Saturday, September 4, 2010

Aimless Reading: The J's, Part 13.1 (James Joyce)


Dubliners
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Joyce, James
Dubliners


I bought this for a course in college, likely at the Fordham University Bookstore, though as I write this a faint, contradictory idea that I bought it later on, after college, disturbs me, if ever so slightly. I am sure one of those things is true.

2008: Welcome to the present, or something resembling it, anyhow. We bought our current home on Norwood Ave. in August of 2008. We looked at when it first went on the market, but it was a bit too expensive for us given all the work that would need to be done on it. As summer wore on, the price began to drop -- 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and finally 70 thousand dollars fell away. We looked at it again and decided it had gotten a lot more affordable. We tried to get them to knock another 40 off and managed to get them to drop it by 10. We bought it, figuring if we couldn't afford it after all we could sell it pretty easily because of the neighborhood it is in.

The house is a blue victorian with five bedrooms and 1.5 baths. The facade, though not nearly as fancy (no gingerbread, simple columns on the front porch), is similar to the house on Dearborn, and includes some of the same carved wood features. There is no driveway, but it has a pretty deep lot for the city. You enter from the front porch into a foyer with an oak staircase to the right. Under the staircase is a little coat closet. The original oak paneling still covers that part of the room, but the rest of the walls have bead board wainscoting that was added later. Lori painted painted the wainscoting white and the walls a soft orange.

A pair of french doors to the left leads into the long living room. Two windows look out the front of the hose, and two more bays flank a fireplace facing the side. It's large enough that we use it as both a living and dining room. It's painted a light blue with a pair of neutral faux finish accents, one above the fireplace and the other on the inner walls of a built-in book case tucked between the two windows at the front of the room.

Off the dining room is my library, an open room with built-ins on three sides and a window looking out on the neighbor's driveway. A single french door leads back into the foyer. My library may have been a pantry at one time, or even a kitchen, as the built-ins are really converted cabinets with the doors removed. It was all green when we moved in -- green ceilings, green walls, green cabinets inside and out, and green doors. We painted almost everything white except for the back walls of the built-ins, which are painted a kind of mustard brown.

Another pair of french doors opens from the dining area into a very large formal dining room that Lori currently uses as a studio. She intends to convert it back to a dining room and to move her studio into two bedrooms upstairs. It has two windows facing one side of the house and one larger one facing the plum tree astride the neighbor's driveway. Everything I have thus far described has has oak flooring, as does almost the whole of the second floor.

A small doorway leads from the studio into the kitchen. We completely gutted the kitchen soon after we moved in. This hadn't been our intention, but we found a guy who did work very cheaply and decided to go for it. The drawback of his cheapness was a total lack of organization and follow through, combined with a total lack of concern about how these affect the client. It took nine months to finish the kitchen and we had to hire various others along the way to keep the project moving. It was kind of a nightmare, but it finally got done.

The kitchen has simple maple cabinets from the Home Despot, same design as the last house with a different finish. The original kitchen had a parquet floor that we sanded down and refinished with a clear coat over the unstained wood. We installed dark brown concrete countertops. Lori painted the walls a rich light green based on the color of powdered green "Matcha" tea. There are no upper cabinets, only open shelving from Ikea -- espresso colored wood with stainless steel brackets.

To the left as you enter is a door to a half bath. We refinished this also, installing a new sink, new light fixture, new wainscoting, new window, and new travertine marble tiled floor. Straight ahead is the coffee bar. It's a litte corner to itself on which sits the coffee maker and the microwave. All of our demitasses, mugs, and tea pots rest on the open shelves above.

To the left is the refrigerator, then a long countertop that includes the sink and the dishwasher. All our plates and glasses and a few other mixing bowls and so forth sit on the open shelves above it. Lori painted the dishwasher to match the wood. It's almost impossible to tell them apart.

On the wall opposite the bathroom are two windows between which the stove and range hood stand, flanked by cabinets. We put an island in the center of the room and stacked two large cabinets to create a modest pantry on the wall opposite the sink.

The room has six doors:

1. The open doorway from the studio.
2. The bathroom door.
3. A door to the basement.
4. A door to the back stairs.
5. A door to a back room that we use for storage which in turn leads through sliding doors to a covered back patio off of which Lori this past summer built an uncovered brick patio with a small dining area.
6. A glass door leads onto a small covered part of the patio, where we keep the grill.

The back stairs lead up to a long corridor on the second floor. To the immediate right at the top of the stairs is a door to the attic, then a door to a small bedroom which we have given to the cats. To the right of that is a full bath, which was completely redone by our handyman. Nothing fancy like the last one, just a fake wood vinyl floor, blue walls, a closet, a toilet and a one hundred year old pedestal sink that came with the house, above which hang a simple mirror and a modern light fixture bought at the Despot.

A linen cabinet and drawers are built into the wall just out side the bathroom. The hallway has yet to be painted; it takes a sharp right and there is another door, which leads an empty bedroom that sags slightly due to the removal at some point in the past of a supporting wall.

The hall cuts left again and there is a room to the right, which will become Lori's studio. It is a lovely little bay-shaped room with wainscoting and crown molding, all of which need painting. Down the hall to the right is a little room painted soft green and yellow. We call it the smoke room, because that's what it was for the previous owner. We spent weeks cleaning nicotine and tar off of everything -- wood, floors, walls, windows, doors. Shadows of pictures that hung on the wall remained after they'd been removed -- white rectangles surrounded by orange clouds of disgusting tar. It was ghastly, ghostly.

At the end of the hall is the door to our bedroom, which runs the length of the front of the house. It has two good sized closets, one of which we use for laundry. It's painted a kind of gray-green. Our bed rests against a wall with the windows to the right. Just next to the door in the hall is a small utility closet, then stairs lead back down to the foyer. And that, friends, is all she wrote.

from Dubliners

from The Dead

Generous tears filled Gabriel's eyes. He had never felt like that himself towards any woman, but he knew that such a feeling must be love. The tears gathered more thickly in his eyes and in the partial darkness he imagined he saw the form of a young man standing under a dripping tree. Other forms were near. His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself, which these dead had one time reared and lived in, was dissolving and dwindling.

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

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