Sunday, May 29, 2011

From my journals.......1979 (November and December)

November 1: A nice, unusually quiet LLL meeting. The next series will be rather a circus—during the daytime at my house. We have three single mothers in our group now.

November 7: I'm reading The Mother's Almanac, and getting inspired to let the girls do more in the kitchen with me. It's one of the things I very much looked forward to, but found little fun in actual practice. I hate to admit it about myself, but the mess that kids make in cooking, the patience required while they take so long about it, and the sometimes less-than-perfect results were enough to make it a nerve-wracking experience for me. However, in my constant efforts to change my ways, I am trying again—this time with a conscious effort to develop a more patient and accepting attitude.

December contains only entries about Joey's nursing strike. He was 14 months old, and went from being a wonderfully enthusiastic nurser to adamantly refusing to have any part of it, even in his sleep. He cried all the time, but refused to be comforted. It was a hard time for everyone in the family, and was never resolved. I don't want to revisit it, so this will wind up 1979. I hope I developed that "more patient and accepting attitude" about my daughters in the kitchen......

Friday, May 20, 2011

From my journals.......1979 (October)

October 4: Today I learned that Suzanne somehow thought "cutting a tooth" meant breaking a tooth. I obtained a new sitter to stay here with the girls while Joey and I went to my L3 meeting. Diane is a very religious girl, appearing super straight. She was visibly shocked when she asked how many teeth our baby had, and Suzanne replied, "They're all broken."

October 6: A wonderful day! We all drove down to Ambler (2.5 hours), where I gave my workshop on vegetarian cooking and using tofu at LLL's Area Conference. It went so perfectly, and was so enjoyable, that all my previous fears seem silly. The 30 people who attended were very enthusiastic and receptive to the foods I brought (soybean sandwich spread, tofu eggless salad and tofu cheesecake) and said they couldn't wait to get home to try them out on their families. The evaluations they fill out were so good I could have written them myself!

October 8: This must be my week! First my success at Ambler, and now the best possible visit to Suzanne's school. Her teacher couldn't say enough about how well Zannie is doing in school. She spoke of how Suzanne "zipped through" all the reading levels (1-5) and how she's doing the math beautifully, too. Naturally, I was thrilled to find that Suzanne's teacher fully appreciates my brilliant little daughter.

October 25: Joey is one year old today! We were prepared for the speed with which his first year would fly by, but it was still a shock. Joe is in NJ as usual today, so we will all celebrate on Saturday. He offered to drive home tonight, but I urged him not to. Such a very long drive, and Joey doesn't know when his actual birth date is.

October 27: Joey's birthday celebration. I made a honey cake ("Natural Baby Food Cookbook") with broiled peanut butter icing ("Mother's in the Kitchen"), and we took a movie of Joey climbing onto the dining table to get it. Joe brought home a giant sneaker ride-around toy.

October 31: At 8:00 a.m., Suzanne was on the school bus, and Gillian watching Captain Kangaroo. I picked Joey up and we got in bed to nurse. For me, a cozy, delicious feeling to be snuggled under the covers with my baby on a grey morning. But for Joey, what a pleasure it must be to drift in and out of sleep, doing one of the things he loves best. The smile he gave me when we switched sides was one of sheer delight and contentment—half-closed eyes, milky mouth and all.

Monday, May 16, 2011

From my journals........1979 (September)

September 19: Joey fell out of my bed in the middle of the ight. He's had a stuffy nose and has had trouble sleeping, so I took him into my bed. I think what happened was that I fell asleep but he didn't, and he scooted over to the other side of the bed and fell of. His head hit the bare wood floor, and we both cried.

September 20: Joey recovered from his fall out of bed sufficiently to fall out of his feeding table—again!

September 22: Joe home for another two days. We are all hugely looking forward to mid-December, when he will leave NJ and stay home full time, working on his tofu project. Being alone here with the kids five days a week is especially hard in the winter months. The snowstorms lose a lot of their charm when I worry about being able to get out of the house in an emergency—such as one of the girls' ear infections.

September 24: Suzanne (who just turned six) came home from school today and announced she is in love with a schoolmate named Brian. "I ran after him at recess and caught him and kissed him!" (On the shoulder, she says.) She says she's going to marry him when she grows up, but she hasn't told him yet (and she doesn't know his last name).

I asked he why she fell in love with Brian—is he smaft? "Yes, he's almost as smart as I am." Is he a nice person? "Yes......also, he was wearing a yellow jacket, and yellow's my favorite color!"

Suzanne is utterly beautiful, and I hope whomever she does marry deserves her.

(See Suzanne's wedding picture, above, taken February 5, 2011.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

From my journals........1979 (August)

August 3: A depressing day at the dentist. First, there was my appointment. The dentist spent quite a bit of time discussing my attitude—whether or not I was fully prepared for the work ahead. Not a good sign. Then came the pedodontist, and the shocking news that Suzanne has 5 cavities! Gillian has none as yet, fortunately.

August 5: Sometimes I think I must be manic-depressive. I go through (brief) periods of feeling like I can handle anything and everything, then find myself completely overwhelmed and in a real panic about all my undone chores, feeling inadequate about the messy house, my weight problem, the demanding garden, you name it.

August 6: When I finished feeding Joey some cottage cheese and wheat germ, we looked at each other and he smiled and I smiled . . . and smiled and smiled . . . then I began to laugh and then he laughed his beautiful baby laugh, so full of delight—and we shared yet another happy moment to remember.

August 15: My parents arrived today for a one-week visit. They're staying at a motel five miles away. I haven't seen my father in two years, and he looks terrific. The kids were so thrilled to see their grandparents. Joey took one look at his Grandma and held out his arms. Gillian couldn't have remembered her"Pop-Pops" but gave him her best hug immediately, as did Suzanne.

