Friday, August 11, 2006

Less is More

Kay from Parents as Teachers came by last night, and as usual our little genius impressed her. Zozo's progressing just fine, doing everything she's supposed to at this age, which is reassuring to her parents who have no formal training in raising a child, only 8 years experience in keeping two cats alive and relatively happy. We think they're happy. They're fat and they purr a lot, which I think is kitty-speak for "We're happy."

So we hung out in the library and played, and laughed, and danced to the music on the activity table. Then Zoe went down for her nap while Mommy and Daddy had a scrumptious dinner of baked salmon, fresh green beans, and salad. Daddy has been really experimenting in the kitchen lately, and he's concocted some fantastic dishes. Last nights salmon had a bit of olive oil, pineapple juice and some salsa on it. Holy cow. That was phenomenal. Love it when he gets creative in the kitchen (as long as he's not trying to sneak jalapeno peppers into my peas).

After refueling, we headed downstairs for yet another evening of cleaning/purging. This time our sights were set on our utility/laundry room. I'm pleased to report that it's all cleaned out now, and everything has a place (versus crap being stuffed everywhere). After we got done, we stood there looking at the mound of garage-sale-items we have amassed near the steps. It's really unbelievable how much is in there. Things we've had for years and never used, things we used to use regularly but have no need for anymore (i.e. the portable CD player). M said, "We need to make sure we don't do this again...we need to not buy so much stuff." I thought about it for a minute, surveyed what we had in the pile, and realized that we hadn't done this to ourselves. Our loved ones had! M reached the same conclusion at about the same time, "Wait, we don't buy a lot of stuff. Most of this was given to us."

Now, we're not ones to look a gift horse in the mouth, and we're not ungrateful by any means. We love our family members, and we appreciate everything they do to show their love for us. We just don't want any more stuff! So, currently, we're trying to figure out a way to let the fam know that gift certificates are probably a pretty good way to go if they want to buy us gifts. Then we buy what we want when we need it (i.e. when we have a place for it). I think restaurant GCs are a great idea, so we'd be set for Date Nights no matter what. How cool would that be? No more, "It's nearing the end of the budget month, so Date Night is gonna have to be Taco Bell." M loves his Home Depot GCs, as he gets to purchase new toys (I mean tools) throughout the year, and supplies to build/fix things. I love Schiller's GCs since I can then buy photo gear or consumables (ink, paper) guilt-free and with abandon. Any mall GC will be put to good use (clothes, jewelry and shoes, oh my!), as would any book store.

Or, even better, don't get us anything at all! How great would that be?! We're both developing a bad taste for over-consuming, which has been driven home by the sheer amount of stuff we've been able to clean out of our house over the past few weeks. And there is still more to go. I'm itching to tackle our guest room again (places we don't use regularly tend to become dumping grounds for things we don't know what do with).

We've reached a really good point, though, where we both feel like we can breathe again, unencumbered by being surrounded by lots of perfectly good items that we don't use or want. I like going to bed at night knowing that I can easily wrap my tiny little brain around everything we own in our house, knowing where it all is, why we have it, and that we use it regularly, or are storing it for a reason. Wasn't it Mies van der Rohe who said, "Less is more."? Does being firm believers in that make us Minimalists with a capital M? I mean, we're not ready to chuck everything and move out to the woods in a shack ala Emerson, but our clutter limits are probably lower than most people's.

Here is Wikipedia's take on Minimalism (in the form of minimalist design):
The term minimalism is also used to describe a trend in design and architecture wherein the subject is reduced to its necessary elements. Minimalist design has been highly influenced by Japanese traditional design and architecture.

Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe adopted the motto "Less is more" to describe his aesthetic tactics of flattening and emphasizing the building's frame, eliminating interior walls and adopting an open plan, and reducing the structure to a strong, transparent, elegant skin. Designer Buckminster Fuller adopted a similar saying, "Doing more with less", but his concerns were more oriented towards technology and engineering than aesthetics.

I like the "doing more with less" idea, too. We saw Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion House at the Henry Ford Museum a few years back when we were up in Michigan visiting Stef. It was pretty darn cool. M and Stef totally laugh at my fascination with the Dymaxion House, which is just fine. They can laugh all they want. They have their own quirks, too. (ahem, Trekkie Boy and Girl Who Loves Sammy Hagar)


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