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Wabi-Sabi Wednesday: The Things You Love

5/4/2011 4:35:30 PM

Tags: wabi-sabi, Wabi-Sabi Wednesday, Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House, Robyn Griggs Lawrence

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailOn Wabi-Sabi Wednesdays, I feature excerpts from my upcoming book, Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House, which will be released this month. 

Writing a book—and waiting, waiting, waiting for it to get published—is an inherently wabi-sabi act (sometimes painfully slow but just as satisfying). I wrote Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House nearly a year ago, and it’s finally coming off press this week. I’ve read and re-read the proofs so many times that I’m honestly a little tired of myself, so I’m happy to turn this week’s Wabi-Sabi Wednesday post over to Mother Earth News readers, who provide daily inspiration for simple, soulful living.

We asked our Facebook friends, “Is there a simple, well-worn object in or aspect of your home that brings you joy or solace?” Some responses gave me shivers; some brought a tear; every one of them made me smile. Here are a few favorites from our inspiring, eloquent community of kindred spirits. (More to come.)

 small books 

[Several people hold books dear, as true artifacts of a passing era.

Beth Roberts McAllister, who lives on her family’s homestead, is surrounded by warm memories. “I have a wall covered in family photos going back generations. I have pieces of furniture and china that have been in the family longer than I have. But the one place that is my ‘place of peace’ is my library full of old books (my old friends)," she writes.

Robert Haver says his worn reading chair and reading light provide joy and solace. “It's always a comfort to get away from the technology and immerse myself in print.”

Robert Stock loves all his books but is partial to an old copy of John Seymour's Guide to Self Sufficiency.

For Debbie Moore, thumbing through old magazines is a sacred act. She treasures her first 80 issues of Mother Earth News. 

Heirlooms—whether well-worn through loving use or astonishingly still in good working order—are treasured items for many people.


Kelsey Bacon treasures a set of small white bowls from her great-great grandmother. “They would have to be between 50 and 75 years old, and they are still in use!” she writes. “It adds to the feeling of continuity of life when my two year old daughter eats from them!”

Charlie Rainbow Wolf wouldn’t be without the Pyrex mixing bowl that her mother used to make cookies. “I used it when my daughter was young, to make cookies,” she says. “And now, every time I use it, that bowl links the three of us together forever in my heart.”

Deborah Boynton Robillard still uses her grandmother’s solid wood cutting board, which has a big indentation in the middle from years of use. “I love it and think of my grandmother every time I use it.....the years I spent as a small child sitting in the kitchen with her ‘helping’ her cook.”

Mary Mooney-Hughes still uses the white enamel table with wooden legs and a cutlery drawer that was in her grandparents’ home in the Bronx. “Very durable—hot pots can be put on it,” she says. “Dough can be rolled on it.”

Kristin Humphrey Benini says the veneer is chipped on her great-grandparents’ worn early 20th-century dining table. “But I love it and the fact that so many generations have eaten meals together on it means the world!” she says.

Kyann Barton has rocked three babies in the wicker rocker passed down from her grandma. Now with a fourth baby in her belly, Kyann likes “to sit by the window in it and watch all the critters.”


Photo courtesy of 

Heidi Solberg Viar has used a quilt her grandmother made since she received it as a high school graduation gift. “It’s a bit ragged,” she says.

For Allison Gail Capps, quilts made by her mother and aunts and her mom’s old sewing machine make a house a home. “My hubby is active duty military, and every time we move, those are the first decorations I hang up,” she says.

Cathy Thompson Pring’s three-year-old son now uses the Bambi blanket that she had as a child as his "lovey."


Salt of the Earth Urban Farm reports that she still uses her great-grandmother's tablecloths, “with the patches and mending she and my grandmother added to keep them going.”

Amber Bachmann’s great-grandmother made her aprons that she adores. “Every time I wear one, it is like a hug from her,” she writes.

Gail Standish Ward still has her grandmothers’ spinning wheel and several linen sheets with tatted lace that she made with it. “It reminds me of the courage and determination she had,” Gail says.

Patricia Pickerell Best loves her grandmother’s old sewing machine because she can still picture her grandmother “patiently making pillow cases out of old rags.”


Lisa Sale Harvey actually hauls out her grandmother’s old wringer washer and uses it in the summer.



For some folks, everyday things make all the difference.

Donna Landrum says the old blue cereal bowl that she’s been using for more than 40 years “makes cereal, oatmeal and homemade ice cream taste better.”

Lori Biamonte says her old cast iron skillet is “getting better all the time.”

Shirley Keeton wouldn’t part with a lovely coffee mug that she bought in Michigan. “Its decorations make me smile. It feels wonderful in my hands. To me it says home.”


Mary Margarete Carlisle’s favorite object, a polished river stone with a tiny rough spot where a crystal sparkled, represents the peace that comes from knowing we are not perfect. “The action of the river slowly smoothed the softer stone, but left this reminder that no matter how hard we work, in the end our own imperfections will define us as much as our more positive aspects—and sometimes, when accepted, may have a beauty all of their own that adds to the whole.”

Thank you, everybody, for the inspiration.

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Eliza Cross
5/9/2011 11:43:49 AM
I absolutely loved reading about these cherished objects and being reminded that 'new' isn't always best. Can't wait to see your new book!


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