Sunday, July 27, 2014

The South Bedroom and the Jesus Room

South Bedroom Alight
Unless we have overnight guests and need a place to put them, we keep the South Bedroom and the Jesus Room shut during the wintertime to save on heating costs and don't open them up unless we need to in the summer time to help keep the rest of the house cool.

Our house is not all that large, but it is large for an adobe pioneer house. It's been added on to at various times by various owners, so it kind of rambles about, with wings and spare rooms and whatnot, and it's not very well insulated among other things, like the finish polished pine floor is also the subfloor in some rooms so sometimes when the wind blows in the winter, the cold air seeps up from below.... There is no central heating or air conditioning, only a large free-standing gas heater in the living room that puts out abundant heat but it's kind of iffy getting said heat well distributed to distant rooms. In fact, we use electric heaters in those distant rooms to supplement the main heater when the temperature falls. There are some portable air conditioners, and we run the one in our bedroom through most of the summer to keep things in there nice and cool for sleepy-time.

The South Bedroom has become another library room; there are books and bookcases in every room in the house except the bathroom, where there are stacks of magazines instead. We picked up two new bookcases at Claudio's in town -- his brother builds them out of scrap lumber and they're very rustic and southwestern and nice -- and we thought that would be enough for the books we planned to put in there, but of course they filled up right away and we had to get another one. A skinny one this time because we were running out of room to put more bookcases. Most of our "good" books are in the South Bedroom, that is the ones that have some special meaning or financial value, the many signed copies, the still nice old ones, and some are kept in a glass fronted bookcase that dates from the 19teens or sometime like that that we brought with us from California. One of those Craftsman pieces that are practically worshiped by subcultures of house restorers. We sometimes stack bookcases on top of one another, so they reach toward the ceiling and we should probably have a ladder handy to get to the books at the very top. Practically every flat surface except the bed has stacks of books as well... We'll need to find some place for another bookcase some day.

Jesus Room Shrine Corner
The Jesus Room also has books: your missals and prayerbooks and catechisms and whatnot but also some cook-books and how-to books and so on, simply because we didn't have room for them in the kitchen and other places.

The Jesus Room also has lots of paintings and religious statues and icons and so forth. Many of the paintings are paint-by-number items that I picked up at thrift stores, and some of them are quite nice examples of the genre. The Gethsemane picture above the shrine is paint-by-number, for example (if that weren't obvious). Other paintings are what you might call "motel-commercial." They're actual paintings and they're technically very well done, but their subject matter is so generic, whether landscapes or marinas or city skylines, that they seem to be cranked out rather than thought through. They were probably originally bought for motel rooms or offices or set up on easels on tourist byways.

There is a stunning photograph, too, of what I think is a Mormon Temple in Hawaii or maybe it's Mesa, Arizona -- very dramatically lit with pinks and golds and a sunset sky -- I just like it, and so it hangs in the corner away from the corner shrine with all the other Jesus (and Mary and St. Francis) stuff. Wouldn't want to cross contaminate... There's a small carving of St. Francis in the shrine that keeps falling down, and I sometimes take that as a "sign," though I'm pretty sure it happens because one of the feral cats that sometimes gets in the house goes exploring the way they do. Cats love to explore. The shrine is like a cave for them. The items on the semi-altar below the shrine also get knocked about from time to time. That's why I think it must be the cats.

There's a pressed tin Our Lady of Lourdes that all the silver has worn off of so you don't really know right off what it is, and then it hits you and it's pretty cool because it is very three-dimensional and serene; There's a huge gold-framed print of The Last Supper that must have come from a church hall somewhere, but I don't know where. Of course there's a photo-print of Our Lady of Guadalupe from her shrine in Mexico. That's her hiding above St. Anthony peeking out behind the door to the shrine in the photo.

Yes, of course, most of the iconography is Catholic, though there are a few overtly Protestant or Mormon or Orthodox items as well. I suppose some of the crosses could be considered "non-denominational" -- though whether they are or not depends on one's point of view. My favorite is the miniature replica of the San Damiano Cross, the one that allegedly spoke to St. Francis in the ruined chapel of San Damiano in Umbria below Assisi, the one that told him "Francis, go, rebuild my house..."

There are "oriental" paintings --*ha ha*-- of the Paint-by-Number kind but nothing, really that be-speaks the Buddhist light behind a lot of this stuff. Except for St. Francis. Who I think must have been a veritable "Dharma Bum." And thus was himself a Buddha.

Nevertheless, we keep the Jesus Room and the South Bedroom shut during the winter and don't open them unless we need to in summer so as to save on heating and cooling costs.

Must be our practical natures.

I'm kind of ticked though because I wanted to go to the Spanish Market at the Santa Fe Plaza today, but I'm too lame and can't really get around for long enough or well enough to make it enjoyable; that and the heat of course. We're having quite a heatwave, the last couple of days in the mid-upper 90s (which is high for here) and it's uncomfortable to be outside, especially if there's little or no shade. It would have been a chance to get together with Nicolas Otero, a remarkably serene santero whose works are beautiful and spiritual and who illustrated several of Rudolpho Anaya's recent children's books -- "How Hollyhocks Came to New Mexico" and such. But not this time. Not today.

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