Making Permanent Things in a Disposable World

Ahhhh, my first blog post. I’ll be honest, the computer lacks the “new notebook” smell that I love, but it has the advantage of speed, so I’ll forgive it. Plus, I’ve got my blank notebook in front of me so I can still sniff it every once in a while.

I’m Audrey.

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Ah, hello, creepy photo I took on lunch break at work. Gonna have to up my selfie game. Or not. Maybe this makes me relatable?

At this point, since this blog is new and so few people are reading it, all of you who are looking at it know who I am already. You know I’m from a tiny town in Illinois, that I went to high school in a slightly bigger but nonetheless small-ish town in Illinois, went to school for far too many years, and ended up a librarian at a community college in East Tennessee, where I live with my husband, Pete, my two-year-old (hereafter known as the Boy), and Dixie and Maggie, who are sweet but thoroughly rotten mutts.

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The little one, she is feisty.

My husband is a history and museum studies professor; he teaches students about the current issues facing institutions charged with preserving and interpreting the past for broad audiences. He has a pretty extensive background in working with material culture, those things left to us from previous generations. And, I’m just going to say it, Peter is a truly handy guy. My father once called him “capable,” which is seriously high praise, indeed.

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Moving a giant rock with a thing that came from his brain thoughts.

Now, to the point of this blog. I’ll be honest. I read lots of home decorating blogs. I love them; I obsess over them. You guys who write them, you can thank me for the pageclicks later. I love peeking inside other peoples’ homes and seeing how they live and work in their spaces. The writers of these blogs work really hard, and often have to turn their homes into studios for writing material. They decorate a room, and then redecorate it a year later to provide fodder for their blog. I get it. It’s their livelihood.

That said, I’ve started to think about all the wonderfully creative people I see writing these blogs, but working with disposable materials, partly out of a need to make a space look finished or filled-in. And that’s okay…they can “change it up” or “change it out” for something later. But, I guess, if I’m being honest, I don’t want my house furnished that way. Maybe it’s crazy, but I’m starting to think that I’d really like to learn to fend for myself when it comes to making my home beautiful and functional and, most importantly, comfortable for those I love. When it comes down to it, if it takes me ten times longer to make a space look the way I want it to look because I feel the need to make a lot of what lives there, then I guess, so be it.

Will I be able to make ALL the THINGS? No (“not yet,” she adds while mischievously rubbing her hands together). I get that in a modern world where we all live according to lots of rules and according to our means, some things must be bought. I have a full-time job. My husband has a full-time job. We have the Boy. We have the girls (though the only work they really require is a serious dedication to vacuuming). We buy things that are commercially produced. I won’t be making our dinnerware anytime soon. I just want to live among things that are made with skill, sometimes by me and sometimes not, but hopefully, many of them made by a real person with a real connection to the thing.

In addition, I want to live in a house that’s been respectfully (read: not trendily (word?)) furnished and preserved. Our home was built in 1900, renovated repeatedly, and then lovingly restored by someone else. We don’t agree with all the choices that person made, but we get what he was doing. He wanted to present the home as it once was while making some concessions to modern life. When we renovate or add anything to our house, we want to make sure it looks like it could have been there all along. That R.O. Huffaker, who originally lived in our home, wouldn’t think our changes were bizarre.

I can guarantee that I won’t be presenting “room reveals” in which a perfectly styled room is photographed by a professional. I’m not one and oh, boy, do I make decorating mistakes (maybe someday I’ll talk about painting Frank the Desk blue…which I contend, to this day, was not as bad a decision as Peter thinks it was).

What I’m proposing is this. I’m going to write about making things and learning to value those things in our world which are well conceived, beautifully made, and permanent. The things that don’t just fall off a conveyor belt but actually come from peoples’ hands and are the result of their creativity, skill, and ability to stay still long enough to make them. Along the way, I’ll hopefully learn a whole lot about being a real “maker,” a whole lot about the past, and a whole lot about what’s important and what’s not. We’ve got limitations: budgets, time, the fact that I can’t sew (yeah, I know, that’s at the top of the list). But it’s a journey, right?

Please join, because this place…

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…certainly won’t end up boring.

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