Bringing it home

By Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic, July/August 2014

When life at home is overwhelming, find relief in all those global disasters.

Living in the global village means that your life ebbs and flows with the currents of the world, what with issues and developments everywhere continually unfolding and demanding tweaks in your own perspective, priorities and—inevitably—lifestyle. Last year’s tragic collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh, for example, highlighted the need to reconsider the real cost of throw-away-cheap clothing. The smog over China—fuelled by our own natural resources—is now drifting back to mock our short-sighted greed and doltishness. Petition requests for every cause from dying bees to dying democracies fly out of our electronic devices whenever we dare to open them. It never ends.

Some days you just want to shut it all down and simply live life on your own street for a while. Or in your own house. But that’s not without its tangles either. Our home is mostly a jumble of reminders of things that need attention. My office, barely under control at the best of times, can induce a panic attack if I forget to brace myself before going in. It’s more like a catch-all room, the place we stow everything until someone—me, for example—can find time to file it all somewhere else. It’s where I have a couch for reading, an “activity” I still hope to find time for someday. It’s the place we lose the cat once in a while, which is only really a problem when he decides to work his way into the hatch leading to the chimney. 

There’s consternation in the kitchen too. Last year we became (mostly) vegetarian and one of us decided to embrace a vegan diet. We love the new lifestyle but there’s no denying that cooking without meat, eggs and dairy is a challenge. There are days when my lack of incentive and imagination brings to mind the old folk song about gravy and bread: On Monday we’ll have gravy on bread, on Tuesday we’ll have bread dipped in gravy…

Still, we’ve found a good equilibrium and the food scene only gets complicated when guests come over. Then our planning invariably triggers an animated conversation about firing up the BBQ, which always prompts us to remember that the propane tank is (still) almost empty and—furthermore—in need of replacement because it no longer meets current safety requirements. OK, nothing on the barbie then; on to other options. 

Then there’s our two-car garage, which could give the best de-cluttering expert a crisis in confidence. In the “shop” half sits our son’s vintage sports car, which is fine with us because it ensures we see him on a regular basis when he comes over to work on it. Our own little Prius lived in the other bay until last January, when we started a months-long bathroom renovation that required making space for building supplies and the contractor’s work station. A renovation is a story in itself but finally ours ended and we began looking forward to saner days and having the car back inside. 

But then a hulking tow truck dropped off an ancient Westphalia camper on a quiet sunny day when not much else was entertaining the neighbourhood. “Isn’t it beautiful!” enthused our daughter, the musician, who had found it “for a steal” on Used Victoria. (What is a good price for an old grey van barely on four wheels, at least two of them seized, I ask you? I didn’t dare ask her.) But never mind, greatness comes out of the dreams of youth and she’s a determined one who envisions restoring it to its former glory and then taking it on the music festival circuit.

Watching it being winched down the flatbed ramp provided idle amusement for various onlookers. So did grunting it into the garage which, given the locked wheels and all, was like pushing an elephant where it doesn’t want to go. Why the garage? To protect it from rusting until it gets painted, the cans of paint having been included in the sale. (Which makes me suspect the restoration’s been started and shelved at least once before.)

Life is a constant evolution and in the 21st century it calls for balancing the short view of the here and now with the long view of the whole world and our collective future. When the home front threatens to make me crazy, I drift back over to the global village to find some purpose and perspective there. A change, as they say, really is as good as a rest.

Trudy really does hope to get a few good books read over the summer and wishes everyone time to do the same.