couple of months.’

He points to a large artwork on the wall. It’s a 5ft by 4ft piece he did after leaving university. A tyre mark from the Fiat runs across the piece and there are denim patches which were offcuts from his mum’s materials.


The flat features more of his art, such as two abstract pieces printed on aluminium, inspired by the work of Robert Rauschenberg. There are also three reindeer skulls and a couple of cow hide rugs which were given to him by his mum.

‘I’d say my taste in interiors is a mix of English and Swedish — I like that minimalism. But we went to Morocco last year and I really like those rugs and lanterns — we’d want to include that in our new place. I’d want something pretty contemporary but also cosy,’ he says.

As the apartment is rented, there’s a limit to what Ollie and Emma can do but they have converted the second bedroom into a dressing room to store all their clothing. ‘We both work in fashion so we have a few clothes. This place is awesome but there aren’t many cupboards — so we need more storage.’

More is less: The couple want more space for clothes

And Ollie still likes the features which initially attracted him to the flat. ‘I love the windows. It used to be a church and there are also skylights in the main room, so there’s lots of light that comes in. And I like the area. Since I moved to London I’ve always lived in the west,’ he says. ‘But it feels like we’re at the point now where we want to find a place that can become a project.’

His dream home would be something ‘open plan with a lot of natural light’ in Notting Hill. ‘There’s an amazing energy there. It’s got that villagey vibe, but has amazing bars and restaurants. I’m just excited to try to get on the ladder. It feels like a buyer’s market at the moment. There’s potential to find a real gem if you put enough time into it.’

Oliver is founder and designer of urban clothing brand Serge DeNimes, sergedenimes.com

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How to choose the perfect rug – Stuff.co.nz

Ask yourself how the room is used, advises Lillian Barker. If it gets a lot of foot traffic then your rug will need to ...

JANE USSHER

Ask yourself how the room is used, advises Lillian Barker. If it gets a lot of foot traffic then your rug will need to be hard wearing.

When it comes to finishing off a room, a rug is a key ingredient. 

Annie Loveridge, director of The Ivy House, puts it simply: “Rooms look better with a rug.” 

With the ability to transform a space, introduce a sense of luxury, personality, softness or edge, rugs are an element you want to get right. 

If there is a cold, hard floor, a rug can help soften the room.

JANE USSHER

If there is a cold, hard floor, a rug can help soften the room.

PURPOSE

The first thing to think about is what you want the rug to do for your space, suggests Loveridge. 

“Do you want it to provide a soft flooring area or is it more cosmetic? Do you want it to unify a space or define an area?” she asks. A rug can pull together a mixed selection of furniture or it can be a bold statement in a neutral furnishing scheme. 

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READ MORE:
* What’s your flooring preference? Wool or nylon carpet, solid timber or laminate?
* Choosing the right carpet
* Design Space: Alex Fulton’s ‘thing with floors’ 

SIZE

The rug you choose to go under your dining table should be larger than the table so there is enough space for the chairs ...

JANE USSHER

The rug you choose to go under your dining table should be larger than the table so there is enough space for the chairs to stay on it when pulled back.

“Get out the measuring tape,” is Loveridge’s first suggestion. “Measure your space. Getting the size right is key.” 


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A rug that is too small draws the eye in, makes the space feel smaller and furniture feel disconnected. Too big and the space will feel cluttered and stuffy. 

A simple way to get an idea of size is to take four A4 pieces of paper and place one in each corner of where you want the rug to go. Your eyes will travel to those four corners and will help to give you a good sense of the size. 

In a bedroom, place a large rug underneath the bed with a generous amount visible at the foot and sides. Keep bedside ...

JANE USSHER

In a bedroom, place a large rug underneath the bed with a generous amount visible at the foot and sides. Keep bedside tables off the rug to highlight the floor and enhance the feeling of space, says Annie Loveridge.

“A common solution is to have a rug that sits within the furniture,” says Loveridge. Ideally all furniture is touching the rug, for example the legs of a couch should be on the rug. “But don’t place furniture on the shorter ends of the rug as it will draw the space back in,” she warns.

SHAPE

Choosing the right shaped rug all comes down to the purpose of the rug and the room it’s in. 

Take a dining room –  a rule of thumb in design is that repetition creates harmony, says Lillian Baker of Furtex. If you have a rectangular dining table, it’s normally a good idea to choose a rectangular rug. 

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“Make sure there is room extending beyond all sides of the table. When the chairs are pushed back they should still stay on the rug,” she says. 

The minimum that allows for this is 75cm on each side, says Loveridge, so the ideal rug size is generally at least 1.5m larger than the table in each direction. 

In a bedroom, any shape goes. “A large rectangular rug can frame a bed really well, but a circular rug will add a little bit of fun and something like a cow hide will add some interest.” 

Don't be afraid to go with rich colours, especially if the rest of the room is neutral.

THE IVY HOUSE

Don’t be afraid to go with rich colours, especially if the rest of the room is neutral.

COLOUR AND TEXTURE

In a living room, it’s important to consider the sofa and wall colour and the atmosphere you want to create. 

If it’s calm and relaxing you’re after, Baker suggests going for a wool or jute rug in a natural colour palette. 

Layering rugs is hard to achieve but looks amazing when done right, says Annie Loveridge. The best way to achieve this ...

JANE USSHER

Layering rugs is hard to achieve but looks amazing when done right, says Annie Loveridge. The best way to achieve this is to go with contrast, in either shape, texture, colour and size.

Creating a playful, energising space? “[Look for] primary colours, bold patterns or … luxuriously dark and moody jewel tones,” she says. 

LAYERING

Baker says layering rugs adds texture and personality. “You can never have too much of either in your home.” It’s also a great way to fill a space. 

“Try contrasting textures and styles – a jewel-toned antique patchwork floor rug over a larger textured jute rug for example.” 


 – Homed

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Beware the Bandage Man: Part I – Coast Weekend

Illustration by Dylan Tanner

Illustration by Dylan Tanner

Illustration by Dylan Tanner

Illustration by Dylan Tanner

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They were tourists.

That’s what he told the kids as they whipped through the dusk out of Portland into the foothills, the A.M. radio still dry-heaving the latest on Watergate and Vietnam through larger and larger chunks of static. He just needed a few days to figure out his next move — their next move — and what better place was there to think than the beach?

“Don’t we have school tomorrow?” Audrey asked from the backseat in the kind of incredulous tone only natural to a 16-year-old girl.

Well, Bonneville Dam it. He would have to call their schools in the morning. Did the cabin even have a phone? He really hadn’t thought this out. Ben Driscoll cinched a brand-new Parliament between his lips then punched the dash lighter a little too hard as he tried to smile into the rearview.

Audrey caught him in the mirror, one brow raised and waiting. She had inherited her mother’s stink-eye; a practical heirloom from his deceased wife.

Sam didn’t even look up from the book in his lap. With a flashlight cradled in his neck to illuminate the pages, Ben’s 12-year-old son looked older than his station. Bearded with shadow, the light playing off the wire-rimmed glasses that sat atop the eye-patch over his right eye, he looked like some kind of intellectual dwarf pirate minus the hat. Ben wondered, with his son’s sorry lot of late, if Sam raised his head for much of anything anymore.

“What’s the matter, Odd?” Ben said to his daughter. “Don’t like it when your father goes groovy? Makes an impromptu plan?”

“Ew,” his daughter said, visibly shuddering even in the dark of the station wagon. “You are so far from groovy you don’t even know how to use that word. Nobody goes groovy. Groovy is just … groovy.”

Ben sighed and checked the gas gauge. The needle was still hovering around half a tank, thank God. With the gas stations in Portland recently shuttered behind their OUT OF GAS signs thanks to OPEC, he had had to abridge his getaway plan. His buddy Rex had rented a little place outside of Cannon Beach over the last summer and had passed along the info. After laying low for a few days, they would be reborn. Now he just had to figure out how to tell the kids their old lives were dead.

