Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Decorating With Pots--and Flying the Flag at Ft. Chapman

A sunny, breezy California day and the flag at Ft. Chapman unfurls.

The flag is still flying at half staff at my father's house. The week he was dying I had an electrician install a light on the flag so we could honorably fly it at night, and I had the nearby tree trimmed so we could bring the flag down to half staff without entangling it in the branches of the walnut tree.

It has been just three weeks since he died and the neighbors still walk by with their children and dogs in tow and point at the flag and speak to each other softly. So many people in the neighborhood knew my father. He was always out of doors--working in the yard, washing his cars, or playing with his toy planes.

Inside, I'm getting ready for my move back into the family home we long ago nicknamed Ft. Chapman. There has been so much work to do, clearing out closets and drawers, and sorting through almost endless boxes of stuff. During many of the days I have worked to clean the place, I have found one or perhaps two hand thrown pots. In a box. In a bag. In a closet. In the garden. I think Mom found them at garage sales and used them for her geraniums, or planned to do so. Once I had washed them, I discovered each one was a little work of art. They were good pots for plants, but in my opinion they were far too pretty to waste solely on geraniums. They were all the earthen colors of my mother's kitchen.

Since I have the collecting-gene-defect in my DNA: once I found two of them, I began to get the feeling I was developing a collection. After about the sixth one, I began to wonder what to do with them all.

Today, I got up on the ladder to clean away the enormous piles of dust the painters warned me were lurking above the kitchen cupboards. Once I got up there, I noticed how the tops of the cupboards were just the right size to display all those hand thrown clay pots. So, after I used a large snow shovel to remove the dust piles, up went the pots. And here is the result.

I know they, too, will collect dust. But the tops of the cupboards are going to collect dust anyway. And once, long ago, I saw the library at Hearst Castle, and it had Grecian urns covering the tops of the cabinets all around the room and I've always wanted to try something like that. Not having Grecian urns, I've now done it with pots.

I also moved that chandelier from the center of the room to that spot over the stove. It had always irritated me in the center of the room because it was hanging in the one place in the kitchen that didn't have a beamed ceiling--essentially the lowest point in the room and thus was always a hazard for one's head.

That is the kitchen before I moved the chandelier and put up the pots. You can just get a glimpse of the chandelier over the table, right front.

Over the stove it will, I know, collect grease rising from the stove top, but at least it is up high enough so I won't be able to see it very well. And I won't be able to hit my head on it if someone accidentally moves the table, as has been the case for fifty years.

The cleaning and the decorating and the preparations for moving have been healthy distractions from grieving. And something so sweet has happened to the house. Something about the colors and the light in the house seemed to have changed. I didn't used to like this house. And now it seems so beautiful. I don't think this can entirely be attributed to my excellent taste and decorating skills.

It just feels good to be there now. The things within the house are reminders of the two interesting people who once lived there. And they are finally, both, at peace.

The foyer of Ft. Chapman with Dad's flag on display.

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Florida Beach Basics said...

flat and pots both look good, and sounds as though you are doing very well. I enjoy seeing what you're doing with the house - love those wood floors.

Robin Chapman said...

Good. You can come out and help me rub them with Danish Oil, which House Beautiful says is the way to treat the older floors. I'm working only on the living room, but have to do it in thirds 'cause of my age!