Stuff. Let’s Have Some.

Unless you are buried under a pile of your own possessions, you have no doubt heard about the latest person out there telling us how to live our lives, you’ve probably already gotten tired of hearing how wonderful it is to tidy and purge from the beautiful and didactic Marie Kondo.

I am genuinely happy that she is bringing her special brand of joy to so many of my friends and colleagues. She’s perfectly poised in this era of minimalism, simple living, and all that kind of trendiness. And I understand very much how important it is to feel in control of at least something in our lives these days, when we sure don’t feel like we can do much about world events, jobs, and our families/friends. And there’s nothing wrong with organizing your stuff so you can find it (right, yarn closet?).

I assure you that everything on this shelf means something to me. Those teeny dogs are my first ones, Gwynnie and Scrunchy. The cups are places I’ve worked. That kid in the back is 28 today. The name tag reminds me of who I am, when I space out a bit. Ms Warren tells me I am tough, etc.

But, as I see everyone blissfully getting rid of things that don’t bring them joy, it occurs to me that there is most assuredly a range of people’s attachment to “things” in their lives.

A small selection of Supergirl things. I have more.

I have stuff. Yes, I do. I am on the spectrum at the end where people find comfort in the memories that come up when they look at things around them or draw inspiration from beautiful things they’ve gathered. Sure, I could pare some things down, but I am a former academic. I’m not going to own just 30 books. Geez. And by gosh, I love Supergirl and if I want to look at her, that’s my issue.

24 Starbucks mugs. I like them.

I think what gets to me with all these fads and trends and gurus of the day is that they really try to make people feel guilty for being different from them. Why? Some folks like three curated objects on each surface of their home. Some people want to look at 24 Starbucks mugs that remind them of friends and adventures. Like anything else, becoming attached to or detached from stuff really only gets to be a problem at the extremes.

Anita’s Fiestaware. And a reflection. Looks good to us.

When you can’t walk in your home or yard, you may have some mental health issues to deal with. And if you just have a chair and a bed (yes, I knew someone like that), at the least hospitality is difficult.

Yup. Lots of stuff there. Let me tell you all the stories. I guess if I were paring down, Bananagrams might go elsewhere.

So, I say unto you, my friends: if your stuff makes you happy and you can move from room to room, enjoy your stuff. Get rid of things that make you feel icky or have bad memories attached to them. Just follow your own instincts, the norms of your culture, and what’s right for your family. Don’t blindly follow some overly perfect guru from another culture (by the way, in the Shinto religion of Japan, inamimate objects have souls and everyone has inherent goodness, perhaps even collectors like me).

Share your thoughts. I like hearing what YOU think about tidying up and magic, and the opposite.


Postscript

I was not correct to blame Kondo for some people who are perhaps over zealous in interpreting her ideas. Please read the comments for some reasons why I’m saying this.

Also a friend didn’t comment here, but on her Facebook wall, and she was right that Kondo never said 30 books. I succumbed to Fake News.

One of her friends kindly posted this quote, which I do indeed agree with:

“As you reduce your belongings through the process of tidying, you will come to a point where you suddenly know how much is just right for you. You will feel it as clearly as if something has clicked inside your head and said, “Ah! This is just the amount I need to live comfortably. This is all I need to be happy. I don’t need anything more. … The click point differs from one person to another. For a shoe lover, it might be one hundred pairs of shoes, while a book lover might not need anything but books. … As you put your house in order and decrease your possessions, you’ll see what your true values are, what is really important to you in your life. But don’t focus on reducing, or on efficient storage methods for that matter. Focus instead on choosing the things that inspire joy and on enjoying life according to your own standards.” -Marie Kondo

I still get weary of extra tidy people acting like they’re better than the rest of us, since we each get to do what we prefer. But Marie is OK. Like Emily Latella, I must say, “Never mind!”

