Saturday, June 19, 2010

19 June 1956 “Fishing in Time’s River and Esthetics: How Much are they Part of Time?”

Today I have thought of Thoreau’s words:
“Time is but the stream I go fishing in. I drink at it, but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. It’s thin current slides away, but eternity remains.”
Certainly the meaning for me may be different than what he had in mind, but the overall affect of not being to concerned about the past and present actually does seem to be relevant to me. Odd, that I should say such a thing when you think how much the past has come to me, but I don’t think I am truly ‘trapped’ there. Rather the opposite, really, for having set myself the task of being ‘trapped’ in a year in the past, my whole Future and perception of my Present has opened up and changed. By treating Time like a river into which I can toss my line, as it were, and snag out fish of interest has allowed me a perspective that puts me on the banks of time. I can watch it rush by me or look down and see the source of the stream or toward the horizon and peer into what rapids or turns in the river might lie ahead. I even sometimes feel I have fashioned a raft and Huckleberry Finned my way about wondering at the way things are today. Rather they are right or wrong, much as Finn did with his good friend Joe and what was to happen to him when they touched shore, I happily cast my line and only reel in and keep that which I choose.
I know this month has seen me very little up0n this screen. Time, too, has such an elastic quality when one can immerse themselves in the home. It makes me realize the 50’s housewife probably didn’t quite understand her hippy daughter away at college explaining to her how she was ‘wasting her time’ and ‘letting her youth get taken away’. When one is ‘at home’, as I am, and is filled both with the work of it (and it is work) but also reveling in the very creative joy of nesting and gardening, sewing and creating, it can be a timeless place. I am sure the old homemakers of yore never felt their time was a wasted endeavor (those who did not feel trapped by it of course, if one is called to be a doctor or lawyer, then by all means go free) when they had enjoyed themselves along the way.
I think today modern people tend to measure their ‘success’ or how far they have come by how much they have accumulated. I think I once heard, “whomever has the most toys at the end, wins” not a surprising mantra in our age of materialism and consumerism. But, really, when one measure life and its accomplishments in the moment, you can see how silly this incessant drive to have things can be. If I am blissful as I prepare a meal, try out a new recipe, feel accomplished in the arrangement of the table and meal I have prepared, even if only my hubby and I see it, is it less valid? When one can learn to measure their happiness, contentment and joy in the moment ( and that includes reveling in your moments prepared by you earlier, such as breaking the seal on that jam you set last fall) this anxious rush to buy and need goes away. Why shout at the shop girl because they don’t have your new gizmo. Why feel the need to keep going out and buying the next cell phone, the new i-Pad, every new thing, just tossing aside what you have replaced it with. We can be like big children so interested in the next toy, we just let drop our beloved toy of only moments ago. But, we are not children, we are (or are suppose to be) adults.
So, my excuse, if I am indeed making one, is that I have found my moments strung together like lovely little pearls and I have not wanted to break their pattern for then they might fall to the floor. But, I must also remember to stop and share with all of you as well.
My garden is growing rather nicely. I sprayed by grapes and hopefully they will make it, if not then next year I will be prepared for the bugs. The garden is such a good lesson in patience and our need to prepare and wait. Another reason, that as we have moved away from the land and the garden, it is natural that we should be so impatient. When our food is frozen and nuked in minutes, who understands patience?
My chickens are growing rather large. They have moved to their intermediary pen, as I finish up their final home. We have one very friendly little pullet (future hen) we call Buttons ( as she is intent on removing any button on your clothing when you hold her) and she always manages to get out. But, I don’t worry, because she is so tame, she merely lets herself out and then wanders the yard as I am gardening or working on my construction. My dogs, of course, love her and when my Italian Greyhound gets too feisty, buttons merely turns and pecks, as if to say, “To me, you are just one big button to be removed” and then continues on her way, scratching and eating slugs and bugs.
I think I will leave you with these pictures of what is considered the latest in beautiful for bathrooms. Then, lets ponder, how much of our personal esthetic is simply derivative of the time in which we live. Are we So connected to our media and advertising that our very desires for what we consider ‘beautiful’ today really just the dictates of the latest magazines, tv shows, internet? Even those of us who are now incessantly trying to recreate a vintage home, is that a new to buy up and own a time we respect? It is the simple solution that we are used to? We have so much at our fingertips and so much or our life is instantaneous, do we think we can buy up the honor and respect of a time gone by through acquisition? I don’t know, I have struggled with this thought’s as I have had my own esthetics thrown about these past two years. I find my style or desire change and then I look at some older modern magazines I like with interiors ( as an experiment) and soon found my tastes returning again. It is interesting to ponder, none-the-less.
And I am not placing any value judgment on it, right or wrong, but it does become interesting when you begin to dissect ‘why you like this or that style’.  It does seem to have greatly influenced our 1950’s counterparts, as many of the bathrooms I see in magazines look like the Before in a modern magazine today. Do we really find these ugly? Do we simply change our tastes, supposedly a core element in ‘who we are’ by the subconscious accumulation of information that we are bombarded with in the modern age? What do you think? Is your esthetic from your parents? Your teachers? Someone you admire or a great house you love? Or do you know really know why you gravitate toward one thing or another. Interesting to think about.
bathroom1 bathroom2 bathroom3 I thought I would throw in two living rooms as well for us to consider why we might find it ugly or not.  The second has a much more current modern feel due to its technique of keeping to almost two colors with only white accents. livingroom1  livingroom
Until next time, Happy Homemaking.


