Friday, October 22, 2004

"Did you see the bird downstairs?" the husband asked me last night when he arrived home.

Yes, I had seen it.

Someone had painted a picture of a magpie in the entrance of our building. A magpie perched on a balcony.

A host of painters and carpenters are restoring the entrance and stairwell to some semblance of what it probably was when the building was built, in 1902. Along with the magpie, there is faux grey marble and the woodwork - all the double doors of the apartments, plus the door to the elevator and miscellaneous flourishes here and there - is being painted to look like, well, wood.

It all sounds kind of tacky, doesn't it? I've never been much of a fan of full-out restoration, I much prefer the slovenly charm of New Orleans to the fussy preserved perfection of Georgetown in D.C. I think it's perfectly fine for a place to look its age, not unlike human beings.

But I like all this elaborate painting in the hallways of our building. It isn't too much, it suits, in fact.

The Swedish word for the day is trapphuset, of course. It means stairwell.

- by Francis S.

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