Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Wabi-Sabi / 05

Heather exudes joy and positivity. Even her messes are playful and bright.

Tell us about your home.

In a word: BOOKS. In more words:We live in a shoddy, rambleshack mid-century house with poor insulation and broken cabinets. It’s at the top of a hill and it’s sliding, a fact you can really feel when you’re sitting on the toilet. Or laying in bed. But we have a wonderful large backyard and lots of space for our many, many, MANY books. “Sparse” is not in our vocabulary, though I often really wish it was. Darin and I both love thrifting, art, vintage stuff, and, of course, books, so there is something to look at everywhere. I love to rearrange and change things, and decorate for the seasons and holidays, so it might look different each time you visit. We only own one item of new furniture: our couch which we bought at IKEA just before Lucy was born. We love to have slumber parties in our living room, make fires in the woodstove in the winter, and keep all the doors and windows open from spring to fall. It’s colorful, nothing matches; there are batiks from Africa and vintage linens from the Caribbean and antique embroidery from my great great grandmother.  It’s a lot of stuff but every item has a story. Our home has a very lived-in, welcoming feel, which I love. But it is very hard to keep tidy, which I don’t love.

What is your relationship to mess, to disorder?

Although you could easily call our home “cluttered,” there is actually some (some….) method to our madness. For example, the many many books are arranged alphabetically within their genre. Everything has its place, although many are often out of place! My husband is kind of a mad scientist (of the sci fi and mystical persuasion) but I do prefer things to be clean underneath, and I do housework constantly in between wrangling my two babies. I cannot leave the house without leaving the dishes done, kitchen clean. I love to do laundry, especially in the warmer months when I can hang it out to dry. My relationship to mess is maddening, it literally can put me in a big grumpy funk if I come home and things are very disorderly. When I clean up after Lucy, (our 20 month old) I put the puzzle pieces in place, find all the fairies and put them in the treehouse, place the books on the shelf in accordance to shape and size. Darin likes to pile things around the edges and call it clean.  My relationship to mess is not one I’m proud of, as it is an area of my life where I am most likely to lose my patience. Because I do want to have a clean home, and yet I don’t want to get in a bad mood about it. I want to be the kind of mom who dances around with her kids, music blasting, making housework fun. Not slamming the cupboard doors in a funk because it isn’t my turn to put the dishes away. Especially because the fun that made the mess is what makes life happy! Playing with the fairies and the treehouse, tracking in sand from the sandbox, making my own baby’s scrapbook of memories, cooking strawberry French toast for breakfast. All the things that make a family fun are also what make us messy. I remind myself to just deal, to take a few minutes to tidy up when I can, and to just enjoy this crazy, energetic, creative family of mine. 



How does your home reflect wabi-sabi ?

We go so beyond wabi-sabi it isn’t even funny. I remember studying Victorian British literature in college and coming across writings by Ruskin and Browning about the beauty in imperfection, in the very human vitality of messiness, disorder, a little bit of chaos, a touch of madness. How therein lies the divine, the living heart of the thing that can never be matched, the thing that draws us to each other, the life of the art. I was so relieved to hear that great philosophers and writers believed such a thing, when all my life I felt a little ashamed of being unkempt. I remember in high school figuring out that the other girls had hair that looked a certain way, eyebrows and bodies and lips that looked a certain way, clothes that were tidy and unwrinkled, and I knew I was just a little off-kilter and messy, no matter how hard I tried. No one seemed to get sweaty! No matter how dressed up I try to get, no matter how neat I try to keep my clothing, or my home, I’m a little bit disheveled, always. It is my own personal wabi-sabi. And I think my home reflects that. It is clean, underneath the surface, but it is rumpled. Comfy. Quirky. Loveable. A little bit wild. Our home will never exhibit a certain elegance, never be austere or serene or modern. And although I love the idea of simplicity, you’d laugh at that if you saw our house. But down to earth, yes. Charming, in its own way. It is home. It is dynamic. It is a place to be real, to feel full of life, and that is wabi-sabi to me. It brings out the spirit of a place, a liveliness, and allows the inhabitants to feel truly home. That still means I have to keep up with the laundry, keep surfaces clean, wash the dishes.

What do you find beautiful?

My one year old daughter in a pile of books, poring over details on every page, saying little sounds to herself pretending to read.  Swinging high into the sky on a spring day, with little blossoms floating down landing in our hair.  Poetry. The river, in all its twisting, spinning, whirling power. Seasons. Changes. Babies. Skin wise with years. Women with messy hair, strong and solid and confident in their bodies. Men with messy hair, confident and strong in their bodies.  Friends laughing together. Doing stuff, real stuff, hiking, chopping wood, building fires, fording creeks, slicing vegetables, eating. Mountains rising out of landscapes like the universe’s belly laugh. The ocean. Waking up outdoors. Waking up indoors to babies’ smiles. Cats lazy; cats playful. Animals living their graceful lives, naturally.  Cuddling up with blankets and books next to the fire on a rainy day. Life, love. All the things that make messes. 

If you aren't already reading Heather's blog, Moonshine Junkyard, you should start. It will just make you feel good. Thank you so much Heather for sharing your home, and for perfectly describing the disheveled aesthetic. 
It is one I wholeheartedly endorse. 

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