Has the world gone mad? A visit to a most special house

Madness.  Everything’s madness.  Sometimes it’s in an exhilarating, “we’re all mad here” sort of way, and other times it’s more of Jeff Bridges’ muttered, “Madness” in The Fisher King.

Madness seems to stem from change and upheaval, most of it positive but still upsetting to my internal cat, so the creative steam engine keeps churning away but the wheels aren’t touching the track.  Breakups and makeups abound in the social circle, for the moment.  The disruptive housemates are moving out, which means comfortable shiftings of stuff and a much more relaxed home environment is forthcoming, including sprawl space to work on projects and blessed evening silence for writing time.  It also means steeper bills though.  Financial madness is on the horizon.

peeeachesPossible metaphor for something creative:  when I moved into this house in 2004 I planted a peach tree in the backyard.  It grew and first bore fruit a couple of years ago, and that was pretty awesome, but since then a couple of harsh winters split the trunk open, and it’s battled some kind of blight.  Last year it budded early and then a late frost killed the fruit. This year the growing season got a late start, and it budded like mad and then just stopped.  I guessed that it just didn’t have the energy to finish.  I did stupidly park the Mercedes underneath it for a month, leading to numerous peach-shaped dents in the hood and front fenders.  Last month a bunch of the unripe fruit was picked off to be hit around the yard with a cricket bat (don’t ask).  That seemed to wake the tree up, and now the rest of them are ripening.  And I thought my poor tree was broken!  Looks like there will be a decent peach harvest this year, though.  Maybe this isn’t a metaphor at all.  Sometimes a peach is just a peach.

DSC_2315Sashakovich and I went and found some literal, honest to holy-crap madness too.  Specifically, we went to the House on the Rock, in Wisconsin.  Designed and built by Alex Jordan, Jr., a creative man with a taste for the fantastic and a flair for showmanship, this house is quite literally tucked into the crags of the hills of southwestern Wisconsin.

DSC_2311Built between 1945 and 1959, the house reflects the eccentric and ever-changing tastes of its designer as well as a singular focus on being a part of the landscape it occupies.  But there’s more. Jordan also collected…stuff.  And built stuff.  The House on the Rock is essentially a museum of all the things that Alex Jordan, Jr., wanted to show you.  It’s much larger than the house, and has been turned into a bona fide tourist destination.  Bring your walking shoes and possibly a snack (though there is a snack bar) because it’s an all-day trip.  In addition to massive collections of circus memorabilia and medieval weapons that may or may not be real (many are not; apparently Jordan delighted in fooling people with fakes, as well), the House is home to the world’s largest indoor carousel, a monster that has intentionally had the horses left off of it in favor creatures equal parts fantastic and horrifying.  DSC_2361Pipe organs, artistic sculptures built into the walls, dollhouses, elaborate self-playing orchestras, calliopes and band organs as well as a massive multi-tiered doll carousel that I’m pretty sure is populated with dolls that have the souls of slasher-murdered people in them, the House on the Rock is a delightful all-day sucker of weird. DSC_2380DSC_2353