I've been grappling lately with the structural and fiscal reality that the CrazyStable will never be completely "done" (as in "renovated"). This brings me smack up against all the competing value systems one could apply to one's home. Was it a good investment? Does it impress our friends and neighbors? Does it make our family safe and happy?
And then there's another metric: Is it a good Totoro house?
For those unfamiliar with the classic film My Neighbor Totoro by Japanese animation genius Hayao Miyazaki, it's the story of two little girls who move into a rambling, mysterious country house, populated by scrabbling little sootballs and shy, delightful creatures called totoros. These chubby, protective sprites can only be seen by children, and the director presents the ramshackle home matter-of-factly as a dream come true for curious kids. The girls' house reminds me, not just of the CrazyStable, but of the house I grew up in, where I explored the weedy wild places and my imagination ran wild; daughter loves the Totoro house, and ours, with the same unreasoning passion.
The movie's magical setting was recreated for a recent World's Fair in Japan, and if I'd had the money I'd have gone just for that. Maybe someday we will visit the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, a shrine to the animator's best-loved creations. Until then, I'll take Miyazaki's mission statement for it (with the word "house" substituted for "museum") for our own:
This is the Kind of House I Want to Make!
A house that is interesting and relaxes the soul
A house where much can be discovered
A house based on a clear and consistent philosophy
A house where those seeking enjoyment can enjoy, those seeking to ponder can ponder, and those seeking to feel can feel
A house that makes you feel more enriched when you leave than when you entered!
To make such a house, the building must be...
Put together as if it were a film
Not arrogant, magnificent, flamboyant, or suffocating
Quality space where people can feel at home, especially when it's not crowded
A building that has a warm feel and touch
A building where the breeze and sunlight can freely flow through
The house must be run in such a way so that...
Small children are treated as if they were grown-ups
The handicapped are accommodated as much as possible
The staff can be confident and proud of their work
Visitors are not controlled with predetermined courses and fixed directions
The house's relation to the park is...
Not just about caring for the plants and surrounding greenery but also planning for how things can improve ten years into the future
This is what I expect the house to be, and therefore I will find a way to do it
This is the kind of house I don't want to make!
A pretentious house
An arrogant house
A house that treats its contents as if they were more important than people
Adapted from Hiyao Miyazaki, (c) Museo d'Arte Ghibli
UPDATE: Since I posted this, almost one-third of the hits on this blog have been directed to this post and driven by "totoro" as a Google search term! Clearly, there are lots of other Totoro fans out there, but so far, no one has left a comment. Totoro-loving lurkers, please introduce yourselves in the comment space below! Irasshaimase (welcome)!