Saturday, January 14, 2006

Random Field Notes From Life

During a trip to the drugstore yesterday, I got out of my car to find, in the parking space next to mine, an empty can of sardines. (The tomato-sauced kind...double bleah.) Now, I've encountered many discarded objects in strip-mall parking lots, but this was the first empty can of sardines. It made me wonder: What sort of personal sardine emergency would compel someone to eat a can of them right there, ten feet from the store entrance?

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I think I'm developing a crush on my Yahoo! avatar. I find this highly disturbing. What was that resolution I made a couple of weeks ago, about getting out more?

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After disgorging my little rant inspired by attempting to read the Bible in 90 days...I went back and kept going. And as I did, this thought occurred to me: Here I am, in the 21st century, by all standards in the Pentateuch so ritually unclean, for a variety of reasons, that I should be practically glowing with impurity, like these cosmically traif critters -- and I'm reading this...I've got the actual book in my hands here, which by itself is probably enough to get me zapped, according to the laws of Moses...and it's okay, and there are no hard feelings, and in fact next week I'm going to be standing up in front of a congregation of folks and helping lead them in worshipping the same God (more or less) that these early Hebrews did. Whodathunkit? What would Aaron have to say about this? Or Miriam? Well, I think Miriam would say, "You go, sisterfriend"...but what about Aaron? Who knew it would all work out like this? It actually tickles me to think about it.

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Two months, and the amazing squirrel-proof bird feeder is still squirrel-proof. This is a record, my friends. And...if you have a feecer frequented by chickadees, try talking to them. The chickadees here love this. I'll go, Ska-dee-dee...ska-dee-dee-dee a few times, and pretty soon I'll have a whole flock of them swinging on the branches like budgies, answering back. I have no idea what I'm saying in chickadee, but it seems to be hilarious.

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I have a confession to make: I am developing an urge to engage in housekeeping. And it's scaring me. Maybe it was the RevGals' recent Susie Homemaker meme. It's not that I am slovenly -- I'm conscientious about bathroom and kitchen cleanliness -- but I'm a clutterbug; I'll admit that. I find housework mind-numbingly boring, and dreary, with a poor return on the investment. And I don't have a system.

My mother, when she was younger, was a conscientious homemaker, but she carried a huge baggage of guilt and shame about her work, thanks to a couple of really insufferable inlaws reminiscent of Doris Roberts' Mother-in-Law-From-Hell character on Everybody Loves Raymond. Before getting married Mom had had a fairly challenging and enjoyable office job at a big-city utility company; the in-laws were professional housewives with -- how can I put this? -- not a lot of intellectual curiosity beyond running their fingers over the tops of other people's refrigerators to check for dust and looking for ironing creases in their hosts' bathroom towels. Yeah; those kind of women. Anyhow, my mother had a weekly schedule for getting things done around the house that she followed religiously, but she was always worrying that whatever she was doing wasn't good enough: "What would they think of this dust?" "A cobweb! I know what your Aunt _____ would say about that." "Oh, I hope _____ and _____ don't come over when the house looks like this." She was like the pre-metanoia Luther of housewifery. And memories of her distress always gut-check me when I think about doing some bit of housework -- especially now, when she's likely to watch and pipe up, "I used to be able to do things like that...I never used to let the house go like this...what if ________ drops in?" My family has an uncanny knack for turning everything into A Thing.

So, anyway, I was in the library recently, when I spotted a book about how to keep house -- a kind of remedial guide for preoccupied middle-aged people like myself. It was gender-neutral, and not just dust-bunny and pillow-fluff stuff; it talked about draining your water heater and cleaning out your gutters and other infrastructural household tasks. It had suggested monthly maintenance schedules in it. A system! "I could use this," I thought. But then I thought about bringing it home, and my mother either laughing scornfully at the thought of my reading it or of reading it herself and falling into an endless loop of self-recrimination...and I put it back on the shelf; for now, anyhow. I'd have to hide this book, like my old copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves, and sneak readings of it in the dead of night with my little booklight. I think I need some sort of support group, or at least an accountability buddy with a similarly equivocal attitude toward keeping house, so we could alternately encourage and kvetch one another into domestic competence.

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The other day I read the AARP magazine from cover to cover. My excuse was that I was researching it for work, but the fact of the matter is, I enjoyed reading it. "What does this mean?"

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What would the NSA hear if they wiretapped my houshold? Mostly our scintillating conversations with the dog: "Where are you? What are you doing? Are you doing something bad? What do you want? Crackers? Water? Out? Poop?" How'd you like to be the poor rookie spy who got assigned this gig all day?

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On Ship of Fools one recent conversation involved how churches find people willing to help out during the worship service. In some congregations it's like pulling teeth; in others, certain jobs are popular while others go begging. At my church, we have one little girl, about five years old, who desperately wants to help; every week she's up at the front, waiting for an opportunity to do something. So we try to give her jobs to do during the service. At our recent baptisms, she got to hold the hymnal for the pastor while he read the baptismal liturgy, and helped pass out the baptismal candles for the families to take home as mementos. Our pastor refers to her as a member of our liturgical team, and he's right. And her adoring baby brother often waddles up to the front of the church to watch Sis in action, so she's also helping train the young-uns by example. As an old Iowan friend of mine used to say, "Good on her."

3 comments:

P. Softly said...

You have to divulge the name/brand of the bird feeder. Please. I've bought the "squirrel proof feeder" with the metal portholes where the birds can get the seeds out. But the squirrels chewed the plastic between the port holes.

About the feeling of never being good enough in the housecleaning department. (Note, the word housecleaning was chosen over HouseKeeping.) I can relate big time. I am just do darn inefficient and I get distracted, so I don't get much done. And add to that a MIL who traveled with her rubber gloves.....

I read in a Christian women's magazine about this syndrome. The analysis was that if the woman NEVER felt good enough, that she might actually have a spiritual problem. I don't remember the details, but I suppose there might be a distinction between feeling that 'my housecleaning skills are lacking' or 'I just don't care about housecleaning' and 'I'm not good enough; just look at my home.' And the home might be pretty clean, but she still says this.

So this moves to the questions of self esteem, self acceptance and ultimately acceptance of God's grace. Are we judged by who we are or by what we do or don't do? [Yet, if I do nothing, who am I?]

Anonymous said...

What is the title of the housekeeping book please? (I *love* Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelssohn.)

LutheranChik said...

Okay -- the birdfeeder is a Duncraft, with something called a Squirrel Lock -- it's a little metal disk that fits on one side of the handle. I don't understand how it works, but it does.

As far as the book -- I wish I did know the title; can't remember. But I have books to take back this week, so I'll look for it.;-)