Sunday, January 10, 2016
Coffee Chat: An Old Fashioned Girl
Hello there! Come on in and let's have a nice chat. There's a cheesecake in the fridge, made fresh this morning. Now sit down...
So how is your New Year going? I did very well on the first Monday with work and had a productive if frustrating day on Tuesday. Wednesday we slowed down to a light housework day and Thursday I was right back at busy and productive. Friday, John insisted we had to leave home. He made it worth my time. After he got a hair cut we stopped in at Kroger where I intended to get my free loaf of bread and he bought me the first cup of Starbucks coffee I've had in months on end. I do love Cinnamon Dolces this time of year. I thought to ask for decaf but forgot to specify sugar free. Oh well. I counted that as my 'dessert' that day and enjoyed it. And then he took me out to lunch at our favorite restaurant, a chain place, but this particular one is a little tucked away and cozy and small and the staff is familiar. It's nice.
Wanna know the two highlights of the day on Friday? You'd think I might mention the food or the coffee again but nope that isn't it at all. One was watching John walk across the restaurant. I glanced up and saw him coming towards me and I couldn't help but think what a nice looking man he is and how dear he is overall...and I remembered with a jolt that 20 odd years ago he'd walked up to me in a restaurant and I'd had much the same reaction...Kinda nice after all this time to realize that I still like him, still love him, still feel that spark when he comes into view.
The other thing is perhaps not to be understood by the 'modern' woman but he helped me into my trench coat before we walked out of the restaurant. Gracious, just take me back to the era when men did such things as common courtesy! Still, I don't often wear a coat, our weather being so mild here even in what we call winter, and so it took me by surprise when he reached out to take the coat and he pulled it up on my shoulders. And I liked it. Oh I liked it a lot!
John's always holding doors for me and opening my car door and shutting it, too. He treats me like a lady and you know what? I feel like one.
Well there's been all sorts of things this week that have my brain's wheels turning. Like the fact that at present we're a one car family. It's temporary to be sure, but it's a fact that we're down to one car at the moment and it is a concern to my husband. He's the sort who truly believes you should have two or three back up cars in addition to whatever you're currently driving. I'm not at all of that mindset! In fact, I've broached the subject more than once that we might get by with just one car. I started mentioning this as soon as Katie was done with school and out on her own. John just wouldn't hear of it. Back then he was still working the seven days and I suggested it, telling him that if I really needed the car I could take him into work and go back to pick him up. Yes, it would be a small expense but it was less than the need of two cars. No, he'd not hear it of it. I suggested it again when he went to work on the night shift there a few years back. Nope. What if I needed to go somewhere, he asked? In vain, I pointed out that I had never to my knowledge gone anywhere in the middle of the night!
Well, he was just beside himself this past week trying to figure out how he could drive his car to work and 'save' me the trouble of taking him in to his job. I said, Oh just take my car... and he looked dubious and continued to scheme and plan and worry. As a matter of fact when he went to sleep Friday night he was still mumbling about ways and means to provide me with a working car, 'just in case'. I reminded him gently that had I need of anything at all, I could call Mama or my niece, and ask if they'd take me anywhere I needed to go, but I really couldn't see myself needing a car. I was so relieved to hear him tell Samuel on the phone Saturday morning that I'd made him realize I had other options and he'd finally put that worry aside.
When I was a girl, Granny and Grandaddy had one car and one truck. The truck was iffy about running. Most times it needed to be jumped off and pushed down the hill to get it going. Grandaddy didn't always drive all the way to his work. He carpooled with others and they took it in turns to drive to the base. Granny sometimes took him into town to catch his ride and would pick him up in the evening, which allowed her to use the car, but mostly she stayed at home and planned her trips around the times he was at home on weekends when he'd be most likely to use the truck. The idea of not being able to run into town on a moment's notice wasn't even considered a necessity back then.
I can go a week or more here at home and never go out to the car except to put something in it so it's handy when I do leave home. Mostly I just ignore the fact that the car is out there and I wait until I've planned out a day to be away from home. This week, I will use the car Tuesday afternoon to go into town, where I'll get a haircut, return an item to the dollar store and run by the grocery if needed and go by the library. More than likely I'll take off the trash and drop off any bills due to be mailed. I'll make that trip into town count. I've never been one for running up to the store or into town three or four times a day. Not even when we lived in town and just a block from the shopping center!
