Friday, September 11, 2009
A friend has an outhouse worth mentioning. I will not name her, as a branch of The Feds might swoop in and close her down. Actually, she already was told to get rid of it, but she didn't listen. I'm glad she didn't. She doesn't use it out of necessity; it is used for overflow, if you will. Whenever large numbers of people arrive it is used to prevent overflow on her current system.
I was over to her place recently and she was preparing for a soiree. So we cleaned and prepared the outhouse. It was inside a small grove of trees, surrounded by lush greenery. Several tall, pink-purple phlox stood alongside, as well as vines of purple Morning Glory clinging to the outside of its weathered gray exterior. Small wind chimes hung in the tree next to it. An old metal headboard, standing amongst the trees outside the door, held bric-a-brac.
We took everything outside and washed it. "It" being several items all having to do with outhouses; gee-gaws and doo-dads - artifacts of The Outhouse Culture. She has, outside the door, a metal washstand with a beautiful cobalt blue glass plate rimmed with suns and moons and stars. On it, a metal bowl rimmed in blue. Alongside, a cobalt blue glass candle holder. Inside were several photos, poems, and other sayings, all honoring the Outhouse. The window held two small stained-glass panels. There was a roll of paper, no, not that kind, real paper to write down your thoughts during your brief stay.
I was reminded of other outhouse stories, the chief one being the night, many moons ago, during which I attended a bonfire get-together at the home of a mutual friend with my old pal, JB. Our friend had an outhouse, out of necessity this time. JB went around back to use it, returning with the suggestion that perhaps it was time to dig a new hole, as his trip, he felt, had resulted in a net gain. This was not the case at my new friend's house. She is a responsible outhouse owner. I trust that my other friend, who also shall remain nameless, has since taken on that horrible task of digging a new hole. Digging holes is never fun, unless you're ten years old and are creating a new kind of fort in the pasture, forgetting that it's a pasture for cows and your dad insists it be filled in immediately. But, hey, we were all young once...
Back to The Outhouse. It had glass door knobs, which needed repair. So we repaired to her shed, which is a wonderful story for yet another time. Up on a shelf in the corner she had a metal box containing several sets and individual glass door knobs. Quite a collec-see-own (I did that because I don't know how to write collection in French). She even had a small light blue glass knob. We decided they needed to be displayed somehow. So we sat down at her outside table and washed each one. Then, voila! She realized how she could display them ! She had just recently bought a two-tiered round glass table. We took them inside and placed them on the top tier. She thought it would be nice to have them lit from below, on the bottom tier. Her mother's antique Tiffany-style lamp was too tall. Voila, Again! She had just bought, at a garage sale, a lava lamp. It fit perfectly and it had orange-red lighting. We went outside to clear some brush, and when we came back in it had started doing its thing. Very nice, indeed.
The outhouse has glass door knobs again and it is very pretty. I even used it before I left.
And that's my story about my friend's outhouse.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I want to live in a glass house. Have you seen the Philip Johnson House in New Canaan, CT ? It's sort of a prototype. It appears, from the photo I saw in a magazine, that the bathroom is circular and in the middle. That's good. The enclosed walls part. I was wondering about that. Waaaay different than how I was brought up. And, no, that photo is not of the glass house, obviously. Keep reading.
Which brings me to a friend, who is into permaculture and living off the grid. He built his own earthship, similar to and based on the earthship community up in Taos, which he participated in several years ago. He came back home and built his own, along with a whole new way of life, of being, in this world. It's actually very much like the old days, except it's not.
I've eaten apple cobbler he cooked in his solar oven, which he built himself. I've eaten salad from his gardens, and chocolate truffles he made that must be the original Death By Chocolate. I have a notepad that says, "Inside me is a thin woman screaming to get out. I can usually keep the bitch quiet with chocolate." So far, so good.
Anyway, my friend also has a sawdust composting toilet. He uses the composted material, shall we say, to feed his landscape. You heard me. This is not the first time I've heard of this method. The first time I became aware of it, I thought, 'I don't think so...' but I have deep respect for him and his way of showing respect for Mother Earth. It's not unlike how I grew up, outhouse being the chief place for our toilette. We had one until I was about ten. I thought everybody did. This was my first form of denial. NOBODY else had one. We were the last of our breed, shall we say.
We finally got an indoor one when Dad decided to turn the walk-in closet into a bathroom. That's right. We had a walk-in closet with wood floors, but no inside biffy. The first thing we did, hooligans that we were, was swing on the shower bar. It came down, of course, and everybody scattered. I was the last one out of the bathroom, so I got the hairbrush wielded by Mom, swiftly, and just once mind you, as I was on the run.
Which brings me to Annie Leibovitz. No, it doesn't really, but I wanna talk about her. What's up with this woman of amazing photographs? She obviously has is-yews. That and poor money management skills. Is she still mourning Susan Sontag, her long-time companion? Or has she always "lived beyond her means." And how does one live beyond their means when they make, and are worth, millions of dollars? Well, in Annie's case, you buy lots of houses, expensive ones. You use other people's photographs and claim them as your own, according to one Italian man who is none too happy with her and has joined the ranks of the sue-er's. And you forget to pay tribute to Caesar. Like that. Sheesh, Annie. Get it together and come back out on top. Nobody takes people pictures like you.
I want to visit the Frank Loyd Wright house, Fallingwater, in Bear Run, PA. It looks pretty cool from the photo, sitting on a waterfall and all. I wonder if it creates problems with sleeping or makes it better?
I want to drive Route 220, The Road to Altoona, and recreate a photo, taken in the early '70's that an artist friend shot and used as a reference for the painting of same last winter. I watched him paint it. Quite a treat. Now I have the first print of it. It's a beauty, with a tinge of nostalgia. It also reminds me of "Milk," one of my favorite movies. Sean Penn, as Milk, is talking into his recorder near the end of the movie and talks about a young man from Altoona, PA. who is afraid to "come out" to his parents. I hope that young man became someone who found life to be a wonderful place, in which he could be his truest self.
Robin Wright Penn, Sean's wife, has filed for divorce. She means to make it stick this time. She said she pulls off the road to cry too often. That's sad. I've been a fan of both for some time. One of my favorite movie lines is from Forrest Gump, when Robin, as Jenny, goes back to her old house with Forrest and they start throwing rocks at the house. She sits down on the ground, crying, and he says, "Sometimes there just aren't enough rocks." Her decision says, rather poignantly, that money can't buy happiness, and neither can marriage to Sean Penn. There goes another fantasy. It doesn't make either a bad person. It just makes them people.
Well, next time, I am going to talk more about outhouses, probably, 'cause I have a friend who has a beauty. I'm just tellin' you, in case you want to do something else with your time.
BTW: I attached a photo of "Road to Altoona," buy Murad Sayen (I'm going to leave that. I kinda like the implications).You can acquire it through Mastcove Gallery in Kennebunkport, Maine. Pleeease, someone buy it, so I'm not tempted to, and thus live beyond my means.