Tuesday, October 13, 2009

SPLENDID CLUTTER

(Please double click.)
I like clutter…at least a bit of it, anyway.
Pristine rooms makes me nervous. Chairs and couch just so. Magazines squared in a stack on the table. Matching lamps and throw pillows. Art hung at prescribed gallery level on the walls, placed to "come off" an object such as a vase stand and centered to the millimeter. The effect is like a photo set for an interior design publication—too orderly to be comfortable, so overly-organized that relaxation is impossible.
Do real people actually live in such dehumanized, sanitized spaces? Or is this simply a dead giveaway that any inhabitants are aliens?
Rest assured—you'll have no such worries when you visit me. Oh, the place is clean. And I have couches and chairs and tables. The throw pillows match, but only because they came with the couch—though I have a couple more with a Navajo motif which my daughter made, plus one with a moose. Two of the lamps match and two don't. There's some art on the wall, paintings and prints I like, and because I have lots of walls there's lots of art…and more to come, too, when I finally dig it out from boxes in closets and attic. Some of things you'll see will be personal, unique, quirky. Books—well, there are always stacks of books around, and books on the shelves. And CDs by the hundreds in baskets. And did I mention stuff? What sort of stuff? Well, stuff, as in stuff! Rocks and pieces of driftwood and a railroad spike from a old ghost-town tunnel (a supposedly haunted tunnel, by the way.) Also a china cabinet with it's own stuff inside. Candles and candle holders on mantles and ledges and tables and atop the big chest of drawers by the front door. Several of Moon's chew toys scattered about the floor. And I must not overlook my Steinway piano.
I'm probably forgetting things, too. Even though this is a big room we're talking about, there are a lot of things in it…and it looks lived in and reflects the lives and interest of those who live here. And, yes indeed, it is always a bit cluttered. But you can come in, sit before the fire, kick back, sprawl if you're inclined, have a glass of something and a snack to nibble on while we talk.
The charitable might call such an overall style "eclectic." A little of this, a bit of that—yet all somehow working in a cohesive manner and mix. Homey , pleasant, cozy, friendly, comfortable.
If we've built the hearthfire a bit too ambitiously, or it's unseasonably warm outside, we'll open the sliding door and you'll be able to hear the river whispering along, smell the scent of autumn's damp leaves, and perhaps hear a few birds or insects. This river is, as you probably know, literally within spitting distance of the cottage. (Yes, you can if you wish…though mind the swirling air currents.) And I ought to warn you there's a slight chance the open door will provide egress for a bug or arachnid or—if recent past experience is a reliable indicator—possibly a salamander. Moon will deter the mice and raccoons.
The Anti-Clutter League would be appalled! Martha Stewart might cancel my subscription—though I suspect Ms. Martha is a bit more down-to-earth than we give her credit for; any rich lady/businesswoman who takes a probably undeserved prison sentence over unseemly whining and endless legal shenanigans is, in my book, practical, courageous, and classy. At any rate, a bit of clutter in a home is a good thing.
And in may particular case, this good things extends out the doors and up the drive. The river deck is a bit cluttered, and the side deck, too. So is the yard. There are leaves down, though not yet many; the grass could probably use a final cutting; the marigolds need deadheading. But, hey—this is autumn and autumn is nature's season of clutter. Which is probably why I like it so much; autumn fits my style…a bit frayed and tattered, too much stuff in too little space—but lovely and endearing in its disarray.
A comfortable place to ramble the hours away. Autumn's splendid clutter!

22 comments:

Grace said...

