Friday, September 27, 2013

John Henry - Part Six

John Henry

Part Six

            I walked across the room to stand before the painting.  I said nothing.  I stood in front of the metal desk.  I looked at the painting.
            ‘Looked’ is NOT what I was actually doing.  ‘Before’ (in front of) and ...WITHIN... the painting... and its frame... is the better representation of the barrage of multi-tier scrutiny I was mentally ...cascading (as does a waterfall)... at ‘it’.  My breath rate was restoring.  My eyes were absorbed in detailing.  My heart rate was elevated.  My mind’s eye was forming... affirming... confirming... reforming.  It was picking up, putting down, turning over, reaching in, wandering beyond, spell casting for more and absolutely check listing all this down the professional balance sheet within me that is ‘back there somewhere’.  I glowed... within the radiant glow of the painting before me.
            I had already seen the signiture and moved on to fussing with my critical eye to confirm the gilt gold goddess; the frame holding the painting.  Roaring around the gold rectangle my eyes wrapped the goddess frame as “perfect-real-untouched-original”.  Galloping faster my eye probed the frame’s inner edge for the dusting wear it purveyed to me so required NO scrutiny past the ‘wear-is-there’ ‘where it should be’; along the frame’s bottom inner edge.
            Then, with head cants back and forth to create the quickest of subtle refractions, my eyes parleyed the painting’s surface to ‘see’ it ‘flat’ and thereby show that its surface was ‘flat’ (opaque), ‘dry’ (not shiny) and showed no disturbances such as ... restoration, cleaning, re-varnishing and... more...  but bringing to my eyes TOO... the ‘old’, ‘old soiling’ and ‘original old surface’.  Sneaking my eyes to the painting’s edges I affirmed the dust soiling ‘build up’ along the frame edge on the painting; the proper residue created from a century of dusting with ‘never out of the frame’ terminal moraines of plowed dust at these edge cracks.  My vigil was rewarded with only affirmation of the most desired state; ‘painting untouched and undisturbed original frame’.
            The next horror hoop leap is the ‘be sure’ and I did that with the ‘YOU TOUCHED IT’ horror hoop leap of boldly lifting the whole framed painting off the wall with a calculated ‘up, up, out’ gesture of my right hand riding my right arm and AWAY from the wall came the framed package.  Before ‘anyone could say’ I had turned my body slightly to the left and presented the now room lighted back of the whole to my rascally eyes to SEE the old nail heads after... old nail heads (holding the painting into the frame), the old oxidized brass hanging wire, the dust filled ‘in there’ frame-canvas meet cracks and the requisite ‘dust dirty’ top (edge) of the canvas-in-the-frame upward to the top of the frame... ‘dust dirty too’.
            Back on the wall the framed painting package went seconds later with my careful and well practiced ‘trick’ of angling the bottom well out from the wall to assure I ‘push’ the hanging wire back onto that wall so to ‘catch’ the hanger as I slide the painting down in one ‘seconds’ of motion ‘DONE’.
            Done TOO this ‘it’; the discovery of the painting.  Done but twenty seconds ‘in’.  Well... probably nearly a whole MINUTE from the starting block departure at the doorway to the ‘it’s hooked’ sensation memo from my right hand as I ...hung the painting back up...:  “THERE.”  “DONE” I BE and said to myself still standing BEFORE the painting with my eyes returning to ‘general appreciation’ mode AND... suddenly I aware too... that eyes are ‘on me’.
            I must highlight these last ‘twenty seconds’ before I head back into professional Hell.  I must highlight that wholeness; the discovery of the painting and the seconds of that discovery.  The distant discernment, the approach, the pillaging with the eyes and  the then forward from there... onward to the final ‘hang back up’.  THIS... be the very ‘it’ of ‘my all’; the ‘what is it’ of my antiquarian-be-I.  It is these skimpy airless seconds of discovery and the affirmation of the discovery that a tingling in my finger tips and the mystical out-of-body self view... are the it of I and ‘antiques’.  Fleeting tiny private seconds of ‘I only’ discovery ARE IT for I.  Once done; discovered and the... professionally affirming that discovery... in those tiny seconds... the wholeness of it all... for me... is over.  I am completely and delightfully at home with this distillation.  I understand that this is the it of all of this for I.  I take each one; the twenty seconds of an art discovery... just for what that glow is and ask no more.  I am, too, at one with it ‘being over’ for ever... ‘now’.
            What happens next is the thump on to the ground at the bottom of this playground slide ride of discovery.  My ride over, I am dumped on the ground... back into the ...elementary and boring... mechanics of the discovery... for ever... with no return to those moments of discerning discovery
            I am... ‘stuck there’; at this ‘in a kid’s bedroom’ ‘in an estate’ WITH SOMEONE watching me... and the rhapsody of ‘that’
            “You like the painting?” came a woman’s voice from the doorway behind me.
            “Ah... OH YES... I auto-blurted.  But... ‘BOOM – GRIP’.  I caught my ‘in mid gush’ and... my clam shell closed.  Tight.
            “It’s SIGNED.” said the voice.  The voice had eyes.  I had felt ...and still felt those eyes... like a hot laser pointer... sweeping across my shoulder blades at the top of my back.  I didn’t heed this warning
            “Yes; John Henry.”
            (MY MISTAKE!)
            “No.  It’s SIGNED  TWAH...”
            “Twachtman; John Henry... TWACHTMAN
            “Oh... THAT’S RIGHT.”
            (Mistake continues).
            “But.” she says
            (Recover fool).
            “It’s a nice little painting.” I say.
            “I love it.” she says.
            “You should.” (Internal data release:  Trouble; this is not WASP complacency.  Alert:  MORE GOING ON HERE.  Alert:  SHE KNOWS THE PAINTING.  Alert:  Process data.  Go forward carefully.  Skillfully:  “I wonder how it got here.”
            “Here; my room?  I brought it here”.
            “Oh.  Very nice then.”
            “It is.”
            “It is... YOUR painting?”
            “Your painting... or the ESTATES painting?”
            “Well I’ve always liked it.”
            “Yes.  I do to.  But:  Is it yours?”
            “Well I has been.  No one else cares about it.”
            “Oh.  I see.  You have the painting.  Here.  But its part of the estate”.
            “Not here; this house.  It was in the house in Maine.”
            “The main house.”
            “The Maine house”.
            “Right.  You got it there?”
            “No; I took it out after the robbery.”
            “Robbery?  The main house?
            “No: the CAMP robbery.  I took the painting after the robbery.”
            “Oh.  The painting was originally in the camp?”
            “Yes.  It was always there in the front room.  I took it.  It’s of the BACK of the CAMP.  (SHE IS RIGHT! I internalized).  I always wanted it and didn’t want it stolen.  I brought it back here.  I still lived here then”.
            “Oh.  Ok.  The painting was originally in the camp.  You took it out of there.  Brought it here.  So... it is yours? Or still the estate’s?”
            “The estate’s?”
            “Part of the estate.”
            “Oh well.  I guess it could be.  But I’ve always considered it mine; my painting.  I’m going to take it to the house (her home locally with her husband and children).  I just haven’t yet.”
            I didn’t say anything more.  There was trouble brewing:  The painting IS part of the estate I could understand.  She DOES have the painting... in her bedroom... and considers it hers... I could understand.  I... am her quandary-to-be?  I could understand this... but she does not?
            How could that ...her quandary I be?
            It be... because I just bird dogged a ...John Henry Twachtman painting... ‘in an estate’ just like I was hired to do.  What, then, do I do?
            And just how much does SHE know about this painting?
            AND...:  Just what is this painting.
            AND...: What is it doing here.
            AND...; How did it get... to the CAMP.
            Internally I conversed: “I don’t think she understands what just happened here:  I FOUND A GOOD PAINTING.  I was hired to do that.  The painting... doesn’t have anything to do with her.  She doesn’t own it.  The estate does.
            And... again:  Just how much does she know about this painting?
            And... again:  What do I do?”