As they passed the summit, it began to rain in sheets. Ben had the sensation that they were driving underwater. Next time you commit grand larceny, genius, Ben said to himself, maybe don’t do it in October?

Approaching U.S. 101, somehow the rain intensified. Ben could barely make out Sultan, their terrier mutt, whimpering in the rear of the vehicle, but Audrey was on it, turning around to comfort the dog.

“Did you know that there’s supposed to be treasure buried on Neahkahnie Mountain?” Sam said. “It’s supposed to be haunted. Cursed. People who go looking don’t come back. Can we go?”

“Yawn,” Audrey said.

Ben thought about his own ill-begotten treasure. He had stuffed $15,000 into the spare-tire well of their Plymouth Satellite. Buried beneath suitcases, picture frames, bikes, and one muddy terrier lay their future, but oh how cursed did it already feel.

Cancer doesn’t just dig one grave. It has enough gravity to sink whole clans. He had lost their house just to pay for losing his wife. Stuck in a two-bedroom with two kids, and then every morning on site there’s awful Marilyn Horn with her checkbook, erecting her family’s dream house one signature at a time.

It takes quite a while to drive from North Portland to the West Hills. Lesser men get to thinking.

By Monday Marilyn Horn would start asking about her lumber and she would find her foreman gone.

“Let’s see what the weather has in store, buddy,” Ben said, “but a hike sounds like fun. This week is all about fun. In fact, I say we play a game. Have you guys ever wanted to be someone else?”

“Only like every day of my life,” Audrey deadpanned.

The rain went full riot, and for a moment there was no way to distinguish elk from tree, and Ben just had to swallow faith that 101 was still heading south in front of them. The full moon was no help.

“Let’s pretend to be a different family,” he said.

Sam turned off his flashlight and Ben tried to blink away every psychedelic color that throbbed at his peripheral. The station wagon’s roof kept getting pummeled, and the emptiness of the passenger seat next to him had never felt so vast.

“But I like being Sam Driscoll,” Sam said.

“You sure about that, buddy?” Ben asked.

An orange light flashed above the car, revealing the dark, flailing arms of the trees at the side of the road, but Ben could not tell what direction the light had come from as the rain and sky had bled into a single thing. Seemed too low to be a plane but Ben couldn’t be sure, and they hadn’t passed another car for miles, meaning they were the only ones stupid enough to be out here.

Audrey was the first to see the stranger standing on the shoulder of the road.

“Bad night to be hitchhiking,” Ben said matter-of-factly.

“Aren’t you going to stop?” Audrey asked. “It’s pouring.”

“We’re only going a few more miles,” Ben said. “Wouldn’t do them a lot of good.”

“But I thought you were going groovy, Dad. Joining the revolution?”

“Oh, for crissakes,” Ben muttered as he pumped the breaks and guided the Satellite toward the shoulder.

“Dad,” Sam said.

“What’s that smell?” Audrey asked. “Is there a beached whale around here? I think I’m going to barf.”

Sultan began to growl.

As Ben focused, he noticed that the figure in the rain hadn’t made a move toward the car. He wasn’t even looking in their direction but at the tree line instead.

Sultan barked.

“Dad,” Sam said.

His arms were at his side. Had he even stuck his thumb out?

“Dad!” Sam said more emphatically.

He had no bag. No jacket. Just a soaked Pendleton plaid buttoned to his Adam’s apple, and something else . . . draping off his arms. Ben immediately thought of limp tentacles, as if this stranger were wearing a dead octopus like a shawl. He had no face. Was he wearing a mask? Ben thought he could see wet tufts of dark hair, an earlobe peeking through the covering. No, not a mask, but a wrapping, heavy with rain and soil and eclipsing his entire head. He was just eyes and a mouth embraced by gauze.

