Monday, November 26, 2012

Home Whatever Home


Barbara: I love my home. I certainly spend most of my time in it: I work in it, play in it, entertain, relax, gather my family in it. It is the centerpiece in my life. The constant. I love my home.

And yet, much like we sometimes do with other beloveds, I’ve started to take her for granted. It used to be that in the early days I would lavish her with attention. I’d make sure she had the latest lovelies. I would read everything I could on how to nurture her and bring out her best side (I had subscriptions to decorating mags, bought several other issues, and accumulated a pile of coffee-table books in her honour). I bought her flowers.

But I think I got tired of the responsibility. It takes energy to be an attentive partner. Energy and thoughtfulness and time. And I think, as the children got older and became more independent, that I wanted to put all of these energies into other things: namely, my writing projects. Into me. She was the one thing I felt I could let go.

Don’t get me wrong: she’s still lovely and clean and presents a good fa├žade. These basics still occupy (a very small) part of my time. But she’s definitely getting shabby around the edges. Even things that I might have put off before because the money was allocated elsewhere (like in my kids), are only now being put off … because I don’t feel like it! If I want that sofa recovered, well, I’m going to have to take the pics, find the place, get on a waiting list, and send the sofas to refinishing school. But it’s too much work, I whine to myself, I don’t have the tiiiiiiiime. So instead, I continue to sprawl on the worn, busted seams, writing, reading, lolling, but not tending.

I’ve started to feel guilty about it. A few years ago, I kinda owned my negligence: this was my time, I didn’t have enough of it; I’d done so much on the house much over the years, it was time for a break; she was fine, fine with it, I tell you! I scoffed at the idea of restorations and changes; I let my magazine subscriptions lapse; I didn’t eye the gorgeous home deco books; I didn’t troll the net for decorating ideas; I didn’t envy my friends who were renovating. But, like I think happens in even very good relationships, one day your partner lets you know you’ve been too distracted, too negligent, and you wake up and take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror. “Good relationships are 2-way streets”, “You complete me”, “I see you”, “If I want this to work, I have to do the work.” I wasn’t living the platitudes anymore!

Now I just feel bad for the state of affairs. If my house were a person, she might cheat on me right about now. Or up and leave me. It’ll take some work, but I think I might need to woo her back. After all, I do love my home.


Deb: I think the difference between us in this regard is reflected in your comment, “But I think I got tired of the responsibility,” and I get it. But I think the difference between us is that the house care and feeding is such a joy to me, not a responsibility. It is another creative outlet in my life, something I do for recreation. I have always been crazy houseie! I remember painting and wallpapering my first apartment (and every single one that came after) and friends would question the fact that I was putting soooooooo much work and I guess money into something I rented. My response was always, “It’s my home!” As Barbara and I were saying a few minutes ago on the phone when we chatted about this, it is not only our home, but our workplace. And for me, if my head isn’t filled with the clutter and neediness of my home, my mind is free to work. Plus—COME ON! Who doesn’t love taking an old piece that has been in the cupboard and featuring it in a new place in the home? Or switching art around and seeing it in a whole new light? Or slipcovers for an old chesterfield??? Be still my heart. But be still in a perfectly appointed space!

47 comments:

  1. Aww Barb, why dont you two go see a Therapist. Maybe that will help.
    I know how you feel Barb. Everytime I'm on a trip..I keep thinking about my home, and on our way back....I just CANNOT WAIT to get home. I love her... VERY VERY MUCH!
    But in my case, I have my mom who takes care of her. So she is soo happy all the time. I dont have to worry.
    I do have a strong bond with my computer though. I love it with ALL MY HEART! Its my life. But I forget to tend to it sometimes. And then I regret it.
    Take yesterday for example. I was just..hanging out with my computer yesterday and BAAMM!! She shut down. *dramatic music plays in the background* I didnt know what to do...I tried to restart her...I tried soooo hard...but it would start. Then her screen slowly showed signs *silence* *heartbeats* and then...nothing. I RUSHED TO THE PHONE AND CALLED THE ENGINEER. I asked him to come here ASAP. I was just strolling uneasily when he tried to figure out the problem. *sniff* I looked at her and said "Hang it there Honey! You're gonna be fine....I'M NOT GONNA LOSE YOU...I'LL MAKE YOU FINE!!!". I looked at the engineer desperately and he said "The CPU fan was dirty I've cleansed the dirt out and the entire CPU. And Removed the viruses. She should be fine!". *happy music* I restarted her and she was all bright and happy. I looked at her..with eyes filled with tears and said "You scared me...I'm gonna take care of you from now on. DONT EVER DO THAT TO ME AGAIN".
    *So happy together plays in the background. Me and my computer sitting side by side in front of a very cliche sunset background picture*.
    I took it tooo far didnt I ?

