Welcome to Plaid Eggnog!

Welcome to Plaid Eggnog!

Feb 27, 2010

On Messy Houses and Priorities

I really wish I were a minimalist...but I'm not. After visiting Germany and a few Scandinavian countries, I ardently admire the nordic sensibilities toward space - large amounts of empty room, with very little clutter and almost everything concealed behind closed doors of cupboards. Ah, bliss!

However, both Steve and I have to reckon with our British clutterbug roots...and the academic bent that we have. Guess what our house is full of? You've got it - paper! Lots and lots and lots of it! In bookcases in the form of books, on the kitchen table in the form of recently arrived mail (happily, most of it is personal letters), and next to the bed (both sides) and in various and sundry other places in the house, in the form of piles containing magazines, newspapers & books that are either currently being read or are on the must-read-soon list. Even our combined hobbies of article-writing, letter-writing, papercrafting, guitar-playing, cooking and photography involve loads of paper. Sigh...so much for minimalist aspirations!

After years of frustration, I think I'm finally at least starting to come to terms with our paper piles - not as an indication of our failure in housekeeping, but rather as the sign of two very active, very curious minds. No piles of paper goods would be a very bad sign indeed at our house.

I'm also learning from my grandmother, Pauline, who tells me that when she was younger, she used to forego chances to go out with friends if she had housework to do. Now, in her 80s, she's changed her mind. Even if she's got everything pulled out of the kitchen cupboards and it looks like a tornado hit the house, whenever a friend calls her to go out for lunch or take a short trip, she drops everything and goes. Housework can wait - and anyway, it never ends. I think she's got her priorities straight.

I'll leave you with a little ditty that's on her wall in the kitchen:

Although you'll find our house a mess,
Come in; sit down; converse.
It doesn't always look like this;
Some days it's even worse!


  1. Both Leif and I are messy people, and guess what we have two boys that somehow turned out that way too - I wonder why.

    I LOVE an uncluttered house, but I also LOVE a house where you can see that people that are alive actually live there.
    I am trying to accept that a tidy house isn't nessassarly a cozy house. I actually enjoy visiting people that are alive, and live and enjoy BEING and don't care too much about weather or not they just decluttered the house or not. I guess i like my own messy house :)

  2. Good thoughts, Julie! I considered it a sign of intimate friendship when our friends will let us into their messy houses, laundry piles and all. In fact, their messyness endears them to me as it makes them so much more relatable! :-) I'm still working on the reverse part of that equation - welcoming visitors in, despite my own mess!

  3. This one hits a nerve with me. I've seen the German and Scandinavian look too, and I get envious at times. But I've convinced myself (no doubt naively and erroneously) that all we need is a couple more rooms...and maybe a nice finished basement with lots of built-in shelving...and we'll have enough room for our collection of collections. That's not a typo. I collect 6½-inch fashion dolls--Topper Dawn, all her friends, her competitors, her knockoffs, and her assorted successors--and "Fantasy Island" artifacts. He collects Grosset & Dunlap mystery books--Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins, and a slew of other, more obscure sleuths--12" G.I. Joe figures, Matchbox/Hot Wheels cars, those silly bunny-suit figures that Intel evidently sold some years back, and anything to do with "Star Trek". It's a wonder there's any room left for us in here. :) (Kim West)