DP Photo Challenge: smile

Shot of greeting card showing the Three Wise Men. Caption says "well... I thought a book token was a very sensible idea."

Greeting card; given by a friend so many years ago that book tokens were still a “thing.”

Smiles have been in rather short supply lately for family ZimmerBitch.

The boy-child is learning some hard lessons on his path to becoming an adult; dealing with work and study and a raft of annoyances and disappointments that have left him exhausted and glum.

Anxiety about our son’s welfare, coupled with stress around the decisions we need to make about our own future, have left even the normally cheerful Big T struggling to smile.

And as if the emotional grims weren’t enough, ALL the family cars have recently suffered some sort of ‘needs-money-spent’ problem.

Then yesterday the glass panel on our kitchen range-hood decided to part company with the rest of the device, leaving every surface in the kitchen twinkling under a sea of broken glass. And leaving us shopping for a new range-hood.

But still, when I went into the office this morning and saw the “Three Wise Men” card, I smiled. Partly because I think it’s genuinely funny, but mostly because it’s a reminder of a friendship that stretches back almost 40 years, and a friend who cheers me up when I need it.

I need it now.

Daily Post Photo Challenge | smile

At play with the meaning of things

Still life with hibiscus -- or afternoon tea with a good book. Close-up shot of tea cup, plate with biscuits, book and single hibiscus.  Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Still life with hibiscus — or afternoon tea with a good book. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

The Making of Home, by Judith Flanders (pictured above) is my go-to book at the moment; something to be savoured and digested carefully in small, thoughtful bites.

It’s a social historical account of how the mythology of “home” has been constructed over the last few centuries, and of how that has changed everything from the placement of furniture to the value of women’s work. To quote the Financial Times’ review:

In The Making of Home, Judith Flanders has many interesting, and sometimes startling, things to say about what domesticity means to us, how that meaning has changed – and how it has endured. As she points out, nostalgia is the presiding spirit in the age of consumerism and has been so since the 18th century. Suburban homes across the developed world represent a longing for an imaginary pre-industrial age. These dreams are of course fantasies: until very recently, most homes were hovels carrying no deeper meaning for their inhabitants than shelter and survival. Few people, even two centuries ago, had more than one chair, let alone chairs sufficient for the contented family meal at the simple cottage table that is so integral to the northern European ideal. — Financial Times, October 11, 2014

In the Introduction, Flanders sets out to show how our notions of what “home” means are shaped by cultural representations. She examines Dutch 17th century paintings of domestic scenes — which have come to be regarded as “the very epitome of homeness” — yet bear little resemblance to actual Dutch houses of the time. This point is reinforced in a recent BBC Culture article “Why Vermeer’s paintings are less real than we think.”

These days, I measure the quality of a book partly by how many creative ideas it inspires in me. The Making of Home is scoring highly here; beginning with the little still life above. Simple capture of a peaceful moment? Or highly constructed ironic comment on hegemonic representations of domesticity?

This digression into the sociology of home was written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.