Clarice, Therapy, and The Dream House

After 29 years of knowing each other and 27 years of marriage, Sweetbuns and I still dream about the perfect home we’ll build one day. Our ideas, priorities and actually our level of reality have changed quite a bit over these years.I would say we have matured, but as a participant in middle age, something about that word disturbs me now.

Here’s the original Dream House Dream which was added to over the years, not only by the 2 of us, but also by Punky:

  • acreage for dozens of critters, hiking trails, barn, fire pit and a campsite
  • our own forest of mature (There’s that word again!) trees
  • guest house
  • music rehearsal room
  • recording studio
  • dance studio
  • giant aquarium (think National Aquarium in Baltimore)
  • darkroom
  • movie theater (Oh, and one of those giant popcorn machines!)
  • 2 story library with cool ladders, comfy window seats and cushy overstuffed chairs
  • exercise room
  • a tree house with a zip line
  • party room
  • wine cellar (with oodles of wine, of course!)
  • huge kitchen
  • indoor/outdoor pools with a slide out the master bedroom window
  • And a big, fat window filled art room

Here’s our current Dream House Dream:

  • No mortgage

We live in an average house in an average neighborhood. Child safety is not a concern anymore, but hip and knee replacement are, therefore we are very happy to live on one level, thank you.

We have:

  • an acre with huge trees (with room to camp!)
  • several wild critters, bird houses and feeders, the cats from next door and Bella Bunny
  • a chiminea
  • an asparagus bed (It’s in our neighbors yard, but we share it. Thanks B and A.)
  • an office that doubles as a library, writing and music room
  • a living room, dining room and deck that serve as a party room
  • a fridge with room for a bottle of wine
  • a Slip and Slide, and 3 old sprinklers (A pool would be over-kill, right?)
  • a den that serves as a guest room, exercise room, dance studio and music rehearsal room
  • a laundry room where Sweetbuns has actually recorded 2 albums
  • a photo closet filled to the brim
  • an art closet filled to the brim
  • and a kitchen that is functional and also serves as my art room when the dining table is in use

It’s all about perspective here, folks.

We are sheltered, safe, warm and happy. What else could we want or need?

Okay, I do admit it.

I’m totally guilty.

I really, really would love to have an art room again. Working in the kitchen or on the dining room table is okay, but I’d love to be able to keep all my supplies out and within reach. I’d love to just make a huge mess and leave it.

I’m about due for some art therapy. I think you may agree…

Over recent years, I have gone from this:

watercolor- Orange Beach

To this:

It's Clarice!

Meet Clarice.

About a month before she left for college, Punky and I were in a beauty supply store when I spotted the Styrofoam wig forms.

SCORE! My imagination went wild! The things I could do with this! Punky had to calm me down, because I was so very excited! AND it was only $3.99! I wanted to skip to the car, but instead I just acted silly with it in the parking lot to freak out the other shoppers. (Two headed Libby-Lu! You get the picture.)

Punky was not amused.

I’m sure that Sweetbuns would have placed bets that I would stuff this wig form in my art closet for a later project, and it would stay there for years. Instead, I surprised even myself and went right to work. For a week, I worked at the dining room table, and the plain old wig form was transformed into Clarice.

Sweetbuns never once mentioned her. He ate meals with her right there in front of his face the whole time, and it was as if she were invisible.  I don’t think he ever had eye contact with her. I began to feel sorry for her.

I guess she is a little disturbing.

I don’t know what to do with her now.  She’s like my very own Frankenstein, only with Styrofoam for a brain. No one wants to look at her for long. Punky’s friend, C.R. is the only person who actually studied her. He then abruptly sat her down, gave me an obligatory kind compliment and left the room. She is the stuff that nightmares are made of.

I’m thinking she’ll make a great Dirty Santa gift.

Clarice, is that you?

Clarice is the materialization of a busy and emotional time. The college visits, graduations and other senior year events, and the thought of the empty nest syndrome (that I was sure was going to wig me out) just all rolled into one crazy work. How ironic that I would choose a wig form for a wig out! BAHAHA Anyway, it looks as if my mind was not well when I did this. Maybe my mind has never been well. Guess what I also do?

I weave.

small egg basket

Sadly, basket weaving is associated with mental illness because this craft was used as therapy at insane asylums in the late 19th century and beyond.

Choctaw basket

Personally, I have many types of therapy that I enjoy. Besides art, I love to walk and write. (Oh, but never at the same time! That would be too much like riding and reading – See Books-The Key to Knowledge, 8/28/2011)  

Sweetbuns and I lost our only pregnancy in 1988. I carried for 4 months, and it was devastating.  For this trauma, I chose to write as my therapy. I actually wrote a whole blooming 432 page book while trying to come out of that dark place.  Writing helped, and so did our decision to adopt.

During the wait for our child, I wove baskets as my therapy. There were a few failed adoptions which Sweetbuns and I refer to as emotional miscarriages. It seemed that we were going to spend our whole life waiting on a baby.  Therefore, I did a lot of weaving! I wove till my fingers hurt.

pine needle basket

I decided to make something for our baby while we waited, and since knitting was not my forte, I designed and made a Moses basket. It resided in our kitchen, taking up our island for months. Our sink was full of weavers and the floor was water sloshed. The act of weaving is therapy in itself, but the fact that I was being sloppy was good for me too. It’s against my nature.

The whole time I worked on the Moses basket, I thought of our child. It gave me hope, and somehow I felt that when I completed it, our baby would come to us. And she did! A couple of months after I finished weaving the Moses basket, Punky was born.  

Baby Punky, dreaming sweet dreams in her Moses basket

My artistic adventures were placed on hold for a while, but when Punky was still very small, she began doing paper sculpture with me. We collaborated on the designs and she usually did most of the painting. And the naming.




We have fun with gourds, too!

Quim Quim (Speckled Bellied Desmond Quimby)

Nelly Maude (named after my then 102 year old great-aunt)

Nelly Maude eats ants !!!

Nelly Maude has a very long snout

I used to joke with Punky that when she left for college, I was going to turn her bedroom into an art room. I would never do that. But, I am planning on setting up the card table in there soon and bringing in a few items from the art closet. That would be pretty harmless, right?

Hey, I just figured something out…When your kid goes away to college; their room turns into a bonus room! Who needs an art room when you’ve got an empty nest?

Now, go enjoy your brand of therapy*, enjoy your dream home on the planet- wherever and whatever it is, and keep on smiling! (Or I will give Clarice your address!)

-Libby Lu

*healthy and legal only, please!


3 thoughts on “Clarice, Therapy, and The Dream House

    • HA. I try. Right now I have a rag rug on my list (not a spreadsheet, I promise!) of things to make soon. I don’t think I’m ready to tackle a mosaic, but now that you’ve put that in my mind…..

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