“Dad!” Sam said. “Is that a mummy!?”

Then, quick as a jolt of lightning, this thing was at the front passenger door, smacking the window and shivering the handle as it moaned in some sort of guttural cow dialect. Audrey screamed and Sultan barked incessantly. Had Ben remembered to lock the door? As perverse silver linings go, he realized that he had stopped unlocking that door after Jessica died. Ben peeled out onto the highway, but the thing persisted, running the length of the station wagon, and smearing the rear passenger-door window with a viscous liquid emitted from its bandaged palm that resembled chocolate pudding.

It would be another two miles before Audrey stopped screaming, Sultan stopped barking, and Sam would unfold himself from the fetal position to watch the rain wash the smear of goo off his window.

Ben welcomed back the persistent sound of the rain on the roof. On the radio, Nixon still refused to hand over his Oval Office tapes to Archibald Cox.

“Dad?” Sam asked. Ben looked at his son in the mirror. He had taken off his glasses, but his right eye remained behind the patch. “Was that a monster?” he asked.

Ben couldn’t say. He didn’t know exactly what a monster looked like.

* * *

Rex had said the Surf’s End House was cozy, which, in real estate, means small. This place wasn’t cozy, it was rustic, which, in real estate, means dilapidated. Located at the dead end of a short access road, Ben had noticed only one other property on the street as they drove up.

Rain had been punching this place into the sand for years. Buckling slightly through the middle, wild vegetation bookended either side with what appeared to be the pressure of a vice. The worn, cracked shingles of the siding dripped with black lichen, as if the house had been crying though mascara. The station wagon’s headlights exposed a patchwork of fuzzy green moss up on the roof. Ben could see a single fern growing up there too next to the chimney. Besides the fern, the house also came with a stone-faced old man sitting on the covered porch, a shotgun resting on his lap.

“7649 Carronade Lane,” Ben said as he double-checked the slip of paper he had written Rex’s directions on. “I guess this is it?”

“Can we just go home?” Audrey pleaded.

“But we’ve come all this way,” Ben said, to which Sam added, “And what if he’s still out there?,” which is what they’d all really been thinking.

Ben tossed up the hood of his yellow rain jacket and got out of the station wagon. The man on the porch stood with some difficulty. Ben noticed that he walked with a severe limp running through his right leg and that he used the shotgun barrel-down against the porch as a makeshift cane.

“Evening,” Ben said.

“You must be the happy vacationers,” the man said. “Welcome to the beach.”

“Pete Archer,” Ben said, slipping on his alias for the first time out loud.

“Earl Sloane,” the man said. “I guess you could say that I’m the caretaker around here.”

“Earl,” Ben said. “I’m a little confused here. This is 7649 Carronade? I thought this was the Surf’s End House?”

“Nah,” Earl said. “Surf’s End is down at the other end of the block.” Earl lifted the shotgun to point into the darkness over Ben’s shoulder and Ben instinctively flinched. “Easy there.” Earl chuckled. “You passed it on your way up. They must’ve just given you my address because I have the key.”

Rex hadn’t said anything about a caretaker, just that the key would be under the mat, but Ben could only shrug it off at this time of night. And really, the place down the block had looked a lot better cared for than this dump. Apparently, Earl didn’t like to bring his work home with him.

Earl disappeared into the house and emerged some time later, key in hand. “Holler if you need anything. Hopefully you’ll get a good night’s sleep. If I do say, you look a little shaky, Pete. Long drive from … ?”

“Spokane,” Ben lied. “Yeah, long drive, bad weather, and we saw something … strange.” Ben couldn’t help but overshare. He’d been holding it together to keep the kids from falling apart, but what he had seen had spooked him to his core.

“Just north of town,” Ben continued. “We saw this hitchhiker. Well, I guess I can’t say for sure he was a hitchhiker, but it was pouring rain so we slowed down. And his face—”

“Wrapped up in bandages?” Earl interrupted.

Ben nodded. “How’d you know?”

