A Rectangle and a Circle

How many memories does a rectangle hold? When Stepson Two’s Gorgeous Girlf asked, one lunch-time over the New Year celebrations, where we’d bought our dining room table it set me thinking about this ordinary piece of furniture.

There’s never been any money in the budget for expensive furniture and neither of us enjoys trudging round shops for the sake of it, so our table, like so much of our furniture, comes from Ikea. It’s plain, solid and seats eight people. We bought it for our first home when we could finally afford to upgrade from the tiny, circular garden table that four of us had been squeezing round. Since then it’s been dismantled and reassembled for three moves and is now in its fourth home where I hope it’ll remain for many years to come.

It’s the place where we sit to eat every meal and has been the starting point for so many memorable family occasions. My daughters have grown from little girls to young women here; we’ve laughed, cried, argued and made up, seen boyfriends come and go and partners arrive. I watched my dad’s life ebb away here, as he slowly lost his appetite for food, but never for the chance of a family gathering. We’ve laid out our wedding buffet on this table, food for my parents-in-law’s golden wedding anniversary celebrations, and cut and sewed curtain fabric here. It’s only a table, yet every meal we eat here, every new face that joins us here, adds to the kaleidoscope of memories this simple rectangle holds.

And after festive season of sitting round our table, I decided it was time to eat less and move more. With the posterior vitreous detachment on-going in my left eye, I still can’t run or skip or do any high-impact exercise, but then I read Karen's blog about hula-hooping and was inspired to have a go myself. A low-impact, vigorous workout – what’s not to love? Well, for a start, there’s getting the hang of it! You need a large, weighted hoop and lots of space and then, like learning how to ride a bike, it’s something you just have to feel. Those YouTube videos are all very well, but seeing and doing are different skills. I particularly liked one response to the instructor’s casual, ‘it’s okay if your hoop drops!’ where the frustrated commenter had replied, ‘it’s NOT okay – that’s why we’re watching this!’

With a lot of practise and much gritting of teeth, I can now keep my hoop up and spinning for four minutes. Not quite the forty minutes I’d fondly imagined I might be doing, but that’s part of the challenge. A new year and a new circle to turn.


Milla said…
toyed with that once but ... where do you get the wretched hoop from??
Nice to see the house coming together, Chris¬
Chris Stovell said…
Thanks Milla, I went to Amazon to avoid all the faffing around. Large (38-40") and weighted is the key to it.
Kath said…
Yikes, sorry to hear about the icky-sounding detachment happening in your eye but the hula-girl thing sounds like fun... once you get the hang of it anyway!

That paragraph about your dining table is beautiful, Chris. What a wonderful way to describe everything that's happened at or around it.
Chris Stovell said…
Thanks, Kath. What a kind thing to say.
Jane Lovering said…
What happens when, like me, you are large and weighted in your own right? Is there a skinny hoop available to offset? Best of luck with the hula-ing, maybe we ought to have a Hawaiian theme to our next Choc Lit meet-up...?
Chris Stovell said…
A Hawaiian-inspired Choc Lit meet-up would be awesome, Jane. (what a damn shame, I've just binned last year's 'Blue Hawaii' Elvis calender - I know how much you would have enjoyed leafing through it.)
liz fenwick said…
Love the post...yes, table hold a lot of memories in out family too.

Good luck with the hoop!
Talli Roland said…
Love the table, and what a fantastic question.

I can just see you hula-hooping! :)
Pondside said…
I loved that reflection on your table. So many memories are worn into the surface of ours too.
My posterior is weighty and threatening to detach through sheer volume, so I guess I'd better get busy doing something! Lots of hula hoops for sale in the toy stores here, so it must be catching on.
Debs Carr said…
I love the idea of all the memories that have passed over a kitchen table.

Well done lasting four minutes with your hoolahoop! I'm not sure I'd manage four seconds.

(I shouldn't think anyone would notice if you had plastic furniture, or no furniture with all those incredible pictures on the wall. Jealous, moi?)
Chris Stovell said…
Thanks, Liz!

Oh Talli, so sorry for branding that image on your brain!

I'm sure it isn't Pondside, not from what I can see of you... just turn round, will you, so we can take a better look ;)

Thanks Debs; I'm really enjoying having Tom's paintings up again.
Shirley Wells said…
I love that table and hearing about all those people who've enjoyed their meals around it. Ah, if only tables could talk.

As a kid, I could hula-hoop for hours. Years later, I got one for my daughter, said "It's easy" and, um, could not get the hang of it at all. Good luck with it!
Preseli Mags said…
Four minutes sounds an impressive achievement. Do you listen to appropriate music while you hula? (I was trying to think of something to suggest but my brain is only offering the theme to Hawaii Five-0)

I love the table history too. Not such an ordinary piece of furniture really, but a highly important part of family life.
Fennie said…
Lovely, reflective post, Chris. So much happens at a table. J's grandmother's kitchen table is now the table we use in our packing room. You can imagine how many memories that must store. But a circular table has much to recommend it (ask King Arthur). It is the best for conversation. We have one (also from Ikea with a middle section that makes an oval when necessary) in the kitchen
covered in oil cloth against Theo's spills. One little favour: please don't start a hula-hooping craze!
Norma Murray said…
When I was a kid I could hula-hoop for hours, now I can't get it to revolve more than twice, so I am VERY impressed by four whole minutes.
elizabethm said…
Four minutes? Awesome.
tiaolou004 said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Flowerpot said…
Good for you Chris - that takes me back to doing hoola hoop at school. You'll soon be up to 40 minutes!
Patsy said…
I could never get the hang of it, but the hoop I tried with was very light so maybe it wasn't my fault at all?
Chris Stovell said…
Shirley, I bet the one you bought form your daughter was one of the light ones. You'd get the hang of it, if it was heavier.

Mags, still trying to get the optimum hula mix! The running music definitely doesn't work!

Fennie, now you know you want to! Your grandmother's kitchen table must hold a wealth of memories, but I'm glad to have abandoned the oil cloth... for now!

Norma, truly, get the right hoop and you'll be away with it!

Elizabeth - 4 minutes is a mere blink of an eye now... well, can manage 6 mins without stopping!!

FP, I had quite a burst this morning! Not non-stop, but did a 20 min session.

Patsy, no, definitely not your fault, go heavier (hoop not you) and you'll be away with it.

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