Tuesday, December 8, 2009

You Can Make a Silk Purse Out of a Sow's Ear

This is my Mama...she was raised during the Great Depression....She lived in grinding poverty...just look at the natural grace and class she had.... so read on.
Well, I don't mean that literally. What I mean is, no matter what your station in life economically, there are ways to make things pretty. These are "the girls", who came running everytime we were working in our 4,000 sq. ft. garden in Wisconsin. The first few seasons, we grew too many vegetables to put up, and much of it went to the local food bank...the no longer fit to eat, went to the "girls". I've always wanted to use this in a greeting card, with the caption, "Your name came up at lunch today"....don't steal it...mine, all mine. I love the photo. We are by no means wealthy; in fact, the recession and my move from Wisconsin has pretty much shut down my business, but I do have a resourceful husband, who has been consulting for nearly two years, so I thank God everyday that I still have my lovely home, and way too much to eat.
What does this have to do with design, you ask? You don't have to live in a "McMansion", or have a house in "The Hamptons", to live with beauty and grace. When I was first married - not to this husband, by the way. My father-in-law said to me; 'you have a way of making simple things beautiful"..which started my foray into interior design.

I lived for awhile in my Grandparent's "shack" in Oklahoma - Cherokee...dirt floors, tin roof (they are fashionable now, but I bet they don't say "RC Cola" on them. This is me, in my grandmother's arms...my sister (the whitest Cherokee kid on the block), and my cousin, who's mother was full-blood - I am a bit over a quarter, but proud of my heritage. As you can see, that porch doesn't know whether to stand up, or fall down. Even though the floors were dirt, my grandmother would sprinkle them with water, and sweep and tamp them down until they were like concrete (funny, my house has stained concrete floors, all the rage, don't you know). She made rag rugs out of scraps of fabric, and quilts, and even clothes and curtains for us out of flour sacks (they were printed with flowers back then). This wasn't a hundred years ago...I am 61, but don't tell anyone.

This was my grandfather, who was a mule skinner...I once had a city friend ask, "what did they do with the skins?" - a mule skinner drove a team of mules. He was rough, tough, and hard to diaper, and drank homemade "shine", and lived to be 96. He used to take me to the woods, and set me on a stump, while he smoked out bees from the hive in a tree, and always gave me a chunk of beewax, dripping with honey. He also would shoot mistletoe down from Blackjack trees, and we would sell it in town.

My grandmother (center) loved to fish...she didn't like to eat it, but we did eat a great deal of catfish...She would take Rex Lard buckets (quite a pretty red, actually), and plant "moss rose" in them, and hang them on the porch (not too many, as it would pull it down on top of us).

This was my grandmother on my father's side...I took the photo when she was in her late seventies...all those years of chopping cotten in the fields took their toll. Remember ladies, sunscreen...She sat by my grandfather's bed for ten years (he smoked, and was on oxygen all the time), and pieced together quilts...not beautiful, but pretty...and functional. Remember...form follows function

I came across this photo this morning, and the one of the pigs, and that's what got me started on this - We lived in poverty, but we had beauty around us...we lived in beautiful country, with hills, and lakes, and trees to climb, and berries to pick, and wild flowers...It's much easier being poor in the country. At least now, inner city kids are getting garden programs and hopefully, some introduction to art by taking them to museums.

So, if there's not enough money to paint the entire house, or even a room, go to Home Depot to the "whoops pile" of paint, and you can get a gallon for $5.00. Go to the supermarket in July, and you can find glads for $2.00 a bunch. Or just stop for a moment, and gaze at a wildflower.

I have done multi-million dollar homes, and I have done modest homes...I have also learned that just because a person is wealthy, doesn't mean they have good taste.

There is the dictum, "If it isn't beautiful or useful, get rid of it"....Which is what I am doing this afternoon...cleaning out my closet.

I hope this hasn't been too self indulgent. But for those of you, who feel you are not able to have a lovely home...a clean home, a simple home, and alot of love for it is just fine.