The kitchen was ordinary in an unconventional way suggesting that it was contrived and assembled by one or more artists. There was a dishwasher with a butcher block wood top, a vintage single bowl white porcelain sink with drain board on which was a vinyl coated wire dish rack, and a stove along the western wall facing an oasis-like garden seen through a large double casement window. This wall was finely sanded plywood finished with coats of polyurethane giving it a high sheen. To the right and left of the window were two wall-hung, doored cabinets, one containing mainly coffees and teas and their paraphernalia; the other held measuring cups, sieves, funnels and other food preparation tools. Atop them were a rice steamer, a black decorative cabinet with moons and stars and other occult-type figures brightly painted on it; there was also a blender, a juicer, a heavy glass pitcher and a vase with a bouquet of now black, long dead roses. On the stainless steel ledge just behind and above the sink were two large double pointed clear quartz crystals, two incense burners, a vase holding incense sticks, a small spritzer with baby shampoo for cleaning eyeglasses, a potato scrubber, an orchid pot made from an old rose root, honey, olive oil and soy sauce dispensers and two butane BBQ lighters. Stuck into holes in the bottom of the windowsill were bamboo stems with small framed simulated stained glass images of a butterfly, a bee and a dragonfly. On the left recess and cabinet side this hung two expensive small Teflon lined sauce pans, one bright red, the other bright blue and a good red wok, also Teflon lined which put the pots and pans stored beneath the sink to shame.
In the vista beyond this overhung established groves of four varieties of bamboo, some of it 35 feet or so tall, giving it the deeply shaded atmosphere of a tropical rain forest or a floral cavern. This gave the semblance of coolness in even the hottest weather and its actuality in lesser temperatures. It was evergreen as was the taller specimen Bracken’s Brown Beauty Southern Magnolia dominating the rear of the yard. All of this, visible year round, was an extended dimension of the ambiance of the kitchen through the door and windows.
The northern wall was exposed brickwork and plaster, of a pale yellow on which was painted a ceiling height skeletal tree. Along its base were three cabinets, the first an open pine structure of four shelves for storage of larger things like canned dog and cat food in boxes, and larger bulk grocery items. Above it from the ceiling hung four triple tiers of wire baskets containing artificial fruits and vegetables except for the lowest two which held actual onions and potatoes. In the highest left position dangled a stringer of ceramic garlic clusters. All of this was very dusty, further suggesting the presence of artists. On its right were two cabinets, both closable, the first containing dishes, glasses and some cook ware, the second holding condiments and spices, baking ingredients and larger forks, spatulas and so on for cooking. On their tops were jars and canisters containing spaghetti, rice, flour, olive and cooking oil, peanut butter, Nuttella- the larger supplies- and even some incense in a tall glass storage container. Here also was the only thing from Williams Sonoma: a good knife set in a walnut rack, more than likely a wedding present from one set of parents. Many of the other objects in the room may have come from thrift shops and Walmart.
Going around the room clockwise, within the deep green sheetrock wall was a large refrigerator recessed flush with the wall. In the open space above were large stainless steel bowls, a carton of empty filter cigarette tubes, a plastic bag of pipe tobacco, an expensive, heavy cigarette making machine, a wire basket full of artificial eggs, and a funny looking man made of a single tree branch with the bark peeled off. He was standing on one leg and had on shoes, gloves and a hat; he had bulging eyes and big ears. To his left on the wall was a window screen with two humanoid figures in some kind of conflict or intimacy painted on it.
Then an open hallway connecting with the rest of the house, on each side of which was a laundry room on the left and a powder room on the right. The sides were open 2” x 4” stud construction between which had been installed many crosspieces- shelves, on which were canned goods, jars of coins, marbles, feathers and others materials for making “things”. Here also were stored all manner of small finished and unfinished artwork as well as jars and cans and bags of ceramic glazes and related chemicals and materials. Above this doorway hung an old frame divided into 28 panels- 4 across, 7 vertically- in which were arranged old photographs of unknown origin. Most were blurred and faded by time and chemical decomposition. They were of real people in real situations, now long gone, the whole effect if one paused to take it in was of a heavy melancholy.
At the right of the passageway stood an open steel storage unit, on the five shelves of which were a tape player, a CD player with two speakers, a toaster oven, a microwave, a George Foreman hamburger grill. The next to top shelf held all the lids for pots and pans arranged vertically in dividers; always dusty these were washed before each use. The uppermost shelf held the almost largest pots and pans and an electric wok, and crock-pot. The biggies like the crab pot and turkey roaster were elsewhere. Below were a plastic recycling container and bulk dry dog and cat food. Adjacent on the southern wall was a jug water dispenser issuing water hot enough to make tea or soup, room temperature, and chilled water.
The upper walls were essentially a gallery of eclectic artwork in a variety of materials. There was a wicked looking circular saw blade with the words, “Are You Sure?” stenciled on it. There was a vivid tuft of South American woven fabric, almost macramé. There was an 18” x 24”split slab of bluestone showing a completely unanticipatable surface of unpatterned hemi-roundnesses; a stark display of what can be hidden within the same ‘ol, same ‘ol. There was a dime store poster of an undersea menagerie featuring dolphins in rich colors and dynamic poses. There was a round Atomic clock with its own sense of when Daylight Savings Time began and ended. There was a highly ornate ceramic bowl or deep platter of a stylized rooster whose tail plumage melded with lush swirls of foliage in a clockwise fashion. There was an amateur painting of a unicorn jumping over a rainbow, over the earth, headed for the moon in the background.
There was a thick, roughly 12” square walnut plaque with an abstract bronze sculpture mounted upon it, impossible to describe except that it was rounded in many ways at once and very satisfying to the eye. There were two regal looking wooden sconces seeming to support two thick through-wall cantilever beams where they joined the wall; very Dvorak-ish resembling the idea of some of the Mountain King, as in “The Hall of . . .” Above the sink hung a domed chandelier or light shade compartmentalized of the translucent Philippine material made from sea shells on the lower panels of which were finely painted Reiki symbols. There were many smaller touches around the room, but that gives the general idea.
In the center of the southern wall was a window. Horizontal within the window were six glass shelves each as completely laden as they could be with small objects of art, artifacts, found and natural objects, to many and diverse to catalog and describe. There was a Venetian blind covering the window much of the time. Hand lettered on its slats were 30 or 35 quotations all having within them the word dust. The Venetian blind was dusty as was everything in the window. In fact everything in the room was dusty except for those things currently in use. Duh, the blinds.
Situated against the wall below the window was a square Maple table, sticky perhaps, but not dusty. At it were two unmatching chairs. It was a bit cluttered, but not enough that couldn’t be obvious a small brass buzzer of the doorbell persuasion. From the buzzer ran a thin wire to the baseboard and along that to the doorway, then upward in the corner to the ceiling. From there it was stapled at the corner of the ceiling where it made a turn following the northern wall to just above the only otherwise bare space on that wall then it came down to attach to a wooden box about 6” high, 18” across and about 3” deep. There was a glass pane on its front on which were printed six letters.
Seated at the kitchen table either of you could push the button and this is what you got: “LISTEN”.
®Copyright 2014 Jack Scott. All rights reserved.