  1. One thing to keep in mind:

    One day, "today" will be the "good old days of yesteryear". ;)

  2. I know, but for me I wonder how odd that shall be, for I may not be remembering the same 'good ole days' as my peers. Odd, indeed.

  3. You know, we have the exact same tile as in the first bathroom picture, because we it was in good shape and we were trying to save money when renovating. It still looks nice, with bright white paint and wood furnishings.

    My theory is, you form your tastes in early teenagerhood. I was 13 in 1962. I still like narrow ties and porkpie hats and the Rat Pack. I thought when we grew up we'd all hang out in Vegas and drive sports cars.

  4. I used to think there was a specific time in which we gain our likes etc, but as I said, after last year, my idea of what I like became suspect. I began to look at ads I would have thought, "Oh, yech, how horrid" and think, "Hmm, that might be nice" So, for me, it began to seem that my esthetics, the very core of what impels me to like or want certain things, was easily changed in a few months! Maybe I am just wishy washy!

  5. We have just purchased a modest home built in 1946. It seems to have had only one owner and the inside is like stepping into a time machine. I don't want to change the core of it...I want to honor the man and woman that called this home for so many years. It will be a bit of a battle to keep its integrity and yet make it functional for today. I am not fond of the colors used, but the simplicity draws me to each aspect of it.

  6. A person's taste can change over time... people always like to see things that are "new" to them, whether its vintage or contemporary.

    It depends on what influences we allow ourselves to be opened-up or shut-off to. It depends on when in your life, and the kind of person you are. If you're able to be more imaginitive than "average," if you have a better understanding of the past, the more freely you can move around in period tastes and just follow your own set of values.

    I'm just not the type who's rested my ideals in following along with the cool kids in class, simply to be acceptable by them. I'm quite happy with alternate influences. In a way I suppose it allows me to express my own self more freely.

    Or am I taking this topic just waaay to seriously??? Oh well, that's just the way I see it *shrug* Thanks 50sGal ;)

  7. Those rooms are lovely. It's amazing how fickle we are, and how little we think for ourselves. We think rooms like that are beautiful until the media tell us that they are ugly, and then we think they are ugly. I'm frequently teased for some of the older stuff I have laying around, and I say, "But back then, you yourself thought it was beautiful!" "Well, I was stupid!" is the reply. When will we think for ourselves?

  8. P.S.: My comments have been hijacked, so if you receive a cruel or nasty comment from "me," please know that it is not me and delete it. Thanks.

