Book Excerpt: 'Stories From Candyland'

My attic is a source of amazement to the few people who had previously seen it. Much of what operates the house, from the heating and air-conditioning units to the mechanical lift that raises and lowers the chandelier in the entry hall, is housed in the attic. (I'm told that the lift was over-engineered so that it could raise and lower something as heavy as a Volkswagen, but I can't imagine why I'd want to hand a VW in my entry hall.)

The attic, like the house, is shaped like a W. Originally, the house was going to be called L'Oiseau ("Bird") but my French pronunciation isn't that good, and we liked "The Manor" more. I never considered the name Tara, although I have a staircase that Scarlett O' Hara would have descended beautifully.

My doll-designing rooms are in the attic, and I store many dolls there that are not on display in my downstairs doll museum. I've got the fabrics from which I made their clothes, and the drawings, color swatches, paper samples for boxes, and everything else an efficient doll designer would need. There are probably some non-necessities, too, but once I'd found stands to hold doll wigs and doll-size hair blowers, how could I resist?

We also store lots of extra household supplies. There are lightbulbs -- more than sixty-five varieties. (I don't know how many light fixtures there are in The Manor, and I'm not going to count). I know that sounds like a lot, but we have to keep them somewhere, and I never know when a dome light on the driveway, a reflector in the koi pool, or a custom light over a Renoir might need to be replaced. A quick trip to the attic handles all lighting needs.

I keep batteries adjacent to the lightbulbs. I guess there are hundred of them, too, in all sizes and shapes and volts and expiration years. Name a volt, and we have it. The new owner of my house might laugh when he or she sees the battery and lightbulb collections, but I can guarantee they'll thank me later. That doesn't even include the rows of light panels that control the lighting throughout the house.

Do you know how much space it takes to store yards of extra carpet in a house such as mine? Think about that if you're criticizing the size of my attic. There are carpet pads, too. Any idea of how many air-conditioning filters this house needs? I don't know, either, but there are stacks and stacks of them.

There are fifty-nine boxes of Easter decorations. I have Easter eggs in different sizes and shapes from all the years different charity groups brought kids to The Manor for Easter egg hunts. I also have the bunny costumes (Easter, not Playboy) my kids wore to parties. Box 48 reads, 1 giant Easter bunny. There are three boxes of various foiled eggs and three more labels painted wooden rabbits. Oops, I forgot about the pink grass, yellow grass, and green grass I bought for next year's Easter baskets and those boxes of new baskets. Oh, look, box 59 has 2 rabbits at a tea party.

I love holidays.

My boxes of Thanksgiving decorations include garlands for the various fireplaces in the house and Thanksgiving bears.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. My supplies include sound-activated jack-o'-lanterns, witches with caldrons, life-size (but not lifelike) ghosts and skeletons, beautifully carved artificial pumpkins, and even an animated spirit ball with a homely old lady who yells out threats to passersby.

There are 128 ... 143 ... 151 ... 164 ...180 boxes of Christmas decorations.

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