The Dream of a Tired Woman; by Mary E. Gardner; 1913

It had been a hard day.

I looked at my cross, tired face in the glass and noted bitterly, almost savagely, its lines of care; its drooping lips of dissatisfaction; its worldly eyes, and aging, yes, its unpleasantly aging, expression.

It was a depressed, discontented face that stared moodily back at me, and I did not like it.

“What’s the good of it all?” I muttered, sitting down on the edge of the bed and addressing, vindictively, no one or no thing in particular.

“What’s the use, tell me that,” I growled, banging my shoes, aggressively on the floor, “will you, of living, of life, anyway? Just moiling along day after day, to earn enough to keep you moiling along the next one. Ugh! I could have thought out a better world and system than this, myself, I do believe. It’s just a shred and a patch of creation, not getting anywhere or doing anything; anything worth while, anyway.” And so, with complaint and self-pity and discontent and all uncharitableness, my eyes closed and I was asleep.

In my sleep I dreamed. I thought I was walking along a shaded lane. Beautiful trees lined either side, both behind and before me. I could catch, though, occasional glimpses, when I raised my eyes, of rare cloudless, blue sky, far above. The lane, or road, stretched straight ahead, miles of beautifully shaded thoroughfare, until at a great distance, it reached a green hill, on whose summit I could see the sun shining.

All my discontent had vanished. I walked calmly, serenely, along the lovely road and my soul was at peace with itself and the world. I did not know where I was nor how I came to be there. Nor did I care. I was glad to be there and I hummed a merry tune as I sauntered along; one that belonged to the happy days of Long Ago Youth, and which I thought I had forgotten.

I saw flowers and tame wild animals but I did not pluck the one, nor scare away the other. Why should I?

It was so good to be alive that I would not have dimmed a ray of the day’s joy by shortening the brief life of a gay blossom, or disturbing the rambles of my little dumb brethren.

Presently, I saw afar off, a form appear on the top of the green hill. I watched with joyful interest. It was a woman. She was, I noted, as we drew nearer, stately in form, dignified of movement, and, where had I heard that phrase, “nobly planned.”

I muttered it confusedly as we approached.

“A perfect woman, nobly planned.” It described her anyway, that was certain.

We met. We clasped hands, and as I looked up into a face so calm, so benign, so peaceful, so free from hint of
passion or uncleanliness, yet so full of wisdom and dignity, I felt both abashed and comforted.

We did not speak for some time. Then as I gazed at the noble face of the woman, I suddenly saw a resemblance.
“Why,” I exclaimed, in all sincerity, yet with abasement and amazement, “You are like me!”

She smiled down at me and clasped more closely my hand.

“I am you,” she replied, in tones that were like the sweetest music. “I am what you should have been; what you were meant to be.”

The vision faded as it spoke. I held, or tried to, madly, the loosening hand and cried, “Oh, do not leave me, stay.”

I could not keep her, but as road, hill, woman, birds, flowers, all disappeared from my longing sight, I heard these words, this promise–

“Be Comforted. Be Comforted and Hope. I am what you yet shall be.”

I awoke from my dream and life was labor again, and oft the labor seemed great and the gain small, and I was still careworn and wrinkled and weary, but the memory of my dream abides with me and who shall dare deny, but that in some life, somewhere, sometime, I shall become through much tribulation, perhaps, but with final certainly, that which I was meant to be.

And this dream that I dreamed, was it for myself alone, or was it not meant rather for all the great sisterhood of women toilers; weary workers who lift tired, oft rebellious eyes and empty work-worn hands, to a silent Heaven and ask, “Why and for what was I born?”

It will be, I like to think so; to believe that in some Great Coming Time to Be, we shall all be what creative Love and Wisdom planned.

And God shall wipe all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4

Teaching Young Women; 1913 & 1938

From 1913–

Some women think their whole duty to their children consists in drudging for them.

An eighteen-year-old girl boasts that she could work if she had to, but “my mother wants me to have a good time, she says I’ll have to work after I get married.”

If she marries a poor man, I shudder at the life he will lead–yes–and she also, for her only life is running through streets, and spending money for little things to eat and enjoy. She has never been taught to think of the good of others; yet her mother prides herself on her “love” for her child. I know it is difficult for mothers to know just how much to do for the children of the home and how much to require from them. We all want them to be happy, yet does it take from their enjoyment, if they are taught how to add to the happiness of others? Will not their future homes be happier and better ordered if they are accustomed to do the necessary work of a house?

From 1938–

When my daughter was “teen-age,” I suddenly woke up to the fact that I was a martyr mother and was teaching her to be selfish. The real awakening came when she got her first permanent and took on a patronizing air because mother never had had one. Well, I got one and she said, “Why, mother you are pretty?” So I went farther! Instead of buying daughter the more expensive dress she coveted, we each got a less expensive one and I hied forth to Sunday School with her. I know that she respects me more for it, than when I dressed her so nicely that there was nothing left to buy a good-looking dress for me.

Blessings be upon the mother who has the courage to spend money for a new dress for herself and makes over an old one occasionally for her daughter!

