Thursday, July 29, 2010

Conversation Guy and Hiding Jews For Fun And Profit

"Hey, did you hear what happened to Conversation Guy?"

I was my usual flippant self: "What? He finally found a wall that talked back?"

"No, he tried to kill himself. He's in the hospital right now."

"Oh," I said at the news this world of ours had shed one more tear. "I guess it had to come to that, didn't it?"


Street people talk to themselves a lot and outsiders find that "scary". And usually, the older a person is, the more prevalent the self-dialog. The young are in no less pain but still have something left in the tank to absorb the blows of the street. But comes a point when you're all tapped out, trapped and terrified you'll never have another human connection ever again. So you have to start talking, to keep your racing mind company and hopefully maybe stay one step ahead of the wolves of insanity barking at your heels.

I read about people who are experiencing long term unemployment for the first time. They talk about being invisible, feeling separated while standing in line for movie tickets, thinking: "I'm not one of them anymore, spending money without giving it a second thought. I'm a secret outcast." Suddenly, certain places are forbidden to you as you notice the upscale restaurant you can no longer frequent. In fact, forbidden zones are everywhere for the moneyless. It gets worse over time.

When explorers traverse over large blocks of ice they stay linked together by a rope in case a crack forms and one of them falls through. The lifeline will save them. America doesn't believe in lifelines, everyone has to "Pull their own weight" as a sign of alleged virtue. It's why we have the highest anxiety in the world. We pretend we're so strong no crack can come along to hurt us and if it does, then you must be doing something wrong. Leaving someone to die like that is a form of rape, America's true pastime.

Oh sure, we do a little of what I call "Jew hiding" like in WWII, giving shelter to those who would be crushed. Donate some money, fund a shelter and you hide a Jew from the Nazis of capitalism. But while that has to be done, it does no good if no one is fighting the Nazis - or even admit they exist! You can't stop the bleeding if you never heal the wound. Now you see why good deeds won't get us to heaven - we only do them so we won't have to change our wicked, wicked ways.

Ever been inside an ice schism? It's very cold and very lonely. And very quickly you realize your life depends on others to help. There is no possible worse feeling than that in America with its despicable code words like "individual responsibility" i.e. "You're on your own, pal!". Not what you want to hear as the ice walls close in and no matter how loudly you scream, no one will ever hear you. I know it's radical beyond all current norms of modern thought, but abandoning people is not my idea of being responsible. We are bloodthirsty savages in three piece suits, clawing and slashing to keep our futureless fantasy.

Conversation Guy had long ago fell through the crack, the ice splitting open right in the middle of his conversation. And to keep himself going, he never stopped having that discussion, he just kept talking away, desperately clinging to the hope he'd be pulled right back up and could continue along as if nothing had ever happened. We'd made a game of trying to deduce the original subject of his conversation, making a sort of "Who's on first?" routine out of it. All we really knew was it was about a relationship he'd once had or was having with a woman.

It's a long fall from feeling outcast standing in the check out lane to losing everything and walking the streets in complete despair. Somewhere along the way you lose your mind imprisoned between the relentless, unforgiving perils of the ice walls. They say when you reach the end of your rope to tie a knot in it. Conversation Guy did that, he survived the best he could hiding from the Nazis, but with no one fighting the good fight his strength to hold on finally gave way.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Gangs Of New Jack City And The War Protester

"Peace stopping the war! You've gotta be kidding me!" I knew sooner or later somebody was going to fuck with the guy, standing all alone on the corner, and in this redneck city - oh yeah. "What's the deal, man? All the whales been saved?"

The taunter had two companions cut up from the same cloth, mockingbirds to echo their loser leader. All three liked shaved heads and tattoos. But these weren't the scary kind of skinheads, more like the kind who wanted to look badass as an identity for acceptance. Think Vanilla Ice and his two retarded cousins. Original thoughts hard to come by in this threesome.

The sign holder looked like a reject from a hippie nursing home, replete with bandana and denim vest. I winced at first glance, thinking, "Sheesh, dude, at least clean up a little and don't look so much the stereotype of the burned out sixties beatnik." It's why I never watch American Idol, I can't stand for people to make themselves targets. But he was rigid in his stance and not a man of fear like me. "More power to ya," I said to myself. "But I sure wouldn't want to deal with the morons that sign is sure to attract."

