The Soapbox Papers

The Soapbox Papers is my two-cents worth.

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Location: Beloit, Wisconsin, United States

I am a cross between Tinkerbell and Calamity Jane.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Owning Stuff

The Business End of a Very Small Kitchen

Well, I guess I've gotten this weekend's Stupid out of the way. I was preparing my breakfast a while ago and managed to drop a whole, freshly-cracked-but-not-in-the-frying-pan-yet egg right in that very slender crack between the sink counter and the stove. I wiped down the topside of the mess, cracked open another egg and cooked it, ate it, and soon I will have to tug the stove out from the wall to clean the raw egg from the floor. First I will write this.

Recently YO (Youngest Offspring) found himself a landowner. It wasn't unexpected, but it didn't happen quickly, either. For years it had been his plan that when it became his he would simply sell it and be done with it. But that's not what happened. He went out to survey what had become his - the treasure of the land as well as the responsibilities and obligations that came with being a landowner. He could see it rise and fall before him, smell the dew in the morning, the dirt, the intermittent flowers, some which promise fruit and some not. I suspect it has become a part of him now, a part which challenges him and fills him up like nothing but owning something can do. I only have an inkling of how that must feel. We (Us and the Bank) owned a house in Ohio for several years. It felt good to dig up the yard and build a vegetable garden, to plant daisies and black eyed Susans along the fence, even to mow the lawn or shovel the snow. It was OUR house, so much different from renting, even though we were not there long enough to pay off the mortgage to get the bank out of the equation, to own it completely, free and clear.

But YO doesn't have to wait - he can claim complete ownership and take even more pride in that land of his than even the most domestic day I'd enjoyed in Ohio. Fortunately, YO is of the nature to enjoy this. We all know some folks who aren't even partly aware of the value of the things they own. There is so much more to value than cash. I suspect this is the lesson his father wanted him to learn, although his father didn't even even enjoy it so much as YO. YO will put his land to work for him in whichever way(s) his very creative mind takes him. One day, perhaps, YO will build his home and live on his own land; perhaps he will bring home a wife, have children there. Or not.

So now I will go and pull my rented stove out from the wall of my rented apartment wall, clean up the dropped egg, and most likely keep going, washing down the kitchen and dining area floors. My place may be rented, but it is my home. There is a certain pride in that, too. )

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Resignation, of Sorts ....



There comes a time in a person’s life when she has to resign herself to the fact that the younger folks really are smarter than she is about some things. For me, it is the technical things. Yeah, well - I may know the geography of this country, and I may even be able to point to the general direction on a globe when asked where a certain country is; I can use proper grammar in spite of the drive to be politically correct; I can cook most anything from scratch, apply basic first aid, amuse a child for a day for under $3; I can change the oil in my car if I have to, change the clock for Daylight Savings Time, and change a tire. I can tell time on an analog clock, wind a watch, write a legible letter in longhand and mail it, catch a fish, be quiet for hours on end, mend with a needle and thread and replace a button, read a chart, read a grid and read a book. I cannot figure out an MP3 player or much in technology since then. I do not pretend to understand these things, even though it would certainly be to my benefit to do so. My mind is full. If new information does not twine gracefully around what I already know or replace something I already have stashed up there in the darkened attic, I cannot grasp it. There is no room.

And I guess that’s okay. I try my best to live by the Desiderata – well spoken advice written by Max Ehrmann in 1927. In part, Mr. Ehrmann says, “...Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth ...” And I suppose that is really about the best way to have birthdays over, say, the age of 60.

I have no problem with surrendering bubble gum, though I still blow soap bubbles from a bottle. I do not miss skipping rope, though I would ride a bicycle if I had one. And my memory seems to have gone south, but I still remember how to research and find information I may have forgotten.

It’s the new stuff I can’t seem to get. I spoke to the Verizon guy this week and told him I’ve had Verizon’s fastest DSL for five years now, and I love it – but what is this FIOS stuff? He was a wise man and gave me the simplest answer he could. “Oh,” he said. “FIOS is ...um... the next generation!”

I am saying this now so my kids and grandkids will know I am woefully uninformed about the latest in technology. They should, before thinking they can bring me into the latest technology, speak to YO (my Youngest Offspring) who is quite in tune with the modernest of the modern. He has tried to drag me, kicking and screaming, into the latest (or at least more recent than I own!) technology and it has left him very low on patience. It does not become the man.

I am saying this because I am perfectly content with the technology I do own, and while I do appreciate so many of the wonderful changes recent technology has wrought, I am fine. I often find myself wondering what the cost of such technology has been to humankind, and every now and then I will question it out loud, but be unwilling to part with my own microwave or computer or bottle of soap bubbles.

I’m not saying I am stupid about these things. I probably could catch on to a lot more technological advances than it appears, but I am not convinced I want to. The space upstairs is limited, and there are so many other things I want to know.

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