Rendered Fat Content


James Abbott McNeill Whistler: The Unsafe Tenement (1858)

"I'm much more skilled at the consequently superficial …"

I specialize in superficial strategies. I was the one who imagined such a thing as Brief Consulting, a philosophy rooted in the firm if not always fully justified belief that most difficulties might be fairly easily co-opted via clever reframing, that insight might often trump knowing, and that we mostly suffer from varying degrees of The Normals. It was a radical perspective dressed up as conservative approach since it only infrequently insisted upon anyone making any structural changes. It accepted the way things are as the way things are, and didn't often aspire for very much different. It was more about coping than changing, anyway.

I still find little to criticize about Brief Consulting.
It's how I've lived my life. I still tend to imagine resolutions as more of the repainting variety than the rebuilding, and I never seriously consider restarting anything from scratch. Last year's Villa Refurbishing was almost entirely skin deep, since The Muse and I, as well as our contractors, considered the place's bones more than adequate. No structural changes were even contemplated as we gussied up the place. This year, though, we're ranging a little further from the core. We aspire to replace the high front deck railing that a wisteria brought to ruin. Kurt Our Painter had commented that the deck sure seemed to sink to the left, he guessed maybe four inches or more from right to left. We'd been considering what superficial treatment might fool the observer's eye to counteract this crookedness when Joel Our Carpenter suggested something less superficial as the cause.

He noticed the brick columns exhibiting varying degrees of structural failure, the sort of difficulty one cannot just blithely paint over to resolve. He proposed some serious deconstruction before we start building that railing, work that might take more than the upcoming summer to complete and cost some serious treasure. In this town, though, contractors are scarce and cranky. They tend to over-bid business because they're so busy, estimating as if every job would be done on Sunday and pay double overtime because they're chasing off business. They have too much. Joel agreed to search through his contacts to see if he can find suitable helpers. I'll ask Kurt Our Painter to do the same. We might be able to put together an ad hoc coalition of acquaintances and friends which might well out-perform any anonymously bidding contractor, anyway. I'd rather do it that way.

The Muse, who might have been discouraged by this latest news which certainly represents a setback from our earlier naive expectations, responded with delight, for she has been looking for a good excuse to replace those unsightly brick pillars some former owner erected without seriously considering the original lines of the place. They stand today as sore thumbs forward, dominating the front of the place, and decidedly out of place there. They would be out of place anywhere. Replacing them will be a definite hassle, disrupting everything else we had planned, perhaps even delaying The Muse's retirement, which she has been starting to start to plan for some time. Structural commands serious adaptation. It involves decisions more consequential than choosing color palettes. It might well even delve into architecture.

Depending upon how someone chooses to live, one can certainly choose to insist upon a talking cure whatever the ill. One might not be able to reliably cure cancer, for instance, by clever reframing, but if one's resigned to accepting whatever cards they're dealt, acceptance coaching might be considered an effective cure, even if it does nothing to stop the spread of the illness. Some diseases, like ill-considered brick pillars on the face of an otherwise noble foursquare, might need more than clever reframing to fix. This one will disrupt landscaping. This one will require some heavy equipment operating. This resolution will demand design and patience and buckets and buckets and buckets of cash. Once it's constructed, I'm certain that I'll find a role painting the fresh railing the proper colors and choosing the flowers to frame the fresh structure. Through it, I expect to be more of an observer than a participant. I'm much more skilled at the consequently superficial than the structural.


Sincere Superficialities
Almost to the end of April now and the season seems to need some Structural change, too. Winter's remnants have stayed with us through this passing April, keeping me off the scaffolding, preventing me from my superficial repainting of The Villa's exterior. It's okay. I've been struggling to adapt, anyway, feeling my age or maybe just lazy. I cannot tell if I'm experiencing Structural changes or merely some amplified superficial. I some days struggled to even engage and yesterday, I took most of the day off, dedicating myself to first healing before donning those damned overalls again. I'm feeling better as a result and I'm at least back up and poking my fingers at the problem this morning, just as if that might suffice for a cure. I figure that it's usually better to at least try the talking cure first, even if mumbling.

I began my writing week talking about one of the more commonly mentioned impossibles, that state maybe none of us have ever once experienced,
CaughtUp. "Something deep down inside me understands that I never will get CaughtUp and that CaughtUp qualifies as neither a reasonable objective nor a plausible purpose. None of us run this race to win it."

I tried to make the distinction between home and homing in
HomingPlace. "Home might be better described as from where the heart departs, for hearts are relentless hunters."

I next reported on a small disagreement The Muse and I were having over the color of our newly Refurbished front door. I wanted blue. She wanted to satisfy Feng Shui in
PhilosopherWork. "I suppose that should we somehow offend those gods that we might spark a pox upon our house such that our long lucky streak might suddenly end, all because of a blue door." The door will be grey.

I wrote about the etiquette involved in doing something for the probable last time in
AgingInSpace, the most popular piece this week. "I'm writing a story. May it be of me enjoying the journey though I knew where it was leading. May it remind me then of what I was once still capable of performing. May that memory leave me proud of myself."

I told a story of the new dog feeding an old dog his own dog food in
FairTrading. "Sometimes, the new dog teaches the old dog a new trick or two. "

I wrote about the kind of work that over-thinking can ruin in
ThinkingUnder. "Most of my work away from my desk seems better engaged in by hamburger, not fancy crown rib roast sort of mental activity."

I finished my writing week considering the
Inistential, the opposite of the existential. " A government mask mandate might serve as the very best example of an Inistential threat, something designed to save gets received as if it might instead kill, and logic, reason, and even response heads toward Hell, sans handbasket."

And so this week ends, April showerings into May's flowerings, Gods willing. Never caught up. Homing more than simply being at home. Choosing a grey door despite my earlier insistent preference for blue. Still AgingInSpace, but perhaps for the very last time this time. Reheating what my expert taught me, for my expert to consume. Working hard to avoid over-thinking. Deflecting insistently annoying Inistential threatenings. April passes while Reconning continues. Living continues regardless. Thank you for following my sincere superficialities here. The Structural threatens!

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver