Thursday, October 06, 2011

Day 6: Beauty and the Beast (I Believe!)

I didn't really know what a credenza was, honestly, until my husband's parents moved to Montana, moved into our home, and parked theirs in our dining room. Handy-dandy Wikipedia says this:
Today, a credenza is...a type of sideboard used in domestic or restaurant situations. In dining rooms, it is typically made from wood and used as a platform to serve buffet meals (hee hee, mine is used as a platform to hold mail, piles of books and assorted science projects.) In restaurant kitchens, made from stainless steel, it provides a side surface and storage cupboards.

Originally in Italian the name meant belief. In the 16th century the act of credenza was the tasting of food and drinks by a servant for a lord or other important person (such as the pope or a cardinal) in order to test for poison. The name passed then to the room where the act took place, then to the furniture.

The credenza is large. Very large. The dining room is small. Very small. It really doesn't help the cluttered feel of the house at all and it has not ever really functioned as storage for us, as it has been filled with their stuff. Over the years, I have managed to fill in all the blank spaces between their stuff with our stuff. Not surprisingly, it became...well...stuffed. Overflowing, actually. Did you ever watch that PBS Kids show, Zobomafoo? Remember the closet? The credenza was kind of like that closet if you tried to open any of the drawers or cupboards.

When Andy's mom died suddenly so soon after moving here (vascular angiosarcoma is a very nasty cancer and that incredible, Godly woman is missed every day), his dad needed to live with us. That was fine, but the question was what to do with all of their stuff. They had moved here from a large home, assuming they were going to build another large home here. Of course, they never built that home. What to do with all their furniture?

It hasn't been easy. That furniture makes Andy's dad feel at home...or at least sort of at home--as at home as the poor guy can be with ME at the helm of the S.S. Good Housekeeping. So, the credenza, big as it is, stayed.

I swear to you, that thing is a beast. We have to put our smallest kid (who is now adult-sized) on that side of the table because she is skinny enough to squeeze into her chair without having to pull it out all the way. The Beast is in the way, of course, so it doesn't pull out like it should.

We still can't bear to break his dad's heart by removing the credenza, but today I conquered the beast. I started with the drawers. Emptied those suckers. Cleaned them. Tossed out half of their former contents and organized the drawers with useful things, handy things. I made the drawers mine. Boo-yeah. After the drawers, I moved on to the cupboards. Same story.


It took me about two hours, not too bad when I consider the results. Really not that bad. The process was even...gulp...enjoyable. Did I seriously just type that? It was. It was...satisfying. I actually stood at the credenza and opened and closed drawers and cupboard doors several times throughout the day, just to admire their orderliness. Plus, it was great for keeping my kids on track for school, an unexpected benefit. I was busy working right in their presence, so it somehow motivated them to stay busily working, too. Cool, huh? Of course, I know some of you have little ones and this doesn't work at all with them. God bless you, moms of little ones. I have no desire to go back to those days.

After the credenza-formerly-known-as-the-beast was finished, I also tackled the pile of baskets and boxes of junk and general miscellany that had accumulated on the floor on the far side of the behemoth--in the crammed corner of the dining room that no one can really see at first glance.


I borrowed my son's strong back and we moved the credenza down the wall so that hole couldn't fill itself up with crap again.

But then the credenza wasn't centered on the wall. The huge, decorative Asian fan that was a gift from a foreign exchange student (and is actually very pretty) was left hanging out in the middle.

It was time to work on decor.

Beauty in my home has definitely been sacrificed in the last four years for some very specific reasons that I'll get to later this month. For now, let's just say our home has become a little ugly--and not just from the clutter. I saw the moving of the Beast as a perfect chance to add a little bit of beauty back into the home, at least on the long dining room wall. I moved the fan to be centered over the credenza again and then began to scour the barn and the garage for elements of decor, long forgotten, that might cheer the rest of the wall up. Staying with the world travel theme, I also hung a wood and wicker wall hanging from the Phillipines. Then I found a favorite, a "May God Bless Our Home and Us" hand-carved wooden sign from Papua New Guinea which features their national symbol--a stylized bird of paradise with a drum and spear. Finally, the last bit of design balance was achieved by adding a bright hand-painted ceramic trivet brought to me by a friend who had visited Finland. It looks so nice!

I was inspired.

Back out in the barn, I found my super cool, huge antique canning jars, brought in a few different sizes and filled them with sea shells collected from Florida on our trip there back in March. The shells had been languishing in a plastic pretzel tub in the aforementioned corner of the dining room. They are now so nicely displayed on the fireplace's hearth. Pretty.

Adding beauty to a home is an important part of emerging from the chaos. I really believe that. It creates the kind of vicious cycle that actually works for you; as you see your home as starting to be beautiful, you want it to be more beautiful so you clean and organize more. As you clean and organize, there is more potential for beauty! It's great! Believe in the power of beauty. We were created in the image of the God of the universe, the same God who created the Alps and the Amazon, the streams and the seashores. This is a God who knows and appreciates beauty. We have it in us. It makes a difference in our souls. I believe that with all my heart.

