Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New blog!

It's time.  A blog needs a focus, and this one has none.  I started a homemaking blog months ago, and even for as infrequently as I blog, it was getting difficult to decide where to put which thoughts.  Besides, "theknittingmuse" sounds like it ought to be a knitting blog, and I just don't turn out projects fast enough to have one of those.  So, I point you to my new internet home (well, Facebook is my internet home, but maybe someday I'll be good at blogging too): http://afriendlyhome.blogspot.com/.  And you should definitely stop by, because otherwise you won't get to meet my new daughter.  http://afriendlyhome.blogspot.com/2010/11/introducing-heidi.html

Alternatively, you could just accuse me of being a serial blog-starter like my dear friend eatingbreadandhoney (ok ok you're right, that's not her real name).  I prefer to think of it as experimenting while I find my groove.  Though as I've mentioned before, I kind of think Facebook is my groove.

Monday, July 12, 2010


The 15th is the date of getting the keys.  After weeks of searching, only to find that everything in our new town is woefully out of our price range or absolutely squalid and cockroach infested, or not dog friendly, and having all the houses that looked like they MIGHT be habitable and we MIGHT be able to stretch the budget to afford them mysteriously slip from our fingers, we finally made the terrible decision that the dogs are of secondary importance to our family life, and that continuing to drive an hour and a half each way is so bad for our family life that if the dogs have to go, the dogs have to go.

One day after making that decision, we found a wonderful downtown apartment, the entire top floor of a Victorian (architecturally, yes, but don't think gingerbread and wrap-around porches) house.  It is old and charming, right across the street from a park, two blocks downhill from the church, and half a block from the best coffee shop in town.  (The last was entirely accidental, though I WAS the one to find the house.  I promise.)  It needs much cleaning, and the landlords need to do some repair work, but I am excessively pleased, just the same.

NB: my husband doesn't think it's "wonderful."  He walked into the foyer and saw the hole in the ceiling plaster where they'd fixed the toilet above and hadn't put the ceiling back, he saw the window that needed to be re-sealed, the one crooked door that the landlord had already told me they were going to fix, the window sill with termite damage, and the uneven floor in the original screened-in summer porch (whose floors are always uneven, at least in every old house I've ever seen - those porches were almost always afterthoughts, after all) and said "you thought THIS was CUTE??"  Well, c'est la vie.  He was desperate enough to tell me to look for mobile homes, but apparently not desperate enough to snap up an apartment that was affordable and livable but which needed repairs and cleaning from the nasty previous renters.

And the best part?  We can still keep one dog!  They have a 2-dog, 50-lb total pet limit, and if our dogs weren't Aussies we'd be keeping both, but unfortunately one dog just about meets the weight limit, so one dog it is.  We don't know which one we'll be bringing, and which one we'll be re-homing, because it all depends on the homes we can find.

I know mostly only people who I can trust read this blog, so I will give a shameless plug for my dogs here. 

Gwenivere (yes, spelled the Welsh way) is a year and a half old black tri, has had one litter of puppies, ASCA and AKC registered.  She has followed a herding dog around and has proved her abilities/instincts, but has not been trained.  She is absolutely sweet, loves people, loves kids, I have never seen her growl or lash out at any provocation.  However, she is very very high energy, and needs space or an owner committed to giving her enough exercise.  She's happiest when she has a job, and I'd like to place her with someone with sheep or cattle to herd, or at least a farm to watch over.  She smiles with her teeth and loves to lick faces.  I have not been able to break her of the habit of jumping up on people.  She's the one my husband wants to keep because of her sweet temperment, and she's the one I want to re-home because I she would be so much happier on a farm than in an apartment yard.  She would be an amazing show dog for conformation or agility.

