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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Magazines part 1

I have been working on this posting for awhile now.The thought came to me while standing in a long line at the store one day. The gears in my head started to roll and I was left thinking." Well how about that? Although I love magazines I no longer buy them why is that?"
Like I said I love magazines,the glossy paper,bright photos of all sorts of temptations and the random bits of information they house. But their charm is gone and to tell you why let me start at the front door of my life.
Let me be self centered for just a moment and start with myself,the first magazines I turned my back on were "fashion" magazines,it started one day as I nursed Issac as a brand new babe.Someone had brought me a pile of magazines to read as I sat nursing Issac, should have been good right? Not so much.In this glossy tome was an article about how horrid it was to nurse your baby,that was just the beginning of it I won't go into the supposed damage it would do to my looks,intelligence and sanity. Not wanting to wake the now sleeping baby on my lap I did not throw the magazine across the room. And not wanting to be called a litter bug I did not throw it out the window.It did end up in the trash were it belong. Yes the trash, those were the days before curbside recycling and the days when women were getting arrested at the local mall for nursing in public.
Later on I did come back to "fashion"magazines once my postpartum hormones had settled a bit,it was still no good. The only times my body was going to be bone thin was if I was recovering from a bad Crohn's flare up, going through all of that hell just to be that thin was not my idea of beauty. There is just no allure to puking my guts up and curling up with pain all in the name of "fashion". And when would I ever need any of those clothes?Could you see it? Me who rode a bicycle for transportation peddling along, in the rain with 6 inch hells and a long flowing gown? I have seen it done here but it was for one of the many bike rides we have here for some fun loving reason or another.(Portland may be the only city I know of that hosts a naked bike ride,don't worry it is legal here and funny to see.) As for the make up, here in Portland women just don't paint on two inches of goo to look good,it's just not part of our culture I guess. Again flying along in the rain on my bike I'd end up looking like Tammy Fay Baker crying for the T.V camera. Now let that camera pan around to the curb outside of my front door.
If I stood at the curb and faced my 1,1oo square footed house I would see our humble suburban homestead, the lawn we are slowly but surly removing,my artistically inspired front porch and the gap that my beloved and much missed plumb tree once filled. There are a few shrubs planted at the foundation of the house,our little apple tree,my mock orange and the leaning blue spruce tree. Sounds fairly suburban right? There should be lots of magazines to fill me with inspiration and the pockets of the local home improvement stores right?Magazines with names using the words cottage,small,creative,home,garden, that pledge to teach you how to live in a small space with style and elegance.
I bought it hook line and sinker for the first few years we lived in our house. How does one go about living in 1,100 sq ft when you are a growing family of four, who have more hobbies than any hobby store? There were lots of articles titled something like "How to live in a small house." I admit I bought the magazines,the glossy paper was so bright and shining, the story line promised to make my life better and the treasure hunting raven within me was awed by the whole package,oh so bright and pretty. I'd flip open to the pages of my desire and read some thing like the following.
"Meet Bob and Sue Smith they live in a lovely 2,400 square foot home in the suburb of Milknhoney." 2,400 square feet! That's not small! That's not a cottage! That is a full sized house with full sized closets, two bathrooms and a kitchen the size of my front room.
The story goes on from there, " Bob and Sue recently remolded their outdated kitchen with a modest budget of $20,000." Hello? Thats nearly half of a years income in my world.
Two years ago we remodeled our kitchen. Over a summer Chance and I ripped out a wall,moved plumbing,put in the cabinets, painted, hammered and nailed. It took us 6 months of planning to come up with our kitchen design.In that time we poured over kitchen ideas and collected a stack of remodeling magazines. Did we use any of the ideas we found? No for two reasons. The first we had $3,000 cash to spend and we were not going to go over our budget,remember we are Chance and Rois here not Bob and Sue. We did it and came out with $85 left which we used to buy a new backdoor that did not leak like a sieve. The second,We really don't think ANY of the plans we saw we planned for people who cook the way we do. Yes there were some beautiful to look at kitchens but no room for cooking. The kitchens that really made us laugh were the ones who's counter tops were covered from end to the other with kitchen themed knick knacks,walls covered in plate collections and ornate wood work.My only thought with those kitchens was."MMM greasy kitchen dust all over those million little things." Why would I want to spend my days cleaning all of those things? Oh I know they must have a maid.
Ok lets flip to another article there must be some writing with in that relates to my modest home and life. "How to organize your "cottage" ". Now here I have gleaned a few tidbits that have been the savior of my sanity. Everything MUST have a purpose and a place. Clean out closets and drawers a least twice a year to avoid clutter build up. Both of those are good but again the products the magazine wants you to buy to achieve an organized home are for Bob and Sue's not Chance and Rois' budget.
Spending $700 to build a closet organizer is right out.No matter what our closets are so small that Fred Flintstone would feel right at home. I spend hours cleaning them out and folding things in a way that Martha may or may not be proud of just to have everything come tumbling out the next time the door is opened. Wait, Sol's closet can't even have a door, it all just comes tumbling when you open his bedroom door. Sigh,I tried, I really did.
Next article please."How to Green your home in 10 easy steps." This one is one of the most frustrating and as outdated as Bob and Sue's old kitchen. I am already doing those said ten steps and more but want to do more. There must be something I am missing I always think. The media makes living a green life style into hard work and time consuming. A false propaganda,lies all lies! Recycling,Reducing and Reusing are so part of our lives now we don't even notice that we are doing it any more.It has become so simple; then the media's propaganda slips into my mind. "This is too easy,there's no work to it I MUST be missing something." But according to those 10 steps I am not.In fact we are doing steps 11 through 15 that the article left out.
The media tells us that there are 3 "R'S" to recycling and living a green life but that is a myth there are actually 7.
Rethink,Reduce,Repair,Recycle, Refuse,Reuse,Redesign. (from Food not Lawns by H.C Flores)
In between the covers of all of these magazines are lots of pretty things and authors telling me how to place them in my home just so. I want to fit in right? I want a lovely welcoming home right? I want.. right? Not really. I don't want to live in the boxes these magazines offer all glossy and perfect. Yes, I live in a cracker box sized house but I don't live in a box. I suppose if I had to live in a box I'd choose a planter box because there is life and growing there to keep me happy. But I think of our home as a treasure box filled with things that hold memories, joy, purpose,warmth and things to come.
The homes in the magazines show me no life being lived. Where are the crumbs,the dust bunnies,finger prints,pet rodents in their smelly cages or unwashed dishes? The un-mopped kitchen floor? Only un-mopped looking because as soon as you mop someone comes in with muddy muck boots or the chickens invite themselves to tea. Where do these people LIVE?
In our neighborhood there are 3 floor plans of 2-3 bedroom homes with 900 to 1200 square feet of plain and quickly built home. My neighbor Mrs K and I have for years now wondered where are the magazines for people in our neighborhood? Who has money or floor space to live the way they do in the magazines? And frankly I don't really want to but dream of a publisher who would see this void.A publication that went one step farther or one step down may be more like it. Truly small homes done with equally small budgets and an eye on the 7 R's. I want a progressive magazine that is keeping up with the times, how to do it yourself and moves you and it's self forward. Articles that start out with step one but then keep coming back to the topic as you move along on your journey.I know the basics of keeping chickens in an urban setting,don't consider them any thing but live stock so what are the live stock point of view issues that can come up with chickens? How can I remodel my kitchen myself,for a small sum of cash and I do mean small ? I want a magazine that rolls the words cottage,home,farm,mother,small scale,garden and urban into awe inspiring glossy photos of the new urban farm life that is rolling across our globe. Yes, yes I know there is a new one out there looming for my attention,the title promising farm and urban inspiration,I saw it and left it behind. I majored in art you see and I want a bit more style.I am not a home grown kind of girl. Take Frieda Kahlo and stir in Laura Ingills Wilder that's more me. That is what I want in a magazine,canning jars with vivid colors.



