Thursday, April 30, 2009

I would have failed as a 1950's TV wife.

I was lamenting the ethereal nature of finished housework to a friend today and realized once again that housework would be so much easier if I didn't have any stuff. Can you imagine how clean I could keep things without the papers, the books, the dishes, the toys, the gadgets, the furniture, the clothes?

In fact, my parents lived a lot like that for a while when they were in Central Minnesota (motto: "Watery and full of mosquitos. But pretty. You betcha.") They had bought a double-wide trailer in a very rural area because that was where their jobs were, and for some reason just never got around to getting furniture. Well, they had beds -- I can't think of a reason anyone would willingly sleep on the floor in a state known for cold drafts -- and they had a dining table and some chairs, but that was pretty much it. No living room furniture, no bookshelves full of books, a few clothes, no TV for a while.

And they liked it.

For a couple years they didn't change the furniture situation. When we visited, there were some mattresses for us on the floor in the living room. It was roomy, I'll say that much. And it was also easy to keep clean. Of course, by then there were no small children, and that always helps.

When my parents bought this house after deciding to move to Utah, it was also pristinely non-furnitured for a long time. The carpet always seemed to have vacuum marks in it because no one ever walked on it. That was before we moved in, of course.

We brought with us beds and books and kids' clothes, dressers and bookshelves. And, of course, books. Loads and loads of books. We brought small children, as well, and added to them over the years, ensuring a constant crop of crumbs on the floor, dirty smears on the walls, and nose smudges on the windows. With us came the need for more than three or four plates. In fact, we apparently need about 100 plates, cups and bowls, all of which are dirty at any given time no matter how many children have been assigned to dish duty. Ditto the silverware. Especially the spoons.

Eventually a dining table and chairs were added. Someone brought up the crazy idea of living room furniture, and it was all downhill from there. The years have brought with them the detritus of pre-school, school age and finally teen-age kids. When I get energetic and ambitious enough, I try to cull our papers and books and toys and...stuff. But more keeps coming in.

It also doesn't help that I'm lazy. I hate the mundane day-to-day maintenence. HATE it. I know I have to, and sometimes I get all excited about getting rid of everything extra and keeping this place clean by merely putting in a couple hours a day. (Ha!) It's just getting there.

And I'm so easily distracted by more interesting things.

Ah, well. It's all part of the struggle. Husband is very understanding; he also loathes dishes. But we all enjoy a clean and tidy house, so it's a struggle worth continuing. I also have learned not to equate my self-worth with my lack of innate cleaning ambitions.

But just to be on the safe side, please call before you come. Thank you.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bee-Stung Headbutts and iTunes Temptations

You know that bee-stung look that is so popular with women they will have their lips injected with collagen to plump them up (and gee, it doesn't look obvious or anything!)? I got that for free this morning when Little Gary headbutted me on the upper lip. He does that sometimes, just suddenly smacks his head into whatever facial feature of mine is closest and most unlucky. There's no such thing as an attractive bee-stung nose look. Ditto with the eyes and cheekbones. But this morning, for about sixty minutes, my mouth looked really pouty, full, and kissable. I was just disappointed that it was wasted on the clean laundry. Why couldn't he do that just before I have to go grocery shopping?

This evening I went to a meeting outside the neighborhood pool. It's in danger of being taken by the IRS for overdue property taxes, so the board members sent out flyers and got together the meeting in a last-ditch effort to save the pool. The demographic of our community has changed in the last 40 years -- since this neighborhood and the community pool were built -- from young families with lots and lots of kids to grandparents with no kids around as the kids grew up and moved out. Now we have lots of seniors (lots!) and few young families. Because of that, membership at the pool has gone down, and with dwindling membership has come decreased revenue for fixing stuff. The water heater needs replacing, the pool needs resurfacing (my kids come home with bleeding toes because the floor of the pool is so rough), things have to be brought up to the new code, etc., etc. Our problem is to somehow find $22,000 to keep the pool going for the year, plus another $8000 to pay off the property taxes that have accumulated over the last three or four years. I'm stymied. Hopefully we'll all come up with something.

Joseph (Child Five) came up to me today intensely pleased with himself.
"Mom!" he said, his face incredulous and happy. "Mom! I just beat the whole entire Lego Batman game!"
I gave him a high five and some high praise while considering my culpability in the fact that my four-year-old is allowed enough time to get really good at video games.
"I think I'm going to fall over now," he said then, pausing dramatically to sway from side to side before falling elegantly to the floor in a swoon. I laughed for a long time.

