By My Own Design

I’m an opinionated person, for the most part. Owning and expressing my feelings about how I see the world helps me to better understand who I am as fully engaged individual and not just a shell or the shadow of myself.

 

As a professional room arranger, I’ve come to better understand the role designers play when they are hired to update or change someone’s home. Designers need to have a style they like, colors they like, arrangements they like so they can share those ideas with their clients. Ideally, designers learn from their clients just as their clients learn from them. When I’m hired to do a room arrangement, my client expects me to use my opinions and ideas to help them create a better place to live. If I don’t trust my instincts, or if I lack strong ideas, then what good am I to them? Every designer brings to the table their unique vision. Designers who become famous, do so because they are able to tap into an idea consisting of form and color, that resonates with a large number of people. They start with what they love and cultivate an audience that love it too.

 

I’m exploring this thread because for a long time, I thought designers were like politicians; always trying to reflect the voters image back at them. The reality of the situation is the more I understand my likes and dislikes, the better room arranger I became. My clients want me to be opinionated, that’s why they hire me. They want me to do something they had never thought of before and when I deliver the goods, they love it, I feel great and the trust I have in myself and my ideas soars.

I’m always pushing myself into new territories, like creating this blog. I like doing projects that I can start and finish in an hour or less because instant gratification makes me feel like I accomplished something which surely is the reason why I like to blog.

When I used to paint, my choice of medium was acrylics because it dried really fast, it was really easy to clean up; just soap and water, and they seemed all around easier to work with than oils. Later, when I started getting more serious about writing, I loved the simplicity of the tools involved, just a pen and some paper that I could take anywhere. It wasn’t messy, if I forgot to put them in my backpack, I could easily find them available in any store just about anywhere and the cost to buy them was always within my supply budget. I’m a practical gal, always looking for the easy way in to things and an affordable means of getting by.

I started making earrings a couple of years after thinking about it for a couple of years. They seemed so simple to make with endless possibilities and abundant supplies I could pick up anywhere. I finally dove in one day and went to a local bead shop and bought some tools, some wires and some beads and got cracking. I quickly discovered how fun and easy they are to make and each pair I finished gave me that instant gratification and satisfied my need to be creative.

 

Everyone loves a new pair of earrings, either to wear or to give as gifts and they’re an inexpensive hobby. I find a lot of beads and other resources just about everywhere I go. I’ll use just about anything that catches my eye, including striped erasers.

 

Of course, this raises the question: is it design or is it craft? Well, I’d have to say, it’s both. It’s craft because it’s something useful, practical and sometimes, essential; a brand new pair of earrings. It has function and immediate purpose and it’s utilitarian. It’s design because there was a thought, a plan and an execution to it. The thing of it is, I love making them. I wish I was better at marketing them but for the time being, I’m sharing them with you. If you would like to see more or own a pair, just reply to this post. I’d love to send you some. Until tomorrow, I remain your,

Design Detective,

Karen

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Eroding Fences

I’ve never seen this happen before.

A fairly new, five maybe six years old, iron fence practically dissolving before my, and the home owner’s, eyes. Such a sad and wasteful sight it is especially in light of the fact that this ornamental fence looked so impressive and strong when it was installed. Plus, it added a necessary touch to an otherwise unremarkable house.

The owners of the home spent a lot of money building the brick wall that supported the fence as well as the fence itself that, when completed, looked really good. The iron made a bold statement of containment, boundary delineation and yet, because it was open (the bars being thin and spread apart, as well as being low), friendly and non-threatening, it was a nice addition to my neighborhood. Those good qualities have all vanished with the poor choice of metal. A ruined fence like this degrades the appeal of the house and lowers the overall visual appeal of the street. And the longer it remains, the worse everything associated with the fence gets. This nice house has become an eyesore because of this fence. How did this happen and how can you avoid it from happening to you? Beware of iron fences!

Iron is the only metal that contains iron oxide. It is this element that rusts. Iron that is plated with a non rusting metal, such as zinc or aluminum, would be a much better choice for braving the elements. Particularly wet, or foggy weather like we have a lot of in San Francisco. Personally, I love the look of iron. I love it for furniture, decoration and fences but to see it reduced to fragments of its formal self, is a waste of money.

This is another example of a good intention gone bad.

Not only is this wall eroding, it’s leaving an ugly rust stain on the face of the house. The face being the side most visible and usually most ornate side of a house or building. Sometimes the face of a building is actually the back side, where only the inhabitants or their guests can enjoy its beauty. However, since I’m not able to see the back side of this house, I’ll assume the front is the face, and frankly, this one’s face is a real mess.

