Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Two old emails

Here are two old emails that I'm posting because they relate to what I posted in my poetry blog today. I'm sorry I don't have room (or permission) to post the whole thread of either of these messages so that you can see the context they were written in, but each can stand on its own, so hopefully you won't be too confused.

This was written on Mother's Day a few years ago after I heard a talk that really upset me.

Sun May 8, 2005 12:36 pm
Mother's Day

We had a talk in church today that really bothered me. In it, there was a story of a woman who was a farmer's wife. When she and her young husband had taken over his father's farm it already had a huge mortgage. They had big plans, but by the time the
story took place, they were both overworked and falling behind. She didn't have time to do laundry, and keep house, and take care of the chickens, and get the tomatoes picked and taken to market, and take care of the children, and get all the fruit in from the orchard before it rotted. So she did what she could, but the house was a mess, and the mortgage payment was overdue, and the children were unwashed, and she was too tired to even care anymore.

Then one day while she's struggling to haul in a load of tomatoes to take to market, a car comes down the road, and a beautifully dressed lady comes to the door and wants to buy some apples, so the farm wife takes her out to the orchard, and starts to haul out the big ladder to get at the good ones, and the lady is all, "No don't do that, it's too heavy for you, that's man's work." and the farm wife laughs in her face and
says, "Look lady, you're all fine in your pretty grey wool suit, but if I don't do a man's work around here, we just won't make it." and the lady says, "When we were first married, and my husband was first starting out his company, he wanted me to keep my job as a secretary while he went out and did sales, but I knew that if we did that, we'd both be tired at the end of the day and we'd only eat takeout, and we'd both be miserable, so I stayed at home and made sure we had a feast on the table every night, even if it wasn't out of much, and we had some hard times, but we got by."

So then the lady leaves, but accidentally drops her perfumed handkerchief on the way out, and when the farm wife finds it, she decides to ignore the tomatoes, and let them rot in the barn for all she cares, and she puts on her one pretty dress, and cleans the kitchen, and makes a good meal, and when her husband comes in from the fields that night, and she's looking all pretty and serves him that nice meal he looks more grateful than he did when she hauled in all those potatoes last fall, and she knows now what her husband really wants from her: a clean house, a good meal, and a smiling face.

Is it just me, or is this story of the devil?

It totally sets up unrealistic expectations for women, and implies that if they can't get the laundry done that they've failed in their true calling in life, and maybe lost the love and respect of their husbands as well. It was further compounded by the fact that the next song we sang was "There is Beauty All Around" which implies that if you can't see the roses blooming beneath your feet, you must not have enough love in your family.

Maybe it's just because I'm having trouble even jugging work and keeping house, let alone the fact that everybody that hears I'm newly married makes me feel guilty about putting off having kids until Peter's job offers him benefits, and I'm just jealous
of my cousins and sisters in law who can stay home and have beautiful little blonde babies, but I was seriously in tears by the end of sacrament meeting.

Any thoughts?


This one was in response to a letter my sister-in-law wrote where she told about a Sunday School class she taught. Some people in the class vocally disagreed with the very idea of teaching "perfect ideals" like Temple Marriage because it offended those who hadn't made that choice.

Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:33 pm
Re: [TPMOTD] Hi Elder

I agree that we should acknowledge exceptions in our church lessons. Each person is different, and on a different point on the path to perfection. I think that the problem in Marcelle's Sunday School was not that the person wanted validation that their life was acceptable to the Lord too (in which case, they could have asked a question like, "Can those of us who are not blessed with the ideal temple marriage feel some of the blessings of an eternal family?" and then the class could have had a valuable discussion about teaching children, or how to love and support a spouse who hasn't made the commitment yet -- like in this month's Ensign article). The person attacked Marcelle for teaching that there was an ideal at all.

Taking the path of saying that all exceptions are equally valid leads to the moral relativism we see all around us today. 'The Family' goes from being 'Mom and Dad and the kids' to 'Mom and or Dad and or a child or two if it's not too much trouble' to 'Grandma raising her daughter's five illegitimate children each by different fathers' to 'Dad and Dad and some poor child they've adopted.' I don't deny that children in these 'alternative families' need to be loved and feel like they have a safe home and family, but nobody can tell me that the later ones are nearly as good for a child's social, emotional and spiritual development as the first. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. I'm the first to admit that marriages don't always work out the way we want them to, but I also know from experience, that it's worth working hard to get the ideal because life is so much better that way.

I think that our lessons could be improved by helping people to see the differences between Christian Liberty (where the Lord doesn't give us every nitty gritty detail, teaches correct principles and lets us govern ourselves), Repentance and Progression (we may not be perfect yet, but we are always moving forward, getting a little better), the Second Article of Faith (we won't be punished for the sins of others), and the Lord's Mercy (Those who didn't have a chance in this life to receive all the ordinances will not be punished for it in the next). All of these ideas allow for the exceptions we all know to be valid. At the same time, they stress personal responsibility -- we won't be punished for things that are out of our control, but only if we're doing our best to live the commandments we can, and work to improve in the areas where we haven't reached the ideal.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

My Mobile Home...By Popular Demand

OK, I know that we've lived here since June, and nobody has gotten any pictures of the inside of the mobile home since I moved in. I know that I've been promising people that I'd post some any day now for months. I was putting it off till I had everything unpacked, then I wanted everything clean... Well, at long last I've done it -- here they are! Click on any of them to enlarge the photo.

