According to Google, that quote, “May you live in interesting times,” is an English translation of an old Chinese proverb which is as much a blessing as a curse. And that’s what we’ve been doing for the last month an a half—living in interesting times.
The day after the last event for The A List, we headed for Arizona to empty and pack up the Tucson house in advance of an early May closing. It was a daunting undertaking. While I was off on tour, Bill and the dogs had lived though a construction siege while the hardwood floors in a flood-damaged upstairs bedroom and the hard wood portions of the downstairs were sanded and refinished. While in Tucson we made the decision to bite the bullet and complete the job by installing hardwood flooring in the carpeted portion of downstairs. That meant that when the moving truck arrived with all the goods from the Tucson house, they mostly had to be unloaded into the garage because the downstairs rooms weren’t ready.
Eventually the furniture and rugs came inside. Boxes of dishes, pots and pans, and books are still in the garage. You’ve heard of one day at a time? We’re talking one box at a time. A few things are still AWOL. Hardware pieces for our platform bed and the electronic piano have yet to surface. Bill’s an engineer. He managed to find and install substitute hardware. And some of my genuine treasures, like my Founder’s Award from the Tucson Festival of Books and a wonderful Chinese bowl have yet to surface. They may be in the bottom of the glassware boxes from the library in Tucson, but right now there’s nowhere to put that extra glassware and those boxes have yet to be sorted.
The biggest problem was the art. We love art. We’ve had art in both our houses. There’ are the pictures Bill has painted over the years, and along the way we’ve collected many works from our favorite Sedona-based painter and friend, M.L. Coleman. But here’s the problem, how do you fold the art from two 4000 square foot houses into one? Fortunately, our interior designer, Jim Hunt, who also happens to be Beau’s and Mel’s interior designer, was a man with a plan. “You have high ceilings,” he said. “We’ll just stack ‘em.”
So for the past week, while I was doing copy-editing on Sins of the Fathers, we were also undergoing a major art installation, and stack them we have! When our grandson Colt came over to visit last week he said, “Grandma, it looks like an art gallery exploded inside your house!” And it does.
The one living room wall is like a travelogue of our married lives. An M.L Coleman Grand Canyon sits atop the pyramid. The first trip we took after we married was to the Grand Canyon in honor of my parents’ 50th anniversary. There’s an oil painting of Ascona, Switzerland, a village on Lago Maggiore, where we stayed in the mid-nineties while taking European delivery of Bill’s Porsche. There’s the painting of the Alps Bill painted on the balcony of our room at the Palace Hotel in Lucerne after a Rhine River cruise, and another view of the Alps that he painted from our room in St. Johann, Austra. There he was painting while I did the editorial letter corrections on Kiss of the Bees. There’s a Coleman painting of poppy fields from northern Italy and another from Tuscany with San Gimignano showing in the distance. I love the painting, but my reaction is colored by the unfortunate fact that San Gimignano is where my purse was stolen from an Internet Cafe while we were on a Rick Steves tour of Italy. In other words, if you come to our house, don’t expect us to haul out our slide projector. We’ll just seat you in the living room and give you the tour.
I’m sitting in my chair in the family room to write this. There used to be three pictures hanging in this room. Now there are eight—and I don’t even have to turn my head. There’s lots of glass—windows and sliding doors–in the house which limits wall space. So now there’s art hanging in the stairwell leading upstairs.
Our house used to be on the cold side—with lots of glass art. Now, with paintings on the walls, it’s more warm and cozy. It’s art that we love, and art we can live with.
And for right now, while I need to buckle down and get to work on the next book, all those boxes of books will have to stay right where they are—in the garage.
Interesting times, indeed!