Monday, February 18, 2013

Pioneer Ingenuity in a Modern World

“It’s kind of like we’re pioneers,” said my son as he watched over my shoulder.  I was wrapping up some knives, forks, and spoons in several layers of dish towels, and securing it all with some twine.

Yes, Honey, it’s like we’re pioneers.  But our covered wagon has complimentary soda pop, climate control and in-flight entertainment.  (I’m thinking it would be bad form here to whine about leg room and luggage snafus.)

Setting up another home halfway across the world—as in buying all new things—would be a costly affair.  That said, I didn’t want to pack up my entire Utah house to ship overseas—that would be a costly affair as well.  (And, frankly, more hassle than I wanted.)  What to bring?  What to leave behind?  Ready to challenge myself with a more minimal lifestyle, I decided to bring whatever basics we might need to get us started.
·         One set of sheets for each bed
·         One towel per family member
·         One entire table setting per person (Girls’ Camp ladies, yes, we packed our pie/cake tins!)
·         A small cutting board
·         Clothespins (called “pegs” here—line-drying is common throughout Asia)

And, now, here we are.

Though we don’t have the hardships of the Mormon pioneers, we have—sometimes by choice and sometimes out of necessity—adopted the innovation that is inspired by a more minimalistic lifestyle.  The pioneers made do with what they had.  I am inspired by the creative challenge to see the vast potential a single item can have.

So, when I find myself saying, “I DON’T have a __________,” I try to follow it up with “but I DO have a __________.” 

(If MacGyver were a domestic goddess . . .)

Tea towel: lunch wrap, napkin, apron. (See photo above)

Metal cake pan: plate, bowl, serving dish, cutting board, salad bowl.  (I will be surprised, however, if I ever actually bake a cake in one.)

Masking tape: labeling device, makeshift bandages (we seriously do not own “real” bandages)

Bath towel: rolled up as camping pillow (my son recently did this at his new school’s grade 5 campout), blanket (on most nights, though, there’s no need for blankets in Singapore—you could also use a large scarf, as mentioned in this post about one item’s versatility)

Chopsticks: eating utensils, serving utensils, cooking utensils, tool for securing hair in a bun

(10 points if you can spot the irony in this picture about improvising a way to secure hair--that I didn't notice until now.)

What’s the lesson in all this, kids?

Get creative.  Expand your vision.  Be inventive.

Our journeys in life may take us across the Great Plains pulling handcarts, or down into the depths of our souls.  By fostering versatility we can train our eyes to see the many amazing things that one item, one idea, one person can do.


thedailydelights said...

the elastic around your wrist :)
I'm enjoying reading your pioneer journey...I feel we've been living our own over almost a year, with everything in storage and all in two tiny rooms; I understand some of it. We've given up many of the things we love to do and using things we obviously took for granted before. But I do love living simply and look forward to unpacking and getting rid of much that we have learned we really do not need :)...xo

g said...

Right you are! I am rarely without an elastic bracelet. I like what you said about unpacking and getting rid of what you have learned you don't need. I think we'll be doing some of that when we return. And I am looking forward to seeing more of your home-build. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

you inspire me, anet

g said...

Honored, Anet. Thank you.

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