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    1. Love that you took it this far!! Made me howl!!! Yes, I would quite panic if I thought I was going to lose my baby -- my computer!

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    2. Maybe we could double date sometime....surprise them...and take them to a romantic......Electronics showroom...Buy them lots of awesome ram chips and motherboards and MICE...keyboards... Maybe a new operating system. Whaddaya say?

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  2. Thank god!! I couldnt see Deb's response. She's my Decor Queen. And Funnily enough she just explained the next part of the comment I was gonna write. Ive started researching about decor tips for my apartment In Toronto. I go in Sims 3 JUST for decorating houses Barb. I am NOT kidding I have a album on FB of the designs I made in Sims 3. THATS how much I love decor. I just cant do much now coz its to cluttered and my mom dominates it mostly. LOL. I'm just waiting for MY HOME. And then I'll be the younger version of Deb.

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    1. It's a whole different world when you have your own place -- that's what turned me into a decor-hound in the first place. I guess I just felt it was too much after a while. Deb is by far the bar for me - her place is always magnificent, but in a cozy, liveable way.

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    2. Deb is our Hero!!! I think I'll be like her.She is sucha older version of me. Whenever I talk to my friends about the blog or you two. They are like "YA know.. this Deb really sounds like an older version of you."
      and I always wanted to be an interior designer.. My home will be my client forever! :D

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    3. I wish I could get to the couch. - its a great old leather couch - long so I can stretch right out on it. I love my couch. I have lots of fond memories of people who are now gone sitting on this couch with me. I got the cushions redone in a southwestern print. It was new to me for a while but the fact still remained that the springs are all shot and even as I type this, sitting comfortably on my couch, the only thing between the springs and the floor are three years worth of Oprah magazines! As I said, I always want to get her redone, leather of the same colour, not overstuffed like a lot of couches you see and reusing all the decorative tacks down the side arms. I do, I want to get her redone - but then the furnace needs repair, new evestroughing on the back, some insulation in the old part of this grand old dame and another couple of coats of stain on the outside walls of the new part. New windows and doors, a new fridge, a busted (I didn't even realize they could bust!) Wood stove to be replaced before winter sets in. Alwaus something.
      I used to get bent out of shape - I want to sit on a redone couch! But I gave up. Now I plunk down on my old faithful couch, in front of a roaring fire and smile. I have attained the ultimate level of Shabby Chic. - its all the rage apparently. Who knew?

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    4. Ha ha!! Sooooo well described, Fran! Yeah, sounds like our couches are soul mates. It is the one big item calling me to repair above all others. I loved her as she was for so long, but I am getting itchy to give her the ol' facelift. Dreading the price tag (also, what with windows and other sundries begging to be done, yikes)

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    5. My sister, interior decorator extrodinaire is constantly telling me it would be cheaper to replace the couch than have it redone. Can't go there. Better in tatters than gone.

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  3. I love my home as well. I keep it more on the comfortable style,. I have comfortable couches and a chair, that once I get into I'm not getting out of . I put alot of work into how my house looks as well' . One of the things that I do have in my home everywhere is old family photos, which I love dearly. my house is, my quiet zone, and relax area where I can get away if I need to clear my head, or if I want to entertain my friends which is a big things. great post

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    1. When it works well, there's nothing like a cozy home, is there, Lyndsie? Yours sounds lovely.

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  4. I probably will love my home, when ever I decide to get one. So far I like the freedom that no solid place gives. I am staying at my sister's home and she is very well taken care of. I have a way too strong travel fever to start decorating a home. :)

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    1. From my POV, I would say, don't get started until you're ready. Because once you start, it's very hard to stop. That said, I wonder if you have ideas of how you'd like it to be if you were to settle down???

