Country Living Series

Sunday, August 21, 2016

I owe everyone an apology

In my post from a few days ago entitled "Forgive our Messy House," several readers quite rightfully took exception to a dig I made at the end of the post concerning homeliness (in the cozy, domestic sense of the word) of large, beautiful houses. The implication was newer, beautifully decorated houses cannot be homely.

The point I tried (but failed) to make is the difference between a HOUSE and a HOME. A house can be large or small, old or new, clean or messy. A home can be all those things as well – but includes the critical and distinguishing factors of love and a practicing of the domestic arts.

We have an enormous – over 8000 square feet – luxury house in our immediate neighborhood, and at no time has it ever been anything but a home. The former owners hosted parties, weddings, potlucks, get-togethers, and even canning classes.

The lights from all the lit bedrooms during holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.) when the house was filled to capacity with extended family looked like Brandybuck Hall from the Lord of the Rings – warm and welcoming and cozy, despite the size of the structure.

This is a classic example where a house and a home intersect.

So please accept my apologies to those who make their large, newer houses into homes – places of domestic joy for friends and family. The wording in my post was clumsy and accusatory, and it was not my intent to be insulting to those who work hard to make a home out of a house – no matter what size or age it is.


  1. Honestly, I thought you were right on. It's not perfection that makes a home-- it's life and love and joy.

    Obviously you want the blessed thing to be CLEAN...

    ...but bee suits on the chair and dishes on the drain board aren't an impediment to a house being a home.

    An obsession with perfection can be.

    I've lived all ways-- comparing myself to magazines and constantly worrying about every little detail, and leaving the coats slung over the backs of chairs and dishes on the drain board to play a game with a child (or two, or three), and living in bloody chaos with dust bunnies the size of schnauzers, a wrench to turn the bathtub on and off, and eight inches of dirty laundry on the bedroom floor (it was a small room LOL) in favor of doing what I wanted (which was, obviously, never sweeping or dusting or plumbing or laundry).

    I prefer the middle path...

    ...but the first was the worst. That was when my kids spoke to me in diffident little whispers if they had to speak to me at all and the adolescent preferred not to come home.

    Happy living.

  2. I totally got what you were trying to imply. :)

  3. Patrice, your apology is much appreciated and I am grateful to learn that the effect was unintended.
    You have a very powerful platform. While not all of us share every aspect of your life style or even your opinions with you, there is more in common then not and the tie that binds is the Lord. We each serve Him, however the manner and tools differ. I very much enjoy your blog and have shared it with my children for years. Thank you, Carlotta

  4. Dear Patrice, my oldest sister married a very wealthy man and she has always lived in houses that looked like the pictures you posted in your "Forgive our messy house" post (the perfect, fancy-shmancy ones). Of course, she thought her house was warm and welcoming and cozy. It was not. It was cold and uninviting. Everything was too perfect, if you know what I mean. We never said anything to her about it, because it would have upset her to no end. You are a person who wants to please others, God bless you, but often you cannot do that if you speak the truth! I read your post and I agreed with you completely. As for those who were offended... oh, well! There's just no pleasing some people, especially if you're truthful. As for me, I don't even try. They can take their "political correctness" and go home. Life is too short! --Fred in AZ

  5. Don't sweat it, most folks knew what you meant. I think the word "homely" as you use it has the meaning that I intend when I say "homey." it must be a colloquial thing.

  6. No no, no apology needed. I think it isn't necessarily how big or small, expensive or not a house is....its the attitude and/or warmth (or lack of) the owners.

    A woman I became familiar with (cough) invited me to her home. Lovely, large, impeccably furnished. Looked at it all right down to the urinal her husband had installed in the master bath. It oozed...look at me, look at what my husband bought me.....

    I would never call that home homey or comfortable.

    And I CERTAINLY NEVER invited her to mine...which is 80 year old, small and pieced together with Craigslist furniture. I think it fits just like a glove....she would be very uncomfortable. She would see my mismatched glassware as not being prepared for guests. Mortified. Of course, she probably would stop nagging me to go to lunch! lol

    All in the perception.

    My mother's home is immaculate, color coordinated and oo lala. Her mother's home was small and spartan. Just the attitude they exude would not make you comfortable in either home....accidentally dropping a crumb or foot printing the carpet. For that matter, I live next door, see my mother daily....I can't tell you when she has actually been in my house. Its cluttered and, well, Craigslist-ish...not comfortable. (Mismatchy I think gives her hives lol)

  7. I use my real name and my photo because I will stand behind and defend my opinions. I will also defend those who do not agree with me but I also will give the benefit of doubt to others if what I have heard or read is what I perceived to be offensive to me personally. In this day and age being Politically Correct and not saying anything that might be considered hurtful to another person is the exception rather than the rule. Apologizing for any perceived hurts is the polite and expected response to such accusations. You are to be commended for being the bigger person and offering an apology.
    This whole kerfluffle brings back visions of the feminist argument over who was worth more....the stay at home mom or the working mom. Both are equally important because each is doing what is best for their family situation at this point of time. Each might find themselves in a role reversal a few months or years down the road if circumstances change. Adapting to needs is the key.

