Friday, November 25, 2011

My Taste in Decor and Its Remedy

A previous owner of my townhouse installed this opulent mirror in the downstairs bathroom. The frame is a grand baroque woodcarving, painted gold with accents of crimson. I fancy that it's patterned after some antique French design. Splendid, you surely think. Why, the Comte de Monte-Cristo himself would have been proud to frequent a bathroom with such a fine mirror. When I decided to buy the townhouse, my mind warmed to the idea of furnishing it as a miniature Versailles appartement, the sort of accommodations appropriate for a liveried manservant of the palace.

My younger son was appalled by this idea, as his taste in decor runs toward the simple, functional style of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, which had its heyday in the early 1900s. This style eschewed Victorian adornment and was characterized by furniture with clean geometric lines and an honest wood finish that showed off the grain. To display the structural craftsmanship, the furniture's mortise and tenon joinery was exposed for all to admire.

And so, once I signed the mortgage papers for the townhouse, it was time to furnish it. My son and I hauled all my old raggedy furniture to the Goodwill center and then went shopping for new stuff. We searched through a dozen furniture stores and evaluated countless sofas, loveseats, chairs, and recliners for style, workmanship, and comfort. We examined all manner of lamps and end tables and throw rugs. My son didn't press any of his interior design opinions on me. He merely made offhand comments about quality of materials and workmanship. But somehow I kept drifting farther and farther away from my goal of antique French finery.

When all of my purchases were finally delivered to my new living room, I realized that I had furnished the room according to the style popular in 1918. Two Stickley chairs of the Morris design dominated the floor space. They had oak frames carefully stained to bring out the grain; and their mortise and tenon joinery was nicely done. The chairs had deep cushions of brown leather (a welcome comfort to a tired doughboy home from the Great War). The living room was lit by the warm glow of an Edison bulb overhead and a second Edison bulb in a glass container (an antique vacuum vessel adapted by my son) that was placed on a wooden end table of clean geometric lines.

Evidently, my son has mastered the art of subtle persuasion.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Night Light

Tonight I walked around the nearby park and admired the Christmas lights. The fountains at the south end of the park were lit with subsurface lamps, giving the water jets the appearance of molten silver. The lights on the boulevard trees looked like constellations being sprayed from the earth.

My pictures fail to do justice to what I saw. This is partly due to my faulty camera technique, I admit. But the main problem is that the camera can't capture the beauty that my nearsightedness bestows on light shining in the darkness. To my eyes, light becomes soft and diffuse and almost seems to have heft. I see the bright, little bulbs in the trees not as dazzling points of light but as glowing balls, like incandescent apples.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Limp to the Library

I strained my right foot several days ago and have hobbled around ever since. Even after some slow, careful stretches this morning, my heel and ankle remained stiff and tender. When I stood up, pain shot from my heel to the sole of my foot.

Nevertheless, a man can't sit at home all day. I resolved to take my customary Saturday afternoon walk to the library, a round trip of about three miles. I would take it easy, of course. No running, no skipping, just a gentle stroll on the level sidewalk. The mild exercise would surely warm and loosen the sore foot, I reasoned.

I was mistaken. After I had walked about a mile, my bum ankle locked up on me. My right leg might as well have been a hockey stick. I could only move by slipping my right foot forward and then hopping ahead with my left foot. Slip and hop, slip and hop, slippity-hoppity all the way to the library and back. My pace was slow but my exertion was tremendous. I arrived back home sweating and panting.

I have spent the remainder of the day alternating between the seated position and the prone position.

The Crumbling Wall

I was out for a stroll last week and spotted this damaged wall. A six-foot section at the bottom of the wall appeared to have crumbled away.

The sight put me in a bad mood. It was an eyesore. Somebody was clearly to blame for this. My mind boiled over with accusing questions. Had some careless or intoxicated driver overshot the parking space and smashed into the wall? Had the wall contractor bungled the wall's design? Had the contractor skimped on the cement in order to cut costs and thereby weakened the wall's structural integrity? Were the contractor's laborers a crew of illegals from Mexico, accustomed to adobe clay instead of concrete?

As I approached the wall, I viewed the damage from a different angle.

All right, the wall was intact. My eyes had been fooled by a heap of dirty snow. Regardless of this reality, I still felt a lingering grudge against the hypothetical bad driver, the hypothetical crooked contractor, and the hypothetical incompetent laborers.

Apparently, I have pent up aggravation and am primed to discharge my ire against any perceived target. I shall have to make a determined effort to relax and sweeten my disposition.