Ten things to take away

Simplify.

What a lovely word.

I am not sure I will ever achieve the simpler life I longed for when we moved here.  Life is too complicated and most of those complications come from the relationships with friends and family which create the web of love and responsibility without which I wouldn't be me.  But things, what about things?

I have been amusing myself with a game of what I would keep if I could have only ten things to take with me from my house.  The ten things don't have to be practical so you don't need to choose a washing machine or a table or a bed, although I suppose you could if any of these is a special version which gives you real pleasure.  They are ten things that are personal to you, that mean something to you, that represent home.  Imagine if you like that they are ten things which you would take with you as a 21st century pioneer, the things that would go into your trunk as you set off for a new life in Australia or the far West of America.  They are the things that you would unpack when the trunk came out of the hold and you laid out on the table in the bare hut everything you had brought with you to make you feel at home, to make you feel like yourself.  You can have all the photos you like on memory sticks or in albums and any mementos of family too so you don't have to count those in your ten things.  These are domestic things, things from your present house that any house you live in would have to have in order for it to feel like home.

First I would need a jug.  I love jugs and have lots on a shelf in the kitchen.  It's hard to choose just one so I have whittled it down to two:



A beautiful Emma Bridgewater jug which makes any flowers look like an arrangement,


and this turquoise jug given to my by my sister on a rare trip away together to Ludlow.  I love its colour and its simple, pure shape.

I  would also want something from my collection of egg cups, probably these made by a potter in Devon called Abigail North.



I love the fact that they are not exactly the same.  They are the perfect size for a boiled egg from one of our rescue hens from the British Hen Welfare Trust.  Now the question is, do these eggcups count as two things?  If they do, I would have to restrict myself to one and take the one on the left. Why? It just pleases me infinitesimally more.

And then what?  This is quite hard!  I would take my cushion knitted from the wool I bought in the Hebridean Woolshed last summer.


I blogged here about the deep satisfaction in making something to remind me of a place.  This means something to me in so many ways:  the memory of the place, the thought that went into designing  the cushion, the playing with wool until I found out how to do what I wanted and the pleasure of seeing it emerge under the rhythm of the needles.


My knitting basket would have to come, for the basket itself which came from my parents' house, and for the contents, all the wool waiting to be made into things and all the remnants of earlier projects and then the work in progress, a simple cross over cardigan in cashmerino wool for the next arrival in the family, expected in August.


Is this cheating?  Having the basket and the contents as one thing?  Perhaps I will count the basket as one thing and the contents as another.  Still pushing it a little I know.

I would have to have some pictures.



Virginia Woolf has been coming with me from house to house for twenty five years or more.  It wouldn't feel like home without Virginia and I can't have her as part of photographs or family mementoes because she is neither.


Then it gets close to impossible.  This house is full of pictures that I love.  I have plumped at last for this "Bounding hare" by Marielle Ebner Rijke, an artist working in North Devon.  We have hares up here, higher up than our house on the slopes of Penycloddiau.  We have only ever seen one at a time though, not boxing hares but a sitting hare or a running one like this one.  I love them and I also love Marielle's work in black and white and the fact that she lives and works on the north side of Dartmoor where my father and sister and her family live.


Then there is this mask which hangs on our bedroom wall.  We bought in on a trip to Venice some years ago.  We had not realised we were arriving in the middle of Carnevale and the weekend reverberated with music and the passing of masked strangers.  The mask reminds me that life contains strangeness, travel, sensuality, that I am more than my domestic self.

And the last thing I think would be my mother's apron.  I don't know if this comes under the heading of a personal memento but the apron is a domestic thing, kept with other aprons and teatowels and oven gloves.  It fits me.  Lots of aprons are too long in the body but my mother was small and I am a similar size.  I don't wear it yet but I will sometime.  I love it.  I love its combination of the pretty and the useful and I love the way it ties me back to my mother and her mother before her.

I would love to know what ten things other people would take from their homes and why.  It would also be fascinating to know if you found it easy or hard to do this.  If you do decide to have a go please leave a link in the comment box so I can find you!

