A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Silly me!

I wrote the previous post in response to an email I received from a Southern woman who had chanced upon my blog, and wanted more detailed information about portières than I had supplied. I decided to write my response in the form of a blog entry....she's not the first person to have googled "portière" and ended up here, and presumably won't be the last. For purposes of economy and clarity, I concentrated on the details of construction, glossing over the checkered history of its creation.

Did this abridgement slip past my eagle-eyed brother-in-law? No way.

So, I'm posting the following disclaimer:

For "I" in the part about the sewing, read "my little sister, Leslie, who can sew circles around me blindfolded, with both hands tied around her back." For "I" in the part about the doorstop, read "my handy friend with tools, Brian." For "I" in the part about the hacksaw, read "my son." For "I" in the part about mislaying the bracket, read "I." For a picture of Leslie sewing the portière, see my post of 11/24/06.

Come to think of it, my friends Priya and Donna, as well as Donna's Aunt Eldora (may she rest in peace), also struggled with some of the measuring, pinning, cutting, and sewing of the portière.

An historic home like mine takes you over in the best possible way. I don't think of myself as "owning" the Emory House, but rather of being its steward. In my very first blog post, I declare my resolution to make a portière. In the third, I detail the assistance of my reclusive neighbor Ken in repairing my stairwell. Living in this house has helped me to forge connections with the past, present, and future. This roof has united my poet friends, my book club friends, my neighbors, my relatives, my childhood friends, my workmates.

I use my front door a dozen times a day. I never look at the portière without thinking of Leslie, Bill, Brian, Ali, Priya, Donna, and Eldora. I never sit on my glider without thinking of all the people with whom I've shared it. I never go to bed without a passing thought of all the people who have lived in, slept in, possibly died in that room. That's the gift, and also the curse, of history.

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