            I found the painting.
            I was hired to do that.
            I discovered the painting.
            I was hired to do that.
            I understand the painting.
            I wasn’t hired to do that.
            I understand the painting’s history.
            I wasn’t hired to do that.
            I understand the painting’s heritage.
            I wasn’t hired to do that.
            I understand how valuable the painting is.
            I wasn’t hired to do that.
            I understand how much the painting is worth.
            I wasn’t hired to do that.
            I understand the problems of realizing the worth of the painting.
            I wasn’t hired to do that.

            “HOW MUCH do you think IT’S WORTH?” came from the woman standing in the doorway as I... completed the full turn of my back upon the painting and... the first step start of my walk away from the painting... back to that doorway.  This question hit me in the chest like a sawed-off shot-gun blast.  I took it ‘no problem’.  My clam shell was closed tight.  My orange cones of ‘go forward carefully... skillfully’ were deployed.  I walked straight into her - by her – past her – out into the hallway- toward the NEXT BEDROOM door.  “Oh I don’t know you’ll have to get it appraised I guess.” I said in my lightest brush-by tone.
            “I FOUND a LOT of different VALUES for HIM”.
            “Oh.  Good.  It’s nice.” I said and kept going... to the next... and next... bedroom.  And then I was done.  We went down stairs to the living room.  The two men with their arms folded were still standing there.  Their wives were there, sitting down.  The executor was there.  We exchanged ‘I am done thank you’ pleasantries and I ...stepped toward the front door and... Sarah/Sue was still standing at the bottom of the stairs and ... ALL, including her, seemed absolutely delighted that I was about to leave after having only been there about thirty minutes.
            OUTSIDE into the fresh air I went... and heard the door closed behind me.  I have never seen any of those people... ever again.

