Wednesday, January 06, 2010


I've often been frustrated with the feeling of being pulled this way and that. Career woman or homemaker? Teacher or learner? Funny or serious? The list could go on forever but you get the idea; in fact I suspect you've been there a time or two yourself.
Over at my friend Debra's blog is a very sweet post about her dream house. Our homes can be another place which pull us in opposing directions. Debra talks about those 4,000 sq. foot mini-mansions complete with high end kitchens and en suite spa bathrooms. And who does not, on occasion, dream of such a place to call their own? Not you? Well, I do. Not often, but I do. After a romantic get-away we daydream about Jacuzzis and fireplaces in our bedroom. When we're planning the occasional party my charming little bungalow tips dangerously toward tiny little house.
There's the ever-present Eleanor Gerhardstein Furniture and Stuff Gallery. Somehow my gramma had more things in her little house than can be accommodated in the three houses of my sister, my mom and myself. And still there are items in my attic, garage and basement. None of of can be gotten rid of. But sometimes one feels that the charming little bungalow needs to expand her borders just a bit. For instance, my hope chest given to me by the Mr. when I was sixteen, sits in our garage. It would be lovely with my bedroom furniture but the charming little bungalow has charming little bedrooms. Well, little at least.
Perhaps my beloved HGTV lends a little to the tug-o-war. There I sit on the edge of my seat as the poor couple (Bob & Jim most likely) stand by with knitted brows as the crane lifts the granite counter top just imported that very morning from Africa over the English garden hedge and lowers it through the peeled back roof of their Victorian brownstone where they are remodeling the third floor into a master suite/spa. Good grief, they almost smashed through the leaded glass bay window of their large eat-in kitchen where they happily make spaghetti with their range top pot filler which no civilized home lacks. What do people do, walk with a pot full of water from their sink to their stove? Surely not in the United States of America!
And while I am at it, I have neither kitchen island nor two sinks to accommodate two cooks cleaning vegetables. No warming drawer either. Alas.
Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that this charming little bungalow was littler still when it was built, lacking the kitchen expansion and family room which I now enjoy. And there is a possibility that even in such primitive conditions Christmases were enjoyed and dinner parties hosted. How, I cannot imagine. Wink.
I wonder if we have a little problem in America of having forgotten how to window shop. How to admire the glossy magazine pictures of grand houses and perhaps steal an idea or two about colors or furniture placement and then return to our charming little bungalows happy and content. We seem to think that which we see we must own. It's not so easy to live in good balance and I'm not criticizing. I can finally afford plush towels and high thread count bed linens and I enjoy them thoroughly. Strawberries purchased at the Dearborn Market are more expensive than those at Kroger and all the sweeter. I love good freshly ground coffee and down comforters. All more expensive than their Wal Mart counterparts. My grandmother had the ability to be both a Hudson's and K-Mart shopper. That's what I'm learning to be.
There are people (being one of them on occasion I am aware), who might visit my charming little bungalow and take note of plush towels and Starbuck's coffee and come to the conclusion that I should spend my money on a larger newer home instead of silly luxuries. There are also people (being one of them on occasion I am aware), who might visit the large newer home with the en suite spa bathroom and sparsely decorated rooms and come to the conclusion that the owners should have bought a home they can better afford to furnish. I think we're all a bunch of ninnies.
Why don't we all try this experiment; settle down for how ever long it takes to become well-acquainted with ourselves. For instance, I must remind myself that I entertain about a half dozen times a year and most of those during summer months in my largish yard. All of my guests are those whom I dearly love and love me in kind and our joy in those moments wouldn't be in the least diminished by a yet smaller charming little bungalow. One must only answer the question, what does my home need to provide me? One must also be smart enough to figure out the answer with honesty and not let the "others" with their multiple opinions have much bearing on the situation. Yes, sadly, there are times when I am quite side-tracked by worry over what visitors to my home will think of it.
I am a loner at heart and one in desperate need of quietness both of sound and vision. I thrive on sentiment and memories. Ikea makes my skull hurt. 99% of the time the service which my house renders is to hold four people and one dog. The final answer is that 4,000 sq. feet and an en suite spa bathroom simply won't do.
As we march forward through days and years, I suggest that we all figure out what we are made of and learn that settling is not failure. Settling into a luxurious new home with a jet tub that feeds your very soul and makes your spirit sing with joy every morning is just exactly correct. Settling into an apartment that feels warm and safe and lulls you to sleep with gentle peace is precisely what you must do.
As for the charming little bungalow lacking a pot filler where people shower in the basement to keep the one main floor bathroom relatively clean? Come by any time. Well, no, don't do that. Come by only when I feel like having company. Good luck figuring out that invitation. But when you do come by and notice my plush towels in that tiny bathroom and drink my $tarbuck's coffee; don't judge me too harshly. It's all a matter of settling.


maggie said...

Great comments, I am pleased beyond my ability to express, my feelings, you have made the house a home.
Love U.B.

Margie said...

Makes me laugh because I have one of those charming little bungalows myself but most of the people around me have big lavish houses... and I love my charming little bungalow, God whispered 'home' while I was on the porch when 'we' met in 2002. I don't have plush towels, but one by one they are getting replaced...

Debra said...

Ooo! Loved this post (and thanks for mentioning my blog). :) Sometimes I wish we still had HGTV, but other times I remember how it tended to make me disatisfied with my own little home. But yes, one can always glean ideas from anywhere and we're happier people if we can just find joy in the ideas and leave the big houses to those who can afford them.

Anyway, I, too, am I major loner, must have several hours a day alone and I know that those hours wouldn't be any happier in a larger house. No, it's good for me to have a small place--I know how quickly I'd fill a larger one with all sorts of stuff I don't need.

Rambling..... Anyway, thanks for this great post! Blessings, Debra (oh, and drop by and see my newly-painted stairs, ok?). :)