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.)

Disappointed? Go Outside! 1925

Once upon a time, when I was a little child, there was to be held a splendid picnic on the last day of school.

The morning dawned bright and cloudless, a refreshing wind was blowing, but the outlook was not bright for me. Something had happened that prevented us from going. I shall never forget the feeling of disappointment that swept over me for that day was just made for picnics.

We children never gave up our hope of going until we saw the other children depart with pails and baskets. I don’t remember how we got through the day, except that we spent it almost entirely out of doors. There you have my secret for bearing disappointments, you grown-up folks as well as children! Get out of doors!

As farmer’s wives, something is always turning up in connection with weather or crops or livestock to interfere with our best-laid plans. It is well to have some alternative just to fill in with in case plans go awry. One day this summer I was all ready to go on a long anticipated excursion, when circumstances arose that prevented my going. The same old feeling of disappointment started to come over me but I put my second “preventive” into action: I tackled the hardest outside job I could find and worked off the unhappy mood. In addition, I read Nancy Byrd Turner’s cheery little verse:

“When things turn upside down
And inside out and look dark brown.
I rush outdoors and gaze into
The top-less sky’s eternal blue–
So calm and cool, so still and deep
With soft contented clouds like sheep.
I shade my eyes and stare and stare,
Then go back in the house and there
Begin to wonder and to doubt
What I was in that stew about!”