Monday, September 23, 2013

John Henry - Part Five

John Henry

Part Five

            Returning to and repeating the very beginning of this tale, I now feel the “My, my.” of my arrival two minutes early at the Albany property... after eating my club sandwich at the Gateway Diner... makes more sense.
            “My, my.” stood this property before me  ‘Who is here and what do they want?’ next.  USUALLY that ratio query is from an unknown-to-I ‘them’ about... I.  The vaguely defined action of I ‘walking through’ traditionally leaves all eyes of those ‘there’ on I and... ‘what I do’.  As I appear to do very little ...and do that at a quick pace... and then leave... that’s about as far as the ratio query gets.  Usually... and IF... there is a direct ratio query from within the ‘them’, a ranking member OF the ‘them’ ‘handles it’.
I... never (?) have to engage that ratio query from my vantage for I am... ‘just looking at the stuff’ and ‘not the people’ and ‘am gone’ VERY SOON.  Most of the time.  Occasionally I have a ‘two properties’.  Rarely ‘three’.  When I ‘walk through’ more than one property for an ‘estate’, I usually have repeated contact with a ‘ranking member’ of some sort, usually an executor.  We shake hands, smile, exchange pleasantries and ‘I’m gone’.  I sort of remember them but do not have to.  I remember them more if there is a ratio query that is deflected from I to them.  Others there; usually heirs with their entourage, posse, children and/or LAWYERS... I ‘don’t remember’ because ‘that’s not my business (problem) EVEN if they try and make it a ‘my problem’.  Usually even that effort; a ‘to be my problem’, is negated when... out of my sight and hearing... a ‘‘Who is here (HE) and what do they (DOES HE) want?” is ...explained... ‘to them’.  ‘Explained’ IS a stumbling block in this; two third party perspectives talking about what I’m doing?  But I’m ‘not there’ ‘for that’.  In fact, almost always what I am doing DOES ‘get explained’ WITHOUT me ever having to ‘engage’.  Therefore... I don’t remember the people... just ‘the stuff’.
            Except when there is more than one property and the ‘I met them before’ makes repeat appearances usually among others who are ‘there for the first time’.  SO... and saying “MY, my.” I went to the door and was greeted the oldest sister (?) executor heir who... we hand shaked, smiled, and ...I was lightly introduced ‘around’ to mostly ‘never seen’ AND a couple of  ‘I think they were’ AND a woman who WAS ‘there’ and... ‘there too’... ‘I remember’.
            “Sarah” I think her name was... I... ‘caught’.  Though it could have been “Sue”.  I wasn’t trying to catch ANYTHING.  But I... did concisely recall that she was ‘there’ at the coastal mansion and ...was ‘there’ the “CAMP”.   And THERE; at the “CAMP”, she had actually followed right along with the executor and I as we ‘did’ the barn and outbuildings.  And... she followed my flashlight beam just about everywhere I pointed it... I recalled ... TOO.
            “Huh.” I said to myself meaning she ‘made a long trip out here for this’ but  actually found out (‘caught’) that the ‘long trip’ for her was UP THERE (to the Maine properties) for she ‘lives around here (Albany area) somewhere’.  I ‘caught’.
            So meet and greet was over.  A couple of men with folded arms and wives in tow were ‘new’ to me but:  Off I went... on ‘walk through’.  ‘My eyes roaming’ was my out of the slot optimistic cruise status and that... went down hill REAL FAST.  HOPING that the first and second visited properties ...and the internal ruminations and spirit chases I had engaged about them... would be the tip-of-iceberg beginnings of an antiquarian sleigh ride to ...grandmother’s house FULL OF ANTIQUES... I... began making go-in-reverse revisions to that RIGHT AWAY and... never altered that.
            What I ‘walked through’ was an antiquarian nightmare.  I was within in a large, well-to-do ‘quality people’ estate that was ...appropriately... full of ... ... ...  whipped vintage WASP ‘we raised five (seven?) children here from 1951 to 1972 SEE ALL THE STUFF IS STILL HERE and THAT IS THE ONLY STUFF ...that’s here.  IN TOTAL... including NO ART... NO decorative arts... NO rare books... and EVERY KID’S BEDROOM ‘just the way they left it... AND all the ‘trashed’ furniture and whatever iota in the shared rooms and spaces..., attic, basement, garage... TOO.
            In addition to ‘having nothing’ ...the stuff that was nothing was ‘pummeled’.  What does that mean?  EVERY TV EVER was stuck somewhere, not working, not ‘good’ and not touched in decades except for the ‘newer ones’ that ‘do work’ “but we don’t get cable here”.  Like that... but down to the... kitchen utensil drawer still having “ALL MOM USED” including the can opener that opened every can of tomato soup and/or spaghetti-o’s (here used in it’s generic symbolism)... .  TOO their credit I heard not a murmur from ANYONE of baby boom ga-ga about ANY OF THIS.  As there was no evidence of, for example, a hidden cache ...of each and every lunch box used by each and every kid... I ‘they threw out too’ so ‘what was left’ was ONLY appropriate WASP debris with ‘no hoarding’.  The rooms were neat.  And ZEROS.  The Furniture was neat, clean, shabby and ZEROS.  The hoarder stuff was conspicuously not there with only the stupid regular stuffs like ‘fireplace equipment’, book shelves, electric floor lamp, prints in frames of... ‘who cares’, carpeting on the stair’s landing, door mat, cat door, plastic dish rack, family china purchased the same day as the second TV.  And both “Made in U.S.A.”.  And evermore... with ‘mostly kid’s clothes, a minimal of old shoes, no tools, an old lawn mower, a flower pot or two and... endless children’s bedrooms upstairs... in addition to the... “MASTER BEDROOM”. 
            That had a chest outside of it in the hallway.  It was a 1950’s dark composite veneer hardwood... Chippendale bandy leg style... ‘chest of drawers’.  The lines were good, the construction cheesy, the value ZERO.  The master bedroom had a ‘their bathroom’ next to it.  Next to that bathroom was the ‘children’s bathroom’.  These had not been updated since the mid-sixties.  The whole house was ...going to be... gutted... to the shell... by ‘anyone’ ‘who buys it’ ...I noted to myself... AS I left the master bedroom and started down the hall way to review the “OUR ROOMS”.
            I was rolling.  I was going to be out of here in fifteen minutes.  I was going to be back in Vermont in an hour.  I was going across the hall to the second “SCAN IT” children’s bedroom with the executor and Sarah/Sue in tow.  I was ...A... OK.  The executor’s cell phone starts ringing.  She answers it   She excuses herself and walks back up the hallway talking to someone.  She has received continual cell phone calls all the time and every time I’ve been around her.  I don’t care at all.  I continued to the room and do the ‘stand at the doorway’ scan with Sarah/Sue behind me.  I cross down the hall to the next bedroom. “This is my bedroom” I hear Sarah/Sue say behind me.  I don’t give a rat’s ass whose bedroom it is I’M OUT OF HERE.  I step to the door way.  I scan.
            I slow way,  way, way down.
            Across the room, hanging on the wall, above a 1960’s high school kid’s metal desk... I see a painting.  It is an old painting in an old (plain Victorian) gold frame.  The painting is of a moon lighted landscape with a turbulent ‘Starry Night’ type deep, moving and murmuring nocturnal moon within clouds and a Prussian blue star specked universe... above a sea surf motion of moonlighted grasses in the foreground before an in-a-shadow rear view of  the back ell of Victorian homestead... with one little window... with one little lamp glow... murmuring out of that window... too.
            I believe two things about a painting being good:  It should take my breath away when I first see it.  And:  I should feel the energy of the paint... instantly.  These should happen at a ‘normal’ viewing distance.  If these do not happen... at a normal viewing distance... I am not viewing a good painting.  From my in-the-doorway ‘normal view’ distance, I was viewing a good painting.  I KNEW I was viewing a good painting.  I was slowing way, way, way down.  I was not leaving in fifteen minutes.  I was not going to be in Vermont in an hour.
            Or actually...:  MAY BE I WAS.  I mean; the painting wasn’t THAT GOOD.

