Thursday, September 13, 2012


Thoreau’s mantra was “live simply” although his explanation was wordy, clause after clause piling up against the eventual period. Walden Pond was his experimental lab for two years, after which he struggled against bankruptcy. In his century Thoreau was a curiosity. Within the context of our contemporary culture simplicity is possible but not achievable without much thought.  Listening to the sound of a different drummer is a continual challenge and a learning experience. Eventually age accomplishes simplicity for us.

…”I was present at the auction of a deacon’s effects, for his life had not been ineffectual:

     ‘The evil that men do lives after them.’

"As usual, a great proportion was trumpery which had begun to accumulate in his father’s day. Among the rest was a dried tapeworm. And now, after lying half a century in his garret and other dust holes, these things were not burned; instead of a bonfire, or purifying destruction of them, there was an auction, or increasing of them. The neighbors eagerly collected to view them, bought them all, and carefully transported them to their garrets and dust holes, to lie there till their estates are settled, when they will start again. When a man dies he kicks the dust.”
Henry David Thoreau “Walden.”

We lived in Iowa in the late 90s and one of us got bit by the auction bug. If you make the mistake of dying in Iowa, your family will empty your drawers and boxes on the front lawn. Neighbors and strangers will congregate and wonder why you kept all that stuff.  My first bidding experience awarded me a cracked bowl. I didn’t care that I overpaid. I had raised my hand and stood my ground. Jenny’s bowl graces my front step filled with sedum, and dust.

Dr. Oz says that healthy eating leads to healthy living. If I switch from butter to I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter--chemicals in a bottle, dairy farmers sell less of their cows’ production. And they sell out to mega corporations. This helps us how now, brown cow?

Two or three neighbors can share a lawnmower but there is a consequence; the hardware store sells one or two less mowers. When the sales at Home Depot decreases, the quarterly sales report is bad and investors sell the stock. And when the big box moves into a neighborhood they save the residents money, but they hold an unfair buying advantage over the neighborhood hardware store. Compromise: thank John for mowing our lawn.

So what is our response to Thoreau’s call for Simplicity? It will need to be individual and subjective, an on-going process.  I read Thoreau’s chapter, Economy, to be a judgmental and pompous affair. He denigrates those who choose to spend their lives farming and eating meat. He ridicules those who live in the village and attempt to earn their livelihood in the market place. He speaks with his chin raised and his voice a professorial pitch suitable to academic lectures. Time to bring “Walden” back to the library.

For my part, I currently practice simplicity by avoiding shopping which gives me a headache anyway. I shop infrequently and only when I have a specific purchase in mind. This is my story and I’m sticking to it. The exception is cruising art fairs. Eye candy.  Colors for the soul. I justify my careful spending by saying I am supporting local artists. Here are some of my favorite artists who have internet sources.

Frill.   Karen designs and sews incredibly beautiful handbags. She also does custom orders. I’m not a handbag person but could have taken home several. To my credit I bought only one. At this time.

four corners design.  Unique collages and montages Amy Duncan mounts on boards, glass, etc. then photographs for note cards and wall hangings. I bought “Hope.”

Original paintings by Janet Hamilton. I love to buy her greeting cards.

BFF Snooter-Doots:  Fishee, Buggee, Foodie-Friends and more. Children of any age love the colorful, felted, ‘free-form’ knit toys. They’re light and can’t break in the mail.

KaleidEscapes for those of you who share my fascination with kaleidoscopes.

And if you need a lovely gift for someone special, Sue Rena Curtis' handcrafted stained glass mobiles can be found at   She created my Irene mobile.

And of course, Bienella skin care.
Simply, wonderfully creative.

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