Gone with the Times (photo: PWBaker/flickr)

Did you once want a big, impressive house, an expansive piece of property, a front porch with pillars, like Tara in Gone With The Wind? I remember when that was a convention, it was assumed everyone wanted those marks of success.

Times have changed or we have, it’s become more a sign of bad choices to have those McMansion trappings, for me and almost everyone I know. Sometimes it was a reduction in circumstances, quite the coming thing among those of us still trying to make it in a workplace that supports a rational lifestyle.

For me, it was about having my own place and reducing the amount I take care of. Of course, the days when I had kids at home were different, and I needed to give them a place with room to move around in without bumping into each other, or so I thought. Now I’ll be switched if I’m going to dust and vacuum and generally play second fiddle to Stuff. That doesn’t apply to the outdoors, I do like having lots of green growing things, and a garden. However, I don’t go psycho for a showplace lawn. I only water to keep veggies and trees from dying, and let the lawn go when there’s serious drought.

How have your needs for space changed? Did you go to a big house or small one, as your family and needs changed over time? Do you xeriscape?

Of course, growing up with a yen for a richer style, on farms, my parents felt good about themselves when they got a big, elaborate, two-story house, a common ambition in their time. Generations before ours were geared to ‘be the first in the block’ and get the biggest, most expensive, Stuff.

We have mostly grown up learning that our world doesn’t accommodate the kind of waste our parents considered part of success. Realism has been hard won, and we’ve got serious problems of lifestyle, infrastructure and climate change that we need to make up for. We recycle and turn down the thermostat on the heater, cut our use of packaging and synthetics. I am buying actual veggies and meat more than I buy frozen meals and pre-made meals, even though I’m single – make a big pot of stuff and package it for later, myself. Let me bore you with descriptions of my favorite lasagne for the decade!

Have you made lifestyle changes to make the world a more viable place?

At the moment, I’m in the process of throwing out things that no longer are needed, as I’ve been able to retire and don’t have to dress for success, thankyou. Selling things off is in my near future, and I’m wavering between garage sale and online selling. That’s something I never have done, and would love to know if you’ve learned how to work those systems.

My place is small, and feeling like a bit much even at that, as many of you have experienced. My, how times have changed since the sixties, when desirable lifestyle was measured like carpeting, by the square foot.

Old Homestead, PA.