My Log Cabin in Alaska

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hand Washing on A Rub Board, A Blessing


You gotta love a washboard on a sunny day. What? You say you think there is something wrong with me on more than one level? Nay, on many levels.

   First, a rub board is green. Face it, no electricity, same water is used for the entire week’s worth of clothes, in order of course - whites to darks - and three tubs; wash, rinse, final rinse. You just use less water. You hang the clothes on a line, no electricity, and you really figure out what ‘fresh’ smells like.

    That’s a good reason, a fashionable and popular reason to hand wash, but that is not the real reason, not what motivates me.I am not the only one in the world who hand washes clothing. It is part of entire cultures right here in the great Midwest, remember the Amish? There are plenty of people who still hand wash, all for different reasons.

    As I scrub each piece of clothing I have time to think about the one who wears it, and I can say a prayer for that one. I can relive a memory and share a forgotten laugh. For me, it’s also back to nature, it’s time to reflect, time to be thankful for what I have, and time to dream and plan.
    As I settle down to really scrubbing the gunk out of the white socks I recall the most spiritual Easter weekend I ever spent with my children. We did not go to church, we became church. We went camping and escaped this worldly realm to experience life as pilgrims in Jerusalem on the very week that Jesus returned, triumphant but riding on a donkey. I wash my socks as we washed our socks in the waters of the Jordan river (the lake) and recalled these stories as if we were there, watching them, from the man carrying the water and directing the disciples to the upper room, to the devastating after noon of torture and death, to the morning when the women returned to the tomb only to find it empty. I recall my daughter’s innocent voice “Mommy, they have taken our eggs and we know not where they have laid them.” And we went out searching for eggs. I am blessed that I have this time to hand wash my clothes.

    Washing a week’s worth of dirty clothes, sheets, and towels can bring a family closer, too. You disagree? Picture this: 5 tubs of water, the first with soap, the rest to rinse, and when the wash water gets too dirty, it gets dumped and fresh water is added, it becomes the final rinse and soap is added to the next tub, the one that was first rinse. You sit at the first tub, the wash tub with the rub board, your young son sits next to you, first rinse. You can show him the fine art of sloshing while you discuss other important things, like being scared the first time you rode the school bus. Next comes young daughter, rinsing and looking for missed stains. She gets to check details and return imperfect work to ‘the scrubber’ a fun precursor to the health profession. Last rinse falls to older daughter. She is the final judge, then Dad wrings and hangs. And through out the event, we are able to talk, really talk. I am blessed to have this memory and this time to relive it. I miss my children.

    I am in a long line of hand washers, sometimes there was no choice, sometimes it was convenience, but it is the chore that binds us together and makes us stronger.

    Hey, but all that aside, I get time to sort out my stressors and take my ‘grrr’ out on something that can’t say ‘ouch!’ And, just between you and me, right now, I do it out of stubbornness. The hubby said I spend too much money! Yea, right.

    Now, if someone happens to remember any of this in a different light, please feel free to click on that comment button and share your experiences.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chicken Soup

No, this one will not go to the stewpot

     Mmmmmm. A fine day’s work today. And it’s early enough to do more if the spirit moves. I have a couple of chickens in the freezer and one in the stewpot. Yep, Chicken Soup tonight!
      Yes, Chicken soup is good for the soul. Good for the heart, mind, and any friend or loved one who may be feeling under the weather. Chicken soup is a great dish to impress the mother in law, or to have waiting for you in the slow cooker after a long hard day at work. Chicken soup is more than comfort food, and a good series of books, it is a spiritual teacher.

     I will share my recipe, of course, but then my children, and my cousins, already know my recipe…..throw in everything but the kitchen sink. It’s a family recipe, handed down from mother to daughter. The grandfather’s contributed, too, they usually brought in the cleaned and plucked chicken, and often times they grew the veggies that helped to fill the pot!
  • 1 fresh chicken, I use half these days since I only feed 2 now, and it is always the first one off the butchering table. Do not, I repeat, do not use a de-boned chicken! Those bones are important, cook ‘em down, crack ