Monday, February 16, 2009
Making do and the underdog (2006)
Wanted to share two small houses from our trip last summer (now almost three summers ago, 2006!) to Norway. The red one is a 20th century house from a small village that is now in one of Norway's outdoor museums. The yellow one is the guardhouse at the palace. I like them both. Which one is more authentic? Which one is more classic? Which house is more artistic? Which house deserves more attention? Which house is more alive? Which house should be preserved? Okay, enough with the art history questions that I ALWAYS get wrong! For some reason, I think I am supposed to like the yellow house more. I think it would be called the "better" house. The yellow one was likely designed and built by professionals and, this being part of the palace, money was not a major limiting factor. The red one was probably designed and built with limited funds by the self-taught. The yellow one is well-maintained, the red one is not. I would guess that both buildings were probably built around the same time. Both are charming, but I am in love with the little red one. I will choose folk over elegant every time. Why? I love that the red house is so funky and expressive and built with love on limited resources. I love it's faded color. It has a story to tell. It has personality.
On our more recent trip to the Caribbean, there was all this hype and publicity about shopping, and where to buy the best diamonds and tanzanite and how to collect fine art. This did not appeal to me at all. When I ventured out to the tourist shopping areas I liked the newspapers they used to wrap up the stuff. I liked the bent wire frames covered with colorful plastic tubing they used to display their T-shirts and dresses. I liked the colorful and striped plastic bags that they put purchases in. And I realized that I liked the "make do" stuff, the creative ways that people used what they had on hand. To me, that was where the life was. I enjoyed most my trip to the supermarket in Cozumel, the bookstore, the little shrines in the church we happened upon. I loved the cheap variety store in Belize City with the motto, "You name it, we sell it!" That was where I bought bright cleaning rags, a red tin dustpan, and tacky vinyl oil cloth printed with red and green fruit and gingham. No diamonds for me, please. Forget the palace. I like whittled wood and brightly painted houses, country music, and wine in a tin cup. I am rooting for the underdog. For whatever reason, I am happiest when I am making do. When things are too easy, something vital is lost.