Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dimming the Lights

I don't do well with sharp contrasts. I figured this out when I walking through our darkened den on the way to the kitchen to get my morning coffee as I was pondering the fact that I really needed to write something in my blog. We have those recessed pot lights in our den ceiling so I automatically reached over and twisted the dimmer switch to undimmer the lights as I passed by.

Some folks, my wife included, can watch TV or mess around on the computer in the dark. I can't. A single glowing screen is too abrupt, too sharp, and it grates on me.

Now that I am forced to think about it, and writing about it tends to do that, I can see that throughout my life.

I prefer pastels or muted colors rather than sharp colors. To me, bright reds or velvet greens or royal blues are garish. They seem to exist because they refuse to blend as if they insist on calling attention to themselves. A few years ago my wife was fussing over what color to paint our bedroom and bathroom after Hurricane Ike ruined them. She asked my advice and I answered the same way that I always do when she asks what color I think would work. "Gray", I said, "Go with gray." This time she didn't reject my idea out of hand. She spent a long time with some of those little color charts holding them up against the wall....all different shades of gray. We chose a light gray, with white trim around the walls and crown molding, and a white ceiling. When it was finished, she was ecstatic.

Next came the carpet, and guess what. Dark gray? It worked perfectly! Dark gray silk curtains and a light gray bedspread completed the look. And the bathroom? Naturally, dark gray walls and light gray marble. Perfecto!

"How did you come up with gray?" she asked. I think I pointed out that every time she asked me what color to paint something, I always said gray and it was always immediately rejected. But why gray? It blends. It works with all soft colors. It blends, and I am a blender.

I don't appreciate people with adamant views or proclamations of perfection or brightly colored cars or snazzy dressers or forceful personalities or being the center of attention. These are non-blenders.

I think I was stunned as I slowly began to realize as I was growing up that there were few absolute rights and wrongs. It was easier thinking of the world as black and white, right and wrong, true and false. It was harder to learn that life was made up of textures and shades. This forced me in to being an investigator.

In church as a youngster I kept hearing that Our Church was the pathway to salvation. This bothered me and so I decided to find out about this Church thing. In my digging around I found out that the root of the subject was the Greek work 'ekklesia', which mean 'those of common purpose'. Somewhere along the way it got translated to "kirk' and from there "Church". Isn't it interesting that when it became 'Church' it was suddenly a proper noun with a a meaning akin to "the select few". Using the original meaning one could say, "We are the church of guys that like to ogle girls" or "We are a church of bridge players." I presented my findings to my father expecting to be blasted. Instead he beamed and said, "Always question and search."

The connection? The little 'c' church blends. Church doesn't. My father bought me a Greek Interliner Bible...a book that showed the original Greek alongside the English, with root definitions all over the place. I studied and learned that Elders weren't originally positions of authority, but rather wiser people that were older that one should turn to for advice. I learned that Deacons wasn't a position, but simply someone who did something to help out. If I mowed the church lawn I was by definition "a deacon". The "Church" I belonged to underlined contrasts, but my research showed otherwise.

See what happens when you turn up the lights on the way to get your first cup of coffee? Little things make you ponder. Think about it. The best spies aren't dynamic and dashing James Bonds, they are the fat, bald headed guys that blend in and quietly go about their business. Look at what happens when you have two opposing adamant positions bitterly fighting in our government -- you have some of us looking longingly at Canada.

It is us blenders, those that prefer softer colors and try to avoid large gatherings and who appreciate the more mellow approach to life -- we are quietly working to save the world.

Oh. I just had another thought. I poured that cup of coffee this morning. Nice, dark and rich with no sugar or cream. The purity of non-blending. Boldness. Like Kennedy saying we will put a man on the moon within the decade. Like being forceful in standing up for what is right. Like.....naw, I'll stick with blending. 

My wife graded this blog a C, which sort of blends perfectly.


  1. Well, of course you like Gray! I mean, it is one color that can lean in so many different directions. As an artist, I can attest to the fact that it is not a boring color at all. In fact, my art studio is technically gray, but with different lighting, it appears almost white, or blue or even aqua! Splendid in its own quiet way. In fact, when people walk into that room, they ask, 'What color is that, anyway?' See what I mean? So exciting to be so un-compartmentalizable!--and that, in a whisper!

    ...and by the way--I love my Greek Interliner Bible. It's amazing to know what the Bible really says...

  2. Perhaps it's that we live up in the Pacific Northwest where it is gray most of the time, but I love color - vibrant and alive.

    Here are some before and after pictures of the house we just moved from.

