Thursday, April 29, 2010

29 April 1956 “My Place in the World”

I seemed to have lost my steam for the rant. I think, perhaps, the joy of Spring has wiped some of the indignation from my mind. This, of course, makes me realize how easily we, as a people, are swayed. Give us some diversion, wave a trinket and we are the cooing satiated baby.

I will find myself now teetering on the edge of sad and angry reaction to our over manufactured world of consumerism and the quiet reclusive escape of my solitary life. So often I find I want to just turn my back completely and slip into the ‘past’ and go on as if the modern world isn’t really there. For me it is rather easy, being at home and being rather unplugged. But, again, I will feel that pull and anxiousness of the reality of our world.

Hubby recently read ‘The Story Of Stuff’ by the same woman who had made the video I shared with you. She spent over 10 years literally traveling all over the world to the factories and villages etc that are impacted by globalized industry. She at one point was a member of Green Peace but found their politics to almost be so self-involved and more concerned with the whale than the human. Not that she did not care about the plight of the animals, but that our own plight, the human animal, was as sad. It again made me realize how everything is just so packaged for our delusion to keep quiet. How easy it is to simply say, “I am outraged by animal cruelty” because it is the popular thing and then to still do and live in the modern world in a way that continues to hurt the environment, the animals, and the human animal.

Diversion. The implied or presented diversion of mass produced culture that has us care for or hate or love or loathe whatever it is at the moment whose direct and exact response is through shopping and spending money. Even in our desire to help: we  donate money. It makes us feel good, or so we are taught. Here is $20 for PETA now I will go buy more plastic items, throw out my water bottles and sit in my car waiting for my child, friend while I burn up the gas/petrol. I will buy this pleather product to not wear leather as I support the petroleum consumption.

Hubby told me how much petrol it takes to make an aluminum can. We are not told this, of course and I think of how many aluminum cans are made and used just in our country alone. I will have to ask for the exact number from him, but to make one can it takes a certain number of gallons. So, even if we drive less, just drinking from an aluminum beer or soda can is contributing to the use of the natural resource.

There was a sad statistic in that the amount of ore’s and natural mining that has to take place to make our electronics is amazing and because the areas these things come from are often small warring republics, actual life is lost. During the launch time of the Play Station II there was an actual coup where in a village was literally stormed and yes people raped and killed (things we seem to think stopped after WWII) in order to control the ground rights to mine something that goes into the chip to make the game. Actual people had to die and suffer at the hands of real guns so that over fed bored children could shoot aliens!

So, the more my eyes are opened, the more I curl into my little protective shell. But, honestly, I don’t know how true even that shell is.

The increasing digitization of our world both fascinates and repels me. The digital book/information (to which I am currently contributing) is both interesting but also rather scary. When more media is simply available for our hand held i-pads (the type of product, I believe, which will be the next cell phone. Right now it is new in three years we will say, “how would I live without my digi-pad?). Are entire markets and jobs and industries to fall with this? That is part of Capitalism, in that you simply lose entire area’s of business to the new thing, the survival of the fittest. It is probably they closest monetary model to our actual animal base instincts out there. But, what does that mean for our country?

So, I hate to only be a peddler of doom. I don’t want to only focus on the bad, but it is hard. And when I slide more into the contentment of a time gone by, am I turning my back on my fellow man? What matter it, if I use less and spend less in the over all scheme. Is my need towards self-sufficiency just my own reaction to the current trend? Is it MY keys to be rattled before my crying face to settle me down and placate me? I don’t know, really.

So, I find myself in moments of blissful happiness as I continue to learn and do more for myself and use less. It is odd that my personal ratio of happiness seems to increase with the decrease of things and buying. I used to believe or was lead to believe it was the other. “You deserve it” was often the mantra I or others would say while standing in the long lines waiting to buy another decorative useless item, a Chinese remake of something that might have had real value in its original state. You deserve that video game, that new computer, that new phone, those pre packaged meals and treats.  And with every purchase, the initial high and then the eventual crash as you came home to your cluttered house and wondered, ‘Now, where will I put this’ only to often leave it in the bag and put it in a closet.

