Thursday, February 25, 2010

25 February 1956 “No Excuses, Just Happy Diversion. And A Job To Do.”

I was feeling rather guilty over not having posted these past two days. Though I don’t always post everyday, I at least  begin writing, scanning images, research etc to prepare for the actual posting. Yet, I cannot claim to have done that these past two days.

These past few days, except for a few moments of ‘sticking my head in’ at the Forums, have been blissfully unplugged. I have gone about my usual day, of course, the running of this house, the preparations of its meals, sewing,  and such. Yet, I have almost not touched the computer.

As I have mentioned before, we have a TV in our house, but it is hooked to nothing save a DVD player and we rarely use that. So, that contraption has not been too much  distraction in any case. But I must, by the very nature of my project ( my writings and website and research) use the computer. And I don’t know why, but these past few days I have just looked at it and sort of moved on. At one point I think I almost scoffed at it, that great heap of metal on the floor next my desk. That wretched dust trap (for surely it is that if nothing else) and the odd black screen; lifeless like an empty picture frame.

I did not do this on purpose. I did not get up and say, “Alright, I shall not touch you over these next few days” but it just sort of happened. I think what I have discovered now, which has finally lead me to write this, is that while in the past the TV and computer were the distraction from my life, now My Life is the distraction from the computer and TV. That is to say, at one point, I would muddle about with life, trying to get it done as quick and slapdash as possible so I could get to the TV and computer. Now, these past days, I have found myself happily humming along though my life and dreading having to get back onto the computer. Odd indeed!

It seems as I continually get deeper into this new sort of life I am living, that so many concepts of living have changed. Things I thought cement and constants have been shown to me to be merely my perceptions or modern day notions. I always wonder when this will sort of ‘level off’ and then another thing like this happens. I find my whole level of thought and pleasure flipped topsy-turvy. I am again, Alice at the tea party with the Mad Hatter.

There is always a little lesson in it for me, these ‘ah-ha’ moments as I have come to call them. There is a realization that I have suddenly begun to do things in a very different way or in a way contrary to what I thought normal. Then I will find that normal is relative and that often this new way makes more sense. Even my very core beliefs and understanding of people and politics etc have changed. We can be so IN THE MOMENT, that unless we step so far out( 54 years out to be exact) we can not see how we are merely reacting to the norms of our times. There is a lot of mimicry and mind washing done to us in the modern world as we are all so ‘plugged in’. It wasn’t until I unplugged and stepped back that I really realized how deep this goes.

Now, this post isn’t going to be about how I am going to run away from the computer nor try to use it less. I feel a very real duty and obligation to write my blog, continue to work on my website, and to grow it and to contribute to the forum. I even feel compelled to possibly make a book of my experiences from last year. I do not need to do this. There is no one telling me to do so, yet I feel it is right and that it should be done.

I do feel, at least from all of you who have written me and commented on my posts over last year and up to now, that I have touched you and made you think. That rather you are hating my, thinking me mad, agreeing with me, or thinking me confused, you none the less were there and wanted to see more. So, with that I feel a certain level of responsibility. This is another element new to me since 1955. The old me would have tried it out for a few months, became bored or lazy and moved onto something else. But, part of what pushed me forward last year, what made me get through the humps of “I just don’t want to write today, or I don’t want to clean or work on that meal, etc” was that I thought, “I have taken on a bit of serious work here”. I am out  to prove that a homemaker is a real person that it is a real career and that the way it was once addressed is valid and is IMPORTANT.  This spurred me on, made me feel I was doing something worthwhile and important. And, feeling responsible to all of you and myself  kept me going. IT is the very feeling that will keep me going with this blog and the site and the forum and any other avenues this takes me down.

But, just for these past few days, I was a little belligerent. I was busy with my days, baking bread, working on my dress, planning out new dresses for Spring, thinking about doing over my kitchen, looking for seeds and planning out my garden. My walks in town and to our local library, chatting with people there, going out to find more local merchants to shop at. These were important to me, but they were also fun and it left me dreading the computer at home. There was just so much Living going on, that it was work to drag myself to the computer.

I am okay with this new finding. THIS is a wonderful realization for me that the very things which may have seemed drudgery or work before or things I thought would feel that way, or be too much bother, have become the things I look forward to doing. The old ‘distractions’ (computer) are now the work. But, it is my work, this blog and site and such, and I shall treat it that way. I have no children and therefore cannot say to myself that I cannot find time in my ‘busy day’ to do my bit of work. I have found myself this far in and I don’t want to turn back. I know much of what has come to be the better quality of this new life is responsibility. Responsibility to my husband to make our home, manage our money in exchange for his working outside of the home. My responsibility to my country and the things I want to see change, to try and shop locally and save and reuse. And, of course, the responsibility to all of you to continue to record my findings, share what I find and to grow a site so that we can, all of we crazy ‘outsiders’ can have a place to go and commune with like minded people. To share ideas and ideals. This is a very important job and though it can sometimes seem very much like real work for which I do not receive actual money, it is none the less important. My modern concept of placing value on things only by the comparative money it generates is over. In many ways, it makes it harder for me sometimes, but I cannot let it stop me. I know I should and will go forward learning and sharing and writing.

