7 Signs of Domesticity Displaced (including why we love a yellow rhinoceros)

In recent years, Sara and I have lived abroad—have set up house in places as far away as Haiti and Vietnam.  However, in being dislocated, we’ve not so much forgotten how to live here in the US, as we’ve learned to appreciate anew what’s best about being home, and, perhaps, adopted a few domestic quirks in the process.

Indeed, for more than two years, “home” was a place my partner and I occupied only periodically and usually for excruciatingly short stays.  In 2009 we didn’t even make it home for Christmas, and in 2010 Sara was back in the US for only five days during the holidays.

But being back from Haiti since last spring, we hardly know how to handle home.  Being domestically dislocated for so long has left us a little off-center—left us with an eccentricity that has made us appreciate the simple, if sometimes strange, things about being back on US soil.

Like most Americans, we enjoy the simple pleasure of cuddling on the couch in our Lexington living room, but like expats, who have lived too long in developing countries, we dance delightedly at the prospect of baking in an actual oven, one with a functioning thermostat, at that.  (To read about our oven challenges in Haiti, click here.)  In fact, we enjoy baking so much, we sit around all too often, nibbling on cakes and cookies, widening our oh-so-homey hips and broadening our happy-to-be-house-bound bellies.

But we know that home won’t last forever, especially for us globe-trotting lesbians, traipsing the planet with two white dogs in tow.  (To read about our near disasters with international, pet travel, click here.)

So, remembering that this domesticity is likely to be short-lived, Sara, this week, has photographed the things we love most about our home, accentuating sometimes our utter normalcy, at other times a bordering-on-outrageous eccentricity.

We hope you’ll walk this week with us—enjoying the photographs below—appreciating the normal and sometimes-not-so-normal indications of having been displaced and finally come home again (at least for now):

  1. Appreciating family—

This week I tried to “help” my nephew with a school project but realized, almost too late, that my waning grasp on US history precluded any successful tutoring on my part.  Either dumbed-down by travel or having developed senility during the past few years, I had to have another nephew, who’s only 19 and knows way more than me, bring both of us back from the brink from academic disaster.

Bottom line—we may wonder where our intelligence has gone, but being home allows us to enjoy the ones we love in a whole new, if now cognitively challenged, way.

When nephews know more than you do— (16 January 2012, Monday)

  1. Loving our walnut trees—

The weather has been weird this winter.  Having spent two years living in the tropics, I had hoped to enjoy snow this January.  Instead, on Tuesday we woke to thunder and later had another spring-like downpour.  At one point, however, mid morning, the clouds cleared and blue sky emerged behind the walnut trees in our back garden.

So, being home again, we appreciate anew the simplicity of sky—the endurance of trees—bare branches against a brilliant backdrop of blue.

Blue through the walnut trees, as seen between bouts of "winter" weather— (17 January 2012, Tuesday)

  1.  Enjoying  morning coffee—

Having lived in tropical climates, we’ve also learned to appreciate the simple things about more northerly locations—like hot coffee especially on cold mornings.   Sara may mock my morning ritual of drinking Swiss mocha cappuccino alongside a can of Coke Zero, but there’s a lot to be said for drinking a double dose of caffeine on boring winter mornings.

Double-fisted morning— (18 January 2012, Wednesday)

  1. Growing our own herbs—

Since we’ve been home, Sara has spent time working in her garden, and now that winter’s here, she’s growing basil and rosemary in our attic skylight—neither of which she had a time or place for when busy responding to disasters in places like Haiti.

Fresh herbs for snipping and clipping— (19 January 2012, Thursday)

  1. Having an assortment of teas and spices—

Sara loves to cook, and I appreciate few things more than a hot cup of strong tea, so it’s a luxury for us to have both on hand—both within easy reach on a dark and dreary, Friday evening.

Sara savors spices and teas— (20 January 2012, Friday)

  1. Understanding why we’re so well-wired—

Living far from home, we depended so often on wired ways to reconnect with friends and families, that now we don’t know how to disengage from gadgets.

Why we’re so well-wired— (21 January 2012, Saturday)

  1. Loving a yellow rhinoceros—

Living abroad, we learned to appreciate accessories that are not entirely home-grown.

Sara says that I’m eccentric, yet she insists a rhino grace our hallway wall.  Whom, may I ask, is the truly off-center member of this partnership?

Sara says that I’m eccentric— (22 January 2012, Sunday)

What’s the most out-of-the-ordinary accessory you have in your house?  How is your home not like your neighbors?  Has your domesticity been displaced?

(This post updates Sara’s Photo-a-Day Project.  To see last week’s photos, click here.  Images from the first week of  January are in the margin to the right.)

Note:  If you are new to my blog, you might like to know that I am writing a memoir and blogging about growing up in an organized crime family.  (This post, however, is not part of that series.)  To read one of my memoir posts,”Kids Make the Best Bookies,” click here.  If you are interested in reading any of my protected posts, please email me at kownroom@yahoo.com  or let me know in the comments below, and I will gladly share the password with you.

36 thoughts on “7 Signs of Domesticity Displaced (including why we love a yellow rhinoceros)

  1. Love the post! I can only imagine how much the sense of home gets shifted when you spend a lot of time abroad. You also tend to get reverse culture shock when you return sometimes making re-entry harder.


    • Fortunately, we are over the reverse culture shock. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed by it on my first trip to the grocery store after coming home from Haiti. It seemed like such a strange new world. Glad you enjoyed the post, Nicole.


