No doubt about it: life is a delicate balancing act. Weighing one's priorities; deciding what's most important can vary, according to one's age or unique circumstances.
Many years ago, John Leonard wrote in The New York Times that most people choose to live their lives either like the ancient Greeks or the Romans. Those who live like the Romans, Leonard wrote, are "in a rage to see and do everything; wearing themselves out by making too many appointments with the mysteries."
Those who emulate the Greeks attempt to live their lives in season, achieving harmony and scale, Leonard wrote, "with every day of indulgence followed by a day of moderation."
My preoccupation with achieving balance in my life became prevalent fairly recently. In my '20s, as a newspaper reporter, I resided in Manhattan and traveled to and from foreign capitals. I was living like the Romans, in the sense that I was almost constantly on the go. Luckily, I usually enjoyed the diverse experiences and adventures presented by work and travel in foreign climes.
By the time I turned 40, I had been a single mom for years. Racing around without thought or design hadn't been an option for quite some time. After I met my British husband, life became more stable, rather like the ancient Greeks' preferred philosophy.
Perhaps it was a subconscious desire to persist with a more balanced life-----a reasonably equitable time distribution between work and play----- that led me to begin collecting scales, or "la balance," as the French say.
The top photo is of an English 1950s scale with its original brass weights. The cheery red scale was found in a Seville, Spain flea market. I had to buy another suitcase to get it on the plane to Paris, much to the amusement of my traveling companions. The cherry tomatoes are a kitchen staple, while the miniature Kewpie doll adds a touch of whimsy to our kitchen.
The second "balance de menage" is French, probably late 1940s. Made of white enamel, it still has all its brass weights and measures, stored in an interior compartment. The porcelain measuring dishes for baking (resting in the left pan) also are French.
The third photo is a close-up of the decorative front of a cast iron Napoleon III butcher's scale, circa 1855.
The large scale, which retains its original patina and brass pans, was purchased at a brocante in Chatou, near Paris.
As for finding the right balance? That's a never-ending struggle. Certainly the balance we seek can't be found in a brocante or flea market. Still, it's fun to look! Maybe in the process, I'll discover a new "la balance" for my collection!