Sharon has up a tongue-in-cheek post about a magazine she'd call "Better Homesteads and Ratholes" .... if she had the time!
The inside of our place (cleverly obscured in the photo by computer artistry, to protect the guilty -- click pic to see obscurity writ a bit larger) is seldom seen because we are sometimes sensitive about its shortcomings -- no bought furniture, shelves made from scrap wood, heaps of clothing and doodads not put away, balls of cat hair drifting across the floor like tumbleweed, and happy spiders in the corners. Dishes pile up, too. We're trained to feel badly about this extremely common state of affairs, and the training can be hard to shake.
I tell Beloved that others both work, too, and can't do everything -- or, really, anything (!!) that we all see in Better Homes and Gardens, or our local version, Sunset, and that, even those who have lost their jobs (and they are many around here) and presumably have time on their hands, find themselves too depressed to straighten up -- so that the world is actually one vast conglomeration of fouled nests -- but to no avail. Not that either of us can get to it, but she mourns. I feel her pain in the pitiful way she says, "Oh, sweetie! You did dishes at eleven o'clock last night! My heroine!"
Then when we actually break down and have anyone over, they invariably say, "I like this place. You can relax here." Words used include "homey," "cottage," "unpretentious," "real," and "honest." We do like to hear these things, even though it's best not to parse "unpretentious" without having a glass of homebrew first, to, umm, soften the blow.
When home at all, we do a lot of our living out of doors, and when we come in and sit down, we walk the shortest distances we can, and sit down heavily. Places where we can actually sit are surrounded by garden books, letters (we still get letters), a spoon bowl, half-finished glasses of solar tea, a harmonica or dulcimer, or the National Geographic. Coming inside is what we do when there's really only time to decompress a bit before hitting the pillows. So we've made an art of getting right to the decompression.
Also, not being young, we can't remember where we have carefully stored anything, so we carefully don't store anything. Glasses, keys, screwdrivers, baskets of peas, instructions for assembling compost barrels, left shoes, and with any luck, right shoes, are all out where we can see them. A mess? Yes, but it's our mess, and lends function to a stressed work life, and at its core, the vital resting and relaxing gets done. And what you don't see a lot of in this mess is credit card receipts. That's the significance here.
All that fancy advertising and the cleverly pitched advertising that passes for informative articles in the magazines really had only one function, anyway -- to separate you from dollars by convincing you that you must surround yourself with signs -- expensive ones -- of upward mobility, which you could only afford by leveraging yourself -- giving to others claims, sometimes multiple claims, on your anticipated future income, in exchange for looking rich.
Honeys, don't fall for it. As soon as we all passed two billion in number, we were all poor. And getting poorer. Instead of hocking ourselves for the BIG tv, the BIG car, the BIG couch, the BIG hutch with the BIG set of entertainment china, and the BIG riding lawnmower, let's all try being rich in all the value there really is: kindness. Get up and do a few dishes at eleven p.m.
Your sweetie's smile is your fortune.