We have some unusual decorations in and around our house. I can take no credit (or blame) for these eye-catchers and conversation-makers. Theyʼre all Janetʼs doing. But I can write about them, and thatʼs what I intend to do, today and tomorrow, on one specific set of adornments. (Yes, I have only scratched the surface of the pointlessness to which I can descend to devise something to post each day this year. Even with the earlier home décor discussions Iʼve made you endure, there is more I can say. And I will.) And having opened the door on this subject, let us continue…
There are several amusing decorative items I could discuss. First, (and maybe I will explore this topic one day) thereʼs the tale of the squirrels and the decorative pumpkins — a sorry and sad story in which the squirrels win, defeating Janetʼs best efforts to preserve her purchases, the pumpkins she liked to use as outdoor ornamentation, from the rodentsʼ predations. But thatʼs for another day, as I just said. Thereʼs the horribly rusty Fifties lawn chair that serves to support a plant in the summer and fake pumpkins in the fall, which her dad still enjoys ribbing her about paying ten bucks for, in its rusty condition, at an antiques/gift store. (And I want to know: what distinguishes a “giftable,” horrible word*, from a “gift”?) Thereʼs also her piece of fence that fences out nothing, and which she erects against the chainlink fence that separates us from Creosote Hell, aka Gasser True Value. And there are lots more, just on the outside of our house. Her creativity knows only outer limits. But every passer-byʼs favorite has to be her door to nowhere.
And “doors,” as our title clearly tells us, is the subject for these two posts. We have two doors used decoratively that serve to close off or open onto nothing and/or nowhere. One shifts around outside (thatʼs tomorrowʼs door), and another dwells more permanently within.
One might wonder where or how we were able to acquire any door whose only purpose is to open onto empty space, hingeless and unframed. Let me simply say that being almost the only continuing active members of local theatre for twenty years (and I did say “almost,” decidedly not the only) gave us access to many citizensʼ unwanted stuff. People like to donate old clothes, hats, shoes, and household items to the theatre. In the years before we abandoned it (in reality sold the building), Kirchhoff Theatre housed several old stoves, a refrigerator that (I think) did not work, bicycles, bedding, chairs, lawn mowers, grills, sofas, end tables, old paneling and dry wall sections… I hope you get the point. (The Andrew School theatrical storage was just as accumulative under my weak and accepting supervision, and evidently yet today just as disorganized and messy.) Any junk people couldnʼt dump got offered to us; and, of course, “you never know what a play might need.” As a theatre person you usually just keep it all (like old deck shoes), thinking one day this thing or that may come in necessary (and as my current costuming situation proves, periodically oneʼs needs work out just that way). Until you run out of space, or others in your group run out of patience. In several clean-ups in the final years at Kirchhoff, we twice filled huge trash containers, twenty or thirty feet long and at least ten wide and taller than me, finally canceling the lives of those unwanted appliances and other stuff. Among the many items stored in the theatre basement were many doors.
Onstage, a door needs to be pretty light to be useful. Stage sets, even faced with lauan, as I learned to do in modern times (thanks, Kevin), rather than traditional canvas, canʼt support big, heavy, old-fashioned doors. No one wants to watch your canvas flats ripple with the air surge from slamming a sixty-pound door, thus proving beyond anyoneʼs doubt that wall onstage is not actually a wall, or have a heavy door pull the whole set over. Hollow-core interior doors are the thing to use, painted artistically to look like a big old exterior portal if thatʼs what the scene requires. On the other hand, Peace Pipe Players had accepted more than a dozen old doors far too solid and therefore heavy to be useful, including even a pair of old barn doors (and all of which had sat in stacks leaning against the basement walls, taking up space, never getting moved, gathering inches of dust and worse filth, for more years than I was involved). When all the unwanted stuff got pitched in several spasms of eviscerating reorganization, Janet, rather than throwing out, just claimed a couple of doors… Well, at least one. I am not entirely sure both the doors we have as decorations came from that source.
Anyway, one big old wooden door decorates our external reality around the house. Another resides in a corner of our bedroom, and The Lovely One installs pseudo-antique hooks to hold pictures and other items and memorabilia for display on its surface. Although I questioned its presence originally (and I still wonder how much endlessly drifting dust has silted in behind that barricade), itʼs familiar now, a friendly item embellishing our lives. We even bought a photograph at the art exhibit we attended last Friday (a week ago tonight) because of this bedroom adornment-door. Mary and Clayton have a wonderfully extensive garden around their hillside house (a huge garden on many terraces up the hill that somehow wrap around their dwelling), and their home is an old one. One day Mary noticed a morning glory blossom located right in front of one of the doors, and she took a picture. Thatʼs the photo we bought, framed (and which I still have yet to install in its new home beside the bedroom door — not the actual door but the decorative one with pictures on it, naturally, to provide the appropriate visual pun/reference/imagery). Maryʼs is a great photograph, unlike my illustration included here. So our one pointless door now has a photographic partner soon to hang beside it.
But I really wanted to talk about the outside door. Itʼs really the one that opens to nowhere (although actually it doesnʼt open at all). And thatʼs our subject tomorrow.
* “That’s an ill phrase, a vile phrase; ‘beautified‘ is / a vile phrase” (Hamlet II, 2, 111). Iʼve been waiting for someone to accuse me of becoming a tired old windbag, a regular Polonius, and nobody has. So Iʼll do it myself.
On the other hand, if anyone can calm my quandary about the distinction between a “gift,” a perfectly sound word, and the homely neologism, “giftable,” which seems to me an unnecessary elaboration on gift from insensitive and perhaps unconfident craftmakers (lacking the self-assurance to call their products directly “gifts”), I would be pleased to hear from you. Is there a difference somehow? Or am I right in thinking “giftable” just fancies up the basic word?