Sir Gawain is an 8 month old red merle, intact, ASCA and AKC registered, and Gwen's half brother.  He is much more laid back and lazy, and loves to sit and look at you adoringly.  He is a wonderful companion dog, but his energy is much lower, and I doubt he has much of a herding instinct.  He also loves kids, but he's bigger and clumsier than Gwen and more likely to knock very small children over.  He is very patient, but he has one black mark on his record: he bit my husband once when he was a very small puppy.  He has not bitten anyone since then, though he has definitely been provoked, but he likes to lick you with his whole mouth, not just tongue, so sometimes there is teeth contact though it's never nipping or biting.  Again, these are considerations for having him around children, especially if children are likely to say "he bit me!" when all he was doing was licking.  I have not seen him be aggressive once since the one biting incident, which based on the circumstances was definitely puppy fear-biting.  He injured his shoulder when he was a puppy and it grew somewhat crooked, so he will never be able to peform for conformation.  I honestly don't think he's smart enough to perform for obedience.  He's just a perfect dog to have around a family, and he's never happier than when he's stretched out across your lap getting his tummy rubbed.  He's the one I want to keep, because I think he'd be happier in an apartment yard with daily walks.  Also, I'm his favorite person, which naturally makes me love him more.

It breaks my heart to have to get rid of one of these dogs, but it is so necessary for our family.  If anyone who reads this is interested, or knows of anyone who might be, please send them my way.  We won't be finally out of the old house till the 1st, and driving back and forth to pack till then, so we have a little time to work dog details out.  It's my biggest priority just to find a good home for them.  I'll be asking $100 for whichever dog I can find a good home for, not that that comes anywhere close to what we paid for them or what even their papers are worth, but my object is not to make money.  I put a price on them more as a litmus test for their future homes, whether their future parents are willing to invest in them or are just willing to accept freebies.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A brief period of housewifery

When my husband acquired a much more lucrative job an hour and a half from our current town, I bit my nails, crossed my legs, and waited two! weeks! before giving my two more weeks' notice at the Small Clothing Shop of Exhaustion and Sore Pregnant Legs.  I celebrated the end of my clothing retail career this weekend by going to the Nearby Small Town Sweet Corn Festival and thence to bellydance, and now am closing the second weekday of my new and blissful existence as a housewife.

It won't last forever.  The idea, once we move to the new town, is for me to work again, albeit under my own employment and on my own terms.  While the last thing we want with a baby on the way is for me to be stuck in an hourly job that barely covers the daycare costs, if everything goes to plan I will have to spend some of my time out of the home, perhaps a good portion of it.  Permanent housewifery is the ultimate goal, but not suburban housewifery - we want a farm, and farms cost money, and money must be earned and saved before it can be spent.  I'm not complaining (ok, so I do complain) about being a working mother; at least, while I complain about it, I also know the necessity.  I also know that while one must be discerning about giving one's child into another's care, it is possible to find wise, loving and caring people to help with childcare.  People who understand that I will be sending breastmilk, and that they are not to use formula because it's easier.  People who understand that the TV is not to be turned on while my child is in the vicinity; perhaps even people who make it their policy not to have TV at their establishments, because children should be playing and learning instead, and they are after all in the business of raising children.  It's not ideal, it's not the same as being at home with a child all the time, but it is what looks to be necessary to break our family free of the wageslavery of suburban Wal-merica, and therefore I believe it will be worthwhile to go to the trouble and expense of finding a nanny who will not compromise the upbringing of her charge for the convenience of leaving the baby in front of a flashing box while she talks on the phone.

I digress with my speculations on childcare.

We are a little over three (is it possible? only three?) months from meeting our Heidi-pumpkin, and it appears we are a month away from being able to move and let my husband cease his ridiculous commuting.  No house has been fixed on, and there is only so much I can pack until we are sure of a moving date.  There is much, much to organize, but after all, the towels and plates don't need to be packed up for weeks while we eat on plastic and dry ourselves on two towels that are washed every couple of days.  I know there is so much for me to do, but it is hard not to feel that I have plenty of time before me.  It's a deception I've fallen for over and over again, and it so happens that if I actually begin all the things I need to do, I only barely finish them before crisis time.  That didn't stop me from taking a nap this afternoon, though.  Well, maybe I was entitled.  I did only get five hours of (broken) sleep by the time I battled off my insomnia, woke back up to send my hubby out the door at 3 am, battled insomnia again, and woke when the sun got too bright.  Regardless, I felt luxurous and rather lazy.  I did work today; the house is much better ordered than it has been for ages.  But... but.