Earl furrowed his brow and sighed as he looked down at the porch. “That would be my son, Billy,” he said. “He must’ve sensed you’d be coming my way. He’s always looking for a ride home.”

“What happened to him?”

Earl shrugged and tapped his right leg with the shotgun. “Tree got him,” he said. “You log enough woods, tree’s gonna get you. I took mine in the leg. Poor Billy took his in the brain.”

“Jesus,” Ben said. “Shouldn’t he be in a hospital?”

Earl raised his eyebrow and gave Ben a puzzled look. “I don’t think you get me, Pete. Billy’s been dead for a number of years now. It just doesn’t stop him from trying to make it home every now and then.”

“Wait,” Ben said. “Are you telling me he’s a ghost?”

Earl sighed again and rested heavier on the shotgun. “I’m trying to tell you that he’s dead. I don’t go putting names to things I don’t understand.”

“Right,” Ben said. He was filled with a sudden motivation to exit this porch, but Earl still had the key. “So? We’re done here?”

“Let’s see,” Earl said, shifting his weight. “Check out time is noon next Friday. Just put your dirty linens and towels in the washer. No need to start it. The phone only makes local calls. And you were told about the murders?”

“Murders?”

“Well, technically the state police call them disappearances, but come on. Dogs disappear around here all the time. Cats too. Three separate families don’t just disappear from the same house over twenty years without some murder going on. Leaving all their belongings behind? Their cars? People just don’t do that.”

“I thought you didn’t put names on things you don’t understand?”

“Exactly,” Earl said. “Look, I don’t mean to make you uneasy, but I see you’ve got your kids with you there. It’s not too late for you to go back into town and get yourself a motel room.”

Ben relaxed as he realized Earl’s angle. For some reason, Earl Sloane didn’t want them here. All this talk of ghosts and murder — well, that was just a local razzing an out-of-towner. Next the old kook would probably tell him Haystack Rock was built by aliens. Even the guy out on the highway could be in on it. He wasn’t sure how, but that seemed more plausible than being attacked by this guy’s dead son.

“We’ll take our chances,” Ben said.

Earl dangled the key out in front of him. “Be my guest, Pete. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. Oh, and stay out of the basement. That’s the owner’s private area.”

Back in the car, Audrey turned to him. “Well?”

“Let’s not bother Mr. Earl Sloane for the rest of the week.”

* * *

Like he suspected, the Surf’s End House hardly looked like the site of multiple, ghastly murders: white picket fence, sturdy gray shingles on a good one-story skeleton, two bulbous hydrangeas out front — not exactly the kind of set-up to inspire fear and dread. The yard was littered with flotsam — buoys, glass floats, driftwood — as if some tender tsunami had washed it all across the tiny parcel and left it just so.

Inside, the large single room was dressed in knotty pine, with a wood stove in one corner. It was separated from an open kitchen by a matching pine bar. Down a short hallway doorways for three bedrooms and a bath popped open as the kids explored. There was the expected coastal ephemera hanging on the walls: a few prints of seascapes, pithy beach messages done up in needlepoint. Quite a few throw rugs and an assortment of plush furniture softened the spank of the hardwood floors. Built-in cabinets. Even a color TV. In fact, it was all quite tastefully done, except—

“What’s that smell?” Audrey asked.

Ben had noticed it too when they walked in. It was faint, but ever-present, sharp and saline like a fouled brine. Just as Ben would begin to forget about it, the smell would return, retrieved like an unwanted memory, prickling his nostrils into hard O’s.

“Different places have different smells, Odd,” he said. “You probably won’t even notice it when you wake up in the morning. And if it is a dead squirrel, I’m sure Sultan will let us know.”

Of course, after he got the kids in bed, he immediately shimmied the knob of the basement door, but it was deadbolted. So he poured himself another bourbon, pining to see how the honeyed firelight from the wood stove would dance off Jessica’s auburn hair. A couple more bourbons and a half-filled ashtray nearly erased the cottage’s wandering stench and the bad taste that Earl Slone had left in Ben’s mouth. A ghost? Really? He replayed the meaty smack of the creature’s palm against the car’s window until the network broadcast bid adieu for the night with the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

Smack! That’s about as corporeal as they come.

