49 Comments
Jan 5Liked by Line Editor

This is a very thoughtful article and it aligns with some of my observations about the sudden rediscovery of frugality and personal agency that apply DIY skills for satisfaction and cost reduction.

My parents would recognize this as a return to reality. As young people who were raised in the depths of a Depression and formative years in wartime, having little was the way it was. Nothing was discarded if there was any hope of renovation, fixing or repurposing. Meals were homemade and there was always a welcome extended to anyone to join in. Fun was local. House parties, dances at the Hall or schoolhouse or ball tournaments and bonspiels. In many cases the expense to have fun was showing up.

This rediscovered frugality isn’t necessarily great for the economy. Economists often state that if people are worried about the economy it can become a self fulfilling prophesy as consumers retreat from spending money.

As Ms. Gerson discovers her own agency for creativity, it may provide a bonus that is too far out to see. Sometime off into the distant future perhaps one of her hand made treasures will adorn the living room of one of her children, who proudly state: “My Mom made that”. I sure hope so.

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Jan 5Liked by Line Editor

Happy New Year to The Line team and thanks for being a bastion of sanity in today’s media.

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Jan 5Liked by Line Editor

One of my Christmas gifts to my kids this year was a cookbook I put together with all of our family recipes, including notes and tips from my experience preparing them over the years. I'm always amazed at how many people don't know how cook, and instead eat out or buy pre-prepared food all the time. It's not particularly hard, is actually pretty quick when you know what you're doing, tends to be much healthier, and saves a tremendous amount of money. I've been teaching my kids how to cook bit by bit, and I think it's something they'll find of great value in the future.

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Jan 5Liked by Line Editor

The article speaks about new found hobbies and many comments speak to having pride in craftwork. Rightly so. Craftwork can be shared in so many positive ways. If we set aside the “ugly Christmas sweater” syndrome, sewing, knitting or quilting spread the satisfaction in every direction. My late Aunt knitted children’s mitts all year round and donated them all to the Salvation Army. Many readers will identify with a story like that.

If there is one hobby that seems to have fallen victim to progress it’s music. Harmony music has roots in the Church, with many of the most enduring artists of the 20th century vaulting from church choirs to prominence in jazz, soul, R+B, country and bluegrass genres. Today, there is a dwindling population who are practitioners of harmony singing and even some church denominations have turned their backs on it. Drums, guitars and blaring noise is deemed adequate. I find that kinda sad.

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Jan 5·edited Jan 5Liked by Line Editor

Thanks for a great article. My parents were raised during the depression and then WWII. I learned by osmosis how to grow basic food, sew clothing (including diapers), knit blankets, cook from scratch, all skills that helped me a great deal early in my marriage when money was very tight. Money is not so tight now that I'm a senior, but the skills still bring great joy. Creating things wards off the impulse to buy cheap stuff that just ends up in a landfill in a year. The materials for creating are more expensive, but as you pointed out, many of them can be bought secondhand, keeping more things out of landfills. Win, win.

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Jan 5Liked by Line Editor

Wonderful! I agree wholeheartedly! Hubby and I will confit duck legs this weekend with the help of Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver YouTube posts. I’ve made ~ 30 quilts since covid began using tutorials from Missouri Star Quilt Company… the expertise is freely given and deeply appreciated. And as you say, these things help me feel content in my life, able to create experiences and items I want at a fraction of the cost. Wins all around!!

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Jan 5Liked by Line Editor

Happy New Year to all of you and thank you for producing common sense, well written, interesting and "well worth reading" journalism....I look forward to all your posts.

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Thank you. As a recently retired beginner in landscape painting I’m finding the joy of creating is my soul food. Victorian slippers are right up my alley. You are an inspiration...

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Jan 5Liked by Line Editor

I enjoyed this. My thoughts went right away to possible links between Covid and bread baking! I also remember a friend saying that her family didn’t have the skills to handle the Depression, which made me relish those in my family. Finally, for many of us whose parents handled World War II and the Depression, in many cases, including mine, the skills came from grandparents who homesteaded. Even though I have mixed feelings about coming from a line of ‘settlers,’ the skills and ingenuity that they developed enrich us all! Thank goodness for the undark sides of YouTube and Facebook!

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As an unrepentant woodworker for my entire life, I can't say much about the instant availability of woodworking skills and knowledge on You Tube. On the other hand, when a Porsche Cayenne arrived by railroad from Vancouver, it was to You Tube I turned for detailed information on how to deal with this enormously complicated and needy mechanical and electrical project.

So I would have to agree with your assertion that YouTube is the greatest repository of human skills in all of history, though I look back to my great-grandfather's blacksmith shop where my father spent his childhood years for the genesis of my woodworking knowledge.

And on another note, why do You Tubers invariably take apart the easier of the front control arms on a Lexus/Toyota, never showing the other one where you have to raise the engine to get it off?

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Jan 5Liked by Line Editor

“Re-soulificaton” -- what a great antidote to the Amazon and Skip the Dishes approach to life I’ve picked up since 2020.

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Jan 5Liked by Line Editor

A wonderful article. So insightful and inspiring.

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Jan 5Liked by Line Editor

Enjoyed this thought-provoking article. It’s so easy for creativity to take a back seat to convenience in these tech-dominant times. Good for you Jen Gerson.

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Fantastic article. Sharing!

I too, have been bitten by the hobby / DIY bug, heavily informed by YouTube and wonderful online forums where fellow hobbyists trade stories & technical advice.

I also credit my own father, who is pretty much the ultimate DIY man - farm kid trained as a draftsman out of high school who then returned to take over the family farm with his young family in the early 1970s. Dad grew up before electricity and running water, and thus is very self-reliant. Upon retiring from farming he not only actively took part in designing and building his own retirement home and yard, he also outfitted himself in a retirement workshop that would be the envy of any hobbyist, and now restores vintage & antique cars and other equipment as his leisure.

Glad to hear you are embracing the hobbyist - DIY lifestyle, Jen, and also glad you're not giving up your wonderful writing!

Happy New Year!

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Jan 5Liked by Line Editor

FANTASTIC article, Jen!

I love this so much. I agree with everything you have written here. I am living through the acquisition and capitalism-ification of a small company. We were a team of generalists, we loved our work and our company, we had pride, and we made world-class high-tech machines (hence the acquisition). Still make, I should say. We were bad at making profit, though, and had to change, so its complicated, as Jen says. Efficiency will ensure our survival, but at a personal cost to the employees.

As a side-note, we are in Ottawa. There are more than just fucking politicians in this city.

I also have “too many” hobbies. Jen nailed it, it is invigorating and rewarding. I second every single word she says!

Jen, I feel like you wrote this one for me. It’s uncanny.

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Jan 5Liked by Line Editor

I really appreciated this. I'm a fellow gardener, sewer, crafty, canning type of person and I've sometimes found myself wondering - what is it that is so satisfying about hearing the jars of apple sauce pop, or seeing seeds come up. But I think it's the full circle of doing and having a part in a little bit of something beyond ourselves. Your article comes at a good time as I received a gift of some cash and have been truly puzzled at what to spend it on. My basic needs are met (thankfully) and I want to do something special with it, but I don't know what that something special is. I tucked it into my wallet last night - with still no idea. But now I'm wondering if somehow I can use it to make something or to feed a hobby that I might not otherwise spend the money on. I will have to think on it more.

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