Saturday, September 27, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
During our recent cold snap (dropped down into the 80's!), I woke up to my first beautifully dense fog of the season. As I sat on the porch watching the mists gradually lift, to reveal the idyllic scene down below, I found my thoughts drifting towards the blog Eyes of Wonder (http://eyesofwonder.typepad.com/my_weblog/). It's the one I always visit last thing each night, just before turning in, because it leaves such lovely images floating around in my head, as I ease into sleep.
The blog is written by a woman with 10 children, who lives in the country somewhere on the east coast. The children are all home-schooled, and the women all sew beautiful, long dresses from another century for themselves, and make precious smocks and pinafores for the littles. They raise animals and grow vegetables, and every last child participates in these endeavors. For entertainment they knit, read, paint, sing, and play games and the piano. For all intents and purposes, they could be living the life of a typical farm family of a bygone era - except for a few glaring exceptions: her blog and the computer it's written on, the digital camera with which she records her family's simple life so exquisitely, and the van that takes them shopping at Whole Foods and Ikea. There is no sign of a TV or any video games. Instead, the kids stay busy baking cookies, sledding and building snowmen, having picnics by the pond, or taking walks on the beach. Other than their neighbors and a small church group, which meets in one another's homes, and the father's job in town, they seem content with one another's company, which brings up a lot of questions. How much do the kids know about the world outside? Do they date, or even play with other kids who live in the modern world? If not, will the older ones choose their mates from the few families that make up their church circle? That's pretty slim pickin's!
I don't know why I am obsessing over this thing. There was a time not too long ago, when I would have said "Those kids are getting cheated. They are so ill-prepared for life in the real world today!" But are they really? With all the talk lately of our precarious financial situation, depletion and peak oil, global warming and climate change, who do you think will fare best if the plug gets pulled? Our gadget-addicted and wired up kids? Or those vegetable growing, cooking, sewing, building, self-sufficient and self-entertaining kids?
P.S. Don't forget, the drawing for this month's "Year of Reading Dangerously" give-away closes out Saturday night. Be sure to leave a note in the comment section, if you want your name to be included!
P.P.S. Thanks to mediabistro for the image.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
One of the first books that I ever read about living the good life, was called The Good Life. (Imagine that!) It was written by Helen and Scott Nearing, who were living in New York City during the great depression. They decided that it would be easier to be poor in the country than in the city, and ended up writing books about their homesteading adventures, first in Vermont, and later in Maine. They managed to be totally self-sufficient, built a beautiful stone house with their own hands, from rocks gathered on their property, worked diligently on the house and in their gardens for just four hours each day, and used the other four for reading, writing, music and individual pursuits. The life must have suited them well, for they each lived to be about 100, without ever having need of a doctor. Their books later launched the whole back-to-the-land movement in the 60's, when a new generation discovered them.
This is not one of the books I am including in the give-away, but one you may well enjoy checking out at the library. I only mention it because of an odd coincidence that occurred not long ago. We received an invitation to attend a kiln-opening celebration at the home and studio of Jan and Jon Brieger - potters over in Blanco. This was the weekend of hurricane Ike, when we were supposed to be experiencing gale force winds and flash floods, but instead they got a perfectly gorgeous weekend for their celebration. What a fantastic setup they have there. Instead of focusing on the pottery, I was mesmerized by their home and gardens. There was something vaguely familiar about it all. It wasn't until I saw the stack of wooden frames in the back yard, near the low stone wall they were building, that I finally put two and two together. I walked up to Jon. "Excuse me, but did you ever read a book called The Good Life, by Helen and Scott Nearing?" "As a matter of fact, I did," he replied with a grin. You see, Jan and Jon live in a beautiful stone house, that they built with their own hands, from rocks gathered on their property, using the slip-mold method that they read about in The Good Life.
P.S. Speaking of the give-away, don't forget to leave a comment, if you wish to be included.
P.P.S. That's not Jon and Jan in the photo. That's Jon and long time friend, and fellow potter, Michael Hodgson.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
I had a brain-fart yesterday. Since I have survived my first year in the blogosphere - no easy task for a total technophobe - I was thinking maybe it's time to crank things up a notch. I'd been mulling on that for a couple of days, when inspiration struck. The source of my inspiration was my favorite blog, Eyes of Wonder (eyesofwonder.typepad.com/my_weblog/). This is another blogger who I came across late in the game, and who has inspired me to go back to the very beginning and work my way straight through her archives. You should all go visit her site, and thank her for giving me this idea.
Occasionally this blogger has included a photo of the gorgeous picture journal that she keeps, spread open on a table. Every time she does, it causes a flurry of comments and questions because everyone is so taken with its splendor. Finally, as a way of saying thank you to all her loyal readers, she decided to give them a gift. She put together a journaling kit, complete with sketchbook, markers, scissors, glue sticks, ribbon, and even magazines for cutting pictures from. (No, that's not what I am going to do) She also included some hints about how she does her own journal. She then asked all of her readers to leave a comment, if they would like to be included in a drawing for this basket. Only one person's name was drawn, but everyone was a winner, for they were all inspired just reading about it, and many went out for supplies right away, to begin their own journals. It got me to thinkin'.
What kind of gift could I give to all of you? I don't really do any crafts, or make anything you would want. It would need to be something that personifies my blog and its intention. Something that inspires me. What about a book? Better yet, what about a bunch of books? And why do it just this once? Why not do it once a month, for a whole year? Yeah, that's the ticket! So, yesterday I went on a treasure hunt. I made up a list of all my favorite books with Seasonality - books about people who are actually livin' the good life, and which inspired me to set out on my own quest. I started out at Half Price Books, and managed to nab five from my list. Then I came home and went on-line, and found four more. Next time I am in Houston, I will hit the stores, and try to round up the final three. What fun I've had already, seeking out these jewels for you!
Here is how it will work. I will give away one book at the end of each month, until they are all gone. Anyone who wants to be entered in the first drawing, can just leave a comment on any of this week's postings, and I will put your name in the hat. As soon as I get up on Sunday, I will draw a name from the hat, and ask the winner to give me her mailing address, so I can send her prize on its way. Then I will tell you all a little bit about the book I gave her, and the ways in which it inspired me, in case you want to read it yourself. I would love to hear your thoughts, once you have read it. Best of all, I will pull out my own copy, dust it off, and read it right along with you. It will be almost like having our own little book club!
So, why am I calling it "A Year of Reading Dangerously?" Well, if you read all twelve of these books, you just might experience a shift in your paradigm. You may wake up one day, and find yourself longing to shed a skin that no longer fits, and wanting to reinvent yourself as a Seeker of the Good Life. Are you ready for that? Then leave me a comment, and we'll take this journey together.