Helen and I don't write together. We decide on a topic and we each write something about our take on it. I think we both like our differences. This month, however, I was impressed by our likenesses. Thanks for visiting! - Liz
by Helen DePrima
I recently read a thought-provoking op-ed piece on the downside of convenience. All modern values extol easier and faster, but I beg to disagree. Oh yeah, I would chain myself to my dishwasher rather than give up that labor saver; my husband is a great cook, but messy. And I really don’t want to launder clothes using Fels-Naptha soap and a washboard. But yielding other chores to machines would be a step down for me.
I love my clothes line. Hanging laundry out in the fresh breeze is work I truly enjoy. I can see my raised vegetable beds while I sort tee shirts from socks from tighty-whiteys, wondering if I have enough poles from my Purple King beans and if my Country Gentleman corn will be knee-high by the Fourth of July. All the while, keeping a sharp eye out for my garden’s nemesis, the local woodchuck, who also loves my garden. Yesterday a shadow swept over my head like a stealth bomber, a Great Blue Heron on its flight path to the pond for a snack of frogs.
And yes, I talk to my plants, praising the sturdier individuals and cheering on the runts, little enough thanks for the seed catalogs that get me through the winter. When the harvest starts to come in, I love working with the veggies by hand – no food processors for me, just a maple cutting board and a good chef’s knife. My one concession to efficiency is the mammoth Italian tomato grinder which can process a bushel of tomatoes in less than an hour and cut the labor of making sauce from my Red Gravenstein apples in half.
I love quilting; seeing how few quilts at shows and fairs are hand-quilted makes me sad. Their creators can have a product with less time and effort, but hand piecing and quilting are peaceful occupations, absorbing while still allowing for conversation or meditation. I’ll never achieve the Amish standard of stitches per inch as delivered by quilting machines, but I set each one by hand.
So, call me a Luddite, but I can’t help thinking about the wisdom of The Little Prince. I can’t lay my hands on my copy to find the exact passage, but I subscribe to his belief that the time saved by not drinking water would be best used walking to a spring for a long refreshing drink.
by Liz Flaherty
When we were talking about a subject for this month, Helen mentioned “the downside of convenience.” My first thought was that there is no downside. But then I looked out my office window.
All I see now is wires coated in green plastic suspended between two t-poles, but
Always cotton, although sometimes I choose poorly and it wrinkles so that I have to press things. Speaking of that, I like to iron pillowcases in the winter. Not for smoothness but for the scent and the particular crispness that I think sprays from the sole-plate of the iron.
We use real butter at our house rather than margarine, and no, I don’t churn it myself, but I remember helping my mom do it when I was a kid. It was a lot of work and…worth it. Yeah, worth it. She bought butter most of the time, because we made it disappear so fast when she made it. It was the same with homemade bread. It was a treat. Had it been a necessity, I’m not sure it would have been as much fun, but either way, it is a cherished memory.
I don’t do anything by hand, but I make quilts, that I cut and assemble and stitch, because each block is yet another memory. There’s nothing wrong with buying handmade quilts, but I’m glad I made the seven on my grandkids’ beds. I remember writing once that there was love in every stitch, and there is. There is.
We used to garden, to can and freeze, and the home-grown produce was truly better than what’s available on supermarket shelves, but I don’t have that kind of energy anymore. I do love shopping in farmers’ markets, but it’s more for the feel of the place than the quality of the product.
And that right there is where I’ll forsake convenience, such as the supermarket or the dryer, for old-fashioned, such as the garden / farmers’ market or the clothesline. Because sometimes what is less convenient offers comfort, ease, joy, and laughter. Because sometimes it just feels good.