This evening, after returning from my son's filmmaking class again, I couldn't help myself. It took me a little past my stated eight o'clock quittin' time, but I started in on the kitchen junk drawer. You know, the one that can't open and close properly because it has to house all the hot pads and oven mitts in addition to all the normal (and abnormal) kitchen junk. You know, the one that had the box of 800 toothpicks explode in it sometime last year (wish I was exaggerating here), along with the box of matches and the box of 80 birthday candles. In addition to the mess in the bottom of the drawer taking up an extra inch of space, the almost entirely empty boxes of toothpicks, matches and birthday candles were still there, too. I found more than a dozen corn-on-the-cob-holder-things, a huge selection of magic markers, assorted poker chips, those nifty pumpkin carving tools, several rolls of tape (none of which are the type we use most), rubber bands galore, far too many bottle and can openers, a bunch of things I couldn't even recognize, and five thin pads of assorted post-it notes. Oh, and a grimy dime. It was bad, friends.

But not anymore.

It too, is done.


Credenza means belief. And tackling this credenza has cemented my belief that this goal can be accomplished. I believe it.

It was a good day around here, friends. How did your day go? Are you accomplishing things? Are you starting to emerge from your chaos? I'd love to hear about it. Tomorrow I hope to focus on some non-cleaning and organizing tasks--chaos of a different feather. See you then. Journey on.


Simply Sandi said...

I love it! I can so relate to your world, although I probably wouldn't admit it face-to-face!! My husband's families all have perfect homes and I still wonder where they really "live." I am going to use you honest approach to tackle bits and pieces of my frazzled world. I am sure my husband is already thanking you. However, I am going to keep your posts as my little secret so I can see how long it takes him to notice my progress. So, don't get too crazy and dramatic on your daily projects or I am sure to give up. :-)

Simply Sandi said...

Ok, "Sherry," it's me again. I just went back and read from the beginning to see what I had misses in not finding you sooner. Are you sure you are not really my husband, changing a few names/places to show me my life from another perspective. It is very clever....and it is working!! If you really aren't my husband, Sherry, you are certainly living a parallel life. Bless you, and don't worry, I will pray for you too!! Your blog is a gift from above!! I had prayed that I could hear motivation to keep moving in my chaos and find a way to rise up out of it. And, here you are!! Thank you!! Not sleeping again due to the stress that strangles me as I try to rest, I got up and thought I would check in with the blogs I discovered at my last computer binging session. You are right, those blogs have some pretty beautiful before shots! I stumbled onto your blog and saw this post first and was impressed and made my first post, not knowing that after going back and reading everything, that I would realize there is someone else living a parallel life and has the courage to find the HOPE I had given up on. You are going to make it out of the chaos and you are not alone. You have followers that are there. Count me in!!! I will be working to catch up on my homework. I have Fridays off so I will get my little girl to K4 and I will start on my list. You will have it soon!! I better get a quick nap b4 she wakes up. I have got a lot to accomplish!! Thanks again!

Sherry C said...

Oh, Sandi! Don't knock yourself out too much on so little sleep today. I'm so glad my posts have encouraged you. It's so good to realize you're not alone, isn't it? Thanks for taking the time to comment. As my honesty has encouraged you, your honesty has encouraged me. It's easier to keep going when I know other people like me need this and are reading along. Thanks for cheering me on! Have a great day, but take rests, too. BTW, a friend suggested to me that I start taking calcium to help me sleep and it has made a big difference. I take a calcium pill every evening now and I sleep so much sounder than I ever have before. I've encouraged my daughter (11) to have a glass of milk before bed, and that has improved her sleep, too. Just an idea to try. Love you, friend!

Jeannie said...

Re: Calcium
As a result of listening to those who have already done their research, and having it confirmed by doing my own research:

Read the label on your bottle of calcium--do not take calcium carbonate! It is very hard on your stomach! (For me it actually produced severe pain--almost much too much too bear!) Do take calcium citrate. It won't harm your stomach and it is much more effective for its main purpose--to strength your bones.

Congratulations on the progress you've made!

Alana in Canada said...

Fabulous. I just may have tears in my eyes. I believe that beautifying is the reward and the purpose--the carrot (and a stick? --what a terrible metaphor!)

I'm so happy for you.

And YES, I am beginning to feel--something--a little lightness in my step--my head is up and my chest is open as I no longer feel quite the need to avert my eyes or cringe at the sight around me.

Hands to Work, Hearts to God said...

I am so curious- can't you post a picture?
Yes we have the ability to create beauty because we are our Father's daughter!

Tina Hollenbeck said...

Pictures please! :^)