Now someone, possibly a designer,  was a designer involved in making the decision to install a heavy iron fence around this balcony. I like the fact that they kept 1/3 of it open and although the house itself is rather bland and boring, the addition of this detail, when it was new, undoubtedly added a touch of interest or boldness to the flat, rectangular design.

Today, I bet the owners cringe, as I did, every time they see those stains on their way inside. It is possible to blast those stains off the building but it’s only treating the symptoms of the problem and is not a cure. Every time it rains, which it does a lot here, those stains will reappear and every time they do, they’re telling the owner that their investment in that fence was a mistake and soon, holes are going to appear and get larger. So that whatever the owners were hoping to contain on that balcony, is eventually going to end up broken on the sidewalk below.

So think about the composition of the products you’re investing in for your home. Ask your supplier if you can see real examples of them, not just in the showroom or their portfolios but outside, in the real world. Find out where they did their work at year or two ago and have a look for yourself. Knowledge is power and to a retailer, noting is more powerful than money. So get some knowledge, build your buying power and create a beautiful, weather proof, long lasting fence that you and your neighbors will love for years and years.

Have a great weekend.

Your design detective,

Karen

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Is it Art or Design?

I love taking pictures with my digital camera.

I used to take a lot of pictures using film but I never felt the freedom I do with digital. There just isn’t anything that quite matches the nearly infinite number of opportunities to capture a moment in time like a 4 GB disk. This digital freedom has allowed me to be much more playful and experimental in my picture taking. The photograph above, for example, which turned out much better than I had imagined, is one shot taken at the Exploritorium, a fantastic science museum in the City, inside a three-sided structure of mirrors.

As I write this, I’m asking myself, what does this have to do with design?’ Good question. My dictionary defines design as: To conceive and plan out in the mind. Well, that doesn’t exactly apply to what I do because my work  relies a lot on playful discovery. Not knowing ahead of time how something is going to turn out, is what makes the process  of looking so much fun. The definition continues with the importance of devising a plan as an integral part of the process. Reaching a stated or intended goal, if you will.

Okay, I guess my goal with this blog, is to explore the creation of ideas that can then serve another purpose. Like my bold color statement blog. Looking at what could be and what has be done before, is either worthy of repeating, a generator of new possibilities, or a lighted pathway to a new direction; away from the original starting point.

Maybe what I’m doing should be called art but design is art but, according to my dictionary, art with a plan. I think about all the amazing painters, Picasso, for example. His art really challenged the way we see the world and no one, that I know of, would dispute the fact that his work is art but, knowing something about him, seeing his sketchbooks on display in Paris, I am 100% confident that much of his work began with a plan, a purpose and with intention. Is art and design the same thing? Is art always design but design isn’t always art? I would agree with that statement. I’m probably getting carried away with all of this. It’s fun to talk about though, even if the conversation is just with me. I guess my intentions are more design than art because it’s through this creative process that I figure out what I’m thinking, what I like and then I look for ways to satisfy that thought or desire.

I apologize for this rambling blog. If you have any ideas or thoughts on the subject of design vs. art, I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment for me and I’ll surely write you back.

Until tomorrow, I remain your,

Design Detective,

Karen

NOTE: Any links in the above post are the work of WordPress and have not been authorized by me nor do I receive anything monetary or otherwise from them.

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Bold Statements about Color

In Mexico you’ll find houses painted brilliant, bold colors like some of the houses here in San Francisco. I’m attracted to them for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I admire the fearless attitude by which the owners strike a note that rings out from the chorus of standard pastel shades that dominate the City. Secondly, I really like bold colors and third, bold colors have a way of pushing my imagination in a new directions.
Whenever I come across a house painted bright yellow or bright orange it forces me to re-evaluate my ideas of what I like and what I think I like when it comes to exterior paint choices.

At first glance, these colors may seem garrish or ugly, and sometimes they are but most of the time, it’s me and my concrete opinions that are the problem because the longer I look at them, these bold houses are, in fact, rather exciting and fun to look at. Like a healthy pinch of cayenne pepper in a bowl of broth, bold colors force me to consider bigger possibilities when think of paint choices. And that change in attitude can be very helpful when one is faced with the prospect of painting their home.

Updating the look of your house can be a scary and daunting task. There are so my color options out there, where do you begin? Do you start with what the neighbors think and choose three (not two) colors that are similar to what everyone else has chosen? Or do you boldly go where no house has ever gone before?

