Monday, January 15, 2007

Simple Living is a Challange in Many Ways

My corner of the world is ice covered this morning. The car had at least 1/4 inch of ice on the windows which meant Emery had to spend a great deal of time cleaning it off before his trip into work today. Its such a blessing to know he doesn't have far to drive. So far this morning I have been unwilling to head out into the cold, but that will change soon I am sure. The wind this morning makes it feel like 7 degrees out.
The fire died down in the night. Buried under the comfort of our mountain of quilts and comforters we never noticed, that is until morning came and someone had to be the first one out of bed and coax the hot coals back to life. Its still too cold in the house to consider taking a shower this morning. Reminds me of how in the old days, baths were seasonal events. I can understand that today.
Today is laundry day and to be honest I am dreading it a bit, as the air is biting cold and the line is covered in ice. But at the same time there is something inside me that drives me to do such things along with a sense of excitement. It's like taking the opportunity to see how things felt, really felt during the old days. Maybe I want to see if I am made of the same stuff the early settlers were made of. See if I could manage and find success in the face of difficulties. Perhaps its a piece of my "Mt Everest" of life. But honestly, its more.....there is something difficult to explain about living life so non-dependant on the modern world that has people so bound. It's not freedom to loose the "how to's" that enable you to be independent if need be. It's not freedom to loose the ability to exist unless you have contraptions that do the work for you or that you have to go the store to purchase.
Freedom is more like being able to have those contraptions if you want them but still knowing how to live without them and living without being tied to stuff.
In California, when we lived there, the church we attended had a group called Pathfinders, much like scouts, and there was a honor badge for Bread baking. Melissa was excited to work on this badge since she had helped me make bread many times. We arrived at the church for the class, only to be greeted with a line of bread machines on the counter. They were going to learn how to run a bread machine and call that bread baking ! Now if you are handicapped and haven't the strength to make your own bread, then these things are wonderful. If perchance you spend money to go the gym to build strength, try kneading bread instead of lifting weights, cheaper and certainly productive !

Even within the "plain" churches changes are taking place. Some are becoming so "yuppified" it shocks me. Shopping in malls, having the most advanced cell phones, computers, and stuff. There is far less sewing, quilting, canning, gardening and farming being done.
Gone are the days of making your babies clothing needs and disposable diapering the norm. It is not uncommon to see head covered plain women in the mall shopping. It is now more common to dress their wee ones like the "world". Such a contrast to just 5 years ago. I understand that its not appearance that makes anyone righteous or have a direct ticket into Heaven, its just the thinking behind materialism has sunk more than one ship. Its easy to loose sight of compassion for others when you are so busy spending your money on things. Its easy to forget to build community when you are trying to keep up with someone else or impress another. Its too easy to forget that things never chase away the empty feeling we were trying to fill up.
Simplicity and modesty of living are disappearing. Bread machines, clothes dryers, and shopping for canned goods are all the norm. Even wine glasses grace the tables of some "plain" people. Yes, its used for juice but the point is they are TRYING to appear just like the world. . Why have wine glasses if you don't have wine. Homes are becoming show places instead of a place that states " we are building treasures in heaven". So many in the world wish they could live simple lives like the Amish and some Mennonites do, and the fact is anyone can live that way if they really want to. I just hope examples will always remain.
In many plain communities, farming has given way to small industries and those industries often do well financially, and lots of money can rob you of that joy of living simply if you loose sight of if. More and more, "things" become attractive and enticing and soon you can find a reason to justify most anything you want to buy.
Its sad. . From my stand point, folks moving along these lines stand to loose more than they will ever gain. Sort of "been there done that" experience speaking here.
All of this makes me look at my own life and want to run so far from being showy or owning much stuff. I know, its always easier to see the speck in another's eye and ignore the log in your own. But, if you can learn from what you see around you and begin to remove the log from your own eye, then I guess its a good thing. I see my own log and am working to get it out of there.
I am after all wanting the simple life and there are always ways for me to improve and to live with more conviction.

Fingerless gloves help keep your hands warm when hanging clothes in such cold weather, but your fingers do get mighty cold

The mornings wash, stiff as a cats whiskers on a cold night as it hangs on the frozen line with ice encrusted clothes pins


Anonymous said...

We are having a Colorado "heat wave" today, as it is 22 degrees! This morning, it was below zero. I hung some things on the line today, but I doubt they will dry. I am anxious for the snow to melt, and the temperatures to be above freezing, so I can get back to "basics".
I think I kneed some of those fingerless gloves!

Anonymous said...

Great photos. I was kinda wanting to take a few ice photos myself. But it may not happen which is just as well, cause we are off to MD Anderson in the am.


Anonymous said...

