Friday, September 26, 2008

Simple Things

Lately in America we've been fretting about our economy. It's scary when you're constantly looking at the big picture and that picture is blurry.

Sometimes I have to look at the smaller picture in order to focus. And in the smaller picture my friends and I can get still together on a warm, southern California afternoon and enjoy each others' company. A glass of bubbly, fancy cheese and fruit from local farms is all within reach.

I enjoyed the company of friends in this beautiful Altadena garden the other day. Our hostess provided the treats because she wanted to do so. But crackers and water would have been enough, and we were all keenly aware of that.

In frightening times its comforting to look around and see how much I have: my home, family, friends, enough to eat and a country where I can voice my opinions and vote. I remind myself that even now, even when things are frightening and it feels like we teeter on the brink of a terrifying abyss, that's only the hype of the hysterical who want us to buy or follow or fear. What's really true is that even when we live within our means we live like kings.

25 comments:

altadenahiker said...

Thank you for the perspective, Petrea. I've adopted the ostrich strategy this week, and have a stack of unopened newspapers that are going straight to the recycling bin.

Pascal Jim said...

Well said Ms. P.. Our little patio here at Wickwire Cottage has been used much lately, easier than facing the outside world.

Anonymous said...

Friends, a sunny fall afternoon, champagne - I'll drink to all of that!

Hope said...

A wonderful post. I like the last sentence most of all. Very well said. The photo is wonderful! It looks to have been a very nice evening spent with friends.

Laurie said...

Yes, yes, yes. A toast from me to you, my dear wise Petrea. I remember even when I was very poor and struggling to make ends meet -- I was still living better than 90% of the world. We even take for granted the fact that our water out of the tap is clean and safe -- something many people worldwide don't enjoy. Add good health, ingenuity, a support system of good friends and family... there's nothing we can't handle.

Thanks for this beautiful photo and even more beautiful sentiment.

Irina Netchaev said...

Petrea, you are right on with this post! We have so much here and sometimes do not take the time to appreciate it. A really beautiful post.

Thursday Girl/Hollis the Cat said...

Perfect...thank you!!!

Petrea said...

Altadenahiker, I think your strategy is quite sane, as is Pascal Jim's. Doesn't Wickwire Cottage sound like a place where we could visit with Peter Rabbit or Pooh? Honey for everyone.

Right on, anonymous, and the champagne doesn't have to be expensive. Invite me! I don't know the difference.

It was a lovely time, Hope. My friends tolerated the camera for a bit, then I put it away and relaxed.

Thank you, Laurie. Yes, I have to remember that even at my worst financial times I'm still better off than a huge percentage of the world's population.

Perspective, right? Thank you, Irina. Thanks, TG/HtC!

Dina said...

Glad I have you to teach me what's what in the Old Country these days. A toast to you and your attitude--lechayim, to life!

Anonymous said...

Beautifully expressed, Petrea and Laurie. :-) How right you are. The housing/credit crisis finally touched my life yesterday; our landlord is foreclosing on his house, and of course I am ruminating today on what's next.

It's scary to be pushed out into the world, and a little refreshing and exciting, too. Time to clean house and remember what is important! We are so lucky to have our friends and family, and our capacity to enjoy life.

ben wideman said...

What a great statement! Thank you for making it Petrea. And if you buy your wine at the 99 cents store, it's cheaper than water! :)

USelaine said...

That's really it, Anon. The capacity to enjoy life, because we really have so much, and we can help each other with the rest.

I got to visit a Bosnian refugee camp in southern Hungary back in the 90s. The families were housed in old army barracks, and had ropes strung up to hang blankets around, delineating tiny private spaces among them. They had practically nothing, but still they served us special slices of their particular ethnic cake, so sweet and delicate, with tea. All such scarce resources, but you should have seen the joy and warmth on their faces as they received us with such hospitality. Just as Petrea illustrates here, it is that joy in the dual grace of hospitality, and of accepting hospitality, that is the joy, not the price tag.

