Monday, May 16, 2011
This Artisan Life
The other day, I saw a sign on North Avenue promoting the “hand-pattied” hamburgers a restaurant offered and something clicked in the back of my mind. Later that day, it really sunk in when I saw an ad referring to an ice cream shop with hand-scooped cones. As it could be both tricky and unhygienic to scoop ice cream with one’s feet or elbows, this is an important detail to bring to a potential customer’s attention. I also realized that restaurants and artisan food merchants alike are quick to point out all the handmade, personal touches they bring to their work. Why don’t I? I don’t give myself nearly enough credit for all the things I do in this life of mine. I create countless artisan, handcrafted moments every single day.
The above paragraph, for example, was self-punctuated as are all the sentences that follow. Every word I select will always be crafted with my own synapses and typed by my own hands in-house: they have not turned over to an impersonal third party in any part of their journey to the screen. As I write, I am also sipping hand-poured local water prepared with house-made ice cubes that were produced in small batches in a glass that I choose myself among many others for how its form fits my unique hand. On that topic, machine generated, commercial ice cubes lack that certain flair, don’t you think, one looking exactly like the next? I would just as soon put toxic sludge in my glass than I would outsource my ice cubes. My ice cubes are as individualized as snowflakes. I honor them and I grieve when they are selected to chill my beverages. I do not take these things lightly. As a side note, if you are to drink chilled beverages, I suggest that you have the courage to hand-prepare and select your own ice cubes. If you cannot do this, I suggest that you please ask your ice merchants the process that went into making the cubed frozen water they sell. It could be an eye-opening experience.
Making my own ice cubes is one small commitment I make in order to create a detail-driven, handmade life. Let’s look at a typical but utterly organic day in my life…
After arising, I make my own bed, and, as I do every day, I hand-smooth the sheets and I self-fold the top of the comforter back just so. When I get dressed, my clothes - previously folded and sorted by hand - are chosen based on the temperature and my activities of the day and only then are they placed on my body. By hand, of course. When I exercise, I self-lift all my own weights and am responsible for generating my own motion. The sweat, of course, issues from my own pores that have been exfoliated by hand. My dental care, face cleaning, shower and house-prepared blended drink, of course, are done with myself and replete with this same spirit of autonomy and exquisitely rigorous attention to detail.
It is exhausting to think about, I know, and I haven’t even tied my own shoelaces with my singular bow (secured in the middle with two loops and the ends hanging loose) and walked my naturally conceived, self-gestated, and then umbilically-, mammory-, hand- and then finally self-nourished son to school. While my partially-free-range son is at school - in the district of the house that we selected after personally touring many others by foot, of course – more thoughtfully handcrafted work needs to be undertaken.
My day continues with more self-constructed sentences and the occasional personally guided Internet expedition for research and entertainment purposes. Micro- and house-brewed homemade iced tea produced with local water is also replenished throughout the day and lunch is foraged from my own kitchen and self-tended garden, comprised usually of personally selected, hand-washed, -peeled and –prepared local organic produce. Then it is back to writing again, except when I need to personally compose messages to send to my correspondences. It is not easy but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
When my son returns from school, I continue his education by reviewing his homework and home-schooling him until it is complete. Snacks are prepared and plated by hand, of course, and based on whatever items are available that day. Juice is locally purchased, home- and hand-poured.
Dinner. So much handcraftedness, all prepared in small batches, too exhausting to detail…
After dinner, the table is cleared off by hand and the dishes are hand-rinsed and -loaded into the dishwasher. The floor is then swept by hand and items that have been carried elsewhere are placed back into their designated areas. The cat’s litter box is hand-scooped. As we are a family that prioritizes the DIY philosophy, we do our own dental care, maintain our own skin and so forth in house. At bedtime, we turn back our own sheets, read to ourselves and/or to each other, and then cease sensory activity for the day and pursue a state of reduced consciousness. We do this all on our own. Although it is not easy, we wouldn’t have it any other way. It is the way of the artisan, after all.
How have you handcrafted your life today, friends?