Monday, February 16, 2009

The Colors That Bind and Post Number 500

Picking the right colors for a 1928 Tudor-style home can be trickier than finding the right doctor. In this photo, taken after we shaved the ivy, you can see the dirty pink chimney color choice of the previous owners.

Two years ago, I became an official member of the "cancer club." We're a tight-knit group with our own secret language and handshakes.

But I've just discovered that I'm a member of an even more exclusive group. And, no, this has nothing to do with those whacky EOS counts or the even more obscure cutis laxa. I'm a member of the Tudor-style home paint club.

Two weeks ago, I got long overdue quotes to have the exterior of our house painted. I swore that I would not go through the same agonizing process that I did ten years ago - collecting color swatches from seven major paint stores, purchasing at least a dozen quarts of paint, trying 36 color combinations, asking for input from a half dozen friends and color experts and, ultimately, making the wrong decision.

This time, I decided to play the game of color copy cat in Pasadena and San Marino. If I found a Tudor paint scheme that pleased me, I got out of the car and approached the owner.

At the first house, a friendly gentleman with a pick axe was doing yard work. When I asked about the paint colors, he said that his wife was the expert, poked his head into the front door and yelled up for her. "Donna, you've got to come down right now," he screamed up to the second story. His frazzled bride came running down, afraid that disaster had struck.

I introduced myself, and we had an animated ten-minute chat about the Tudor's soft paint color palette. I asked if she minded if I snapped a few photos, clicked away and then hopped into my energy-efficient car. As I drove away, she pointed to her own Prius in the driveway and yelled out, "We have good taste!"

I was off to the estate area of San Marino, "north of the Drive," near Huntington Botanical Gardens, where I'd admired another Tudor color scheme in kinder, gentler tones than our dark, traditional home. The house keeper answered the door and told me that she would ask "Mr. Harry" to call. I left my phone number and my town, Altadena, because I didn't want him to think that a nearby home was trying to duplicate his look. "I'll never hear from him," I thought, but two hours later I received a call from the Lord of the Manor.

What is there about paint colors that make me bold, able to approach any house in any neighborhood, confident that I'll receive the answers I crave? What makes the owners so eager to spill their color guts to a stranger? I don't know the answers to these questions, but I do know that our house is going to be the "mini-me" of a San Marino estate home.

Cancer Banter began nearly two years ago on February 27, 2007, and this is my 500th post. Never mind that at least 50 of those have been pleas to read my Open Mouth, Insert Fork blog. If you've been a Cancer Banter lurker, this would be a good excuse for you to come out of hiding and leave a comment.


Anonymous said...

500th BLOG!! Wow. That is amazing. Congratulations. And also congrats on the improv class; the ultimate in courage. I cannot wait for the one-woman show. I want to help.

And the biggest lesson I have learned from you lately.... using chopsticks to cook bacon. I had to go buy bacon just to try it.

Anonymous said...

That last comment was from Bill. For some reason it didn't post "Baby Billy Bird"

Susan C said...

Thanks, Billy Bird.

I love using chopsticks for cooking bacon. I have so much to teach you, grasshopper (and you me).

VeryVenice said...

ok, i admit to lurking, but really i'm more of a friendly visitor. good going on the improv class!! whoo hoo. Susan - what advice do you have for comforting a friend going through radiation??
This is Laurie, btw.

Susan C said...

Hi Laurie, Nice to hear from you on the blog. Re. your friend who's going through radiation: Be sure to let her know you're thinking about her. Food is always welcome, whether for her or for her family. I didn't go through radiation, so I don't know how debilitating it is or if she needs any help running errands. Don't be afraid to ask and offer.

Readers, feel free to chime in.

Piper Robert said...

Have you kept track of the number of comments? What would you do if you got a comment from James?

Susan C said...

PR, Haven't tracked # of comments. I've seen some bloggers flaunt that number, but I don't know how they track it.

If I heard from James, the first thing I would do is send him a swab kit for the National Bone Marrow Registry. Better yet, I'd say, "Stay right there," and rush to Illinois (or wherever he is) with the kit.

altadenahiker said...

You know, I no longer remember how I first bumped into your blog, but am I glad it happened. You're funny, inspiring, lovely, and you make a mean salad.

Happy 500.

pasadenapio said...

Susan, your home is lovely outside and in. As for the paint, I vote NO on the orange with purple trim. Anything else sounds fine to me!

Susan Carrier & said...

Thanks, AH. I feel the same way about you (and your famous French fries).

PIO, Oh, darn. How did you know that I was gravitating towards the orange and purple color scheme? It's so Elizabethan.

Margaret said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nelle said...

I love English tudors and that was always my dream but I don't think it will happen. I had tons of radiation and it depends on where on the body you are having it but you feel so bad if it's going to affect your stomach. Sometimes when people offer to help it's hard to accept it. Instead of saying HOW can I help I would say "I would like to do x for you, is that okay with you?" Providing meals for a family is always nice as well as running errands.

One Mother with Cancer said...

Congratulations on your 500th post.

Anonymous said...

Celebrating? I'm there! Congrats on 500 posts! Every one gets better than the last -- especially when they mean you're healthier and healthier! I know I haven't commented much lately, but I'm always with you in mind and spirit! Always with you!

Nancy said...

Susan, 500th blog! Awesome girl! Your house is lovely the way it is. Perfect for an afternoon tea!

Keep up the great blogging. Your writing is stupendous!

Hope to see you soon! Still waiting to have Ramen or Shabu-Shabu with you!

love, n

West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

Happy 500th!

It sounds like you've chosen your paint that true? Also, I recommend Mark Harris of Educated Painters. I've known him since college.

Susan C said...

Margaret, I pitched "A House of a Different Color" to the LA Times Home & Garden section, and the editor went for it. I loved your "paint poaching" term and used that in my query.

Nelle, thanks for sharing your experience and advice about radiation for Ms. Venice.

OMWC, Thanks! Thinking about you as you head off to Florida.

Wendy, Great to hear from you. I've been wondering how Japanese New Year went.

Nancy, Looking forward to more Japanese food outings and our upcoming "Tea for Ten." The house will look brand, spankin' new by then.

WCGB, I THOUGHT that I had chosen the colors, but have back pedaled twice. I'll make the final decision tomorrow. Good thing the prep work has taken so long. (And I do have a painter that I love, but thanks for the rec.)

altadenahiker said...

yea! You talented girl, you.

Petrea said...

Congratulations! On the 500th post, the successful pitch, and on getting to paint your house!

I've been clicking on Open Mouth, Insert Fork, wondering where you've been. I forget you have this blog, too, and I'm going to stop forgetting (otherwise known as "remember").

Miss Havisham's Tea Party said...

And your blogiversary just passed, too. What a wild ride!

I love all of the details of your house so much.

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