Sunday, September 26, 2010

Modern Mama? Or Simple Woman?

Can I show you one of my favorite picture book drawings? It's Sal and her mom, canning blueberries. I really love the full spread of the picture which includes the old-fashioned kitchen that is neat as a pin. Look at Mother, so elegant in her sweater and skirt, neatly coiffed hair, and frilly apron. There's not a spot of blue on her. She's so brave to let Sal help her "store up food for winter".

On one hand, I wish I had a picture of what I and my kitchen looked like yesterday as I attempted to store up food for winter. On the other hand, I'm glad I was too harried and too sticky to pick up a camera. Tomato sauce had dried onto the stove. Cinnamon syrup oozed down the cupboards onto the floor. I kept misplacing my jar lifter. Skinny red apple peels fell on the floor and got carted around the kitchen by my littlest one who woke up from her nap too soon and found her favorite place at my feet. My hair was held up in several jaw clips and barrettes in the attempt to keep it out of my face. My apron was filthy. I kept shooing the older two kids out of the kitchen. I'm a long way from being Sal's mother.

On top of it all, the jars of apples I processed didn't seal. The syrup oozed out during the boiling water bath. The tomato sauce did seal, thankfully, and there's nothing quite like the sound of the pop of the lid when they do! I kept finding myself asking how on earth the women of yore did this???? Many had more children than I do, fewer kitchen amenities, and maybe not even electricity! Processing 21 jars took me all day and made me a mad woman. It's rather nice having a row of jars all ready to store, but the novelty wears off when you find that you really just don't enjoy this.

I told a friend recently that I have two sides to me- one that pretty much wants to be Amish- the "simple" life (if you call living without electricity and indoor plumbing "simple). The other wants to be Modern Mama. I like my Yukon. I like my cute-cut jeans. I like fancy cooking ingredients. I love my computer! The appeal of the Amish- or even the earlier part of the 20th century- is that there was less and sometimes less is indeed more. Mostly, less stuff to distract me from what is really important.

Yesterday, with my foot in both worlds, I discovered that although this canning thing could be great someday, it is just not as simple as it seems. It took a lot of time and caused me a lot of stress. More than once I thought, Is this really worth it? I'm missing out on Saturday with my kids. I've got 7 quarts of unsealed apples and 13 pints of tomato sauce, but who cares? I turned into a bear trying to make it happen.

Modern Mama took over again last night and almost ordered a pizza due to the fact that I hated that kitchen by the time the last jar came out of the pot. But today, the simple woman dreams of the yummy roast chicken I'm going to prepare for dinner while wearing my homemade apron. No doubt, my kitchen will be a mess cause that's just the kind of cook I am. But I've got a dishwasher to clean up the plates afterward and the house will smell so good. It's the best of both worlds, what can I say?

Monday, September 6, 2010

The First Little Crumbs

There is something extremely cathartic about writing which is why I even have the audacity to start a blog all about me. I heard a quote once, strangely enough from John-Boy Walton, who was quoting another, and it had something to do with the arrogance of being a writer. For the life of me, I cannot find the quote, but I can identify with it. How very arrogant to believe you have something important enough to say and to invite others to listen and expect them to be interested, and perhaps even devoted. Particularly in this blogging age. Any one with an email account and a tiny bit of computer know-how can create a blog and write about anything they fancy. I've read some truly special blogs and some absolutely ridiculous blogs. And now I run the risk of being one or the other or somewhere in between and I have the arrogance to think some of you just may want to "follow" what I have to say.

But really, I just want to write because it is that wonderful Greek process of "purifying and cleansing" for me. Sometimes there are so many words bumping together in my head that if I just don't get them onto paper I'll implode! So I let them explode into random jots here and there. I have countless notebooks laying around my house for my words. Lists, lines of a would-be song or poem, prayers, fumings, scenes. I fear that one day they will be found by my husband and children and they will discover how eccentric I really am.

Before that can happen, they will probably discover this blog. They will read about my life in crumbs, little pieces here and there, and I might be so arrogant as to say they will cherish these words and find that they knew me better bit by bit. You may find the same.

Not only is writing arrogant, it is also a vulnerability. C.S. Lewis said "To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart is sure to be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to be sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one..."

Allow me to share with you the things I love and give my heart to (in keeping with the Greek, let me assure you that these are a variety of loves: philia, storge, agape, eros):

My husband Josh
My children,
Jesus Christ
My extended family
My church family
Home Education
Bible study
Peanut Butter

And, of course, writing. And, because you are reading this, I give my heart to you, knowing you could wring it and hang it out to dry. But I arrogantly take that risk and invite you to discover my life in crumbs.