So, this post won’t contain any recipes or pictures of my dress. There is no images or videos displaying the 50’s in some way. It is merely to explain this wonderful discovery I have made. How does it affect you? Well, I think there are some of you who do feel now that TV and computers are your distraction or your reward, but in some way feel you wish it wasn’t so. For those of you, I am proof that it can be changed. It means hard work and working at that which you want to do other than tv/computer, but the happy result will be that the ‘other stuff’ will soon become that happy diversion. Though ‘writing that book, cooking that meal, learning to sew, trying to shop local’ all those things are harder than what we can do to ‘get by’ in the modern world, they are not always the most fulfilling. Most times the best things are hard won and the good of it is, once won, they are suddenly a joy and no longer hard work or struggle.

For anyone else, it is merely another moment in my odd little life that you might look at like as you would a  picture in a museum. You can stare and wonder, “How on earth” or “Well that’s sort of pretty” or “How horribly out of date” and then move on to the next. For whatever purpose it serves, I felt the need to share it. To put it out there.

I don’t want it to sound as if I think writing is just hard work. I have always liked writing and enjoyed it, but I was lazy about it. I would never follow through. I used to subscribe to that very modern statement: Well, if you like something or it is fun, if you turn it into a job, you will grow to hate it. I now realize that is just another modern moment where we disguise our laziness as some truth or concrete reason. Writing isn’t easy. I don’t even know if I am any good at it,  I know my spelling is atrocious, but I do like it. Is it always easy? NO. Is it always fun to research some news and recipes and various topics for a post? No, sometimes it can be quite tedious and make me swear under my breath, but when I am done with it, I am glad for it. Hard work and determination DOES really pay off. It seems that sort of adage or common sense rule of  “if you want something worthwhile than work at it, work hard and it will be all the sweeter for its labor”, is never really taught anymore. It almost seems we worry more about rather people/children are more in touch with their feelings or if they feel ‘okay’ with things more than just saying, “Tough, it’s hard but get to work and in the end you will have something”. You will know how to play an instrument very well. You will be able to write papers for school. You can rebuild an engine. You can write a novel. You can perform brain surgery. You can run a home efficiently and beautifully. You can raise a child to a good responsible human being.

I have thought a bit about Tasha Tudor again over these past few days. I imagined how she was able to completely submerse herself into her ‘time’. Certainly 1840’s may be much harder than 1950’s ,but the more I ‘take away’ the modern bits, the more I covet the more antiquated things. At one point I thought, “Well, 1955 is not too shabby, as I can have my dishwasher and dryer, my electric lights, color movies, even TV if I want it”  But the more I live the experience the more I see that were I to suddenly do “My Year 1855” it would be quite hard at first, much like 1955. I would find myself stumbling, as if brand new to housework and such, into odd territories. Yet, I don’t think now that I could not do it. And I may even end up not wanting to come back from the 19th century.

But, I won’t. At least not yet. I have found that while my initial experience was an almost ‘hide away’ project, my new life has become more about how I can help other people as well. I have come to feel more in tune with my life and to truly be living than ever before. While it would be easy to just turn off the computer and turn away from all of you (save using old fashioned letter writing which I have got behind in because of my amount of computer writing) and go on, quietly. Yet,  I cannot nor will not. Even if only one or two of you remained after a few more months of my site and blog here, yet enjoyed reading my words or even were angry enough to write back to me, I would feel an obligation. I think that so important. That is the main thing that seems to be missing from our modern world: personal responsibility and obligations to others.

I know there are plenty of modern people who are more self responsible and responsible to others, but for the most part it is easy to just cloister ourselves away and do nothing but the bare minimum to scrape by, as it is so easy and to just ‘entertain’ ourselves the rest of the time. Why bother doing or trying harder, it might interfere with our ‘shows’ or our computer time. Now I know( at least for me) that Entertainment was actually stealing my life away. It was and is not bad in itself, but the amount of time and energy I put towards it could and has been better spent in other avenues and I am happier for it. True, that might not be so for all, but if even one person could feel that freedom, then I will feel I have done my ‘Job’.

woman with typewriter So, thanks again to those of you who bother to listen to my rants and writings. I am honored to have this bit of work to do.


  1. I really appreciate what you do here. I consider it my professional development time. But I also believe that the virtual world can rob us of our real world; I certainly support your efforts to guard against that.