First, I'll post the floorplan so you can imagine where the rooms are. The top of this picture conveniently faces North.

Starting at the front of the house, on the north side, there's my office and sewing room where I also store all my costumes

On the south side, there's the baby's room which also has a giant bookcase full of manga.

In the middle of the house is the kitchen with a little nook for the laundry.

Across from the kitchen is the guest bathroom where the fish lives.

Then we have the living room with the couch, front door, and gigantic bookcase/entertainment center.

On the other side of this big open room is the dining area.

In the back of the house is the master bedroom and bath.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Blogging Advice

One of my cousin-in-laws asked for advice about having a successful blog. Evidently, she's tried a few times, and just can't manage to keep it up. Here's what I told her:

I have a few tips for successful blogging

1. Have a specific time of day to post. I generally do it first thing in the morning after I've read my email, but before I get involved in other things. I also encourage you to post every day, even if it's short. If you miss a day or two here and there, it's no big deal, but if you plan to post weekly, then when you miss once or twice, then it's been nearly a month since you wrote, and there's far too much to catch up with...and you know how that goes.

2. Have a theme -- Mine is poetry, but it can be about anything you like. I get bored with writing about my day to day stuff -- I just lived through it after all. With the poetry, I have an excuse to think/write about something other than the mundane goings on, but I often mention major events or things I've been thinking about. I've got a much better record of my life and thoughts and feelings writing about poetry than I ever achieved with a normal journal.

3. Have people reading and commenting. It makes a real difference to my motivation to know that people like to read what I have to say. When the comments take on a life of their own and start a good discussion, then I feel really good about things. Because not everyone in my family takes the time to visit website blogs on a regular basis, I send my posts to our immediate family mailing list, and then copy the comments into my blog to keep it all in one place.

4. I'd suggest making a backup of your blog posts somewhere occasionally, so that when technology changes again, all that great journalling energy isn't wasted. For instance, you could copy your posts into a text file each time they fill up a whole page, or print them out and keep a hard copy.

Good luck!

Friday, November 9, 2007


So they say that pregnant women tend to start doing home improvement projects because of the nesting instinct -- we want to make sure everything is perfect for baby. If you look around my home, you can certainly see that it's true for me. I've finally got the last of the moving boxes out of baby's room, and I put up shelves for her toys and clothes. I've been cruising freecycle and Craig's list to see what I can get out of buying. I got a playpen/bassinet and a stroller that works with a baby carrier/carseat.

I also found somebody giving away a bunch of bricks. So I drove over to Long Beach, filled my trunk with bricks (only carrying two at a time so I wouldn't hurt myself), and brought them home. Peter helped me unload them that night, and the next day I laid them between my sidewalk and my next-door-neighbor's. We had just had dirt there before, with a bunch of old shingles to keep the weeds down. The result isn't perfect -- the sidewalks aren't precisely parallel, and most of the bricks were broken or had mortar stuck to them, so it's pretty uneven. I think it would look a lot better if I bought a bag or two of sand to put underneath to level it out, but in the meantime, it's a lot nicer than what was there. Here are a few pictures. Sorry about the weird angle -- I'm not sure what angle you're supposed to photograph brick at to keep from disorienting your viewers, but this is obviously not it.

I've been having trouble sleeping lately, since I can't get comfortable at night with the baby in the way. I'd wake up feeling more stiff and sore and tired than when I went to sleep the night before. I was doing some walking to loosen everything up during the day, but it really wasn't getting any better. After two days of brickwork though, I found that waking up sore from working hard is a lot nicer than waking up sore from just not sleeping well. It's amazing how doing some really hard work in the dirt gives you more energy.

So then I decided that the best way to keep myself sore and tired out was to tackle the weeds on the side of the house. My mobile home is blessed with excellent dirt, but without constant attention from the homeowner, that just means that I get fantastically healthy weeds (see the picture above -- you can see the shingles holding some of them at bay so we can get through to water the plants that we want to have). Somebody had once dumped gravel over them, but they've grown up through that. I found that if I pull up the weeds (most of them come up pretty easily since they're not rooted in clay), then use a hand trowel to shovel the top couple inches of dirt and gravel into a wire basket I bought for the purpose, I can then sift out the gravel to set aside, replace the dirt, lay down a garbage bag to keep the weeds at bay, then have enough gravel to put a healthy layer or two on top of the plastic. I can't go very fast -- it took me an hour or two to do a 2x3 foot patch today -- but it sure does look a lot better when I'm done! I can also expect it to stay fairly weed free for a year or two, and if I want to put a garden in at some point, I'll just have to pull up the garbage bags full of gravel, and I'll have nice clean dirt to work with.