The protester was at a busy off ramp from the highway, a place usually reserved for panhandlers. With nothing better to do in my godforsaken life this early morn, I claimed a shady spot and decided to watch this one act play. I saw only one angry confrontation as the words got heated between the protester and a BMW driver. Suddenly I noticed the hippie disengaging as the driver still barked his argument. The hippie just started smiling and flashed a peace sign as the guy screeched away.

This is how BMW asshole parked later on

Interesting. Maybe this guy's got something. Made me feel guilty for not doing more.

I also saw signs of support which he gratefully acknowledged and some others who were genuine in their disagreement and felt the need to say their peace. But the only real anger I saw was from the Beemer driver and I began to think I'd misjudged the maturity level of my fellow Dallasites. Turns out it had just taken the morons a while to find him...

Taunters 2 and 3 joined the fray.

"Yeah, man, save the dolphins too!"

"And maybe goldfish cuz he's caring like that!"

The three were most self-congratulatory in their supposed wit and giggled appropriately. Protest Man didn't move. I'm not sure he even blinked, looking at them with the wariness as one would an overhead pigeon who's about to poop. I did notice he saw no reason to answer them. The leader resumed his self-mockery.

"Aw, I think he's gonna cry! Is that a tear I see?"

"I think he's going to start chanting or something!"

"Maybe he's going to sing a song for us! Come on, dude, sing out Paperback Writer."

Both the war protester and I had WTF expressions on our faces. Paperback Writer? Where the hell did that come from? That his idea of a sixties protest song? Or maybe just the only sixties song he knew? Weird things people say. People are so inconvenient when they don't stay pigeonholed.

The continual non-response caused an escalation of the leader's earnestness.

"You gotta be hard, man." Each of the three said "man" in the mocking tone of a sixties relic. "It's dog-eat-dog out there and your little pussy sign ain't gonna make one fucking bit of difference! It's take or be taken."

Quick! Tell me what to think!

The leader of the brats was genuinely perturbed by the sign. I'd seen it before: the protester touched something off in the boy's latent idealism. I wondered if his background was more suburban than urban.

Seeing something real to respond to, Sign Man replied. "He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword."

Predictably, twisted sister wasn't going to take that. "You don't got a sword you're just gonna be somebody's bitch. You don't understand nothin', man."

Finding a concept they could grasp, the two tagalongs added further pearls of wisdom. "We gonna cut you up, dude. What you think of that?"

"What you gonna do? Hug us to death, old man? Live in the real world, ya dumb fuck!"

Like a District Attorney who's made his case, the leader folded his arms and waited for the accused to defend himself against the charges. I was thinking; "Fuck! Wish I had a video camera!"

The Protester looked into the eyes of each of his counterprotesters, sizing them up. Was he going to run in the better part of discretion? Or did he see something worthwhile in their eyes? This guy's really got me intrigued. What scars had he born? Was he truly stupid enough to think one little sign would make a difference? Or had he read "Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals" and acted in such a way that if everyone did it it would make a difference? I'd really like to pick his brain.

I hushed my thoughts as he replied.

"Why choose the sword when you know it will only kill you?"

The logic paused the boys, Larry and Curly looking to Moe to respond. He came up with this: "Cause I ain't gonna be nobody's bitch! Better dead then a bitch!"

I dearly wanted to correct his grammar but I noticed the body language of the three unwise men was not so confident now, hanging on the hippie's response like children to a father.

"You'll always be the sword's bitch. I'm a free man. Kill me and I die a free man."

Respect. The lost boys had found a home in his words and though they struggled not to show it they hungered to walk further down this road. A road to manhood. A road with a future (not having one being their true argument). I watched the inward struggle between their pride and their desires and how tempting they found it to give up the "hard man" routine and give in to life. But the guardian of fear kept them from crossing that bridge.

"OK, dude. You wanna die, have it your way. You're one dumb motherfucker, you know that?"

Hippie man smiled at the veiled compliment, knowing what the boy truly wished to say. But taunter #3 halted in his retreat. While taunter #2 was clearly a follower all the way, #3 had his own intelligence if not the kind that can stand on its own. He was literally just smart enough to be dangerous and I feared for the protester who stood naked with his reason.

And I was right.

I jumped up, taking several steps forward as I saw #3 rush the greybeard. But the reply was swift and well-aimed. In a defensive move, a thrusting heel went straight into the thigh of the bullheaded boy. Another well placed kick to the abdomen left him howling doubly in pain, not knowing where to clutch. I'd seen a guy heel-kicked before and it put him on crutches for three days. So I knew the boy was hurting. The last shot to the boy was verbal.

"War hurts. Do you want it to stop?" The boy's pride held him in its grip even then, refusing to repent. "Well, do you?" The voice made it clear more pain was to come.

"Yes. Yes I want it to stop."

Sign Man stepped back. "Me too."

I was beside myself. "Jesus, I can't believe that just happened! I wish the whole world could see this! Damn!"

The two punksters who could still walk helped up their moaning friend and slinked away educated if not awake. But you figure something would stick from all that. My gaze went back to the enigmatic protester but he was walking away too - holding no joy or victory on his face. He'd been forced into violence; he'd lost. Suddenly the sign seemed to mock him and he left to find a better way.


Punksters are such a joke

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Four Horsemen Of Death

You can't do that. We'll be ruined if you do that. This I thought sitting on my favorite hill watching the world go by. But we did it nonetheless and I was but a poor boy those many years ago, needing of both direction and a woman; with no clear voice to speak. But that's what I thought.


The village had covered itself in darkness, blocking the light of day. "The light is bad for business," they said. And business had been bad for a very long time, the suffering too harsh to keep enduring. We all knew something had to change. I thought it meant we'd have to change our business to work in the light. Instead we chose to keep our practices but continue them unseen in the black shadows - where we could do anything. We slipped below the water line of life, holding our breaths and defiantly declared this was our way of life.

So be it, what could I do?

The last of the Light Wizards had been killed in preparation for the dark coup. Mourning swept across the berg with his passing even as a new morning of prosperity was declared by the Power Lords. People had more faith in the Power Lords than the Light Wizards and gobbled up the false new hope - a struggle we continue to this day. Even after the Four Horsemen showed up to wreak nightmares never seen before.

I knew, of course, the horsemen existed, but our idyllic village was of the light and these shadows creatures cannot ride in the sun. Only those who give them haven allow them to exist - and we were the last of the villages to join. We'd been proud of our ways of light, unmarred by the horsemen's foul licks of despair, and stubbornly assumed that even with plunging our town into darkness, the horsemen still not dare visit us.

For a while, it was true, feeding our delusions and we drank ourselves drunk with the wine of victory. Even when they showed up I think some still did not believe it.

They were first spotted on the Great Plains, and prophets came to warn us, to move us back to the light before destruction came our way. But like the light, prophets are bad for business, and as such were declared heretics and malcontents and the true agents of destruction. But I listened and went to look for myself and, yes, the Four Horsemen of Death stood in doom, studying us, searching for how best to pick us apart, to cause the maximum damage. I thought: Good, maybe this will change our minds.

The Four thundered in screaming terror across the plains and villagers scurried like cockroaches running from an impending foot. Fire arrows torched buildings and homes, burning souls alive. A crack formed in the capitol's foundation, the earth shook with such fury. For the first time, blood flowed in the street gutters from our own dead bodies trampled mercilessly by the horses' razored hooves. From the hill I saw smoke rise from my village and I wondered if we'd ever fully recover.

Slowly, ashen faced, reconstruction began. To fix it all would take years of determination but a healing of sorts began and I was encouraged. Each of us knew too many attacks by the horsemen meant eventual obliteration. Our glorious new dawn spawned a hangover and a painful sobriety. Cautious but optimistic, I awaited word from the Power Lords on the changing of our ways. At first, they would not speak, but then:

"They shall not return!" proclaimed the Power Lords, much to the relief of the gullible villagers. "Nor do we have to move back to the light. All will be fine!"

