It is May. The pecan leaves have been set for only a few weeks, yet I find myself forgetting the time when the branches were still and bare. The trees are alive now, a single limb full of leaves begins to quiver in the wind, then echoes throughout, rippling from bough to bough, leaf to leaf. If trees spoke, their voice would sound like the wind. A part of me believes that indeed this is the case, that the leaves are telling secrets or singing a song. That it isn’t just a change in temperature or shift in pressure that breathes through the air, perhaps the leaves are speaking in these quiet moments. Of course, it is just a thought, I tell myself it cannot be true. It happens again, a leaf shakes, the others respond, reverberating through everything. I tell myself it cannot be, these trees are not speaking, it is only the wind, then I tell myself that it doesn’t matter; our breath and our voices are indistinguishable from one another as the breeze swirls and envelopes us.
On Saturday Morning the family went outside to be in the garden: we looked at the seedlings, we monitored the worms and stared at the sky. We knew some ferocious storms were about to come through, the same ones that bore tornadoes throughout the South. We weren’t too concerned about tornadoes occurring in our area, as they are relatively rare here; but when I looked at the sky, I realized there was something different about this storm. Earlier that morning as I was making coffee, I noticed a flock of egrets fly in a distant pecan field where I typically only saw one or two egrets flying at that time of day. It was like they were mobilizing to move elsewhere. Ryan started talking about going fishing, I told him to wait and let me look at the radar. After looking I decided that it was best if we left as soon as possible, even though there were no tornado watches for our area at that point. He thought I was being silly, and dramatic, it wasn’t even raining at that time. After a bit of bickering he finally realized that we had to go, if for any other reason than to appease me.
It was a combination of observation and intuition that led us to leave our little home and go to a safer location at my parents. No place is completely safe, but the trajectory of the storm looked like it was going to be most vicious where we were. From reading about the storms over the previous few days, I observed that their patterns were that the tornadoes touched down predominately in the afternoon or mid-morning, many tornado bearing storms often strike at night. This knowledge, paired with a bit of intuition, ended up proving to be prudent; three miles away a significant tornado touched down several hours following our departure.
When we drove home the next day, after the storm had passed, the wreckage was surreal; familiar landscapes looked like all of the other places across the country ravaged by a storm: it was just another pile of rubble left behind by the tornadoes.
There was a strange feeling that has just now subsided after a few days. The feeling that comes from acting on intuition, when you know something without realizing you actually know it. There is nothing supernatural about intuition, it is knowledge without words, it is knowing something by feeling, rather than direct information. It may appear eerie, but my insistence on leaving was just an act of common sense gained from observation, trust, and respect: observation of surroundings, and actual information like the weather report, trust in my instincts, and most importantly respect for nature. Respect for nature is not just an act of reverence it also means acknowledging its power and getting out of the way. Knowing a place is respecting a place, and learning the intricacies of your home; the color of the leaves, the breath of the wind, the flight of birds and the sound of the insects, this is all a knowledge that can’t really be described with words. Nature speaks the same language as we do, and remembering it isn’t difficult, all we have to do is listen and learn. When we pair this with a healthy curiosity of science and the tools of technology, we can make decisions that can protect us while we learn to respect the power of the Earth.
If only replacing a fridge was as simple as contact paper (see 2:59)
Last week as I was making dinner I heard an ominous sound coming from our 15 year old fridge; it was of a different tenor than we are accustomed to since moving into our home. As dinner continued, a burning smell rose from some unseen place. It was a less than appetizing aroma, and gave my husband pause as he came home from work. He was careful not to mention it, just in case it was the workings of some exotic stir fry spice I was concocting. When I finally mentioned it we soon discovered that the fridge compressor was overheating, after a bit of troubleshooting we realized we had to either replace the part or replace the whole thing. As we lived without a fridge for a few days I couldn’t help but mull over how these easily forgotten, commonplace things, are so integral to how we function; not only do these appliances become essential, but their eventual malfunction or obsolescence keep us beholden to the companies that have come to create our way of life.
“As we lived without a fridge for a few days I couldn’t help but mull over how these easily forgotten, commonplace things, are so integral to how we function; not only do these appliances become essential, but their eventual malfunction or obsolescence keep us beholden to the companies that have come to create our way of life.”
My first thought was that the right thing to do would be to try to fix the compressor, it would potentially use less waste and keep an otherwise functional hunk of metal and plastic out of the landfill. However, it is Frigidaire, one of the least expensive refrigerators on the market, so replacing it is more economical and stress free in the long run, and it is highly likely that we would end up investing more in the repairs than the cost of replacement. It is a product made for limited durability and adaptability; to eventually become either obsolete or no longer functional. The manufactures hope that by the end of the product’s life you will have enjoyed it enough to buy a replacement by them. Which we are doing because it is inexpensive and a marginal investment which will probably last us through a decade. I have become cynical about durability and innate product value. Should we have bought a fridge that was double the price? On the hope that it would last twice as long? I’m not confident enough in appliances to think that cost equals long-term durability anymore, and that instead cost in appliances equals more features, greater efficiency and perhaps prestige.