Friday, September 20, 2013

John Henry - Part Four

John Henry

Part Four

            Once I had tumbled MY dice and stood all my dominos back up by using inner professional reset buttons to fluff the bed covers of my ‘personal feelings’ about ‘all this’ (this estate’s sequence in process), I offered myself FURTHER internal rumination and... self doubt.  This came as a ‘TOO rethink this” about the first estate visited; the coastal mansion.  It was a simple wobble.  IF the “CAMP” was as good an antiquarian contests as I felt it was; a layered time capsule from the Civil War ‘untouched’... and THAT ‘I felt it was’ was founded on the “NOW I GET IT STUPID” acknowledgement that the estate principals (deceased) and the heirs... instead of being the ‘annoying’, disinterested, insensitive and nonchalant controllers of the estate contents... were actually the benefactors and supervisors (philanthropists?) of the PRESERVATION of the estates in their ‘full glory’  Thanks to them all this IS intact and undisturbed... EXCEPT for ME sticking my...:  WHAT have I stuck in this so far anyway?
            A couple of feeble professional pleas written down in ball point pen ink by a ‘paralegal’ attempting to suggest that there ARE  estates here that... ‘will add up’.  And that the heirs may not realize this.  That’s all I’ve done?
            “I guess that means I’m clean (from having to self-inflict a guilt trip), huh.”
            THEN and there is where the new self doubt alleyway opened:  IF I was so damn smart AND crossed the bridge of “NOW I GET IT STUPID”... and this came AFTER I’d ‘walk through’ the coastal mansion... did I... somehow... ‘miss something’ ‘in there’?  So off I went on a room by room in my mind revisit walk through INCLUDING my ‘getting my notes out (MY yellow legal pad on clipboard) and... well... shuffling through the whole damn estate again... while sitting in an arm chair.
            “NO!” I “shouldn’t have taken a video”.  Pictures.  More notes.  More... mental images.  MORE WHAT?
            I went over this last... after ‘walking through’ again over and over from my armchair... with and without the ‘notes’.  MORE WHAT?  “Simply, Stupid,” I concluded “you only failed to APPRECIATE... the estate’s... contents, its undisturbed setting and its holy creation by the heirs... provided ...on a platter... for YOU... Stupid”.
            Yes; that was it.  I did not discover a ‘missed something’ treasure trove.  No... I HAD assuredly creeped to the far corners TOO... of the garage, the garden shed and even the little lattice doorway allowing access to ‘under the porch’.  I had ‘flashlighted’ into all ‘under’ crawl spaces... including the ‘under eves’ attics... .  I had ‘done it’ and ‘found nothing’ except the supra preservation of all... 1937 Harvard yearbooks and summer camp songster pamphlets.  Old footballs and broken radios.  Clean and never used tools in a clean and never used tool box.  The rugs, again, ‘layered’.  The desk cubby with ‘EVERY’ heating oil bill ‘EVER’ stuffed in it and I mean stuffed; not filed.  The crummy art (framed prints).  The old wool blankets.  The lone file cabinet... full of papers... ABOUT NOTHING.  EVEN the grass growing between the random shaped slate stepping stones in “the garden” ...made ‘perfect sense’... and ...made nothing more than that... when reviewed with the “NOW I GET IT STUPID” amplification.  It (the coastal mansion) was a perfectly preserved specimen of Twentieth Century WASP... from an antiquarian artifacts found cash value perspective... LUNACY.  I understood this personally.  I understood this professionally.  My estate summary rested unchanged; ‘add up to a lot’ from a ‘three day estate auction’... that would include the footballs and busted radios.  Too.
            It is hardly any jump-in-mind to be assured that all this armchair ‘TOO rethink this” carried back to “CAMP”.  I revisited.  I concluded.
            I concluded that what was the “REALLY” of the “CAMP” was all the neat real old Civil War era Maine Farm STUFF that was layered UNDER the estate family’s ownership ....WITH a dash of their own OLDER (19th C.) ‘stuff’ tossed into the mix and:  WITH a ‘topping’ of their 20th Century ‘Huh; that’s neat’ ‘stuff’ that is best  denoted in their tractor in... perfect hardly used condition with finger prints on it.  “It’s the old Maine farm stuff, stupid”.  And... the fantasy of I arriving with my team of hirelings and fleet of empty trucks to ‘clean it (the whole estate’s contents) out’... after making a successful and well calculated purchase offer... and doing that...just before the FLEET of idling diesel powered bulldozers  ‘begins’ ‘the demolition’.  THAT fantasy was wrapped up with “Dream on, Stupid” that I reset as “Better keep you eye on that one.  Stupid”.
            And did nothing more except put my notes away, go down the river to the next village and ‘door knock’ one of the ‘old sea captain’ estates I’ve been plundering for two decades... just because the old girl was out in her garden “WEEDING”.
            “WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO?” she said.
I told her about the estates.  I told her “they have ANOTHER HOUSE in ALBANY NEW YORK” realizing as I was saying this that I had ...’forgotten about that’.  “NO.” I said. “I haven’t been there YET.  MIGHT HAVE TO GO.”
            “All the way over to ALBANY NEW YORK MY land you DO get around”.
            “Any chance you want to get around up into your ATTIC this afternoon?” I said.
            “BE too STUFFY up THERE today.” she said.
            “WELL how about selling me ALL that OLD REDWARE out in the MILK ROOM today?  ALL OF IT... WILL ADD UP.  Four... FIVE HUNDRED dollars.  IF you sell me ALL OF IT.”
            Her head come up and then she straighten up holding a hand full of pulled weeds.
            “I NEED to spend TOO MUCH this afternoon on some OLD STUFF like that.  NEED to CLEAR MY HEAD.  SELL ME that old redware I’ve wanted.  To buy.  YOU know what I mean.”
            “You really think you’d PAY FIVE HUNDRED today?” she said.
            “GOT TO today.  I’m all DIZZY from those people’s ESTATES.  I NEED to get back to old FARM antiques.  You know; like out in the shed.  The MILK ROOM.  NO ONE goes in there EVER anymore.  Not even YOU.”
            “Well.” She said and looked over past a shed toward the far corner of the old barn where the box shaped building of the milk room was ‘butted on’ to the barn side. The outer door; the in and out door... was in clear sight.  The sun beat on the door... and the room.  That means it’s in there.  I didn’t say that.  I didn’t say anything. “YOU’D be PAYING CASH as always?” she continued.
            “Oh yeah; on the barrel head; cash in YOUR hand, like always.
            “Well... I suppose then... we better go look... if your gonna be... that foolish with your money today.”
            After about thirty minutes of excavation to be sure we found “EVERY PIECE” of redware “IN THERE” and a trite one sided dickering that was trite and one sided because once she got ‘FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS’ in her sun bonnet it was a FIXED NUMBER that only I finding “EVERY PIECE IN THERE” acted to ...reduce... the MY cash in HER hand ‘cost basis’.
I bought the lot.
            I loaded it with her helping me by making local small talk.
            I drove away.
            I’d forgotten about the “TOO rethink this’ of the estates.
            I’d forgotten about the Albany house.
            I forgot about ALL OF IT.
            For two days.
            Then a paralegal from the law firm called ‘to ask’ if I ‘would go’ to ‘Albany’.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