As the broadcast settled into static, he listened to the rain spray the house. He didn’t trust Earl Sloane enough to leave $15,000 in a parked car. But where else could he stash it away from both Earl and the kids? He fingered the seams of the knotty pine, but nothing gave. The kitchen cabinets were too likely to be explored. There was a foot of air under the platform bed in his room which left little to the imagination. So he began to rummage through the built-ins, discovering a Bible on a bed of seashells, a local area guide, a drawer full of machine parts, some extra beach towels, a crab pot, a collection of 8-tracks that ranged from country to doo wop, a guest log, a misplaced set of tongs, and, in the bottom drawer, a heap of skulls reeking of dust and death.

Vertebrates. Animals. Critters. Trophies? The waft from the drawer was arid, deep, and unlike the stench that had been following him around the house. He counted seventeen, all various shapes and sizes. Maybe a deer, maybe a raccoon or two, nothing human, but maybe some of these registered too familiar.

Sultan had tuckered himself out sniffing the baseboards and lay dead asleep atop the throw pillow Ben had set on the floor. He pulled one skull from the drawer and set it near Sultan’s sleeping head as his hand shook at the eerie similarity.

* * *

He will forget how squishy they are when they open. He will never remember how good its steam felt on his chin as the cold rain soaked his covered head. He will not remember shivering. He will never take solace in the luck of this lost cub stirring at the shore of this lapping river; how it went limp in his grip. He will never relish the hot fat smeared into the gauze around his mouth. There is only eat, cold, and home in the moonlight.

He does remember the tree avalanching toward him. And them. The orange light that sifted him into a silver bed. The cuffs. How they petted him until he healed. He couldn’t recall how many times he had walked into the orange light. Outside of it, it was only eat, cold, and the moon. He will find a ride home.

He will not remember seeing the orange light appear again, hovering like a 3,000-pound firebug above the tree line. Afraid, he will flee the riverbank, forfeiting the young sea lion to the sand, its taste still wrapped around his lips. Why will they keep coming for him? Why will they not let him die?

* * *

With the weather cleared, they spent the day swamping across a soggy side of Neahkahnie Mountain, encountering poison oak on a few occasions, but no treasure. No gas either. They drove into Cannon Beach proper on fumes for dinner.

“Why are there so many missing dogs?” Audrey asked, pointing at one of the telephone poles slathered with a phone number and a photo of an absent Scottie. “Is it like a dog plague?”

Ben held his tongue as well as the leash, the end of which Sultan was really testing. “It’s not a dog plague, Odd.”

They found a place to nosh fish and chips while staring at Haystack Rock.

“So,” Audrey began, “if the President is a criminal, why should any other American not just do whatever they need to get ahead? I mean, it’s like the law almost.”

Ben gulped his beer wrong, coughed, and wondered if Audrey was implying something about their situation. She was not a stupid girl, and he felt she could see his muddy fingerprints all over her life.

“Mortality,” Sam answered.

“I think you mean morality, buddy,” Ben interjected.

Audrey scoffed at her brother’s mistake and let her eye wander across the puddled patio to find a table of teenagers her own age — three boys and a girl. One of the boys, his hair the color of wet sand, was staring right at her as his friends talked. She blushed and looked away, but when she returned, his eyes were still trained on her. A third and fourth glance away didn’t stop him. Who does that? It was so forward. So confident. Could she do that too?

“Well, it’s been a pleasure making mud with you gentlemen today,” she said, “but I think I need to speak with my own species.”

Ben followed her line of vision across the patio, the first time the boy had shied away, and Ben groaned deeply enough to wake up Sultan at his feet.

“I don’t know, Odd.”

“This is exactly what Suzy Archer, of Spokane, would do,” she said.