  2. Love the yellow rhino and the colors in your kitchen. I suspect your house is a work of art in itself, and a place I’d sorely miss on long journeys abroad. My sanctum sanctorum is frill-free and so spartan, it’s borderline primitive (no A/C, no microwave, only introduced it to fire and running water two years ago). Seriously, it’s probably the ordinary accessories I’m so used to doing without that make my place seem out of the ordinary, especially since I reside in Gotham City. the most materialistic big city next to Los Angeles. And yet, I can only bear being out of an urban environment for short stretches.


    • Okay, I have admit, going without a microwave is extreme. We didn’t have one in Haiti, which I found it difficult to adjust to, to be honest. But then we didn’t have TV there either and very often had no electricity, so maybe the microwave wasn’t the biggest adjustment.

      But, do you have refrigeration? What about a bed? A western toilet?

      Seriously, that all is very extreme for your setting.


  3. Being eccentric is a good thing and probably why she loves you so. My most off the wall stuff belongs to me. I own a Kermit the Frog phone from the seventies. He’s perched on an office chair with his fee propped up, which cradles the bright yellow phone. I love it, but my more straight-laced in-laws wonder why an adult would purchase such a thing.


  4. Good morning! I have a special telephone also–it’s Marvin the Martian sitting in his spaceship!

    There is also the matter of the 90-year-old sideboard having for its centerpiece a foot-tall Godzilla, with tiny primitive-art-doll-in-a-dress clutched in his claws!

    Hooray for off-center!

    PS. Sara has a yellow rhinoceros on the wall in a place of honor, so surely she sees her eccentricity as I do?! >:-D


  5. Maybe this says something about me, but I LOVE that yellow rhino! We have all kinds of weird stuff on our shelves- from a picture of Thomas picking his nose to a painting that reads “As much as I try to be an easygoing, stretch your wings and fly type… I just can’t stop trying to burst people into flames with my mind”. Visitors always get a kick (or leave, scared) with that one 🙂


  6. I love the yellow rhino! I want one! For a long time I felt strange in my Italian kitchen, it was as though I was just playing house. I now cook there quite a bit, but it took a while. I feel equally at home in both places now.


    • So glad to hear you like the yellow rhino. I tease Sara about it, but I do think it’s fun now. It clearly has grown on me. Thanks for reading, Deb. Good to hear you now feel at home in your Italian kitchen, as well.


  7. While I am not the world traveller that you guys are, I can relate a bit. I have not had a physical place that I could call home since I was a child. Ene though I have been in my current location for a few years, I still feel like I am bagage in a storage room. So I can truly understand the concept of displaced domesticity. I just recently started actually using dressers haha.


    • How sad to not have a place to call home in so long. ANd how unsettling to spend several years without moving things into dressers. Bless your heart, my friend. You really DO KNOW about “displaced domesticity.”


  8. I really love that yellow rhino. It reminds me of a local artist (totally don’t know the name) who does wild game mounted head pieces, but they’re all made from cardboard. Completely beautiful!

    A lot of our house decorations are in storage now, but when we have them out, I’d say the strangest (to other people) is the string of patio lanterns that we hang above our bed. My mom sent them to us from Thailand, and they cast a beautiful, soft, colourful light in the bedroom. I actually really miss them at the cabin! 🙂

    Tell Sara I really enjoyed this week’s photos. You two make a great couple, and your personal eccentricities seem to complement each other’s. 😉


    • So glad yoou like the rhino. Sara and I have talked about trying to collect alternative wild game mountings for our library, so the artist you mention would be interesting to us. We thought it would be fun and off-beat.

      YourThai lanterns sound fun, as well. We brought lots of lanterns back from Vietnam.

      Thnaks for taking a look, Dana—————-


  9. What a great post! Love the yellow rhino! That’s a fantastic conversation starter. 🙂 It’s fun to surround yourself with items from your travels that hold wonderful memories.
    I live in a small apartment, so I don’t have a lot of room to display mementoes. So when I travel I pick up one refrigerator magnet that sums up my trip and how I’d like to remember it.


  10. Aaah I LOVE the rhino 🙂

    I normally have off pods or seed casings lying around waiting for identification, or an ostrich egg or two on my table – normally something different everyday. I do have a bit of snake skin on my mantle…..


  11. I read this yesterday but couldn’t comment till now … and I’m dying to know, does your yellow Rhino have a name? Because he surely seems to have enough personality for one! I’m picturing something dignified, like Ernest or Geraldine :).

    Wonderful list; always good to take a step back and reflect on what makes our hearts truly sing!



  12. I love the way you’ve combined your words with Sara’s photos. I think you’ve figured out the best way to present these! 🙂

    Our most out-of-the-ordinary accessory? We’re kind of boring. It’s probably the broken baseball bat that stands on display in a corner of our family room. It was Michael Cudduyer’s bat (of the MN Twins.) Mark won it in a raffle.


  13. Wonderful series of photos! And I love your commentary to go with them. You and Sara make a fabulous team.

    I also covet and ♥ that yellow rhino. 🙂

    I think you’ve given me some blog fodder. Maybe I’ll have a look around my home with my camera.


  14. I love the yellow rhino, too! But then again, my home is full of lava lamps and has orange walls. I might not be the biggest arbiter of what is considered to be fashionable when it comes to decor.


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