02 March 2006

If These Walls Could Speak

I didn't realize I had such a thing for houses until last month as I was gathering up some examples of pottery and sculpture to show our homeschool co-op. Along with the few mugs and bowls I still have from my college ceramics class, I found a couple of adobe- style houses I'd made that year. The college assignment was to take a form (say, a pear) and mutate it through 4 or 5 different stages. The result was a body of work that each resembled the other, but looked almost like a flip book. You'd be able to see the pear "move" and "change" from one piece to the next. I made a set of adobe houses. Only 2 are left though because I trashed the rest in a fit of wifely domesticity.

I also have *ahem* the other adobe house I created in my freshman art class in high school. That was 1986. The roof is broken off and the house certainly didn't turn out like I'd envisioned it as a 9th grader. It's actually pretty bad. Again, I nearly pitched it when I re-inherited it from my mom this year, but kept it for some strange sentimental reason. (And it looks really cool with a string of white Christmas lights glowing inside it.)
There's the small collection of wooden folk houses I bought at a flea market in Arkansas after Steve and I got married. 5 of them, plus the one I fashioned to match out of a hunk of leftover 2 X 4. The little neighborhood was the perfect size to place a handmade clay Venezuelan house sent to us as a thank you gift from some missionary friends last year.

I keep a small, snowy Thomas Kinkade house with our Christmas decorations. It came in a Christmas floral arrangement from my in-laws, and my kids love to switch on the light and watch the windows glow.

I didn't realize I gravitated toward human dwellings until I lined them all up and stood there looking at them. What began as looking for examples of pottery, ran smack into self-discovery instead. I mean, yeah, I intended for all my little wooden houses to be displayed as a group, but it was astounding to see that I actually have a habit, a habit, of collecting houses. This was all news to me.

So I started pondering this little piece of personal enlightenment, and then realized (you're going to laugh) that one of my favorite things to do when I can't fall asleep at night is to design houses in my head. Yeah, yeah, chuckle away, that's just me.

I have the California beachfront house, the lonely tropical island house, the snow covered ski cabin, the East Coast beach cottage, the Wyoming wilderness ranchhouse, the Hawaiian waterfall rambler and the cave-turned-into-a-domicile. Depending on my mood, I rotate which house I re-visit and tweak for the sake of my sleepy entertainment.
What's even more curious is that while these are my dream houses in the sense that I use them to GET to the dreaming and I'd sure not mind living in any one of them, they are not dream houses in the sense that they'd be featured on the cover of Town and Country magazine. Goodness, one of them actually has 1970's dark wood panelling on the walls! How did that get there? The ski chalet boasts an old shag rug that needs replacing. Who imagined that? (I'll have to speak to the designer and get crackin' on making some updates a la the 21 century.)

So, hey, I have no real reason to write this other than to admit to myself and to the world: I have a habit of collecting houses. Do I need a 12-step recovery program?


Anonymous Chris said...

I hate to see such a brave confession go unnoticed...

My own personal obsession is office supplies and I think that collecting houses is much more interesting and artistic. I mean, can you imagine me stringing up Christmas lights on the stack of empty notebooks I still have from 9th grade?

The fact that you plan houses in your head when you can't sleep is so romantic, although the dark wood paneling - not so much!

I can't wait to see what confessions you have in store for us next.

9:01 PM  

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