  8. You can never please someone who finds fault where fault was ever intended. Your post was clear, concise and well written as always. Tomorrow they will find something else to offend them. You need not apologize Miss Patrice. "Never retreat. Never explain. Get it done and let 'em howl." ~Benjamin Jowett~

    1. I'm with Cederq.

      Mercy, adults voluntarily visit this site. The first words they read are, "In-your-face stuff from an opinionated rural north Idaho housewife". And they read something that offends them? Give me a break.

      Montana Guy

  9. I appreciate this apology. Although I personally don't like them, large, immaculate homes can be lovely and warm - just like small, cozy homes can be cold and unwelcoming if the person(s) living there are unfriendly.

    It really all does come down to who lives in the domicile, their experiences of "home", and what "home" does and does not mean to them.

  10. No worries! I understand what point you were making---my home is large, about 4,000 square feet, including the porches.....but the back porch is where our great dane is fed, so it's a bit messy with his wonderful slobber on the back door and a torn-up doggie bed on the floor. The porch off of our master bedroom is the one I put all my broody hens on---inside of separate pens. They raise their biddies out there! LOL I love my big messy house, where I can food, bounce grand children, and make soap. I wash the floors once a month, whether they need it or not! LOL God Bless You Real Good!

  11. Thank you. I do not have a large home, but my home is very clean...because I love to clean, and consider it a Domestic Art in and of itself. That being said, we make it messy, so there's no fear of living in it or making a mess. I just like to clean it up well on a regular basis. But one of the living rooms in the homes you included (second one down, right below the one with the lavender sofa) looked a bit like my house; to me that picture looks very homey indeed, but for you I guess it did not. Which is OK -- to each his own! I couldn't live in the lavender sofa house above "mine" lol.

  12. No need to apologize to me. You intended no offense. I had to go back and re-read to see what the hullabaloo was. Don't try to please everyone, it never works. Just write your blog and let it stand. Let the words hang in the air.

  13. Honestly I have been in small houses that reek of perfectionism and ostentatiousness and been in large homes that were welcoming and cozy, despite being thousands of feet. It is the people that live inside these structures that make the home. What we do to the house that
    makes it a home as well.

    There are those people who will find a reason to fuss no matter what.

    Ouida Gabriel

  14. We have been forced to move to a single wide trailer in a trailer park. I feel judged by the world for this. All I want is a farm for our gigantic brood of children(5). But God's plan is not my plan and this is where we're at. A far cry from the 80a farm we rented only 4 years ago. My mother refers to the trailer as a tin can. But it's ours. We purchased it out right. We hope to buy land and move it next year but it's so far away. Talk about simplifying your life. 7 people in a 16'x 76'trailer from a 1600' house with a basement and 2 acres. Homey? Im trying. Necessities only. I long for a normal home. An old farm house with it's own character and personality. I do see the gigantic new houses and I see the appeal. It's hard for me to drive anywhere because I do long for a house to be our home. But honestly. ... every single person with one of those is in debt. Guaranteed. My husband, God bless him, doesn't want debt. And I can see the benefit but boy is it humbling to go from where we've been to here. Sometimes it's hard to hold your head up. But the stigma with large houses isn't quite what the stigma is with "trailers". In our homeschooling community we're nuts and looked down on for certain. It's very very hard. I'd take a mortgage right now to be normal and settled. But that's not three path God has set for us. Not now anyway. So if people feel judged for having a huge immaculate house then it's saying something about them. they've got a hang up. I find myself being judged about our home because I don't feel comfortable in it myself. I'm the one with the hang up. The stereotype from society had impressed upon me. I'm sure God is using this to form me and change my outLook. But it surely is hard. the stereotype now it's everYone has some half million dollar home they cannot afford with stuff in it they cannot afford. I do prefer homey. It's nice to walk into some fancy home and sit a while but keeping it that way means something else takes the back burner. Homey means lived in in my book. Sure gotta keep things clean. But If you can afford it and its what you like who cares? why get upset? I'm trying very hard to learn size doesn't matter and home is where the heart is but boy you want to really try it? move into a trailer in a trailer park and change your life upside down.

    L in Ny

    1. A friend underwent a similarly humbling downscaling experience (for awhile they were living in the basement of her sister-in-law's home). She also felt judged, and she felt chastised by God at their changed circumstances. She learned two hard but essential lessons: to bloom where you're planted, and not to worry about the judgment of others. She did this, and her friends admired her attitude. She certainly found out who was a fair-weather friend vs. who was a true friend. They were able to make changes over time, and I'm sure you will to. Until then, bloom where you're planted, don't worry what others say or think, and never lose faith.

      - Patrice

    2. It's been very challenging. Its hard to smile. The past 3 years every year seems to get more difficult. I never imagined ten years ago this is where we would be. Three years we've searched for a farm. Searched for a house with land and they've all fallen through. This was the only window God opened for us. We took it. I'm due with #5 next month. We lived in a camper for a month at camp until this repossessed home was ready to move into. It's so hard not to loose faith when everything seems so wrong. Everything so out of grasp. It's been a year of more giving up of self. I pray in the end God does something amazing with all this sacrifice. That these yes to God do mean something. That it's all worth it in the end. So very hard. And all these women who judge will be bringing us meals when the baby comes(or so I hope because it really helps). Very.humbling.

      Learning in ny