In Love With Her Life, 1915

It is dusk. The children and I have just come in from the corral, where I milked seven cows. I am so in love with life that I find a day very short to hold its allotted joys.

First, I awoke a little earlier than usual this morning and lay thinking over the “had-to-be-dones.” It is baking day; but that is a glad-to-be as well as the other, because I love to experiment outside of the cookbooks. At half-past five I arose and by half-past six had breakfast on the table and my bread set. By eight o’clock we had breakfasted and I had the seven cows milked. How I love my gentle cows! What an inspiration their calm patience is! And I love to get out at that hour. At this altitude the mornings are always chilly but by eight it is pleasant. At half-past eight I had the three larger children dressed and at breakfast, while I ran the milk through the separator. While the children finished, I went again to the barnyard, where I fed my little chicks and turkeys and looked after the rest.

I have two rows of flowers between the barnyard and the house, so I stopped a few minutes to smell the sweet-peas, to admire the gorgeous colors of the poppies, and to pull a few weeds. By ten I had Baby bathed and all his little wants attended to, the breakfast dishes and the milk things washed, my bread in the oven and my dinner started. So I sat down to churn and to read while I churned. I use an old-fashioned dash churn, therefore I have an excuse for sitting down. I am glad of it, for I can read then.

By twelve I have my sweet golden butter printed, have heard my daughter’s lessons and have dinner ready. By half-past one we have had dinner and I have the kitchen in order and we all lie down for a rest. At two I begin making the beds, by three the whole house is straightened, so I have two hours for myself. I read a little story for the kiddies and then send them all to play while I read a little. I write a couple of letters and then go out to hoe and pull weeds a while.

I cook most of my supper while I cook dinner so I can prepare supper in a few minutes. So I feed my biddies, and the children gather the eggs, until we hear the men coming in from the field. By seven o’clock we have had supper, and Baby is put to bed. Daughter helps me put the kitchen to rights.

Then comes the goodest part of the day. We go to milk. Daughter and Son sit in the wagon out of harm’s way and I milk. We all enjoy the beauties of the sunset, the beautiful colors, the crisp little mountain breeze. By nine the kiddies have had their bath and are in bed. Daddy-man is playing the phonograph so they can go to sleep.

At ten o’clock my day will be finished. I shall finish this paper and read a little with Daddy-man and then it will be my bed-time. As I finish I see I have left out many little joys. I have kissed little hands to make hurts well perhaps a dozen times. I matched some colors and cut some blocks for Daughter’s patchwork quilt; I made a finger-stall for the hired man. I have answered the ‘phone a few times and–Now if some university can help me to make my days more elastic so that they can encompass all my joys comfortably, I shall be glad. There’s so much I want to do but–Good-night!

 

Drudgery? Not in Springtime! 1926

Drudgery! It is an old-fashioned word that we rarely hear today, but a century ago, it was used a great deal to describe housework in general, and often Spring Cleaning. In 1926, a woman from Iowa wrote, “True, we have vacuums, dust

mops, electric washing machines, and washable floor coverings…but there always will remain, to the conscientious housewife at least, a certain amount of dread because somewhere, try as hard as she may, there is bound to be more or less of drudgery in house cleaning.” 

I have begun my 2018 Spring Cleaning but instead of getting discouraged with so much ahead of me, I plan to take this woman’s advice:

This spring I have decided to work out my own plan of escape from this drudgery. I am going to take a lesson from Mother Nature herself. I shall don the gayest of percale aprons when I go outside. I am going to “step out”–oh, anytime in the first part of the mornin’, nine o’clock if I feel  like it–under the

trees, into the garden, up the hillside; watch the robins arrange their summer cottages; smell the intoxicating scent of apple blossoms; and go to sleep at night listening to the soft pitty-pat-pat of rains against the window panes or the sigh of the wind in the trees, knowing for a certainty that they will accomplish fully their ever new and lovely process of spring rejuvenation and knowing that I too, even though I do a small portion of my work at a time, making room every day for other sights and interests more pleasurable than housework, I too shall find I can have the house just as sweet and clean, my tasks just as amply done if I take each one as it comes. Not crowding–and without worry or thought as to the days that are just beyond my reach. Sun, wind, rain–it is all in the glorious scheme of a spring day–why shut out the better part? Three cheers for Mother Nature’s easy way of House Cleaning!

Blue Moon, a game for one

April is living up to its reputation for showers, except that here in Wisconsin, it happens to be snow showers. Dr. Seuss summed up our spring pretty well. “The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all that cold, cold, wet day.” We entertain ourselves these days often by looking at a screen of some sort, but don’t you ever get tired of it? And haven’t you wondered about ways people entertained themselves without technology? They had a rich variety of pastimes, which included solitaire games.

