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Home Decoration. Wednesday January 20, 2016

I think it was William Morris who said, "Have nothing in your house which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." Wise words indeed, but I have before me on my windowsill three items which are certainly not useful and (whisper it) I don't actually believe to be beautiful either.

Let me tell you why they are here and why I love looking at them.

The first is an artificial orchid, given to me by my parents-in-law. They are keen gardeners themselves and used to give me plants – which I would pass onto my husband as quickly as possible. I have a black thumb and kill plants. Not intentionally – but they just take one look at me, shrivel up and die. Once my dear in-laws understood this, they gave me a plant which I could not kill. I have never had the heart to tell them that I don't much like artificial plants either, because they gave it to me in love.

The second is a stuffed grey squirrel. Yes, a real one. He sits on his haunches holding a walnut between his paws. He was bought by my late uncle in 1939 for the princely sum of sixpence (his pocket money) in a local Estate sale. For as long as I knew my uncle, this squirrel sat on the desk by the side of his bed. When my uncle died and we were clearing out his cottage, I asked if I could take it. Every time I look at it I remember my uncle with love.

The third is the most recent. This Christmas my son Tom and his girlfriend Jenny gave me a pair of plaster bookends after the style of Beatrix Potter. One end features a mother rabbit in a rocking chair with a pair of baby rabbits and the other has a bonneted mother duck pushing a perambulator, a toddler duck alongside. They are not my style at all. Apparently Jenny said to Tom "Those are hideous! We can't give them to your Mum. She has much better taste than that!" To which he replied, "Trust me. She'll love them!"

And they were both right. When I unwrapped these bookends my eyes filled with tears because I understood what they meant. Tom had picked them out because they signified motherhood for him. He wanted to say thank you to me for becoming his mother.

I cherish these ugly things because they represent love. Not only love, but acceptance.

My in-laws have accepted me with all my problems, with love and without reservations.
My uncle loved me just as I am. He never complained that I was too unstable or asked why I couldn't just balance out on a more even keel.

My son and his girl adore me, just as I am.

So I keep their gifts where I can see them, so remind me that I am loved.

Even if the aesthetic taste of my loved ones does not quite march with my own!

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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jen Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 6:01am

May I be the first to congratulate you on a fabulous blog. Having not slept well, it put a big smile on my face as I read it. I too cherish the useless, ugly items that occupy space in my not at all minimalistic home, because they make me feel good about myself when the thoughts in my head try to convince me otherwise. Have a great day.

the room above the garage Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 6:36am

Oh Mary, sometimes I think we're related! Maybe we are. I kill plants too. I'm sentimental too. And I too would keep the squirrel! A gorgeous blog, a gorgeous sentiment, thank you gorgeous. Love ratg X.

LillyPet Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 7:14am

Morning Mary, what a wonderful comforting blog! I keep all sorts of things for all sorts of reasons. Many sentimental, some beautiful in a quirky way. Others that might be useful one day! I especially loved the gift that your Tom chose, just beautiful. Thanks for sharing your lovely thoughts Mary. Morning all LP xx

Mary Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 9:06pm

I have to confess to blubbing all over him and Jenny when I unwrapped it!

danielle Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 7:59am

Such a lovely blog Mary. I completely understand what you mean. Before we bought our first house we would visit the in-laws and as I am not a huge clutter person I would wonder how my mother in law could stand having all these trinkets and clutter around the house and vowed my house would never have all those things to dust in it! Now we have our own home and I find myself saying 'we cant throw that away because so and so gave it to us its special' etc etc! although I am still fairly minimalist I do have many more pictures, trinkets, gifts etc that I never thought I would! Like you many are not to my taste but they bring a smile to my face :) xxxx

Mary Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 9:07pm

I think the thing is - do they put a smile on your face? I have a minimalist friend who abides by the maxim, dump the gift, but keep the love it came with. Well, that's all very well, but I'm a visual and tactile person; I need the physical reminder.

Hopeful One Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 8:22am

Hi Mary- thank you for your blog which made me look around my place and appreciate the love of those who gave me those gifts.

Your mention of the mother -in- law prompted this little chuckle muscle stimulator.

Two cannibals are walking towards their dining room.
One says to the other 'You know I don't really like my mother-in-law".
The other says" Why don't you just have the vegetables then"

Did you know that the fear of one's mother-in-law is called pletherophobia?

Mary Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 9:09pm

No - really - is it? That Sooooo applies to my mother, who always, but always gives us things when she arrives, when we visit her and sometimes in between times "just because". Definitely a plethora of gifts from her!

Soulmansblue Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 8:27am

'Mary in the Morning,' were my first thought as I read your sentimental blog. 'Mary in the Morning' is the title of one of the songs that Elvis sang in 1970 and the opening line goes something like this:

"Nothing is quite as pretty as Mary in the morning,
When through a sleepy haze I see her lying there,
Soft as the rain that falls on summer flowers,
Warm as the sunlight shining on her golden hair!"

It is a beautiful song and I feel that you are as such within. Not everyone holds onto this that are not beautiful to them, even if they hold sentimental value.

I am really happy that you have loved ones around that care and understand. Even if the gifts they give are not quite to your taste. It is important that you have those that actually do understand and are not just yanking your chain.

I ask though why do people not understand?
You don't need to have had a broken leg for people to understand the pain that someone who does is going through!

Sorry, I forgot that our pain is not visible, but none the less to those who suffer any less painful. If anything it is more so because people don't understand. How many times have you heard the words "Pull yourself together!" uttered.

Don't they think if it was that simple that we would not have at least attempted to do so. How I wish it was that simple!
Just because they cannot see it does not make it any less real!

Thank you Mary for reminding me that it is important to hold onto things that remind me of you. Sorry, I meant of those around who do really care.

I know you do too.


PS - SMB reminds me of 'Thunderbirds are Gooooooo!!!

Mary Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 9:20pm

OK Thunderbird! Thank you, thank you! Have you read Dr Timothy Cantopher's book Depressive Illness - curse of the strong? I have recently read it and it really is superb. He too makes the point that this is a physical illness. And yes - we really do care here on Moodscope. Have a nice warm hug and feel loved, Soulmansblue!

Soulmansblue Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 12:28am

Ooh! Thanks for the hug... No I've not but might just look it up. I hate reading these days. Hmm, I don't agree that it is physical, it is an imbalance in the brain! It is a bad thought that races around and around the head that multiplies and then each multiplication then also multiplies and on and on and forever on! More hugs please, I don't get many these days. I've gone from being a total none hugger to realising how important they are and how much effect that a hug can have on someone. Just two things I feel/get through/from a hug are a feeling of security and that someone cares enough to give me a hug demonstrating that they care.

Amanda Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 8:54am

OH, the inner beauty of these ugly things! How usefully they remind us of people we love / who love us. I have on my desk a treasured decorated jam jar - originally containing sweets and now containing pens - given me many years ago by my 'problem boy' who is now 30 years old and still a problem, and a school-made wooden CD box on my bedside made by the same boy when he was a little older. We meet very seldom - I can't cope with him in the flesh - but he is in my mind so much - and these things remind me of the talented and kind person that he is underneath.

Mary Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 9:22pm

It's so good to have the reminders, isn't it!

Norman Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 9:02am

Mary, great blog!

My "clutter" includes: wooden animals given to me by my son; a statue of a large and small figure holding hands in the Shona style he gave me one Father's Day; paintings and drawings given by my stepchildren when I separated from their mother; mementoes of Zimbabwe; a painting given by a friend of a Victorian street scene with the street clearly saying "Sandgate" (she said "the only Sandgate I know is in Newcastle so I thought of you..."); a stylish photo of the Tyne Bridges to remind me to have pride and self-respect; a repo painting of horses running wild that used to hang in my gran's living room.

Sadly all this is packed up and in storage as I am renting a small room to save money prior to returning. One day I will unpack them all lovingly...

