18 October 2012

The beauty of ugly

In the middle of last night, I had occasion to realise how lovely ugly can be.

I was outside, breaking a leaf off this ancient aloe vera pot plant to rub its soothing gel over a poor, sore, itchy patch of Anna's skin. She slept peacefully for the rest of the night.

For years I've been thinking of getting rid of the plant because it looks so awful. However, recently I got scratched, irritated arms from gathering firewood, and a smear of the ugly plant's gel was magic. It stays, I decided.

Practicality over beauty is something that I've thought about a lot recently, particularly as I've been feasting my eyes on gorgeous home magazines that various people have kindly given me.

I've been wondering if studying these magazines, much as I love them, is analagous to poring over women's magazines that feature unrealistically beautiful people and endlessly discuss which celebrity has gained or lost weight and who's had cosmetic surgery? I suspect those magazines do terrible things for the self-image of women who read them. But do the home mags make us feel bad about ourselves and our houses because our rooms don't look like the featured ones?

Furthermore, are the people who live in those houses somehow happier or more 'together' than we are? I think we know that's not true. In fact, maybe it's the opposite: many of those people are probably mortgaged to the hilt and working like mad to keep their financial heads above water. One of the magazines I looked at recently showed the house of a young couple whose renovation was in the '$600-700,000' category!

Allow me to do the complete opposite of those magazines. Parts of our house have been renovated nicely, but, friends, much of it remains trapped in a once-fashionable redecoration (1980's). This is one of our bathrooms:

...but people get clean in it and it is not responsible for a cent of debt, so only one of the adults in our house has to go to work. Phew.

Happily, there is hope for the ugly aloe plant. When photographing it today, I noticed it's infested with snails, and I'm optimistic that regular doses of slug and snail bait might rejuvenate it.

Spot the snail (if you can be bothered). Can you see why Jack named it the dinosaur plant when he was little?

I shared this post at Frugally Sustainable.


  1. Just visiting from Frugally Sustainable....and I spotted three snails, LOL!

  2. Aloe cuttings make great (and frugal) gifts, too. It's like giving the gift of healing to your friends and family!


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