My girlfriend who usually cleans my house most weeks, has not been able to come for a while, and I’ve been exceedingly busy preparing, for and doing home Shows out of town, and designing and getting my apprentice artists started on the Wairarapa collection. The upshot is that our house had not been cleaned for weeks, which is very unlike us. Add into this, the fact that our beautiful long haired white burman cat, Neo, is malting, and you get our charcoal coloured carpet coated in lumps of fine cat hair. In fact, when I groomed him on Thursday, I had enough of his cat hair to make a little shadow Neo cat. My home was an ‘Open Studio’ this weekend as part of the Manawatu Art Trail, so on Friday I needed to give it a thorough cleaning so I could present it in it’s normal beautiful fashion. It was actually nice having nearly a whole morning off my normal work responsibilities to ‘minister to’ my home. Tend to it’s needs and take care of it! I’m fairly sure I always do a better job than anyone else, because no one loves my home as much as me. Before I start, I actually clean the clogged up head of the turbo vacuum. I pay attention to the little stuff like cleaning the pet gunk of the cat door so you can see through it again. I don't just dust, I clean precious objects in hot soapy water, and dry them to a sparkle.
The down side of cleaning my home is that I really become aware of things that need attention. The window frames are crying out for sanding and new coats of paint, the laminate is chipping of the bottom of the doors and the carpet is getting really worn and thin. How long can we eke it out before we deal to those things?
The up side of doing the cleaning myself, is that all the dusting and polishing makes me really focus on every little item in my home, and I find myself pondering on just how wealthy I am. I love the look of a newly decorated room with all the latest ‘on trend décor object’s you can purchase at the beautiful home furnishing places. But in reality, most of the objects we have in our homes are not freshly bought off the shelves. They are collected treasure we have gathered over the years. I am exceedingly particular about every object I bring into my home. It has to be displayed in just the right place, and I will often spend weeks, moving things around the house until I feel they are in the perfect spot, in harmony with their surrounds. Each week after my friend has cleaned my home, I will go around and move everything ever so carefully back to the right angel! So what are these ‘precious things’, these ‘treasures’ and ‘tauonga’ that make me feel so wealthy, and why do they hold so much value? They are objects as varied as the things that are maybe 100 years old, inherited from both sides of my family, like my wooden standing clock, my large stone storage jars, and the beautiful jug that belonged to my favorite Gran’s mum. They are things as new as the religious iconic trinkets I bought in the cathedral souvenir shops in England a few months back. They are beautiful pottery and glass pieces, sculptured by someone else’s hand, now representing value to me, not just because of their own beauty, but because of the place each piece was purchased in, and the people I was with at the time. They are gifts from my husband and even a Christmas gift bought for me by my daughter in law, who made sure she got the perfect rose gold coloured vase I had had my eye on. Just a cheap décor item, but now valued, because it was bought with her love for me. In fact, I realized as I consider every object in my home, that it had won its place there, not just for the delight it brings with it’s excellent appearance, but for the connections the memory of it congers up. On my dresser in the front hallway I even have a wee Kinner shell, beautiful in it’s warm sea green colour, with cream pearl like bumps lined up in perfect rows. I hold it for a moment and remember the day I found it. A sparkling Boxing Day when we drove to Island Bay in Wellington. We put the Kayak in, and our daughter and her ‘twin cousin’ paddled around the glassy breathing sea water, exploring the little channels, while my hubby and Mum and I wandered about the rock pools. My dad contentedly sat like a lamb in the car parked overlooking the beach. Windows down of course! He already had dementia, but was still good enough to accompany us everywhere like that. So as I dusted I held that wee shell for a moment and the memories came flooding back. My eyes watered up as I said the name, ‘Dad’. Now this inanimate object has a soul, and it’s all connected to the happiness of that morning, the love shared with family, and the memory of my father. As I dusted my house that Friday I was staggered to realize just how much soul my home has. In my room there is a wee framed silhouette cut out of me as a little poppet. I stole it from mums when I found it buried in a draw years ago, and had two deeply wooden molded silver frames made, one for it, and one for a happy moment captured in a photo of my three kids all tumbling out of a tunnel slide on an Auckland Holiday. While the silhouette picture is of me, I realize it is actually the love me and mum share, that makes that a special piece for me. It was the fact that she had it made by an artist in the first place, at a time when money would have been tight.
So my home is full of tauonga! And of course, it got me thinking. I spend my working life trying to create such objects for others! Paintings of towns and places they loved. Places they grew up, maybe raised a family or just worked in. It is always my hope that these pieces will do just what my precious objects are doing. Remind them of the people who they have done life with. The ‘connections’ are the real treasure of life. I hope people will remember the day they made the choice to get that special piece to bring into their home, or the person who bought it for them with love. I hope it will hang on their wall like a quiet sentinel, reminding them of good times, good memories and things of value! Remembering why each of my possessions are precious today, reminds me of why I value the work I do.
So What’s my take for you as I ponder ‘Precious Things’? Am I just telling you to clean up and make sure you dust everything off? A little bit. Mostly I’m saying, recognize your treasure. It might be you need to frame that piece of art hanging off the fridge, done by your kid or grandchild. Just get a cheap frame from a department store. It might be to unpack those boxes hidden away from your last move, and get those special pieces back out on display. You might modernize them with a new piece of decor art if that’s what you want. But treasure them. Remenber the people and places they represent, and count your blessings every time you see them.