When people think of solitaire, they’re usually thinking of a game actually called Klondike. Really, there are a vast number of card games that are considered solitaire, that is, games played alone.  I married into a family that Doesn’t Enjoy Games (gasp!), except for a rousing game of Crazy Eights about once a year. So I get my jollies learning different old-fashioned solitaire card games. I even keep a miniature deck of cards in my travel bag, just in case.

Blue Moon is one of the first solitaire games I learned and still one of my favorites. It was taught to me by my mother, who learned it from her father. Why the name Blue Moon?  Because that’s how often you win it….once in a blue moon. Not that I know that for a fact, I have to confess. I’ve come very close but I’ve never won. But I live with the hope…

My brand-new vintage deck of souvenir cards, thrifted for 25 cents

The rules are very simple. You lay the first card face up, then to the right of that first card, keep laying down the cards face up, one by one. If, when you lay down a card, it matches the previous card by either number or suit, you move it (and all the cards underneath) to the top of the matching card. You can also move the card(s) if it matches the card two cards before.

Here are my first few cards. I was able to match up some of the cards. Since you can only move cards next to each other or two cards apart, I couldn’t move the 2 of spades pile to the 4 of spades.

 

Here I could have moved the 9 of clubs to the 10 of clubs OR the 9 of diamonds; it didn’t really matter at this point

 

 

 

 

You will have to start strategizing at some point…here I could move the 9 of hearts pile to the 9 of clubs first, which would then allow me to move the Ace of diamonds to the 9 of diamonds.

 

Slide your cards to the left as you match so there are no gaps.  Keep checking to see if you’re able to condense your cards even more.

Continue laying down cards and (hopefully) piling them on previous cards until you run out of cards or you’re stuck. In the miraculous event that all your cards are in one pile, congratulations! You won! (HOW did you do it?)

Knowing How to Stay Home

I have observed that we are now faced with a lesson our ancestors never even dreamed of having to learn–that is the lesson of knowing how to stay at home and enjoy the blessings of home culture. -1905

The writer goes on to mention the early 1900s trends of “rapid transit, cheap rates, and easy theatricals” that have made people “restless, nervous and incapable of self-amusement.”  (“Rapid” isn’t the first word that comes to mind when I think of 1905 transportation…)

Why should you stay home more?

It amazes me, but have you ever noticed your house is messiest on days when you’re not home? It doesn’t make any sense, but it’s true. I think it’s because you don’t have time to fully complete a task before you’re off to the next commitment. The dirty dishes pile up faster, the clothes don’t make it into the washer with the same regularity, and the mail doesn’t get sorted right away. When you’re at home, life follows a steadier rhythm. Mealtimes are consistent, laundry gets done, children settle into a familiar routine.

And let’s be honest, home is the comfiest place around. Where else can you drink a big mug of tea in your jammies snuggled with your favorite quilt? Even the local quirky coffee shop can’t replicate the feeling. (How awkward if you could cozy into a big recliner with your fuzzy slippers at a coffee shop…because across the room would be other customers in the same condition, and that’s a sight guaranteed not to bring out warm fuzzies.)

How could your life change if you stayed home more?

There’s the practical side of staying home more. When you’re at home, you’re spending less money. Yes, Amazon and other online shopping sites are still available for the clicking.  But at home, you aren’t relentlessly bombarded with stuff fighting for your attention in a million ways. You can turn the screens off, but when you’re out and about you can’t close your eyes at the signs and ads and you can’t turn off your nose when every single food smell is irresistible, even if you didn’t think you were hungry.

Besides spending less, staying home also allows you to save money. When you’re at home, you can cook your meals from scratch. You can do your own yard work and extend the life of your clothes by replacing buttons and fixing hems. On hot days, you’re able to open the windows in the morning and pull the shades in the afternoon to save air conditioning costs.

The greatest benefit to being at home is difficult to identify, but the settled, contented feeling it produces is unmistakable. “Home sweet home” takes on a new meaning. On the days you can stay home, you can block out much of the craziness of the outside world and live in your own world, with your own people and your own version of life.

The more you’re home, the more you appreciate it and the less you feel like roaming. But it’s definitely a learning curve. That “restless, nervous” feeling the author describes is real and common for the woman newly committed to being a keeper at home. I think we’ve all felt it. If you can stick it out, you’ll be rewarded with a sense of peace and contentment that can’t be found “out there.” We can’t live like hermits and never leave our homes, but developing a homeward mindset will go a long way toward enjoying “the blessings of home culture.”

(This post linked to the Wise Woman Linkup.)