Saturday, March 25, 2017

Televisions

Yesterday's post about my defunct television set made me think about the TVs of my youth. We've come a very long way in this particular technology and its kind of amazing to think about. But honestly I don't really even understand how it all works. I know there are people that do, but I'm not one of them!

I don't ever remember life without TV. I understand my parents bought their first just before I was born and from what I hear it had a very small screen and was bought mostly so my father and grandfather could watch the Friday night fights. I'm sure that's probably true because my parents had no money to spare in those days and I'm guessing my grandfather bought it and gave it a home in my parent's living room so he could come use it. That's kind of the way things happened in my family.

Anyway, the televisions I remember as a kid were always in cabinets, like pieces of fine furniture. Usually people had these pieces in their living rooms and very often they included a record player or radio in the cabinet. They were "entertainment centers" if I remember the correct terminology. We didn't always have that fancy type and there were times I can remember simple portables on topf of a table with antenna that we needed to fiddle with in order to get a clear picture on one of the two channels we could get out here in the hinterlands.

I loved it when the television broke and the repair man had to come. He had a special suitcase kind of thing that folded out on both sides and was filled with tubes of every size imaginable. He would open up the back of the set, determine which tube it was that was blown, and replace it with a new one. That was usually all it took and those old sets lasted for years. Of course there wasn't all that much to watch with so few channels and the fact that it came on at 6 or 7 in the morning and went off at 11 at night meant forget trying to see anything in the middle of the night. I remember at 11:00 every night the national anthem played and there was a visual of the flag on a tall pole waving in the breeze. As soon as the last note faded the picture went blank except for that small white dot that stayed for a minute, eventually fading into oblivion. We children of the '50s remember those details all too well.

Those early television sets are part of my childhood, along with Annette and Jimmy from the Mickey Mouse Club. They are happy memories because they come from a pretty carefree time of life, before the heavy things of life descended. So I'll keep them.    

Friday, March 24, 2017

News

My television in my bedroom bit the dust this week. I turned it on first thing in the morning as I always do, hoping to catch up on anything important that happened overnight and also glean some wisdom in terms of who to dress for the day depending on the temperature outside, and it made an unusual noise...and then....no picture. In the old days I would have said to myself "It just blew a tube" but in today's world, post tubes and all other outdated technology, I knew better. It was gone.

Now this is not a great loss in terms of the television itself. a few years ago - maybe 5 or 6 now - our children gave us a replacement television for our living room. It wasn't necessary as far as I was concerned because the Sony worked just fine, but they thought we needed a flat screen, so they gave us one. I saw no reason to toss the old one out because it worked, so with great difficulty the hunking old television was moved to our bedroom where it's lived on top of a tall dresser ever since. It takes up a lot of room, but who cared? I didn't. Now, its no longer a viable appliance and its sitting there. Taking up room.


And it will continue to sit there for two reasons. First, there is no way I could ever move it because its too big for me to budge. Not to mention the fact that the way I would need to pull it down from the high shelf would mean I'd probably end up under it on the floor, undiscovered before my body had become food for any mice that lived in my walls. That's just a prospect too gruesome to ponder but I've watched enough CSI episodes on that old TV not to take any chances. 

Second, I doubt I can find a television for under $100 anymore and wouldn't spend more than that to replace it. Its been years since I've bought a television set but I can't imagine they make them that cheap. I certainly wouldn't buy a big one like I had there because its a pretty small room, but even so, there's no way I'm spending much to put a television there. Sometimes my parents' depression era mentality still comes through in their daughter and the idea of spending more than that on such an unnecessary luxury just doesn't sit right with me.

So, here I am with this huge, useless appliance taking up room in my bedroom. In my mind I'm already redecorating the space just in case its ever empty. But I honestly think someday it will go to the dump with much of my other belongings when I'm no longer around to care.  

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Clutter

My biggest enemy is clutter.

I keep my house fairly clean. I make sure surfaces are wiped down in the kitchen and bathrooms regularly, I vacuum weekly, I dust - all the things we're taught to do when we're growing up. But I don't enjoy it because its thankless work with no real reward. No one walks into a house and says "Oh your house looks so clean!"

So I keep it clean so its healthy and livable, but my real nemesis is clutter. I have a hard time keeping up with the clutter. It just seems as though things multiply around the house on tables and counter tops. There's the mail I still need to sort, the bills I still need to pay, the files for the various committees I'm working on, and things I need to take to the dump....just clutter.

I worked in my home office this week trying to clear up the clutter that was all over my desk. I filed papers, payed bills, put things away in drawers and cabinets, and it looks much better today than it did a few days ago. Its not as neat and empty as I'd like it to be, but it is a working desk and some things I don't even have a space for. I could use a few more drawers, but space is limited and it is what it is. So I cope. And right now it looks pretty good. This space tends to be my "open closet", the place I toss things when I need to clear the counters or empty living spaces and I just don't quite know what to do with the stuff yet. It tends to end up in my office, out of sight for most of the day and only annoying when I need to go out there. Since its not a "pass through" space I don't do it everyday so its the perfect place to hide clutter.

I need to continually de-clutter my house. I guess I need to do the same with my mind. I'm working on that right now too! 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Magic

Yesterday I had a fun little job - continuing today actually - and maybe tomorrow - helping out at a local museum. 

Every few years its important to take textiles out of their storage boxes and open them up, refolding along different areas to keep the deterioration to a minimum. Textiles are incredibly fragile and, unlike wood, metal, or bone for instance, they can end up in crumbles and dust if not properly cared for - and even then. They are stored in acid free boxes, with acid free paper around them, carefully folded as little as possible, or rolled onto special rollers. As boxes were opened it was clear that dyes had been absorbed onto the paper as discoloration was evident. Some paper was yellowed, some pink, and replacing the paper was also part of the project.

