Harriet Fasenfest started this discussion over at the intro post, but I think it deserves it's very own thread.
Here's what she said,
"Oh but that I could call myself a punk housewife. I'm more your crusty ex-pat N.Y. still-talking-about-woodstock householder with grown kids and a husband who can't figure out what I do all this stuff (interminally slow learner). But I'm digging what's happening and I'd love to know more about how all this really works for you.
You know, I know, that you know, that there was the first book.** Now I'm thinking about the workbook cause I know going backwards and taking on all the skills and trades to make this work is hard when added to all our other commitments and lures of modernity.
So past the vision and the narratives are the real tools of home-ec. The budgets, the timelines, the storage, the meal planning. In essence, the nuts and bolts of a functioning home economy. So where do you get stuck. I'm wondering. I got some ideas."
(Harriet's first book, A Householder's Guide to the Universe, is a great read. I can't actually believe she joined my group. Lil ole Apron Stringz. How thrilling!)
CJ - Yes, I get bogged down in the idea that I have to look radical. I don't see it in myself, because my goal is to live my values... and I often stare other public school parents in the face and realize that they do, in fact, think that I'm radical. Yeah... whatever. ;) One of the big things in my life lately is taking it easy on myself... which I wasn't doing last night... I guess I was too tired! I also think I need to get Harriet's book!
Pat - Interesting idea... that this movement has "historical baggage"... I'd never thought of that before... but you're right. And ABSOLUTELY right that we need to deal from a more practical perspective... that politics and ideals discussions always lead off track. A fruitful discussion that moves us all forward is HOW to live the life... which is exactly what Harriet is pondering, yes?
(I'm reiterating what I've heard others say here... restating what are important points from my perspective)... I do think that one main issue with making the systems work is to do it slowly. It isn't something to be perfected overnight... and choosing the facet that fits in your current life makes worlds of sense... and yet, for some people, myself included, when the philosophy becomes more clear in my own head it's hard not to jump in with both feet. But, by doing so, we often sabotage our own work. Harriet said this well in her post.
Deleted a comment to Julie because I saw CJ's statement about parenting... and I agree. I think another, very separate discussion, might be how to get kids involved in the work we'd like to do... finding ways to include them, what has worked for some (which obviously wouldn't work for all)... I'd love a thread about radical homemaking and balancing little kidlets...
Harriet: Yes! All of that made sense. And for me it starts with gardening, then cooking. I'm just now adjusting to the whole seasonal cooking/eating part. If I grow the things I love (simple things) than I can cook them simply and be happy. I like the whole idea of a peasant diet. Easy, simple, yes! So back to the whole, use what you have, incorporate it into your cooking lifestyle and then life gets easier, simpler.
I REALLY identified with the whole rant about you don't want other people raising your kids, taking care of your mother, putting food on your table, growing your food, etc. etc. That's where I am! My mother-in-law just passed away and I was all for taking care of her for as long as I was physically able to. She was a treasure! I learned so much just from listening to her.
As far as the kids go, yes I'm right there with you. I wish I had known all of this about 20 years ago. (My eldest is 19). So hopefully younger moms can learn from our mistakes. Chores are a necessity. You're not doing your kids any favors by doing everything for them. (I know, because I messed up big time with that one). But yes, there are a whole set of skills we've lost to industry/corporations. And that's what I'm trying to learn, get back for my own little house in the burbs.
Otherwise, what will all of us do when the system fails?--and I truly believe it will eventually. Our food system is just not sustainable in the long run. We're so far removed from the food we eat that my eldest son asked me what that brown stuff was in his hamburger! (He was four at the time and we were at a friend's BBQ.) And God I hate to say it, but I'd already succumbed to McDonald's happy meals, which he equated with a "real cheeseburger". Sigh.
I could go on and on, but I won't. So...Harriet, keep up the fight for simple, basic menu planning stuff. That's one idea that will go far.
