Ever walked into someone’s living room and been visually dazed by all the stuff they have on their walls and every flat surface? Paintings and pictures and knickknacks of memorabilia crammed together to fill every square quarter-inch of space? So much that you can’t possibly focus and appreciate any of them? Yeah, my wife has been working on that for years.
In my office, all my knickknacks are on one shelf, because I can’t stand having anything in front of my books. I also have thirteen things on my walls, not counting the five stringed instruments that hang from mounts. Four of the things are works of art I did, three paintings and a drawing. Two are works from my sister, a painting on bark and a drawing. One is a wooden scroll-saw cutout of the pictographic word Kimchi my brother-in-law made for me. One is a plaque my kids gave me for Father’s Day in 1992 that simply says “I Love You Dad.” Five are photographs, one of my family sometime after we came back from Germany, when my kids were still in their early teens, and four are school pictures of my grandkids. And here’s the thing about the school photos: the frames display the current picture; the years of pictures before that are behind them. I will not clutter my office with a total of 48 photos – which is the amount I’d have when my last two grandsons graduate. The final pictures in those frames will forever be from the 12th grade only. Any others from later in their lives will command a different frame and position on my walls, even if it means I have to remove a painting, I suppose. If I was told I could only have one picture on one wall, I would choose the one of my family when we were all younger. Otherwise, since I will never know what my kids and grandkids look like when they’re really old, I will not clutter my walls with their aging. Nor will I stuff up my space with when they were babies.
It is a definite fact that if I ever get to build my own perfect abode, I would hang one picture per wall and display one knickknack per flat surface throughout the house. Sure, sure, I’d cover the rest of the walls with musical instruments, guitars and perhaps lyres (I’m looking into those, because there is no neck of frets to press) and really, instead of knickknacks, I’d have variously sized keyboards sitting on every surface. Small frames and souvenirs would be stored in boxes – though not too hidden, so when the need arises I can reminisce without a lot of digging.
Okay. What was I meaning to talk about? Oh yeah, the frog.
My wife is also determined to litter the back yard and patio with similar objects. Not pictures, but the various accouterments of outside art. I seldom go out there because of the overwhelming collection she’s purchased of mostly things I can’t identify, or refuse to see by way of mental repulson. In and all around the log-raised plots of backyard land, she’s placed a confusion of objects made of concrete, plaster, metal, plastic, and wood. I’ve spotted gnomes and butterflies, and recognized birdhouses, and what looks to me like wasp nests. (Those might actually be real nests.) And she’s done the same on the patio.
Recently she, with the help of our brother-in-law and my sister-in-law, redid the patio, putting in new outdoor furniture and enclosing it with magnetic hanging screens. It looks great, but I’ll never sit on those wicker chairs, because their bare arms of either rattan, reed, willow, or bamboo, hurts my skin, leaving crisscrossed dents in my flesh. And she’s decorated that outside with all kinds of designer crap, on metal mesh shelves, on the floor, and hanging from the rafters. It’s a skull maze of bumps and potential bloody gashes.
But the other day, when I was forced to traverse her catacombic patio to install a new hose in the reel-box outside the chain-link fence, I spotted something I fully recognized. For some reason that I suspect she doesn’t know herself – perhaps because she ran out of places to hang them – my wife put a barn-like birdhouse on the outside sill of the small bathroom window, which is midway along the wall behind the new wicker couch. I’d seen the thing there before, but I ignored its incongruity. However, on that day, while glancing around to make sure I didn’t hit my head on something, I did a double-take at what I was very reluctantly familiar with: a frog.
A little frog was in the birdhouse, with his face and fingers sticking out the square opening. I was alarmed. I asked my wife about it, and she said he’d been there for quite some time. She didn’t have a name for him, so I’m going to call her pet frog Flush. Apparently Flush is able to catch enough bugs to make a living, and so he seemed very happy, but it’s hard to tell, since frogs usually only lick their eyes when they move at all, and I don’t know what that means. I looked at him for a short while, and he looked at me, I guess, and then I took a picture of him.
Well, I suppose it’s okay that he’s there. It’s certainly better than him taking up residence in my toilet bowl.