Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Working toward my Masters in Domestic Arts.

Or, should that be: Working on my Mastery of Domestic Arts?  I am old enough to remember when having a stay-at-home mom was the norm.  What followed was anything but -- flower power, the Sexual Revolution, Women's Liberation, Empowerment, Entitlement and a few other "Ments" I've forgotten.  Brown bread was "common" and "old-fashioned", while white bread (think Wonder Paste) was "IT".  Convenience foods raised their ugly little heads (Morton's TV Dinners; Twinkies).  Women could get out of the kitchen fast.  Our family resisted more than most on my block.  My mother knew how to sew and would pull out her little Singer when there was an event that called for a special dress.  She knitted us sweaters and socks.  She made our doll clothes.  She baked our bread (every Tuesday, I would race home as fast as I could in order to get a slice of warm bread with butter), she packed our lunches, darned our socks, made all of our meals from scratch.  Although we didn't live on a farm, we did live in a bland development in the middle of a very rural area, surrounded by farms.  We got eggs and milk delivered, and our fresh turkey for Thanksgiving.  I remember most dreamily, Charles Chips - great huge cans of crisp, salty potato chips that we took on our yearly Canadian adventure were delivered by the Charles Chips Man.  I learned to knit from my mom and to sew in home economics (although I refused to baste out of principle - why sew something twice?).  We learned to cook when our chins cleared the countertops, and took pride in ironing our father's shirts and our pillowcases.  Beds were made with hospital corners and our washing was hung out on a line to dry.   For me, all these things resonated with well-being.  And, while I may have slipped off the wagon here and there, I have always continued to make my own, cook from scratch, knit, and sew.  My favorite period was the back-to-the-earth-hippie period - I am a great fan of Mother Earth, the planet.  The essence of that time has stayed with me and, in the last 8 years or so, has intensified.  When I read all of the like-minded bloggers, it makes me feel that I am part of a very large, wonderful group who finds value in the "Domestic Arts".  I think that today's domestic arts have expanded to include a more whole-istic approach to life - planting, cultivating and preserving your own food; raising livestock (chickens, dairy animals); creating a home that is self-sufficient, a little island unto itself (solar power, grey water systems, wind power).  I like the direction in which I am presently traveling, not to mention my travelling companions.


Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

I often wonder what happened in the last 40-50 years. How did we lose so much knowledge and our ethics? We traded something real for something 'virtual'. No one today knows where things come from nor do they care. You are so right. It is wonderful to be able to have a community of like minded people, even if we live across the globe. Its comforting to know we mavericks are out here trying to make a difference.

Erin said...

Nice post! I share many of these memories, and am so glad I decided to take the route I did, I certainly want my kids to have the same ideas about how things are made, grown, etc as I was exposed to growing up.

The Apple Pie Gal said...

It's really sad, isn't it? We are so disposable any more. All in the name of moving forward, going faster, profit, anything to appease our laziness. Slow down! Or cut back, without! I don't understand why so many folks seem insulted by anything domesticated. Is it really beneath anyone? Doesn't some form of domestication = survival skills as well? Stop me.

And yes, we have all tapped into a wonderful well of knowledge with each other! I love each and every one of you and following the journey!

mtnchild said...

My Mom wasn't at home nor did she make bread. She embraced the "new" way of life. I have slowly been going back to the "old" way - and I love it. I bake my own bread -in a bread machine due to arthritis- and it is sooo good! I make my own laundry soap - no fancy smell, just clean. I stopped using shampoo and cream rinse - my hair has become very manageable. I could go on, but I know you know where my life is going.
I so enjoy your blog and agree with almost all you do.

Leigh said...

I loved this post. It so eloquently states what so many are discovering, that there is immense satisfaction and pleasure from working with one's hands, and creating a wonderful, safe, welcoming environment called "home." Folks who want careers in the rat race are welcome to them. Give me the agrarian lifestyle any day.

Mama Pea said...

Well written post. Thanks for putting it down in words. We've lost so much in so many ways since there is no longer any pride taken in the domestic arts or much credit given to those of us practicing them . . . at least not by a large portion of our society. It makes me so sad to see where this is leading us. I felt lost and terribly lonely when the back-to-the-land movement of the 70s petered out and I was left with no one the least bit interested in doing the things I was doing. Now I have all of you and I don't know how I would survive without your support. Honest injun. (Maybe un-PC, but that's been taken to the point of ridiculousness also.)

Susan said...

Jane - I think that, in saving us time, most folks got incredibly lazy. All of a sudden "work" was a dirty word.

Erin - Well, thank goodness for mothers like you. Your boys will at least be equipped to deal with what's ahead.

APG - Yes, indeedy, these skills are survival skills. I think that a whole lot more people will be scrambling to learn them.

Yvette - Good for you! I do believe that handmade, homemade tastes best, is best for you and gives you such a feeling of comfort. Thank you for your nice words.

Susan said...

Leigh - Talk about elegance in statements - sheesh, you leave me in the dust!!

Mama Pea - What happened to all that passion of the 70s? I feel the same - I took it to heart and there it stayed. And I couldn't get through the week without y'all, either. Honest injun (I'm there with you, too).