You could hire a color professional to help you decide or try my process of elimination which begins by tossing out all the colors you hate. If you decide to hire a professional, it’s vital you have an honest relationship with that person so you can feel comfortable about disagreeing with their proposal. Be sure you review their portfolio before signing on. Remember it’s you who is going to be living with those color choices and painting a house can be a very expensive proposition especially if it involves scaffolding.

The reason I stopped watching  home design programs on TV was because I couldn’t understand why any designer would want the homeowner to go away and not participate in creating their own home environment. I just didn’t make any sense, feng shui and otherwise, to have a total  stranger, albeit a designer, come into the home and do as they wished and afterward, invite the owners, who are blindfolded, come into their house and be completely surprised by the changes that had taken place. It freaks me out a little bit just thinking about it because I can’t imagine a better recipe for disaster. Sure it’s a whole lot easier for the designer to do whatever they want in someone else’s house, but for the people who live there, I can’t think of anything worse because everyone is different. That’s our strength, that’s why the world is full of all kinds of different people. What one designer likes is going to make one homemaker nuts.  Just because something is new and shiny doesn’t mean its going to work and make you feel comfortable having it in your house.
People have to play a role in deciding how their home gets decorated if they are going to live well and happy inside. I remember watching one design make-over episode where the designer installed a state of the art light fixture that called so much attention to itself that if it were in my house, I know I would’ve hated it and immediately have it removed. It’s crazy not to get involved in the design process. Granted the choices can be overwhelming so start simply with what you hate, come up with a budget and stick to it then limit your choices by store or material or color. Just keep widdling down the choices and you’ll discover you can make the right design decision that’s perfect  for you.

When my husband and I were looking to paint our house, one technique I came up with was taking high contrast, black and white pictures of my house, printing them out, and coloring  them with colored pencils.

I played around with differnt color options on different areas of my house so I could see how the same colors would work in the entryway or outside the in-law apt. we have.Then I taped my ideas on the cupboards in my kitchen so everyone could have a look and weigh in on the decision. It took a while but by seeing the different options, I decided I wanted to paint my house blue.

Once I picked my colors (six total including two for the stairs that were so alike you couldn’t tell they were different) I made a color map for my painters and I to refer to once the job got started.

With a house like mine and with so many different shade of blue, I didn’t want to forget which color was supposed to go where.

If you’re good at photoshop, you can easily drop a picture of your home into the program and start playing around with the colors.

Have fun with the process, discover something new about yourself. Paint some swatches outside and then choose. A bold color might not be right for you and that’s fine, they’re not for everyone. Pick a color you not only can live with but one that will make you smile every time you see it. I can guarantee one thing, it’s a lot more fun and predictable than trying to place my photographs into this blog!

Until tomorrow, I remain your Design Detective,

Karen

NOTE: I just noticed that WordPress has taken the opportunity to create links in my posts that lead to companies selling items related to the topics I’ve presented. I have not authorized WordPress to do this, they have not asked for my permission to do this, I in no way support, recommend or have any relationship with the companies linked to my post nor do I benefit in any way, shape or form from these unauthorized links.

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World Champion SF Giants!

I know, I know, baseball is a sport and doesn’t really have a place on a blog about design but this is, afterall, a SF design blog and I’m really proud of my team and my City.

Given all the distractions the internet offers and the ease of access we have to it via our smart phones, tablets and pads, when a community rallying event happens, like watching a baseball game in the middle of the Civic Center, that, in my mind, is reason to celebrate.

Today I want to talk about sidewalks. Those narrow paths of sanity, where pedestrians like me follow the road wherever it goes with my eyes generally cast upon the pavement.

After I started noticing the color of fallen leaves, I found myself drawn to the spontaneous, spider-like eruption of cracks compartmentalizing the surface of the concrete. They looked to me like maps of unknown worlds complete with roads, rivers, and land masses. Each map created by nature’s reaction to the  imposition of this hard, human-made material upon the naturally uneven skin of the earth. Nature was simply not going to be clothed without resistance.

Nonetheless, I love the spontaneous, unpredictable appearance of sidewalk cracks and how the cracks intersect one another. I love the randomness, simplicity and beauty of their shapes. Sidewalk cracks openly rebel against control and order. They refuse to abide by scale or symmetry. They are bold statements that cut across the grain of our ‘expert-driven’ technologically supported society where life today seems framed in a world of numbers, grids and control.