  2. What a nice post, 50s gal! I agree that our precious time can be better spent creating something to be proud of. Learning new skills, a new language or instrument is valuable.

    Growing up with violin and piano was not always fun because it meant hours of practice, but I enjoyed playing and getting ready for performances. I'm dreaming of the day I'll finally have my piano back!

    Thanks for your inspiration!

  3. 50's Gal,
    I adore your blog and am grateful for your dedication to it and to us, your loyal readers. In the 50's as now, as this is your "job", you are entitled to time off! If you were a working woman in the 50's with a typewritter, you would be able to have time off for vacation, sick days, etc. Try not to feel bad or guilty if you look at the computer and walk on by it. We so apprecite your hard work on this! Thanks, Barb from CNY

  4. Dear 50sgal, You certainly do do an important and worthwhile work. Your writings are a treasure to read and we can only guess at the quantity of effort and time you sacrificially expend, for our education and enjoyment. Thanks!! Linda

  5. Lovely post, so sweet, and your writing inspire so many of us - I hope you'll continue. Have a great weekend both of you. :)

  6. I would have to honestly say that texting is the new form of cloistering, I mean why talk on an actual phone when you can just clickety clackety on your cell phone.

    A friend of mine admitted to me that her husband never talks to her on the phone he only texts her when he is out of town at work.

    I would find this very weird, I love talking on my phone at home, hearing a person's voice on the other end, is connecting with them.

    I never use my cell phone when shopping, because I wish to concentrate on the task at hand and to be pleasant to the person at the till. Trust me nothing is more annoying to a cashier than a person talking on a cell phone.

    I just find today that people are so busy with their gadgets, that interaction even in families' is lessoned, ie. mom walking baby in stroller with her ear glued to the cell phone or better yet, mom/dad pushing baby in swing while talking or texting on the cell phone.

    My rant is that you should interact with your children, they are far more important than any technological device out there, and their memory drive is far extensive than any gadget toy.

    I've never done this to my kids, in a park my focus is on them having fun, when I would push my little men in a stroller my focus was on conversing with them about any thing of interest whether it be the bright yellow bulldozer, or the tiny brown bird they saw.

    I shoo my kids off the computer and encourage them on engaging activities that are one on one.....the art of conversation is being lost amidst this technological revolution, and with it's loss the demise of human interaction.

    Mom in Canada

  7. I understand how you feel. Even checking on your post sometimes I feel guilty that I have not done that daily now that 1955 is over. It is just we are all busy and have adopted new old things you have brought back to our minds. Isn't that what this is all about? I am glad I have the pleasure to check your blog at my convience much like a news paper would be. Even as the snow flys here, and I called off work due to travel conditions, I can not help but think of the dress I should be working on. Moving my but into gear sometimes is not as easy as I would like. At least there is a pot of home made chicken corn soup started and the house will be cleaned today. Hope you enjoyed the magazines I mailed and good luck on the dress. THANKS AGAIN!

  8. Rebecca-Thank you and it is the balance to keep oneself able to USE technology and not be USED by it, as I always say.
    housewife07-I am glad I have you dreaming of your piano. I know hubby often grumbled about his piano, but we did not have it with us in the city. Now, since we have moved back to this house (where the piano lives) he plays it everyday. It is a wonderful gift but also a hard won task.
    Barb-thank you, I do really consider it with the seriousness of a job. Yet, it is fun too, I don't want anyone to think that is not true, but as we know sometimes fun things can't be done everyday, so we must push ourselves to do it. That is what is scary about the siren song of tv/computer/technology it is passive fun that can be done so easily everyday, but I think many do feel guilty or bad that they are not then working on something else. I hope our growing community can help us all to feel more that we should 'try harder' for ourselves and one another. For the 'cause' of the Apron Revolution, as sometimes having something to be accountable to does help.
    Linda-I am even amazed at how much I have done. I never really look back at my old posts. After two or three posts, I just don't look back, but hubby has taken on the taske of setting up all of last years posts into a format for a book, so he came down with some printed pages of it and I found myself sitting down and reading it. Even though I know I wrote it, I had really forgot a lot of the beginnings and I was even, dare I say it, a little proud of that work? That is what I have to remember is important and why I will continue on. I only hope that I can improve on the quality and quantity of what I am able to produce.
    Sanne-Thank you as always!
    Mom in Canada-I know. I am not a mother so I try to say little about 'child rearing' other than having a guess at what I would WANT to do (rather I would follow through I shall never know unless it happens). But, I agree wholeheartedly. When we do the things as you say, texting talking on the phone while ignoring baby or sales girl, we are also teaching our children that rudeness is normal. That one's own personal needs (talking or texting on the phone) is far more important than those around us. Just what we need MORE generations of people who think the whole world revolves around them! I am always amazed at the level of rudeness and shock of people in shops when they feel the sales person is NOT DOING WHAT THEY WANT. I have heard people ask for the impossible (such as a product that they no longer carry or is not truly on sale-if they misread a flyer or a date) and then expect the discount anyway! As if they have never made mistakes. This, too, is another reslut of the big box stores that have 'trained' us to say, "I DESERVE THE BEST PRICE AND YOU BETTER GIVE IT TO ME". If you had a small local shop and you misunderstood something and then were rude, instead of getting your way, most times, the other people in the store would know you, the owner would know you and look at you like a crazy person. Today we are all so disconnected and working in big faceless inhuman chians, no one cares, so we all act like great spoiled babies! And, of course, when we do this in front of our children we only perpetuate that action. Sad, indeed.

