Chromophobia

Crayola recently announced that it is putting a new color in its box of 24 crayons.  (That’s the standard box that smelled great when you opened it as a kid, not the overpowering big box of 64 crayons that used to have a crayon sharpener hole on the back side that never really worked right.)

crayola-crayon-new-color-03-ht-jef-170913_4x3_992The new color is a shade that Crayola has decided to call “bluetiful.”  The new color is based on a hue, called YinMn, that scientists accidentally discovered while experimenting with electronics materials.  And because a 24-crayon box can only have 24 crayons by definition, the decision to add a new color means that an old color is hitting the cutting room floor.  In this instance, the replaced color is dandelion — presumably, a shade of yellow — that joins mulberry, teal blue, magic mint and other “retired colors” in the “Crayola Hall of Fame.”

I groaned when I read this news.  Don’t scientists have enough to do without discovering new colors?  Don’t scientists know that there are people out there, like me, who think we have too many colors already?  We not only can’t remember where certain colors fall on the color spectrum, which means we never fully grok deep conversations about the outfits people are wearing — hey, is “citron” a kind of yellow, or a green, or something else? — we can’t even distinguish the fine gradations in hues that are presented to us when it comes time to decide on paint colors.  We are shown tiny squares of colors like “coastal gray” and “cloud” as potential “accent colors” and they already look pretty much the same.  God help us if scientists discover even more tints of light gray in between.  And now there’s bluetiful, elbowing its way onto the blue color palette that is already crowded with colors like sky blue, royal blue, ocean blue, and azure blue.

So I guess I’ve got chromophobia, and the fact that I’m somewhat colorblind doesn’t help, either.  I look at “bluetiful,” and it’s all blues to me.

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Easy Bein’ Green

You can argue about the season in which rural Ohio is at its best.  Throw out winter — of course! — and you could argue endlessly about the lush springs, the blue sky summer days, and the colors and tastes of autumn.

Spring, of course, has its own colors — they’re just more subtle.  Standing on Cousin Jeff’s elevated deck, looking out at the trees and plants and fallen pine needles and grass, you see just about every shade of green you can imagine.  Couple it with cool air that smells of growing plants and bright songs from a number of different birds, and you’ve got a feast for the senses.

Kermit the Frog would fit right in.

Tropical Colors

  
When you get to the tropics, you get bright sunshine — and bright colors.  The brighter the better!  No boring beige here, thank you very much!  We’ll go for lurid pinks and purples, lemons and greens, and pastels as far as the eye can see.  They are a better match for the aquamarine water and green plants and deep blue sky.  

Whether it’s a seaside beer joint or a resort like Old Bahama Bay, everyone adheres to the Bahamas palette.  The color scheme is so prevalent that, when we walked past a house painted a staid gray yesterday we shook our heads and thought:  “What were they thinking?”

  

Colorblind

Yesterday, as part of a physical exam, I was given a test to determine whether I had any issues in detecting different hues on the color spectrum — i.e., whether I was colorblind.  It’s odd, but even though I’m 58 years old, am badly nearsighted, and have worn glasses since kindergarten, I don’t think I’ve ever taken a test for colorblindness.

The test involved looking through one of those devices you use at the optometrist’s office, where you peer into a kind of binocular unit, pictures are projected on the other end, and you identify letters or describe pictures.  In this case, the pictures were of four circles filled with dots of different colors.  The color patterns established by the different dots were each supposed to form distinguishable numbers.

IMG_3030I saw the number 11 in the first circle, but the other three just looked like totally random aggregations of differently colored dots to me.  Try as I might, I couldn’t see any patterns or numbers — even to guess at — in the other three circles.  Even when the nurse administering the test helpfully told me that there was a 26 in the second circle, I couldn’t see it.  After the test was over, the nurse advised that my eyes were not correctly processing oranges and greens.

When I told Kish about these results, she nodded knowingly.  She’s often commented on my inability to recognize the true colors of the outfits she’s wearing — and not just in discerning the subtle differences between similar colors like periwinkle and lavender, either.  Sometimes I’ll call a color gray and she’ll say it’s brown, or vice versa.  The test just confirms what she’s always suspected is the case.

