I'm a writer, so I work with those graphic abstractions called words. But increasingly, for me it's images that tell stories. Like a reflex, my eye sees visual compositions. Objects with a relationship to each other. It's like an eye hunger. That's probably not unusual, given the ascendency of visual media ever since the development of photography, then movies, television, Instagram and Pinterest.

Here's my kitchen table early one April spring morning this year. I didn't re-touch the shot because I like the muted, browny look of it (it's the "brown corner"). Natural first morning light. The quiet tones make the bright yellow of the tulips pop.

Behind almost every object in this house, as in most houses, is a story, or at least an anecdote...
Some are more surprising than others (See this previous post). The table and chandelier were bought years ago at a Planned Parenthood auction + tag sale, held on the grounds of Lyndhurst, robber baron Jay Gould's historic estate on the Hudson River in New York. I think they each cost about $25 and have gone from house to house with me ever since. Somebody once told me that he could tell I was from California by the chandelier: it looks like a Hollywood prop for a Zorro movie.

The chairs are mis-matched, so they often look as if they're having their own dinner party. The one on the left, with the blue-and-white checked seat, I recently bought here in Lexington, Virginia for $25, then re-stained and re-covered it. It's a good old country chair. I already love it.

In the lower right foreground is a little cane chair that was the first thing you saw coming through the front door into the foyer of my grandparents' house in Los Angeles. It sat below a wood-framed oval mirror, which I also own. On the far side of the table is a cane armchair. It was in my grandfather's library, on the left, as you entered, upstairs in that same California house. On the bottom bookshelves were stacks of old LIFE magazines, a formative influence, if there ever was one.

I remember where everything was in that house. It's still there, down the street from one of the Hilgard Avenue entrances to UCLA. The lawn, front steps, windows, trees, look exactly the same.

But I'd only knock on the door if I knew my grandparents would be the ones to open it. And that the chairs were exactly where I remembered them. The Lionel trains in the dumbwaiter. The New Yorkers in a stack on the table near the terrace. The Chinese scroll painted with slender elegant birds hanging at the foot of the stairs. My little grandmother telling me she never really understood The Great Gatsby and my tall grandfather humming loudly as he marched into the kitchen to make oatmeal for my breakfast.

No wonder time travel has such appeal.

Instant Gratification: Out of the night/ When the full moon is bright...

Leave a Reply

Thanks for your comment! ~Katey Lee

Powered by Blogger.