Reading For Pleasure & Knowledge; 1937 &1903

From 1937–

I try to read one book every two weeks–and 25 books a year can do much to brighten and make interesting a practical, overworked housewife.

I try to vary my reading diet, for I believe the menu for our minds should be as well balanced as the menu for our tummies. So I include four types of mental food from which I choose:

  1. Non-fiction (biography, travel, etc.)
  2. Poetry (or plays)
  3. Worth-while fiction (perhaps something old and tried, or perhaps something new)
  4. Light fiction (which may include anything at all even to detective stories if I am so inclined! This is dessert!)

I choose from these four types in order, then start all over again.

I can’t tell you what this plan has meant to me. I think I’m becoming better educated than I was, I know I’m becoming happier and more interesting and you know, there’s nothing like interest and happiness to erase lines from one’s face!

From 1903–Of  course, the quotes below would apply to women as well as men.

“What shall I read?” This is an important question to all, and especially to those living in country homes, for those having few associates are influenced much more by what they read, where books become real companions, either to elevate or degrade. Let us be very careful in the selection of our books, not selecting a book that is simply harmless, but choose those that will broaden and ennoble our lives.

It can be truly said, “Show me what a person reads and I can tell what sort of man he is.” How many times we read of boys leaving all that is good and pure, leading dissolute lives, often guilty of grave crimes, who were led to such lives by reading pernicious books. And again how many times the reading of a good book has turned the scale in persons’ lives and they have become noble, helpful men, whose lives are an inspiration to all.

Watch a child, that has few young companions, during the time he is reading such a book as “Little Men.” See how he lives with the characters of the book; he enjoys all their sports, feels all their sorrows; in fact, his imaginative life becomes as real to him as his real life is. Knowing all this one begins to realize the great influence of books.

For older readers in the field of fiction we find too many good authors to mention their names; but we would say in selecting a book, remember to accept nothing that is unreal or sensational, which gives a young person a too romantic or sentimental view of life.

Life on a Wyoming Ranch; 1915

A young woman in Wyoming writes: “This country is so different, so big, that the horizon alone seems to set the limit. I visited on one ranch that is fourteen miles from one end to the other. There are no green wooded hills here, but great rocky slopes and rushing water and great sandy flats with wonderful changing colors. . . . I do not think we miss the outside world as there is something about this country that, after a time, fills one’s whole thoughts and it is hard to remember that there is any other world than this.”

But do you not mind the deep changeless silence in those distant solitary places? “But there is no silence here,” she answers, “except on the high places of the mountain tops. Here there is always the roar of the river at the bottom of the canyon and the wind in the cedars all about me.”

But the Indians? Do you not fear that war-whoop? “It used to alarm me to meet an Indian out on the big flats, but I soon discovered that they will not even look at you as they pass.”

But how about rattlesnakes? In answer came this: “I never had any rattlesnakes in my bed, though I fancied I had one night. I got up, carefully lifted off the sheets, and found–the comfortable (an old-fashioned word for quilt) under me wrinkled up! There are not many rattlesnakes now–you see, we kill them.”

But are you not afraid to stay in your cabin alone on your lofty butte? “No, I do not believe that I am afraid. When I first came here the bigness of the hills frightened me, but now some of the best times I have are when I am walking over the hills and through the trees at night. I have a bull terrier and a collie that are always with me so I am not so much alone as it might seem. I have also a beautiful big Morgan saddle horse; I ride over the country alone and I have never been frightened.”

5 Reasons I love being a housewife

It takes a genius to be a first-rate housekeeper. -1884

Well, that explains a lot. Mystery solved…now I know why I still haven’t figured this whole housewifery thing out.

In spite of the fact that I haven’t mastered this career in the least and that many people see it as an inferior (or not even a legitimate) occupation, I really, really love my job. So why do I like being a housewife? Why is it the best career for me?

Hours Yes, I’m on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and even on a family vacation, I’m not really off duty. But, that doesn’t mean I’m working all the time. As long as the tasks get done, the details are up to me. That means I can watch a movie while I dust the living room or fold laundry, I can batch-cook meals to free me up from daily cooking, or I can hold off on my plans of defrosting the freezer because I got an impromptu invitation from a friend. (Hello? Friends?!? …I’m running low on friends offering impromptu invitations…)

-Shopping- I can do my shopping at the slowest times, so I never, ever, grocery shop on the weekends or during the after-school/post workday madness. And more importantly, I’m also able to avoid senior citizen discount day at the grocery store. So many retirees with so much time on their hands. The shopping is secondary to the visiting and the free coffee.