Decorative Arts: I Have a Nature Theme

This is my newest plant-themed plate, by Cameron artist Pamela Neeley. It’s hand-shaped, and she used real leaves to make the image.

I went into a deep dive yesterday into one artist whose work graces my walls. Lula Moser is not the only talented individual who makes me happy every time I look at an object. And, of course, there are things by people I don’t know personally, but I’m surprised at how many of the objects in both my homes are by family members, friends, or acquaintances.

Today I share a few from the Austin house, like the one above, which I just got last month. I just had to have this plate by my friend Pamela Neeley, because it helps my house look like an extension of the woods, which must be the subliminal theme of both houses.

This piece by Renice is on really lovely hand-made paper, too. It also holds up my very long pothos plant stems.

The beautiful print of violets was done by my former friend Renice at the time of my first wedding in 1990. It’s followed me around and been the base for many room color schemes since then.

The Pod

While it’s a little abstract, this pod by one of my women’s group members from the UU church in Urbana, Illinois, still fits with the nature theme. I am so happy I have not managed to break it. I love the contrast between the rough bottom and smooth top.

My non-Christmas quilt, which reminds me of vines. The white fabrics are really nice in this one.

I can’t forget fiber arts! Our guest room includes a lovely quilt made for me by Alice Sessions and her late mother, Jackie van Voris. I wanted a red and green quilt that didn’t look Christmasy and that fit with all my plant art. This one fit the bill perfectly (I won it in a services auction; what a prize!)

The top is a counted cross stitch of a pine tree quilt block. I made it over 20 years ago. Below is my reminder to make music, from Carolyn.

And at the bottom of the above image is one non-nature theme treasure, made by Carolyn Dower, which I always keep in my bedroom to remind me to keep my music in my heart. The bell makes the music real. If anyone wonders whether I appreciate hand-made gifts, the answer is a firm yes.

And as for me

I made this one in the 90s. The guys REALLY wanted to make an octagonal frame.

Most of my non-knitted projects (I used to knit A LOT) have flowers in them, like my beautiful petit point project, which is even in a frame hand-made by my ex and a good friend. It occurs to me that art is not just in my house for beauty; it’s also there to keep the memories of the people I have loved in my life close to me and alive.

I did these in grad school, from a kit. The butterfly is in cotton, and the rest is wool.

I guess I’m not much of a person who picks art and accessories to match the house! The house has to conform to my art. And it’s not clutter. It’s beloved treasure. So there.

Farewell, from a sweet handmade bird Anita gave me. I can’t remember the artist’s name, but it makes me happy, too.

Orchids of Joy

One of the blogs I read often is Chateaux des Fleurs, whose authors post a flower, usually one from New York City, every day.

The two blossoms on this one are quite different.

They’ve inspired me to occasionally share bonus posts with what’s blooming around my urban house. In this case, the flowers are IN my urban house.

I thought the blossom with the streak in it was cool! I wonder what caused it?

And the purple one is interesting, because the sprig had finished blooming, then grew more buds from the same stalk.

I love the shape of the stem!

I have another one that has branched out from a stalk that had bloomed and will soon flower again, but never has one sprouted on a spent stalk.

This is the one that has branched off a spent stem.

Dreary? But Beauty Awaits!

These plants give the neighbor privacy and me a nice view. The variety of shapes and textures makes this one of the loveliest flower beds in the neighborhood, to me.

While I’m working on a longer post, which may be a series of posts, I thought I’d share what struck me as I went out to the car to go to work this morning: you don’t have to go far to be in awe of natural beauty. I just looked across the street and saw the neighbor’s tangle of overgrown plants practically glowing in the gray, rainy light. I love how he has managed to convince the landscapers to keep the greenery so high and full.

Wet and lovely ball moss in bloom.

Then, I literally turned around and saw little jewels. The ball moss in the crepe myrtle was shining and shimmering against the dark bark and dark cedars behind it. It probably would have glistened more if the sun were out, but I was quite charmed by what I did see, so I tried to capture it in pictures.