So I stay home all day today, use the car on Tuesday when John is home and Wednesday when John goes to work I'll ask Mama to come here to pick me up. My week out is done and where is the need for that extra car?
Truth is I'm not going to convince John. He grew up, as I did, in a household where two cars were the norm and that feels right to him. I just happen to remember when most households didn't have two cars. As foreign as the idea seems to many, it is still possible to manage with one car. That we don't is a privilege but it's possible.
Call me an old fashioned girl. I like being at home. I like having my husband hold doors for me. I like older books and movies that don't give you unnecessary details about sex and perverted thinking. I like being a little naive about some things and keeping some things private as they ought to be. I like eating out now and then, and not making it a habit. I like to keep things, like Starbucks coffees, as something special, an occasional treat. I'm not bored with the every day because I wake up with this attitude that the day is what I make of it.
And you know what else? I realized it on Tuesday when I was out and about. I'd planned my day, planned the stores I meant to visit and planned what I'd buy and for once, I had enough money to reasonably pay what was necessary for the items I wanted. As I sat in my car, eating a late and much needed lunch before walking into the third store I'd visit that day (with three more on my list), I realized that I don't like shopping. Not even when I have time, money and energy for it. I don't like having to make choices when things I envision are not available and frankly that is most all of the time. I don't like going from store to store and fighting traffic and looking over my receipts to be sure I've been charged correctly. I don't like the jolt of shock that comes when you hear the total even if you did add carefully as you placed items in your cart. I confess I do get a charge out of finding something that will work really well for me at a great price. But mostly, I don't like shopping. Deciding that freed me from my sense of obligation to push hard and go to those other three stores. I went into the third one, yes, but then I drove home...and it felt good.
Truth is, groceries aside, I'd happily shop online and have it all delivered to my door, the modern equivalent of the old fashioned catalog shopping. No time for sticker shock there as I see the total well before I hit that key to place the order. I can leave it for days and think about it. If it was all clearance items anyway, more than likely when I return they are no longer available and that settles that. So why do I shop? Because I can go days and weeks without ever stepping foot outside my own home and I very much need to interact with people now and then. I need to get out of my comfortable home zone and drive about in traffic and deal with nice and surly people alike. I need to interact with strangers now and then. I need to remember the social graces by practicing them and since people seldom come to my home, I must go out to be around people.
This time of year, I like to handwash dishes. Often the house is just a little bit chilly and my hands are cold anyway. To plunge them into warm soapy water and stand at the kitchen window meditating on the view or even to think nothing at all but simply to do the task is a very pleasant thing, prone to reduce anxiety and quiet the mind. In summer, the warm water on my hands makes me sweat but in winter it soothes all sorts of aches and pains that have nothing to do with bones or muscles. I know now why Granny often used to tell us to just scrape the plates and stack them, that she'd do them later. Dishwashing is a contemplative sort of task, not tedium as ads would have you believe. I do more handwashing on Saturdays than any other time of the week. Usually the dishwasher is full of clean or dirty dishes already and the sinks piled high by day's end. It is a task I generally reserve for winter Saturday evenings.
I have lived in only 5 homes since I was an adult and three of them had no window near the sink. What on earth was the builder thinking?! Granny's sink never faced the window but there was a window directly to her right as she washed dishes. She tended to keep a basin of water outside that window and there she watched as bird's bathed and sipped and chipmunks ran about. There was also a lovely tree that is a long ago favorite called a pearl tree because the buds on the tree look like so many pearls adorning the stems. And in summer birds nested in the trees. There was a view of the field and the scent of roses and tea olive to waft into the window as well.
I was pleased to note that Katie's kitchen sink faced the window. From her kitchen it's true she overlooks her back yard and her neighbor's. She can also see, at present. the fields across the highway. She tells me she can hear goats baa-ing and cows moo-ing. She feels, after three years of in a city apartment, that she has come home to the country once more, for all that she lives in a proper neighborhood.