John Henry - Part Three

John Henry

Part Three

            I did not... and do not... carry my developed-while-in-the-field personal resentment anger about the estate heirs’ “CAMP” property, the ‘original old Maine farm’ aspect of that property, their land development value fixations, their full disinterest in the property’s contents...or even of them having the perception that there was a contents to be disinterested in... carried further to their probable failure to even note that there was some sort of ‘a contents’.  The only qualifier to all that is their “the tractor” awareness.  In the end, that was a fair starting point for them.  For the moment... I suppressed my personal and ...reported as a professional.
            To the lawyer’s roost I reported at the appointed time as instructed only to find him ‘busy’ and I alone with ‘a woman at the roost wrote all that down’.  She and I did that with I making a professionally worded case that there was a deceptive and strong inner contents within the “CAMP” property of ‘an old Maine farm’ “full of antiques” that WILL ADD UP (as money) “if properly managed”.  I emphasized... in a professional verbiage... that I felt the heirs were not aware of this inner contents and its value. 
I stopped talking.  She stopped writing.  I was out of the inner office and nearly clearing the firm’s reception desk reach the elevators (that is significant to mention for here in Maine a departure from ANYWHERE that involves passing a reception work station and ‘taking’ an elevator... is, at the least, a ‘scarce’ directive) when I was haled back by the lawyer.  BACK into the inner office I followed him
Inside, with the door closed, I re-summarized what was written on the legal pad.  I lost some of my momentum-of-the-emphatic, of no surprise to me, in expressing this but did enough of a rally on the heirs’ probable ‘no idea’ to hold attention and receive a “About how much?”.
“How about a quick twenty-five K as an opening kick.  When they move the stuff down the field using the tractor, the amount will go up.  And up.” I replied.
            He shrugged.
            I left.
            The biggest glitch for anyone turning their eye to the ‘antiques’ in the ‘old Maine farm’ is found in the “The SITE is the BEST on THE LAKE” utterance that rapidly had the dollar value of ‘a million dollars’ attached to it.  THAT ‘held everyone’s attention’.  My report was a... tiny rubbish removal problem... to everyone but me.  I ruminated personally.  Then I salt and peppered that rumination professionally.
            I went home and did nothing.  Except ruminate.  I concluded personally that there was ‘no hope’ for proper attention to the inner ‘old Maine farm’ contents and that this would eventually be improperly disposed of within the hubbub of selling the “CAMP” for “a million dollars”.  Therefore it would pay me well... professionally... to keep an eye on that whole and be ready to act my advantage... if I sensed that contents was going in motion.  “WELL” I self conferred, they might just drag all the stuff outside one morning and have a YARD SALE... that included selling the stuff INSIDE the house they didn’t bother to DRAG OUT.  That... could happen ‘anytime – anyway’.  “YIKES” to that I said.  Then there were the rest of the routes; auction, auctioneer, competing auctioneers.  Dealers.  Dealers bidding.  Competing bidding antiques dealers.  “I’m there.” for that I “well”.  Then there’s the ‘do it yourself’ ‘new wayS’ (‘the internets’).  AND the ‘executor’s’ say.  The heirs say?  The estate lawyer?  The... “I better keep my eye on this” conclusion.
            Within that rumination... about the “CAMP” ...that also included the coastal mansion... “that’s full TOO and IS actually worth a million dollars... TOO”...  I developed a side rumination that went back to my private anger management issues of ‘just what is all this and who are these creepy heirs anyway.  That lead to the inner ruminations of ‘they never bought anything ever (antiques) , they’ve always had all this stuff  (antiques) in there anyway, since they (the antiques) have always been there no one notices them or cares because that just... the way... it is... stupid.  YOU (me) ARE THAT WAY TOO, stupid.
            NOW I GET IT.

