Category Archives: Uncategorized

Old Housekeeping and new washcloths?

I have a lot of old housewifery books. One unexpected benefit of the major cleanup and move around we’re doing is that I’ve found one or two of them. This includes Economies of the Household – Andrews, Macmillan, 1929 which is full of interesting data.

Food at one point was 32-62% of a family’s budget? Even 50% appears to be average in this book, and this is only 84 years ago!

The same questions of economy we face today are discussed: How much money is spent on food, shelter, clothing, etc.? What’s the best way to reduce the expenditures and/or use money most effectively?

Unlike modern frugal living books, this book and others like it discuss the time savings vs money spent on “new-fangled” modernizations: electricity, vacuum cleaners, commercially produced foodstuffs, clothing, and domestic help. There are a lot of things that are now not in question in most parts of this country, but the fundamentals still apply to things like convection ovens, sub-zero refrigerators, and even washcloths.

The book talks about the monetary value of home making, and like all books of its type in this era also talks about the woman’s role as the provider of comfort, being the moral leader of the family, as well as the manager of the home. Having grown up during the feminist era and the modern economic need for women to work, and then choosing to not be in the work force, I have opinions about these ideas.

  1. The idea of a woman as the only or main moral compass in a family is WRONG and was used to get her to keep being the overworked, underpaid, and under  appreciated soul she was. I have no problem with a woman being a part of the moral compass but I don’t buy the attitude that “men are beastial” that accompanies this. I think ALL people are potentially beastial or moral and decide how to act. Except insanity or illness, which I hold as being out of your control, I think in most cases you choose and are responsible for your choices.
  2. Equally, I don’t think it is only the woman’s job to run the house, do the errands, make the foodstuffs and the man’s to provide the money. There’s no difference between then and now, despite feminism, woman in the workforce are usually paid less than their male counterparts. If there truly was equal pay for equal work, then I think you’d see more house husbands, although I do know a few!

Finally, I find the budgetary percentages in the book fascinating. There’s the food budget mentioned above, but another complete “ideal” budget (from 1900): food 25%, rent/housing 20%, clothing 15%, household operation 15%, and higher life (life insurance, church tithe, donations to charity, etc) 25%.
But that was the ideal and as far as I can tell from reading the book with food being so high, I wonder if it was possible?

There’s the “American minimum budget”:

43.1% food, 17.7% shelter, 13.2% clothing, fuel/light 5.6%, sundries 20.4%

I was surprised that food was so high as I said, but equally surprised that housing was so low. My overall response to this is that the people who sell you  necessities will find a way to get as much of your money as they can, as will anyone I suppose? If one category is lessened,  it seems someone else will find a way to get that piece of your available income.

There’s a discussion about “trickle down” economics, why it does or doesn’t work. I had no idea the concept was so old. Also, it talks about the rich being patterns of style emulated by others in the culture.

I don’t know if that’s true in my home? I keep wanting to drop out. We don’t have a television, amongst other things many think are “necesities.” I have no problem having “old tech,” although some of the new stuff is pretty nice. I really prefer to buy durable goods used rather than new and see that as one way to keep my dollars at home. Another way is to buy in bulk or wholesale, when appropriate.

We need washcloths, for example. Macy’s is having a sale, my towels were bought years ago at Macy’s, well the first batch was. The second batch came from a thrift shop, with the labels cut off.  Anyway, we need washcloths. Macy’s are $7.99 each. Well, that’s too much for me, whether it will match my towels or not. So I looked for DIY washcloths and terry by the yard at Joann’s. Terry by the yard is $9.99 a yard. So how big are washcloths? What could I get for approx $10 in fabric as opposed to $8 each??? The Macy’s washcloths are 12 x 13. Okay, so you use 1′ square instead of the screwy measure and add 1/4″ all around, you’d get at least 4 washcloths from the fabric, but you have to make them.

Is there a wholesaler with a better deal? Aha, there is! The cloths are only available in white, but who cares? I can buy 12 cloths for $2.95 ea (plus postage) or 50 for $29.95 (plus postage). The cheapest ones are seconds, but the others are not. I can get 6 cloths for about $17, roughly the cost of 2 at Macy’s. This doesn’t include postage, but the Macy’s price doesn’t include driving to Macy’s either!