Husband just bought himself a new toy: an iPod Touch, which is a little computer/MP3 player. As he got a great deal and because the MP3 player he recently bought is not working very well (and will be returned to the store from whence it came!), and also because he wisely (though not happily) had to deny himself a much more expensive toy a month ago, I was happy. He uses his commutes, like many do, to fill his head with knowledge. He downloads the podcasts from, which come in convenient little 15 minute segments and listens to those a lot. He also listens to old General Conference talks. Sometimes I almost wish I had to commute somewhere so I could do that. My car rides are mostly filled with children's questions and comments while I attempt to also listen to NPR. (Lyn, you and Addie might be interested in those podcasts, by the way, as aspiring writers.) I am using the slightly annoying MP3 player he had until I get around to returning it and may be forced to rack up a large bill at iTunes.

Okay, not forced. But mightily tempted.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Eva Aurora: Diary of a Soft-Living Woman

I think my list idea is all played out. I am pretty much done with that now, so I'm going to move on to another format. I may break from it, of course. It's my blog, after all.

I was reading a book called Emily: Diary of a Hard-Worked Woman. It's the actual diary of a woman who was 47 in the year 1890. She had eight children, most of them grown, and was newly divorced and living in Colorado. The diary details her struggles to survive as a single woman with no other income provider than herself. She worked at whatever honest work she could find, mostly cleaning other people's homes (some of whom were nearly as poor as herself) and helping her neighbors when she could. She usually worked 12 to 16 hour days, earning just enough to survive; often she had to take goods in lieu of money. She writes of her belief in God and often asks Him why her life has to be so hard, but she is also grateful for what she does have.

After finishing that book, I sat back and looked at my life. I have a vacuum, a dishwasher, an electric oven and a heated, comfortable house. I have never gone hungry. I can read all the books I want to. My children are healthy and I've never lost any of them to sickness or accident. I have a husband who loves me and our children and who works hard. I have what Emily longed for so much in that year of 1890.

So, in honor of Emily French, I am going to do some diary-style entries. We'll see what format I go with when I'm tired of a diary.

Monday, April 13, 2009

List #19: A Very Scary Quote

1. "Beginning with March 1, 1919, the right to possess women between the ages of 17 and 32 is abolished...this decree, however, not being applicable to women who have five children...By virtue of the present decree no woman can any longer be considered as private property and all women become the property of the nation...The distribution and maintenance of nationlized women, in conformity with the decision of responsible organizations, are the prerogative of the group of Saralof anarchists...All women thus put at the disposition of the nation must, within three days after the publication of the present decree, present themselves in person at the address indicated and provide all necessary information...Any man who wishes to make use of a nationalized woman must hold a certificate issued by the administrative Council of a professional union, or by the Soviet of workers, soldiers or peasants, attesting that he belongs to the working class...Every worker is required to turn in 2% of his salary to the fund...Male citizens not belonging to the working class may enjoy the same rights provided they pay a sum equivalent to 250 French francs, which will be turned over to the public fund...Any woman by virtue of the present decree will be declared national property will receive from the public fund a salary equivalent to 575 French francs a month...Any pregnant woman will be dispensed of her duties for four months before and three months after the birth of the child...One month after birth, children will be placed in an institution entrusted to their care and education. They will remain there to complete their instruction and education at the expense of the national fund until they reach the age of 17...All those who refuse to recognize the present decree and to cooperate with the authorities shall be declared enemies of the people, anti-anarchists, and shall suffer the consequences." (From a decree issued in the Soviet of Saralof, quoted by Gabriel M. Roschini in his article, "Contradictions Concerning the Status of Women in Soviet Russia," which appears in "The Philosophy of Communism," by Giorgio La Pira and others, Fordham University Press, New York, 1952, pp. 97 - 98)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Thoughts

I am breaking from my list format for a day just to write some thoughts I have had about Easter.

The LDS people hold the atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane to be the single most important act performed in the history of the universe. Somehow, in some way we cannot fully comprehend, Christ paid the horrible price for all our sins. He descended into the pits of hell in order to buy us and to allow us to be able to repent of our mistakes. For three or four hours, He suffered agonies so great that He bled great drops of blood from every pore. When it was over, He then was arrested and eventually crucified. As He hung on the cross, near the end of his torment, his Father, who had been with Him all the time, left Him completely alone, withdrawing His spirit so that Jesus could complete the atonement.

During the atonement process in the Garden, Christ descended below all of us in pain and anguish -- physical, mental and emotional. When the Father withdrew His spirit while Christ hung on the cross, Christ descended below all of us in a spiritual agony so great he cried, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

I can't understand it. I can't comprehend what it took for Christ to do what He did for me and everyone else in the world. Because of Him, I can be resurrected -- everyone in the world will live again with a perfect body, never to die again. Because of Him, I can repent and have those sins and mistakes wiped away. Because of Him, I have a chance of eternal life. Nothing I could ever do on my own would merit me an eternity with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I can not be good enough or work hard enough, though I have to try every day to be obedient to His commandments. It is only through the grace of Jesus Christ, who paid that awful price for me, that I have a chance.

