Monday, October 29, 2012

Refrigerator Redo

I don’t really like my refrigerator.  In fact, I admit that I sometimes watch cooking shows, just because I like to see their appliances. Never, ever do I see one that has a refrigerator like mine; their’s are always saturated with color, vintage, or lusciously new in stainless steel. Which leads me to think that most people  secretly crave a beautiful refrigerator, we just can’t justify the expense.
Personally, I believe that there are good, logical reasons for me to be slightly fridge obsessed, and I choose to ignore the fact that my mom once had to physically restrain me from buying a 1950′s yellow refrigerator at the local thrift store. Honestly, I still don’t understand why she wouldn’t let me buy it; when you opened it, it was a designer’s dream – chrome baskets that begged to be filled, and all sorts of levers that twisted and turned to open the drawers. So what if it needed to be re-wired, and would cost insane amounts of money to keep my food cold, we were talking about instant happiness.
After being denied the yellow refrigerator, I forgave my mom, and decided that the least I could do was to make mine look better. Now, I justify my slight obsession with my own version of common sense.
- I decant my milk into glass bottles. (It stays cooler, and has no plastic taste).
- My eggs sit in a metal basket, on the counter. (I can bake at a moments notice, and they are always at the right temperature).
- Mushrooms are kept in labelled, brown paper bags. (They can breathe, don’t get soggy, and last longer).
- Vegetables are placed in vintage mixing bowls and dishes. (I can see them, and therefore I will eat more of them?).
-  I line up yogurt’s in a square container. (Easy to grab, and don’t fall over).
- Orange juice is in a clear jug. (I can see when it is time to buy more).
See, to some people, it is just a way to keep food, but to others it is a reason to decorate. Right now, I don’t have my favorite refrigerator, but there is no harm in dreaming, and adapting what I already have.  One day, I will have a wonderful, vintage inspired refrigerator, and it will be pale green (or blue, or maybe yellow… or pink).
Photograph borrowed, with envy, from the Big Chill website.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Coffee and Chenille

Reading a recent post about One Day Makeover's, reminded me of my Salvation Army sofa. Bought for $30 several years ago, it is sturdy, comfortable and, oh yes, it is covered in shiny, worn gold chenille.
Far from perfect, I still can’t bring myself to get rid of it. The dog sleeps on it, jumps over it, and suffocates the cushions with his fur. My daughter often sprawls across the back, haphazardly doing gymnastics, knowing it will never creak, break or bend. It is the place I sit to drink coffee and read a book, talk to my mom on the phone, and listen to music on rainy days.
And, sometimes it makes me cringe. I know what people think – Isn’t she supposed to be some kind of Designer? Why does she have that dated, faded sofa in her living room?
I have it because I still love it; it’s hard to find sofas that will fit through my small front door, and many of the newer ones are not as comfortable as the old. I like the way it envelopes you when you need to hide from questioning teenagers (a strategically placed plant also helps), and I love that I can redesign it when I get bored.
Sometimes, I can’t take the chenille, and I search my house for a blanket or quilt to throw over the back. I pile it with cushions, frown at the tufted gold, and threaten to replace it with a newer model. I become my own annoying client, frustrated with what I own, but not wanting to buy something new.
This week, it competed with the Autumn light, and I swear the sofa almost glowed.  I became distracted by its brightness, moving it around the room and throwing different colors on it like a crazy person. Maybe I had had too much coffee, but I just needed to get it right. And I did……for now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lives Well Lived

I used to date someone who would recite Shakespeare to me during dinner. It sounds silly now, but what I loved was that he was so passionate in his telling. He loved to say the words out-loud, and he never tired of sharing them. Of course, I didn't always want sonnets with my chicken, but that didn't  seem to bother me at the time. Apparently, as someone who is not very bold, I sometimes lean towards people who are. Maybe they say what I am thinking, or maybe they give me the opportunity to hear Macbeth when I least expect it, whatever the reason, I know that I am drawn towards expressive people.

Rosa Maria Thummel was an expressive artist. A couple of months ago, her son, whom I had spoken with before, very kindly, wrote to let me know that she had passed away. Although I had never met her, I was sad to hear of her death. One of her paintings had come into my life many years ago; a woman in red who looks solemn, ladylike and brave (a pretty accurate representation of how I was feeling at the time). After I bought it, I wrote to thank Rosa, and although she was no longer painting, I was glad to learn that she was still happy and enjoying life with her family. Vibrant until the end, I loved that she did not bow to convention and compromise her style; her soulful portraits were unique, colorful and bold, the dark lines filled with personality.

On the other side of the artistic scale was Edward Gorey; known for his quirky, macabre sketches, most people probably know his work more than they do his name. Although his art was lacking in color, and his detailed drawings often very small, his life was filled with bold eccentricities.

Recently, I was delighted to find that his former home had been turned into a Museum. Set in a picturesque town on Cape Cod, I have to admit, that from the road the home appeared very underwhelming. Until I stepped inside. Words cannot describe the creativity that consumed this man's life. He was unstoppable in his expression, and I don't even know how he had the time to do as much as he did; envelopes were painstakingly decorated with complicated scenes before sending, bizarre creatures were twisted out of wire and clothed in household debris, body parts were sewn (stuffed) and sculpted, and creepy alphabet poems were written on his porch, at night, with a gigantic stuffed bear sitting by his side. His art may not have been for everyone, and he never tried to impress, all he did was create.

When I see people like these three, I ache with admiration. To know your passion, and follow it loudly, regardless, is a gift (and a lesson). We say we don't know what we love, what makes us tick, or incites rebellion, but I think we do really. Sometimes, what we know is as tiny as an appreciation of a Fall day;  we fail to recognize it as being important enough, when really it might be all that we need. It doesn't matter who listens to our stories, or how many awards we get, as long as we understand what makes us truly happy. If we celebrate what we love, unapologetically, we will win, and our lives will be well-lived.

p.s. I preferred my chicken without Macbeth :-)

Edward Gorey Photo: http://www.flavorwire.com/288826/extremely-silly-photos-of-extremely-serious-writers?all=1
Rosa Thummel Painting: http://www.rosathummel.com/