There was a time in our culture when a woman's place was considered to be in the home.  If her house was well managed and she could manage a midday nap to refresh herself and her unborn child, who could blame her for catching a bit of well-earned rest?  I have yearned for such a time, for such a situation for myself.  I have envied my friends who already have such a lifestyle.  I have even argued with my husband, pushing for the "right" to be what most women nowadays consider either unattainable or degrading, depending on their ideological bent.  But now that I have a short time of being able to live my dream, I feel like I'm not contributing, not doing enough to make our lives better, lazy.  Am I just so used to the way things have been since the beginning of my marriage that I have a hard time adjusting to a change?  Or have I really begun believing the lie that I'm only worth something if I have a corporate boss telling me I am?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dear Heidi,

While I know it is natural for flutters to turn into pummelings at about this point in gestation, there are some organs that I prefer to not have pummelled.  Please learn to avoid them in the future.


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Women should make less money than men

My dear friend L posted a link to a consciously and humorously chauvenistic article about how women should not receive higher education - the sort of article that has a point, but delivers it on purpose in such a way as to make people mad, possibly because otherwise nobody will pay attention.  The basic gist is that if women are biologically intended to bear and raise children, why are they going into debt to receive educations that they don't need?  Do you really need a physics degree to teach your children to add?

Naturally, I am a well educated woman who believes that women do have the right to be educated, even if all they are going to do with their lives is raise children.  I don't think that a college degree necessarily makes a woman more fit to be a mother, unless she majors in consumer sciences or home economics or some other such vocationally-oriented field, but that education makes anyone a more complete person.  It all centers on the simple fact that humans have intelligence, and that it is a crime against human nature not to use it.  Now, is it worth going into massive amounts of debt to get a degre that proves that you are intelligent?  Absolutely not.  Is it possible to stay at home and read good books?  Sure, but we tend to be lazy, and the best intentions of self-improvement, without structure or guidance, often lead to sentimental Christian novels from Walmart as the basis of one's knowledge of culture.  So I do think that higher education is a noble goal for women, even that subclass of women known as stay at home moms, and if I were to get into a discussion of the assumption of school debt in American society it would turn into a gigantic rant of all of its own, and I want to stay on topic.  So we will leave loans out of the question, and take as a given the assumption that somehow this higher education is (though it's almost never the case) being paid for as it is acquired, in a responsible fashion.

So much for why I disagree with the article which sparked this inspiration.  What I want to discuss is only related insofar as it began a chain of ideas which lead me to a completely different conclusion.

I actually want to discuss the issue of wages, and specifically the fact that women in the working world have fought for years to have the same wages as men.  I'm sure it made much sense at the time.  After all, a man could get a job and make enough money to support a family.  A woman, however, might only make enough for a little supplementary income.  This was criminally unfair, right?  Women aren't a lower class of people than men, and they don't deserve to be paid less than men simply for being women.  Obviously.

Only, it doesn't work.

It's a beautiful idea, that two people working could bring in enough money to effectively run two households, and could combine it to have a household of absolute luxury.  Combine that with the fact that many families with two working parents have either no or relatively few children to spend money on, and it looks like it should necessarily be part of the American Dream.  Wealth and luxury for a few hours of sitting behind a desk.  What more could you want?

Well, I for one could have wanted employers not to have caught on to the fact that with wives entering the workforce, they could afford to equalize the pay scales by paying men less.  It has long been a simple fact of our economy that it is very very difficult for one person to make enough money to pay for an entire family.  Any time any girlfriends or I express the desire to be a housekeeper and a stay at home mom, the first reaction we hear from anyone except a very conservative person who already agrees with us is "nobody can afford that."

The sad thing is, they're almost right.