I like sewing, too. I spent this morning making a bed skirt. Now it's not fancy sewing I do as a rule but I do like to make something from a strip of fabric for my home. I like doing really nice sewing jobs, such as I did on my kitchen sitting curtains and I like to just quickly run something up (like that bed skirt). As I sat there sewing this morning I thought back to sitting in Granny's living room watching her sew. I thought of Mama, who was quite the seamstress in her day as well and Big Mama who used to do sewing 'for hire'. I know they felt the same sort of satisfaction I feel when the job was done and laid neatly out to be examined one more time before calling it done. All of the women in my family sewed and had their own machines, too. Both Katie and Amie sew though I don't think Amie has a machine at present. I wonder if they realize how connected they are to the women of their past family in doing that humble task?
I got the bed skirt on the bed and it looks very nice with the curtains and the new quilt color. I don't do the sort of thing that requires you to remove the top mattress. I just hem lenghts of fabric and then use those screw type upholstery pins to attach them to the box spring. I've done it this way for year upon and let me tell you, it's a heap less trouble than trying to remove that heavy mattress and then keep the bedskirt in place as you slide the mattress on the spring bottom once again.
Anyway, the skirt looks nice, it is a good match to the new quilt and I only wish it weren't cold, so I might have the bed set up properly at present. I mean to make some European style shams as well, but I don't think today is the day for it.
I've been all over the place this morning and the house showed that I've been! This is the way I am when I'm alone. I think of three dozen things I'd like to get done and then I start a dozen or so at the time. This morning I did 2 loads of laundry and hung two quilts on the line to dry. I have hung a few clothes to dry and tossed a few into the dryer. The kitchen, which is where I started work this morning, looked a disaster. Flowers were on the counter awaiting a trim and fresh water. Pots used to heat soup and hot water to defrost the little freezer were on the counters as well. There were dishes from breakfast and lunch and the medicine basket sitting on my desk where I'd meant to dole out my daily meds. There were thawed bananas on the counter in a bowl meant to be turned into banana nut bread this afternoon. And what had I done besides laundry and sewing and making those two early meals?
I colored my hair, cleaned our bathroom and decluttered a few things from there. I'd started a switch about in our bedroom and piled things on the bed and then walked out and left them. I defrosted the freezer and sat down to sew while I waited on the ice to fall off the sides and I pulled a few things from that closet to be gotten rid of and put a few things aside to go out to the shed. I went back to our room to check the measurements I'd taken and pulled a few things from the closet to drop into a donation box and then went back to wipe down the freezer and put things back. Somewhere in the midst of that job I stopped to hang up the second quilt I washed and turn on the soup to heat for my lunch. A little dab here, a little dab there and not a whole lot of anything really to show for it all except messes every where I looked. Not a clean house but a cluttered one, with things out of place in nearly every room. I spent an hour of my afternoon putting things away and setting them right before I began another new task. I realized as I mixed up banana breads that I was tired. And well I might be, since I'd been working since around 7am.
It's cloudy again and the wind is cold and blustery. Feel that draft snaking about? Brrr! Moving keeps me warm but sitting still is chilly. Old fashioned I may be but what I don't regret in the least is the ease with which we warm our homes! I read a Civil War era diary once and the young woman talked of having snow on the ground and the indoor temperatures hovering around 32F. Indoors! Near the fire! I should think I'd have been quite happy to have the heavy skirts and petticoats on that they wore at that time and been glad of the heavy shawl about my shoulders as well.
I think of Louisa May Alcott, whose father Bronson believed in cold water baths daily. Not sitting in a tub of cold water but of having a cold wash down daily. Can you imagine how bone chilling that must have been in a drafty old home on a winter's morning? It was meant to strengthen them against colds and influenza (La Grippe) which could be deadly in that age...as well as to improve circulation in all the organs. I should certainly think an icy cold washcloth against your skin would just about get your heart pumping double time and improve circulation all right, don't you?
Well dear, look at the sun setting outside the window. Isn't the sky a lovely shade of lavendar and blue and amethyst? I know...It's time you headed home and I wound up my day, playing in my old fashioned way in my home.