    I too like to decorate with light and I have replaced almost every light fixture in our new place as well. And the painting has begun. The woman at the Sherwin-Williams store loves Nancy; she told Nancy just the other day as she handed her a fresh can of blue: "I get so tired of selling people "Eggshell" and "Beige".

    As for the Bible comments; I hadn't heard about the Greek Interliner Bible until now. Of course the oldest versions of the NT were written in Greek. Bart Erhman has a great book about this, and all the changes that have happened to the bible over the centuries from being copied by hand countless times. "Misquoting Jesus" is the book. An easy and informative read.

  3. THIS is what spills out of your brain on the way to get your first cup of coffee in the morning?! If I were to transcribe some of what goes through my head in the morning while on the way to get my coffee it would be along these lines....


    As far as pastels - or muted colors? Not for me, usually. I'm more of an earth-tones kinda girl. But we do have coffee in common - non-blended.

  4. Wow, Jerry. You are SO DEEP, man...

    Colors and church and coffee and spies...

    And don't you find that you get that buzzing sound when you dim the canned lights, or is that just me?

    Maybe it's just me.

    Your bedroom is beautiful. It IS your bedroom, right? Or is that a photo from a magazine??

  5. JB -- You see. I do have the unconscious soul of an artist.

    Robert -- I've read some excerpts from 'Misquoting Jesus' and is on my list of library pick-ups. I too enjoy vibrant colors to look at, but not live with.

    GiGi -- Coffee -- unadulterated and virgin. A wise woman you are.

    Kathryn - Nope, our lights are buzz-free. (You might want to get that checked out.) Yes ma'am - that is our bedroom. Marilyn asked if I was going to add a picture in my blog. When I told her that I was going to take a photo of the bedroom, she took off running and got the bed made and the stuff piled up on the chair. I've now found the secret -- just walk around with my camera.

  6. Wow, that is a lot of stuff going through your mind so soon out of bed... My mind thinks like that the rest of the day, but usually not until AFTER that first cup of coffee (with a nice dose of chocolate caramel creamer). Colors, well, you've seen my blog, I LOVE color :) Bright ones, soft ones, sharp ones, pastel ones, etc. etc.! Your room is a beautiful blend of grays with that green accent! It's no wonder your wife was so thrilled, it's beautiful! :) Right now I hate the fact that our whole house is cedar paneling (we haven't painted yet since we moved in...ugh). So I decided to ask for gift certificates for my birthday to Lowes, Menards and Home Depot so that I can sheet-rock and paint my house. :) I'll have all fall to figure out what colors I want exactly (because I already know what general colors I want for most of the house I think) and all winter to get it done. And church...well I've always thought that there was something to say for looking at the broad message as well as the intricate details of it to get the most accurate picture. Church has been getting out of hand with the details since before the dark ages which is why I am more and more convinced that I need to read the good book myself so I really know what's in there instead of relying on what the church tells me it's all about.
    Cheers my friend :)

  7. Yes Sir I have to say that the gray and white trim works well, I painted ours a bone white with a white trim for the same reason you picked the gray, everything blends, nothing wrong with blending nor with sitting there on the computer with all the lights on either.

  8. Hey Blender-Man how about some margaritas? Hey Jerry, I too am a sort of more muted color fan, devastatingly handsome with chiseled abs and a full head of hair and sporting a year-round tan...Wait thats not me at all. Great post and a lovely choice of colors for the magic-room! I cant figure out how I'm supposed to sign this damn thing but its Mark Price from the screenplay not "anonymous"

  9. Gray is a perfectly useful color that is frequently overlooked. My first house had Chinese red walls in the dining room, royal blue in the entrance hall and deep yellow in the front parlor. (Victorian houses are like that). It was lovely, but not particularly restful. The current house has lovely muted shades called things like "oyster" and "palest dawn". I feel less stressed when I look at my barn of a house. Of course, it could be that now that I'm older I can't see as well.

  10. Right good wordsmithing, Jerry. I quoted the bit about Canada on my Facebook page. I am not a blender, but a recluse. I live contrary to that nature somewhat, to maintain my humanity. I like the comment about 'C' grading. I aspired to get 'C's because it caused 'them' to leave me alone. It doesn't raise expectations, but they don't feel they need to fix me.

    My careers were often a bit like that, as well. Retirement suits me rather well. I can get away with being semi-recluse, and nobody has any expectations. It seems so, well, gray.

