Last week I purchased an external hard drive to make a double back up of my digital photo collection. Gee it was easy! I had lots of photos ( I mean LOTS) on CDs all carefully labelled and categorised and I even had proof sheets printed of what was on each disk.
It was so easy to just whip them into iphoto ( I am a Mac girl) and there they all are - in chronological order and able to be sorted in keyword categories at the click of a mouse!
I skim through all the photos they really reveal just how much I have a love affair with days gone by. There are so many photos capturing aspects of a life that was.
I am always intrigued by the lifestyle that people led in the past. The days of hard work and little reward, an instilled work ethic that is rare to come by these days, a complete life of self sacrifice to others with no chance of any recognition.
My Grandmother told me once that the girls of today just don't have the stamina to be able to do all the things they did.....and I would have to agree!
Although, I have been quoted as saying that I could do without electricity and running water, grow my food and still get by quite okay ......as long as I had wi-fi and a solar powered lap top to blog about it! LOL
Look at this tired old truck - can't you see the expression on his face ? Years of hard work can be seen across his brow!
I don't have to walk four miles to school barefoot in the snow. I haven't birthed 13 children all 9 months apart and I will never have to fight for women to get the vote..... but I really do think that there are some traditions and principles that we should not let go of in our modern world.
We should not shy away from hard work. We should only eat our fill. We should show respect to our elders. We should live within our means and we should raise our children with values that we want to see reflected in our society.
......and then we should blog about it to share the message !
Soon I have to try and convince these boys that they have to wear shoes again.
I have to try and convince them to have a shower and brush their hair....
I have now returned home after going out to Dubbo in western New South Wales to visit my grandmother once again. While I was out there I had the opportunity to visit the Outback House. Ever since the series was shown on ABC a couple of years ago I have been wanting to visit the area, but it is privately owned and was only opened on long weekends and special occasions.
The television series depicted participants from modern day heading back in time to a working homestead in 1861. The property, named "Oxley Downs" was 'built' as a replica of the homesteads of the day. You can see more about the series here I was really drawn to the series because it is very close to where my grandparents built a homestead in the 1930s.
What struck me straight away was the self sufficiency of life. Exactly how my grandmother had described to me. They raised and killed their own meat and grew all their own fruit and veg. My grandmother also grew wheat and took it to the mill to swap for bags of flour.
The homestead was so simple yet so beautiful. It had a hallway that went straight through the building with rooms off to each side. First door on the left was the dining room which doubled as the classroom and office.
The first door on the right was the parlour which has comfortable chairs and small tables and a piano.
The last two rooms were the bedrooms.
I was so intrigued by the kitchen. So primitive, yet highly functional with a separate storage room or larder.
The garden was a huge area that really grew everything, all in together. It was magnificent. There were no neat little rows, it was more a permaculture style. The owners told me to take what I wanted and although I wanted to dive in with a wheelbarrow, I respectfully took a few things that I thought I would be able to continue the heirloom breeds from by saving the seeds.
What really struck me was that in comparison they did it so tough, although they knew no different. They baked and made EVERYTHING. They grew EVERYTHING.
When I arrived home I went to make some rock cakes and suddenly realised how lucky I am. I have refrigeration. I can freeze my vegetables and meat, I have a microwave if I want the butter to melt faster, I have an electric oven. So a more self sufficient lifestyle would be so EASY in comparison. It is so easy to bake bread, make pasta, make jam. Yet..... it seems that we have been tricked into a consumerist lifestyle where even baking a chicken is too much work when it is far more "convenient" to get a pre-cooked chook from the supermarket!
So, my perspective has certainly changed......... I rose early this morning and made strawberry jam. I then had it on a slice of home baked bread from the bread maker, toasted in my electric toaster and I had a cup of tea boiled in my electric jug. Being more self sufficient is suddenly so easy is comparison.
I sat and thought joyful thoughts......
Take this job and love it!
By Ami Thomas
Her alarm clock chimes before the sun rises. She's not only up and at 'em, she's dressed to the nines in heels and a full face, wearing perfume. Her apron is starched and matches her outfit, and breakfast is on the table. Her husband and children come to the table dressed and pressed: they've been raised that way, and she's done the ironing.
The year is not 1944, or even 1954...it's 2004, and the modern retro housewife is keeping house like Grandma did. She’s starting early and staying up late. Her day begins just after daybreak, when she gets up and gets dressed. No sweats or boxer shorts and t-shirts for her, she's wearing silk pajamas and pin curls. She bathes, dresses, combs out her hair and does her face. She's a modern-day Donna Reed, and she doesn't wear Donna Karan.