I do want to be a housekeeper and a stay at home mother.  I am not lazy, and I am not unwilling to work.  I have a full time job right now, and though life is more difficult for my husband and me, sharing housework and cooking when we are already dead on our feet from working our jobs all day, it's what we have to do, so we make the best of it.  Our paychecks combined cover our modest house, our grocery bills, and a little to tuck away in savings.  I will have a baby soon, however, and I anticipate that daycare costs will come close enough to matching my meager paycheck to make it completely unreasonable for me to continue working.  I will probably have my dream of being a SAHM more from necessity than from a true ability to realize my dream.

And my husband will not receive a raise for being the sole breadwinner.  There are higher paying jobs out there, and he is doing his best to get one, but unless we were willing (and we are not) to go into even more debt for even more school for him, he will not be able to get the sort of highly salaried job that would support us in anything more than very modest comfort.  I am happy with this - I "don't want marble halls," and I didn't come up with the expression.  But the fact is that he has everything he needs, except a hundred grand in school debt, to merit a higher paying job - he is intelligent, works hard, and is diligent and ethical.  In other words, he has all the qualities to provide us with a comfortable life, not a meager just-get-by life, except for a  workplace system which will allow him to do it.

And thus I desperately want the status quo to be for men once again to make twice as much as women.  Or at least twice as much as married women.  Or at least for my husband to make twice as much for me.  Because, you see, if he could make enough money at his calling to be the breadwinner for our family, I could follow my calling to create comfort, beauty and efficiency out of a frugal home, and to be the wife and mother for our family.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dogs who are too smart for their own good

Before our girl dog went to live with a friend, I called our Australian Shepherds the Tailless Terrors.

Nika the Too Smart For Her Own Good

Every day when we came home from work, they had knocked over their food and water bowls and pulled them into the middle of the yard.  I was just waiting for the day the Humane Society would come and take them away, since they were outside all day with no water.  Nevermind the fact that it was entirely their own fault they had no water.  "Whatever," I thought to myself, "dogs knock things over when they play.  It happens.  They're not doing it on purpose."

So I thought.  Until one morning when I was out feeding them, and Nika was more than usually obnoxous about jumping up on me and wrapping me around with her leash.  I stepped on her leash and put a stop to the rowdyness.  The problem was, she could no longer reach the food I had just poured into the bowl?  So what did she do?  Reach her paw out and knock the food over, entirely on purpose.

It was later that we discovered that they had been meticulously removing the fastening pins from their kennel and taking it apart.  Perhaps they considered the kennel a symbol of their captivity.  Perhaps it was their Bastille.  Nika had long ago figured out that if she tangled their tie-out chains enough she'd be able to pop the clip that fastened to her collar and run free, while Sir Gawain barked in rage and frustration and alerted us to the situation, if we were lucky enough to be home at the time.  It was quite a surprise discovering her out and about with her collar perfectly intact that first time.

They dug up an arrowhead during one of their last days together in the yard.  Half of it is gone. Knowing these dogs, I wouldn't be surprised if they had eaten the missing half.

However, we are now oh so thankfully a one-dog family, and I rather feel that we have the easier to control half.  I'll tell you this, though: Sir Gawain is not above pulling his blanket out of his kennel and depositing it at my feet if he wants me to wash it.  How he figured out that I'm the laundry lass I really don't know.  He's not smart enough to figure out that I'm the one opposed to feeding him scraps off our plates, obviously, because he still loves me.

Sir Gawain the Very Expensive and Starry Eyed From Having Choked on a Persian Carpet and Needing Oxygen for 24 Hours

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

toothpaste and the healthcare bill

Me: I'm starting a campaign to keep the toothpaste and toothbrushes put away instead of left out on the counter.
Love: Well, I'll have to see how the Democrats and Republicans vote on the issue before I determine whether I support your campaign.
Me: It's just toothpaste.
Love: But before you know it, the House will emend it to include taking out the trash, and the Senate will start talking about vacuuming.
Me: I promise, this bill is only about toothpaste.
Love: We'll see. I won't support it if it includes any other issues in the final draft.
Me: Like how the health care bill started out being about insurance companies and ended up being about student loans?
Love: Exactly.