Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Happy New Year!

Ok, so it is the 4th.  I am old, slow, and have been under the weather.  I digress.

In my youth (I am a Boomer), I used to make resolutions and eat black eyed peas every December 31 until a couple of things happened.  I realized that by Jan. 2 I couldn't even remember the resolutions and instead of saying "oh, I'll start tomorrow" it turned into "I'll start next year".  It didn't take long to realize that there were some things I was NEVER going to start -- anytime.  So, over the course of the years, I sort of dropped the resolution exercise.  For a long time, I didn't do anything, until this year.

This year I decided to do something new, a re-evaluation of sorts.  I am looking at things I do, think, feel and want and trying to figure out if I am doing the best thing, thinking things through, taking a second look at my feelings and trying to decide if the things I want are logical, necessary or just plain indulgent.  This little thought process is telling me quite a bit about myself.

I guess I have been a bit nostalgic lately -- blame it on my age or the Christmas season but I have been thinking about my life growing up and how it has changed and wondering if it is really that much better or just different.

I grew up in post-World War 2 housing as evidenced in the photos below.  Our neighborhood was made up of little two or three bedroom houses, none much over 1000 square feet, one bathroom and huge yards so the homeowners could obviously make additions to the house as they inevitably outgrew it.  Each house was white asbestos shingles with a colored roof and colored shutters or trim of some sort.  Mine was white with a blue roof and blue shutters.  JLSHall's was white with a green roof and a bit of heathered green asbestos shingles around the kitchen window which faced the street .  They all had one bathroom tiled in some sort of awkward color combination that generally matched the ceramic tile in the kitchen.  These houses were very sturdy, strong and unbelievably plain -- except for the faceted glass interior doorknobs that I still love. 

I no longer live in post war housing, although the houses in these photos still stand and are still being lived in.  I now live in a "European style" home, current construction with a small yard.  It is wired for every conceivable electronic feature, it is tight with double paned everything and everything is color coordinated with a nice, warm earth tone -- everywhere.  It is low maintenance, Swiffer friendly with solid floors and washable surfaces everywhere.  Happy?  Sure but there are days when I really miss that little blue and white house with the blue and white kitchen and the blue and white bathroom and the little gas heater in the bathroom wall.  I miss that yard that seemed to go on forever, sprouting dandelions and the occasional bluebonnet every spring. I miss the screen doors that were latched high enough for little girls to be unable to reach. And I miss those class doorknobs.

I guess all this tripping down memory lane has sort of brought me in touch with why I feel like I do about things.  I have now become my mother (or my Aunt Velma -- depending on the day and circumstance).  Looking at the old photos and thinking about my life then and now I have come to realize that I am getting old.  Things today seem so superficial and without meaning.  That little blue house was home -- it shielded me from the weather, it held memories of birthday parties, great Christmas's, it was my refuge through illness -- it was my safe haven. It was always there, always strong and I think today people are too transient, both physically and emotionally, and don't seem to cling to past to help them get through today -- no safe haven.  In this respect I am glad I am getting old.  I am glad I grew up in a time and place that the values and standards were different. I think I learned a lot by living during the time when people were thankful they survived a war, the "boys" came home, and they considered themselves fortunate to have a roof over their heads and a place they could build a family with strength and memories --happy times to get them through the rough times of life which we all have.  They didn't worry that the bathroom tile was an awkward color combo, they were just glad to have one.

Could I go back to that sort of life? You betcha and I have thought many times if our life would be more relaxed if we did -- no HOA to control what we put in our back yard, no gate to hide behind -- but it would only be in my mind because the world has changed and I have obviously not changed with it.  I am idealistic and will probably always be that way.  The way I view things today is obviously a throw back from a previous generation, an older generation when things were different.  This is why I aggravate the young women in my life -- I view things from a different perspective.  I don't know how to remedy that and don't really know that I care to try -- in 30 years they will be sitting in my seat annoying the young women in their lives -- I think it is a rite of passage.  So, after that lengthy rant, I have come to the conclusion that I will not try to be part of the young generation today -- I am ok with getting older -- thankful that I am here to get older and I will enjoy watching these young people muddle through like we did and learn on their own.  I will make an effort to not "share" so much but I will not try to change myself or my experience to please others.  If I am ok with me then that is good enough.