            What am I getting?
            It is subtle.  I will use a specific example... found in these estates; a big time specific example:  ‘Threadbare rugs’.
            A ‘threadbare rug’ is a traditional... outside the antiques realm... title for rugs (“carpeting”) found on the floors of WASP homes.  More close to home; NEW ENGLAND... Maine... WASP homes.  Generally, in this region, they are ‘scatter rugs’ with an occasional LARGE (usually a single specimen) ‘room size’ ‘oriental’ and some more medium sized ‘room size’ ‘orientals’ appearing in, foremost in order, the living room, the dining room, the ‘den’... or ‘library’ or ‘TV room’ or... whatever they call ‘that room’.  They are; the scatter rugs and the ‘room size’... old, worn ‘oriental rugs’ AND... for scatter AND TOO (but very rarely) for ‘room size’, old, worn ‘homemade’ braided or hooked ‘rugs’ that are ON... in rising order of WASP New England aesthetic... ‘hard wood floors’... ‘old stone (slate tile) floors’, ‘parquet floors’ and, at the top... old, worn, with old finish remnants, 18th and early 19th century ‘wide pine floors’.  No vinyl.  No wall-to-wall. No refinished, sanded and varnished hardwoods or pine.  At all.  Ever.
            This last is key... to ‘now I get it... stupid’.  A refinished WASP floor-on-display specimen... is pandemic these days.  They are “EVERYWHERE” so assure the premium exclusivity of those NOT ‘ruined’ ‘by doing that’.  In the two estates visited in this tale so far... one hardwood floored, one 19th century wide pine... NEITHER estate has ‘refinished’ ANY floor EVER.  The only... ONLY.... ONLY ‘surface’ ‘treatment’ or ‘work’ done to ‘them’ is an occasional ‘spill’ and... and ...and.... family pets peeing on them.  That last is a fundamental symbol of WASP floor treatment.  The next (and only further) fundamental treatment is putting ‘threadbare rugs’ on top of the ‘dog peed on it’ floor wood.  What those threadbare rugs are and how they are placed is the coup de grace KEY to this KEY.
            Properly done... the threadbare rug coverage is comprehensive with layers of old threadbare scatter rugs ‘piled’ on top of one another ...sort of... that is... truly ‘scattered’ and that these layered, scattered threadbare rugs are of all different sorts, ages, conditions, sizes, colors, patterns, types and ‘being’ from sources UNKNOWN over as many generations as possible... with no one ever moving them, lifting them, touching them, looking at them and ONLY ‘family pets peeing on them’... with no one doing anything about that most of the time because, usually, they “didn’t see that”.  The older the resident, the more ‘didn’t see that’.
            A counter pendulum swing shows best the DEPTH of this WASP ‘threadbare’ ‘thing’.  In a refinished floor setting one most often finds ‘placed’ ‘rugs’.... including actual true ‘threadbare rugs’ ‘displayed’.  These tend to be ...selectively and consciously acquired ‘rugs’ ‘displayed.  On ‘restored’ floors.  Getting it?
            Most often many of these displayed rugs are ‘too new’, ‘too good’ and too not threadbare enough (“I’M NOT GOING TO PUT THAT ON MY FLOOR I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU SAY!”) so ‘self eliminate’ any chance of ‘doing it right’.  That’s right; doing it right... is a lot harder and more comprehensive (including dollar outlay) that one ever would imagine.  THAT’S WHAT MAKES IT REAL.  And the “now I get it... stupid”.
            There are two avenues for I to further report.
            The first is easy.  It starts with the summarial point of the second:  I grew up with this; the threadbare rug ‘thing’.
            Since I grew up with myself standing, crawling, lying, watching TV, sitting in front of a fire with, on and ALL of ‘threadbare rugs’ including all the pet pee... I ‘am that way’ about all this so... never gave it a thought EITHER.  Except, of course, that from day one of ‘being an antiques dealer’ I ‘bought and sold’ ‘them’ (threadbare rugs of ALL types) ALWAYS.
            So one day this very well to do snobby New England family grand-dame MRS. comes to I and says “I want to buy some rugs”.
            “WELL” I say, “MRS. ***** YOU KNOW that MOST ALL of the rugs I SELL are very worn and dirty so I can hardly imagine that ANYTHING I have to offer EVER would appeal to you”.
            “On the contrary” she replied, “I am coming to you because I know that you sell EXACTLY that and THAT is the type of rugs I need to BUY.”
            “AH... BUT... MRS.*****.”
            “NOW LISTEN.  I have just bought a house in Exeter (NH) and its DREADFULL but the FLOORS are original so I NEED some rugs.  And I come to you because I KNOW you KNOW the rugs I NEED:  I NEED RUGS that I can say came from my grandmother.”
            Period... but reminding to note her valuing the floor wood condition.  SHE; ‘Mrs.; proceed to ...over a TEN YEAR period ‘buy’ threadbare rugs and LAYER THEM.... not display them... on her ...wide pine wood floors ‘original untouched’.  The only thing she ever has done to the floors and the rugs is have ...the family pets pee on them.
            She may have (I acknowledge her craftiness) actually encouraged this last.  Is this; the smell of old pet pee... a New England WASP estate ‘thing’.  Yes it is.
            The second is ‘get it stupid’ ‘I do’ why?  Because it is “I”.  Too.  Like the rest of ‘em all I am always ‘in there’; the estates, too.  Always, since birth, I am there... threadbare.
            Beyond the simplistic of growing up so threadbare...  it is so ‘is that way’, so ‘I am that’’, so... stand on it sniffing to old pet pee WITHOUT realizing that it IS DIFFERENT from ‘other people’ so creates ... that I DO need to... ‘now I get it... stupid’.
            “Why then this peed on bare threads?” one asks?
            “Because of where it comes from.”
            “Come from?  Threadbare rugs comes from somewhere?”
            “Yes.  And it is a Maine seafaring saga.  Once, a long, long time ago on the coast of Maine and New England, daring sea captains traveled the world round buying and selling cargos for profit.  In the Middle East, a regional market of trade, the boat cargo was sold and the boat cargo was bought and ... this last was loaded aboard to be homeward bound to be ...sold... at the dock of an exotic port like Portland or Bucksport MAINE and... AND the sailors packed that cargo tight in the belly of the ship and ... in the Middle East they wadded that cargo tight with... old ‘old oriental rugs’ they could get for NOTHING on the shore; from on the ground in old tents. It packed the cargo so, so, tight that the sailor took ALL of the rugs they could possibly find ....and many of these were ‘threadbare’ and worn so no good to anyone except for packing... and... off they sailed.
            At the coastal Maine port the cargo was unloaded and sold and... the old threadbare worn rugs tossed off the boat onto the dock where... for free... men in horse drawn wagons and wheelbarrows loaded them and hauled them away and... went ever further inland peddling them to... to.... TO:  Old Maine Farms.  While keeping the ‘better ones’ to ‘sell’ to the homes ‘on the coast’.
            Denuded of their old rugs; the Middle East was STRIPPED, by Yankee sea captains.  The result is that the threadbare worn rugs peddled and placed on the FLOOR OF THE BARN of the ‘old Maine farm’ can often be a ...17th, 18th or 19th century ‘authentic tribal weaving’ and THE BEST PLACE IN THE WHOLE WORLD to find a “THAT” is... New England.  In old undisturbed estates... with undisturbed floors... covered with ‘layered’ old ‘scatter’ rugs.  That the family pets from six generations ...have peed on.
            I grew up with oriental scatter rugs on the floor of the barn.  I never ever questioned that.  I DID learn... pretty fast... as an antiques dealer... that those scatter rugs are ‘good’.  In my opinion, this corrupted my eye... to the actual pure tradition.  I ‘know’ a ‘good one’... from quite a distance.  In true threadbare estates... like these of the story, discrimination of good is a... never.  Scattered is truly scattered... quality.  No knowing eye ‘ever’.  That’s what I had to remind myself of with the “NOW I GET IT” “STUPID”.  They; the heirs, were right in their behavior toward their estate’s contents and their floors and floor coverings PROVED IT.
            “NOW I GET IT.”

