Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Wabi-Sabi / 08

Milla finds beauty in the small things and reminds me to look closer at the natural world. She is opinionated and smart and thoughtful. She was also the first person I contacted about this series (I think), and she has encouraged me from the beginning. Her blog, The Girl Who Married a Bear, is always thought provoking; I feel like every time I visit I want to write incredibly long responses that never get fully realized. I'm so grateful that she shared her thoughts and peeks of her home.

Tell us about your home.

For five years my partner and I lived for free in a little cabin at the county park he worked at until a few months ago. The house was small, dark, and as it turns out, mold-infested, but it was home. Last fall, we made some big changes to our lives and one of them was moving out of that house.

After considering our options, which on an island can sometimes be a little limited, but ranged from buying a bus from a friend, to smaller cabins and yurts, we landed, the way we always seem to, luckily and randomly to a great, beautiful rental house within walking distance of Charlie's new place of work and some of our dearest friends.

This house is a curious H-shape, the kitchen, laundry room (We have a laundry room?!?! A room for just a washer and a dryer) and bathroom on the one side, connected by a small studio/ kid's room and a staircase to an upstairs bedroom and then the other side of the H is one giant room that used to be the music room of the guy who built this house. 

I can't even begin to guestimate our square footage, but this place is definitely way bigger than what we need. We mostly use the kitchen and the bedroom, just as we did in our little cabin. To me, kitchen is "the living room", the one where your life takes place. Food is prepared while talking out the day, friends gather,  I've never understood living rooms, they always seemed like just the place to keep the TV. Out here in the country, your living room is also the outside; your yard, your garden, the woods beyond it. A big house has little point to most people I know here, because no matter where you live  and what you live in, there is always open space all around it. It may not be solely yours, but the beaches and woods of this island are as much home to me as any old house. 

What is your relationship to the mess, to disorder?

I've always been a messy person. 

It's not that I don't enjoy a clean home, it's just that I find little joy in the act of cleaning itself and the end result to me is not worth as much as doing something more compelling: working on projects, reading, writing, walking in the woods. 

In my childhood home, Saturday was always "cleaning day" regardless of what other fun things we could be doing. I never understood why a house had to be cleaned every week, rather than say, every other week, or in my child mind, never. I would have been perfectly happy with the Alice In Wonderland, never-ending tea-party kind of set up, where once your dish is dirty you just leave it and move to the next seat with a clean setting. Perhaps not the most practical idea, but then I've never been a very practical gal. 

Since I know this about myself, I try to keep my messes in check, but frankly, they always seem to one step ahead of me. We live half outside most days, so we are constantly tracking in dirt and pine needles and other small pieces of the forest, not to mention the mess that firewood brings in, so I try to sweep the downstairs every day. I attempt to stay on top of the dishes, though this is a loosing battle and often I just let them pile up until there isn't a surface to lay another dirty mug on. I also keep a healthy pile of discarded clothes on my side of the bed, which I try to fold and put away once a week. 

I do sweep our floors almost every day and do superficial cleaning often, but I almost never do the kind of top-to-bottom cleaning that my mother insisted on every Saturday. A life-long act of rebellion, I guess…

How does your home reflect wabi-sabi?

Almost everything we own, is found, thrifted, handed down, or borrowed. Our decoration is hodgepodge of things we like and find attractive and things we're simply willing to put up with because we don't want to invest resources in having "the perfect thing". Our rooms are littered with books, open to various pages, with art projects in various stages of completion, drying herbs, jars of fermenting beverages and foods. They are so much more important to me than a clean house. They're the stuff of "home" to me, not a clean, presentable space.

What do you find beautiful? 
Prints from artists and cards from our loved ones all over the walls in random constellations. Bouquets of wild flowers and branches. New plant starts on the windowsill, spiderwebs, weird jars of ruby red sauerkraut in the sunlight, messages written in steam on the bathroom mirror, muddy boots, collections of cups on my nightstand, the signs of life... 

Milla, thank you again. I feel your home is such a wonderful and perfect reflection of you and your family. 


  1. Ooh milla messes! The best kind. What a poet, from words to life.

    1. A philosopher poet if there ever was one.

  2. The things you have there seem really interesting. I totally get your approach with regard to your stuff. It is more creatively compelling to live in a house where the cups and books are scattered, in a way that they are in sync with where your mind's at. Everything may look like clutter, but in any case, don't sweat it, since the only time the 'mess' is going to be a worry is when you have to move out right? However, it's nothing that good packing equipment can't take care of.

    Clay Delgado @ World Packaging Inc.

  3. I find this such a relief! We never talk about the real mess of the everyday on the internet. I always feel like house photos must be staged; that nobody's kitchen can look like that all the time... how can a working person keep up with the constant state of mess that life really is? I often feel strangely insecure about my clothes piles in this age of instagram and blogging... as if somehow I'm doing something wrong or "less than" by not always (erm, ever) folding my laundry.. That somehow somebody's going to see it besides us here, in our home! Glad to see you actually talking about all of this honestly Milla, and embracing the beauty of the clutter that happens from living, and writing "outloud" as it were, in a public internet space, that you prioritize other things over deep cleanliness when pressed-- writing, painting, walking, daydreaming. Amen! :)