Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Better Things in Life

I don’t believe in Poltergeists, but there is a spirit painter that hangs about this old house and slaps up canvases that are as tender and touching as the celebration of sound of a live pianist in my living room.

Only once, just once, a visitor came by who was an accomplished pianist and switched my electric organ to ‘piano’ and played, while I prepared afternoon tea, a selection of solitary piano solos ---“Somewhere my love”, “Autumn Leaves”, and some other of the great songs. Whether it was the instrument, the skill of the pianist, or the acoustic resonance of the higher ceiling in my living room, I cannot say. What I will say is that I never forgot how beautiful that was. How beautiful it sounded. How, in an instant, it changed a dull house to a fine old castle full of reverence, and awe, and beauty and romance.

And if excess and luxury means extravagant paintings and sweet music, I maybe don’t often have the music, but I do have the art. My invisible painter comes by, when the snow is deep and the world quite plain and the trees so bare, and paints with delicate hues of pink, rose, white, and blue, sweeping valleys, villas, and mountainous scenes of uncanny realism in the sky. Sometimes he paints abstract stuff with dark purple animated monster-looking things with bulbous eyes, and domed foreheads that mercilessly chase smaller entities of sweet innocence clothed in auras of sunshine, and dresses of white.

In the last few days, he has discarded many colors and in the process splashed all the trees with various Monet-like dabs of brilliance. He’s covered the green lawn with golden dabs and poured out a deep rich luminous burgundy paint on the dog wood tree. The other day while waiting for the appropriate time to touch up the landscape with fall colors, he mischievously painted a rushing river where there was none.

So although I have no paintings of worth on my walls, I have a collection that rotates quickly and invites me to have another look out my window at his latest masterpiece.

But, as mistress of this place, to preserve the ambiance of formality and flushing dignity, I really must buy some piano selections— (Liberace, perhaps), for topping-off special moments when friends come over, and I don my lace apron, and the china comes out for ‘high tea’, and the latest paintings are hung, and the afternoon light is just right and ‘housekeeping’ – (that would be my robot vacuum cleaner) has just dispelled all dust from the corners of this ancient estate.

I guess I’m in this special frame of mind because right now I’m reading that old English Classic first published in 1881, “The Portrait of a Lady” by Henry James. And jangling in my mind is that very first sentence, so simple and so lovely—that tells me this will be writing at its best:

“Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea. There are circumstances in which, whether you partake of the tea or not – some people of course never do, — the situation is in itself delightful.”

I have the circumstances. I have the tea. I have the art. And all I need now is the music (and for me that is piano – without violins, without horns, without anything but the clarity of each left-hand resonating chord and right-hand winsome note.


Of course later, Hub will shut down my music and go to the Lone Star Channel (with all that gunfire erupting and horse hooves rumbling and graceless verbal interchange), and my painter will fold up his palette, and I will return to a plebeian existence. I will descend from my throne, shake out my hair, and bumble around in faded jeans and a stained cotton tee, engaged in the servile task of preparing supper for Hub, my puppies, and me.


Pauline said...

Perfect - nature's masterpieces and tea!

Joy Des Jardins said...

This post was beautiful Roberta. Exquisite pieces of art...framed by your wonderful words...and, the tea....perfect.

Roberta S said...

Thanks pauline. Seems like some of my favorite luxuries might be your favorites as well.

Roberta S said...

Thanks for visiting joy. I know you enjoy a good chuckle so just for a chuckle I must tell you about what happened last week when a tea connoiseur had tea with me. After tasting her tea, (she who buys the most exquisite of China, Indian, and herbal teas), she said to me, "What kind of tea is that? It is so exceptional good."

"Three-ring-binder tea," I said.

She looked puzzled. "I've never heard of that kind of tea. Let me see."

I removed the lid from a lovely ornate tin and showed her all those little dried leaves. "This is my loose-leaf tea," I sad.

Then we laughed like silly fools and had some more 3-ring-binder tea.

Joy Des Jardins said...

That was well worth a hearty laugh Roberta. You have a wonderful wit...that comes out beautifully in your writing. Love it.

Cowtown Pattie said...


I must make amends and get your blog on my sidebar. I love visiting here, and shame on me for not doing it more!

Your words are more delicious than scottish shortbread....well, equal to, then!

Matty said...

For a moment there Roberta I was sitting on your sofa (chesterfield) enjoying Liberace and the beautiful artwork while you poured tea.
And the same thing happened...the Master put the lone star channel on...end of my dream.
Men just don't get it.

Roberta S said...

You're right about that matty. But I have to be somewhat concessionary. In the last few years, Hub has an appreciation for painted skies and landscapes in a way he never did previously.

Roberta S said...

Hi cowtown pattie, nice to have you drop in.

Glad you enjoyed the visit and I would be pleased to be added to your address book.

I certainly enjoy your little rants and encourage any of my readers who haven't been to your place to visit. I promise at pattie's place you will have a jolly good time.