DIY Vanity


Oh I don't believe in tow trucks- it devalues human labor. You'll just have to get out and push.

Oh I don’t believe in tow trucks- it devalues human labor. You’ll just have to get out and push.

I was surfing Facebook and I came across a list of “50 Things You Should Never Buy Again”.  I was intrigued, so I clicked on it: I love learning how to make things at home because sometimes they are so ridiculously easy (biscuits, for example, or homemade laundry detergent) that once you’ve learned how to do it there will always be a little part of you that feels silly spending your money to buy it at a store.

So I went in with high hopes.

The first few things were straightforward: Peanut butter. Salad dressing. Butter. Ok, fine: these are all perfectly easy to make at home. Then came a few trickier things: Mayonnaise (as long as you know that your eggs are OK to eat raw). Bread (as long as you have a few hours to let it rise before baking it). Maple syrup-

Wait, what? Maple syrup?

I don’t know much about maple syrup, but I know that it’s not exactly something that grows on trees. Pun intended. First of all it has to be the right kind of tree, maple, obviously, but more specifically the sugar maple. Sugar maples don’t grow in all parts of the country. Even if they did, the conditions that makes the sap of the sugar maple tree “run” in order for it to be collected for syrup is a pretty specific pattern of freezing and thawing that only happens in certain parts of the country in certain times of the year (i.e. Vermont during mud season, which is why so much maple syrup comes from Vermont). And THEN you have to collect a huge amount of sap in order to make a small amount of syrup. On the order of 40-50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

I couldn’t imagine a single scenario in which it would be easier to make maple syrup that it would be to buy it. I really wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt: maybe they meant maple flavored syrup? A simple syrup with some maple flavoring extract?

No. They meant the actual syrup. Tapping actual trees.

Maple syrup was seventh or eighth on the list of fifty items, and I stopped reading after that.

I’m all about learning how to make things from scratch because I like to be resourceful. But at a certain point- like when someone suggests that it is easier to go out and tap my own maple syrup from maple trees than to buy it at the store- I can’t help but feel like I’ve walked into a vanity project. Maybe it is just because I’ve actually tried tromping around the Vermont woods during mud season that makes me just goddamn fine with getting my maple syrup from the grocery store. Because no matter how much I like doing things myself, sometimes I’m just goddamn fine with paying professionals to do their job.

When did DIY become such a fetish? Pinterest? Martha Stewart? Was it always this way and I just never paid attention before now? At what point does it stop being common sense to know how to make basic things like biscuits and laundry detergent and suddenly turn into a free-range-anti-GMO-organic-natural vanity statement? At what point does it stop being a useful skill and start becoming a bragging right?

 

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on August 2, 2014.

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