I’m also able to take advantage of weekday garage sales that I would otherwise miss if I had to work during the day for someone else. In my area, most garage sales begin on Thursday or Friday mornings. By Saturday, things are generally picked over.

Speaking of garage sales–can I share my big find last week? I was so excited. I’ve been looking for a carry-on sized suitcase for a couple of years.

While not a huge fan of animal print designs, I was won over by the $5 price tag (for the set).

Variety The number of different tasks a housewife does is nearly limitless, everything from childcare to budgeting to landscaping to canning. That’s a sample of what a housewife can do in a single day. I have physical work to do and mental tasks, so I can change direction whenever I feel the need. I love that every day is different and there is always a new skill to learn. There’s no such thing as a bored housewife. I may become restless and discontent, but there’s no end of things to be done.

-Flexibility In many ways, I’m my own boss. Sure, our home is my husband’s too, but frankly, he doesn’t have many opinions about domestic affairs unless I get him involved and want his help or opinion. As long as he has clean clothes and relatively organized home with regular meals, he doesn’t get caught up in the details.  

So that leaves me an independent manager. While I have a variety of jobs to do, I can also tailor this career to my interests. Some housewives never have a garden, but keep an immaculate house and make all their own clothes. Others struggle with organization but know the best frugal shopping tips. I’ll never have weed-free flower beds but I know what it’s in my pantry and chest freezer. It’s a choose your own adventure kind of life, not in a super adventurous, life on the edge kind of way, but I do what I can…

-Satisfaction I was once elected to head up an organization and while it was a volunteer position, it was a job in nearly every way but the paycheck. I struggled and fought to make some badly needed changes to the organization. While I was successful, I eventually moved on and so did the crabbies, who to this day would have preferred to see the group dissolve than change. The organization is now thriving and although I learned a lot and did what needed to be done, my efforts were at the expense of my family and will be forgotten soon by the group, if they haven’t already.

A part of that experience was that I learned I am happiest putting my energy into what matters most to me.  I don’t need the praise of the public to feel fulfilled. My family has never fallen at my feet in gratitude for clean socks and homemade pickles (so far, anyway, my pickles have come out crispier than usual this summer, so just maybe), but I have the satisfaction of knowing that I’m benefiting the people that will be a part of my life for as long as I’m alive.

So those are my top 5 reasons why I love being a housewife. Do you have any you’d add?

It’s that time of year….

…mid-summer, that is. For me and countless gardeners in the midwest, this time of year means that produce is starting to roll in. And that means I have to start doing something with it all. So what does this time of year mean for me? It means–

  • Remembering how long to blanch green beans is knowledge I use on a daily basis.

 

  • Checking for zucchini and cucumbers twice a day because I always, always overlook at least one, and usually more.

  • Meat becomes a minor player at mealtime next to all the vegetables. Not only are we eating multiple servings of fruits and vegetables at every meal (it’s less that I have to process!) but we’re eating all the jars that didn’t seal. And don’t anybody dare to open a jar from the pantry.

 

  • Zucchini. Every day. Zucchini chocolate cake is the only dessert on the menu.
Zucchini bread for a little variety
  • I don’t wash the kitchen floor until I start sticking to it. It’s a pointless job during canning season.

 

  • The refrigerator is always jammed full to bursting. Adding any more produce becomes a game of tetris. (Note the lack of photographic proof…I didn’t think is was necessary to share that mess.)

 

  • Produce all over the kitchen. Cucumbers sliced and salted, calendula petals drying for salves, mint leaves drying for tea, dilly beans fermenting, summer squash accumulating in piles, jars needing to be labeled, bowls of misc. produce I’m trying to ignore…

  • My grocery lists consist of things like salt, mustard seeds, ziploc bags, vinegar, and sugar–in large quantities.

At times it seems never-ending and there is always the temptation to accidentally mow over the beans or to pretend I don’t notice that the kohlrabis are splitting. But it’s also the time of year when I feel like I accomplish a lot every day and save my future self some grocery shopping and meal prep time. As tiring as it is sometimes, it’s work I enjoy.