Rendered Fat Content


John Ruskin: Zermatt (1844)
"Done once, well enough, and never to be replicated."

By the end of each afternoon, my arms covered with a fine patina of sanding dust, I'm finished with my HomeMaking for the day and ready to make something for supper, something Homemade. As you already know if you've been following my stories, The Muse and I have been attempting to move into our home, The Villa Vatta Schmaltz, for six months, but have not yet managed to move completely in. We've been Refurbishing the place before setting deep roots, still living out of boxes and with dust, primitives as we attempt to elevate this house into our home again. There are no repeat performances. We once lived here, now we live here again. We are not back, but here, again for the very first time. This is our home now, though not yet fully finished. This is how Homemade works, wholes made out of somewhat unfinisheds.

Over the past three months, I wrote my daily stories under the heading of HomeMaking.
We were, after all, making a home for ourselves at the time. That work continues, but enough of it seems finished that I might now more properly shift my focus from the making of the place toward the doings within it. I learned that HomeMaking is eternal, never finally finished. We seem destined to move on into without fully preparing ourselves or our place. This seems the proper context within which to produce Homemade. I've been impressed with just how many primitive little adaptations Kurt Our Painter and Joel Our Carpenter employ. I came into the entry hall earlier this week to find Joel fingering a curved piece of cove moulding. He caught my eye and reported that since he couldn't bend the store bought stuff to fit beneath the curving stair tread, he'd had to make his own. And so he had created a miniature little fabrication, perfectly proportioned, to be hidden beneath a stair tread forever. Homemade.

Homemade often goes unnoticed. It never features any boldly-colored packaging. It does not sport commercial bluster, either. It is just what it is and might seem so ordinary that nobody notices its presence. The innocuous yet perfect bowl of potato salad seems too easily taken for granted. The shape and form and manner of the familiar might never raise a sense of an extraordinary presence. The Wabi-Sabi patina might be easily mistaken for unfinished. Homemade does not usually come in uniform shapes. Perfect Homemade means something other than regularly formed. Each Homemade item might well be judged exceptional because each probably seems an exception more than an example. One of a kind, if even recognizable.

I set about refurbishing our sunburnt mailbox. I repainted it the color it once was and removed the front latch and flag, repainting each to match the house trim and their function. I even repainted the post to match the house, but I decided not to square it to the world. It stands at a slight angle to the street, the product, I suspect, of a collision with something passing. The top of the post looks wretched, though the box seems secure enough. The box now looks marvelous, with a bright brass 5 bolted to its front, but it also looks crooked. It looks Homemade, a fourth grader's perfect, properly representing its owners, wrinkles and all. Homemade was not aspiring to replicate what any old machine might do well, but produce what only human inspiration could manifest, and that, only once, if that. Done once, well enough, and never to be replicated. Each instance practice. Each also finished product.

Those are the principles I intend to uphold over the upcoming writing quarter. Thirteen weeks of Homemade perspectives, delivered each morning steaming fresh from an oven … or something. Thanks for tuning in.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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