  11. There are Contrasters, Blenders, and then there's my husband and me, Camouflagers. We not only don't want to be on stage, we don't even want to be seen at all. Not that we don't have something to say (we do and we say it) but we're highly selective of our audience. People like us tend to paint things sage green and decorate with other, darker but muted shades of green against light and dark woods. And the occasional splash of muted red. Like a forest we can duck into. And we like to layer patterns in those colors, so there are lots of spots to disappear into.

    See my blog header for reference. Now, what the heck am I doing with a blog, if all the b.s. above is true?

  12. Considering that my post today is on being the center of attention, I am certainly glad to have dropped in to thank you for your words of encouragement! our whole house is some bland shade of greenish/beige/brown which lets the outside shine through all the windows but which makes me crazy. I need color - even one wall would suffice - but the other person who lives here (aka husband extraordinaire) is the color maven and he says no, that it will disturb the harmony. Sigh.

    And, you know, you could pick up the mess on the bedroom floor too.... perhaps your wife should run around with a camera as well :)

  13. What a very nice looking bedroom you have. If I wanted to post a picture of my bedroom I would have to spend an hour folding laundry and vacuuming first. I'm with you on the subject of blendy-ness, of people if not of colours, and of coffee. If you have to mix stuff into your coffee you probably don't really like coffee that much.

  14. As I read, I had a sudden vision of Dennis Hopper in "Waterworld," saying "I'm the DEACON" in expansive tones.

    While my friends were busting out their tie-dyed shirts, designer tops, gaudy wristbands and baseball caps, I wore neutral colors. I was always inclined toward brown, khaki, gray, and occasionally black. They blended.

    Can always count on you to pull the most obscure topics out of thin air and give them credibility...

  15. Ms Royale: Most mornings my mind begins whirring first thing, and then it is downhill from there. I think it is fun to catch those whirring moments, as illogical and nonsensical as they may be.

    Jimmy: A man with obvious taste.

    Mark: Good -- I'm glad to see that I am not the only one that doesn't understand what the damn computer does some times. Stick with the chiseled abs and tan -- confidence makes the man. Or so I'm told.

    Blogger With a Forthcoming Name: You know -- those stressful nuclear submarines have their interiors in soft pastels....something to soothe the savage beast. So you are onto something.

    Michael: A man who knows his own self. Few do.

    Nance: True or not, being a camouflager sounds intriguing and is sure to invite unwanted conversation. Constraster. Blender. It's all b.s., but that's the direction my brain veered off to that morning.

    AKA Asleigh: I think you deserve to claim a room and paint and decorate it how you want! Marilyn, over my cries of dismay, painted the living room a pale yellow...and I'll be darn if doesn't look downright spiffy. Oh, never fear -- I have my assigned tasks around the house. I'm sure that when Marilyn reads that 'camera' comment, she will have a thing or two to say.

    Lisa: Dark, rich coffee can satisfy as no other drink can. Start throwing stuff in it, it simply isn't coffee anymore. Yeah, there was a little bit of scrambling to scoot stuff out of the way when I mentioned that I was taking a picture.

    Postman: I have to fess up to something. Back in the tie wearing days, I had a couple around that had gaudy prints that I delighted in wearing. Sure glad you stopped by.

  16. Darn, maybe you shouldn't come visit. I have garish colors everywhere and love them. My family room is the color of a creamsicle, it's beautiful!

  17. For someone who likes to blend you sure got a lot of comments, which kind of makes you stand out. Or maybe it was just a melding of blenders.

    I'm not a blender, never have been, but my hubby is and that is why we work well together.

    Love your bedroom. Really elegant looking!

    Love your deep thoughts also. I know I'm going to have to actually think when I stop by your blog.


  18. Carol: I think the creamsicle color sounds wonderful altho I never liked to eat the things -- they were too bland. Maybe my hidden self is truly a contrasty/garish personality and I need to come out of the closet. I think you should reconsider the disinvite.

    Spot: I apologize for the thinking part, it was actually a slip of the brain. My wife too is more into contrasting and bold colors than I am. I am trying to train her and she is trying to train me.

  19. How is it that light hues affect each of us in many different ways? It's a good thing in my opinion. Gray is okay at times but contrasts too have their place. This is a conundrum for me. Church references and people battling?
    Only a C sys the wife? Oh my. I see far too much depth. I would grade it higher! Wonder what was in that morning coffee?

  20. Oh Kleinste -- what you see as depth is my mind just wandering off in six directions at once. The coffee was virgin black and it got my mind to rolling....only to die completely about 2:00 that afternoon. Thank you for your kind comment.

  21. I've pretty much always worn muted colors and decorated the same way. I'm with you, the bright colors make me edgy. I like relaxing and serene earthtones. We just painted our living room. The color? "Toasty Gray."