Nobody knows nothing really but then again some folks can share their experiences. Sometimes we even take it for what its worth. I know when the old folks tell me stuff like - the only way to be happy is to be happy. Or, you don't know what you got till it's gone. Or when life gives you lemons or, the glass is half empty or if you want a knight in shining armor you better shine the armor...... Well, if I hear the same thing over and over I start to listen. Don't know if they really know anything but certain themes tend to repeat. So gratitude, thrift, hard work, compassion and honesty seems to be some of the stuff that just might be worth listening to from those who have been around for a while. It might be seen as interfering but I don't think its meant that way. At least I don't mean it that way. I'm just becoming an old codger that says shit about life. I guess at some point you think you earn the stripes but I agree, its still relative and mostly applicable to the old fart saying it.
Much love back at you CJ.
PS - threw some dandelion greens into this way too salty ham and noodle dish I made (the same brined pork roast I was boasting about the other day) hoping it will counter the salt. And that's a big part of cooking - winging it, making do and acting like you like it so the family might eat it too. Failing that I find the evil eye works wonders.
My daughter does do chores. She just wants to do the chores she likes (like everybody). She loves to help herd the goats and takes her job of watching over the baby goats very seriously. She also loves to help me make baked goods and hang clothes on the line. But certain things that take attention to detail or I'm just trying to get done, ya know, she wants me to read to her instead. If I want to get things done I have to say no, but it makes me feel guilty to do that. So I am just trying to find a balance. Don't know what it is yet.
just woke up. meh.
Terri, i think that people in most places just didn't have sugar or any sugar-like thing. too bad, so sad. of course you know about maple syrup and maple sugar. guess you need to move to the NE before the end of 2012.
i wonder how that beet sugaring works. i know that those sugar beets are huge, not like our table beets at all.i bet it's crazy lot of work though. so is maple sugar. makes sugar a celebratory treat, rather than an every day "necessity."
jill, been meaning to write that very post for ever. today is saturday. tempting!
i do have to do the taxes though,so don't hold your breath.
Although I didn't do much cleaning (thats the point of having an outdoor kitchen) you can get an idea as to how my outdoor kitchen is set up. I have two standard faucets right above the sink with a bottle washer attached to one of them (both are cold water). The other one is just a standard outside water faucet like you'd hook your waterhose to. On the highest part of the water tower is another faucet with a splitter. One short piece of hose hangs looped arount the faucet and has a spray nozzel attached which is used for any high pressure cleaning I might want to do. The other short piece of hose is hanging off the left side of the counter and has no nozzel on it. I use that one to fill things with water. Without the nozzel the water comes out in a greater flow but without the pressure of the nozzel so there isn't a lot of splashing and the hose doesn't try to come out of the canner, bucket or whatever I'm trying to fill. Under the sink you can see there is an extremily technical plumping system for the drainage;-) The rolling island is made from galvanized fencing and cost less than $100 to make (I posted more imfo on the DYI thread). I provides a lot more room and flexibility. I generally use a propane fish cooker to do most my canning/cooking. I just haul out a few cutting boards and cookie sheets so I won't be laying the food directly on the wooden countertops. I hung a few of the cleaning brushes on the fence to the left side. When I get finished doing my canning or whatever I just turn on the leaf blower and the hose to clean up.
Much Love Terri-
Baby, this was an acid trip and like I wrote in the book it is very hard to delve into all the issues and thoughts surrounding addiction. But after nearly ten years of craziness I will say he has somehow, almost, outrun the grip this thing had on him. I can't say if D (the girlfriend) was part of the solution (you will learn about her in the book- though she was a handful) or my own history and, therefore, my understanding and compassion, or momma love, or just the way a man child (or this man child) needed to grow up. He never had the best father figure and lots of men raising son's are injured themselves. He was also a bit spoiled (or a lot spoiled). But there is so much more to this conversation and most likely not appropriate here. But if you ever want to write me I will write back. The upshot, for me, is that I am hopeful but I certainly went grey early. I can only tell you to keep the faith, try not to shame them (they are searching even if it is hard to watch), set boundaries and, most importantly, don't loose track of yourself. Keep committed to your own joy and interests. I did and look what came of it....a lovely garden, a book, a dvd and good friends.
