Posts Tagged With: family

The return to home sweet home

Moyan Brenn. Tromso, Troms Fylke, Norway. Flickr. February 19, 2012.

Moyan Brenn. Tromso, Troms Fylke, Norway. Flickr. February 19, 2012.

Home, of course, is more than a dwelling.  It isn’t an award-winning architectural design or LEED certification.  Even gingerbread trim, fresh paint, window boxes, or lace curtains don’t define home.  Home is comfort, privacy, safety, and rest.  Home is cozy warmth, soft cushions, and sunny windows.  It is freedom from prying eyes, a shrine to personal treasures, and a cherished hangout.  Home permits refreshing naps, fearless, restorative sleep, and uninterrupted video games.

Home is a haven from the cares and dangers of the world.  First, urbanization and, then, globalization challenged the abilities of home to provide these qualities to its families.  The population density, crime, noise, and pollution of the industrial age changed the nature of home for many Americans.  Multiple unit buildings, narrow hallways, and small, windowless rooms begrudge comfort, privacy, and rest.  Miniature yards, alleys, and four-lane roads encourage the conflict that precedes crime.

A richly appointed house is also less likely to become a home.  Designer or antique furniture and art collections prevent informality and relaxation.  Home theaters, kitchen and bathroom televisions, and living room and bedroom web access permit the world to invade family life.  The colonization of information age communication technologies has made the residence an extension of the workplace.  Globalization has erased the end of the work day.

Household friendly architecture requires light, space, nooks, and curves.  There must be a generosity of windows.  Inhabitants require the passage of sun and shadow to mark their physiological rhythms.  Rays of sunshine through sparkling glass enable even urbanites to enjoy indoor greenery.  Hallways must be large enough for décor and conversation.  Regular consideration of children’s plaster handprints, parents’ wedding pictures, and grandparents’ portraits must accompany trips to the bathroom and races to answer the front doorbell.  Niches for reading and contemplation nourish the soul and lower blood pressure.  Smooth, round stairway banisters, flexible screen doors, and soft, beveled edges on kitchen counters and dining bars encourage fun and frolic and prevent injury.

As home schooling and work telecommuting become more common, dwellings must become less, not more utilitarian.  If we must stay in the same place all day and every day, it must be as inhabitants of a human ecosystem, not cramped, exploitive invaders. Rooftop and courtyard gardens, built-in composting bins, and floors and rooms heated geothermally are only the beginning.  More building materials will be sustainably derived from natural sources.  House paint and aluminum siding will disappear.  The sounds, touch, and smells of wind, water, and sun will refresh lobbies, patios, and living rooms through fountains, ponds, skylights, and aerodynamic hallways.  Students and office workers alike will enjoy them because secure, built-in, home wireless networks will render offices and classrooms obsolete.  Residential prestige will be conferred upon the most sustainable neighborhoods.  The conspicuous consumption of McMansions and multiple car garages will be considered crass and distasteful.  Home will not only nourish and protect the heart, but also the mind and the family. 

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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Fashion forward: What will we wear?

Novita Estiti. Flickr. November 14, 2008

Novita Estiti. Flickr. November 14, 2008

Casual dress escaped the barn and garage to transform the backyard and the shopping mall.  Then, it jumped the fence to the office, the classroom, and religious services.  Ease of care, freedom of movement, and promotion of equality prompted this fashion trend.  Cotton blend clothing needs no ironing.  It can be cleaned in an automatic washer with soap and water.  It breathes to help regulate body temperature and dries quickly.  Chino, gabardine, and denim fabric can endure frequent washes without diminishing the longevity of the garment.  Cotton knits drape the body comfortably and attractively because they stretch with movement.  They represent visual equality in that they can be economically mass produced.  No matter one’s income or occupation, it is possible to be well-groomed.  No more stains even if work requires more exertion than sitting at a desk.  Wrinkles are nonexistent even when ironing isn’t in one’s repertoire.

In earlier times, clothing distinguished social status.  Hand tailored clothing created of delicate, natural materials demonstrated that the wearer was a person of substance.  The cut and fit of the outfit, the expense of the fabric, and the demands of its care were evidence of taste, intellectual pursuits, and wealth.  Well-educated and professionally employed people wore silks, wools, and fine cottons.  Housekeepers, laborers, and trades people wore durable, loose-fitting, and easy to clean clothing in fabrics such as denim and twill.  Today, the boss is likely wearing the same type of clothing as his or her staff.  Whether it is overalls, blazers and slacks, or polo shirts and chinos, the company dress code applies to all.  Position is demonstrated by performance, not appearance.