I love Him. I am so grateful to Him. Easter is a day to be especially grateful, but that feeling is something I try to keep in my heart every day of the year.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

List #18: Things I am Happy About

1. Using all-vegetable shortening (just a dab!) as eye makeup remover is the best use for shortening I've ever found. It works better than any eye makeup remover I've ever bought for more $$$.

2. I'm going to the temple tonight with Husband.

3. The weather was lovely today and we took a field-trip to the zoo.

4. And best of all: MY BROTHER, MIKE, WHO WAS LOST, IS FOUND! He was just living his life in Minnesota, working and living at a friend's house. Maybe he got stuck in a time warp and didn't realize he hadn't phoned home in months and months and that we didn't have any address or phone number. My mother cried when she found out he was found.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

List #17: How to Store Wheat and Other Grains

I'm writing this list because it's been so much part of my life recently. I am on the Emergency Preparedness Committee in my ward, and we decided to do hands-on training for people who have no clue what to do. It's one thing to hear a lecture. It's another to get on your knees and pour wheat into a bucket. When you do it, you know it. We've been putting our 2400+ pounds of wheat into permanent storage. The kids are helping and loving it, and I'm so glad they're involved.

1. Buy buckets. We bought ours used for $1/each from a lady who had hundreds. They had to be washed, as they had previously contained sugared egg whites (though they had been pretty well rinsed out before we bought them). They are 4-gallon buckets and they are sqaure. You can also buy new 5-gallon buckets that are round for about $5/each. Buy two or three of those handy screw-top lids as well as the regular lids. Then you don't have to lever that nail-breaking lid off each time you need to fill your pantry container with grain.

2. You can also buy cans and lids from the LDS Cannery. Each stake usually has a canner you can borrow to put the lids on, or you can borrow one from the cannery for free. There are advantages and disadvantages to both buckets and cans, but it's probably good to have some of both.

3. Choose your method of keeping out the bugs. We have used two methods: diatomaceous earth and bay leaves. My parents have used bay leaves effectively for years and years with nary a problem; however, if you live in a very hot, humid environment (such as the southern US), you may want to go with the diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth will actually kill insects by absorbing the "lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects' exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate." [from Widipedia, Diatomaceous Earth]. There is food-grade as well as industrial-grade diatomaceous earth, so be sure you're ordering food-grade. It isn't that expensive, and a little goes a long way. You can buy bulk bay leaves from places like San Francisco Herb Company for a very good price. As you only need 9 - 12 per bucket, depending on size, a little goes a long way again.

You can also buy oxygen absorbers if you want, or try the dry-ice method of canning or bucketing grain. Dry-ice is a little too much work for me. I like the bay leaves and diatomaceous earth.

4. Time to bucket the grain. Find the string on the top of the grain bag and pull. If you get the right end, it should just unravel all the way across, leaving you with a perfectly open bag.

5. To use the Diatomaceous Earth (DE): You only need 1/4 cup of DE per 50-pound bag of grain (a 5-gallon bucket will hold almost 50 pounds; you'll need 1 1/2 4-gallon buckets per 50-pound bag of grain, and 1 TBSP of DE per 4-gallon bucket). Using a bowl or container, scoop in grain to fill 1/4 to 1/3 of the bucket or can. Spinkle a little DE onto the wheat and mix it around with your hands. You might want to wear a dust mask for this.

Add more grain and sprinkle on more DE, mixing it thoroughly. Continue until the bucket is full and the DE is all used up. Put a lid on it.

6. To use bay leaves: You'll need 9 bay leaves for a 4-gallon bucket and 12 bay leaves for a 5-gallon bucket. For the 4-gallon bucket, pour in grain to 1/3 full, lay on 3 bay leaves. Repeat twice more. Put on a lid.

For a 5-gallon bucket, pour in grain to 1/4 full and lay on 3 bay leaves. Repeat three more times. Put on a lid.

For #10 cans, you need 4 - 6 bay leaves.

7. Make sure you label your buckets and cans clearly. Store buckets off a cement floor by putting them on a pallet or laying down several boards so the bottom of the buckets are not touching the cement. Cans are really easy to locate and move when they are in cases. You can buy the boxes fairly inexpesively from the cannery.

Happy bucketing and canning! I'd love to hear your comments and/or questions. If I don't have the answer, I know people who do.