“All creativity comes from within.”

I’ve thought about this quote many times, and for the life of me I can’t remember who said it.  Its as if it’s more important to tell people who you’ve read not what they’ve said.

“…comes from within.” for me; from within my little room, my room, the reflection of me the SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) does not want anyone else to see.  OK with me.

Perhaps a tour is in order.  Enter through a plain white door, opposite the linen closet at the end of a short, narrow corridor.  Beyond that door is a room of deep deep red, white base boards, a simple shaker style desk with two shelves over it; on the walls: a poster of the Monterey Peninsula (home, and I’m not there), a print containing historic stationery watermarks spanning four centuries, a water colour of Puget Sound, Van Gogh’s Stary Night and Ansel Adams’ Mural Project 1941-1942 (some not all).

There’s one window that doesn’t get much light most of the illumination is from a 1950’s reading lamp next to the mustard coloured wing back chair (1940’s), a desk lamp from the 20’s and the five bulbs in the ceiling fan behind me.  And there are the book cases and the books that have spilled from their shelves to the floor in haphazard piles.

The pictures on the walls say much, but it is the top shelves that speak volumes about the man in red room.

Above the desk, on the first shelf, three sketch pads (ink, charcoal, pencil), a bucket of ball point, roller ball and sharpie pens, two books borrowed from a friend that I must return (I’ve had them for three years now), an empty mason jar (?) and a line level.  I learned late in life what my grandfather meant when he said, “on the level”, and that four inch tool is there as a reminder to keep it honest.

On the top shelf an Tyco orangutang just because its fun, a wooden rack that holds my (personalized) stationery and my very favorite fountain pen.  The rack must be refilled on a regular basis and frequent trips to Art Lite (the quintessential pen store in Atlanta)  for proper ink are required (I am an iconoclast).

To the left of the desk, under the watermarks, is the 19th century music rack (knockoff) that holds my reference books but on top; a jade tree with two mud men sitting and playing Go and set apart a chunk of quartz with a small carving of a Japanese couple having tea and looking on (my own touch).

But it is atop the impressive book case, opposite the desk that is the most telling.  There are the bears, two of them; the first a large fuzzy, bespectacled hand puppet and the second a bronze figure of a beast that rips a fish from its water.  That’s me, both of them, before, during and after the therapy, meds and ECT.  The SWMBO is embarrassed by that part of the ‘red room’.

It was the beast that made me run away from home (at 28) and hide on a mountain for a few years, my needs were simple, but food was one, I needed money.  I was able to use what limited skills I had with a hammer and saw and worked with a fire restoration crew.  Just enough work to feed me and enough material in scraps to enhance my life style (zb; walls were insulated a foot at a time, the dry wall in the living room looked like a jig saw puzzle).  The foremost improvement was a new skill I gained, I could lay brick.

Over the course of a year, using red brick, burnt brick, new brick, old brick, I built a wall.  It was perfect, double brick, six feet high, finished top, and for feet long, set in the middle of a field of wild flowers, on the top of a mountain.  I searched garage sales, flea markets and garbage dumps until I found a kitchen table and a comfortable wooden chair.  I planted them five feet from the wall.  I’d also found several dozen coffee mugs, cups, saucers and gathered them in a large box that went under the kitchen table in the field of wild flowers on the top of a mountain, five feet from my perfect brick wall.

When ever I found I could not forgive myself for something  in the past or just felt a rage building within, I made a pot of coffee in the old enameled percolator.  When that was done, I would take the pot with me up the path to the kitchen table, in the field of wild flowers at the top of the mountain; sit in the comfortable wooden chair, and I would pour the coffee into a cup from under the table and I would sip.  I would sip and I would let all the anger or guilt or guilt-anger build up, no stops and at its peak I would smash that cup against my perfect brick wall.

 

Retired

I’ve reached the age of retirement.  Retiring, in my family, is tantamount to suicide; a rather PC suicide but suicide none-the less.  Not a single male in my family has survived more than two years after retiring.

With roughly six months left to live, by family reckoning, I thought I would reflect on this terminal lifestyle I walked into.

My day begins at 3:20, yes that’s am.  Its at that time that Duchess (our 17 year old pup) wants her morning walk.  My own aging bladder allow me to appreciate her request.  We’ll stop at the top of the stairs where I can give proper attention to her ears and chin, stroking each in turn and discussing the day’s plans; at which point there will be a gathering of the entire extended family: Calie (the Calico) situated midway down the stairs, Poe, the raven (had to throw that in) black mutt of a cat at my right and Alix the mischievous gray tabby that keeps trying to push me down the stars.

Daily duties: walk the Duchess, very very early, feed the critters, make coffee, wake the SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed, borrowed from Mr. Mortimer) and see her off to work.

Off to work, taking the car, the only car (downsizing), she takes the only vestige of independence known to man.  “If you need to go anywhere, hon, call my folks.  They’ll be glad to take you.”  At the mercy of the SWMBO’s 86 year old parents.

I’ve not been to a movie since my retirement party.  The thought of the SWMBO’s mom stepping out of her car, gliding over to me, with the aid of her walker, “Michael, wait out front after the movie and stay under cover if its raining.  Do you have your phone?”  I saw my mother the first day of second grade placing a sign on my back that said, “Please Bully Me”.

I’ll wait, In Demand is cheaper and far less humiliating.

After an exciting start to the day, there’s the dishes, laundry, ironing, working in the yard, working on the yard, battling the yard and after using every weapon at my disposal, the yard is winning.  “Hon (guess who’s speaking), why don’t you just hire someone.”

I do all the work and some guy with a pick up and a fast mower takes all the gory.  Never.  I will conquer the yard! Hopefully, I’ve six months to whip it in shape and the SWMBO will have the insurance money to “hire someone”.

Oops, she just called, folks over for dinner, got to clean (and really really wax the halls, her mum said she used to love to skate).

 

Please look at my other blog, “The Family Jewel’s” about much more interesting people.  Thanks, God bless.