Crestfallen, I went back to the mount where I could see the Riders return. Stopping them was impossible, no more than a starving body can stop hunger without food could we stop the Riders without light. Strange Plants began to grow in dark corners of my village; mushrooms of mania, poppies of paranoia, roses of rage. Holy water was sprinkled on the growths, to make them pure. Shamans dispatched from the Power Lords preached we must change our ways, that we must do right by God and nature, and that anything else was unacceptable. We must do anything and everything, they said, except remove the darkness. Anything but that.

We are a village clever at self-deception.

Nah, they wouldn't put us in the street to die

But all I remembered was the horror. The First Rider spewed seeds of mistrust (thus spawning the Strange Plants) and villager turned upon villager, doubtless in the other's intent to harm. "Why else do you seek the dark? No good, lazy bum just wants to take without giving! I will shackle you in irons! I will doom you to hell!" But it was the horsemen they truly wished to shackle - and they believed they were doing the one while doing the other. And thus I found many brothers and sisters in chains.

The Second Rider threw knives of fear into the the heart which bled many homes as truth spilled out onto green lawns turned black. Truth was the enemy, truth was doom, true was the End. Good men told good lies, facing the knives in what they called bravery. "He died so that we may live! We all must do the same to keep our way of life. Blessed be the death that keeps us from the truth." Better to fear change than fear death, they cheered, and great bombs and wonderful weapons were constructed to keep them safe - as if objects of man could ever stop the Riders.

The Third Rider blew Winds of Despair, wilting souls under his stampede. Why move from the unstoppable horses' paths? Be trampled and die. "We shall pray for us and ask God to take away our despair. We shall ask for mercy, for what kind of god leaves us hopeless in the dark? We shall be faithful in our hope of deliverance. God will come, we need do nothing!" But it was not God who moved them to the darkness - and praying away hunger is a waste of energy.

The Fourth Rider poured the poison of lies into the villagers' well and it was he who declared it Holy Water and the source of salvation. The Riders' currency was one of terror, a god more hallowed with every passing day. "If only I had terror - more terror," murmured the bent-backed villagers. "Terror makes us safe from the terrorists who prey upon us." The poisoned well twisted their minds, some even arguing the Horsemen were the saviors. And in this way they hoped to gain favor from death.


In death we trust

The Four Horsemen have returned, of course, more than once. Devastation increases with each visit; bolder strikes, more opportunities for imprinting desolation, more mistrust, fear, despair and lies. Prophets who once warned of the oncoming hell were hanged, the Power Lords claiming the prophets were the cause of the Riders return, for speaking ill of the horsemen. But as I look at my village now, I wonder of our lives.

Chains are churned out night and day, mimicking their enslaved hearts. Sharing is increasingly constricted and those who are without declared as demons. Rage without reason like a cancer grows, with reason branded as the domain of the weak. Above all, the capacity for self-deception is the holy temple of dark salvation, one villager inquisitioning another: "Will you allow me to be deceived?" If the answer is negative, the traitor is hauled away in righteous haste so the land may be purged and made safe for almighty liars.


As for me, I'm still in need of direction and a woman. From a distance I see my village has been badly hurt and her capability for healing vastly reduced. And if I speak what I see I am damned. If I do not speak, I am damned. But I fear the next attack may be the fatal one to end our grand folly. I stay on the hill because from here I can still see the sun. So I sit, watching the sun set, and waiting for the Riders' return...


Friday, July 23, 2010

Pride And Bullets In A Tony Texas Town

One of the underlying themes to my novel was that everyone does everything for love. On the surface that statement sounds crazy but it is one that will be revealed as an unalterable axiom of life. Think of love as water coming through a hose. If you try and stop it the hose explodes. If you press your thumb over the outlet it bends the flow in a direction not to be long tolerated. The only constant is the water and the need to let it out. Once you realize that all else is put into perspective.

That's why love causes so many crazy outcomes: if you try to deal with it on your own terms, you lose.


(COPPELL, TEXAS) On July 14, 2010, Coppell mayor Jayne Peters fatally shot her 19-year-old daughter in the neck, then turned the gun on herself inflicting a fatal wound to the head.

Coppell (accent on second syllable) is a tony, bedroom community of 39,000 here in the DFW metroplex. It's a churchy, comfortably numb sequestered slice of white conservative America. It's not the plasticine porter of Plano where it's “Be perfect or die” but like any place that becomes a bubble life, perception becomes reality. And when that happens, pain is sure to follow.

