Flat Surface Friday – on Saturday!

Yes, I know. It isn’t Friday anymore. It’s been a bit of an unexpected week, and Friday got away from me. And yet, I had this cool idea for a new blog feature, and I don’t want to wait another week.

So I am going to go for it! After all, the title up there does mention something about lovely chaos, right? *grin!*

Our communal family room desk, in action!

I love the life I live with my family. Every day is filled with laughter, connection, learning, negotiating, projects, and people I love. We weave a tapestry of affection, dissent, discovery, and growth together….

Oh, and it can and does get messy. That’s tricky for me. I function best with a certain amount of order. I’m not talking sterility or perfection – just a sense that things have places to be, and that they will be in them, at least sometimes. But natural learning doesn’t unfold that way; and, like a fitted sheet, it can be all but impossible to make as smooth as I would like it to be.

Living with kids who have spent years with the ability to direct their own lives, create their own goals and challenges, and find their own ways to interact with the world they live in means that I am as likely to be learning from them as the other way around. It means that we live a more equal life than the one I lived as a child; a life where a person’s wish to write is no more important than another’s wish to spend the same amount of time, say, collecting woolly bear caterpillars and making a documentary of their lives, or playing Minecraft, or cleaning their room (yes, that sometimes happens, even though no one is making anyone do it!), or cooking, or…

The part of me that likes to sweep my eyes across tidy vistas can be driven to overwhelm by the sheer volume of unpredictability and seemingly unlovely chaos this life engenders.

I remind myself that it’s not like it was when they were small, and the floor was their playspace. They are 9 and 12, now, and past the stage of throwing Legos, then dumping the bin to use as a boat. Desks and tables are more prominently significant in their lives. They have a growing and often variable understanding that what they do can affect others in ways they hadn’t intended. The clutter, these days, is less, and more quickly tended to, and, in just a few short years, it will be adult clutter, if they still choose to live here with us.

I want to celebrate these years – these years where the children we’ve shared our lives with journey into adulthood. I want to spend less time grousing, and more time paying attention to Right Here and Right Now.

So, from now on, on Fridays when it seems fitting, I will share a flat surface in our home, and maybe tell a bit of its story…

Cookbooks and other useful and whimsical things commingling…

Today, it’s our family room desk, handmade and picked up free from a neighbor’s yard. He came out to help the kids and I load it. He’d made it himself, for a grandson who outgrew it, and was happy to see it would live with children again.

Our family room is open with the kitchen; it used to be a dining room. My husband is a chef; the hutch seemed a good place for his special cookbooks. One never knows when a tissue or an abacus might be useful. The Buddha and flowers I popped there spontaneously, when I found them half buried on another flat surface.

Annalise pointed out that the art books were of my favorite artists, and she’s right. The rock serving as a bookend was picked up on one of our excursions, and the calendar just seemed like fun when I saw it at a store. There’s mail there, too, waiting for Jim or I to sort.

Top o’the desk. Not so still life!

On the desk itself, there’s the basket with the unique handle that reminds me of the burl art at the Old Faithful Inn. I put it on the desk when I noticed that it has the same shade of green. It’s intended as a bit of a catchall spot, and to look pretty.

The orange metal jack’o’lantern mug holds assorted Popsicle sticks, including what remains of our set of Thinking Sticks. Some of us like to fiddle with them at the desk. Jeremiah’s laptop is there, too, because he generously shares it whenever he’s not using it.

I see Annalise’s most recent mail from The Gorilla Foundation – she scored a Koko calendar! – a pawprint tile coaster, some decoupaged jars the kids and I made one snowy afternoon a couple of years back…and some of the craft scissors my parents gave the kids when they were very small. Others in the set are exploring various elsewheres…

Peeking out from behind the mail is a thrift store rock paperweight with the word Cheer engraved on it. Natural reminders are a good thing!

And, because creativity can be hungry-making, there is a box of apple cinnamon cereal bars, and a tissue that hopefully was used in a makeover, rather than for noseblowing…

Of course, that’s not what the desk looks like, anymore! Three of us have used it for various purposes since I snapped these pictures. The next time you see this desk, it will be wearing a fresh set of accessories. And there’s a certain beauty in that.

Do you have a flat surface you’d like to share? Feel free to add a link or photo in the comments! =D

Finding beauty – and peace- Right Here, Right Now, and wishing the same for you!


  1. What a lovely topic. I do have a flat surface story…or not so flat. Last night, for the first time, I invited my music-making buddies into my “writing barn” (the upstairs of my husband’s shop, which he created for me as a comfy, private writing space) for the first time. I was a little worried about how crowded we’d be, but they loved the cozy atmosphere (wood stove, cedar paneling, soft carpet) and the acoustics. One thing that almost got us in trouble, though: we discovered that the surface of the beautiful table my husband made by splitting a giant cedar branch was actually not flat! Seems that, while writing, I have never used it to set glasses of wine on…red wine. Luckily my friends have quick hands and the carpet was spared. We’ll still play and drink up there, I think, but…I may ask my husband to make another table!

    • Gretchen,

      What a lovely story, and a happy one, since your carpet was spared. I’d love to see a picture of your bnot-so-flat-after-all table – it sounds stunning!

      Maybe you need another place to set those wineglasses, though…

      I love the thought of your “writing barn”. I am very slowly transforming a little cubby at the end of our living room into a writing space – still, it’ll likely be shared at least sometimes – the kids have two bookcases full of stuff in there that has no other place to live right now, and our house is small.

      I’ve always fantasized about having a vine-covered carriage house to write in…

      May all forms of creativity flourish in your cozy space! =D

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