Terri Estey said:
Oh Harriet! I just read an excerpt from your book on Amazon: The Home intro for February--and I started to cry. I have two sons. One was lost in the maze of addiction and has been on the road to recovery for two years now. My other son is just plain old lost and confused. No addictions, he has good friends, but he's filled with anxiety and fights depression (a gene passed down in my family) and I worry for them both constantly. And so, reading just a little I immediately had a glimpse into your world. And I love how you also interject hope among the pain. There's always hope, even when we don't feel like there is. Anyway, I just wanted to send you a big THANK YOU! (And a big hug.) I can't WAIT to get that book in the mail!
OK CJ, I like to rant a little once in a while so I'll keep trying to monitor the Octopus arms of this thread and try to keep up. Harriet and I think a lot alike when it comes to society having been stripped of skills.....and for years I've been preaching the need to reacquire those skills and demonstrating/teaching that concept to those that would learn. After many frustrating years I finally decided that the only way to make progress was to feed the elephant to them in small pieces (ala kart) rather than hope they would transform overnight into a perfect specimen like me! So when it comes to systems and ways of life I tend to lead by example while all the time feeding bite size pieces to folks in the way for canning classes, financial advice, DIY projects, how to brew beer or make Wish-Key......
So, all that being said, I do have my systems and think it's not so much the system but the journey that make the system possible that helped me get to the point that I am actually able to life within the system I use rather than try to use it once in a while. Now for the bite size pieces........Instalment #1- the first and most important underlying part of my household system (and every other system I use) starts with understanding my own finances and accepting that I can't have everything AND be happy at the same time. Debt is a four letter word and everyone should continually work towards being debt free if they intend to lead a happy & productive life for themselves.
Working for someone else in exchange for money to buy STUFF on credit is nearly identical to the definition of the "indentured servant" of days gone by. The indentured servant would trade a piece of their lifespan to pay of a debt or acquire money. Now days we acquire the debt (i.e. buy a new car), and then sign a financial contract to pay for it in a certain amount of time. The contract requires us to give a certain amount of our life span to work to pay off that debt. The credit card is a much more suttle way of getting us to indenture ourselves but the same none the less. Similar to Harriet's comment of being stripped of skills, we have also been stripped of understanding the real cost of things in terms of hours, days, years of our life. Unlike the old days when an indentured servant would work tirelessly for years to buy their freedom, today's servants continue to re-indenture themselves over and over never getting ahead any more than a hamster on a wheel. How happy can an indentured servant be when they are contractually obligated to work so many of their waking to make "someone else" happy?
A good reference book for this concept is "Your Money Or Your Life" (google it)
I got to get busy doing something constructive for the day so I'll pick up again later.
My beloved co-horts in the journey,
I think, really, that WANTING it is the first, last and only step you need. How it will manifest and look will be personal and it will evolve. But only the real wanting and the desire to continue forging through the information (do we not have enough out there?) and doing the work will get you to the place that is right for you.
I was thinking about all the cookbooks out there and now all the gardening books and urban homesteading books and soon all the homemaking and householding books. Not just now but through the ages. I mean I go back and read books from the 1800 and early 1900's and they are talking and writing about the same stuff. So yes, industry has stolen a lot of our understanding of the flow through from seed to pantry or how we are to provision for ourselves but the stuff is out there and the only thing any of us really need is a serious desire to figure it out and a tenacious commitment to do the work because damn if the thing is not confusing at time. Plus, we will all make huge dumb-fu@k mistakes. We will plant the wrong plants, make suck-ass food, preserve shit we won't want to eat, waste money on the wrong thing at the wrong time and think, off and on, what the hell am I doing. But if we continue on, and work it out, and stay on the path, we will get to a system that makes sense to us. And just about then, the system will change again because there is no "there" to "there". We might get older and can't bend as well or the kids will be gone or the husband or the job or something, something, will happen that will change how we see the world and our system will adapt to that.
But Pat is right to say that debt hobbles us and keeps the path cluttered with servitude. But how to get out from under it is not all that easy. Thrift is important but again, all that is personal.