Comments

  1. I love that hare Elizabeth, I shall look up the artist. Perfectly framed too.
    You have set quite a challenge and got me thinking!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Would love to see your choices Jessica! Bound to be interesting.

      Delete
  2. I remember enjoying the cushion with you - the waves and how to knit them ... yes, definitely! Your ten things is the reverse of what I'm doing. Packing boxes for when we move, but don't know when that will be, so I pack what I want, but can live without for now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, I have been there! And then it is strange how little you miss them.

      Delete
  3. Wow, you pose an interesting question, and one I have kind of thought of. We live remotely in the Arizona desert, with fire danger ever present especially after this dry winter. So I have been contemplating and you brought it into focus for me by saying "what is home?".

    I do not feel bound by stuff I think, but I would be taking photos of my parents and one of my husband when he was 19 (taken before the digital age and not on a stick), photo of my grandmother, my old, old teddybear, a watercolor of my dog recently deceased, photos of past dogs, and a blanket I knitted myself.

    Thank you for having me make a list of my treasures. I hope I do not have to pack them this year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anneke, I suggest you get a good quality digital copy made of your husband's photo. I have family photos of grandparents and the like that were reproduced at exceptional quality for a small cost. I'd be very sad to loose that faint connection with my family's past,

      Delete
    2. Good idea about the digital copy! I don't feel much bounded by stuff either but I do have a vivid memory of unpacking a trunk which had arrived by sea in New Zealand when we emigrated when I was about eleven. The pleasure in seeing some of my books coming out of the box was intense!

      Delete
  4. I'll have to give this some thought, and perhaps I'll blog about it too. I have to say, right off, that a jug would be on my list too - an old blue willow jug that makes whatever goes into it look wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it is interesting that the things might have a use but are more than functional.

      Delete
  5. Replies
    1. Love to read yours Esther if you decide to do it!

      Delete
  6. It's weird. I read this yesterday and went away to ponder my list of 10, fully expecting for it to take ages and for me to have plenty of arguments with myself as various things jostled for attention. But having walked around the house and pondered all our clutter, I've realised that it's just stuff and I wouldn't mind if it all went. I didn't expect that to happen!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For me what was hard was to make choices. Its all just stuff and I could manage without any of it if I was asked to but choosing one thing over another to unpack from the trunk was what floored me for a while!

      Delete
  7. Interesting collection of important things. At first I thought it would be so difficult but then thinking hard I agree with VP above. If I left here the hardest part would be to leave the garden, and I can't take that with me, but it is the garden that makes home, home!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting. I thought I might feel like that about the garden and to some extent I do but perhaps to a lesser extent than you do!

      Delete
  8. Oh now there's food for thought Elizabeth. I will have a ponder. The smyrnium perfoliatum and alliums make for a brilliant combination in your sister's vase.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the experience of having emigrated as a child perhaps colours this but I am also very interested to read responses from people who have had to leave their homes through flood or fire.

      Delete
  9. I am going out with a friend today Elizabeth but what an interesting idea - I shall certainly do it as soon as I have time. I think most of my takes would be things that remind me of friends and family.
    I love that hare picture and am now going to try to find the artist on my computer as I collect hares in statues, pictures, cards, books - anything really. So thank you for putting another possibility of a hare in my direction. No all artist's manage to get what I call 'hareness' into their pictures, but this one has.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, do look up the artist. She has some fabulous black and white drawings of all sorts of creatures that I really love.

      Delete
  10. Ah, the apron. Wear it with love when you are ready.

    Pondering my 10...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have no idea when I will be ready to wear my mother's apron. Odd isn't it? But yes, when the time is right it will make me happy to wear it.

      Delete
  11. What a splendid post - and what a thought-provoker!
    What an excellent choice of beautiful/evocative objects which mean more by association. I had never heard of The British Hen Welfare Trust - but then I now live in the US.
    And the mention of Ludlow - such a quintessentially English place, I think.
    Also beautiful photos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Elizabeth. I agree about Ludlow. It is a great place. I could live there if I did not live here!