When her family leaves for school and work, after a hot breakfast, the kitchen is cleaned, beds made, house straightened. If it's Monday, it's wash day, but whatever the day, you can bet her home is in order. The cupboards are never bare and dinner is ready when Father comes home in the evening. Meals are simple and nourishing. Breakfast and lunch are served in the kitchen, dinner is served in the dining room, and little boys tuck in their shirts before coming to the table.
Once a week, she gets her hair done and a manicure. If the budget is tight that week, she does it herself, but "going without" or cultivating "bedhead" is no more an option than wearing a jogging suit to the grocery store or going to the mailbox without lipstick.
She may be just an old-fashioned gal, or a semi-retired bombshell. She’s mastered the art of cleaning the cat box in a pencil skirt and stockings. She can sweep, mop and clean the toilet without chipping a nail or losing a bobby pin. These dames can keep house and keep the home fires burning. And really, what's sexier than a woman who can cook and doesn't mind cleaning up afterwards?
Taking Pride in Pleasing Others
These retrophiles and their mates are happily living in their own little time warps, raising their families the old-fashioned way, with good manners and knowledge of some basic social graces. Their children know who Alfred Hitchcock is and can sing Cole Porter tunes in the bath.
The little ones look up to Daniel Boone and Amelia Earhardt, and when they say the Pledge of Allegiance in the neighborhood grade school, they understand it and it means something. The kids wear plaid skirts and saddle shoes and turned-up dungarees with striped t-shirts and Beaver Cleaver caps. They say "ma'am" and "sir" and know which fork to use.
I know, it all sounds so nice, so perfect. Well, it is nice. Maybe it isn't perfect for everyone, but for a few of us, it's heaven. We were born too late. We live in that fabulous era of the mid-20th Century, when we'd just won The War and the whole country was overflowing with optimism about things to come. Good had triumphed over Evil, just as it should, and all was right with the world. The guys in White Hats would keep on winning and we'd all be safe from those guys in the Black Hats. It was as simple as that. The Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments. Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie. What could be more wholesome?
The Retro Housewife's Office
It just so happens that we don't think all things referred to as "progress" really are moving us forward. And it isn't just about the clothing that kids are wearing today (or, more accurately, not wearing these days). Looking at style trends is a good barometer for where we are as a society. When it just doesn’t matter to you how you look when you leave the house, it probably doesn't matter to you how you do your job. It probably doesn't matter to you how you drive or how you keep your lawn or anything else. If you can't take pride in yourself, then what can you take pride in?
For the modern retro housewife, our lifestyle is a show of respect—respect for ourselves and others. Housewives dress each morning just as if they're going to an outside job because keeping house and caring for their families is a job. It's a serious job and we respect that work. We show that respect by not showing up for work wearing velour sweats and un-brushed hair. (And for the record, flip-flops are not shoes, just in case you're on the fence about that one.)
Sure, we take advantage of some modern conveniences: good dishwashers, advancements in vacuum cleaners, a good TV to watch those films noirs. A big refrigerator with water in the door definitely saves steps, and I can't live without my garbage disposal. I also really like the coffee maker…but I have a percolator and I know how to use it. We have cell phones and pink princess phones. We have CD players and Victrolas. We have new cars and old cars. We have DVDs of our favorite classics, because we like to preserve what's important to us.
Living this way every day is a real commitment. We have to mean it, because we are outnumbered exponentially and sometimes it feels like Us or Them, especially when we're trying to teach our children some values and morals. You know, simple things, like buy pants that fit and no one else wants to see your underwear.
Going to the grocery store is better at the local market, not the big chains, since most of the customers are dressed like I am. Granted, most of them are in their dotage, but they don't look at me like I'm wearing a costume. (It's easier in a bigger city, too, when you're likely to just be considered "eccentric", and since I live in the same town as John Waters, I figure I'm OK.)
If you've seen the August and September issues of Vogue magazine, you'll know that I am at the height of couture fashion this season. "Granny Chic" as it's called, is all the rage. (This outraged me and some of my friends at first, because all the "good stuff" we’ve loved all our lives is going to be outrageously priced and hard to find.)
Looking like I care what is going on at Fashion Week is anathema. I don't want to be trendy. I don't believe in trendy. The upside (my fellow retrophiles decided) is that in a few months, all those designer retro suits are going to be in the thrift stores and all over eBay. We can wait.
You know, the whole thing really comes down to how you want to live and what you want out of living. Frank Sinatra said, "You only live once, but if you live like me, once is enough." We believe that, in theory, though most of us can't live like the Chairman of the Board. Mostly, we try to live like we mean it, like it matters, not like we're just killing time or getting through one thing and onto the next. Every day matters when you live simply and honestly and know what's important to you. We look at our children and we're proud of them. When we're old, we can look back at our lives and be proud also—proud that we were modern retro housewives.
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