And what I learned from my householding consultations is that too often I am more a counselor that a teacher. I listen to people tell me what they want to do but don't. Sometimes it is about knowledge but most the time it is because they are impatient or overwhelmed and they don't really want to take the time to learn. Honestly, sometimes I think folks think I have some magic bullet or that I will do the work for them. Which is not to say I never can help but really I am only helpful when someone is stuck on this or that specific thing and asks a very specific question like -- how many tomatoes should I put up for a family of four? Or, what's the best way to "bleach" out my whites or hang clothes on the line? What makes for great construction on clothing and where is the best place to find well-made clothes (answer - vintage shops since they stopped making anything worth a shit by the early 70's if not before).
And Pat writes about his epiphany of being a wage slave and others about how annoyed they were about public education and others because they hated pesticides in their food. Each of us come here for a different reason but what joins us is the wanting. And those of us willing to make our dumb-ass mistakes will get to the other side. Their system will always be exactly as it is for them when it is for them.
I sometimes think I would like to work on a textbook sort of thing and not another sweeping narrative but, then again, I think the stuff is all out there. Yes, we like to hear about others on the path and we like to get encouragement but nothing will take the place of doing the work. And just like the millions of freak'n cookbooks out there and the fact that fewer and fewer people are cooking, there can be a spectator sport or design concept (pretty pantries that don't make real sense sort of thing) to this householding life. This life is not a magazine layout despite our cultures inclination to make it so. Which is why I think CJ said a long time ago that she would kill herself if she read another recipe for yogurt. Really --- can we get on with it?
Honestly, we made the food preservation dvd cause I got tired of teaching (I'm a bit cranky) and thought I could just hand them the thing and say good luck. I wrote the book cause someone asked me too and I tried to tell everyone that I'm just a little more ahead of the game but still a complete novice. I tried to say the hardest part behind all this is the way there are so many lures and attractions to our modern life -- for good or bad. That is the real challenge. But I want it and want it bad cause I get so freak'n pissed off at the system that they have put in place and the inhumanity of it and the dumb fu*k logic behind it that I just had to change it for myself. And that and only that got me here. I wanted it really badly. My heart was broken. That which you do to the least of these you do unto me. I'm not religious but I am a part of a system - theirs or mine. The industrial corporate system or the natural one. Master of the universe or partner in the seamless flow of the natural world.
But you guys are all golden. I love that I found other nuts out there that for better or worse are trying. Lord knows we're trying. Nuts and bolts. Where do we get stuck. Me? These days wondering what sense it makes to get a half a cow and whole pig if the husband (still) is refusing to eat meat cause his cholesterol is high (don't get me started on that crap) and the kids in the basement still buy microwavable Dinty Moore shit (I kid you not) and son number two is going off to college (despite step-mom suggesting its a rip off - WTF $100,000.00 so he can become a barista when he gets out?????). Yeah, I like meat but hell, that's a shit load for me to eat. So now I'm thinking, maybe I will only get a quarter share but I like certain cuts which might get lost the more ways we split the beast. So there it is....another problem another solution on the horizon.
And today I am going to plant a Brooks plum in my backyard cause I love me some plums and love me more the prunes that I will dry. It will take three years or so but I got time even though I sorta suspect I'm going to plant it in the wrong place and it will shade out one of my beds but oh well. I am crazy about those plums. And I also planted my first asparagus bed yesterday which will also take three years to produce but I got nothing but time. Good news, the ramps (hillbilly garlic) I planted some three years ago are coming on now. Folks down south are crazy for them but say you stink like shit (or garlic) after eating them. I took a little nip of the leaves yesterday and hell yes, they be garlicky. I'm gonna cook them up outside maybe in that outdoor canning kitchen or just slice them up and add to something I'll cook today. And somewhere, somehow, somebody will put out a pretty pictures about garden ramp strata (old crust bread and egg casserole) with "farm fresh" eggs and someone, somewhere (most likely in some city somewhere) will get all misty eyed about it but not the farmer or householder who knows how down and dirty a life it all is. I'm gonna cook those ramp with that old nasty dried up bread I've been collecting with the eggs from my girlfriends chickens (cause she's got the space) and cook it all in my caste iron pan and if any of you were around I'd give you a piece. But picture? -- no damn picture. And definitely no recipe. If you read my book you know I can get a little cranky about them even though I indulged you with a few. Now.....on to the day. Much love.