Sidewalk cracks often go unnoticed because they are so obvious and the medium is so industrial and so utilitarian. Which is another reason I like them so much; they’re so easily accessible and no one can claim credit for them. They are museum-worthy works of art whose beauty increases when left outside, exposed to the elements including storms, ice, dirt, wind, feet and unfortunately, vehicles that park on top of them.

And lets not forget the cast-offs, discards, bits of trash that land haphazardly on the sidewalk. How precious and interesting they can be visually as well.

Design, as I like to define it, isn’t just about the newest pair of running shoes or the creation of a new logo or ad. Design in my mind is all about nature, the beginning and end of everything. Like an enormous cement mixer, nature takes everything in, churns it all together a few times and dumps it out as something new and beautiful. The question is, will you take that moment out of your routine to see it?

Design beauty is everywhere and in all things if one is willing and able to see beyond the windows of consumerism and discover all the designs nature has to offer for free.

The world is an amazingly beautiful place that all of us are lucky enough to be part of. So enjoy the sidewalk cracks and the fallen leaves, there’s so much more to be discovered.

Until tomorrow, I remain your,

Design Detective,

Karen

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Gates on My Mind

“I believe the future is only the past again, entered through another gate.”                            – Arthur King Pinero

Gates, unlike fences, are designed to be opened, not by everyone perhaps, but because they are doors they possess a huge range of meaning. For example, there are the ones I call, mean gates, that say, go away stranger, you’re not welcome here and you sure as hell can’t come in.

Mean gate

Their message is loud and clear but mean gates have the potential of negatively impacting the neighborhood by making everyone on the street feel nervous and scared when there may, in fact, be no reason for anyone to feel that way.  I sometimes wonder about the effect mean gates like that have on the people inside. Does it make them paranoid of their neighbors? Are they fearful of leaving their enclosure? And what if an emergency were to arise and help couldn’t get in or the injured couldn’t get out? Living in San Francisco, earthquakes and fires are real events that should not be taken lightly.

Peekaboo gate

Friendlier gates are what I just now termed, peekaboo gates. These are the most common types of gate that I’ve seen and consist of tall metal rods or bars bent into various shapes so that passersby can look in and understand the message being spoke is, we’re not hiding, we just don’t want you to come in right now, and we’re a little scared of getting robbed. I have good friends with a gate like that and they are friendly people who are also a little bit scared.

Okay, I get that. If people want to put up a gate in front of their front door, it’s no skin off my nose but it does send a message to everyone else that there is reason to be afraid. And fear, like chickenpox, is contagious, which is why it’s so dangerous. There is a self-fulfilling prophesy that goes with fear and the more it spreads the more likely something bad will happen. For some people, it’s practically a “dare”; a invitation to see if you can get in.

Now I’m not the type of person who entertains dares but there are a lot of folks out there who do, they see a challenge and they want to overcome it. Some will climb Mt. Everest and some will want to break through a gate.

My favorite gates are whimsical, playful, short and open. I like an invitation to come in and let my intuition answer. I like gates that let my eye enter so my curiosity is satisfied even if I’m not invited inside. I like gates that stimulate my imagination, that distract me from their purpose. I like gates that go nowhere or create options to enter.

Whimsical, food for thought.

Gates are expensive and having not had a paying job in almost two years, I understand the motivation of getting a cheap gate that does the trick as opposed to creating something purposeful from scratch. My question to the potential buyer is, do you really need it or would a better solution be to create community in your neighborhood; are you acting out of an irrational fear that needs to be acknowledged and addressed or is there a real danger in your neighborhood? Whatever your answer maybe, remember the manner in which you show your house is the manner in which you want your neighbors to regard your house as well.

On the beat in San Francisco, I remain,

Your Design Detective,

Karen

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It’s All About Me

I just celebrated my one-week anniversary of blogging and thought it was high time you got to know me a little better.

This is me and my family (a couple of years ago.)

This is my house in San Francisco.

And this room inside my house started me on the path to studying feng shui and ultimately, this design blog; my living room.

Right after my son, Theo, was born my living room started to really bug me. At the time, we had put our sofa against the wall directly facing the front door. Every time I sat on that sofa to feed Theo, I felt uncomfortable; vulnerable, unprotected from that door which could open at any moment. I had never experienced anything like that before. You could say that was my first introduction to feng shui.

