Sunday, April 20, 2008


See the picture of the socks in this post? No? Well, among the lifestyle changes that the increase in gasoline prices has brought to my life--fortunately, none of them critical--is a drastic fall off in sock production.

We live in a very small town (3000). For years we have made it a point to drive to a much larger and more cosmopolitan town nearby (35,000, with an Air Force base--if you're in NYC or something, don't snicker too much) on Saturdays for lunch. We include grocery shopping and other errands and sometimes go antiquing or mall walking. I take my items to drop off for charity and make necessary visits to Hobby Lobby or Office Depot. This was a family outing from the time the children were in upper elementary--we sometimes took their friends--and a "date" time for us. Now that our children are grown, we still do it. We tend to keep early hours, so we don't often go anywhere at night. We always did this, even if we knew we needed to go somewhere else the next day, which often meant out-of-town trips on two successive days.

Recently, we've begun cutting back. We only go on our traditional Saturday excursion when we know that we're not going anywhere else on the weekend, and if I've had to go out of town on a weekday for a business appointment, we don't go at all. What does this have to do with socks? Evidently most of my sock knitting was being done in the car or in waiting rooms. I've been fortunate enough lately that even when I've shown up for appointments, I've gotten in early. I even have a new purse that has a side compartment that holds my SIP perfectly, and I'm still not getting much knitting time! Socks are languishing in my handbag.

I realize for those of you who are incurring huge expenses for commuting costs, this post sounds trivial. I'll simply have to figure out another sock knitting scenarios. I can also assure you that there are other, not-so-entertaining, effects of fuel costs for us in the way they affect local businesses (we have one). My point is that sometimes we don't notice all the ways something like this changes our lives in little ways that add up to lots of stress. We simply notice the big ones. An acquaintance of mine told me some years ago about a book he read that said that if we can get rid of or change many of the little picky irritations in our lives, we can handle the big ones much better. At the time, he was replacing the squeaky casters on his office chair. For me, knitting and spinning can be that kind of stress remover.

One adaptation we've made is that we've replaced an out-of-town trip with a grilled lunch on the backyard barbecue. That's a good thing, I think.

However, small town life can get awfully confining. You see the same people day-in-and-day out, which means that if you work with the public, you may encounter that rude customer at church, at the doctor's office, and at parents' night. It's a big relief to go out somewhere at least once a week where you don't know anyone. My DH is absolutely tied down here M-F and a half day on S, so he really needs to have a change of scene for mental health sometimes.

The flip side of this is that small town life keeps one honest in that you must learn to deal with awkward personal situations because you KNOW you will see that person frequently. It gives an entirely different perspective on tolerance and forgiveness than what I found when I lived in much larger places.


LizzieK8 said...

Isn't funny the small ways our lives are affected by the big things?

Sherie said...

I used to live in a small town (2,700) and I know exactly what you mean - good and bad points. Yep, that gas is getting to be a killer!!

Jeri said...

I'm so excited - I found your blog by surfing links on another blog - I also live in the Texas Panhandle! Nice to "meet" you!

Alison said...

I just read your comment at Stephanie's re the plastic candy canes, and I just wanted to come over and tell you how much I enjoyed that story. Well done on that staffer's part!

--AlisonH at