Even my old approach to gardening was more spendthrift. I found it easier to just buy the plants in an already well established state. The cost is easily 10 times what it is to start from seed, but instant gratification was the word du jours. Now, with my few dollars worth of seed packets, I have had so much actual joy and accomplishment from simply sewing seeds in soil and caring for them and watching them grow. Again, that imaginary graph in my head showing the increase of happiness with the decrease in spending or over stimulating myself.

Well, what have I learned? Where is the silver lining? What is the RIGHT thing to do? Honestly, I don’t know. Is it a balance of self responsibility and self-preservation of mind? That seems to be my own reaction. Not having children also makes it easier for me to slip into a world of my own making. Is that good or bad or also self-indulgent? I honestly don’t know anymore.

I am sorry if this post seems rambling or even rather sad, but the pure anger of righteousness seems to have ebbed to a sort of numb realization of the modern world and my own helplessness against it. I may have felt St. George to the Dragon, but now I wonder if I simply drop my sword, hide behind my shield to stop the occasional fiery breath of the beast, but lose my will and power to wield the sword to bring him down.

The more I slip into the feel and need for the sanctity of the past, at least my own idealized version thereof, the further back I often daydream of going. I would not want to give up the advances in medicine we have, by why do we have to have the good be so wrapped up in the over all bad? Are they mutually exclusive? I don’t know.

I was poking about in my barn building this past week, trying to organize and collect up all my ‘stuff’ to have  a large yard sale this summer. To cleanse myself of all that I don’t need nor want and to simplify my life so I can focus on creating without the connection of buying. In so doing I found this little drawing I did when still living in the city. I love pen and ink. I have always loved the 19th century and even as a small child would copy out or get my inspiration from the old engravings and etchings of old books.

mermaidkids These characters were simply odd mermaid-children I had invented one day. I had found them in a box of my city studio items packed away. I had forgot the simple moment in time when I put pen to paper and let my imagination just go. In my mind I wrote out a story of these children and an adventure, very 19th century adventure. I had intended to make them into a children’s book. But, again, my point of reference is all nannies and nursemaids, adventures in crowded 19th century cities, ladies who leave calling cards. How relevant is it today? So, I ask you, in my own simple and pure joy unfettered by what I ‘should do’ or how I ‘should be feeling’, could it result in something that could and would be a contribution to the world? Are aimless scribbling for my own purpose relevant, or do their need to be admired or even purchased by people at large give them value? Am I such a product of my modern world that true value really only exist in the item or idea’s direct value in dollars? Or, is that merely a way of showing you what you have to say or draw does matter because others would wish to give up their money for it? Yet, we are all so quick to give up our money we all are always looking for ways of spending it, does even that equation of money for goods=relevance or value also become devalued? Have we lost the idea of real value? What is our own place in the modern world?

All I know is I don’t want to allow myself to completely lose touch with the modern world but what is my own relevance in it?

Well, this was rather an odd and pointless post, but I felt the need to share. Having all of you (those of you who have found my bizarre enough to follow along on this odd journey) has made my friend base more interesting. There is a bit of the old ‘imaginary friend’ in all of you. I have not created you, but am so happy to have all of you. And, of course, there is that bit of magic in having ones ‘invisible friends’ come to life and talk with you. Rather scolding or praising or merely coming along for the ride, it is a fine and good thing. It is one of the best bits of the modern world, for me. Thank you for listening to my nonsensical ramblings.

As always, happy homemaking and enjoy the Spring! It is all too fleeting.


  1. You said a lot in this post and I agree with it all. I have not unplugged as you have, but feel the same pull to live a simple life that does not require me to buy, buy, buy. I don't agree with the idea that to move a country forward it all depends on consumerism. Why do we need 80 different kinds of breakfast cereal? Soda? Laundry soap? I love reusing old things, getting hand-me-downs, and growing my vegetables from seeds. Cyber-soul sister...nice to meet you.

  2. I couldn't agree more with your post. Although I work outside the home, I find myself, more & more, pulling into the shell of home and family once I leave my job.

    The chaos one finds in a mall or a big box store, reflects the sort of lives being led in our modern world. I know the past had MAJOR issues, like racism, and diseases that we can now treat, but in general, daily life had so much more to offer than a day spent between computers at work, and TV at home.