  9. Jeane-I am glad that my blog has encouraged you to want to do more things away from the computer. It seems odd that I should want to make a blog and website that encourages us away from the thing I am making, but that is exactly it! I would like it to be an almost ladies magazine or reference we can check at our leisure but then to feel inspired to go off and sew that dress, build that barn, bake that bread etc.
    I did get the magazines and thank you very much. I have been trying to decide how to use the information. I think they will be helpful for doing a post about a more rural 50's lifestyle. Although, I see it is menonite and that would be a 50s experience in that area of the country, while the same ideals may be different for the farmers in my area at that same time. But, that would make for an interesting post, for sure, I think

  10. Everything that you've said is true. The goal, for all of us, should be to come together to learn and grow, and then walk away a better homemaker, doing more things was we wean away from technology. Aside from having non-stop errands these last few days, I have also been testing recipes with the owner of the new bakery in town. She has really been appreciative of my help and has made several of the recipes I gave her to sell in her shop. I went in yesterday to give her some more samples of some goodies I made, and low and behold, my cookies where there on the shelf for sell. It has been very rewarding doing this, and at the same time has kept me away from the computer. It's good though. We all need to find the balance that works for us, even if it means getting on the computer once a week, or even once a month.

    We all acknowledge that you should feel no guilt for living life, and that is an inspiration for all of us to go live our life in a more productive manner. How this balances out on your forum/blog will be what works for the "community" that is there on a regular basis. For the regulars, we will all know and understand that how it functions is the result of technology fitting into our lives as a community, according to our standards, instead of technology dictating our lives. You're doing a great job discovering that balance.

  11. Thnk you, for your work. I never leave your page without feeling envigorated and challenged to do better within my own little world.

  12. PL-thank you so much, you are also much appreciated. I am so proud of you for helping out your local bakery. And, you are getting no money for your trouble, but you are getting involved in your community and helping another. That is a payment many cannot understand today. And, in the end, as she makes her business grow you may, as you mentioned, find that you can bake for her from home for pin money. What a great inspiration this is for all of us. I am proud of our community and how we all truly teach and learn from one another. Good Job ALL of us!
    If we can come to see the computer as a tool, such as a typewriter, a research tool, a file system, a shelf of cookbooks and homemakers journals, then we can USE it accordingly and not feel USED by it. Of coure, we can still use it for entertainment, but again perspective and moderation. Our lives can be richer for its being a part of it, as long as it is not ALL of it, right?! I think we all are becoming rather good at that balance and really the computer can be such a wonderful tool to aide us in our ACTION and living our LIVES.

  13. Su-Thank you so much. It is just such a thought that does help me to 'get on with my work here', so we can continue to grow and learn as a virtual community.

  14. Well said, 50sgal!

    Things don't have to feel like "work" unless a person chooses to see it that way. The mind is the most powerful thing we possess and it saddens me to think about how many minds are being wasted by my generation and the one below me.

  15. Rachel-so true and I think many people who want to really try to do their 'hobbies' more intently, often waste a lot of time rather than just forcing themselves to 'work' at it. If you want to be an author or a cook, for example, and train yourself you really have to discipline yourself to DO IT everyday. And, what I have found, is after this, even on the days that it is a 'struggle' to get to it, you end up happy that you have done it and improve along the way. It is just the modern world has SO many distractions, things we never had to distract us in the 1950's, so it is harder to fight the temptation, but it is doable. This way we are able to enjoy the technology and use it to our benefit and still be productive. It can be a hard balance, and I know I struggle with it some days. It was funny that now I find the 'distractions' the thing that is hard to get to.

  16. Hi! I just discovered your blog thanks to Rue's Peanut Butter and Jelly Life. I love the 50's. It is one of my favorite decades. I wasn't born yet, but I love the appearance of everything being so simple in the 50's. I am one of your followers now. I will be back for another visit. If you get a chance, check out my blog. I would love to have you!


  17. loved your honest post.

    i suppose your days off were a bit like
    taking a couple days off from a job you
    really like.

    you still needed the break and even came
    back with a lot to say!


 Search The Apron Revolution