Sunday, March 31, 2019

Looking is not the same as seeing

Hi my bloggie friends,

Long time no see.  I hope you've been well.  I have been busy, but no complaints.  I had a desire to put some thoughts to paper, so I hope you will indulge me in this non-art/decor/antiques/diy post.

Have you ever thought about the difference between looking at something and really seeing it?  For almost 20 years, I have been doing laundry in the creepiest 110+ year old house basement I've ever seen, complete with spider webs, bad lighting, and crumbling plaster walls-someone's attempt at making a decidedly uninviting space habitable.  Maybe 80 years or so ago, it wasn't so bad, but these days, it is a place to get in and get out of as quickly as possible.  And it is NEVER on the home tour, I assure you.  The crumbling plaster wall is the worst right above where we have an old counter which we use to fold clothes.  Yep, so before you fold, you usually have to brush off the counter or deal with the consequences of a rough sand ending up in and on your clothes.  Delightful.   I guess it probably was a bad plaster job to begin with and it didn't get better with age.

I have been looking at, and silently cursing, this wall for  nearly 20 years, always wishing that I had the time and money to dedicate to making a proper laundry room, sans crumbling plaster, or that perhaps HGTV would call and offer to come help me out.  Yes, I realize that's not how those things work, but this is my laundry day fantasy, so just work with me.

Anyway, for whatever reason, today I actually SAW this wall as I was preparing to do my folding.  I don't know if it was the light coming in from the bulkhead door or what, but it struck me that it was like a piece of art-house art, if you will.  I noticed the layers of paint, revealing  the 1940-50's green which had been painted over the earlier peach, which was over the sandy undercoat (the part that crumbles pretty much constantly).  I noticed the pits and textures and the way that it had gradations in the colors.  I took the shop vac out and vacuumed the spidery webs and the fuzz that had stuck in the wall (I apologize to the squeamish for that visual!).  Then, I went upstairs and fetched my camera.  I played with taking pictures of THE WALL and then came upstairs to my laptop and did some cropping and was surprised at how much the photos looked like some cool piece of abstract art.

I even caught myself thinking, "I wonder if we could somehow preserve the wall for its aesthetic appeal, but keep the plaster from crumbling on our clothes?".  Wait, what???  I guess it was just one of those fleeting times of actually living in the moment and appreciating the beauty that is already around me that made me want to pause, enjoy, and then write about it.  After all of this time, I finally SAW the wall instead of just grumbling about how awful it and the whole basement is.  I SAW the beauty in the crumbling imperfection.  I think if you Google decayed elegance, you might find other images similar to this.  I SAW the wall and pondered about the first person who tried to spruce up an otherwise unassuming basement with some plaster and paint-were they just looking to add some living space, maybe for their kids to play in?  Were they happy with the results?  Were they happy living in this old house?  Did former residents cry happy tears when WWII ended?  What about the people living here when WWI ended?  Did they lose any loved ones?   What effect did the stock market crash of 1929 have upon the people living here then?  I could go on and on.  It's thoughts like this that make me love my old house and allow me to overlook the fact that there is a decided lack of proper closets, I share a bathroom with my whole family, and there is always something that needs to be fixed or spruced up.  ALWAYS.  At least for today, I celebrate the layers of history that this old wall in the basement represents and just maybe, I have found my appreciation for what is.  MAYBE next time laundry day rolls around, I won't groan when I see that wall.

Now, if HGTV called tomorrow and offered to fix the place up, would I take them up on it???  I did discover a new appreciation for what is, right?  Oh heck, let's be real:  I'd say YES, faster than you could say FIXER UPPER!  I do appreciate the wall and the history it represents, but I'm not CRAZY!  LOL!!!

Until next time, try to really see the people and things around you and enjoy the experience, transient though it may be.

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