It’s weird to have belated evidence that I am partially colorblind.  It’s not going to affect my work — I’ll always be able to see black and white words on a page or computer screen — but it makes me wonder.  When I look at a pumpkin, like the pumpkins in this photo I took last year, I see what I’ve always understood to be orange.  If it’s not orange, what color am I seeing, really, and what does orange actually look like?  And when I look at trees or grass and see what I perceive to be lush greens, am I just seeing pale echoes of the true verdant colors?  I find myself wondering now:  what have I been missing?

The Joys And Challenges Of Sprucing Things Up

Since retiring, my first order of business has been to spruce up things around the house.  Years of two boys and their friends and three dogs have resulted in lots of wear and tear.  Walls are marked and dented, kitchen cabinets are coming off their hinges, and sofa upholstery is paper thin and in some spots exposing cushions underneath.   So yes . . . we need to spruce things up!

I have one friend who finds decorating her home the ultimate in enjoyment. She sometimes uses commercial breaks on TV to do a quick room rearranging.  Alas, I find it nothing but angst-producing.  I know I don’t have OCD, but when it comes to making decisions such as these, I somehow feel I just might after all . . . .

Let’s start with paint colors.   I’m going with neutrals, nothing fancy.  But there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of shades of beige, white and grays (my “color theme”) at Benjamin Moore.  They all look ever-so-similar to me, yet I am advised by my decorator friend and the helpful Benjamin Moore gentleman that they differ greatly!  How did I miss that!?  Some have shades of blue, some a dollop of gray, others undertones of pink.  Pick the wrong one and I might have an unseemly battle of undertones/overtones going on in my very own living room.

So, I pull the color wheel out and break into a cold sweat.  I lean it against the wall, the carpeting, the sofa, the napping dogs.  It doesn’t matter:  the colors all look the same to me.

The only reasonable solution, of course,  is to rely on names.  What’s in a name?   For me, at the moment, everything.

But that brings on a whole new layer of angst.  I think I’ve found a good shade of gray, but the name is Bleecker Beige!  So, I leave Bleecker Beige in the dust to look for other color names.  Boothbay Gray — as you know, I love Maine, so that’s good, right?  Coastal Fog — I love what that evokes, but really not sure about the color itself.  Edgecomb Gray — what is Edgecomb?  I certainly need to know before I pick it.  Gunpowder Gray — I like it, but that’s way too NRA/political for me.  Creamy white — that sounds boring beyond belief, even for my neutral tastes.  Who comes up with these names?   I want to apply for that job.

And then, I’m told, there’s the “light.”  You have to look at the paint colors during different times of day to see what they’re doing.  I found myself waking up in the middle of the night and walking downstairs to see how Coastal Fog looks at 3 a.m.  (It looked beige.)

Argh!  These are decisions I will live with for years.  I know these problems aren’t so enormous that I should ask you to put me on your prayer chain or anything, but my head is about to explode right now.

After all is said and done, I know the outcome …. I will pick bland, boring choices.  I will love that heavily patterned sofa fabric but be terrified that once I see it on my own sofa, it will look like a bad ’70s nightmare.  Our house will look fine, perhaps lovely even, and my mind can move on to societal things that are far more important.  And, as even Martha Stewart might agree, “that’s a good thing.”

A former colleague once told me that home ownership, in all its variations, is the craft project that never ends.  That’s true, but I really am looking forward to this chapter, at least, drawing to a close.

That Beautiful Shade Of Blue

Exactly what shade of blue is the water around Grand Bahama Island, anyway?  Of course, the water color changes as you move from deeper water to spots closer to the shoreline.  But as you reach the shallow depths near the beach, the water becomes an inexpressibly beautiful shade of blue.  Is it azure?  Cyan?  Aquamarine?  Turquoise seems to fit best, but then again a word can’t really capture the sunlight glinting on the water, the different shades created as the waves move past, and glimpses of the ocean bottom appear through the crystal clear water.