Sunday, November 15, 2015

Keeping it simple, keeping it up.

Let's face it, blogs often end up going into dormancy because of the repetitive nature of people's lives. I can't tell you how many blogs I've discovered at the last post, where the author says, "well I've pretty much said all I can say about this, so I'm signing off." it's always frustrating, because just when I start to get interested in the story -- when I've scrolled back, reading it from its inspired beginning -- it slows down and then one day, it ends. Abruptly, as its author moves on to something else.

Routine "comes with the dinner," so to speak, in life, but especially in the homesteading one. It's the side dish to the main one of living from scratch. It's pretty much a given, for instance, that in summer you're going to grow tomatoes and can them. Once or twice a year you'll make soap. Pruning happens in fall. It's all novelty for the first year, and then you get to have the first year a second time, usually with minor curve balls thrown in...the early frost, the cracked mason jar, insect invasion, etc. Repeat and rinse.

And it's called The Simple Life because of that predictability.

Now maybe you've come up with a way to write in such a way that your readers are continually drawn into said life. Or likewise, perhaps you are such an awesome photographer that the reader wants to be in the room with you while you're completing your work (if you feel that way please come on over and bring your apron). Martha Stewart has always been good at this. Come for her 118th iteration of a pumpkin pie recipe, stay because you'd like to take up residence in her gorgeous kitchen, sit by her fireplace and dine while admiring her tablescapes.

Thanksgiving checklist item: Spray paint all chairs to match my blouse.
People like reading about the simple, homemade life because it's a state most of us are trying to achieve in one way or another, and we like seeing others on the same quest. We're a club of people trying to keep it old fashioned, or just longing for the perfect bucolic life, and trying to keep balance in a busy, busy world.

Today I canned the last of the tomatoes -- 10 quarts of delicious spaghetti sauce -- and made enough laundry detergent to last through winter. There are three loads of wash on the line as I write this, and I even have enough tomato sauce left over to make a great spaghetti dinner tonight.

This is my measure of a good day.

I prefer this kind of work to working outside the home (even though I do both), but have found I cannot live like a hermit all my days, or my social skills get rusty. I've seen the same in others too. Like any good story, I need new characters and situations to make my life more interesting, even though at the end of the day, I choose a warm fire, a hot meal and a big comfortable chair over many other things. 

And I realized the other day that if balance is a number between one and a hundred, there are about 99 numbers you can hit that will just be wrong, with about 10 of those being "close but not quite." The perfect balance is like the perfect temperature -- fleeting and difficult to maintain in a dynamic, changing environment. You'll hit it once in awhile, but most days you'll be adjusting up or down, depending.

Maybe it's not so much about the simple life these days as much as its about the "simpler" one. Not perfect, not exact, just a theoretical number we shoot for every day, with some days getting closer than others. 

After all, how many days is it a "perfect 75 degrees?" Not nearly enough, my friends. Not nearly enough. So I just try to get in range, most days, and keep writing about it. I hope you do the same.


  1. Your posts have always inspired me due to their ability to both stand alone and play along in a larger narrative. I think it's a balance you've struck AND maintained for such a long time. Also, you seem to always get length just right :) something I...uh...struggle with!
    I am always interested how you're able to intersect practicality with warmth and whimsy.

    1. Thank you Stephen. I think I am good at hitting the right length sometimes because of my experience as a newspaper columnist. Editors are merciless if you go over that 700- 800 word mark, so I learned over time not to tempt them! Don't underestimate your own writing either, you have an absolutely brilliant sense of humor and the ability to tell stories that draw me in time after time. And your photography....well, your kitchen and dining room are places I'd like to take up residence in (once I'm done at Martha's I'll head on over), for the beauty and creativity you make look SO easy, but which I know it not.