LOL, that sounds like my house. The hubby is a collector, from antiques to rocks and rusty objects. I'd like a little less clutter, but that's just because I'm the one who does most of the house work. For the most part I don't mind the clutter, that is until it falls off the shelves and hits me in the head. My father, however, is a neat-freak--even his junk drawer is organized.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Scribe - if there is one thing I love it is "stuff" - I have masses of it and my house would not be a home without it. If I see a leaf or a pebble or a piece of driftwood then I bring it home and find a place for it. Feathers fit neatly into vases and there are hooks in our ceiling which date back to when the family hung sides of bacon - they make splendid hooks for hanging bits and pieces on. A house is never a home without plenty of splendid clutter. Lovely post.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Grace…

Your father sounds scary! I don't see how sane people can be that way…but then, I have a daughter who doesn't like ice cream, so go figure.

But I need a bit of clutter to make me comfortable, and I prefer stuff that reflects the clutterer.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

Ha! You put feathers in vases, too! I have sticks that are 40 years old, rocks from all sorts of places, leaves and flowers stuck in books; and in my writing room, more of the same plus bits of bone, a tooth or two, a tanned skin, arrowheads, fossils, a stalagmite, a big paper wasp nest, and little odds and ends that I'd have to think about a moment to tell you their story.

Plus books, books, books! And pictures. And brass things. And a map or two. Splendid, glorious, comforting clutter!

Mug said...

Ahhh...Stuff! That is the "stuff" life is made of!:)

I am reminded of a quote I give my 8th graders (to which I so freely added my own "stuff" above):

"Do not squander time....for that is the stuff life is made of!"

At the moment I can't remember who said it...sounds like Benjamin Franklin, does it not?

Beautiful photos...both on this and the previous post!

Carolyn H said...

Gee, I have feathers all over too. And books. Not music, I like to hear the sounds of the outdoors when I'm in. But lots of stuff, billions of photographs, lots of dog hair (well, I gues that doesn't count as stuff). Did I mention the books? Occasionally, the clutter is semi-organized. Other times, not so much.

Carolyn H.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Mug…

"Dost thou love life? Then waste not time; for time is the stuff that life is made of."
—Benjamin Franklin

I expect I'll run out of time before I run out of stuff…or clutter.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Carolyn…

Books, books, books…and more books. Some dog hair, too, in spite of vacuuming and regularly brushing off what looks like enough to knit another dog.

Yes, I reach that semi-organized state occasionally myself.

No music?!!! For me, there are times on a winter's evening when I want to scrooch up close to the fire and listen to some dramatic and complicated, full of layers and texture.

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

Clutter? Perhaps the bushes outside but your living sounds absolutely divine! I'm not the "HGTV lets set up the place for a photo shoot" kind of gal. I like a place to evoke the inhabitants and their little quirks here and there. Just makes everything so much more comfortable. Does this mean we can come & visit?

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I think you'd feel very at home at Necky Knoll House, Grizzled!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Alicia…

You know, I think it's an innate desire for some of us to make any place we're at, for however long, a home—not just a room with furniture. For me that means personal stuff that reflects me—stuff that says a lot about what I do, what I believe in, what I enjoy. This is not a hackneyed, emotionless, interchangeable home…this is MY HOME! Whether in a tent, a pickup truck camper, motel room, backpack, or riverbank cottage, temporary or permanent, home ought to be an extension and an immediate insight into you the person.

Doesn't your home say something about your enjoyment of antique jewelry? And other hobbies and interests, as well?

I'm certainly most comfortable in the homes of others who also live amid favorite and personal stuff. Over the years I've been in the homes of a lot of people—writers and musicians and painters, artists and craftspeople of all sorts; rich, poor, in-between, famous and scarcely known beyond the end of their rutted dirt road. None of which mattered. The really interesting folks were passionate about something—and you simply can't be passionate without that bubbling out and spilling into your life and decor. (IMHO)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Raph…

I believe I would…as you would here. After all, would Mole or Ratty have homes without a bit of clutter and a lot of personalization? Or Badger? Of course not! And neither would Necky Knoll House nor Riversong Cottage.

Bernie said...