Mary Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 10:04pm

Norman, I hope that one day soon you will be able to unpack with love these things given with love.

susan Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 10:27am

Well, Mary, you certainly aren't helping my current attempt to take as many things as possible to the charity shop:) I've let a couple of things get by me which is making me sad in the light of your blog. The lesson: be careful when decluttering if in a depression. I am very grateful to you. xx

Mary Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 10:06pm

Seriously Susan - I would advise not decluttering during a depression. I have made this mistake myself and made unwise choices I later regretted. Live with the mess if you can and declutter when you have a clear mind and can really feel the energy of the things that surround you. Next week's blog will be on this very subject!

Victoria Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 12:42pm

I see both use and beauty in those items! Whilst you shouldn't worry about getting rid of them, I don't think you should worry too much about keeping them either.
The plant's use is showing your mother in law that you appreciate her gifts and thought.
The squirrel's use is a fond reminder of your uncle, prompting you to think of good times ( and who doesn't like a bit of taxidermy?)
Beatrix potter shows you the beauty of Tom's love for you and is useful as a reminder of that live and of the love and thoughtfulness toward you of his girlfriend.
Not everything needs a physical benefit to be useful.

g Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 4:19pm

As Mary chose not to reply to any of the comments I will reply to this one from me. I just love this blog and I can see that it resonates with many of us.I do not think that Mary is looking for approval, explanation or help of any sort from us. She says all of this that this comment implies and she understands what she is writing about.Sometimes thank you or well done is good enough but this is just me talking now and you are absolutely free to say what you said but sometimes I wonder if commenters are not trying to upstage the bloggers ....

Frankie Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 8:48pm

Hello g: As an occasional blogger, I love reading all the comments - for me one of the joys is seeing how many different thoughts my original blog prompted - it fascinates me! If some of the comments are long, I take it as a huge compliment that people want to share their thoughts with me and everyone else. Wishing you and everyone peace of mind and heart as always; Frankie

Mary Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 10:12pm

Loving all the comments, g and Frankie! So sorry I couldn't get to you all earlier (back to back meetings all day and into the evening). You are of course, quite correct in your comment that I was just expressing myself. Sometimes when I send off a blog to Caroline I say "I have no idea whether this will speak to anyone or not - it's just what came out" and this blog was a case in point as it started out quite differently and I then had to cut out the first five paragraphs and retitle it! But I agree with Frankie that all the comments are hugely valuable and as this is a safe environment, I am hugely flattered when people bother even with one word, let alone a whole paragraph (or three) I love the interaction. So thank you both!

Lou Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 1:52pm

I loved this blog - thank you so much for sharing it :)

Mary Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 10:12pm

Ah, bless you Lou!

The Gardener Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 4:33pm

Goodness, Mary, what a huge number of bells your blog rang. Some people of excellent taste, who were aware of ours, gave us the most hideous breakfast set in Poole china as a wedding present. We had to wait till there no chance of a visit and bunged the whole lot at the wall, most satisfactory. Our family have given us very thoughtful presents over the years, useful, decorative or both. Now we have the difficult task of rejecting stuff when we move. The 'must have' already have a place. Poor Mr TG keeps asking me about the book-case he made to fit the study - it's a monolithic piece 3 metres high and about a ton of reference books in it. It was custom-fit for an embrasure - there it stays or goes for firewood. Enjoying, wickedly, all the visitors whose views, spoken or unspoken, were 'what's that stupid woman done now' re new house. Now they want a kitchen like mine. The 'professionals' said I HAD to take their advice (this from social workers who knew nothing of practical building or finance) now realise that my decisions are the only practical ones. The psychiatric nurse was one of the admirers this morning (her job is to 'prop me up' mentally and emotionally, and see what extra help I need). She went round the shop hugging cushions - I love making them. Your orchid story is lovely. Guests to dinner bought a huge bouquet and a super orchid. I watered the latter, then sent it down to lodge with the neighbour. As I moved it I noted that none of the flowers were withering (although orchids are excellent value for lasting quality) it was the most perfect copy. I forgot to tell the neighbour, he watered it too (did not give a clue that it was plastic - don't water much and evaporates anyway). He was furious when he found he'd been conned! A great friend has a 'black' thumb. Friends still take her plants 'Here you are, here's another one for you to kill! I agree with William Morris, but nevertheless have amassed a lifetime's 'clutter' despite 6 moves when huge 'culls' were indulged in. Questions, why does the clutter not reduce?

g Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 5:27pm

when you give staff away it comes back to you manyfold

Mary Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 10:18pm

Oh TG - how I wish I could have been there to see you hurl the Poole china at the wall! I have to say that my mother has a number of Clarice Cliff mugs.... No doubt it is my taste that is at fault, but I could envisage some kind of vodka party using them (contra-indicated for most of us of course - ahem) and smashing them in the fireplace every one. And for anyone who is wincing at the thought - no, I will probably take them to the auction instead - in the fullness of time, that is and hopefully not for many many years yet! As for your question why does clutter not reduce? I think it is like rodents, it breeds in dark corners when you're not looking!

The Gardener Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 8:00pm

I think g has a point about the commenters trying to 'upstage the bloggers'. A high percentage of posts are longer than the original blogs (I am a particular culprit). But, the original blog contains a 'message' quite often just one or two serious points. Then the posts (some off the point completely) reply to the main theme, then, as I so often find, posts bring up more points/help/experiences which start other trains of thought. A few weeks ago I said that I often had a job getting to grips with Les's blogs - Leah replied that Moodscope is not an 'exam' the whole point is this incredible means of communication which I, speaking personally, have found so helpful when life seemed utterly impossible. I say, seriously, that it is worth a fortune in psychiatric fees.

g Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 5:52pm

I did not mean upstage in length at all as sometimes one word is enough to rattle me I have a problem with patronising or explaining what the writer meant etc. however I do not even know if you will see what I am writing the workings of this blog are a mystery to me still thank you for explaining some aspects of it

The Gardener Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 8:35pm

Another brief point to 'g'. Everyone can submit a blog - the editorial team then decides on suitability. I've written far more blogs than I've had printed, they were just not suitable. I think, judging by the regularity of 'posters' and reading between the lines of state of depression/confidence there's a wide gulf between writing a blog (then going through agonies in case it IS printed), and continuing a thread through posting.

Mary Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 10:22pm

Absolutely. And please, please do! Although you, the Moodscope readers are my therapist's couch, so to speak, I and, I am sure, the rest of the regular team, would positively welcome Caroline saying to us "I have so many blogs now would you mind going to once a fortnight?" - it's just that I would probably write very long comments....... You just can't keep those words inside a writer - they have to come out somewhere....

Soulmansblue Fri, Jan 22nd 2016 @ 12:35am

Hi There, I have had all except one of my blogs published. One Caroline asked if I wouldn't mind as it was one I'd sent to her that was not submitted as a blog and the other I requested if it would be possible to have it posted as a blog and one I just sort of sent without any guide as to what I wished for. It would be nice for a wider scope of Moodscopers submitting to the blog. We should all continue to submit as normal and Caroline could publish on a first come first serve basis and based on relevant content and just spread them out if need be so no one has successive days as such.

Frankie Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 8:55pm

Oh Mary, the joy of your blog is that I can keep all my lovely things - which I enjoy, (but which drive my nearest and dearest mad because of the resulting clutter!!!) As I type I can see a large white china duck on the floor - not at all my style, but as a gift from mum in her later years it represents her wish to express her love for me during a time when our relationship was often argumentative ... Thank-you! Frankie

Mary Wed, Jan 20th 2016 @ 10:25pm

Thank you Frankie. You should never dispose of anything that brings you joy unless you absolutely have to! And then you should, as my minimalist friend does, hold onto the love. May your duck stay with you and remind you that even when relationships struggle, there is still love.

Suzy Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 6:27pm

This was such a gorgeous post! Thanks Mary. I too have a few sentimental, non-usable pieces of flapdoodle adorning my abode. Love them! xxxx

g Thu, Jan 21st 2016 @ 10:25pm

i like the word flapdoodle - ty

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