  3. Oh, 50sgal, you've said what I've been feeling for a long time, as you already know. I'm probably not the best person to get input on this as I feel the same way much of the time. All I can say is, just because we are in the world does not mean we need to be a direct part of it. There are many people in this world who are not in direct contact with me, yet the choices they make impact me. So, the choices you make, whether you are directly in contact with others, or not, does affect all, even if you are simply NOT adding to/or being a part of the sum of the negative aspects of modern culture. Not doing "some things"...THAT is doing something positive. Thank you for not adding more selfishness and greed to the pot!

  4. For one time I'll write a short comment: I'm not Christian, I don't have a religion, don't believe in a god of any kind but I want to quote Mother Theresa because it sounds so appropriate to you post :
    "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."


    — Mother Teresa

  5. "I know the past had MAJOR issues, like racism, and diseases that we can now treat, but in general, daily life had so much more to offer than a day spent between computers at work, and TV at home."

    Su, this is exactly the difference I see. Every age had its problems, so we're not arguing through the "rose colored glasses" that some people like to say that we obviously must be looking through if we complain about some aspects of the current ways of living. The more technology has increased, the less active living people do, which we know is not good on so many levels. Science has proven the negative effects of too much tv/computer/video games on our minds, not to mention our bodies from the sedentary lifestyle, yet not too many people seem to be willing to make major changes to improve the quality of their life, or their family's life. I just heard the other day that the current average time that a child spends on the tv/computer/video games is 7 hours a day! That's obviously not better than playing, riding bikes, and spending time with family. It's just all so sad to me when I stop and think about what is being lost...what good things are being replaced by inferior things, yet the majority of people seem to be okay with it for some reason. For myself, I don't want to trade the good things in my life for inferior things; it just doesn't make sense.

    Also, another sad thing is the loss of common courtesy and being respectful of a person and their property/belongings, which can go a long way in preventing so much of the nastiness, greed, selfishness, etc. that seems to be the norm these days. With simple courtesy/respect lacking in the day to day life of the common man, we all lose so much.

  6. Exactly, Eef! Great quote.

  7. Good Morning,

    Your blog post really touched me today. I like Eef's quote of Mother Theresa above:
    "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."

    Your blog has certainly made an impact on how I choose to live my life in a very positive way. I think we can do more than we realize by each doing our small part to decrease our impact on the planet. Who knows how many people might think differently about something by visiting my home or by a conversation we might have had together? I have to believe that the small things I do each day will make a difference - otherwise what is the point?

    Michelle in Canada

  8. You have all made me feel much better about that aspect of the 'stone making ripples'. I do see that, though I may not be able to affect one large change myself, through or discourse and discussion, we do indeed make those ripples. Great comments today.

  9. Please don't think that what you are (or aren't) doing isn't is! The sheer number of followers of this blog is proof of that. A small handful of the same people comment every time, but think of everyone you are impacting as the others who don't comment lurk. You'll never know if even just one of these silent friends changes their ways, all because of you, but you can probably bet it's likely. I know I certainly have been influenced and motivated by your words, and the resources you've shared (like the video of The Future of Food) to take a better look at my environment and behaviors because of this blog. I personnally am very, very glad you're doing what you're doing!

    Will it change the world? Not in a cataclysmic way but like someone else's all about the small ripples. Times they are a-changin' can feel it. Because of your blog, sure, but others out there are beginning to have the veil lifted as well and tune into what they used to scoff at as being for crunchy tree huggin' hippies. Sure, the current trendy buzzwords being thrown around right now are words like green, self-sufficient, sustainable, buy local, etc, and sure, some people are plugging into this "movement" because they just want to be trendy like everyone else.

    But.....BUT! Many aren't in it for the trend factor. Many truly are seeing how important this all is in the long run and when the trend dies down and the masses move on to the next big cause to associate themselves with, many will keep on keepin' on with what is being started right now. It will take time for this kind of awareness to infiltrate into the collective consciousness of the masses and no longer be a "trend", but no change that massive takes place overnight. As more attention is being drawn to these problems and the more information gets distributed by means of the internet via blogs, youtube, etc., the more people will start to sit up and take notice.

