Thursday, May 30, 2013

What Is "Vintage Living"? What Does "Green Living" Really Mean?

I know I've been slacking here at Things Your Grandmother Knew, but I've been busy! For one thing, it's flea market season; for another, two of the shops we sell in are planning their anniversary celebrations (Exit 55 Antiques in Fergus Falls, MN, and Antiques On Broadway in Fargo, ND). Plus, we've been trying to go through the tens of thousands of antique and vintage photographs we have. No small task! So we are still working dutifully on that.

But I've been keeping this blog in mind too, thinking of what to scan and share, questions & issues I'd like to address... Recently, I put a few of these questions to my friend Laura (of Creative Fat Grrl and Green Living History).

What is something you do all the time that you are surprised to hear is "vintage living"?

Cursive writing. Is it actually vintage yet? My nieces asked me to teach them how to write, in cursive script because school has actually dropped it from the regular curriculum. As if writing has become old fashioned in the world of computer keyboards. Fonts are the new penmanship.

It's sad. Like saying good bye to writing itself! How long can print newspapers, paperback novels and all other forms of print last if if being able to write is going out of style? I actually find it alarming.

When I was in school we couldn't want to learn how to write. Printing was for the little kids, the little brother and sister or the people who couldn't master the skill of penmanship. My Dad taught me most of the cursive writing which I still use today. At the time my teacher did not agree with some of his letters so I had to learn both styles. Since then I have come up with my own style based on other cursive writing and calligraphy (something we used for my sister's wedding invitations about 18 years ago).

What sorts of green activities do you do find are effective and fit into your life?

People may be surprised that I enjoy taking the bus versus driving a car. It fits into my life because I have more leisure time. Waiting for the bus can be annoying, if you let it. I take it as time to enjoy being alone, outside and just able to let my mind wander. I keep a camera in my purse as well as notepads and pens - coloured pens too in case I think of something to draw.

Meanwhile, being on the bus itself is my version of meditation. I get comfortable, make sure I have a good hold on my purse and whatever else I've got with me and then I let my mind drift. So many thoughts come and go. I pull out my notebook and write down a few things. Mainly I just like letting go and enjoying the ride.

How important are family traditions to you?

That's a hard question to answer. The politically correct thing would be to spout on about how great family is and how much family means... In reality, my family is very much in transition.

My Dad died several years ago and my Mother spends most family holidays (the big ones like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Halloween) in Florida with the other snowbirds. Two of my sisters are married and have kids and inlaws to please. My brother is married and won't be having kids. I'm divorced and not making plans to change that or have kids. My oldest nephew is going to be 18 this year. Our family tree seems a bit shriveled and still - I really feel like we are full of eventual endings except for the nephew.

I don't see our family traditions being passed along. The traditions myself, my parents and siblings had are things we talk about now and then. My sister has her own traditions, her children don't get time with their parents to have a lot of the traditions we had. She is a business woman while my Mother was usually home and even when she did work she had her focus on the home and family. My sister is a different sort of woman, a different kind of Mother.

The other sister is expecting her first baby. But, she seems to be inclined to spend more time and give more time to her inlaws than her family here. I don't know how much of our family traditions will make it into her family traditions, how much she will even remember as the youngest sister of four in our family.

Family traditions are important to me, but these days I just wonder about all the traditions built up, created and then lost along the way.

I hear you make a mean pie... Why bake when you can buy?

Store bought pies tend to be pretty awful compared to a "real" pie. The crust in particular is too thick, especially around the edges. I'd rather have a pie with a crisp crust which is not all clumped up and dry like sawdust. My favourite part of a pie we make at home is the soggy crust right under all the cooked fruit. It's sweet, juicy and you hardly notice the crust because it's so soft, but not actually soggy and sloppy like a store pie.

I especially like a pie we make because we make them. Since I was a little girl we had myself, my Mother and my Grandmother together making pies - peeling endless apples, attempting struesel together (and succeeding), adding ginger to the apple and peach pies even when my Grandmother wasn't sure about the idea, and sampling the first, fresh, hot pie out of the oven. My sisters would try to avoid pie making, but I've always liked that special time. I miss my Grandmother so much during holidays, but especially holidays where she would have been here making pies with us.

There's that old saying, "Think global, act local." What does it mean to you? How do you make that a part of your daily life?

It's so hard to shop local any more, but I do notice where thing come from when I am shopping for anything from groceries to the new chair I bought for my home office. There isn't a lot each of us can do globally. But, I do try to think local, shop local to the point where I focus on what is right in front of me. You can still change someone's whole day with just a smile. That's really local and yet... who knows what that small thing will do, where that person you smiled at will go that day, what kind of reach they have locally or globally.

Some people feel they have not accomplished enough. When I start to think that way I go back to what I have done locally, even if local is not so much the physical distance but the people who have come into my life in whatever time or space. I've helped people in some big ways and that makes me feel I have made a difference and there has been a purpose to my life. So when I think about how big the world is and how small I am in it, I reflect on the little corner of the world I made better.

(Vintage image available here.)


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