Friday, August 24, 2012

In Praise of Dabbled Things

(I don't want my paint job to look like this but it's lovely nonetheless.....)

The other day I got rather aggravated as I worked on a Home Project. This is not surprising since I have a love-hate relationship with household projects. Love the idea. Hate the actual execution, since I'm lazy and imprecise by nature and it requires ongoing supernatural powers to change me--but which I continue to invoke regularly. Anyway, to be specific: we had gotten the trim in several rooms painted but for financial and family disagreement reasons (the trim had been my idea while my husband preferred keeping it dark), we hadn't done some other adjoining rooms. So--once greater family unity was established on the esthetic end-- I  decided to tackle the trim in my kitchen (including a rather substantial bay window) myself. For a non-precision person like me, it can be a daunting task. As I struggled,  I found myself getting rather annoyed at the half baked way my family often does things. I mean, heck, it would have been so much easier if we had gotten the painters to do the whole thing. I wouldn't be sweating as I primed the window hoping that my nursing infant wouldn't wake up and need me before I'd cleaned the paint off my hands.  Why can't we do things right? I wondered (OK, muttered bitterly) to myself.  Why do we always DABBLE instead of doing things wholesale?

Somehow, luckily, I remembered a couple of things. One was some of the hundred houses or so houses we'd seen while house hunting. (Really, we did see a hundred between our two house hunts in the Philly area. More on that some other time). I remembered how many had clearly done the WHOLE HOUSE in a given period. That period often involved a predilection for thick green shag carpet, mirrored walls and possibly doors, and very bold, very adherent wallpaper. I was open to radical redecorating but I remember sometimes thinking that it would be hard to remove some of the decorating choices entirely from those houses, and that I probably couldn't afford to do so. I--and possibly the houses owners--would have been much better off if they'd done only one room or area at a time. Then they might not have fallen prey to thinking whatever was popular at the time was the way to do everything. They would have done better if they'd dabbled....

I also found myself thinking about Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem Pied Beauty (thank you, 11th grade English!). It's the one where Hopkins gives praise to "dappled things"--freckles and so forth. I love freckles and freckled people but back in Hopkins' era they weren't considered so very pretty. So he was giving thanks for a beauty that many people wouldn't have recognized. He was noticing and loving a loveliness that many hadn't yet come to appreciate.

So maybe there is an upside to all our home's Dabbled Things. Here's to hoping that time and maturity help me recognize their loveliness more fully.

1 comment:

  1. Love that poem! I made my fifth graders memorize it last month.
    Only God can be perfect. Dappled is good enough for us mere mortals.