The news rocked the insular citizens as their good mayor showed no signs of trouble or discontent as they lay their heads down nightly believing nothing lay beneath the surface of their world but love and goodness. I'm not sure that same slumber will ever return - thankfully. Once separated from reality, questions are deemed the enemy but the tragically missed truth is they are lifelines.

The search for answers in the Coppell mayor murder-suicide case might change the way the city does business.

News 8 has learned that city leaders will take a look at the policy on city-issued credit cards.

The review comes after Mayor Jayne Peters used her city credit card for personal expenses as she struggled to make ends meet. The city attorney launched an investigation because Peters failed to turn in some receipts.

The questionable charges total more than $4,000 and could reach $6,000.

Some of the suspicious charges were made at North Texas businesses in the last eight months. They include nearly $600 at a Kroger supermarket; around $270 at gas stations; $360 at two clothing stores in Plano; $700 at restaurants; and $1,600 at Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

A second rental car expense showed up as well: that of a Kia she'd given to her daughter as a graduation gift - the fact it was merely a rental was not explained. But the credit card investigation had started before the suicide and most likely prompted the killings as she was pressured to show receipts for her expenditures. It made one wonder how she planned on funding her daughter's future:

Corrine planned to attend the University of Texas in the fall, and she wasn't going alone; a handful of Coppell High School friends also got accepted.

They say Corinne wanted a career in the medical field, a goal she set after her father passed away from cancer in 2008.

Dance was Corinne's passion; friends called it a gift. "She had the best technique on the team," Ashley said. "Beautiful pointed feet, and leaps, and turns, and... everything about her dancing was flawless."

On Monday, Corrine was planning to set out to follow her dreams and attend freshman orientation at UT.

Yeah, I know. It hurts to read. But UT had never received an application, her daughter's acceptance another lie in the house of cards. Nor did her mom reveal their $400,000 home had almost been foreclosed on three times in the last year. Apparently Corrine's mother felt ruining her daughter's perception of reality would be a fate worse than death and rationalized her death as a mercy killing. But really, can you imagine pointing a gun at your daughter? The idea of maintaining her image lasted even to after her death:

Police said Peters left four suicide notes around the house detailing who to call. She left a key at the front door with the note:

"To our First Responders:

Here's the key for the front door.

I am so very sorry for what you're about discover.

Please forgive me.


It was neatly planned and premeditated with surgical precision. After neighbors saw Corrine loading her car on the fateful day presumably for the UT orientation sessions she kept "unluckily" missing, about 15 to 20 minutes later her mother was spotted unloading the car after what would have logically been her murder. The rental car, you see, needed to be returned and was duly done so. When the daughter's body was found, her head was wrapped in towels.

Image is everything.

The main suicide note read thusly:

"Oh, gracious God, please forgive me and have mercy on my eternal soul.

My sweet, sweet Corinne had grown completely inconsolable ... she had learned to hide her feelings from her friends, but the two of us were lost, alone, and afraid. Corinne just kept on asking, "why won't God just let me die?" We hadn't slept at all, and neither one of us could stop crying when we were together.

Please ask my family to take care of my pets. The dogs, Hope and Lucy, should be kept together or put down.
There are four cats:
Mystic - the black cat - 9 years old
Sassy - Siamese - 11 years old
Snowflake - Siamese - 11 years old
Reno - brown Abyssinian - 6 years old"

Another note told who to contact about the deaths and a final note by her body asked "do not recesitate (sic) under any circumstances."

There's no reason to judge Jayne Peters. She has to live for all eternity with what she's done and I wouldn't wish her hell on anybody. She couldn't let her truth out, thinking she no longer could warrant love if that were to happen. She kinked the hose hoping to stem the flow, all the while knowing a day of reckoning was coming and I share this story because hers is not unique in type, even if in scope.

Being one of their own, Dallas conservatives have closed ranks after the murder-suicide.

Until this week, Jayne Peters was the kind of person I have always envied, held in awe and maybe even – in a craven and jealous sense – feared a little bit.