Monday, September 16, 2013

John Henry - Part Two

John Henry

Part Two

            Somewhere, in the micro moment between my parking my truck in the “driveway”...(that was actually STILL a ‘farm yard’)... of  the “CAMP” and my START of walking to the side door of this...  “CAMP” ...that was ‘obviously’ an ‘old’ and the... ‘original’ ‘farm’ ‘here’... I saved myself from the false mental stand that this “CAMP” was just the way it ‘always was’.  I ‘gut felt’ that I was at an... old farm... that was in the last moments of ‘its about to die’ second life.
            The first life was its Victorian – Civil War era as a ‘Maine farm’ ‘on the lake’.  The second life is ...after this family ‘got ah hold of it’.  THAT was NOT LONG after its first era... probably by the Centennial.  Yes; that long ago... ‘on the lake’... a ‘summer place’ “CAMP” it became... fully old Maine farm furnished too... including ‘hay mow to cellar’ equipage ‘untouched’.   AFTER the family’s occupation began the whole romantic and spiritual eloquence of the farm, the site, the land and the lake... gradually... yet increasing in speed and scale... with each new generation’s ‘taking over’... ‘declined’ and was now ‘about to DIE’.
            This I ‘gut felt’ as I walked up to the side door, was greeted, admitted and “Please sit down”.
            Said the oldest (?) sister who had told me at the coastal mansion that she is “the executor”.  I didn’t sit down and she only set her tote bag down next to a chair and... stopped herself from sitting down in that chair because I did not move.
            And said I didn’t need to sit and just needed to do a ‘walk through’ “quickly” like at the coastal mansion and then would... be... gone.
            “Oh.  Fine.”