So, the cheapest to most expensive way to get these (and the downsides of each) are:

50 wholesale cloths, factory seconds, ($29.95+ postage+ waste from unusable cloths)

1′ fabric from Joann’s ($10, have to make the washcloths) yields  4 (or more) + waste+gas to get to store

$2.95 each plus postage (white only, not factory seconds) amount not set

$7.99 each plus gas to get to Macy’s

Seems like an obvious choice to me! A deal breaker might be if the shipping fee is insane.

Cheapest yet might be to get some used towels at a thrift shop or rummage sale and cut them down, but again there’s gas and you have to do the work.

That’s true even if I decide to cut up towels I already own, no gas, no expense, except my time. I have old towels, but we use them, regularly, to wash the car and for the cat’s bedding. I have enough for a week, and that’s it.

It’s nice now and then to do this type of figuring, but it just makes me see that the same basic economic problem still exists: not enough money, too much to do, storage & quality need to be considered as well.


Lazy Day

It rained nearly all day here.

We were just feeling lazy and what we did we did on s-l-o-w speed today. I made rhubarb coffee cake, we had the end of the home-made cream of tomato soup for dinner.

Worked on the kitchen while I was cooking the coffee cake. One side of the kitchen is respectable again.

Found some things (not books) for the yard sale next weekend.

DH worked on a few projects.

As I said, it was a rainy lazy day. We’ve both been pushing it hard or had to, so  it felt good just to read and putter on this or that. It felt good to roll out at 7, having gotten enough sleep. My knee is still keeping me awake or waking me/us up, so lounging a bit was simply wonderful

I don’t recommend a lifetime of this, but once it a while, it’s a blessing to be able to just let it go.



Starting the day off with the denist. My knee is still sore. Life goes on, yes?

Going to work in the storage a little while today. Can’t do a lot, I’ll undo all the good the past two days of taking it easy have done. I’m purely sick of both being in pain and not being able to WORK!

I hope your day is happy, productive and pain free and mine too!


The idea of a God

that is loving AND nonjudgemental pretty much blows my mind.

I was brainwashed as a kid. I keep saying that, but it’s the only way I can conceive of to explain what it was like to be hurting all the time from the PTSD flashback (losing my Mom at 3) and having a neglectful and inept family used as “proof” that God (and everyone else) found me repulsive, embarrassing or vile.

So the BS was: It’s obvious your family and God don’t love you because they don’t care if you’re hurting. AND: you’re hurting  because you’re vile. And then: it’s obvious you’re vile because your family and God don’t love you.

Yes, it was a circular argument. Yes, this was my “mother” talking. Yes, this was emotional abuse — the hardest type to kick.

Faith? I have no faith, or not much. Looking forward and expecting that the world won’t shit on me and/or that people won’t actively want to hurt me was a quantum leap. From negative to zero if you will. My husband gave me that. But from zero to the plus side is a LOT more and a lot harder.

The religion I was introduced to was the THOU SHALL NOT God etc. and I cannot live with that  — I’d just commit suicide. Believing in God as a kindly fellow is something altogether different, and a move of some proportion! If I don’t have to be perfect and God doesn’t have to sit in negative judgement all the time, maybe there’s a road. I don’t know.

I’ve read the Kushner book twice now. Probably will do it again and maybe again after that.

Earthquakes can be small tremors or they can push mountains up from the depths. Don’t know which this is?

Creativity, Forgiveness, and ?

This has been a very odd day. An online friend called me a “genius” yesterday. I said thanks, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a genius, having been well acquainted with the two in the house where I was raised.It seems to me to be a genius you have to omit all sorts of other parts of life to be that good at something or other.

I went off and about my business today.

Went to the church rummage sale (bought 4 items), took 1 item from there and 2 other items to the new booth. Went to the bookstore and found Harold Kushner’s How Good Do We Have to Be? on the .25 shelf out front and bought it. The book is a sequel to When Bad Things Happen to Good People ( I wasn’t all that impressed  with that one) since the new one deals with human fallibility, guilt, punishment, shame, etc. it seemed it might have something I could use. So far it hasn’t changed my mind; I’m still reading.

Had a great conversation with a friend in the mental health field about the research problem for the memoir and got some pointers which may help. [Yay!]

