June 21, 2001

The saga of the balcony began shortly after I returned home from a Saturday Market laden with airline tickets, roses, a fresh quail and an artichoke about the size of a small chicken. I had also purchased some raspberries, which I consumed with a glass of white wine while enjoying the extremely pleasant weather on the aforementioned small, dirty, junk-crowded balcony. I found myself eyeing this speculatively, and soon decided to dedicate the afternoon to reclaiming and remodeling it.

It was definitely an example of what real estate agents refer to as a "fixer-upper". It was filled with assorted dirty furniture, a jumble of empty flower pots, and some rather peculiar objets d'art, all of the above mixed together in haphazard heaps. The floor was covered with dirt and pigeon, um, dirt. It was a sight to daunt the most heroic housekeeper, but I was on a natural high and feeling my power.

By Saturday evening, a transformation had taken place. The patio table still sits in the center of the balcony, but its scratched and dingy surface is now covered with an outdoor (i.e., vinyl) tablecloth in a surprisingly tasteful white lace motif, and ornamented with a potted ivy plant that spills jauntily out of the rather attractive teapot I managed to ruin while I had the flu. Two patio chairs, formerly stacked and uninvitingly rusty, are now dressed up with brightly colored garden cushions. A coarsely woven blue cotton throw rug completes the sitting area, which now has a very pleasing outdoor cafe look to it.

One heap of junk could not be moved, as there was no place to put the decrepit wicker chairs that made up its backbone. Instead, I compacted as many of the ugliest items as possible (including, mysteriously, the lower half of a wooden mannequin painted in several unlikely colors) into as symmetric an arrangement as I could manage, and draped an inexpensive blanket over the lot. Two African-looking carved wood chairlets with human heads guard this arrangement, which also sports a carved wooden mask near the top. The effect is rather odd, but not entirely unsightly - and it looks intentional, which is as much as I could have hoped for it.

To the other side of the table, a formerly empty wire plant rack now holds two or three of the more attractive ceramic pots and a little watering can for the window boxes. Most of the remaining pots, which were broken and ugly, are hidden under a stool which has been covered by a green drapery and topped by a large glossy blue urn.

The net result is that now the balcony is a lovely place to spend a Sunday morning, although I removed very little and threw nothing away. Maybe I should have been an interior decorator instead of a computer scientist.


Till next time,
-- Lyn

Copyright 2001 Lyn Pierce