Tuesday, June 17, 2008

And all that was left. . .

*This* was once a home . . . This shell on Tuscola this past spring. Now all that's left are shards of broken glass, a single carved chair leg and gaping holes where wiring and plumbing were ripped out of the walls by scrappers who moved in as soon as the last family moved out. And now the house is to be torn down.

You have to look under the orange shag carpet and behind the crappy panelling to see what was once here, but that isn't so far to be allowed to see what isn't here anymore, (and I don't think Superman could've done better).

The house once had oak on its floors, high oak base boards, and thick oak mouldings surrounding massive oak pocket doors and large, well-placed windows.

I decided to pause for a second as the woodwork was being disassembled, place a hand on the worn-smooth newell cap and reflect on the people who once lived here.

There were random keys and a century-old dime under the first tread (under which the carpenters had signed thier names in a Spencerian script), and piles of wood shavings from the finishing of the stair that had gotten sealed in before the first family carried their possessions up these stairs with thier faux-Chinoiserie bannisters.

I did a complete walk-through before the volunteers began removing doors, hardware, base mouldings, stairway, etc. In less than two weeks all raditors and heavy plumbing had been scrapped; you could see the marks where the heavy objects had been drug over the floorboards. . .

When I came up from the cellar, Sarah was standing exactly where I had left in the center of the dining room. She told me she couldn't go down there with me because she was too afraid the ghost of a dead baby would come up from behind and touch her (She has issues with babies, this girl).

This is when I raised one eyebrow, pointed a glass doorknob at her and and said, "Look, in my other-other life I'm a bartender, and do have any idea how many people try to touch you as they get drunk?" I said I'd take dead babies any day over a linty old man with a pitcher of beer in one hand and my backside in the other . . .

Sarah still wouldn't go into the cellar, but did agree that there are worse things than dead babies in this world.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Storm

The huge storm after Jazz on Jefferson gave me an idea that came out as a charcoal/pencil sketch laid over in watercolor of the Warren Avenue entrance to our neighborhood. (Paper mounted on mahogany panel.) The piece was planned slightly differently so far as details, but rough weather at the timed art battle hosted by the Magic Bean on State Street changed the end product.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The sky began churning and lowering in the late afternoon of a very, very hot day for a town this far north. The clouds were tinted the colour of greenish lead and were rolling under themselves like waves on a muddy beach and the temperature held as the humidity rose.

Without warning, water - not rain in drops - but flood water, dropped from the air as if God were a child emptying a bucket over an unsuspecting anthill. At the same time, winds began twisting, pushing and pulling simultaneously under the cover of the blinding downfall.

The storm lasted less than ten minutes and the rain and wind stopped almost together . . . What a change ten minutes of no-rules play can make:

Across from Art Sample on Michigan, a massive tree had been twisted until its trunk burst and the rest of the tree dropped onto the porch of a house nearby; the porch was flattened and the corner of the house dented slightly like a box of cereal that got dropped. (On the bright side, a Bonneville was crushed beyond recovery, making the world a prettier place.)

Crossing the Court Street Bridge, the tops of all the tall trees on Ojibway Island looked like coral with the tips broken off . . . Turning down Washington one could hear sirens coming from so many directions it was difficult to know where to look.

Thompson in front of the New Amadore was blocked by a fallen tree that had crushed the fence while the beautiful white house with its enfolding porch across the street had had the mature tree that once kept it sheltered twisted and dropped onto the house - breaking the roof of the porch in the middle and digging out the attic gable on its way down.

The corner of Warren and Thompson - in front of our apartment - was obstructed by a tree that had been snapped in the middle and swung like a bat to knock the top of the nearby power pole cleanly off dropping the lines into the street below amongst the tangled limbs.

Weadock, Park, Cherry, Sheridan, Owen, Jefferson, Warren, Millard . . . all either blocked by fallen trees or littered with more leaves and limbs than the autumn would ever bring. And the immediate district is now without power and likely to stay that way for a couple of days.

If is odd to think that so many trees are damaged or gone when only a couple days before during Jazz on Jefferson everything was so lovely. The trees are probably the greatest loss since the district has no policy to replace missing trees . . . some of those taken by the storm are old enough that we won't see young trees grow big enough to replace them in a lifetime.