    I share your frustration with not wanting to get too out of touch with the modern world, but not wanting to be too much of an active member either. I don't want to be so out of touch with the times that I become like my mother....technologically stuck in the 60's and unable to do things for herself like pump her own gas (she refuses to learn how to use the credit card thingy) or watch a movie without my dad being there because she doesn't know how (refuses to learn) to run the vcr and dvd player. We don't have a cell phone, ipod, laptop, tivo or dvr, and we don't really want them, but we're starting to feel the pressure to get them for fear of becoming too ignorant of the new technology. Hubby is even contemplating the merits of kindles (something I never thought would happen). But, while one could question whether or not all of this is "progress,", progress has always happened since the dawn of time and won't stop. And yes, the good will always be wrapped up in the bad, that's just how the civilized world has existed for thousands of's not a new phenomenon. :) Take what you like and need of it and discard the rest.

    You may question if your ink drawing and story of 19th century children are "relevant" today, but let me ask you this....why shouldn't they be? No matter what happens in this world, there will always be a need for good storytelling and entertainment no matter the genre. As wrapped up in technology as today's children are, I think the need for stories that tell of a different era are especially important. I think there's a real craving there on the children's part, too....look how popular the Laura Ingalls Wilder books still are! I hope you do develop that story.

    Sorry for the blog within a blog... guess I'm just wordy today.

  10. Well, 50sgal...let me ask you this. Did the American revolution happen overnight or did it start with one or two people who were disgruntled, sharing with others? And then, those others shared further, until MANY people were will to do SOMETHIMG about it...

    Change always starts with a few. I know the world looks bleak sometimes, but you also need to look around at how many blogs are devoted to 'simple' living, or retro living. ALOT. And those people tell their friends, share with their followers, and in general pass the word. And so it continues.

  11. Gingerella-I love the blog in a blog. I think I miss that here, though I know we do much more of our conversations now on the Forum, I do miss our long-winded discussions here. Thank you for you words, they were much needed. I will develop the story.
    Lori B-Very true words, indeed. My only fear is would the American Revolution happened if that British had had tv/internet and a media group and pr people to keep us sated? I don't know. I sometimes worry the very elements of 'entertainment and media' we are plugged into are the ultimate in mass control. We are none of us starving eating potatoes in the street, so revolution is hard wrought. But, we are also all becoming more savvy WITH the tools of manipulation (computers and technology) so perhaps we really Do have a small, quiet, intelligent virtual/digital revolution beginning with this and other like minded blogs/sites. There can always be hope and thank you all for pointing it out to me. I usually try to find it, but sometimes we need someone else to point it out to us. Again, wonderful thing, community.

  12. Texas Accent In SydneyApril 30, 2010 at 1:13 AM

    50s Gal, in 1998, I was working at a pre-school in Hong Kong and our topic study for a term was the environment ... preparing, I read that it takes twenty times the energy to produce a new aluminum can as to recycle an old one ... twenty times! ... that got my attention and I've never forgotten it ... I organized a can drive, but back then I had to walk about ten minutes from home to get to a recycyling bin in a park ... it took a couple of years for where I lived, a thirty story tower, eight apartments per floor, in a sea of others like it to get a couple of recycling bins in the building basement ... but after reading that fact, I walked to recycle, then went to the basement to recycle ... now, in Sydney, the garbage men take away a huge bin's recycling every two weeks ... our little girl is growing up with two trash cans in the kitchen and automatically separates out aluminum, steel, glass, cardboard ... I thought of you just today in the grocery store, 50s Gal, and decided to stop buying juice boxes for my girl's lunch, paying for and throwing away so much packaging ... she can take milk or juice in her pretty little Thermos bottle ... I grew up with Kool-Aid in my Thermos, in "the olden days" before juice boxes ... I'm sure a 1955 housewife would wonder why I bought juice boxes when we have a nice Thermos ... and Caroline Ingalls would be shocked at disposable food packaging.

  13. Texas Accent In SydneyApril 30, 2010 at 1:18 AM

    What country was it that had riots and deaths over something for the chips for Play Station? ... what year did that happen? ... we don't have any of those games, although sometimes it feels like "everyone else does".