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    2. Well, I kind of have a general idea that I can live pretty much in any size of an appartment. I would love to have big enough home to have animals (have lots of allergic family members, so animals are not welcomed in house). :)

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    3. Oh, yes, the pet thing is something I never regret finally being able to enjoy! I didn't know how endearing and wonderful it would be have a dog (thank god, Phil is not allergic -- as he's allergic to most others)

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  5. I enjoy doing things around the house. I like to do little things to change the place up a bit. Move photos around, make a new little craft of some sort to put on the bookcase, something small yet meaningful. Idon't have the time nor money to do anything big, like change furniture or paint or wallpaper the house, but I am the kind of person that grows so attached to certain pieces of furniture that I just can't let them go. My home holds my memories and I don't want to change it too much and take the chance of losing those memories. There are little things, like a stain in the carpet that has special meaning to me and, although it may not look great, it has a story behind it that makes it beautiful to me.
    I think that we are all entitled to make our house our home, to do what we wish with it because it is where many of us spend much of our time. She deserves love and attention and to look stylish. She deserves to look good and have all the cars driving by pause to look at her. (love this metaphor/personification)
    It is so funny that this is the topic for today's post because I spent the weekend packing things up to move them around my house. Sometimes when I'm upset I have to move things around, change what I can, just to get my mind off whatever it is that is bothering me.
    Happy Monday!

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    1. In fact, that's one of the benefits Deb was mentioning to me: the instant "feel better" aspect. And it's true! A change is as good as a rest really applies to home styling. (and I just love your nostalgia for the old stains, etc -- instantly imbues these things with deeper meaning!)

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  6. I love my home, too! I never did much with my other homes through the years because I moved SO much. I finally became a homeowner at 40 and I like it! I feel far more freedom to make this place my own than any other place prior. If only I had endless piles of cash to make it all happen. We plan on being here a long time, so we have projects planned for years to come. In the meantime, it's little things done here and there or taking care of those things that sneak up on you (like our refrigerator dying on Thanksgiving so we had to replace her).

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    1. Argh, nothing so frustrating as having to spend the "fix up" fund to things you can't see or didn't want to change. On Thanksgiving, no less!! But it should be fun to be inventive and make those special changes/tweaks. There are sooo many great ideas out there for renovating/furnishing on a budget (just don't ask me what they are because I haven't read a home mag in years ;) )

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  7. My home is my perfect place and I take care of it. I paint regularly and move things and make sure she appears eclectic and wonderful. As she ages bigger things will need doing. She was born in 1926 and had all new pipes underneath her main body this last year and just got new fixtures in her bathrooms and kitchen. Her windows are still on strings and really could use new windows (just started thinking about this but other than that she is up to date). Her owner is not as well taken care of and could use a makeover in clothes and style but overall we are really happy with each other.

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    1. Love this, Madge! Yeah, my gal was born around that time too -- she does need some major do's like windows. But we've also done a lot of big changes over the years (hence my reno-fatigue). I just want to get some of my mojo back and give her the attention she deserves!

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  8. Off topic comment, but I just wanted to pop in and say to my Toronto beloveds:

    YAY! FORD IS OUT! FORD IS OUT! FORD IS OUT!

    Y'all're finally gonna be rid of your idiotic asshat mayor!

    w00t!!! Start your 14 day countdown to celebration! :)

    (Please, Lord, let that man not appeal. Please.)

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    1. Oh my god, Rigel, we are soooo relieved!! The man has done so much fishy stuff, always with the rejoinder "It's not my fault", it's like having a 10-year-old bully running our city. That said, a lot of people did vote for him -- and this could turn into quite a future shouting match... Anyway, and, yes, for the record: I am thrilled he's out.

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    2. I still remember the day I read the first CBC article about Ford and the bike lanes. I'm not going to publicly repeat what I thought! lol

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  9. Oh, man... I wish I had any interest in a relationship with my house. I just can't conjure it... I think maybe I could if I didn't have a day job. But between working full time, writing full time and my family roles, the house just falls to the bottom. We ALSO have historically been too poor to do anything cool (like hire somebody else to clean up after us *shifty*)

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    1. And it may just be one of those things that you either "are" or "aren't", ya know???