August 24: Took the kids to a drive-in movie last night . . . an experience! We saw "Star Wars," and it was a treat mainly for Zannie. Gillian couldn't get absorbed in it, and Joey alternately cried from sleepiness and climbed all over me and whatever else I let him get to.

August 26: Nora in town for the weekend, and she stopped to spend the afternoon here. Tian came ovoer, too. We did one of our famous "fill-ins" and had our usual laughs. Very much like old times, except for once I didn't make anything exotic to eat.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Taking a short break from diaries......

........because I've been thinking about something.

A baby shower for my daughter-in-law was held last week, and one of my gifts to my expected grandchild was this small hooked rug—actually, a wall hanging. I belong to an active rug hooking group online, but I don't know even one other rug hooker in real life. I learned how to do it from a book 30 years ago, and I'm still learning from books and the Internet.

When I tell people other than my friends that these mats are made from recycled wool (old clothing I find at the Salvation Army), the reaction isn't always positive. Some think it's great that one can make "something from nothing," but I've caught a flicker of what might be distaste on a couple of faces. (For the record, everything goes into the washing machine first.) And when I add that I like to dye the wool myself, I can tell more than a few wonder why anyone would want to spend their time in this way. (After all, I could be watching reality TV.)

Compared to the women (and men) who began this craft, my efforts take little time. I order my hooks, linen backing, and dyes from online vendors, and for this rug I bought the bright colored wool for the turtle online, too. When I decided to treat myself to a lap frame this year, I did the transaction via email. My rug binding tape comes to me through eBay. This rug was my original design except for the turtle, which was a free online quilt pattern.

The first hooked rugs, made in the early 19th century, often used burlap feed bags for backing. But even much later, the process was primitive for some. I recently read about a woman who described hooking rugs in the first decades of the 20th century. She gathered her best woolens (mostly from underwear) for two years before she had enough to start a rug. She set up a big floor frame in her farmhouse kitchen and sewed the burlap to it. Beside her at the frame was a wooden cradle; she rocked her infant daughter as she hooked her rugs by the light of a kerosene lamp. She dyed some of her wool with onion skins and goldenrod.

Lately I've been posting some of my journal entries here. Most of them were written with ball-point pens in red, hardbound Daily Reminder books. Later I started a computer journal, plus many of the letters I've written over the years—journal entries of sorts—are saved on my hard drive. Consider these entries from diaries kept by women on the Oregon and California trails in the mid-1800's:

I didn't write in my diary yesterday. I hate to miss a day, but I just couldn't do it yesterday. It was dark by the time we found a place to camp and both George (her husband) and I were too tired to build a fire to melt the ink.


The color of the ink in my journal will be changing all the time from now on. I thought I brought enough ink for the entire journey, but have completely run out. From now on I''m going to pick berries and squeeze the juice out of them and use it for ink. The color of my writing will depend on the kind of berries I'm able to find.

When some early diarists ran out of paper, they wrote vertically over the same sheet they'd already covered horizontally. All these women, most of whom were raising children, went to such lengths to tell us about our country's past.

So this is what I've been thinking about: the resourcefulness of women and the documented history of their passion to create something beautiful and to leave something of themselves behind. They inspire me to write more regularly in my current journal. And to keep hooking, rug after rug.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

From my journals.......1979 (July)

I thought it would be fun to illustrate some of these entries. I think this picture of Suzanne and Gillian might be a little older than 1979, but it's close enough. I also think I may have posted it before, but I don't know how to do a blog search for photos.

July 2: Nora and I said tearful goodbyes today. I will miss her a great deal; we talk to each other a lot and see each other at least once a week.

(I must have been busy in the garden for the next few weeks.)

July 21: For several months Joe and I have been thinking seriously about starting a soy dairy, producing tofu, as a new business for Joe to operate close to home. Today an exciting thing happened: We received in the mail notice of a four-day conference on tofu and soyfoods production, to take place next week in Massachusetts! What perfect timing. I wish I could go, too, but the dogs must be fed and the kids aren't the right ages for a conference. I hope we can make this new business a reality.

July 23:
Today I gave the girls a stern speech about not playing with their clothing in their dresser drawers—no throwing clothing on the floor, no rummaging around in the clothing drawers, etc. "Do you understand?" I finished. "Yes," said the girls—Gillian piping, "I understand!" Later, I overheard her asking Suzanne, "What's clothing?"

July 30: Joe came home from the soyfoods conference loaded down with books, paper, and ideas—and full of enthusiasm. We are ready to GO!!

Monday, May 02, 2011

From my journals.......1979 (June)

June 8: Dinner at R's house. Met her boyfriend. Still in shock over the fact that she is having a relationship with this kid. Gross lack of sophistication, not the slightest bit mature for his age (23). I can't relate.

June 12: Nora over for dinner. She really loves my cooking—I call her the Locust. Tonight I made an Oriental style dish with hamburger, tofu, and vegetables (featuring our fabulous fresh spinach). For dessert, strawberries from the garden, along with oatmeal-walnut bars. After dinner we sang and sang—Nora playing the guitar and me the Autoharp and piano. We all got to bed late, but had much fun. Not many weeks until Nora leaves.

June 13: Did another radio show on breastfeeding, my third, this time with Peggy. It was great fun, and we got across lots of good information.

June 22: Made an appointment to get my hair layered (!!) next week. I am convinced I'm in need of a change—the long, long hair I've had since my teens is no longer flattering—but my hair has always been my security blanket, and I'll probably go into a depression!

June 30: Loulee's wedding day. We left the house at 5:30 a.m. and got home 22 hours later, exhausted. I enjoyed myself, though—the kids received such an enormous amount of approval that it was marvelous fun just being their mother. I got a fair amount of approval myself, and felt really loved.