… on hugs from a room


The ShepHerd was Slung by the Chimney with Care; 6:30 a.m., Dunstable.

I have had not a lot, and I’ve had a lot.

I kind of like the ‘a lot’.

Not talking about stuff here.

I’m talking about love and a grateful spirit. Family and true friends.

Stuff is strangely ancillary and central at the same time, because the stuff that we choose to surround ourselves with is a reflection of who we are, and where we are in our travels, at any given time. And before you go and think I mean stuff in a materialistic way – stuff-terialistic – I don’t. I’m not talking about the amount of stuff, or where one is on any proverbial social ladder in one’s life.  I’m talking about the general stuff in our lives at any given time.

The stuff around me now… the house that shelters me, and those I love, the Christmas tree that moves in at this time each year, and welcomes trinkets and memories hung on its branches… a little old oak desk I chose from an antique store almost two decades ago, my very first ‘antique’, it felt like such a ‘grown up’ purchase at the time… I was noticing it – this stuff – this morning.

A fire in a fireplace I imagined, and then designed with cool humans who then magically brought it to life with their exquisite craftsmanship.

Twinkle lights, a soft red throw that I bought because it feels like the platypus I got to touch at the Healsville Sanctuary in Australia.

A German ShepHerd dog on a leather chair I bought on clearance (the chair, not the dog) and impulse more than a decade ago, knowing its deep red would look great at Christmastime (though, clearly, Marshal Dillon Dingle looks great at Christmastime too).

For as long as I can remember, I have been an arranger and rearranger, colorer and re-colorer, imaginer and re-imaginer of the places and spaces I’ve inhabited.  It was only, probably, within the last ten years that I realized my spaces were my canvases.  Playing with them, changing them, putting things in them or taking things out of them, bringing my imagination to life and then living with and in them, these places and spaces… this work is a creative outlet.

The Nearly Perfect Husband no longer asks me what I’m doing when he sees me sitting in a chair, my eyes wandering across the elements and walls and features and layers within a room. He just goes with it, and knows it will probably be different when he comes downstairs an hour, day, week, or month later – whether he will trip over an old chair, moved to a new place, or spy something from a long-forgotten (by him) basement box that has made its way topside, perhaps to a wall or window sill.

For a long time, maybe since our first house, people have come in and commented on the sense of place.  I’ve been asked – sort of a lot – to help others decorate their houses, from choosing paint colors to furniture and fabrics. But I’m not terrific at it.  I mean, I can give advice, but I can’t create the same feeling that exists in my house, in someone else’s.

It took me a while to understand why.

A true sense of place, infusing soul into a home or other space, is personal. Authenticity is a necessary ingredient. A decorator or a designer can make a place exquisite, and pretty, and match-y. But we can’t pay someone for the warmth that we all feel when we enter a joyful home. The house can’t fake it.  The true soul of the inhabitants eventually comes through, sort of like knots bleeding through paint.  It permeates the home, and the home exudes it.  It’s the same with life in general isn’t it?  We can’t hide from who we are.

Real happens, eventually.

The best compliment I ever got about our house, was that walking into it felt like getting a hug.

That comment meant a lot to me. It said a lot more about me – and where I am, and where I’ve been – than it did about my physical house.

It said a lot about the people who live here too, and those who come to hang out and be.

It reminded me that I am fortunate, and that I am right to be grateful – all the time – for the family and true friends I have in my life.

This morning, I came downstairs early, and there was already a fire in the fireplace (courtesy of my Nearly Perfect Husband).

I decided to turn on the Christmas lights, and get out my Christmas cards – a perfect project for this morning. Number One Son Sam flew in from New Orleans last night, and he’ll be down in an hour or so, I think. And we’ll talk and catch up he way we do, over coffee and with a movie playing in the background.

In the mean time, I’m getting a hug from a warm room, bedecked in Christmas.

Not a bad way to start the day.


Thanks for readin’.


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