Friday, December 11, 2009

The Upper Room

Let Mahalia sing you into and through the Upper Room. It's a boring post; She's not!

It's a cold December morning, quite beautiful.

Retired Educator, here. Over the course of several days last week, The Manor Hazmat Team and I excavated my office, hidden in the nosebleed section of one of the more neglected wings. We reclaimed that space in the name of All That is Good and Holy in Marlinspike Hall -- deep, deep in the Tête de Hergé (Très Décédé, D'ailleurs).

Inexplicably, I decided to change the wall art from trustworthy and overseen impressionistes to a series by Miró, and thereby managed to lend a decidedly childlike air to the room. Not the look I was going for but that's okay. I can do childlike. I like childlike. On my very best days, I am childlike.

Actually, in the right light, in the proper frame of mind? Miró's work asserts itself as more ELEMENTAL than jejune, just not in the typically monumental way that I normally envision les principes de bases -- as found in Rothko, for example. Our Private and Supremely Elegant Manor Suite is done in Rothko -- nicely set off by row upon row of mirrored ceiling tile. Sure, there are moments when the blocks of color oppress and Rothko's famed depression almost bleeds out and your thoughts turn all helterskelter-like.

Ummm, right?

In the course of things, have I ever mentioned that Fred was once the recipient of an Honorary Chapter Medalist Award, given by the American Society of Interior Designers? Yes, he was! I remember the frenzy. He had to assemble several portfolios, each representative of his various and eccentric Philosophies of Design, to which he had to attach a typewritten version of his originally longhanded thesis, "In Defense of Polyester." After first creating it, he spiffed up his CV, finagled the requisite three ASID Chapter Board Member endorsements, provided a detailed bulleted list of the location and patronage of his famed trompe l'oeil wall and window treatment creations, as well as proffering proof of degrees, honors, citations, arrests, outstanding parking tickets, and so forth.

Anyway, he's an Award Winner!

What he has done in our suite of rooms is create an intricate system of wall hangings that can be kept rolled up, much like the various canvas panels for the Big Top in a circus. On those days when a heavy fog hangs over Captain Haddock's holdings, and the Rothkos, all tragic and impending, loom extra large -- we just drop the canvas leaves of our Moroccan-style tent. There are several design choices available per wall, or we can choose to disguise the structural planes with billowy fabrics in an amorous hommage to the Ottoman Harem.

For some ungodly reason, Fred has it in his head to paint a mural on one of my recently uncovered office walls. It figures, no? I cannot get the man to consult his extant and lengthy "honey do" list -- but this, he will do, right away.

Just the archaelogy involved in reaching the original wall dampens my resolve -- steaming away layers of period wallpaper, chipping, disintegrating paint, all the way down to creative combinations of wood, stone, mud, straw, peat.

"What kind of mural have you in mind?" I ask him, curious.

"Something restful, yet vibrant, something unique to you, yet universal..." I swear, I think his eyes were crossing with the effort of coming up with that bit of effluvium. In the interest of saving you time, I cut the transcription short: you know how I dislike rambling.

I finally convinced The Fredster to try a fairly muted, tonal abstract in the form of a fresco, the very idea of which may keep him occupied through the winter. Right on cue to distract My Darling Artisan, the chirping Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore arrived on scene wrapped in a voluminous and inexplicablly Miró-like japanese kimono (MavenMatron sized) and sporting the latest trend in Foot-Binding -- high-heeled torture devices that keep the wearer interminably en pointe:

The first task I set the Handy Man? A new, reinforced door with three foolproof locks. The Castafiore may show little interest in my recuperated space *today* -- but who knows how she may feel tomorrow, eh?

It is a good place in which to sit and write, my office, defended now by a reinforced steel door with a set of bright-nickel finished, interfaced-and-intwined redundant locks.

Look out the window at The Copse and The Rarest of Birds in Our Aviary, and you see the proof of our failed attempts at gardening and animal husbandry. Suckers and Sprouts, Suckers and Sprouts! We forgot to trim back the new growth in The Copse for a few, cough, years, and Nature has gone wild, as is Nature's Wont. The Gamekeeper's predilection is for birds of prey, as evidenced by the Gaggle of Red Kites, once hunted to extinction, now clearly in full recovery within Our Aviary's netting. I fear the advent of Red Kite Zombies, the reanimated dead with no prey but their own kind.


All the more reason to turn inward, to my warm, inviting, and elemental home office!

Shucks, I wish it were that simple, a turning away from what amounts to a huge Bio-Botanical Failure to Cooperate, in favor of the turning inward to some hoped for Trope of Instant Wisdom [Just Add Water and Stir].

But the Unfortunate Real World cannot be kept out, even from this well-planned and superbly-appointed lair (there is a club chair done in actual Corinthian Leather, fashioned from an equally actual 1976 Chrysler Cordoba).

In the course of clearing out mounds of paperwork from my last stint as a teacher, I found some items that proved very dear, and some that I would like to share. They represent, on the one hand, the unseen and unacknowledged work of teachers, and, on the other, the often unrecognized realities at work in the lives of today's teenagers, Our Belovèd Yute.

And then there are just the oddities that represent public high school education in what is euphemistically known as "the urban environment."

So stay tuned. After a nap or coma, I'm going to tackle deficiency reports and guardian contact forms in the next post.

While you're patiently waiting, please enjoy this recorded message from Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalbán y Merino...

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