I realized a few days ago that time has just whizzed by since my last post. September slipped away and we’re into October. What have I been up to lately? Well, not that much.
Last week our household was “media free” for 48 hours because the cable company cut our line as they were upgrading the neighbor’s service. It was a classic case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing.
Yes, we could have gone to any number of nearby hot spots to use our tablets and laptops. Our cellphones did work, even if the landline did not. We could — and did — watch a few DVD’s, but we did have a break from the 24-hour news cycle that is this election year (and that Steve and I both have a love/hate relationship with). But all in all the house was blessedly quiet, so quiet the quiet was humming.
I loved it.
For some time now I have been thinking that I am just a little too attached to my electronics. I am very quick to pick up my iPad, where I can easily check email and view the latest on Instagram, which I find as addictive as Pinterest. (I think this is an extension of my magazine habit. Pretty pictures get me every time.)
In my working days, I would get coffee and often some breakfast to go on my way to the office, then sit down at my desk and read and respond to emails as I drank that coffee and ate that muffin or yogurt. Sometimes it took a few hours with complex email requests and responses, the inevitable interruptions from co-workers and phone calls. But then I carried that habit over in retirement, reading blogs, skipping from one link to another. It’s fun and some of it feeds Ivy and Ironstone, but sometimes I think I’m just spending too much time online.
So no, I did not seek out additional wifi.
I need to admit here that much of my media-angst stems from my growing cellphone disdain. Yes, they are remarkable gadgets. We were glad to have them last week since our landline service comes via our cable. What’s more fun than carrying all those photos of the grandkids in your pocket? But is anyone else out there tired of how much people have their nose in the cellphone rather than in the moment? Is there anyone else who cringes at the presence of cellphones at the dinner table?
But, now we have service and a seasonally-appropriate orange cable running across the yard until the crew that actually buries it shows up to do so.
Life without cable, landline and internet worked out well for me because I needed to finish reading John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath for a book group I’ve joined. I know — it’s long, difficult and depressing, but awesome! I read this book for the first time decades ago, and to be really honest, it had mushed together with some other Steinbeck works. This time I found it totally engrossing. The poverty of the Joad family and the rest of the Okies is numbing. But they are also totally selfless, inviting others to join them on their meager journey. There is also the anger the Okies share at losing their homes and their livelihoods, and the fear of so much that is unknown. The Californians at the end of this road are angry, too, at refugees poised to take their jobs and drain their resources. It’s an old story, but timeless. And sadly familiar.
Not totally coincidentally my husband and I went that week to see “America After the Fall: Paintings in the 1930’s” at Chicago’s Art Institute. It captured the same period of time from several cultural angles, from Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” to the labor movement and socialism. And it included “Gas,” by Edward Hopper, which seems to perfectly and poignantly capture a scene from Steinbeck.
Looking for another good read?
My friend Nancy just launched “Reveling in Retirement” here. This is a fun and thoughtful look at the challenges and rewards of retirement, as well as life, work, family and more. You don’t have to be retired or even retirement age to enjoy what she has to say. I hope you’ll stop by.
See you next time!