Concern about environmental pollution, conservation of water, and the institutionalization of two paycheck families, not social status will have major influences upon fashion in the near future. Working adults want to spend less time on laundry.  They want to live in communities with clean air and sufficient water supplies.  They’re concerned about the quality of the life that their grandchildren will live.  Clothing that is self-cleaning is already under development.  Imagine never having to wash clothes again.  Anti-bacterial clothing is now for sale, but needs improvement.  Knits are likely to prompt the demise of ironing.  Add the electricity savings to the savings from using unheated water to wash clothes.  Business casual workplace dress codes permit cardigan and v-neck sweaters, turtleneck tops, stretch slacks, and knit dresses.  Knits may ensure the disappearance of the fastener, too.  T-shirts, sweatpants, turtlenecks, pullover sweaters, and elastic waist skirts need no zippers or buttons.  Even dressing will consume less time and energy.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2012

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Wash and dry: Conversations with a dishwasher

Janine Swank. Flickr. Downtown Chandler Historic District, Chandler, Arizona.  August 1, 2011.

Janine Swank. Flickr. Downtown Chandler Historic District, Chandler, Arizona. August 1, 2011.

When mealtime required extensive preparation and clean-up, eating was much more than necessary nourishment.  It was a cherished and shared ritual.  Families not only ate together, but they cooked and cleaned up together.  Mealtime required silverware including forks and spoons, not plastic sporks.  Dishes were crockery or, perhaps, plastic melamine, but never disposable.  Someone had to set the table before dinner and clear the table after dinner.  If a diner didn’t cook, set, or clear, he or she likely washed or dried the dishes.  Dish washing by hand was a ritual all by itself.  A certain skill was required.  Two squirts of soap, not two tablespoons were needed in the sink.  Glasses were washed first; greasy pans were washed last.  Glasses and silverware had to be dried immediately to avoid spotting.  Plates and pots could air dry.  Parental tutorials and mentorship ensured proficiency and camaraderie.  Indeed, washing dishes guaranteed Mom’s undivided attention.

The mechanical dishwasher ended this homey celebration of family meals.  Dish washing is now an independent and solitary stacking of the maw of the dishwasher.  Each diner has only to scrape or rinse a plate or bowl, open the dishwasher’s door, and place it on a rack.  Children may see parents in passing through the kitchen, but no diner stays long.  There’s no pleasure in play in warm, soapy water for younger ones.  Playful negotiations over washing and drying among teens are no more.  The solitary swoosh and churn of the mechanical dishwasher has replaced the chatter and laughter of the human dish washers.

More hygienic and, certainly, more efficient than human washers, the sudsy hum of the shiny, square dishwasher has replaced kitchen conviviality.  Silent, if group meditations upon the television in the comfort of the den pass for human sociability.  Rested, well-fed, and spared dishpan hands, today’s American family reserves its commentary for the classroom and the office.  Conserving energy trumps the development of synergy.  What do you think?  Do laborsaving appliances take the “home” out of homemaking?  Perhaps, they provide more time for family fun?

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2011

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The refrigerator: A short story

Your Postmodern Cornucopia
Travis Hornung. Flickr. Santa Cruz, CA, USA. May 27, 2006.

Americans expect their kitchens to be equipped with refrigerators, but these appliances are not common in all parts of the world.  Even Americans who eat primarily fast food and restaurant meals still stock their refrigerators.  How would our meals differ without refrigeration?  We’d have to drink warm beverages including water, soda, and orange juice.  Forget the cold tinkle of ice cubes in iced tea and party punch bowls.  There’d be no keeping supplies of condiments such as pickles, ketchup, mustard, and jam.  Consumption of dairy products like milk, butter, cheese, and ice cream would be uncommon.  There would be no milk and cookies, grilled cheese sandwiches, or ice cream sundaes.

Trips to the pantry or dank, dark basement for cans of mushy yellow-green peas and lank grayish green spinach would be necessary.  Bins of potatoes and winter squash would accompany containers of split peas and pinto beans.  Shopping daily for fresh bread, meat, and produce would be required.  Fresh fruit would last only days.  We’d have to eat only locally grown, seasonal fruit.  There’d be no oranges in Michigan, apples in Arizona, kiwi fruit in Connecticut, or bananas in Idaho.

Without the refrigerator, Americans could not enjoy leftover cold pizza, fried chicken, or Chinese food for breakfast.  There would be no midnight refrigerator raids to eat that last piece of apple pie, savor the crispy corner portion of lasagna, or build a sandwich from leftover turkey.  The lullaby of its hum wouldn’t induce overnight naps on the couch after television marathons.  There would be no place to post children’s drawings, doctor’s appointments, or grocery lists.  What’s on your refrigerator?  What’s in your refrigerator?  Do you have a favorite midnight refrigerator raid story?

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2011

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