A perfect rose in my favorite shade of pink, surrounded by unnaturally pink friends.

I guess Anita was up to the same thing inside the house, because she took this photo of how beautifully the roses have opened up in our cheerful post-Christmas flower arrangement. That bouquet has definitely helped cheer up the Bobcat Lair during the dreariness of 2019 so far (I hear it will clear up this afternoon).

Bonus moody photo of the ball moss.

As an aside, I love how the grocery store advertises the fact that there is a straw bow around each of these arrangements. They are “hand tied!” Woo! I’m pretty sure the other arrangements are “hand taped” to hold the plastic on them, too. I guess you take what you can get to differentiate flowers and charge a dollar more.

Time Marches On, and It’s Beautiful

Looking out over the Texas Hill Country’s first hills as Nature gives us a fiery farewell to 2018.

Well, according to the calendar used by most of the world, it’s a new year. I celebrate it as the day I start scratching out the wrong year and changing it to the right one. And it’s a day off, so this is the only blog I’m writing in.

This is looking to the east, a bit earlier than the previous photo. Only the rich people houses peeking up remind me I’m in Austin.

At least we got a lovely show from Mother Nature last night, as the sunset was pretty darned spectacular. I enjoyed seeing many views of the same clouds from different places in my Facebook feed. Since some of you readers may not be in central Texas, I’m sharing a couple of my photos. I especially like the stripey one by the hill.

Speaking of Blog Readers

Since this is the first year of this blog (though the Hermits’ Rest Ranch Facebook page goes back a lot further, to October 25, 2014), I thought it would be interesting to check out how we’re doing, readership- and fan-wise.

Continue reading “Time Marches On, and It’s Beautiful”

Look Up!

Yes, look up and you can see all sorts of new things. I need to tell myself this often, since I spent an awful lot of my time looking DOWN, to see what kinds of plants, bugs, odd items and such are below my feet.

Pipes make a nice grid, plus bring the ever-popular “pop of color” to the ceiling in my office building.

But, by always looking down, I realize I do miss a lot, like the tin ceiling in my favorite restaurant, Dutch Towne. Or, like I found out last night, I miss the patterns cast by the mod light fixture in the place where I’ve been getting my hair cut the past few months.

The light fixture has bloomed into a flower.

It’s a good thing I looked up last night, since I won’t be going back to that location again.

I decided to see what I could see by looking up at my Austin office. It’s one of those open offices with unpainted concrete floors and no drop ceilings, so you see all the infrastructure. That’s supposed to appeal to millenials, you see. They like the industrial look, I’m told.

They’ve missed a big model train environment in these wire cages that hold all the wiring.

I have to admit you see some things that you can have fun using your imagination on. I keep wishing they’d put a model train track on these long tracks of wired that go all over the place.

Mmm, cozy pillows. Except they are full of fiberglass.

And the giant air conditioning duct that makes the very loud “white noise” we enjoy daily looks like it would make a very nice pillow.

This makes me dizzy. Maybe it’s a quilt pattern.

And while I admit that I looked straight ahead to see this, I keep wanting to turn the acoustical foam tiles in the recording studio into a game board.

So, if you are somewhere that doesn’t excite you visually, just look up! There may be a pattern, a shape, or an object that sparks your creativity right over your head.

Austin, You Make Me Smile

I love a mule in a hat.

Anita and I were driving to our last haircut by our current hair person (she’s moving to Dripping Springs). Glancing up I saw the totally Austin spectacle of Santa riding a bay mule down South Congress.

Don’t let the trees fool you. He’s right in front of St Edwards University.

Yee-haw, Santa.

Ok. We looked it up. That was Sam Gray Horse, who rides the mule all over town. Here’s an article!

So shiny! Blinding!

Also I made the nail lady in Cameron do fancy holiday nails. I guess I’m all set.