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  10. I kind of treat my dorm room this way. I have to share a bedroom with another girl so I only have half a room to decorate and worry about. But in a sped up version of what you went thru Barbara I too have become bored and couldn't bother dealing with my room much anymore. It was fun and kept my interest the first few weeks of college but now I just shove everything everywhere and try not to trip over it. I don't make the bed anymore but they may be more of a lazy teenager thing :) But I did decorate my parents house for XMas while I was home for Thanksgiving : ) I love decorating for the holidays!!

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    1. Yeah, I hear you. There once was a day when making the bed didn't matter much to me. Now I have to do it every day, whether anyone sees it or not. Nothing (for me) like climbing into a crisp bed at the end of the day (that said, I've also heard that leaving the covers thrown back, aka, the "teenager thing", is actually good for drying off the mattress and warding off dust mites!)

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  11. I was all lovey dovey when I lived in apartments or when I was in my condo. Now I'm back at my parents' house, where I grew up, and there's SO much I WISH I could do to it. But it's their house.

    I got very enthusiastic about at least changing my room, getting it ready for the grown-up me. The pink plaid wallpaper is painted over in a nice shade of sunny yellow. It helps me not be so depressed thinking, "I'm back here AGAIN." I also have several paintings that replaced long-ago posters. However, I did all this four years ago. My room has been the same in that period of time and I'm unenthusiastic about changing it again. It could probably use a spot of a different color, but I just can't be bothered. Plus, and this is a biggie, that's not where my money's priorities are. I can't even put fresh flowers in, which I LONG to be able to do, because my cats eat them. No matter how high up I put them, they get eaten. Carnations are my absolute favorite flower, and apparently they're tasty, 'cause I just can't keep them around anymore. If anyone has a suggestion for a fresh burst of color, PLEASE chime in. (Do not suggest fake flowers. They're SO not the same, and not worth substituting.)

    My room is the only place in the house that's truly ME. It makes sense. I don't know what I'd do if I ever lived anywhere else again. Maybe the "keep it going" fairy wouldn't show up. I'd like to think it would. Choosing something besides fern green because it's MY OWN PLACE would be a beautiful thing.

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    1. I think owning the space you're in, whether it's your house or your own room in someone else's house, makes all the difference -- as you obviously already know! I also have to say I was much inspired by Deb's pep talk about how good it makes you feel when you have a bit of a fresh start, even if it's small changes. I love sunny yellow and have lots of it in my house. As for non-flower colours, as I've stopped buying them (argh at myself), my treat is scented something (ie candles or lavendar drops) and paitings (which you have) and/or beautiful photos. Definitely better than fake :)

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    2. Dawn,
      I understand your feelings. I am back at home also. Keeping an eye out on my 83 year old dad. Having your own space is important.
      Have you thought of some string lights? There are so many kinds out there now. You could even just buy a string of coloured lights and bunch them up in a clear glass vase.
      Heidi

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    3. Oooh, Heidi, good one! PS I just saw (on FB) a "Christmas tree" of stacked books, done up with lights. Wowsa -- love that!

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    4. I was just at a friend's place earlier this month and she had hung a string of lights as well. At first I thought it was odd, but it turned out to create quite a cozy look in that corner. She has a SPACIOUS nearly empty great room. Cozy was desperately needed, and it did do the trick. Thanks for the suggestion, Heidi. And what better time of year to find them, and find them easily!

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    5. Great. I deleted my first brilliant comment before posting it.

      Reply, Take 2:
      I visited a friend at the beginning of the month (I sure as hell wasn't messing up with typos this much the first time around!!!), and she has a string of colored (Christmas) lights in a space between her kitchen and her "great room." The huge room has high huge ceilings and hard wood floors and is almost cavernous. The Christmas lights helped her cozy up at least one spot of the room. That's a great idea, Heidi. Thank you.

