Sunday, July 22, 2007

Relections on the beauty of the "Imperfect"

Our garden, a wild green jungle ~ with a border of colorful marigolds beginning to bloom

Justin pressure washing the patio

Shannon sitting on his "Old Mc'Donald Tractor" on the still wet, pressure-washed deck

A close-up of the bricks being pressure-washed

Today has been a productive one so far, at least for Justin. He's been busy pressure-washing our deck, and then moved on to the bricks on the patio he, his brother, and our neighbor, Rob, built this past spring. The deck looks fantastic and is ready for staining. The bricks are still wet, so I can't yet tell what was accomplished with them, but I am eager to see. Most of the bricks in our patio were taken from the old Water Plant here in town, when it was torn down. Justin and his brother drove out and loaded the back of our car up with them. The rest were given to us by Rob, and are from an old chimney that was once part of their house ~ making them over 100 years old.
Justin had spent a day tilling the garden this past spring, and then tilled the area we were going to turn into the patio. The next day (I think) the guys got to work. What I love the most about this patio is that it resonates of the past and with history. The ground was never perfectly leveled off, there isn't cement or even a layer of sand under the bricks. In this picture you can see where water is pooling because the bricks sit unevenly on top of the land. It is so natural and wonderful and historic. I love it. It calms me when I can sit and stare at it and appreciate the imperfections.
That must be why I love this house too. Our house is over 100 years old, as I've said before. It was made by hand, not machines. There are very few 100% straight or even surfaces. The walls, floors, and even doorways all seem to lean or bend or be crooked. Just slightly, you won't notice any of these things unless someone points them out to you or you're really paying attention. But they're there. Sometimes these things bug the daylights out of me: when I'm trying to hang a picture and realize that one side will jut out further than the other, for example. Or the time when I noticed the doorway leading into the kitchen was crooked and all I could think of was the movie 'Beetlejuice.' For someone who can be quite OCD, and especially for someone whose OCD-ness tends to come out with having things "even," this house can really drive me up the wall if I let it. But, most times, I don't. I take comfort in it. I take comfort in how long it has lasted. How we don't have AC and we don't really need it (& I'm a fall/winter gal who hates the heat!). How fresh air is abundant here because we keep the windows open all the time. There is no carpeting, just the original hardwood floors, well mostly.
The inside of our house is a mess too. I'd like to say "oh, excuse the mess, it isn't normally like this," but it is. I'd like to say it is because we have two young kids and two big dogs ~ and that certainly does play a part, but life happens. When it was just Justin and I, alone in the apartment, things stayed neater and cleaner. But now, life is everywhere. There are always things to do. We'd rather spend our time living and doing than cleaning and caring so much about things that aren't really that important in the grand scheme of things. Don't get me wrong, our house is clean, there aren't mice to be found or horrible, mysterious smells of food lost behind (or under) couches or beds. But, there are tufts of dog hair (in our defense: no sooner can you clean them up & even brush out the dog, than they will reappear), and there are things piled here and there. Minimalists by nature we are not.
But there is something comfortable to it. It's messy, yes, but its home-y. I don't think there is anyone who comes to our house who feels unwelcome and afraid to relax and have a good time. I think even Miss Manners might be able to have a laugh, even if her eyebrows were raised dissapprovingly.
Life isn't about being composed and perfect & passing a white glove test. It's about laughing and doing and delighting in the uniqueness of everything. It's about seeing and realizing the beauty of the moment, and then being able to live in that moment. That's the secret to true joy and happiness. Laughing, loving, and living.

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