Friday, 12 October 2007

In search of skills

Reading one of the Rosewood Historical Society’s publications on early life in the Scrub, I came across this description of life expectations for girls:

“Girls learnt early in life that their destiny was to marry a hard worker and a good provider. They learnt to cook, to make dresses, to knit and crochet.”

I’ve loaned my copy of the book to a friend so I can’t tell you the matching expectations for boys. I expect that they were to learn useful farming, construction and odd job skills and to find the right well-trained wife. Although these skills were essential for settlers, it is clear from the records that townships quickly sprang up with associated businesses to provide some of these skills. This was not quite the remote frontier of say, Laura Ingalls Wilder, where if you couldn’t grow or make something, you did without it. Although life was hard, the settlers were under 100 kilometres from the largest town in Queensland (Brisbane) and within a day’s travel from Ipswich which boasted many stores and tradespeople. Marburg had stores, a butter factory and other businesses, Rosewood was over the hills and the railway soon became a vital link for the area.

In the process of planning our renovation, I sometimes feel that we are as isolated as those early migrants. People are keen to work with us until we say where we live, then it becomes a case of “can’t possibly do it before x” or “well we could look but there’d be travel cost etc.” I’ve been reading a friend’s blog of their renovations in Portland, Oregon and wondered if it would be better to convince them to come stay for a while. They seem to have many of the useful skills that my parents and schools neglected to teach me in the pursuit of a more conventional education. I wonder if I should have gone to rural school? On the other hand, judging by the comment above, I may have been precluded by gender from learning the really useful things like carpentry, plumbing and electrical work.

I did manage by some chance of fate to manage the first part of the equation even if I fail on the other parts. I was encouraged though to read today in our local free newspaper that someone was selling a vacuum cleaner “2 years old, used 4 times.” Apparently my domestic shortcomings are not unique. And I can cook and crochet.

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