The Boob Tube Moves In

I had cable TV yanked about the same time CBS decided they weren’t going to air anymore family-oriented programs. “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” was still in the top 20 for ratings and yet she was cancelled. “Christy” never got a fair chance. A year later, PAX TV pulled “Little Men” because they weren’t getting the ratings–though there were many cities that didn’t even have access to PAX yet. “Survivor” was the new buzz and then all the wannabee copy-cats followed. Quality TV was no more. So I cancelled cable TV. And I never regretted it. As a homesteader, I really don’t have the time to sit and watch all the mind candy; I have work to do. And quality leisure time. I have hobbies that I want to indulge, cookies to bake, condiments to make, scarves to knit, animals to care for and play with, a guitar to play, books to write.

What changed?

Mom moved in. And Mom is the eternal couch potato.

It feels like a home invasion. First my pantry gets an overhaul as Mom offers to take over kitchen detail. Suddenly, I am inundated with packaged, processed, junk food. Goodbye homemade pantry with your short lists of organic ingredients. Today it’s time to clog those arteries and feed the addictions these junk foods are laced with. Every attempt on my part to take back ownership results in her trailing me along like a puppy-dog chanting, “Let me help you, let me help you!” Burnt eggs, under-cooked beans and over-cooked broccoli are the result of that “help”. And any meals that I cook, she will “doctor up” the next day to “stretch them” by adding something that just totally ruins it. The last time it was the 13 bean soup that she added dried beans to the next day’s leftovers.

The chickens ate well.

We did not.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my mother dearly. We’re simply polar opposites. She’s the junk food junkie/couch potato/pack rat while I am the organic/OCD/minimalist. After a year and a half of living together, we’re finding just how ill-suited we are for co-habitation but there’s naught to do about it now. Neither of us is in a position financially to fly solo. So we re-learn how to co-exist under the same roof. For me, that means learning to assert myself more by simply going ahead and living my life the way I’ve always done. Mom will complain about me and bad mouth me to my aunts as she always does but so be it. I cannot let her destroy me or the life that I am trying to build here. But, I admit, there have to be compromises.

Today it’s the electronic babysitter.

And that really is a fair assessment. Mom is simply no good at being by herself. And I am the polar opposite, craving solitude like flowers crave rain and sun. She just isn’t a self-starter. I am guessing it is because she was raised in such a large family. She’s one of 11 children and so solitude was unheard of. She shared a bed with one sister and another full-sized bed was just a few feet away in the same room with two more sisters. As more sisters were born, she was moved in with an older sister who had little time for her and Mom is ultra-sensitive. It shows up time and again when I’m spending what she considers too much time here in my home office. The guilt trips would do any Catholic Mama proud. She actually pouts. So the re-introduction to paid TV is a mixed blessing.
The positive side is that Mom isn’t so much the nervous Nellie now that she has TV to occupy her. She loves watching HGTV–obsessively. It’s almost scary. She can watch this mind candy as rabidly as she polishes away boxes of chocolates and bags of potato chips. Of course, it’s nice to dream. And all of these HGTV shows provide plenty of visual for the McMansion “dream” homes/nightmares on Elm St (for this homesteading minimalist). But, constantly watching them provides her with a lot of discontent. She’ll come out with comments about how we could do something like this or that without any grasp of reality that financially, at least, it would be next to impossible. And, from an ecological standpoint, this 3000 square foot monstrosity is definitely NOT good for the environment nor does it fall in line with the homesteading mentality. Nobody needs that much room…unless you’re a Duggar with 19 kids. I prefer the tiny houses. They aren’t for everyone but they can provide just what you need: some creature comforts alongside the bare necessities…unlike “Flip or Flop” or “Love It or List It” where everyone has to have that 3000 square footage complete with in-ground pool and home movie theatre (what ever happened to actually going to the movies??)

And then there is the negative side of it. Besides Mom’s drooling over these McMansions, it’s all the negativity that comes swirling into the living room each day. All I see are a bunch of spoiled rotten brats who have to have everything handed to them, everything picture perfect, everything the latest style and ultra-modern without any thought to what all that renovation is doing to the environment after all the old stuff gets thrown into the local landfill and off-gases into our ground water and soil. As for made-for-TV movies? Sitcoms? TV dramas? Well, if you like soft-core porn and characters you would never want to bring home to your mother, I guess modern television programming is for you. Don’t mention God though. Or faith in Jesus. That only happens with a sneer, as though Christianity is a joke. Moral values? I haven’t seen hide nor hair of them except in the old re-runs of “Little House on the Prairie” that air each day on the Hallmark channel.

Eh, well, Mom’s happy–almost. She was quick to inform me last night that HGTV is airing something about tiny houses on Monday nights at 9 p.m. starting in March. If she had her guilt-tripping manipulative way, I’d be right there on the couch beside her–and not just on Monday nights. However, my rabbits still need their playtime each night so I don’t think this will be happening. But maybe, just maybe, as Mom and HGTV become one with each other, I might get my kitchen back again.

God bless you & keep you!

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