Another thing I am trying to do is take a closer look at the things I do.  This sort of goes along with the acceptance of my generation because I don't think everything we did is of no use today and I don't think that today's ways are necessarily the best.  I have found that I am returning to the "old" ways of doing things like using more natural products for cleaning.  I am not fond of chemicals in any form and I am trying to make my home more like the one I grew up in.  I have started using, in earnest, more natural products.  For one, 
I am really liking Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent.

I have made soft scrub from friend Alicia's recipe.  This scrub uses baking soda, castile soap and glycerin.  So easy and the consistency is so nice.

Our HOA won't allow us to have a clothes line and with all the pollen flying around most of the year that drives me crazy, an outdoor clothes line is not possible.  However, I am looking at an indoor drying rack which I think would work nicely for some things.

I mean, do I really need to waste energy on drying cup/kitchen towels?  I really think I could be less wasteful in the energy department even though I use energy efficient appliances.  I don't know how the cat would feel about sharing his laundry room space with one of these -- who knows WHAT HE MIGHT DO -- but I think it is worth a try.

Another area that I am taking a close look at is my time.  I have much I want to do -- a bucket list of sorts -- and many days I head to bed wondering why I haven't done much of what I wanted or needed to and trying to make an accounting of where my time has gone.  I have come to the conclusion that I have given too much of my time over to the Demon TV.  We have VOD, DVR, premium channels, netflix that we can get instantly over the Wii and we still can find nothing much to watch (except for the ever present football) and yet we keep the thing running non-stop just for the noise.  So, I decided to tackle the demon head on and turn it off.  I want to read and sew and do needlework --not just sit blindly getting a wider behind and farther behind  so I bought myself a little internet radio and turn it on for all the news/talk/music that the world has to offer.  And, I can listen to it as I do other things.  Cute, isn't it?

The next thing that I am thinking about is "things". Anybody who knows me well knows that I am an electronics junkie.  It started when I got my first computer.  Now, don't get me wrong, I don't know how to really DO anything with all these electronics but I love the concepts.  I use my computer for many other things than email although banking online has not caught on, and probably never will, in our house.  I love to read blogs and I like blogging although I don't have too many followers and I never have much to say.  I like GPS systems, digital cameras, little video cameras, smart phones -- everything that gets me on the "information highway".  I don't possess all these items but I love them like they are my own.  So, I will be honest, my next secret desire, to be "outted" here, is an ipad.

  I don't know why I want one.  I wouldn't get the 3G one because I don't really want another data plan to worry about.  I would have to buy a Windows computer to make it work.  It is something else to hand to the hubby to fix when it quits working or glitches.  Why do I want this thing?  I have a nook, named Tinklepaw, that I have a love/hate relationship with (back to the old school concept of books -- actual paper smashed between two covers) so what is it that intrigues me about this thing.  I have no clue.  I keep  denying the desire.  I keep talking myself out of it and probably will again but it keeps cropping up.  Do I need this "thing".  No.  Will it make me do anything better or more efficiently?  No.  Will it make me money? Uh, decidedly not.  Will it make me a better person?  Can't see how.  So, how will this latest obsession pan out? I don't know -- the year is young.

So, as you can see from my little rant here, I am not making resolutions.  My New Year's Re-evaluation is going to be an ongoing thing throughout the year.  I will try to share my new ideas here, what works well, what doesn't (i.e. cat with drying rack).  I think it will be an interesting year.  Oh, I feel a little like Ed Begley --- that can't be good!

Happy New Year from Melissa who is beginning to feel like an old hippie -- maybe I should sew a peasant skirt? Oh, about the black-eyed peas -- the last year we had them my mother didn't want to mess with it but my Aunt Linnie said we had to have them -- good luck and all.  Well, we had them and our house burned down.  We never had them again.  Ever.