[Writers Clearinghouse News Service]
Cape May, New Jersey
When I attended Jeanne d'Arc Camp in Quebec Province, the last thing on my mind was feng shui.Even if I knew then what it was. Indeed adherence to a false and foreign philosophy was a sure way to get me into hell, that and cavorting with the boys across the lake at Camp Don Bosco.
At the age of ten neither prospect tempted me and the nuns made sure to keep me busy and not be lured down Satan’s path.
Besides horseback riding, learning crafts took up most of my time, that and feigning illness before daily vespers, I became adept at the arts of Indian beadings and story telling.
Today, as I stand before my newly painted Victorian, I know how much this past has influenced my choices.
As the painters are finishing up the smaller details of my house’s conversions from a white ghost into a box of salt water taffy I feel redeemed. Years after hearing my choice of coral on my feather beads was childish, I have vindicated my right to prefer this colour.
My neighbours act bemused, although I have heard from the painters that some don’t like it. Tuff nookies. 'Pepto Bismol,' snipped one Facebook follower. Wait until they see the flamingos.
I was told by my first mother-in-law, after she surveyed the decor in my newlywed apartment, not to worry, because by maturity my taste would change. She was right, within five years I developed a more discriminating palate and got rid of her son.
Over the years living in Philadelphia, I have gone from a family mahogany credenza to a Pier One black lacquered sideboard then a Mission Style entertainment centre; brick walls on to black followed by white plaster ones, red and finally champagne with antique recesses.
When I bought a loft condo, I went with minimalist rugs and tiles on the floor, paintings from floor to ceilings, stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops.
Nowhere along the way did I ever bother to consider external design until I moved into a 1879 South Jersey farmhouse. For the first time I could make a statement before anyone ever entered my living quarters. Heck, you don’t even have to come in. It’s not passing one more identical door in a hallway.
Attention was paid to the action needed. I hired a painter who had done some of the finest mansions in town. I was given a swatch of 900 colours and was told, “A house like yours should have at least three tones on it”. Three? At least?
There is a pink house in Key West I admire. So I found my way to the pinks on the roll, all fifty shades!
That’s right fifty.
OK, I will admit it. A midlife crisis brought me Bermuda pink sides, ivory sand moldings and Port a Prince aqua on the eaves. As in the first page of 50 Shades of Grey....“I scowl with frustration at myself and my choices....it just won’t behave, and damn Katherine Kavanagh for being ill and subjecting me to this ordeal. I must not touch it with it wet. I must not sleep with it wet. Reciting this mantra several times, I attempt, once more, to bring it under control with my eyes. I roll my eyes in exasperation and gaze at the pale, brown-haired girl with blue eyes too big for her face staring back at me, and give up.”
It is my painter and she must leave for the day I look at the candy cane bay window. I roll my eyes at myself. Get a grip.