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We’re moving (at some point). Not sure when or exactly where, but we are definitely in new life mode– that is, sowing the seeds for a new ‘field’ or future.

My mom’s priest emails his homilies out most weeks. They are almost always just precious. They’re short– ah, the beauty of a really awesome Episcopalian priest’s homily! True thoughtful meaning,  no time wasted!

He’s an undiscovered jewel of humility, study, kindness put straight into serious good works large and small, and comfort with human fears and pettiness– including making fun of his own (this attitude is kind of typical of the few priests I’ve known and may explain my willingness to be so, er, human, so publicly).

And he doesn’t hold back his sweet words–  he sends ’em out ahead of time to whoever wants ’em instead of trying to entice folks to actually show up to hear what he’s going to say this time. He doesn’t play games– and has the small but devoted attendance and impoverished church pocketbook to show for it I guess. But it’s important to be a straight shooter.

Today he sent out the Anglican history of Rogation Day. I really liked it.

I had a yard sale yesterday, spent HOURS on it and it wasn’t even enough time, and of course after paying for ads in the paper I about broke even and made about ten cents an hour.

And that is *not* counting the money I had to give my child to convince her to get rid of a few token extra toys– some for a friend whose house flooded, and a very few just to put in the trash (where a lot more of them really need to go!!!).

Yesterday was a day of people doing sweet things for me. One BFF came over and watched the stuff for me while I ran upstairs and pulled from the attic a bunch of clothes I’ve been hoarding, some for 20 years, out to go through in hopes I could bring myself to weed those too. We went through the grownup clothes, and, well, I found about six things I can definitively say I am glad to throw away.

My other clothes from the 80’s and 90’s? No way. Keeping. Can’t let go. Heck, we’re going to a place where we’ll actually need wool sweaters. And the baby clothes? I think I opened one rubbermaid tub– couldn’t even reach in and look at the stuff!– before I turned away. I can’t do this!

I have the stuff on mothballs and lots off ’em for which I take serious ribbing from the BFFs. But here’s the point of those mothballs. I am in it for the long haul, I tell you. If someone needs a sweater, if a baby needs clothes 40 years from now, I got ’em!

Last night as I brought in the yardsale clothes and put them in the ‘yard sale closet’ I thought, what am I *even* (as Napoleon Dynamite would say) doing? Why am I bringing these back in the house? Why aren’t they going straight to the Mission Thrift down the road from my workplace– a huge symbolic gesture to accompany my last 8 days at my current job?

What is the best use of my time? Spending hours making a few bucks here and there, organizing and storing this crap, a breeding ground for bugs, dustmites, and psychological burden? Getting my house completely cleared out to the essentials (and the spiritual fortitude it takes to actually let go)?

Some things I do that take more time have payoffs that make them worth it. When I cook a vegan meal or make pancakes or muffins or bake a cake, the appetizing (usually!) food, the removal of additives and other yuckies that will aggravate autoimmune disorders or cancer genes or heart disease down the road, and the nutrition are their own reward. With vegan cooking we also get a side of saving the earth– meat agriculture is harder on our environment than our cars.

When I hang clothes on the line (convert your clothes dryer to solar power for two bucks!) we save about 50 cents and the sun bleaches out stains. We also get another side of saving the earth, since reducing consumption is one of the keys to moving away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.

So. Rogation Day (Welcome to workingmommykimworld, where a million things are always going on at the same time).

I think Father Richard’s sermon is  my answer. I proceed to shorten and bastardize it greatly for the sake of my point.

Rogation Day like most Christian holidays was imposed upon a pagan/druid sacred day and ritual.  Joseph of Arimathea was no fool– he didn’t reinvent the wheel. When in Rome, that is Glastonbury…

Wealthy ‘counselor’ and Jew, maternal uncle Joseph of Arimathaea, supposedly a disciple in secret, requests Christ’s body after the crucifixion so that it may be honorably buried in accordance with Jewish custom. Then he has to hightail it so he hits the friendly godless shores of the British Isles (has much changed?) where they don’t like to write stuff down (no paper trail) but preferred to tell stories to keep the spirit alive.