  14. Texas Accent-I will get the direct quote from hubby, but it was in the Congo. It was a very sad realization when he read it out. I was also sad to know that even when we all work hard to recycle, the amount of waste created by the companies creating the products in the first place is well over the amount recycled by individuals each year. Obviously, it is still better that we recycle than not, but as you decided, the only REAL solution is to not buy it in the first place. A simple decision like not buying the juice box but just putting juice in a reusable container seems to be the best choice. Especially when I think of all the wonderful vintage continers. I have quite a few vintage thermos that I collected once because I liked them and now I use them. Another example of the 'problem=buy something' is now there is some new mention of aluminum containers to keep water in, which is fine, but why go buy some new thing when you can use what you have or else go buy an already made old container. Aluminum, as I said with the mining of the cans, is actually pretty bad. I was glad to hear aluminium was 100% recyclable, but that doesn't seem to matter in the long run as they are still making new and the energy expended to make that one can of soda sort of crosses out if we all suddenly were driving hybrids. That is why it does get to be frustrating and just plain scary sometimes. I will get the exact quote though.

  15. Tina (stuck between the centuries)April 30, 2010 at 6:05 AM

    I think that most people go through this soul searching on what is relevant and what is not. It is very difficult to change from how we were raised - by the TV. To buy buy buy. But much of our consumerism is a result from the needs of our 1950 people. They wanted more convenience, otherwise the TV dinner wouldn't have been as popular. It's now that we are seeing and living the backlash of what we made. I certainly know that I wouldn't be that thrilled to make food everyday on a fire like they did before stoves, nor would I want 15 children in 15 years. The best thing to do is find a balance for yourself. I have a long time illness that makes EVERYTHING more difficult to do and am glad that these modern things exist for people like me. But that doesn't keep me from realizing that there are consequences for new technology. We are living in a transitional world now. Things change so quickly. There are a lot of modern things that keep us healthier and living better than we could have 60 years ago. Especially for people with handicaps. Do what you love and gives you peace. That is a BIG contribution in the world as I don't know that many people who are at peace.

  16. Before I get started I just have to say that I adore your drawing. It is funny, because it looks like it would be something right out of my sketchbook, but in your lovely style! I too love pen and ink, the line the nib creates are so beautiful. I really need to get out my ink and work more in it!

    I agree with what all have said, you can really only do so much, but this blog affects more than you know. If you open the eyes of one or two people, you HAVE made a difference, and that is something to be proud of.

  17. Here is a link to an article about the congo/rawanda war because of the mining and then stealing of coltan used in making video game consoles as well as cell phones and computer parts. Literally, children died and women were raped because of the stealing of this mineral and children being sent down into the mines to mine it. Western mineral companies were tied with crooked rwandan government in stealing it. HERE is a link.

  18. 50sgal,

    We are very kindred in our thoughts. You wrote, “So, the more my eyes are opened, the more I curl into my little protective shell.” Both my dad and I have felt this way for a long long time. When I get home from work, I melt into me little world of home.

    You wrote, “The increasing digitization of our world both fascinates and repels me.” I, too, agree. I enjoy technology. On the other hand, will we one day have a world without books? I cannot even get an instructor’s book from the company we use. I was told that they are moving away from books and going all online. That is not okay. I get tired of relying on the computer for nearly everything and would like to actually hold a book and thumb through its pages from the comfort of my couch or desk.

    You wrote, “Not having children also makes it easier for me to slip into a world of my own making. Is that good or bad or also self-indulgent? I honestly don’t know anymore.” I assure you it is okay. Who says that the world we are given/forced into is fine? So, why not make our own little worlds…Worlds of happiness and self-sufficiency?

    You wrote, “All I know is I don’t want to allow myself to completely lose touch with the modern world but what is my own relevance in it?” Your relevance is as an example to me…to us…who must live in the modern world but get such a peace and inspiration in reading YOUR world!

    Have a beautiful, self-sufficient, and vintage weekend.

  19. You wrote: "Well, this was rather an odd and pointless post, but I felt the need to share."

    Don't we all have feelings like you in this post sometimes? I think it is very human.

    Listen to Eef - the Mother Teresa qoute is so great! :)

    Have a nice day, dear.