  9. I think much of the past's decorating is seen as "old" (and therefore outdated) now is also a result of what's left being in bad shape. The influence of advertising is certainly a factor but I've seen so many older homes that are clearly from a specific time period but are in stellar condition. These look clean and crisp- move in ready. Those from the same period with cracked tile, moldy grout, cracked mirrors, leaky faucets etc are just old and are "screaming for a renovation."


  10. Thanks for the post 50sgal. It's always lovely to see a new article from you! It's funny you should mention about 'acquistion' and our seeming endless need to buy, buy... I have been enjoying some minimalist blogs lately (which each live a different definition of minimalist because all families are different) but there's so many 'things' we don't need in our lives. It's very liberating to keep things simple.

    I guess everyone's has alternate ideas but I think I am influenced by 'something' because my tastes do change. (In furniture, clothing, colours etc). So maybe I'm fickle or secretly being persuaded to change my likes. I do find though what I had previously loved, I still enjoy, just that I like something else as well. So my sphere of beauty appreciation is enlarged. (Also I may not choose some 'style' for myself, but I can understand how someone else could. I can admire many, many things.) I hope this makes some sense. Linda

  11. Linda-It does make sense, and it is true that while I have begun to have a very new appreciation for mid century modern I have not lost my love of antiques. Perhaps, as I move through this turbulent year (so much more so emotionally than the simplicity of bumbling my way through 1955)I am trying to not only redefine my own core beliefs about the world, consumerism but also my taste. Though I live in a 300 year old house, perhaps I need to let my Early Antique pieces share the limelight with mid century lamps and an occasional chair. It may simply be a part of the metamorphosis in which I have been ingaged since last Jan 1955, who knows.

  12. I know I have very definite ideas about what I like, I'm not always exactly sure what that is! If you asked me to describe my taste I really couldn't but I can tell you instantly if I like something. I tend to like lighter woods and simple lines and strong colors yet I've also seen interiors that don't feature any of those elements that I really love. I'm not particularly influenced by trends, there are stores that I love one season and will barely set foot in the next.

    I know I don't like the green bathroom, my mother's bathroom is like that and I've considered it ugly since the day she decorated it. The yellow one on the other hand is very cool. My bathroom is somewhat similar but a bit more fun, a brighter yellow with fish on the walls and shower curtain. It's not a question of time for me, there are colonial looks I love and sleek modern looks I love and everything in between.

  13. I've definitely been influenced by my mom's taste in decorating and we agree on a lot. But we do have our differences.

    I was an early teen in the early to mid 90's. Can't say anything about that decade really stuck with me as something that I like.

    I'm drawn most to late Victorian styles. Furniture shapes, color palettes, the rich dark woods, Queen Anne houses with painted lady color schemes. The simple richness is so very appealing to me. I've been drawn to those sorts of things all my life.

    Nearly anything that's considered modern or contemporary is generally a turn-off to me. I don't like minimalist or spartan or clean lines. Give me curves and cameo-back sofas and Queen Anne chairs! Give me beauty and craftsmanship and the obvious impression that the artisan cared about his work and put his very best in to it. I am just fascinated by the legs and feet of 19th century tables! All that carving...

    As I told a friend a couple weeks ago. I treasure my right to vote, but did we have to give up the morals and respect of earlier times to get it? When one takes pride in the things that they surround themselves with, it seems to me that they're a better person for it.

  14. If it's not too personal, maybe you could explore more your thoughts with the 'emotionally turbulent year' as mentioned in the above comment. We're interesting and complex creatures with many, many facets.

    Because of your natural artistic ability in making settings look inviting, I think any period of furniture you mixed would look lovely, giving your home much warmth and character. You have a creative gift.

    Thanks for all you do 50sgal. Linda

  15. Linda-I shall, indeed. Never sure what is 'interesting' to my readers, so I need to keep a mix of good recipes and tips as well as rants and idle thoughts, I suppose. I shall try.

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