Thursday, November 12, 2009

18th Street Thinking Pink

When I used to be the Story Lady at the library right across the street, this pink plaster-over-cement-blocks rejoiced my eyes every time I turned the corner.  

Okay - it is true - its cubic Southwest pastel design is completely out of character here on a stretch of the Columbia River where the name of a nearby town (Rainier) is likelier a soggy Northwest boast than a memorial to Rilke or the urbane Prince of Monaco.  But still I love this cubist patch of pink in the landscape and the way the pink plaster makes a setting for a bright red chair, Breaker Boxes 1& 2, and the old-time dull red door with its mini-portico.  I could spend a whole post about that door:  its panels, its handle, the home-carpentered screen with its rusting nails . . .

I love that the roses are planted out front in the tiny strip between wall and the right-on-the-road sidewalk.  That the roses match the color of the wall exactly (with the so-satisfying exception of the small rosebush in the center in deep and contrastive red). 

The elegance of the roses' scent, the almost damask-thickness of the petals is all the more rich for being backed by faded blinds and weather-worn window frames, accompanied by older roses past their prime and the rudeness of rank weeds.

The day I stop to take this picture a woman (I think it is a woman -  she is tall and broad-shouldered with a ravaged face and blurred voice, one of the walking wounded from her own personal drug war) crosses the street to admire the rose with me. 

"Are these yours?" I ask her.  "They're so great.  Beautiful."

"These are Pete's roses.  I always smell these roses," she says and then goes up and bangs on the back door - "Pete! Pete!"  But he doesn't answer.  No one answers.

"I usually smell them like this," she shows me how to smell them.  "But usually I don't, because I've got allergies!  Allergies to everything, like pollen . . . " her voice trails off like she's trying to remember what else she may be allergic to also . . .

I'm not denying this place would be a hard-sell for any realtor. After several days of rain, the walls soak up what we call "moisture" in desert states, what we call "weather" here.  But seen from the sidewalk, that picking out of the block-structure underneath the plaster is somehow deeply satisfying.  

Because there is  a beauty-loving consciousness at work here - the fine froth of evergreens, the perfectly matched flowers, the hand-built fence.  Pete (if that is indeed who lives here) even has his own greenhouse, slipped into the narrow space on the side of the house.  My Young Self wants to stay here and move in: it has always been her ambition to live in a pink house (which ambition I was tickled to find my younger daughter, quite uninfluenced by me or my Younger Self,  shares - or at least did at the age of nine).

And, ah! for the final, finishing touch: my grandma had an awning just like this above her back door.

When we'd come visit her, the first thing I'd hear - right after the squeak and bang/slam of the screen door was my grandmother's, "Well, look who's here!  It's my kids!  And I'm just tickled pink to see you!"

And her arms would reach out to embrace us in the floury smell of baking bread and her eyes would  sparkle behind their glasses above her little-apple cheeks - which were, in fact, pink.


I see that yet another advantage of being offline is to have missed the griping of my grumpy Muse who sets out the Words of the Day - and who has grossly misunderstood her role as Inspirer and Enheartener.  She thinks she's helping by commenting on the action.  (I can only thank my lucky stars to have missed soporific.)

Perhaps today's forfend (prohibit, forbid, prevent, defend) does not come across as so pointed a critique, but I can't say that the sentiment is appreciably improved. 

I begin to think that English has many more nay-saying words than yay-saying words.

Thank goodness for Merriam-Webster who offered this advice
exhilarate • \ig-ZIL-uh-rayt\ • verb
 which we set out to do . . .

. . . and hours later we can report that we have answered email and checked Flickr many times and copied out notes from a book our friend brought us about the feeding habits of shorebirds, mating patterns, where the names of birds come from. Wordcount?

What wordcount?

All I've got is loose change. Not even worth counting.

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