      Delete
  12. When we had to evacuate last year due to a forest fire - I was happy, once the family and the dogs were safely in the car, to just take some old family photos and practical stuff like passports, cash and a change of clothes. Your idea of choosing a few items to make a new home in a faraway country is much more interesting. I already have a couple of candidates - a clock and painting - but will give it more thought.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It must have been terrifying to have to leave because of fire. I hope you are home safe and sound with everything that matters to you safe too.

      Delete
  13. what a find your blog, is, delightful. I'm with you on the cushion - as a knitter I love the design and colours of it. - I must make up a list, what is important, really. My mother's letters to me, I have so little of her and she died so young. Hard to think of more right now. But I will.

    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  14. Lovely post, Elizabeth. I admire your choices. What I would take would be nowhere near so beautiful, my computer perhaps and some antique maps, some of my father's paintings, my set of 1890's encyclopaedias, a Persian carpet, perhaps and a solid oak cupboard, Gus, the Gorilla who watches over my bed. Maybe a tree from the garden and a sailing ship made for me by my daughter out of driftwood.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the sound of your choices Fennie. There is something stylish about the combination of an oak cupboard and a gorilla!

      Delete
  15. It's funny, we all have a certain amount of nesting ability, but my nesting desire seems to be even stronger than most, so I would find it very difficult to restrict myself to only ten things. I am a collector: of books, of china, of pictures, of photographs. These things make me feel connected and mark my place in the world. So, leaving some of these behind would be very hard for me. But it's a wonderful intellectual exercise. And perhaps it would work if I took the advice, "one new thing in, one old thing out", instead of just keeping it all!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you are right that people have different levels of attachment to things, not particular things just attachment to the physical. I would say that my husband and daughter both have stronger instincts that way than I do. Interesting.

      Delete
  16. What a lovely collection, Elizabeth! This mask is georgeous, it reminded me of my own trip to Venice when I was 15 - isn't it one the most beautiful places in the world?
    Hugs,
    Marielle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is. I keep thinking we will go back there and then other things keep happening!

      Delete
  17. I love your choices, Elizabeth, particularly the Emma Bridgewater jug (I have precisely the same one here in my growing collection of jugs) and the gorgeous cushion - the colours are amazing, but the truth is I love my stuff and everything in my home was acquired because I simply loved it, or it has attached itself to me and become part of the whole. Everything carries memories and associations. I have been going through things recently as the house is on the market, and trying to decide what to let go, but can still see exactly why I chose each thing so very little actually leaves. Maybe in another 10 years or so I shall be able to let things go. But for now, it is my treasure and I can't choose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am not sure how easy I would find it to it for real marianne! At least this way it has been more of a theoretical exercise.

      Delete
  18. What an interesting question - and a varied collection you chose. I think so long as photos and essentials are not included, there is nothing else I would be heartbroken to leave behind. As a previous commenter said - they are just 'things'.
    Teresa x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Photos are interesting aren't they? I don't display a lot of mine but they are a vital part of the record of my life.

      Delete
  19. Very Romantic post. I would have the most difficult job of picking 10 things. so many memories or special feelings encompass so many things. not an easy task.
    I love the framed Hare that you selected.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even as I was doing it I found myself questioning whether I could bear to choose one picture over another but there was definitely an almost instinctive first reaction which I suspect is strong and reliable.

      Delete
  20. This was a wonderful post. The jugs are especially beautiful and Virginia Wolfe. The thought of what to take with us when we move has been on my mind for many many months and it is narrowing. VP above said it right for me, it is all just Stuff. But still, that personal attachment, memory of the day you received that special jug for instance, and the joy it holds and continues to give..that must be part of the criteria. A Haida mask for me, a jug I made in Art College, a watercolor..but which one. It's the personal value isn't it..not the monetary. Thanks so much. Will work harder at narrowing the list ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really glad you enjoyed it. yes, very much the personal value and the sense that a particular thing represents home somehow.

