The thing about “things”

26 Mar

We’re painting our living room. And it really is THAT. The room we live in. Read in. Work in. Talk in. Be in. Sometimes eat in. And the color just started feeling all wrong for me. In the pictures, before might look better than after. lrafter

But pictures can be really deceiving. The original color was too much like–something unpleasant. Couldn’t put my finger on it–was there too much brown in the tint? I don’t know. But the color was life less. We’re painting with “crisp linen.” And just now, typing that name, i’m getting it for the first time. Linen. My maybe most favorite fabric. On the wall, it has life. Light. Energy. Spirit? Yes.

The man was not at all happy about the idea of painting. windows

But yesterday, claimed he loves the energy (my word) of the new color, amazed at how awful it made the original color appear, and would still be blind to its “awfulness” if I had not become a maniac(my word) about getting rid of it.

So even though we thought we could paint w/o disrupting any thing (ha)–as in just move things on each wall a bit, paint and then move them back–not wanting to create chaos/havoc/disorder–that was impossible. Every thing had to be moved.chifforobe

We have some furniture. Yes. A couch. Two sitting chairs. A wooden cupboard thing for hanging coats since there are only 3 tiny closets in this house. A desk. An antique washstand and an antique sideboard stuffed full of–yes–old tablecloths and linens. Oh yeah–we have a handmade table and two benches. That’s about it for furniture. But our “things.” We’re overflowing with an abundance of “things.”



I’ve moved a lot. I’ve moved these “things” a lot. I look at some objects and marvel at their fragility–that they’ve survived so many moves unscathed. And I wonder why I’ve held onto these items. Rocks and pieces and parts of things. Why? I really started thinking about that. How is it possible? That an inanimate object can possess so MUCH? Can HOLD so MUCH? Can be repositories of life, memory? Place holders?

Grace at windthread has been talking about altars. What they mean to her. And I’ve been thinking about that. Not altars in the usual religous sense, but altars as, perhaps, place holders. Reminders of . . . whatever it is that is being held. And this will vary with the object and with the one being reminded. But I’m realizing right now, that this is what my things are. Altars. To life. To love. To what is of essential value to me. And I keep these things around me because of a need–and a desire– to acknowledge. To honor. And to remember.

13 Responses to “The thing about “things””

  1. cynthia craig March 26, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    i love your words… the honor you are giving your things…and well actually the pictures of these things show how wonderful they are..they speak of you as a person and what a nice tapestry is being woven between your words and your pictures..oh hello this is cynthia from what iffing and i am envying your paint job..i have discovered plaster crumbling , bubbling on the edges, in the crevicey corners of the alcove …so instead of painting i am scraping…and scraping ..and trying to decide exactly how much repair i need to do…..

    there were seven old layers of wall paper that we scraped off years ago to get down to this plaster..even the ceiling was wallpapered..and in the beginning i was so charmed by each pattern..ok i was charmed even at the end but i didn’t care anymore…i love the plaster walls but oh really , i just wanted to paint and be done…anyway

    i like so much that you,too, are painting with linen….it is such a wonderful word/color paint….it is light enhancing i think, on the wall just as it as it is such a beautiful fiber to work with, enhancing the threads you place through it and the shapes that it holds…

    and i love your altars, your place holders…i was thinking about grace’s words as well..i think what i love about these sacred places is their quiet does not matter if it your alter holding the fragile objects that have obviously been moved with love and care over time and space..or grace gently placing the clippings of gideon’s hoof there two days ago..the objects there are held with veneration…. the gift of tangible memories


    • patricia March 27, 2013 at 12:07 am #

      Cynthia. soooooooo good to hear from you, hear at my place. yes, i recognized you from “what if” right away. i’ll tell you–i can’t even imagine 7 layers of wall paper–but if it was old, it probably was really charming as you say. still 7 layers. argh.

      this continuation of Grace’s altar cloth blog has really been interesting and seems to have such a universal grounding quality for so many of us. the grounding–and as you said, that “gift of tangible memories.” thanks for visiting. talk to you soon. love


  2. grace Forrest~Maestas March 26, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

    this is so perfect. when i woke this morning i re~realized something
    i have often thought, that sometimes, our entire homes, Places of
    Living are what i consider an Altar. The whole of it. i look around
    here and it’s really what i see. and looking at this post, there is also a sense of that. and then the word Diorama rises up. it’s all
    so beauty full to think about. just someThing i love so much.
    thank you for this post….


    • patricia March 27, 2013 at 12:08 am #

      you’re right. our entire homes–and then more–the land. the land. it’s all part of the altar.


  3. Marti March 26, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    Touch stones of life is how I think of the items on my altar, of the items placed all over my home. I remember when we were getting ready to put our CA house up for sale: a real estate agent took me aside, and informed me that I would have to remove all personal items and in particular, my assorted collections throughout the house of baskets of weeds, my abandoned bird’s nest on my coffee table, assorted rocks, twigs, pine cones, feathers, crab claws, sea shells etc. because people wanted to see a more sophisticated environment. I kindly showed her the door and said, “people are curious. While they imagine how they would live in a home, it is human nature to want to know how those who came before them, lived, what they valued, etc. At least, that is how I am.”

    On grace’s blog Nance commented that instead of worship, she uses honor and that is a very good word. Honoring the things that give us joy is a good way to live life. I am moved by grace creating altar cloths and commented that making altar cloths was a giving thing because it gave people the opportunity to put forth what matters most to them. In the end, isn’t that how we make a home, by putting what sings in our soul, into the rooms we live in…


    • patricia March 27, 2013 at 12:13 am #

      hey Marti. oh your words. the thing that “sings in our soul” … this is beautiful. i’m hearing birds now. remembering a bird from a few minutes ago–singing with abandon and joy…convinced that life was just too good to be contained. and in that song, the giving.


  4. Mo Crow March 26, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    love how you reveal the spirit of place


    • patricia March 27, 2013 at 12:13 am #

      hi Mo. and you know what i love? i love that you were here visiting and sharing in that spirit.


  5. Linda March 26, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    Love your new linen color—-and, don’t forget about “lovealtars”
    Just made 15 new lovealtars this morning in my little NYC apartment–found a place in Brooklyn where I can glaze and fire them…


    • patricia March 27, 2013 at 12:16 am #

      smacking myself up side the head. lovealtars. yes, of course. lovealtars– another touchstone for honoring life. it was just so early when i posted. but thank you for completing the circle on this!


  6. saskia March 26, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

    ah what a post, sigh and how wonderful this is
    yes I know how colour, any colour, on the walls can be too much; we’ve had all sorts on all the different walls, but now if I ever paint a wall or door for that matter, I always turn to white, as white as possible to let in light. I admit I’ve become lazy about decorating the house of late: more into life in the studio and garden….
    as to the question of altars and things and how sometimes the two might come together: it happens all the time here, stuff gathers in places and a small cabinet enters the home and then there is like a shrine of sorts, not something any of us deliberately plans, almost like they happen by themselves,
    again, a much appreciated, thoughtful post


    • patricia March 27, 2013 at 12:20 am #

      oh. that’s it, isn’t it. it just happens. shrines just happen. they’re outside on the back stoop. tucked away in the corner of the garden. hanging from trees. they give me such a feeling of…connection. i’m glad for this conversation with you, and so glad you’re here.
      funny thing, i always think of blue when i think of the bird hut. and you. beautiful beautiful blue.


      • saskia March 27, 2013 at 7:28 am #

        blue is my favourite, oh and green as well;-)


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