Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Fritz and I between us are fortunate to have a number of fine architects as friends. One of them, H, sent an email with a delightful new term for the sort “flip-flopping” on issues candidates do to get elected: electile dysfunction.


Fritz has revived a long dormant family tradition that descends from an uncle of his, appropriately named Uncle Will. Uncle Will would keep all the Christmas cards that had come into the house and then as the new year began, one would be chosen at random each day. A member of the family who knew something about the sender would tell the story to the others. We’ve been doing this at breakfast and having a lot of fun with it. The cards are kept in that wonderfully gnarled Chinese tree root bowl that I posted a picture of a while ago. We suspect that bowl will serve many uses in our life and entertaining in the years to come in the new house. Everyone who sees it is struck by its textures and the story of its origin.


I’m trying out an accent color for part of the back wall of the great room. It’s about ten feet wide, centered, steps forward about two inches, and contains the open arch that lets the great room communicate with the kitchen (seen here during installing of the Aga). We’ve decided on orange, a color I think is sadly undervalued, except I’ve noticed it being used extensively these days in art direction for television (Ugly Betty is frequently a festival of orange). The orange wall will be set off by the rest of the room in a sand color that keys off the shade of stone that will face both the inside and outside of the room’s piers. The question was, what shade of orange?

We wanted something strong, rich and beautiful (like all gay men want, yes?). The paint chips in stores weren’t quite what I was looking for, and we have to be careful, because the wrong shade over such a big area could be awful. Two candidates presented themselves at about the same time; both were items of clothing.
The first is a new flannel shirt I’d bought that’s in a really beautiful shade of saffron orange; the other is a woven scarf that one of the teachers who works for Fritz had been given by her husband when he came back from a business trip somewhere in Asia. Made of a polished thread, it had a slight iridescence of orange-gold that we knew would be tricky to match.

While she was teaching on Sunday, I went to Lowe’s to have it scanned and a quart mixed so I could paint a test panel and look at it in the house’s natural light. The woman at the paint counter looked at the scarf, her eyes lit up and she said it would be a pleasure but she wouldn’t touch it until she had gone to wash her hands.

I’m not sure that the paint will really capture the stunning effect of the material, but I’ve painted a 3’ square patch and we’ll check it out as soon as we get some sunlight back—we’re in a sleet/pouring rain mix right now and the light in the house is not good for paint testing right now.

Also, the concrete stain guys, two hunky brothers who specialize in this work, started working the acid into the concrete yesterday and are back again today and tomorrow. We won’t be able to enter the great room until Thursday at the earliest.


I’m into the final sessions of physical therapy. Physically, I turned a corner last weekend—the swelling in my ankle and lower leg, generally at its worst at the end of a full day of activity--seemed to have eased on Saturday night and was noticeably less on Sunday night. The first thing the therapist commented on at the beginning of this morning’s session was the fact that she could definable anklebones and calf muscles. This is big progress.

I’ve always had pretty powerful and muscular legs. During my childhood they lulled my father into the false hope that he had bred a football player such as he had been in college. It wasn’t to be, of course--but in theatrical design, which is a surprisingly physical profession (up and down scaffolds, ladders and light towers all the time; long days painting backdrops that can be as big as 50’ wide by 30’ high) their strength wasn’t wasted for a minute.

Their strength has helped me rehabilitate the ankle in a relatively short time. One of the measurements the therapist has been checking at every session is how much I can bend the joint when I pull my toes up toward my knee with the leg held straight. A healthy ankle will flex between 12 and 20 degrees. My uninjured left ankle can do 16 degrees, right down the middle. Last Friday I could do 11 degrees by myself, and 12 with a little pressure from her. This morning I did 14 by myself and 15 with assistance. The other measurements she took to monitor the swelling showed a decrease of a couple of centimeters in the “figure 8” wrapping of the tape around the arch of the foot and the ankle just below the ankle bones.

We tried me on running today and I did very well. The building the therapy center occupies is a former bank that has an open floor at least seventy feet long. I did several laps down and back with good form (hips level, no limp). We finished off with several balancing exercises on the right leg. Balance isn’t one of my stronger senses so I do much better when we’re working on the flat floor than when she gives me rubber pads or teeter-totter devices to work with, but I made it through them all pretty well.

I have two more sessions of therapy and then on Friday the 15th I see the orthopedist for the last time, and I’ll be officially healed and on my own.

The downside of all this is that in spite of my having had all the proper referrals from my regular medical provider, Blue Cross has rejected all my claims for emergency room, orthopedist and physical therapy. In every case it turned out that I’m fully covered but the bureaucracy has demanded duplicate referrals and extra submissions, both on paper and via electronic transfer along with a lot of extra work.

The billing department at the therapist’s told me this is quite common: “we suspect they reject these claims to avoid paying us as long as they can, and in the hope that patients will just give up and pay us themselves.” Not this boy!

Did you call? Oh, I'm sorry, I thought I heard someone call for "strong, rich, and beautiful...." Hehehe. Don't I wish. Still love those wooden beams every time I see them. And you picked a fine time to tell me about the Christmas card tradition....I mean, the cards have been thrown out for a month now. I wonder if I can get them back......hum.
Gorgeous house!
About orange. I've tried it more than once. Not always with success. I've learned to think burnt orange. I've learned that orange always seems to need a glaze to add richness and depth, and I have learned that in your mind, you must envision either terra cotta or lobster when you are choosing an orange.
Gorgeous gorgeous house.
that is a common insurance trick so don't give up.
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