Today's post is a story of three sets of weighing scales, two books and a realisation that came to me while I was baking cookies at 7 am this morning.
This is the first set of kitchen scales I owned. I bought them from a sale when we bought our first home for the grand price of 50p. They embodied everything I wanted to be, they were old and battered but had character and they spoke of a person living a life of rural perfection. I worshiped at their honest decrepitude and prided myself on the thrift and rejection of commercialism that their purchase revealed. They didn't really work. The pan was too small and to be honest a bit too rusty. The dial stuck and would give you any measurement you liked if you joggled it a bit. Nonetheless I wouldn't give up and they lasted a good fifteen years with me muttering under my breath and guessing at quantities.
This is the second set of scales I bought. They are about 5 years old and seemed to offer the perfect solution. A style that fits with the life I live, rustic, rural, a hint of the past. A big wide (not rusty) pan and measurements in both Imperial and metric, a big step forward and a bargain in a local store..... they don't work either. The measurements are too vague and you can easily add an extra ounce or two by mistake. They slip and slide as you fill them and I have to adjust the dial every time I want to use them. I carried on though, after all I am thrifty and care for the environment, I do not throw things away at the drop of a hat and it would be a waste to stop using something so solid after only five years!
Earlier this year I read Karen Maezen Miller's book Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life after seeing it recommended on various blogs. The most influential thing that I got out of it was the importance of living the life we are living - not the life we aspire to. I realised that I was often falling into this trap - stockpileing fabric to make a quilt, that I then felt guilty for not finding time for, saving my clothes that are now two sizes too small, for the day I stop enjoying my own baking and return to to figure I had 20 years ago! Over and over I lived the life in my dreams and missed out on the life I was living.
As I mentioned in a post last week, this is a time of year when we are encouraged to try and create a perfection to our lives, to achieve everything, to make Christmas magical whilst running the home like a well oiled machine. Everything has to be clean, decorated, home-made, inspirational, relaxed, happy ......the list goes on and on. In Simple Abundance: A Day Book of Comfort and Joy Sarah Ban Breathnach says
"Making gifts for those we love can be fun and occasionally economical but only when we've got the time and creative energy to do it properly" (it's on Dec 11 - I have to confess to reading ahead a bit!)
This morning, the wise words of both these women came together and these are the scales I used to make my cookies..
....horrible, industrial, modern, not my style at all but actually incredibly practical and the ones that allowed me to live the life I want to live as part of the life I do live. The life where I love to make cookies for school on special days (Children in Need) but I only have a short time to make them. A life where efficiency and something that works sometimes wins out over beauty and a battle with a rusty bowl.
So I guess at the end of this long and ramble-y post what I am hoping you will see is a step in the right direction, a path I hope to firmly keep my feet on over the next few weeks as I juggle the expectations of others (and even more scarily myself) in the run up to Christmas. What do you think? Are there any scales in your life that might do with a bit of modernisation?