The person I was talking to about genius responded with a link to the Elizabeth Gilbert TED talk. Here:

I feel like a cartoon character whose head is about to turn 360 degrees! Actually, that’s inaccurate. If I change my baseline thinking because of these two pieces, the shifts will be fairly small — but the consequences will be massive!

Not sure I like the idea, but equally, not sure I really want to build a wall of prejudice against it either? If I hadn’t had the encounter with the unseen hand I probably would have dismissed the Kushner book without much thought.

Life is just odd now!

Dump, dump, then erase?

Today we go to the dump then dump merchandise into the antique booth.

Erase is what I want to happen, although I know it won’t. I want to erase my past, erase the lingering vestiges of my terrible childhood, etc. Am I ashamed of being a victim? No. But I AM tired of being wounded, fragile, and preoccupied with being wounded and fragile!

Many people’s answer is the strategy “Think strong!”. I can bully my way through a situation but it’s like alcohol, at the end of the day I’ve accomplished whatever I have, but I’m still just as wounded and fragile as I was.

Others say, “Well, just act as if it isn’t there.” My family does this. The problem with this strategy is that it bites you in the butt and you don’t realize it until later, or maybe you never do.

My dad screwed up three kids because of his terrible childhood and the answers he found:

Detach from family, religion and community and concentrate on your job/career. Be polite, kind,  & ethical and others will return the favor.

It didn’t work well for him in the long run:  he was still talking about his miserable childhood the day he died. And it didn’t work all that well for the three kids either. There’s me and two others. All of us have a price we’ve paid because of what he did and how. The others live in the “if you don’t talk about it, no one will know” fantasy world. My conclusion was that I had to deal with it. [ I added PTSD and abuse and had less support available.]

A friend and I had a long conversation about God, nature, wounding, etc. She’s deeply religious which I respect. She respects me and my opinions in return. We’re both abuse survivors, we’re both readers and beyond that and the fact that we live in the same state, we have very little in common. She was raised with many siblings, me with none at home, she was raised on a farm, me in the city, etc. We’ve been friends for nearly 20 years.

Wounding and peoples’ responses to it keeps coming up, in my conversations with friends, with neighbors, etc. People keep telling me they admire the fact that I didn’t give up.

I am a fraud — I did give up  (and do) — over & over. But also I haven’t, at least once more. Isn’t that all it takes? The idea that it takes courage or strength or fortitude to me is laughable. What it takes is being stubborn, resilient and the ability to get yourself to try and change whatever once. All it takes is being willing/able to throw yourself into the fray one more time. Maybe my attitude is different?

What I want? What I really would love is to not have to do it at all! There are times when I think having amnesia might be wonderful? But I realize I’d probably lose all the good stuff too, and then it doesn’t sound like such a great idea.

It isn’t so much that I loathe running around this wheel that doesn’t seem to go very far, but that I want to be off the wheel –outside the cage altogether! There’s another whole world out there!!!

I’m really scared that until the end of my days I’ll still be in here, going ’round and ’round — getting nowhere in a hurry.

Usually, It’s Just Stuff

but the framed picture hurt. Not just physically. My Dad gave me that print. He was proud I liked the image, my friends thought it was weird and wonderful that I liked it (Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights). My Dad was impressed that I, a kid at the time, liked it. So he got a good museum print and had it professionally matted in a good frame. I teared up as I drove off yesterday, leaving the frame in the swap shop.

Obviously, I can live without it. The frame was tweaked but not broken. However, I need to honor not only my past, but who I am NOW. And here/now I have a lot of frames, because DH is an artist and works with a local gallery. I know many people who make art, frame art, etc. Frames, matted art, artwork, and framing materials are one category of clutter here. I didn’t need it. I don’t need it to remember it. But I was tearing up as I left the dump yesterday.

Usually, it’s just stuff. Some better, some worse, but I have little if any attachment to the individual pieces any more.

I bought the Madame Chic book yesterday after I saw the doctor. It seems the reason it appeals just now is that the underlying philosophy is essentially: keep only the best and use it every day. Almost opposite the attitude of, “I’m vile, something to hide, I deserve nothing.” which is the underlying attitude of my shame.

I guess the lesson here is as usual, measure the distance from the beginning, not the distance to the final goal. Every step is a step — and counts — but some will hurt. Do it anyway.