  20. I enjoy Mother Teresa's quotes. this is a sign in her children 's home in Calcutta
    People are unreasonable,illogical, and self-centered,
    Love Them Anyway
    If you do good people will accuse you of selfish,ulterior motives,
    Do Good Anyway
    If you are successful you win true and false enemies.
    Succeed Anyway
    The Good you do will be forgotten tomorrow.
    Do Good anyway
    Honesty and Frankness make you vulnerable.
    Be Honest and Frank Anyway
    What you spent years building may be destroyed overnight,
    Build Anyway
    People really need help but may attack you if you help them,
    Help People Anyway
    Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
    Give The World the Best You've Got Anyway

    If you are looking for a Rant one I am trying to wait and see on is the "B P" Spill What is the over all damage?

  21. Mass consumerism started right after WWll so it's a major part of the 50's.

    Is it bad? Depends on your perspective.

    As one person put it, there were a lot of NOT so great things in each decade gone by.

    I read an article written in a 1940
    newspaper about a woman pining for the "good old days of Los Angeles" (near where I live). Seems to ME the 40's were the "good old days."

    So, it's all a matter of perspective.

    My educational background is in the environmental sciences. After so many years I got turned off to the ever steady stream of "doom and gloom" about it. No, I do not want to hear a billion times how "mankind" is a big bad meanie. Mankind has done some awe-inspiring things too. Why focus on the bad?

    Also remember, there is MONEY to be made by promoting how BAD the environment is.

    When I learned of the Spotted Owl scam, I realized a lot of these "awful environmental" reports were just as bogus as the pro-development one's.

    So.... Since I have been there, done that, I finally came to the conclusion that each of us must CHOOSE to be happy. Inform yourself on BOTH sides of every debate or issue, and you will realize you need to come to your own happy way of life.


    Hope I wasn't offensive, but I speak from experience.

  22. P.S. I'm creating my own 1950's sanctuary in my home, I work at home, almost never go out, I support small businesses and buy "recycled" vintage from places like eBay and I don't care what my neighbors think of me. Mostly, I am happy as a clam.

    Be happy. The world is an amazing and wonderful place!

    Thank you for a thought-provoking post.

  23. I actually think this was a great post. You saved me from this silly mind game I've been playing with myself that I absolutely "need" a new purse the size of a tote bag. For months I've been looking for just the right one with a nagging background voice telling me "no you really don't need one". It's true, I don't. I have a few vintage handbags that I just love and what strikes me is there is no way they could carry the same amount of "stuff" that today's woman carries in her purse. Only the necessities fit in those.

    And to relate this to your post, thinking of all the electronics I carry ipod so I can listen to it at work, my personal cell phone, my work cell phone, several lipsticks, a very large wallet checkbook sized etc. It's all feeding into the more mentality. It's changed so much since simpler times.

    No new purse for me. In fact I'm going to downsize what I carry around.

  24. Just wanting to draw for your own pleasure does NOT make it less relevant. God gave you that talent and not using it would be a waste. Even if no one else ever sees it. I tell people I write fiction with the goal of being published someday, but I'll be just as happy if I never get published. It doesn't matter whether anyone reads it or not. I still have to write it. God gave me that talent to use.

    Since I live in Louisiana, the oil spill is something we're all watching very closely. It's hard to find a native, reasonable Gulf Coaster who's against offshore drilling. The revenues it provides are the backbone of the states' budgets. Not to mention all the jobs a new rig creates. And the number of species in the Gulf has gone *up* since drilling started and whales that have been absent there for 200 years have started moving back in. The dolphin population is no longer in decline. Why? They're attracted to the sounds that the rigs make! And the fish population explodes around the pipelines because of all the algae that grows on them.

    But you won't hear any of that reported by the opponents of drilling. They only focus on the few animals who die, and not on the hundreds of thousands who wouldn't be alive at all if it weren't for the rigs. And besides, they're really pretty at night!

    I think most people who still know how to use their brains have a love/hate relationship with technology. I wouldn't have met my two best friends without it, and I wouldn't have met my husband. The Internet and Facebook have allowed me to stay in touch with friends, and reconnect with ones I haven't seen in years. I wouldn't trade that for anything!

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