Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Joys of the Handmade life

I'm reading Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of the Handmade Life by Jenna Woginrich. For me, it goes in the guilty pleasure reading category. It's like reading cookbooks as though they were novels. I know I will never make...pheasant under glass, or some such recipe, but I love to read about it and look at the pretty pictures. Similarly, I know that I will never be a "live off the land" sort of person. To be fully me, I need to be near libraries and universities and knitters and ...people, I suppose.

Moreover, I don't even WANT to do what she does. She has chickens in her yard. She keeps bees. She wants a farm in Idaho. More accurately, though, my handmade life would not look like her handmade life. She and I do want the same thing; it's just that the particulars differ. Bearing in mind that I do not need to complicate my life further, I nonetheless need to live MY life. We've covered this... I want to make my house a space where people are welcomed, where comfort and conversation are the norm. I want to honor myself and my guests with good food. I want to have an outdoor space that invites people in. I want to make warm and cozy things for myself, for my home, and for people I love. I want my environment to be full of old things, things with a history.

So, my house was emptied and is being refilled with new (to me)furniture, art, knick-knacks. I'm repurposing and repainting rooms. I'm cooking and baking again -witness the Sunday "Susie Homemaker" posts on facebook. I iron the cloth napkins and endure the gentle teasing from my friends about that. I have my garden plans, at least for the backyard. I've relocated my knitting urge, and have socks on the needles as we speak. I go thrifting and hunting in antique stores, and have fun even when I don't buy anything.

And all of this is consistent with my other need to live a more environmentally gentle life. It does matter how my food is grown and delivered to me; making at least some of it myself reclaims some power and artistry. Re-using old things discovered in junk stores supports the local economy and is an elegant form of recycling. Gardening makes a mark, creates another welcoming space, and creates a safe and gentle space on the planet -a place where scary chemicals are not used, thank you very much.

But that's the airy-fairy version. While true, as an ideal, the reality is that for these (and the 40 bajillion other) tasks to be done with anything like the grace they deserve, there has to be a calm order. One can't live gracefully -or even intentionally- in a mess. Rather, it's always an equilibrium-disturbing lurch from one emergency to another. So, the question becomes... how do we get from here to there?

I don't have the slightest idea. Yet.

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