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    6. Dawn,
      You are welcome. If you live near an Ikea, they have some fun ones this time of year.
      Heidi

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  12. Oh Barb, I absolutely love my apartment!!!!! Of coures, there are some things that need done to it, but I love it because it's MINE! It's my space!! I love sprucing it up and keeping it clean. It's cozy and perfect for me and my sis and my roommate. :)

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    1. Sooo nice to read your enthusiasm, Holly! It's great you started already to own your space instead of waiting till it's "all yours".

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  13. I don't have a house, but I have a few decorations that make any place feel like home. I have a pile of unframed artwork that I love and a few wall hangings and candle holders in a box at my parents' place waiting for the day I can display them again. In the meantime, my backpack is home and I enjoy reorganizing it every few days. Take care of your surroundings and they'll take care of you.

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    1. Couldn't agree more, Hannah! Especially admire that you've taken this credo with you on the road!

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  14. I wholeheartedly agree with Deb, although only to the extent of my room. I have so much stuff that I always want to put on full display - to the point where I have precious little space to sleep! My bookshelves especially have way too many memory souvenirs for things designed to hold ...well, books. A plastic tortoise! A glass from The Second City! A bag full of British pound coins! A random nutcracker that doesn't even crack nuts! The list goes on and on...
    Frankly, the rest of my house will always come second to my bedroom. Because, let's face it: despite the name, it ain't just a room for a bed.

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    1. And bedrooms are (or should be) our retreats, right? Where better to invest our attentions and loving touches??? (btw, laughed out loud at "A random nutcracker that doesn't even crack nuts!" -- exclamation point killed me)

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  15. Souzan Rezai from Vancouver, BCNovember 26, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    Ooooh, this is a difficult topic for me to discuss, especially now because I'm IN my home, and I'm terrified she'll hear me, but...

    I need to break up with her. I don't know how to explain it. You need to understand that my apartment is amazing. She is leaps and bounds out of my league. When I first moved in, people in the elevator would look at me like, "Does security know about this woman?". My apartment's a ten; I would be lucky in a four-- and I know she loves me, she wants to be what I need...but she's just not.

    I tried really hard to make it work. I painted it with love, and a self-righteous artful eye. I think that's why my apartment actually likes me so much, I'm this bizarre artist hippy, living in the middle of corporate downtown surrounded by accountants. I have vintage prints in hand-painted frames, my "studio" corner with my easel and paints and such (probably where a proper coffee table is supposed to go), and a big, homey couch that I basically shoved into the poor place. My couch was not designed for small-space, modern downtown living...nor was I.

    The reason this break up will hurt so much is that the soul of the place is right, but the bones just aren't. Honestly whoever designed my apartment was an idiot. The remaining space is just so unusable! The fridge door can't open all the way, so there is one crisper drawer that just can't get cleaned... There's no space for things to go anywhere, and I'm one of those people with a lot of stuff that needs a place to go, so it ends up bursting out of baskets and bowls. Like wearing a dress that's just too tight; the fat will need to burst out of either one end, or the other...

    Our over two year relationship had started making me think that maybe I'm just not good at dating homes (much like I'm not good at dating people!). Maybe I'll just never be one of those people who can keep a place running smoothly, who's apartment doesn't look like the inside of a mad persons desk. But it's not true. I think I've neglected my relationship with my place because it just isn't working.

    When we do part ways, though, even though our break-up will be amicable, and we both know we just don't fit one another, I'll always be jealous of whoever comes next. I will hate that someone else will live here with her, and hope/pray/chant a voodoo spell so that she will at least have loved me best. Aldo much like how I feel about my real-people exes...

    Hmm. I sound healthy...

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    1. Yeah, some relationships just aren't meant to be, are they?... Souzan, this post is so good, I wish I could switch it out for my own. Oh my god, it is funny and witty and evocative! Thanks for this. You guys so make my day!

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  16. Souzan Rezai from Vancouver, BCNovember 26, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    That is so kind, Barb! I just love your posts, and Deb's. And after trying (and wah-wahing) at maintaining a blog, I just have mad respect for you both! There's so much openness and depth to the blog you ladies have created, I truly am in awe. I also end up catching up after patches, and replying to things people probably don't even see anymore! But, as I've said before and will continue to say often; everyone here is just the bee's knees.

    xo

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    1. Aren't you the bee's knees, Souzan! Thanks for all this. xoxo

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