  1. I used to be a real magazine junkie too. I still read some but mainly gardening magazines now. The principal green message seems to me not to keep buying things, and that is so counter to the magazine world that there is no chance of seeing a magazine proclaiming the value of not consuming!

  2. elizabethm is probably right... but still... I'm right there with you.

  3. I agree but I am hoping that one day a publisher will get it,the whole picture and then present it with out it sounding like it is some radical slightly distasteful thing.
    Every time I read an article in a magazine about urban chickens the tone leaves me thinking the author was wiping their hands with disgust. Kind of like ewww chickens how gross.

  4. Y'know, when it first started out way back when in the seventies, The Mother Earth News was kind of like that...useful helpful how to do it articles that assumed you would be foraging supplies and materials, and still had some desire to have your surrounding both pretty and functional. Lots of suggestions for ways that folks were finding to get by.

    But over the years they have become a consume-ing based magazine like all the others, useless to those who don't live at the top of the economic food chain. I guess you can't sell advertising space if the folks who read your magazine don't compulsively consume.

    I think that perhaps the internet, through blogs and websites, is where the future of that kind of information sharing is right now.

  5. I like magazines, and until my kids are out of middle school we are stuck with a bunch because their school's biggest fundraiser is a magazine drive. I love The New Yorker and I really like Wired. I don't do fashion magazines either -- not since high school. I don't do the good housekeeping type either, a little too grandma, but my guilty pleasure is -- don't shoot me -- Martha Stewart Living. I like the recipes and the crafts and the gardening pictures.