Lo pan, a feng shui compass

Feeling safe, healthy, happy, productive in work and in relationships is what feng shui is all about. Creating a living and working environment where people can grow and fulfill their potential. Just like plants. There are many places where plants can grow and thrive and even more places where they wither and die. Sensitivity to our environment, recognizing what is working and what isn’t are the first steps toward creating a space that enriches our lives. It isn’t all about red doors and mirrors. On a deeper level, feng shui is about numbers, location, and dates. It’s understanding the face and the back of structures. There’s a lot to feng shui and for some people, the study is a life-time pursuit. For me, I work intuitively with it. I feel what’s right about a room or an arrangement on a gut level.

As a hobby, and fund raiser for different organizations, I offer my room arrangement services to individuals who are struggling to make a room work. They’ve tried almost every arrangement and still, nothing is right. Sometimes, the problem isn’t the furniture. Sometimes the problem is with the art on the wall or too much clutter on the dresser. Or sometimes, there’s too much furniture in the room and something needs to move somewhere else. Opening up space in a room opens up space in the mind and in the heart.

My home office.

When we moved into our house the sellers left a huge, metal desk in the den, in front of a bay window. After a year of living in the house, I had a need or desire to stand next to those windows but my way was blocked by that heavy desk. The more often I wanted to get close to the window the more my dislike for the desk grew. I found someone who would take the desk and when it was finally taken out of the house, I could hear the whole room sing. I know that sounds crazy but its true. There was a joy and lightness to the space and I knew I had to learn more about feng shui. So I did and I’m happy to share my knowledge with you. Afterall, I am your

Design Detective,

Karen

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Telephone Poles and I

Go way back to the day when I was a kid living in Monterey Park, a suburb of Los Angeles, when my dad, one beautiful afternoon, took out his dad’s paint box and painted a watercolor of the telephone pole that stood tall and proud, like the tree it once was, on the hill behind our backyard. That painting has been missing for as long as I can remember but I’ll never forget what it looked like. Simple, straight forward, a little amateurish but somehow haunting, I attribute my continuing fascination of telephone poles to that early watercolor.

Of course now, they have taken on a lot more meaning for me. The contrast of yesterday’s old technology to today’s new, wireless technology is profound. The clear connection between each house, each pole and every other house literally underscores, for me, how we are all in this world together as a community. The knitting together of our world with a tangle of high wires is, in my mind, bittersweet. As much as I like looking at the stark, naked poles, with their wires and transformers, I ultimately prefer they were underground so the sky and vistas were uninterrupted. As I write this, I realize I am of two minds about them. I like watching crows and ravens, morning doves, jays, and squirrels commandeer the poles and take them for their own purposes. They stand as a reminder to me of the way the world once was and still is. And I love the look of the weathered wood.

I happen to have a telephone pole in front of my house. I can see it out my office window. I’ve never once painted a picture of a telephone pole but I must have taken hundreds of pictures of them. They are simultaneously random and messy as well as systematic and dangerous. They are like modern day totem poles without faces; purpose without meaning. I love them but I wish they weren’t there and one day they will be gone. The technology will surpass their need; wireless will replace wire and then what will happen to them? Like the old ships that sailed into the San Francisco bay, will they be dismantled, dug up from the ground and reburied whole, landfill, new foundation for new skyscrapers or will they instead, return to their first human construction and become the houses of the future? Only time will tell. Waxing poetic, I remain your

Design Detective,

Karen

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Color At Your Feet

Back in good old 2010, when I had a paying job (thanks to the Obama stimulus program), every morning I would walk down my street toward the BART station to catch a train heading downtown for work. I’m not sure how it happened exactly but I started noticing the leaves that had drifted down from the trees, they looked like tiny abstract paintings on the sidewalk. I was struck by the colors and the random combinations positioned beside each other on such small canvases. I had been looking for the right color combination to paint my kitchen when I found myself surrounded by a mine field full of exploding color.

They say the more you look, the more you see and when it comes to seeking out ideas for painting your house, there’s no better, or cheaper, source for inspiration than nature. While studying art, I took a cross country road trip with the intention of doing a color study. I packed a box full of pastels, a sketch pad and off I went down the highway of artistic adventure. Although my intention was honorable and pure, my motivation was lacking. Instead of doing anything I could remotely call a study, I simply decided that from what I had seen thus far, every color goes with every other color and left it at that. I still believe there’s truth to that but when it comes to a choosing the right colors for the exterior of your home or your bathroom or bedroom, not all colors go together.