            I did the walk through.  Quickly.  It was stunning.  MY favorite part of the stunning was that here... beneath all... was STILL a very, very, very undisturbed ‘old Maine farm’ contents ‘untouched’.  NOTHING ‘great’ mind one for ‘antiques’ but FULL of ‘old Maine farm’ antiques... ‘untouched’.  For example, several generations... of the family’s occupancy... had failed to ever even once ‘go down in the cellar’... ever.  Or ‘up in the barn’.  Ever.  OR... in the attic... in the shed...  or ‘UP’ in the shed.  Or... ANY WHERE except in the most immediate summer usage areas of the “CAMP” house, the front of the barn, the porch, the... not much else since they’d ‘had a well drilled’ and ‘stopped using the old well(s)’ ‘in the yard’.  Etc.  Yes; etc... for it was a comprehensive separation of old Maine farm state... from these summer people’s “CAMP” estate.  It was down to the hatchet resting on the splitting block in the wood shed being ‘not touched’.  “These people” “never do ANYTHING here” I ...stated mentally to myself.  The actual qualifier was that this metal affirmation applied only to the ANTIQUES ‘my favorite part’.  FROM THERE OUT... the bomb had exploded after being “developed” (their word) over time.
            The bomb and its explosion was that THIS GENERATION, with the approval, help and supervision of the previous generation... who began to ‘do that’ under the approval, help and supervision of the generation before... “DEVELOPED” (again; THEIR WORD) “THE PROPERTY”. As I approached the side door I had already ...driven through the rubble of the bomb explosion titled ‘development’.  The ‘old Maine farm’ ‘on the lake’ stood forlorn among very closely fitted small lots on the lake shore that had... very large, expensive and modern ‘vacation homes’ “ON THEM”.  These ‘front’ ‘shore’ lots had behind them FOUR tiers (a roadway maze) of ‘house lots’ WITH large, expensive and modern ‘vacation homes’ built on them... “back from the shore”.  All of the original farm land had been... “developed” by the family... during the past three generations... “successfully”.
            There was some development remorse.  NOT that kind of remorse.  THIS KIND:  Once the first sold shore front lots began having third owner buyers purchase them and tear down the existing vacation home to build the biggest fattest ugliest tackiest and ‘on the cheap’ NEW “CAMP”... the family had remorse that THEY did not “GET” “that much” (money) for those original “best lots”.  Especially galling was that “NOW” the few remaining ‘crummy’ “back lots” the family had recently and “FINALLY” sold... sold for considerably more than the “shore frontage had originally been sold for”.  AS I WALKED up to the side door of the ‘old Maine farm’ ‘on the lake’ THIS  ...structure... was in the total agreement on this... crosshairs... of ‘being sold’ “FOR A LOT”...for this ‘lot’ ...including the understood “excluding” of the farm house that “who ever buys it will tear it down” “IS” “The SITE is the BEST on THE LAKE”.
            So I affirmed... without solicitation... my ‘gut felt’ as I ‘walked through’.  HEARING the stop & start and opinionated saga interfered with my ability to appreciate and BE LOST IN A PRIVATE DREAM WORLD as I peeked through time inside and outside this... ‘old Maine farm’ “ESTATE PROPERTY” (currently for sale) ‘carte blanc’. (?).
            I separated from these “them”; the heirs, on “OUR” walk through.  I separated commercially, politically, figuratively, financially, fundamentally and FLAWLESSLY.  Their crude burp and fart attitude to what I was doing... and doing there... enhanced my box-turtle-hides-in-shell FLIGHT.  Slow and steady I... ‘hate you’.  I said nothing.  I took long, long, long romantic gazes at all monumental overlook turnout vistas of ‘undisturbed old Maine farm’ contents; the cellar, the barn floor by floor and then a whole ‘looking down’.  Each shed.  The outhouse.  The wells.  The old millstone.  The stone wall behind the milk room.  The clothes line.   “There”, “there” and “THERE” I found, saw, felt and peeked at... and, and, and... ALL OF IT; the whispered truth of this state of estate.  Exploding to smithereens.

            “IT” (the “CAMP”) “WAS ROBBED TWICE”.  Once twenty years ago.  And again ten years ago (?).  “THEY TOOK” seemed to be the new stuffs; tools, two canoes, a row boat, motor boat engine, fishing tackle and ...not much else ‘they said’.  “THE TRACTOR EVERYONE WANTS TO BUY” referred to a post World War Two purchased and forever very, very, very lightly used mid size farm tractor that... never had a fingerprint on it or “dirty oil” “EVER”.  They “are going to sell it”.  The proceeds to be divided by the estate heirs ‘at settlement’.  THAT estate settlement procedure becomes important so take note of it.  Meanwhile I couldn’t care less because I was SOOOOO wrapped up in “EVEN THE RUGS ARE UNTOUCHED” kind of LOST in this antiques everywhere just the way and where they should be ...inter-galaxy mind space trip.  “The robbers weren’t professionals” I heard myself say.
            “That’s what the Sheriff said too”. the executor said.  She was old enough to “remember”.