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Ernest_Hemingway_1923_passport_photoWalking through my neighborhood last week I spotted a vintage motorcycle in a garage. Not just any motorcycle, but a vintage Norton. You may remember my post a while back on my vintage bike, well I couldn’t help but stop and look. I then met my neighbor who told me about his treasured bike and how he restored it and a few others in his garage that were either completed or in process. I mentioned that I had a 1966 Honda S90 that I couldn’t get to start and one thing led to another and within 30 minutes we had my bike in his garage and had it torn apart. By the next day we had it running and along the way I got to know a bit more about my new friend… ok so I know you are wondering what this has to do with Hemingway. Turns out my friend has a fondness for Africa, hunting, whiskey, and good writing. Needless to say he is also then quite fond of Hemingway. Birds of a feather. He had a coffee table book on Hemingway that he showed me. By then he knew what I did for a living and he wanted to show me Hemingways’ house in Cuba. It was named Finca Vigía, or Lookout Farm, where Ernest Hemingway had made his home from 1939 to 1960, and where he had written seven books, including The Old Man and the Sea, A Moveable Feast and Islands in the Stream. The photo above is Hemingways’ passport photo from 1923. He was quite a handsome fellow. Below are images of his home, Finca Vigia, in Cuba.

photo posted on post-gazette.com


Hemingway's living room


Hem deskI studied the images for a moment and with a designers eye I began to dissect it. What was it that made these images so appealing enough so that my friend would want to share it with me. I posed this question to my friend and it began a discussion on why we remember certain homes. He felt that it was the special objects one collects along the way and we place these in our home. Reminders of of an experience. Tokens of our lives hopefully well lived. Hemingway would definitely approve of that notion.

Hemingway, or papa as he liked to be called, was a cult personality. He wanted to be known for his bold and impassioned life.  He desired to be of genuine character, right and true.  His goal was to embody a spirit of adventure and have iconic passions that defined his very character. He loved bullfighting, sport fishing, travel to exotic locations, a fine rum, and a good, poignant, thought provoking discussion. He wanted things to be simple, beautiful, thoughtful, and of the highest quality. Objects needed to be purposeful, memorable, useful, and comfortable.

Yeah, Hemingway got it in my opinion. Almost all of these descriptors I could use to describe a really great interior. So it was no surprise to me when I saw the interiors of his home.

I look around my own home and I see a story in almost all of the objects. There are the black walnuts in the bowl that I collected on a walk with my son when he was still a toddler, a porcelain bowl from an art installation that I did for my final thesis in college, an African necklace from a Vashon island antique store, a card deck of botanical drawings that I used when I was learning about herbals, a table that I purchased and spray painted a thousand times over when I lived in this beautiful old, stone home in Virginia. There are other objects that don’t always have such positive memories attached to them and I have been, as of late, trying to get rid of these things. Especially as I was getting ready to write this post. If our homes contain objects that are so important to how we remember a place then shouldn’t I try to make sure that what is there are things that bring joyful memories?

I believe that our homes can and should bring us joy. I personally want a home that I can’t wait to come home to. That makes me feel great and is my sanctuary. I want a home that is filled with furniture, art and objects that speak to a life well lived. I think we all deserve this and I know that Hemingway would shout a resounding “YES! by God, do it.”

Images courtesy of Wikipedia. org, Cadenahaban.cu, Pau Salazar Photography, Tracey Eaton, Hemingwaycuba.com,  Colette.vacations.com.

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