      Delete
  21. Distilling the essential from the merely utilitarian or beautiful is a challenge. A lovely post that has me casting glances at my possessions wondering if this one or that one would make the cut.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it is interesting isn't it? I wonder if my choices would change with my mood!

      Delete
  22. I think I would collapse into a heap of blubbering indecision if I had to choose ten things. I am constitutionally incapable of it because I keep changing what I think. THis might be partly why I would really like to declutter a bit, although I'm getting better at it. I found your choices interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You would have to marched around by someone else and only given ten minutes to do it perhaps! I wouldn't be surprised if immediate, instinctive choices were not the right ones.

      Delete
  23. Brilliant. I have never thought of this. Oh and I love the Virginia Woolf picture. She's my favorite!

    ReplyDelete
  24. A wonderful post -- a great potential meme! If I weren't currently overwhelmed by all the pre-travel lists, I'd definitely give this a go. As is, I'll try to remember to write up a post like this when I return.
    I love your Hare -- as a congratulations on my marathon from a friend who'd just been visiting her family in the UK, I got a card that's a reproduction of a UK artist Robert Gillmor's linocut. You can see it here -- obviously in the same spirit as your wonderful black-and-white racer. . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hares do seem to produce some wonderful pictures. They clearly capture something that speaks to us strongly.

      Delete
  25. Oh, I can easily tell you as they're in my car right now. It's wild fire season in the Southern California mountains, so my car is packed with our set of sterling flatware which belonged to my mother, a large box of pre-digital photos, my 6 favorite books which are out of print, a small box of Christmas ornaments which belonged to my grandmother, then my mother, and that's it. I need the rest of the room for animal carriers. There are many other things I would choose were there room, but the animals are most important. We've had to flee for our lives twice before, once in 2003, once in 2007, and were fortunate enough to come back to find our beloved cottage untouched by fire. It's amazing how those experiences quickly enable one to choose what's most important.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh goodness, I hope you and yours are all fine. It is quite something to have to do a thing like this for real. Hoping for a calm and firefree summer.

      Delete
  26. What a brilliant post. And I can see why you have chosen the things you have. I'd argue though that your stash is essential in the same way your lap top or your washing machine are. I will have to give considerable thought to what my ten will be!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah well, if the stash is an essential I can have another jug!

      Delete
  27. I think - having had to walk away from personal belongs in a different life - that I'm afraid to get too attached to things. I've very much enjoyed looking at yours though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do understand that. I am slightly surprised at how the love of these things has crept up on me. I could walk away though, if I had to.

      Delete
  28. What a marvelous collection! It does literally bring home the hard choices that pioneers had to make before a big journey. Then again, they probably had less stuff. It's like poetry, the meanings in your cherished objects. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps because they had less stuff they had less choice and maybe the stuff that they did have meant more to them? who knows.

      Delete
  29. An interesting question. Yes, it is all just 'stuff' but your possessions are part of your story; the people you have known, the places you have been, your family, your loved ones are all represented by the things you own. Your possessions anchor you into your life. I thought' stuff' didn't matter, but after walking away from an old life to start a new one, I felt adrift without any of my possessions. Thankfully I am reunited with my treasures now and they mean much more to me. They are not just clutter, they are my past life. And books, what would you do without your books?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you that in a way your possessions are an anchor. And oh yes about books. There would be another blog altogether to write about the books you would take!

      Delete
  30. Assuming my husband and my pets are not "things" to be included on this list:

    1. camera
    2. photos
    3. music
    4. movies
    5. instruments
    6. vintage kitchenware
    7. wall art
    8. jewelry
    9. truck
    10. vintage linens

    P.S. If you meant ten specific items... then I'm not leaving. 8-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the sweeping nature of your responses: wall art, instruments! Clearly you must stay put!

      Delete
  31. I like your collection of beautiful things that have meaning for you. The blue pillow you made is charming. I think you made wise choices.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. you are so right that it is meaning that matters. I am sure many of my choices have no meaning for others.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Comments are the best thing and the conversations they produce are the whole purpose of blogging for me. Do tell me what you think!

Popular Posts