Having said all that, the garden chandelier is a kick, and the garden itself, sublime. Cheers!

marley said...

Well said Petrea!

Christie said...

I remember once while I was babysitting (for an extremely wealthy family), their little girl asked me if I had what I needed. At the time, we lived in a small house (less than 1,000 square feet) and it really made me think, but I had to answer that we did. It was an eye-opening question. Do we really have what we need? So many other countries in the world would be overwhelmed with the bounty that we have. We just need to remember to be more thankful.

I just wrote a letter to the editor of a magazine last night about "living within our means". It is lovely that we can enjoy the little splurges now and then, but it is even more lovely to know that we have we are not going into debt to do so.

Susan C said...

My friend Lilli started an editorial (that appeared in the Star News) with the words, "I am wealthy."

I was a little surprised when at first, but then continued reading, "I know because I flush my toilet every morning."

We are all wealthy because of our access to water. The other simple things we can enjoy, as Patrea said, puts us in the category of kings.

D.C. Confidential said...

Living within our means is smart and sustainable. Simplicity really is the best.

Excellent post, Petrea.

Bernie K. said...

Methinks I detect the slightest sting in your last sentence. Forsooth, still within our means, we live like royalty—we enjoy so much, so rich is our demesne. Would this bounty could roll around the world like a note: you will all have this and more!

But we'll be on Mars before that trump sounds. And then—what? The same, over again? Must there be a Magna Carta of Gusev crater? Or could we learn to share like grownups, here, before all the rich people flee in silver ships?

Virginia said...

What a wonderful commentary today. I need to print it right off and post it in a prominent place. Well said my friend and a lovely photo.

Ms M said...

Looks like a wonderful spot, with good friends and good food, to get another perspective. Thanks for your wise words.

From de Cafe said...

I try to have an attitude of gratitude; something i don't see in abundance around me.

The simple things of life, living w/i our means, friends & family, doing the right thing. Wunderful sentiments. But, we (through our govt reps) are $10 trillllion in debt. Our states on a smaller scale.

Whenever I hear these pols speak, espousing new laws to control us, tax-breaks to reward their special supporters, new spending (borrowed from foreigners) to bankrupt us, I know they don't represent me. And the words gratitude, simplicity, and living within their means, are foreign to them; while money/power they understand clearly.

Anyway, this is gettin me hungry!

Marylène said...

An American friend sent me a mail couple of weeks ago called "What is eaten in one week", in 9 countries around the world.
I deeply regret I don't know how to make it appear on my comment !
To make a long story short :
we are so privileged, what is junk and worthless for us is a treasure for others, and I am not talking only about food.
Thank you for reminding us to put things in perspective (hope it is correct, not an easy subject to discuss in English).

Webradio said...

Bonjour Petrea !
"Bon Appétit !"
J'espère que le vin est bon...
A plus tard...

Pascal Jim said...

One poster commented, I am wealthy...flushing the toilet...Yes, as one who has dug holes in the earth and placed small shanties upon them, this "flushing thing" is total de luxe.
Further, the Sewer Tax is happily paid by this writer.
Even with all the current BS entering into our lives, we are most Fortunate..

Petrea said...

I admit to having injected a bit of irony into my last sentence. Wall Street is in a panic over "the credit crunch." It seems we've over-borrowed. Could that mean that borrowing is the problem in the first place?

Yes, even when we live within our means we live like kings because our means are great.

How could it be that we don't have enough here? How could it be that in America there isn't enough to sustain us and beyond--not enough to share with our less fortunate brothers and sisters? How could it be that people live poor and destitute on America's streets when our congressional leaders bicker about whether or not to cap the salaries of the investment bankers who put us into this position in the first place?

So I look around and see I have plenty for myself, and to share with my neighbors and those in need. I can always find something to feel good about. But that doesn't mean I don't understand what From de Cafe is saying.

Marylène, votre anglais est parfait. Nous comprenons.

Chuck Pefley said...

Great resonance and wisdom. Living within our means and appreciating what is ... very key.