Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Moustache Men and Other Oddities

When I bought this Hunt Board, did I remember my mother's table with the Moustache Man on it?

I've finally had a few days off from the workmen, who seemed to move into my house with me, the way Eldon the Painter did at Candice Bergen's house on the old TV show Murphy Brown. My workmen were here with such regularity, I was beginning to think I should start grocery shopping for them and doing their laundry (if they could ever get my washing machine connected.)

In wandering around the house free of plumbers, electricians, and cable technicians, I noticed my office. What a dump.

I started to tackle it and bring it into some semblance of order. These days I don't just have my own work to organize, my own writing projects to sort and my own decorating ideas to execute, I also have my parents' estate and the Family Trust to sort through. We have a secretary who comes in twice a month to help with the family stuff, so I decided I should at least clear a path for her to the files.

I confess I would much rather be doing the decorating part in what you might call the public rooms of the house. That's much more fun than figuring out where my computer table will fit between the guest beds, my memorabilia trunk, and my Dad's old boxes of documents on his war time experiences on Ascension Island.

So, from time to time on that beautiful California day, I would wander into the sunny living room and walk around. That room is coming together nicely--though I know there is too much furniture in it right now.

The living room on moving day plus eleven.

I follow Coco Chanel's advice on style, translated into my own decorating dictum: she told women that they should put on everything they wanted to wear that day with all the accessories, and then, just before they walked out the door, remove one thing.

That's a bit like the way I do a room: macro before micro. I put everything in there I like, and then I take things out until it looks the way it should. So I have several more steps to go in the living room. But as I was standing around looking at things, I zeroed in on the big hunt board I bought on the East Coast. How could you miss it? It is eight feet tall and intricately carved. I didn't need such a huge piece, but I loved the carving and my excuse for buying it was that I could hide my television and its various accessories inside the hunt board's upper cabinet.

The hunt board: there are tropical birds carved into the two lower panels. One is fishing and one has a snake in his mouth.

As you can see it has two center drawers with carved drawer pulls in the shape of a lion-faced-man with bushy eyebrows and a big moustache. I've always thought he looked a little like a fantastical drawing of the West Wind, blowing a storm into the sky.

Here's the curious part: last week I moved a small, elaborately carved table of my mother's next to the hunt board, mostly because I decided to take her table out of the entry, and this spot in the living room was the easiest place to push it for the time being. I thought it might be a little too much carving, tête-à-tête, but I figured it was temporary. My mother's carved table.

You'll think I'm a dunce, I guess, but it wasn't until yesterday that I noticed why I had really put the two pieces together. By now I'm sure you, at least, have noticed the center drawer pull on my mother's carved table.

Was I copying my mother when I bought the hunt board? Since I didn't remember her table, I can't honestly say that I was. I've never actually liked that table. But the subconscious sometimes just pushes us along, like the West Wind blowing the clouds across the sky.

It is clear for now that the two Moustache Men will have to remain together. They are made of different wood and stained with different stains but they are too similar to separate. The alliance may be an uneasy one. But my mother and I knew a lot about that. And those West Wind Moustache Men must have had a powerful need to be together. One Mom's. One my own. Who am to part them now?

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