The Pete in him understood.

“Then be my guest,” he said, “but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

As she sashayed across the patio, shedding dirt from her boots, her body bolted electric on what Suzy Archer was all about. It was liberating, like crawling into a new skin. The group stopped talking as she approached their table. She looked right at the sandy-haired blond boy, ran her fingers through his hair, and said, “Help me! My name is Suzy Archer. I am from Spokane, Washington. I think my dad is losing his mind.”

“Take a seat, Suzy A.!,” the girl said. “Yeah,” one of the guys said, “Suzy A.!” When she sat down, she felt the last of Audrey Driscoll expel through her nose. She wasn’t sure who was left, but she wanted to find out.

Ben watched his daughter meet-cute, before shaking his head and turning to his son.

“I’m sorry we didn’t find any treasure,” Ben said.

“I don’t care about the treasure,” Sam said. “Hey, if I have to be Aaron Archer, shouldn’t Sultan get a new name too?”

“Like what?”

“What about King?”

Ben laughed into the end of his beer.

“Are you okay, Dad?”

“Oh yeah, fine,” Ben said. “That sounds great. So you really didn’t care about the treasure?”

Sam shook his head.

“Then what were you up to? Why are we all boot-deep in mud?”

Sam kept his eye pointed at the table. “I was looking for a ghost,” he said. “I need to know that they are real.”

Ben lumped, and sucked in a great deal of air through his nose.

“Is this about mom?”

Sam nodded. “I miss her.”

“Me too, buddy.” Ben swallowed the last splash of his beer and patted Sam’s shoulder. “Me too.”

Sam started crying out of his one good eye, which made Ben just fall apart. A boy should be able to cry out of two eyes. He already regretted saying what he was about to say, but he couldn’t stop himself. “You know our neighbor, Earl?”

Sam wiped a big streak of snot onto his sleeve, and said, “Not really.”

“Well, Earl thinks that thing we saw out on the highway is a ghost.”

“Yeah?” Sam perked up.

Ben nodded, but Sam’s face went dark. “What is it?”

“Do you think all ghosts are like that one?” he asked.

“Probably not,” Ben said.

Ben paid the check and then called across the patio, “Suzy, let’s jet!”

“I’ve got it, Dad,” she said. “Jessie will give me a ride later.”

“And this Jessie knows how to get you home?”

“It’s not our home,” she said. “But yeah.”

Ben groaned again, but held his tongue. Pete Archer was the kind of man who didn’t want to raise a fuss.

As they walked back to the car, Ben noticed some crime scene tape roping off a slab of the beach as a yellow excavator lifted the corpse of a German Sheppard out of the falling sand. It was stiff, with all four legs extended like some furry end table set upside down.

“Well,” Sam said. “I guess we know what happened to those missing dogs.”

Not all of them, Ben thought.

To be continued in Part II …

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What Mongolian Nomads Teach Us About the Digital Future – WIRED

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WIRED

What Mongolian Nomads Teach Us About the Digital Future
WIRED
The cropped grass wraps the contours like a green rug. … Eagles are used to hunt fur and meat in these parts; this one was resting, hooded. My driver motioned … All of these things, including firewood and cow dung for fuel, are provided by the

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WATCH: Ikea marks 30 years of flat-pack pain – Independent Online

The IKEA House Party is an immersive week-long series of daytime experiences and evening house parties. Picture: YouTube.com

London — To mark 30 years in Britain, Ikea has transformed a London house to recreate living rooms through the decades. Sarah Rainey takes a look at the good, the bad – and the downright bizarre.

The 1980s

From the Jane Fonda workout video and David Bowie vinyls on the bookcase to My Weekly magazine on the table, this room is unmistakably Eighties: bold prints, clashing colours and statement furniture everywhere.

Consumerism was on the rise in this era and house-proud Britons wanted to put what they owned on display.

