"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: utopia is in your own backyard

“utopia in my own backyard” . . . (or at least in my pantry!)

a flexible glass tube flower vase "lost" and now "found" . . .

a flexible glass tube flower vase “lost” and now “found” . . .

I’ve been doing a massive Spring cleaning out of my pantry. It is a nice-sized room that adjoins our living space and also serves as a passageway of sorts to our back deck where we grill and have planters of kitchen herbs for three seasons of the year. When the weather is pretty mild, we basically keep the doors open and enjoy the additional view and extension of our living space. The trouble is that the “view” in the pantry wasn’t much of one, mostly foodstuffs tossed in there, looking more like a disheveled storage room than anything else (after all, it’s a pantry, right?)

We’re now on our second day of taking things out in order to give away what we won’t be using and reorganizing it so that storage will be more practical and the room more presentable. The funny thing is that we have unearthed a number of “finds” – that is, things we wished we had (like the cute little glass flexible vase in the photo above) and rediscovered things that meant a lot to us – like some McCoy pottery bowls that show their age but are wonderful, nevertheless.

McCoy pottery bowls. . .

McCoy pottery bowls. . .

So, the saying that “utopia is in your own backyard” comes to mind while also wondering what to do with the huge sack of rice saved in case of a disaster.

To dress up the pantry space, I thought I might experiment with some pieces of vintage Japanese indigo blue/white fabric plus some blue wood-block printed “Tree of Life” cotton from India. We’ll see how that works out when the sticky-back velcro tape arrives tomorrow! Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, it’s comforting and discomfiting at the same time to realize that I haven’t changed much over the years: there are duplicates of the things that I love (Le Creuset, vintage copper, pottery bowls, ruffled quiche pans) and also things that I completely forgot about! Like the little flexible glass tube vase that I cleaned out and which now holds the remnants of Mother’s Day bouquets that my daughters sent me last weekend.

This whole cleaning out process reminds me of a French phrase:

“les plus de choses changent plus elles restent les mêmes” (the more things change, the more they stay the same!”


backyard . . .

Someone once said on a greeting card or somewhere that “utopia is in your own backyard.”

I never gave it much thought until recently when I found myself searching for something only to discover that I already had it, or at least a passable version of the sought-after item. This could be a silver fork in a certain pattern (“past and present”) or when declaiming about my efforts to write a book when writing posts on this blog has become what one reader calls my “metier,” one that feels like a good fit for me.

I guess the antipode to utopia being in my own backyard is “the grass is always greener.” That is, whatever you have is (always) not quite enough. And somewhere, perhaps over the internet, or at the local drugstore will you run into Read the rest of this entry »

“still life. . .”

Through the years, one of my daughters would remark about how my house was replete with what she called “still life” arrangements, as if in a painting. I noticed that she did not necessarily mean this as a compliment, her tone of voice slightly tinged with sarcasm. I was always a little baffled by what sounded to me like implied criticism in this grudging commentary. Until recently.

On another note, I’ve been drawn to books by stylists from Australia recently–“Etcetera” by Sibella Court and another stylist’s guide to finding wonderful things in New York City, a place I like to visit when I can get on the bus from where I live and take a day trip.

What I discovered about myself from these two threads is that I like making settings for myself. Engaging, appealing books to read, asian-inspired arrangements of leaves from the garden in old pottery or modern glass. The kitchen space has finally been cleared out, easier to maintain when we remember to clean up after ourselves. It pleases me to look at it.

What I also noticed is that I reserve things aside: nice clothes that I wait to wear for an event to happen; antique jewelry that is too beautiful to part with but delicate to wear everyday; books that are still waiting to be read, thumbed through but not as yet digested from front to back. Meanwhile, I shift things, clean them out, hold them back, give them away, consign them, and then cycle through and recycle again. I will go to my grave finding the next beautiful blue and white rice bowl.

Meanwhile my life goes by. It’s now time to live within the framing that I spend my time creating. To enjoy playing Beethoven sonatas on the gorgeous piano that I’ve always wanted and now have; to listen to the music that I’m afraid might bother someone else’s privacy; to wear beautiful clothes and go somewhere. I am fulfilled with most everything I have ever wanted: but I am afraid to acknowledge it, I think.

Maybe I’ll start today.