 

 

Just for To-day; 1921

Strength for to-day is all that we need,
As there never will be a to-morrow;
For to-morrow will prove but another to-day,
With its measures of joy and of sorrow.

Then why forecast the trials of life
With such sad and grave persistence,
And wait and watch for a crowd of ills
That as yet have no existence?

Strength for to-day! What a precious boon
For the earnest souls who labor–
For the willing hands that minister
To the needy friend or neighbor.

Strength for to-day–that the weary hearts
In the battle for right may quail not,
And the eyes bedimmed by bitter tears
In their search for light may fail not.

Strength for to-day, in house and home,
To practice forbearance sweetly,
To scatter kind words and loving deeds,
Still trusting in God completely.

Isn’t that a fine poem, sisters? It means a great deal–do you not think so? I used to get so blue and discouraged I did not know what to do, going on in the same old treadmill, with no possible “let-up” or change of view; at such times I would stop and read this poem over slowly, trying to get the inner sense of every line; and then I would say to myself: “Well, there’s one comfort; I have only got to get through to-day and do the best I can. The work that is right ahead of me now is all I’ve got to look out for.” And after I had reasoned things out this way with myself, I found I could keep at what I had to do and not get half so tired.

Now we are getting along splendidly, have started payments on our own place, and you couldn’t find a happier household anywhere. So I say, sisters, when you get to thinking of the work piled up ahead, and of troubles that may come–just don’t! You’ve got the strength to go through to-day, and you haven’t anything to do with to-morrow until it arrives–and then it will be to-day. It surely does make a great deal of difference how you think about things. If you say to yourself that everything is sure to come out all right, and there’s nothing to worry about, and act as though you believe it, going around smiling and cheery, you can’t think how much happier you and everybody else will be, and how the clouds that look so dark will really break away. I know, for I have tried it and have proved that “the trick works.”

The Frugal Garden

I recently watched a YouTube video on frugal living. In the video, someone asked if gardening and canning was a good money-saving option. The woman recommended that people have a garden only if they enjoyed maintaining one as a hobby, because it wouldn’t necessarily save any money.

I was surprised. Isn’t having a garden classic frugal advice? Isn’t that why gardens were so common during the Great Depression? This woman went on to say that if you factor in the cost of canning jars, lids, seeds, fertilizer, tiller, plus your time, you might as well buy a few cans of vegetables and save yourself a lot of hassle and hours and hours of work.

The more I think about her advice, the more I disagree. Sure, if you calculate the worth of something by cost alone, you could argue that gardening and canning doesn’t always save money. We’ve all observed the people who’ve bought a flat of strawberries, ingredients, and all the canning gear, only to make 6 jars of jam, at a cost of about $10 a jar and complain that canning is expensive. I believe that if it’s done well, however, gardening and preserving your harvest WILL save money, and quite a bit, too.

Here are several ways to maximize your savings if you have a garden and want to put up the harvest:

  1. Grow the produce yourself instead of buying it, unless by chance you get a fabulous price or make a beneficial barter. Beyond growing produce, start seedlings instead of buying expensive starter plants. Seed packets hold fewer seeds every year and cost a little more, so harvest and save your own seeds for the next season.

  1. Grow the produce that saves you the most money, especially if space is an issue. Potatoes and carrots are relatively cheap in the store and don’t always yield the best return for the space.  For me, I couldn’t afford to buy all the raspberries that we’re able to eat by growing our own.

3. Use your produce in ways that maximize your savings. A can of store-bought generic whole tomatoes is pretty cheap. A can of tomatoes with added jalapenos increases the cost significantly. Tomato sauce with herbs added becomes spaghetti sauce, which is also more expensive. If I didn’t have the space to grow many tomatoes, I would focus on canning things like spaghetti sauce and salsa. As a bonus, every jar of spaghetti sauce represents a meal during the winter. It’s an efficient way to meal prep! A few cups of berries might makes one small jar of jam worth a couple of dollars, but those same berries infused in a jar of balsamic vinegar is a bargain compared to that ridiculously expensive specialty store product.

4. Canning jars and lids are an unavoidable cost. However, you can often find jars used so they are cheap and sometimes free. Reusable lids are more expensive, but if you use them regularly, you decrease their cost. Occasionally, you can find lids at garage sales, too.

5. Produce doesn’t have to be canned! You can eat out of your garden from spring through fall. A single packet of lettuce seeds will provide you days, or perhaps weeks worth of summer salads. Canning is great for long-term storage, but it does take more time. Freezing is much less laborious.

One lemongrass plant, started from seed

Freezer bags are super cheap, and like canning jars, the cost of a large freezer (if needed) will decrease with every year of consistent use. And don’t overlook drying. Dehydrators are relatively cheap and easy to find in thrift store and at garage sales. You may not even need a dehydrator for everything. The mint plant I got as a cutting from my neighbor years ago provides me with more than enough mint tea for the winter. I just cut the stems, tie them and hang them upside down until they dry and crumble.

These are a few ways that gardening saves me money–can you think of more?

I also think there are more benefits of a garden than simply saving money. But that’s a whole other post. 🙂