Friday, March 2, 2012

chipped dishes and broken things

we were texting like teenagers.  i had to laugh sitting in the grocery store parking lot while reading my college friend's electronic words.  wendy was out purchasing new cereal bowls for her family of six. perhaps not truly a teenage type of conversation, but it was time.  the milk was beginning to run through the cracks in the ceramic.  20 some years of marriage and four children later, and wendy has cracked bowls.  i thought of what was sitting on shelves in my own kitchen cupboards. chipped bowls and plates and mugs.   the plain white pattern i had registered for 20 some years ago, myself, was pretty much gone.  maybe a rarely used serving piece or two left from those early days of marriage, but most of it broken or given away. it happens slowly.  but even the newer stuff has marks on it --  tell tale signs of things well used. time and children (and even husbands) will do that to dishes. those are the imprints of busy households.  households with growing children and rushing parents.  households with stacks of dirty saucers teetering in even dirtier sinks.  households which cram too much and too many into an already overloaded dishwasher because it is never not overloaded. and it always runs.  always.  one of the most often asked questions in our house is, "are the dishes clean in the dishwasher?" it seems i am the sole person who can ever provide that answer.

i could purchase us some plastic dishes -- that would be practical and prudent.  we've used plastic for short seasons with small children.  but i am always eager to bag it up and cart it off to goodwill.  call me crazy, but i love the feel of real dishes.  pottery.  ceramic.  even chipped china seems better than perfect plastic.  am i alone in this strange need for the real deal?  maybe. my mother was here from ohio just this past week.  my mother and her china teapot.  yes, that's right, she travels with her own china teapot.  her tea "tastes better that way," she tells me.  seriously, i kind of teased her about it this week, but i suppose i might very well someday travel with a china teapot of my own!

as i have been thinking about readying our house for the real estate market, i can't help but start making this little mental inventory of our stuff.  our walls and floors and things.  i am noticing irregularities which i hadn't bothered with before.  we have a lot of chipped corners, smudgy fingerprints and dented floors.  a couple of nights ago, i dropped an earring near our family room couch and while i was down on all fours hunting for it, i came eyeball to eyeball with the hardwood floor underneath the end table.  dents everywhere.  little nicks and black marks all over the place.  how many times had that table and lamp come crashing down on this particular place? countless.  the battle wounds and scars clearly tell the story of reckless boys running or wrestling.  the lamp on the table has a nice chunk out of it as well.  "and this is our life," i thought to myself with found earring in hand.  these little cracks and dents are the words of our story.  part of me wondered how would i fix them and part of me wondered how will i leave them.

we have a back door which won't shut perfectly tight.  it is kind off kilter from too many kids coming in and out too many times.  just a few weeks ago our oldest two were chasing each other in their utter teenage silliness and emily slammed the door to escape her brother, tyler.  that was it.  that slam was the final nail in that back door's coffin, it hasn't set straight since.  perhaps a nuisance, but also a memory of two teens laughing uncontrollably in my kitchen while i sliced mushrooms and did my best to yell over the din of their sibling fun, "settle down you two!"  and the kitchen floor surrounding that door is no better.  i am not sure what the life expectancy of hardwood floors is, but ours has definitely seen better days.  and i do my best to forget it is not even that old.  the wood was sanded and stained and refinished only 5 years ago, how can it possibly look like this? how can it look so original,  so rustic, so pioneer?  life.  that's how.  life has been lived in this kitchen.  how many thousands of times has our family walked this wood many hundreds of guests have gathered here?  and of course we wouldn't change this.  i love pretty hardwood floors as much as the next gal, but these floors were made for walking and visiting and spilling and dancing and yes, even denting.  they are nicked and scuffed and most of the time dirty, but they are evidence of life lived fully.  they, too, are the paragraphs and pages of our story.

i could go on and on.  room by room.  the list of flaws would be a mile long...(perhaps i should hope any potential buyers are not reading this post).   oh well, if that is the case, what i will tell you is you are getting a home which has been well used, but well loved.  as much as i enjoy the special touches of decorating and design, i have never attempted to create a museum, but a haven.  never a showroom, but a sanctuary.  i have always wanted my house to be a place in which my children and husband might find a sliver of peace. a safe place to return.  a warm place to enter.  a wonderful place to belong.  dirty woodwork and smudged windows perhaps, but love, the truest stain of our family.  

yes, i could go on and on, but you know exactly what i'm talking about.  chances are, you have chipped dishes and broken things in your home too.  that is part of life.  heck, if you really think about it, some of us are kind of broken and chipped ourselves.  i know this past year has brought its share of scars and marks on the mcnatts.  when you desire to be the real deal, that happens.  nothing stays perfect and pristine when well used.  but do we want to stay up on protected shelves, high and out of reach? i don't think so. 

cracked and broken and bent and scuffed...but loved.  our cereal bowls and saucers... our floors and doors and walls and woodwork...all of it touched by love.  all of us, not absolutely perfect, but loved absolutely.
the old white pitcher on the constantly toppled end table has been glued
back together countless times - a piece of the handle now officially missing.

"do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal... for where your treasure is, there also will be your heart." 
 ~ matthew 6:19 & 21

my favorite bowls ever ~  an anthropologie find. 
wendy's new cereal bowls.


Simply LKJ said...

Loved this post Jody! A friend of mine just blogged about "real life" in their house, the not so staged pictures. I told her I actually miss those days now that our girls are older and not home quite as often. It was a time that screamed, a happy, loving, sometimes crazy family lives here! Wishing you all the best in the coming months. Praying all were safe in tonight's storms.

Leslie R. said...

"Are the dishes clean in the dishwasher!" Jody, this is a common question in Minnesota too. I was at a superbowl party and my friend told the story of how she was upstairs brushing her teeth and her husband hollered upstairs from the kitchen, "Are the dishes clean in the dishwasher?" All five of us gals, laughed for minutes, able to completely relate. Later that night, I shared the story with my husband after he asked what was so funny. I don't think he has asked if the dishes are clean since. Trusting you will quickly feel right at home in Minnesota. Leslie

Aus said...

Morning Jody - we build the home we live in now some dozen years ago...and among other things we installed 2 dishwashers!! That way the clean dishes and silver can be taken directly from the dishwasher, used, and placed directly into the 'dirty' dishwasher! And we solved the problem about clean vs. dirty with little signs with magnets on the back - the person that starts the dishwasher simply changes the sign from dirty to clean! ah well - what we end up with is two dishwashers full of either clean or dirty dishes and only one sign...but that's a different story!

And yes - many times there is 'stuff' on the couch, end table, coffee table, kitchen counter, kitchen table, and on and on - but we too have an expression...."we LIVE here"! I'll take dented woodwork and scarred floors, and all the requiset "stuff" scattered about any day of the week for the comfort and security that we have in our home!

hugs - aus and co.