There's something very moving about handling objects that are so old. And textiles are markedly different from furniture or other objects. There's something very personal about touching someone's wedding dress, or christening gown for instance. Even shoes belonging to a small child, or a fancy bonnet, becomes a symbol or someone's life. Because clothing is worn. It's placed on a person's body and it reflects their taste, their sense of style, their personality. Opening these pieces up and laying them out on a table feels a bit like sharing a cup of tea with the owner. You can almost hear their voice saying "Could you please use that beautiful blue taffeta?" to the dressmaker, or "I wonder if I can wear this brown silk gown of sister's to the dance Saturday night without shortening it?" Even shoes, worn black leather with satin ribbon laces, seem to hold their owners souls within them. Its magic, really. 

I like to imagine the woman who owned the beautiful blue and white striped dress walking down Main Street in her finery, heading to church in her dress and bonnet. Or maybe taking her child out for a walk wearing the small white dress and petticoat that she'd just finished for her. Even the man's navy blue wool two-piece bathing suit brings speculation as the bottom was more faded than the top. Did that mean he only waded to his waist? Probably so considering the c.1850 tag that hung from the corner.

I love treating each textile with the respect it deserves, from the hand woven bed coverlets that adorned private bed chambers to the tiny undershirts used by an infant but lovingly embroidered despite never being seen by anyone other than the child's parents. Each piece represents a life, a family, an era, and most importantly... love. Its a sacred duty.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Changes

I notice seasonal changes, subtle and light-handed, as I drive or walk from place to place these days. Yesterday's morning walk revealed a long row of green shoots coming up along a fence on Main Street - daffodils I assume.  I'm also noticing the sun coming up a few minutes earlier every day and of course now the evenings are nice and light. I can leave my window coverings open until well after 6, using the natural light to read of knit by.

These changes will become more and more evident as the days and weeks go by and spring will have a strong hold on us by mid-April. Even an occasional cold day will not discourage us because we know we're moving forward and that's we're not looking back.

Today I volunteer at the local hospital for a couple hours and the change in season is evident there as well. The ambulatory area is busier than it has been as folks are willing to schedule tests and surgeries when they aren't quite as worried about blizzards interfering. Yes, change is in the wind and its easy to feel. We are all ready for it.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring

Well today is officially Spring but I can't say it feels like it outside. At least not yet. I understand we'll have a few cool days this week but then are in for a warming trend. I welcome that, as I do every new season as it comes.

It seems as though the seasons have been echoing my emotional life this past nine months. I went from summer, which was hot and uncomfortable, into the autumn which was a time of real death and destruction. My life had taken a terrible turn and I was dealing with huge changes, which led me into the dark days of winter, where I was bereft and incapable of seeing the sunshine for weeks at a time. It was a long, cold winter for me, but I do feel the warmth of the new season and know that sunnier, easier days are approaching. Life really does mimic nature at times and for me, this year has been one of those times. I feel as though I'm climbing out of the depths of despair and beginning to see hope and sanity ahead. Its a good feeling.

Spring is full of promise. We look forward to longer days of brighter, warmer sunshine, green grass and beautiful flora everywhere, and more time outside where new adventures await. I'm very much looking forward to the Spring this year, both in nature and in my soul. We both need it.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Unknowns

I'm a complete control freak. I know this about myself. I think from a very early age, control was an issue for me. 

I had a difficult relationship with my father and never had a sense of safety or confidence in my youth, often feeling lost and alone despite coming from a big family. I wasn't a loner necessarily, but just never felt as though I belonged anywhere and never felt the comfort or self-worth that comes from having a strong parent-child bond with both one's parents. I'm sure it wasn't unlike the feelings some children grow up with when they've been abandoned, or their parents divorce - thinking they aren't in a secure, loving place if it were. There's something to be said for growing up with two parents who remind you that you are loved and treasured and will always be safe with them. I didn't have that and I think my control issues are a result of that history.

Anyway, I didn't start out to talk about my childhood but rather the problems I'm dealing with now that have to do with control and value in my life. Being through a trauma like I've been through tends to make one question both those things, and being that they were tenuous at best to begin with means they are in tiny little pieces now. I'm sure a counselor would say that the reason I've lost so much weight, and am continuing to lose it, has everything to do with the fact that what I put in my mouth is just about the only thing I can control right now in my life. And no doubt those ugly issues of worthiness continue to arise from my psyche simply because if I never really felt "good enough" before, why would I now? If anything the opposite is true. So - there you have it. I should have a degree in psychology for all the books I've read on it! And I do "get" the concepts.

I'm sure the "unknowns" in life are difficult for everyone to deal with, and surprise sits around every corner whatever road you're on, but for me, who has spent my entire life trying to work toward the goal of financial and emotional security for my old age, always combating my demons as best I knew how, this issue of the unknowns ahead is especially frightening. Some you expect, like illness or even death, and know they are inevitable. Some are impossible to foresee. And when they come, as they did for me, its easy to get panicky. I have moments when my heart palpitates so fast I think its jumping right out of my body and I can break out in a cold sweat just sitting with the check book trying to pay my bills.


Perhaps if I'd had a crystal ball when I was younger I would be in a whole different place today than I am now. Or perhaps I would have made the same mistakes and followed the exact same road but with new insight and maybe the ability to change directions at certain times. 

Of course, that's not the way life works is it? So I'll just have to face the unknowns and keep walking forward, into the fray, prepared for battle and bravely taking on the dragons as they appear.

So much easier said than done. But I'm working on it.