Over the Back Fence….

After my request for snail mail re our book club, our daughter, Michelle Culmore, castigated me, telling me in no uncertain words that Book Club members also needed an electronic forum so that they could talk to each other about our books and book-related thoughts and questions.  So I bow to superior wisdom.  We hereby start now.  Each week we’ll throw out discussion igniters, and you can take it from there.  Besides these, feel free to throw out your own.  Sometimes I think the Book Club is running away with my blogs.

Week 2 (Feb. 8) — 

Question #1:  Today, in schools and colleges, neither industrial arts nor home economics is taught any more.  Nor do we generally learn such things at home.  So what percentage of us are capable of constructing a cabin such as Thoreau’s?  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  Why?

Question #2:  Thoreau grew his own food, prepared and ate it; ought we to do the same?  How much of our epidemic of obesity and diabetes results from our inability to cook and prepare food at home?  What ought we to do about it?

Published in: on February 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm  Comments (5)  

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  1. Thank you, Michelle! Having grown up in daily expectation of being bombed by “the commies,” I read more than my share of books featuring the process of rebuilding civilization after a catastrophe. These made a couple of assumptions: one, that most people had some skills and experience, and two, that the patterns were available to be copied. Nowadays, with digital timepieces, computerized cars, and the internet, rebuilding civilization would be exceedingly more difficult.

    In addition, as you mention, classes in cooking, sewing, and construction have been stripped from most school curricula, leaving students with kinesthetic skills and interests out in the cold, feeling incompetent and having trouble finding meaningful employment.

    Given the opportunity of a Walden-pond experience, I think many of us have read enough and seen enough museums to be able to figure out how to construct a cabin—doing the physical work is another thing, of course!

    And I think this it’s a shame that fewer and fewer of us have the opportunity to feel the satisfaction of making something with our own minds and hands, of solving our own problems, of facing trouble and dealing with it independently.

    • Well said, Elsi.
      Appreciate your insight!
      Dr. Joe

  2. Joe, aren’t daughters the best? They bring such fresh perspective and food for thought. I do think this forum is such a good way to meet people with like interests.

    I am still waiting for Walden from the library. I’m quite certain I read it many years ago. While waiting I have read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Christmas in My Heart 20 as Joe’s added suggestions if we haven’t read them.

    I can reply to the questions as they strike me now and then reevaluate after the book has been read. My husband and I have built three homes during our marriage from start to finish. Many of our friends cannot understand the why of our wanting to do such a thing. I think some things are in our bones, our DNA if you will. Both my husband and I have a true feeling of wanting to do it ourselves. It is truly a shame that the basics are no longer taught as part of the school curriculum, yet with budget constraints and not having the example set at home I’m not sure what a school system is supposed to do. I do see a sense in some to begin a more simple life with a less is more frame of mind. It’s always been my way of thinking to live simply. We live in a lovely home with nice things. We just don’t have excess.

    My husband and I grow a garden. We grow what we can eat and we are much more active in the garden since retirement. We have always cooked good food at home and our married daughter now has the same focus in her life. I think it is difficult to blame one or two things for obesity and or diabetes. I honestly feel it is a basic responsibility each and everyone needs to take for their own health and welfare. We make the choice of driving to the fast food place or the grocery store and our children learn from this example.

    • Kathryn,
      Good to hear from you.
      Appreciate so much your thoughtful response to “Walden”. Blessings on you and your husband.
      Dr. Joe

  3. In view of the awful economy that presently exists, I feel that it would be a good idea for the average person to learn to construct a cabin or a small home. Thousands of individuals in my neighborhood have lost their homes, because they no longer can afford to pay their mortgage. Some people I know, including myself are paying a mortgage of $2,500.00- $4,000.00 a month for a home that someone else built. Think of the people who would still be in their homes if they knew how to construct one! Their monthly mortgage would be around $950.00- $1,500.00, depending upon the square footage. I believe it should be mandatory for students to learn how to construct to a small home. It may be the only way to survive in a tough economy. Also, learning home economics could prove to be profitable and save a lot of money.

    Obesity is a major problem in the United States, as most people are overweight. I myself have in times past gained an excess amount of weight. The power of appetite is one of the most difficult things for mankind to control. Fast foods have taken a terrible toll upon countless thousands, putting them at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure, dying from a stroke or heart attack , contracting cancer, etc. Growing plant food, and learning how to prepare it would definitely cut down on heart disease, cancer, diabetes, strokes, etc. The majority of Americans are “digging their grave with their teeth.” Eating plant food along with regular exercise, in my opinion will prolong life. If most Americans would do this you would see a marked decrease in weight, a happier disposition, and a stronger intellect.

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