I don't think you'd like my condo Grizz.....it is certainly not pristine but oh yeah it's clean, very clean. I have a wide collection of books but they all have a place and I have sand from my favorite beaches and rocks from foreign soil but they too are neatly displayed.....but it is home and I love it. I too welcome visitors with a warm hug, glass of wine and something to nibble on and being me I am very comfortable and relaxed because my home is clean. I know yours is as well....I think that is what makes each one of us unique Grizz, we surround ourselves with "stuff" we love and we display or store it in our way to enjoy....I think your cabin as you call it sounds cosy and warm and I would love it as a home is made warm and welcome by the people who live in it, I want people to visit me not my house. How I choose to keep it is part of who I am just as your home reflects the honest man you are...love how you described your home and thank you for sharing with us......:-)Hugs

Squirrel said...

Oh my, I do believe you have described my house. Stacks of field guides and nature reading everywhere. Bones, rocks, feathers, seeds, insects, snail shells, the list is endless. I have never taken a walk and come home with empty pockets, something always jumps into them and eventually lands on the table. Leaves on the floor that come in with me and at some point probably go out with me as well. It just can't be helped. Every weekend I make a decision--explore or clean house. Well you know what wins. This winter when I am snowed in I might be motivated to clear but then there is always my microscope to explore with. Thank you so much for your confession. I am much relieved that I am not so odd.
Hugs to you Grizz.

The Solitary Walker said...

This is such a comfortable, characterful, interesting room! You make us feel very welcome. I feel at home here! So open a bottle and let's have a chat, before wandering outdoors for a while to contemplate the river... But, hey, leave that spider alone, please :)

Clutter is good. As long as it doesn't tip into chaos. Though in my father's house earlier this year I was glad to purge myself of all his clutter. It was a kind of catharsis.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

Part of my problem, I expect, is that I've always been interested in so many things—and stuff follows interest. And while I want folks to visit because they want to visit me—I also believe they like to visit because they want to visit my home, the place where I live and work; see my stuff, or at least the bits of it that interests them. It's like visiting a bear…you can see a bear in the zoo, and another in a circus, and maybe one that hangs around the campground in a park. But if you truly want to know a bear, and understand that bear, you visit that bear—a wild bear—on his turf, in the deep woods. I'm a bear…accommodating, tolerant, rather friendly, but indeed a real wild bear. You will only learn a side or two of me if you met me elsewhere. Here, in my home, on my turf, is where you'd really get to know me best…where it is clean but cluttered.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Squirrel…

Oh, no—make no mistake: you are indeed odd, my friend…just not odd to me, because it takes one to know one and I'm certainly a kindred spirit. As, I expect, are many readers of our respective blogs, who themselves are similarly odd. Not odd to ourselves, but odd to the rest of the buttoned-down, corporate world—the poor wretches.

Why, just the other day I carried in a pocketful of buckeyes, and some "beans" from locust tree, and several packets of big bluestem seeds. I picked up a bluejay feather in the front yard this morning. And yesterday I brought in several bright red maples leaves which I stuck between the pages of a book on trees.

Actually, I believe we're the sane ones; it the rest of the lot who're heading down that lost highway.

(I'm not sure if that was a confession or sermon.)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Solitary…

It is comfortable and you would feel right at home—and welcome, to boot. But it is my house and I get to make any arachnid rules…and I say when all eight legs cross my threshold, the dastardly invader dies.

Now, forget you heard that whacking sound—drink your wine, have another cookie, then let's go look at the river, and later I'll show you my books on the El Camino de Santiago.

Jayne said...

Sounds like my kind of place Grizz! Lived in, loved, and full of things that make you happy. There's nothing better.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

Indeed! Home is where the heart is…and the heart is where the stuff is! And I don't mean that in a materialistic way.

Mug said...

Ahhh, thank you, Grizzled! Yes, I checked it when I returned to school. How could i forget the "Dost thou love life?" part...such wonderful wording:)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Mug…

Wonderful, indeed. I do love life…such a holy gift.