I’m sitting in my living room, enjoying the sun coming in the window.  I know it won’t be long before the sun won’t come up higher than the mountain, and that at this time of day we may have technical daylight, but I still won’t be seeing the sun.  For now, I’m enjoying it while I’ve got it.  I look around my sunlit room and see many things that weren’t here a year ago. The walls of this room were somewhat bare for a while.  Not completely bare, Starry Night, a picture called Shipwrecked, and a painting of the Arc de Triomphe adorned our walls. But that still left a lot of blank space.  We had stuff we could have put there, but we decided not to.

When we were first married we lucked out.  We hit the jack-pot for poor, still in college newlyweds.  My dad had recently remarried and moved into Sally’s house.  So we had a houseful of furniture at our disposal.  My grandparents had recently downsized so we got decorations.  Chase’s sister and brother-in-law also happened to live in the same town we did and were happy to unload stuff from their newlywed years.  We had a fully furnished, stocked,and decorated house.  It didn’t matter that all the posters were of places we’d never been, or that other than the Coke collection the decorations reflected other people more than us.  It was better than cardboard boxes and bare walls.  To this day, I am super thankful for the generosity of all those around us.  We had it good.

At some point though, it started getting to me.  I’d see things I’d like, and reflected Chase and I a little bit more, but our walls were full.  We’d walk into other’s homes and see their personalities in each room of the house.  People would walk into our house and ask when we were in Austria.  Never, we inherited the picture, isn’t it pretty?  I felt we couldn’t take the pictures down, it all had to go up.  We were so blessed to be given these things, I couldn’t turn my back on the wonderful stuff we’d acquired.  Then it hit me, these things were not priceless heirlooms being passed down.  We would hurt no one’s feeling if we thinned things out a bit.  When we moved into our house here, I decided that I would be more selective about what I put up and where I put it.  I love my grandmother’s egg collection, particularly the glass ones (they are pretty and sparkly), but the stone and marble ones did nothing for me.  So the stone and marble ones are no longer part of the collection.  Chase and I love American history, so we devoted one room to all the things we have inherited that depict that theme.  Other family heirlooms were relegated to the guest room.  I still love seeing them and having them, but as they don’t reflect who Chase and I are, they aren’t front and center any longer.  And the posters of places we’ve never been, only one ever graced my walls. That one was only up because it was easier to put up a picture than to pull the big nail out of the wall.

A big house with lots of wall space, and a determination not to put up what didn’t reflect us left us with a lot of empty walls.  It was refreshing.  The blank spaces were possibilities waiting to be filled.  And I could tell the story behind everything that was up.

It didn’t take long before we found stuff to fill some of the spaces.  Finding was the easy part.  Narrowing down to what would fit and what we could afford, that was the hard part.  With hopes of extending, we devised a six-year plan to get all the Alaskan art we desired.  First, came a downtown panorama of Anchorage.  Next, a poster of Denali.  We were given a couple of posters that we loved and just needed to be framed.  However, these posters, I have determined, were made to be the most awkward size for framing, so for the longest time they were left, rolled up in a closet.  That was before Chase deployed.  Suddenly, it was R&R and I still hadn’t made any progress in the framing department.  After Chase left again, I lit a fire under myself and took those posters down to Hobby Lobby.  One poster I cut to fit a pre-made frame, and for the other, I sucked it up and paid for the custom frame.  While Chase was home on R&R, we found our next big art purchase.  Still on the six-year plan, we decided that The Cave would be this years major purchase.  The week after Chase left, I did the budget, found the money for the picture, and soon another wall was no longer bare.  Then, the day before I went to the state fair, our six-year plan bit the dust, branch said “don’t know where you are going, but you can’t stay here.”  I made a large withdraw from the ATM the next morning with the determination to find something on our list and get it at the fair.  The Shane Lamb booth provided the perfect opportunity to relive my wallet of that money, and two painting came home with me.  Since then, I have regained some perspective, we do have over a year left here, not everything has to be bought immediately.  However, as the temperatures fall, outdoor activities are ceasing, and Christmas is approaching, the art fair season has begun in Anchorage.  Last weekend we went to the Deninia Center.  There we did some research on the moose antler on my list, and during that time I fell in love with the carved whales the B Merry studio makes as well.  While we didn’t buy from that booth, yet, I did convince Chase we needed to purchase a photograph of Mt. Redoubt.  I was astounded to see a picture of my favorite spot (so far) in Alaska, and decided we “needed” it.  Well, the photographer was having a deal if we bought three, so a photo of the Northern Lights and one of the Matanuska at night also are awaiting frames before adorning my walls.  This weekend I wanted to visit the B Merry studio at the Made In Alaska festival.  I do so love their work.  I just have to decide exactly what it is that I want because I can’t buy it all.  At the festival, I found myself wanting something I had never even considered before.  Carved baleen.  The baleen of one vendor were spectacular. (Possibly because of their large size, I honestly thought it was about four feet long until we were putting it on our wall, it’s more like six feel long.)  It wasn’t on my list of what I wanted until I saw them.  Thnen one came home with me.  So now my walls aren’t quite so bare.  But it’s still refreshing as I love everything I have on them.

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