The "plain people" who live here have been changing their dress style over the past 5 years. Instead of the head scarf many are wearing a ribbon instead. The teenage girls seem to adore shopping and I see them wearing higher heels and shorter tighter skirts.
I don't know if it's just evolution or a break away group is forming but I find it fascinating.

Emily said...

We're having an ice storm today, too, Patty. I'm thankful to still have electricity as we have no alternatives to heating our home. Someday, Lord willing, we'll have a wood stove. I wanted to get out and take some pictures of the beauty of the ice on the trees and such, but dare not run the risk of slipping and injuring myself. Your pictures are just beautiful. You definitely have an artistic eye.

Patti said...

I wonder why when people disagree or question a post they feel the need to be anonymous? To me living simply is not whether or not you HAVE money but what you choose to DO with it. I personally think the part about the bread making class was a hoot! Also let us not forget that our early settler mothers mostly died by the age of 40 ;) Love your blog!!!!!!

Jacran Cottage said...

I've never felt I was being "preached to" and I love reading this blog every day, sometimes more than once a day. I get a great deal out of the things Patty writes about. Many times she speaks to something deep within me.

Maybe someone does have a lot of CDs, but over how many years have these been collected? Maybe someone does have a washing machine, but we don't know how old it is. Maybe someone does have nice furniture, but I know other people who have finally had the opporutnity to replace their old with new once the nest is empty and the children are well settled on their own. Maybe someone works hard, spends little, and saves well. Why should that be held against them? And why is it any of our business anyway? I know Italian families who give their children down payments on houses as wedding gifts. But what has it do to with us?

How Patty and Emery spend their money and their time is entirely up to them. How they live their lives is also entirely up to them. Patty choses to share with us the way she lives her life, and I am happy and grateful that she does. And yes it is a simple life, compared to many in the world, but maybe not to some. But it's not a competition.

If people don't like the things Patty writes in her blog. I don't understand why they bother to read it, or why they chose to negatively comment on it.

Patty, please keep doing what you do. You have many out there who appreciate the time and effort you put into this blog.

Jackie in ON

Patty said...

Thanks Jackie ! You are a good friend.

I suspect there is someone with a bit difficult time trying to feel better.

Patty said...

Thanks Patti,
I have to say, seeing all those bread machines lined up caught me off guard.
Usually when a person feels the need to attack, they are feeling a bit vulnerable for some reason. Hiding nameless, and not very happy.

Anonymous said...

Have you every stop to think its because they live simple that they can afford to help their kids?

Patty I found your blog over a month ago and I look forward to reading about you and yours every day..
I agree with everything you have to say to Anonymous.. and I don't want to sound like I'm beating this person over the head w/ my words.. they sound like they are having a hard time... and they need our prayers..
Patty just keep on keeping on.. you are a blessing ...more than you know

Denise in TN

Lucy said...

Hi Patty I read here in the newspaper that there was a hughe icestorm yesterday. also in parts of Texas. I hope you are safe

desperate housewife said...

I don't think having a washing machine and a few modern conveniences and pleasures means Patty isn't living a simple life. There's living simply, and then there's killing yourself. My mum and her sisters used to do all the laundry with a washboard when they were young, and she will tell you it is back-breaking work.
And if Patty didn't have her digital camera and laptop, well, she couldn't share her life with us.
Keep it up Patty. I admire you and your life immensely, and think the world would be a much better place if it adopted some of your ways.

Anonymous said...

Patty, I am just now catching up on your blog. Your insights about simple living are refreshing and challenging, in many ways (I'm a city-girl). We do live in a bustling age, but I am reminded that the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need! I try to keep things simple.
I continue to can every summer, and some of my friends think I'm crazy (time involved). But my family reaps the benefits of peaches, pears, applesauce, chutney, tuna and more from our garden. Now my kids are learning.
I went to Good Will, garage sales and one estate sale on Sat. If I buy something I try to come home and get rid of something. I don't wanna be a collector of "stuff."
I love your insight, keep it up!

Anonymous said...

I am wondering, Anonymous, if there are so many things of Patty & Emery's things that you covet but can't afford, why do you have a computer and internet service? I would give up my computer/internet in a heartbeat if I had to turn my heat down low to save money. Just a thought.

Patty, I love your blog and read it several times a day. I feel you are "true blue" and we each live simply in our own way. I have many, many of today's comforts including a washer & dryer, yet I prefer to use the clothesline to dry my clothing and I choose to wash many things by hand. I also choose to make bread the old-fashioned way.

I've never, once felt I was being lectured to, by anything on this blog. I love reading about your journey through every day life and hope you will keep it up.

Being in the customer service profession, I've come to the conclusion that if people are unhappy with their lives, then they try to bring everyone around them down as well. Too bad!

Grace & Peace

Much To Catch Up....

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