Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cheerfulness keeps breaking through..

Writing a blog is one of the nicest things I ever did for myself, and it comes with unexpected bonuses.

One of them is the occasional slightly off the track responder who picks up a heading probably from Google, and proceeds to email me or comment in here with totally off the wall responses. Like the person who commented after the blogpost about the Sedated Cat and the Leaking Roof, to insist that I get a real roofer to check the possible damage in the ceiling and why this is important and he has my best interests at heart, kind of tone. I clicked on his name and found, yep, he's a roofer!! far from here, though, so not much hope for him of a job.

And there's the lady who read about my adventures in getting the laminate floor put down a couple of years ago, all the moving of the books, and the organizing of HP to be out of the traffic and how great it was once finished, and the voting of blogistas as to which color I should pick.

So this lady writes and asks me to please quote her on a price for ME to come and do her floors, too. and when I write back explaining that she's got the wrong end of the floor, so to speak, she writes again insisting that she's willing to pay extra if I will do it on a weekend. And on and on, until I finally, after explaining more than once that I'm not in the flooring business, said, sorry, I'm deleting any more emails on this subject. I expect she wonders how on earth I stay in the flooring business if I keep turning away customers.

And the PR lady from a place I wrote about which I will not name here, because she might start up all over again, where the brides were in collision, remember that? who wrote very solemnly to explain how they try to keep bridal parties separate and that I really should go again and give them another chance...this is a place I've been visiting for years and years.

But my fave of all time was the lady who insisted that I help her in her genealogical research into the Boud family, since my email was cited in a place she was researching as a likely member. In vain did I explain over and over that Boud is a screen name, was chosen in memory of a dearly loved and departed cat, and that kitty Boud was unlikely to have married into the family. No good. She wrote and wrote and in the end accused me of hindering her research.

I have concluded that a lot of people mistake this sort of pro bono blog for actual feature reporting, and feel they have to put this correspondent right, or demand I show my research and help them with theirs, or come through with what they think I'm advertising. Much innocent merriment results.

Speaking of which, I'm deep in another of those great history books that deal with the social times, daily life, of a period. This one, "Among the Bohemians", is about the life and times of the Bohemian period in England (and some on the Continong) and is not only well written, but hilariously funny.

The author, Virginia Nicholson, knows what she's writing about, because not only has she done a ton of research, but as the granddaughter of Vanessa Bell, sister of Virginia Woolf, and daughter of Clive Bell, she has access not only to papers, but family anecdotes and her own observations of a hugely talented group.

She devotes chapters to food, interior design, dress, the struggles to make art without money, and the obstacle that money presented anyway, and all the aspects of history that I think are really the most significant. Much more telling than reading about which battle won which mountain pass, and who crossed the river, and who held the bridge, and who burned the city down. This is where somebody is going to write in and identify the classical allusions, I bet, but moving right along.

Not a name dropper, she relates great stories about the artists and craftspeople she grew up with and knows names most of us have never heard of. She understands that in every generation only a tiny fraction of good artists are ever known to the general public, and that there are so many whose work was great but were either unknown or known mostly to other artists, or very popular but not in the newspapers of the time.

She understands, too, that the flight to Bohemia was a reaction in many cases of affluent talented young people whose upbringing was so miserably confined by school and rigid homes where the arts were considered not very nice, that it's not surprising they broke out.

She has a great eye for detail and for the unintended humor of a lot of the Bohemian life goals, as well as the tragic side of it all, with terrible hardship and starvation in a society with no safety nets. But one wonderful side of it is that she illuminates a lot of what we now take for granted and traces back styles and colors and assumptions to their origin among the art groups of the early part of the twentieth century.

Even to explaining to me the costume I wore to Rag Ball in my University days. Here I am more than fifty years later, realizing why I wore what i did to this fancy dress Ball which crowned Rag Week, a great time partying and collecting masses of money for local charities, all done by students at the university. Rag Ball was a bit like the Chelsea Arts ball in a way, though we didn't think we were imitating it, mainly because we'd never heard of it.

I went as a Black and White Rag, a nod to the music of the twenties, and my black and white check pants, (a GIRL, in PANTS, shocking) tight black sweater, one orange shoe, one yellow shoe, my masses of curly black hair backcombed with talcum powder to create a curly white wig, sprayed with glitter, were all really inherited from those early times, though I had no idea of it. I now read that black and white check pants were a big deal departure from sober Victorian clothes, and that mismatched colored shoes were another one! and talcum powder, cheaper than renting a wig, another.

Funny really! the shoes were a deal with my best friend, Joan, whose shoe size was the same as mine. We each bought a pair of flat shoes, one yellow, one orange, then solemnly exchanged so we each had a mismatched pair, which we wore very happily.

Even the way I organize my surroundings to this day evidently owes a lot to that time: natural plants, original art and craft, handknitted and crocheted throws and pillows, furniture adapted or scrounged and made over into comfortable stuff. I depart from them in the color area, though, since I hate strong colors in interiors, much prefer white walls as a background for artworks, and green everywhere as a soothing color that doesn't demand attention. And I do like order in the house, since clutter is exactly like the noise of a brass band to me.

So just when you think you're being you, you find you're being the you someone designed decades ago.


  1. I enjoyed reading the stories of people who latch on to your one subject, disregarding the remainder of your blog. We've a similar situation here,our telephone number is one digit off an enterology clinic. The number was theirs 15 years ago, but someone keeps giving it out incorrectly, so we've a parade of people calling about their colonoscopy appointments, asking questions, even though we tell them they have the wrong number, but wait, there's yet another question about the fasting and prep...we even get lab results left on our answering service. So, we've found the correct number, and give it out to these lost souls, though some people become downright angry and insist they were given THIS number....the world is full of mental midgets.- Jean in Cowtown

  2. Very amusing stories about, roofing and flooring and weddings and such. I can see how someone could unintentionally stumble upon a blog thinking it was something else but after being told nicely that they've got it wrong??? Maybe their command of written English ain't so hot. We have a phone number close to that of a local taxi service. DH delights in telling people who are a little worse for wear, at 2 in the morning, that he will be there in 20 minutes. Of course, he never shows up and no doubt when the taxi company get the second call, they probably get an ear-full as well.

    I wish I could keep up with your rate of reading. Working in an office probably has something to do with that. I think I would have to have a full-time job as a book reader if I were to read all the books people recommend that I think sound interesting. Oh, well, maybe when DH wins lotto and I don't need to work for a living.

  3. I laughed when I read this because it brought to mind the time I was referring on my blog to having piles and going on to describe said piles as being fabric and paper. Some kind soul came out of lurkdom to tell me that Preparation H was an good remedy because it worked for her. She was NOT being funny either!! Takes all kinds.

  4. As someone has said often, "read for content"...

    Many times on the sites I visit there is a "how do I do/find/stop this" moment, and I will post a question that often starts with,
    "I can no longer find the green tab that allows me to..." and sure as shootin' someone will say, "in order to access that page, you have to press the green tab..."

    I think many people read only key words in a paragraph or sentence and respond to that, not the little boring words around it. And on occasion I have been guilty of just that, not reading ALL the words...Its the denial of what you just wrote that both amuses me and annoys at the same time =)

  5. and one small thing, that goes under the heading of serendipity: a week or so ago I bought the Leonard Cohen London performance CD, and on it was the phrase, "but cheerfulness kept breaking through"--and there you are with that lovely phrase, and this morning I connected the two. Finally. (Smiling, here)


Thanks so much for commenting. I read all comments with care and much pleasure!