If you are like most people, the prospect of choosing a paint color can be a scary, overwhelming and costly proposition. It’s so easy to get baffled by all the choices,  how are you supposed to know where to begin? Well, my advice is to start with the colors you like the least or dislike the most. By figuring out what you don’t like is enormously helpful in directing you to a palette of colors that you do like. Once you have isolated three or five possibilities that are your favorites, get some small samples and brush a stroke of the color on the walls you are planning to paint. This step is important because light has a huge effect on color and as we all know, sunlight changes every minute of every day. A light yellow in the morning can become a dark shade of mustard in the evening, especially if cupboards or rugs or flooring is a dark color. Use the samples on three or four walls and observe the shadows that are cast upon them. Notice how the same color changes. Now see if there are other colors in the same family or a contrasting family that can work to accent your primary color choice. Also look for opportunities to play with the architectural details in your home that can be highlighted with a stroke of color.

Choosing color can be daunting but it can also be a opportunity to learn something new about yourself that you can apply to how you dress and how you feel about other things. It can give you the confidence you may be lacking out of a fear of making the wrong choice. Everyone makes painting mistakes but no one ever made a mistake and didn’t learn something from it. So look around, see what’s out there, your perfect color combination just might be at your feet.

Until tomorrow, I remain your

Design Detective,

Karen

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Neighbors and Fences

“The fence that makes good neighbors needs a gate to make good friends.”*

When the wooden fence in our backyard finally gave way and came crashing down I was relieved. I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later and now that it had, I could think about all the different options available to replace it. My first choice was no fence at all. In my mind, it’s a huge waste of money and resources to replace a wooden fence with another wooden fence that inevitably falls apart because of the water and moisture that destroys wood. I imagined our yard and our neighbor’s yard becoming one long, common space were we could share a garden and kids could play but if that idea was too radical, my second choice would be a low brick wall that would serve a dual purpose of providing seating and a opportunity to get to know our backyard neighbors.

My husband and I bought our home in 1996. At the time, the fence was protected by an old Poplar tree that rose up thick and heavy from the ground a few feet in front of the fence. We were told by the sellers that they had gotten married beneath that tree. Jon and I were married in the backyard of the house we were renting at the time so buying this new house, where a marriage had taken place, made the house even more special to us.

The problem was, the Poplar tree was dying and it rained sticky sheaths that kept would become lodged in our dog’s paws and get infected. It also created a lot of unnecessary shade on the rare days when a warm sun was shinning. So, we decided the tree had to go. It was no easy task for the team of arborists we hired to scale the 30’+ tree with their chain saws and safety straps to dismantle this old and fragile tree. Each freshly cut limb was hauled out to the street where it was fed into a machine that chewed up the bark and spat it out as mulch into a waiting dump truck. My next door neighbor, whom I had never met before, came up to me and introduced himself. His name was, Bob, he said his hobby was crafting wooden bowls and he asked me if he could have some of the cutting. I was happy to let him have whatever he wanted.

When the job was finished and the men and their saws had driven away, I discovered a crack in the fence. I didn’t know for sure if it was caused by the tree removal or if it had  always been there but over time, that crack grew bigger and with the help from the wall of ivy pushing on the other side, it was only a matter of time before it relented to the pull of gravity. Now it was time to meet my neighbors.

Never having met them before, I walked over to their house and left them a note in their mailbox asking them to please call me to discuss the fence. Rather than calling, the next time I was in the yard, my neighbor, Pat, appeared and introduced herself. She was a very pleasant woman who loved children and I just happened to have two. We chatted and I told her about my idea of not replacing the wooden fence at all or perhaps constructing a low brick wall so we could get to know one another better. Pat seemed unenthusiastic about both of my ideas and told me her husband would handle it.

Pat’s husband was a strong, opinionated man who believed in doing things the way they’ve always been done. He didn’t like change and he wanted the fence put back just the way it had be done before. I think if this series of events were to happen to me today, I would probably handle it differently. I would make a stronger case for my ideas and maybe push them more but as it happened, I just had too much else to think about so the fence went back up without a gate and I’ve never seen or talked to Pat again. I call the new fence our Berlin wall.

Two years after the new fence was installed, Bob knocked on my door. In his hand was a beautiful wooden salad bowl which he gave to me as a gift for all the wood I let him have. I love the bowl and cherish the memory of that old Poplar tree every time I fill it with fresh salad fixings. Bob moved to Hawaii so I’m not in touch with him anymore but the fence is still standing and one day it will come down again and when it does,  I’ll look forward to talking to Pat again.

*http://thinkexist.com/quotes/with/keyword/fence/

My favorite salad bowl.

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