We never met, but as women of roughly commensurate age, education and background, we were, in a general sense, sisters: white-collar baby boomers, comfortable habitu├ęs of upper-middlebrow American culture, poised to take advantage of the breaches in gender barriers that gave women of our generation more options than our own mothers enjoyed.

...Yet, she seemed to belong to an elite sorority I have never entirely understood, the superwomen who effortlessly juggle family, career and civic involvement.

Further vomit ensues but you get the idea. Now transpose the murder-suicide to a white trash trailer park or to the black projects of south Dallas. One wonders if the sympathy would be the same. I know which way I would bet. Criminals tend to cover for one another.

I also heard Ralph Strangis, popular play-by-play guy for the Dallas Stars hockey team, speak about this on the radio. As a fellow Coppell resident he said the true tragedy was that the mayor was a popular person, and had she reached out for help it would have flowed in from all quarters. Sometimes, when we separate ourselves from reality, it's not hell we're avoiding, but heaven.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Dark Lord Of The Forest

In choking, mystic fog
I drown;
Blind hands reaching for
the Sky;
T'is Heaven's haven my
heart seeks;
Spellbound by woods of doomed
Dark Lord.

Dripping death gathers on me
like moss;
Fodder pawn in hell's ancient
new war;
The Hebrew god forgets
my name;
Deeper run I as holy hounds
draw near.

Why the free air forbidden
to breathe?
Puppeteer's strings coil 'round
my neck;
Wandering lost, I question
my earth;
Stillborn trees mainline
my life.

The Dark Lord sends out men
of steel;
Walling limbs grant no
No justice stays the arms of
I stumble staring over my

Foolish rulers in the Dark Lord's
No man masters conceit of the
Stenched, rotted orcs feast with
no fear;
Witch's councils brew hopeless
stained words.

Through battling branches I see
Blue Sky;
To passing clouds I plead
my case;
But when blackened hearts surround
me dead;
In the Dark Lord's soul I shine
my light.



Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chandor Gardens (Photo Essay)

Oftentimes we miss greatness when it's in our own backyard. I'm as guilty of that as anybody. I think: "What are the odds anything great is here?" I'm continually stunned the Japanese Gardens in Fort Worth aren't closed and shuttered away, I feel so lucky to have them (and after talking to the head gardener there, he confirmed what a special place it is). But 25 miles west of Forth Worth is the city of Weatherford and it holds a gem of its own as well.

Chandor Gardens is named after Douglass Chandor and was the personal playground for him and his wife, Ina. Basically, it's a huge backyard for his house and artist's studio. The story is as follows:

What began as an artist's dream nearly 70 years ago stands today as a world renowned garden. Douglass Chandor, an Englishman who came to this country in 1926, established himself as one of the great artists of the 20th century. His portraits of President Herbert Hoover, President Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill are among five of his paintings exhibited in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.

Following their marriage in 1934, Douglass Chandor and Ina Kuteman settled in their hometown of Weatherford, Texas. The couple began their home and surrounding gardens, which they named White Shadows, on family ground in 1936. A cactus covered, caliche hillside evolved into a series of "garden rooms" featuring English and Chinese motifs. When questioned about his passion for gardening, Douglass would reply that he was given the skills to paint in order to build his garden.

White Shadows flourished under Douglass' care for 16 years until his death in 1953. As a tribute to her husband, Ina changed the name to Chandor gardens and kept it open to the public until 1978 when she passed away. For the next 16 years the garden fell into a state of neglect. Melody and Chuck Bradford purchased the garden in 1994 and lovingly restored the home and gardens. The City of Weatherford acquired Chandor gardens in 2002.

I have a travel book of every tourist spot in the state and I'd made this trek once before - only this time I had a camera. So take a stroll with me on a warm but pleasant summer day and explore both the garden and spirit of Douglass and Ina Chandor.

The main entrance. The road winds to the left from here.

The sense of excitement builds as you peek at the house and gardens on your way to the parking area. It just exudes good vibes - and does not disappoint.

Entrance to the garden area. I love the fairy tale arch. As you can guess, it's a popular place for marriage ceremonies.

Inas Path
This is "Ina's Walk" which was the initial feature of the garden in 1936. The brick inscription is a Latin message to Ina: "May this little garden flourish, consecrated to Ina, in the year of Our Lord Edward the Eighth, forevermore."