H’m. As a librarian and student of indigenous culture and given my belief in the importance of human connection, this in many contexts sounds good to me. Though now that the written word is so fluid… it has a spirit of its own, it’s not such a threat as it must have been then.

But anyhoo.

The pagan feast of Rogation involved cleansing the fields of demons with switches, or praying for protection from mold, or walking the boundaries of the parish, depending on where and when you were.

In Britain they ‘beat the bounds’ with switches and then burned the switches (with their demons, presumably). The practice was outlawed in 1547 but in a strange twist Queen Elizabeth I re instituted it but ordered that the boundaries of the parish be walked. What was she thinking? That’s a sincere question.

Father Richard invites the congregation to a symbolic beating of the bounds, including burning the switches in a cookout (ya gots to have food if you’re Episcopalian) after the service.  He says, in part– why are we doing this?  Because it’s fun, because it’s history, because it’s our history, and because it is important to bless our church yard. The church yard is consecrated ground, and a precious part of our ministry. People rest and read in the church yard. Children play in it. It holds the ashes of our beloved dead.
Our homes and yards are a precious part of our daily ministry, even if we don’t call it that or subscribe to a codified system of beliefs from an organized religion or other source — Flylady.net for example. Flylady says to simply bless the world with your stuff, don’t hold on to it and don’t yard sale it, have courage to let it go and make room for more blessings to come back your way.

And home staging wisdom is that you must get rid of all your clutter to show your home.

We all make our houses and yards as comfortable as we can for our families, in accordance with our values, schedules, abilities, aesthetics, budgets, and our families’ needs.

When I was growing up my family’s homes were sometimes almost formal and sometimes clean but centered not around neatness but around people and activities– grandchildren. Visitors. Cocktails. Work space for woodworking or sewing or home office or home business. The almost too big supper table right in the middle of the kitchen.

No matter who or where they were, my grownups were diligent in making their homes presentable and comfortable, and tended their yards and gardens– whether a small suburban lawn or a long acre in West Virginia– with passion and devotion.

Now, my grandmas stayed home, my mother in law stayed home, my sister in law Kim seems to be able to keep her house lovely even though she works– she doesn’t have any little ones yet, but I suspect that if as a working lady she can find time for her arts and her home, she’ll still manage it as a parent. That’s just who she is.

My parents had slave labor (myself and my brother) to help. I haven’t got to those points yet– not staying home, not slave labor– and maybe never will, so while I and my husband don’t lack passion for or devotion to home and garden, I don’t know when or if we’ll ever get to their level of home.

But I take the thought processes and ministry and blessing of everyday housework, home hearth and garden, seriously as often as I can given how freaking tired I usually am after a day or week of work. Cooking and cleaning and yardwork are three of my favorite things, and I love to do them for my family and I love to invite people over. This is the first time I’ve had a house worth inviting folks to in many years, and my first own house ever.
So… back to my original question. Where should all those  yard sale clothes go? And what’s the best use of my time? What do I do? I know I need to dump the stuff. Holding on to it is indicative of a mindset  holding me, holding us, back, spiritually and financially and geographically.  But can I really do it?

Like Father Richard I’m not much worried about demons. At least not literally. But extra crap creates an inviting place for dust, molds and bugs to live and grow. It makes it harder to keep the house neat, adds a huge psychological burden, makes the house less attractive, both in terms of how it looks and how it feels at a gut or energy level, to potential renters or buyers. It makes us a lot less nimble when it’s time to move into what I am almost sure will be a *much* smaller house –but it will be in a place close to heavenly in many ways, which is why we’re willing to make the leap.

And I hear tell it’s not legal to set fires within these here city limits.  So setting fire to it, while it would be a gorgeous spiritual gesture (and I still have BFF’s flamethrower! forgot to give it back!), probably isn’t an option.

So. Absent processions and switches and fires, what do I do?

Rogation day. Cleansing the fields. Walking the borders of my little parish ministry. Praying for protection from mold (which loves to accumulate in extra stuff!).

