Is it possible to miss a place more than a person? It is acceptable to say that the garden is more beautiful than the gardener? The creator made the creation. Surely the beauty of it is a reflection of the beauty of the one who made it.
I once was part of a debate on an artist page, where a customer was dismayed to see that so many artists used their art as their profile pictures instead of a head shot. He wanted to see what the person looked like. I commented that the outside of the person is arbitrary. We have little control over that. But what a person makes, their art, comes from the inside. That is their true face. That is what they truly look like.
I am coming to realize that there are things in my life that I will never see again. They pass, or change, or go away before I realize it. The moment is gone. The chance to really notice it is over, and will never happen again. Places that I loved as a child, that I spent a lot of time in, are no longer available to me. People move, or die, or stop being friends. Places burn down, or get remodeled. Change is the only constant.
Here is a picture of the garden at a family friend’s house. I found this online, after realizing that I could never go there again. They’d moved to assisted living and sold the house. The husband had grown too frail, too ill with Parkinson’s.
We’d spent a lot of time at their house when I was growing up, and after my parents died I visited monthly. The couple here were like extra parents to me, but that has changed. He has died, and she has grown distant. The mourning is many layered.
He was from Iran, but long enough ago that it was called Persia. His name was Mohammed Hosein Rafiee (pronounced Raff-ee-ee) but was sometimes called “Joe”. He was a metalurgist at Combustion engineering. She is named Ellen, and they were married longer than I have been alive. Sometimes I think they stayed together out of habit or inertia. Sometimes I think the house is what kept them together. Neither wanted to leave it.
This is a photo of him that I got from the obituary that was online. Why had I not taken the time to take a good picture of him? I have some, I’m sure, but they are casual snapshots. Why can’t I find them? How did I not know that this was not forever, that he would be gone one day, that everything would be gone?
He called the garden in Persian “Zebah Kenar” – pretty little corner. Ellen made it. He’d designed the house in a very Japanese style, where it wrapped around the garden. Most of the rooms had windows that opened out onto it. In Japan, the symbol for “home” is the the one for “house” plus the one for “garden”. A garden makes a house a home.
Hosein understood this. The soul of the place is the center, the inside, the living part that you work on.
…and after some digging, I found some more. Here are shots of the lovely lantern by the front door. Almost nobody came in that way, but you had to drive by it to get to the “real” entrance.
The window on the right side is one that Hosein designed and made himself. He taught himself how to do stained glass work just so he could make the windows for the house. They do not look like beginner’s efforts. He chose a difficult design and rose to the occasion. He never made a stained glass window again after he made the ones he wanted for this house.
I have a fondness for up close pictures and unusual angles. These were taken near the front door. The house is very close to the edge of the bluff. A short walk out the back door and you will fall off a very high sheer cliff face.
Here are some that give you an idea of the shape of the house. There was a lot of height in the rooms – only a small bit of the height was used for upper rooms. The living room was quite cathedral-like.
I know I have more pictures of the interior. I’ll add them when I find them.
and yet more I’ve found, on my husband’s phone.
This was taken on the sly while on a visit a few years back. This is in the living room. Hosein is on the right.
The view from their deck. When they built their home this road didn’t exist – thus the noise didn’t exist either.
This might be at their house – but then again, it might be at the Choo-Choo. I wonder what happened to their Koi when they moved? They surely didn’t take them with them. Koi live a long time.