The walk leads to the Italiante pergola on the way to the main house. To the left is a cubbyhole where a shaded bench resides for a relaxing view and to absorb the garden. The Chandors put many such benches in the garden and I just imagined them sitting and gazing into one another's eyes and smiling at their creation, of both their marriage and estate.

Courtyard Pergola View
This is the view from that bench where you can see through to the courtyard which has at its center an astrolabe fountain that's the hub of four walkways leading out from it.

The courtyard is the main place for receptions; guarded by a massive cedar elm tree.

Once in the house you can see miniature versions of Douglass's famous portraits. I purchased my ticket and asked for a tour of the rest of the house. I played my "I'm a blogger for Open Salon" card and she hastily obliged.

The kitchen had been modernized by the Bradfords in the 90's when they lived there. Not large, but very charming.

Here's your view from the breakfast nook as you have your coffee every morning. Magical.

Here's the sitting room where Douglass often asked his subjects to pose. The unfinished portrait was discovered during restoration and has yet to be identified.

These pictures were also unearthed during restoration and were quite a find. The brunette woman you see behind Douglass is the Queen of England. These were taken during the time he painted her portrait (which resides in the house).

This homey fireplace was lined with pictures on each side. One of a very famous painting:

The portrait with FDR standing is said to be the only one of its kind.

This was actually the master bedroom. The two doors you see at the back open out to an eastern facing porch where you can overlook the gardens. Since the entire property sits on a high point, I can just imagine the morning sunrises they shared.

Douglass's studio. The sense of space is so very conducive to creativity and one feels almost as if walking on holy ground as you enter. I got a very special feeling as I stepped in.

A nautical looking oval window gave light from the side. Next to it is a Chinese drawing, one of the motifs running throughout the house.

A photo of the artist at work back in the day.

These Chi-Ling statues were originally used in a garden fountain. Bronze replicas were made so these could be restored and preserved inside the house. They reside on a table in the front entryway.

A view of the eastern porch. One would have to imagine chairs were set out back when the house was occupied. From here we'll start our journey through the garden.

View from the porch. The Chandors liked water and fountains. Like the courtyard, the fountain is a hub for paths leading in different directions.

To the left we're taken to the Chinese bridge which leads to the front door. The water streams up around to the left and is filled with koi fish.

We go up the stream, cross over these lily pad steps and we're transported to a place of English whimsy, giving us the taste of a British manor.

This gnome-like fellow greets us, inspecting visitors with his monocle.

Next we find the Bowling Green where bocce ball and croquet was played. Now it's the site of most weddings.

The Pixie Pond is close by. Little characters like these are spread all through the garden. The Chandors put lovely details into the nooks and crannies, one need only look to find them.

As we cross back we come to the Mount Cox waterfall, providing a cooling cove of splashing water. Douglass Chandor's favorite dream was to build such a waterfall but it wasn't completed until after his death.

Trellis Pond 4
We cross the Trellis Pond, home to rock formations designed to look like various animals, and also a Chinese junk.


Stone of Immortals 2
Coming across we find the Stone of the Immortals, fashioned by Douglass after structures found in Chinese gardens. It is a symbol of luck and protection for the gardens.

Moon gate
The back edge of the garden holds the Moon Gate, with a Chinese lake diorama as its destination

Moon Gate Diorama Close
A close-up of the diorama.

Moon Gate View
Leading out from the Moon Gate we are set on a direct line to the Cave Grotto back near the garden entrance.

A Chinese goddess greets us as we pass. Be sure to check my Flikr link at the end to see more of these statuettes, some no more than a couple of inches high.

Chi Ling Fountain Close
The Chi-Ling fountain with its bronze replicas marks the halfway point.

Cave Grotto
The Cave Grotto, another place for cool shade and meditation.

Cave Grotto View Zoom
Using a zoom lens, we can see all the way back to the Moon Gate. I thought it was a genius idea to link the two, as if two people could sit in each spot and still feel connected.

When I saw this I thought of 1Mom's wonderful photos and decided to try my hand at it.

Finally, I had to bid adieu.

Click here to see the full set.


Note: much of the garden information came from the brochure handed out for the tour.