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if you want your wife [significant other] to wish [him-]herself home again, unfettered by matrimonial [cohabiting, relationship] claims, you just stay in bed and let her [him] get up in a cold room, go through several cold rooms to a cold kitchen: find no wood or kindling , and have to go to the back yard and bring it in all soaking wet, and try to cook…

Page 26, “1902-1911: Rafters of the Home/ Woman’s [Partner’s] Work” in Times Down Home: 75 Years with Progressive Farmer edited by Mary Elizabeth Johnson, published 1978 by Oxmoor House in Birmingham.

What a treasure! I can’t resist it. I’m a nut for stuff like this. This is a wonderful Book.

I had to insert words like “significant other” and “him” and “partner” in brackets because families are changing, stressed by pressures that are different and yet the same. They need to be supported, from within and from without, in totally new ways we (okay I) haven’t quite gotten right yet.

And these days, the imbalance of care and interest in one’s mate’s day and work can definitely go both ways– can even be hurtful and isolating for one spouse or partner in some areas and hurtful and isolating for the other partner or spouse in others.

MEJ (now MEJ Huff) will be at my library on Saturday 9th May along with many other wonderful local authors. She has done some amazing, beautiful more recent books documenting quilts as well– quilts by ordinary folk, like the Gee’s Bend ladies, not MOMA or RISD textile artists.

I can’t wait! The job part of my job is sometimes absolutely AWESOME.

Macaroni and ‘cheeze’ (yummy, yummy vegan sauce from fatfreevegan.com) with peas in and baked with french fried onions on top, black eyed peas (so darn good cooked with a little onion and some salt and pepper), cabbage sauteed with very finely chopped onion in vegan butter with a bit of lemon juice salt and pepper,  corn bread, and– oh my gosh these were sooo good, way better than they should have been– pumpkin pie brownies from the PPK, each decorated with nine chocolate chips for our new year.

Oh. Man. These aren’t fit to eat. You better not have any.

My husband has no sweet tooth– his favorite dessert is seconds or thirds– but he finished his and the baby’s too. That is unprecedented. I can’t remember him doing that ever, in our life together. He likes dark chocolate, and I get him the expensive stuff, and he eats, like, one square per day. And once in a while he’ll have an ice cream sandwich with the baby. And that’s the extent of it.

Wait. One time when we were dating and watching Chocolat, between us we finished off a whole pan– all eight of my awesome huge apple dumplings.

But never since.

I think part of the reason they (the brownies, the dumplings are another story) were so good was that I made my own pumpkin puree. I had promised my stepson pumpkin pie for Christmas dinner, and then the one my husband bought frozen came out of the box really scary looking… This year, for the second year in a row my attempt to grow pumpkins in the garden so my baby could pick her own was a miserable failure. But I still had two small sugar pumpkins I’d bought at Halloween but hadn’t decorated (hoping Daddy would cut one with the baby but I am telling you, the season was passing us by even then! I cut two white pumpkins into skulls with black glitter eye sockets and mouths, but that was it), they weren’t looking or smelling bad yet, so I cut ’em, scraped out the seeds, roasted ’em and scraped the yummy bits away from the peel and pureed in the food processor.

My improvised vegan pumpkin pie was, well, okay, pretty yummy, but, well, just okay. My stepson ate three pieces which made me feel better but… you know. He has my terrible sweet tooth, in fact his is worse than mine. And I am just thankful I didn’t renege on my promise. Food is serious stuff, at my house. It is absolutely a currency or language of love for me anyway, and now it is one of the few remaining ways I can reach out to my two teenagers.

So some times you improvise and it is okay, sometimes it’s stellar, sometimes it would have been better if you hadn’t… But I think the fresh homemade pumpkin puree is what put these brownies over the top. They were just–ooooh, too good!

It was all so tasty. I’m right proud of myself– simple and country (cept for those decadent pumpkin brownies!), but healthy and elegant too.  Yum, yum, yum!  Another New Year’s Resolution:  Keep working on adding soul food flavor and Southern fried satisfaction to vegan meals. Mmm. Mmm.

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