It is the most common things that become easy to forget about, and yet, are so essential to our way of life, for better or worse. Our life has been kind of chaotic while we’ve been waiting for a new fridge to be delivered, we haven’t been eating well and the malfunctioning seems to have created a domino effect of disorder through the house. Now that we have the fridge I feel like I’m finally able to put things back together. The upside to the new fridge is having a clean slate and being able to start from scratch with the food we keep. We had to throw out or compost most of the food we had in there, but luckily I hadn’t gone grocery shopping for the week, so there wasn’t much lost. What I found is that most of what we had in there we didn’t use anyway. Sometimes I think there is comfort in looking in a fridge and seeing it full of food. Looking at the minimal fridge contents now, I feel clarity going into meal planning this week and I want to keep our fridge sparse and properly stocked and clean.
For a brief moment I tried to think of life without this imposing machine in my world. How would we live? Would our lives be better? Would I eat only fresh food? It very well could be better. I imagined with this clean slate of a fridge trying to very slowly ween us off of using a fridge and in ten years when this fridge eventually breaks maybe we could be at the point where we have made it obsolete through our lifestyle rather than continuing the cycle of dependence. But maybe that is short-sighted. Maybe the solution to the problem of consistent major appliance failure is asking for a different sort of future for these machines that are integral to our life. A future where machines are easy to fix, where the highest efficiency is the norm, design is paramount while maintaining accessibility and affordability. Maybe one day, meanwhile I’ll continue using this new version of an ole’ icebox.
How would your ideal refrigerator look? Could you live without a fridge? What would your kitchen look like without it?
My half year resolution of being forgiving in general and of myself was pretty successful. Having a more general resolution is very helpful in being able to see results, even with something as unspecific as a virtue or practice. This year I want to continue to have a conciliatory and healing outlook, but I also want to approach the world with the urgency and graveness that our times deserve.
My hope for this blog when I first started it was that I could go beyond the idea of homemaking as a primarily consumerist endeavor to a thoughtful practice that contributes to bettering the world. It was made out of both a response to and reverence for the shelter/design blogs that were so inspiring to me at the time as a homemaker. Many of these had a strong do-it-yourself and frugal ethic, and made me think of the importance of design in my daily life. I believe that there is a very important place for bringing beauty and design into the home, however I also know that there is potential for so much more as homemakers and families than having a beautiful home. As I read these blogs I felt like there was something missing for the part of me that wanted to contemplate the meaning of being a homemaker and mother, I also felt like only lip-service was being given to the important ethical concerns of the age. However. I tried to work within the current model of home and family blogging and interject my own way of thinking into that framework. It was ill-fitting from the beginning, so it didn’t work.
Blogging ain’t easy, so I have only respect for the women out there able to make a living from it, they inspire me and I look forward to hopefully begin engaging with that community. But will there be a place for me there? Stay tuned.
Tags: 2012 Goals
Summer in South Georgia has a way of putting everything on hold. It’s as though the humidity is so thick it makes any movement endure additional resistance. Alas, we are in he homestretch of what has actually been a mild Summer around our parts. This is relative to your geography, though. You know how Yankees pride themselves on their Winter heartiness? I pride myself on my Summer endurance which around these parts feels like it lasts a half a year.
This post is for The Green Mom’s Carnival on 1/2 Year Resolutions
The list of things I haven’t done and want to do are longer than anyone would want to read: A garden that needs tending, skills that need learning, a body that needs care. After awhile the list becomes more of a burden than an inspiration. So at half way through the year it seems like a good time to make the resolution to practice forgiveness. For the ecologically minded, guilt is everywhere. In a reusable bag left in a car, a food scrap not composted, or a car uses too much fuel. And as a mother I find myself constantly finding ways to measure myself up against a higher standard. When I look back on the things I haven’t done or look forward to the things I could do, but haven’t yet, it is easy to get so frustrated that I don’t want to do anything at all.
Forgiveness isn’t just good to practice for myself, in fact, it is even better to experience forgiveness toward the people in my life and the world around me. Whether it be in a moment of frustration or a long standing resentment. By viewing life through the lens of forgiveness I realize that it’s not just others that deserve forgiveness, I also owe it to myself to forgive them.
It’s not easy, to approach the world and myself with a forgiving mindset, but it is a simple enough concept to remember and definitely a worthwhile goal. Guilt and judgment become unnamed feelings that weigh heavy on the heart. After awhile it can be easy to forget what that gnawing feeling is; once I recognize that there is a remedy for what I’m feeling, I find more clarity. Forgiveness is healing and inspiring, and says it’s okay to move on. Which is good because there is a home that needs tending to, a family to raise, and a huge list of other things that need to get done.
American Frugal Housewife is a sort of manifesto of good economy and frugality. First published in 1828, the tips were likely of good use to homemakers of the time. Although the instructional material may not seem as accessible to today’s reader, it at least provides an interesting historical perspective:
One of my favorite things about pre-industrial and turn of the century works is the imagery and even the touch of folklore embedded in the day to day accounts. I love this bit about rose-water.
Rose water? Aged cheese carefully wrapped in paper? It makes me long for another time, (I am not squeamish about insects, so that part doesn’t bother me).
I’ll leave you with my favorite recipe, this one is for Wedding Cake. I think I could make this, I know I could eat a slice:
These images were found in the Google scanned book. American Frugal Housewife is in public domain and widely available.