Someday I am going to write a book titled, This Never Happens at Other People’s Houses. I have been saying this for years, usually using the name of one or another of my friends whose houses seem to be always clean, and who have never come home to find a tent set up in their living room.
Objects Found in the Bathroom (over the years, not all at once): rubber snake, extremely lifelike toy flintlock rifle, Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles, a towel from a hotel in Las Vegas that no one who lives here (as far as I know and as far as anyone would admit) has ever stayed in, dog leashes and a can of fishing bait. None of these match the shower curtain or the guest soaps.
Things you may find in the Living Room on any given day: tents, set up or not, guns and ammo, fishing rods, enough duffle bags to outfit an entire battalion, rock collections, picnic coolers of all shapes and sizes, enough pairs of hiking boots to cover your average centipede, paper cases, and auto parts. Lately this list has also included various configurations of mattresses and boxed springs and other furniture. These all look interesting piled up next to the floor to ceiling book shelves and coordinate nicely with my Irish pottery collection. I occasionally add fresh flowers to dress the place up a bit.
In our kitchen, there are over 20 travel coffee mugs, and they are usually, for some reason, lined up on the counter waiting for some caffeine deprived army to arrive and carry them away. This morning, hanging among the various family pictures, I found a picture of the Obama family. I have no idea why, and if you know my husband, you understand this is a pretty odd thing to find on our refrigerator.
It’s not just inside the house. Our backyard has, at various times in our lives housed a donkey, goats, and sheep waiting to appear in church Christmas and Easter programs (the only reason we didn’t get the camel was he didn’t want to get out of the truck). For a period of time when John and his cousin Ben were about 5 years old, it was the home of a fully operational Worm Ranch. Our driveway features a 1959 Chevy Pickup (it’s for sale on craigslist, if you are interested…if you get me alone, I guarantee you a great deal). I once had to intervene to keep the men in my life from hanging the lighted (with twinkly Christmas lights) head of a lawn decoration reindeer on the side of the house.
Our pets are even, well, different. At the moment we have no particularly unusual species, but in the past we have been home to the usual cats and dogs (including one cat who literally climbed the walls, and one dog whose favorite snack was underwear), and also various reptiles. We currently have a cat who alternates between believing he’s a dog and being certain he’s a lion in the jungle, a chocolate labrador retriever who thinks he’s a lapdog, and a half-beagle/half blue heeler who thinks we are all sheep to be herded into one place. The cat leaves ritually-sacrificed rabbits at the back door. The lab brings frogs in from the back yard to play with.
Our house has never been ready for a Better Homes & Gardens photo shoot, even on its best day. If the Home Crashers ever come, they are going to have a heck of a time trying to decide whether to update the 1980s kitchen or come up with a living room decorating plan that incorporates camp stoves.
And I don’t care. We LIVE in our house, and always have. Sure, we have some unusual interior decoration, but we have fun, and laughter. You can almost always find a place to stay and something to eat and someone interesting to talk to. I used to have a wonderful framed picture hanging in the kitchen that showed an eclectically cluttered room like you could find anywhere in our house, with a caption from Proverbs 14:4: Proverbs 14:4:
Where there are no oxen, the stable is clean, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.
I love our abundant harvest of activity, friends, love and laughter. I feel sorry for anyone who lives in a house where that is not the case, no matter how good it looks in the pictures.