In Memory of the Rev. Peter Rood

We were deeply saddened to hear of the death of Father Peter Rood this past week. Peter was the rector of Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Westchester for many years before moving to Oak Harbor, Washington to serve at St. Stephen’s Church in 2019.

He liked to call Holy Nativity a “community center that just happened to have a church attached to it” and said yes to pretty much anyone who wanted to use the church for the greater good of the world. He ripped out a side lawn and created a community garden. When the neighborhood wanted a playground he took out a section of the front lawn of the church.

He was also a big supporter of Kelly and I. Along with Environmental Changemakers he hosted book events for us. He collaborated with the Los Angeles Bread Bakers in building a community oven which became a place to gather for monthly bread and pizza parties. Peter had the same condition as Kelly and was very supportive during Kelly’s two open heart surgeries. He was a kind, creative and loving soul who will be greatly missed by so many people.

I went though my photos to find pictures of Peter at work but he was always moving around too much to get a shot. I did find a sign that hung in the parish hall at Holy Nativity that sums up Peter’s life: “May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe you can make a difference in this world so that you can do what others claim can’t be done.”

Peter is survived by his children and stepchildren, Dylan, Julian, Hilary, Kajia, and Paul: a half-brother, Austin; and several grandchildren. His wife, Christen Herman, died in 2021.

Sensuous Space: How to Create Romantic, Seductive and Sensuous Settings

If Herbert Marcuse did a lot of cocaine and ditched critical theory for interior design he might have penned this very much of its time coffee table book: Sensuous Space: How to Create Romantic, Seductive and Sensuous Settings by Sivon Reznikoff. Reznikoff owned the Louisiana Interior Design Institute in Baton Rouge, and was a professor of Environmental/Interior Design at Arizona State University. She adopted a gender ambiguous name in order to work in the male dominated field of architecture and interior design.

I reference Marcuse because this tome has much more theory in it than you’d expect. Before you get to the photo spreads of shag rug lined love dens and teal penthouses you’ll encounter thirty pages of thoughtstylings and graphs. Reznikoff posits three types of Eros driven spaces: romantic, seductive and sensuous that then break out into specific color, form texture, musical and even scent suggestions over the many pages of charts, spreadsheets and graphs. We’re 30 pages in by the time we see our first hot tub.

The power nexus of the erotic panopticons in this book are, naturally, your disco control centers because your house must have its own private discotheque. I don’t know how you keep the blow from gumming up the electronics.

Of course, such idiosyncratic spaces are the domain of the ultra-wealthy who can afford serial remodeling. Reznikoff notes that many of these spaces are second homes. A particular class of nouveau riche spring for this kind of sensual ostentation. The really wealthy elite go for austere modernist boxes to make a show that they put their money back into capital accumulation rather than spending it on gold swan faucets and pebble lined hot tubs.

The interior sensuousness of this book ended in the AIDS/Reagan era 80s  and now you’re more likely to see the nouveau riche class burn their cash by building an underground town simulacrum in their McMansions.

The last time we saw this kind of decadent sexuality in architecture was the Art Nouveau period of the 1890s and early 20th century which ended in the horrors of WWI. Its reappearance comes intertwined with the liberatory politics of the 60s and 70s but those same left movements can prove prudish. Perhaps the flipper white cubes will get all funky and sinuous in our Acid Communist future and maybe we’ll have a more expanded and nuanced view of what “eros” means than the reductionist wife swapping parties of the Sensuous Spaces era. My shag conversation pit lacks a crystal ball.

Thanks to Cocaine Decor for tipping me off to this book.

Fence Appeal

When it came time to replace an old, poorly built fence I headed to the Fine Homebuilding website and found a design by Michael Crow (“A Privacy Fence with Appeal“) that, I think, matches our 1920 bungalow.

A few things about the design appealed to me. The slats are alternating sizes which gives some visual interest, the trellising uses the off-cuts from the slats and the central pressure treated 4×4 posts are covered in cedar making them bigger and more attractive. The trellising at the top creates a kind of filtered view of neighboring vegetation while the lower panels obscure stuff you don’t want to see.

Alas, nothing is simple at our funky property and I had to interrupt the fence twice to accommodate two trees that straddle the fence line. I also had to deal with a slight slope and a month in which it just kept raining and raining and raining (which is why the nasturtium leaves are so big).

Rather than go to the Big Orange Store I got my supplies at the fancier Ganahl lumber which actually had better prices and selection. Plus you can drive your car right up to the lumber pile and skip the frantic crowds over at Big Orange.

Over the pandemic I upgraded my table saw to a SawStop cabinet model which, while expensive, has paid for itself in all the projects I’ve completed including this fence and a lot of furniture. It also gets used by friends and neighbors.

On one of the many rainy day breaks during the fence build, I glanced at my bookshelf to discover that I have two books by Michael Crow, Mackintosh Furniture: Techniques & Shop Drawings and Building Classic Arts & Crafts Furniture. I actually built a Limbert settle out of the latter book. One of these days I hope to build a room of very strange Mackintosh furniture. In the meantime I like looking out the back door at the new fence which I completed just as the house next door went up for sale.