Red was the most popular colour for the iconic Klippan sofa; walls were often painted blue and many items, from rugs to tables, were look-at-me round rather than rectangular. Note the zig-zag shelves; completely impractical, but certainly a talking point.

“People were very proud of their homes in the Eighties,” explains Clotilde Passalacqua, Ikea UK’s interior design leader. “Previously, interior design had been expensive and out of reach. Suddenly, it was affordable. They could buy the things they saw in glossy magazines – striped curtains, bright cushions and trendy table lamps.

“This was a decade of rebelliousness, of expressing your personality and not caring what other people thought. The same looks you saw in fashion, you saw in people’s homes.” Bestsellers included glass tables, laminated cabinets, vinyl record racks and leather recliner chairs in bright colours.

In this era, she explains, Ikea was mostly targeted at families who wanted pieces to be durable, rather than just cheap – so price tags were higher than today.

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The 1990s

By the Nineties, Ikea started to understand the British way of living. Laurent Tiersen, Ikea’s UK brand manager, explains they do more than 200 house visits a year to understand how people use the rooms in their homes.

Entertaining was a big trend in this era; sideboards, soft-lighting lamps and stackable tables (handy for canapés or drinks) were bestsellers – as was glassware including champagne flutes. One of the iconic pieces of the decade was the PS 1995 clock, which came with an in-built liquor cabinet – another must for sociable homeowners.

Colours were neutral: magnolia walls, beige soft furnishings and wood floors. Matching furniture was important, with coordinating cushions, curtains and accessories such as these beanbags.”Living rooms were clean and stripped back,” says Clotilde. “People had busy lives – there were more women than ever in the workplace – and home was a peaceful haven.”

Ikea also launched its children’s range, called Mammut, in 1994. The Lack coffee table continued to be popular as a family staple.This decade also marked the growth of technology in the home: TVs had their own stands and sturdy desks were needed for computers. Vinyl shelves were replaced by CD holder.

“This was the early era of furniture doubling up as technology solutions,” says Clotilde. “People wanted the latest mod-cons, but they didn’t want them cluttering up their homes.”

The 2000s

From the high-gloss surfaces to the cow hide rug and a faux fireplace, the turn of the century was all about experimenting.This kind of gaudy feature wall – as seen on TV home makeover shows such as Changing Rooms and DIY SOS – appeared across the country as families rejected the bland serenity of Nineties interiors.

“DIY was on the rise and people wanted to express their personalities in their living rooms,” Clotilde says. “They liked trying out bold wallpaper and dark, daring colours such as black and purple. Everything was minimalist and contemporary: sleek surfaces, monochrome furnishings, industrial textures like plastic and chrome.”

The future

With its clinical lighting, bleached furniture and hushed atmosphere, it may look a little like a dentist’s surgery – but the home of the future has plenty of surprises in store.On one wall are Floalt light panels, motion-activated by sensors in the ceiling, which have modes including soft sunset, white and dark. 

At present the panels are operated by a dimmer switch, but it is hoped in future we will control them with our phones.”The home of the future is all about control: homeowners want to be in charge with technology at their beck and call,” says Clotilde. 

They’re also conscious of the environment, saving energy and sustainability.’There will be wireless charging furniture – tables and chairs that charge our devices – and ‘smart’ mirrors, which can also tell you the time, weather and what’s on your to-do list. 

The room features 3D-printed chairs, made by a hi-tech printer. There is a screen called a ‘shadow tracker’, which uses movement and temperature to create constantly-changing digital ‘art’.

The most eye-catching feature is the greenery-covered walls. These are hydroponics, specially-cultivated plants that can be grown indoors if you don’t have a garden. Clotilde says: “Outdoor space will be even harder to come by in the future. Not only do indoor plants clean the air but they have a very soothing effect.”

Homes are set to get smaller, so designers are focusing on storage, including using previously-empty space above eye level, as well as space-saving models such as fold-up beds, collapsible chairs and multi-purpose stackable stools. Some innovations, it must be admitted, are more exciting than others.

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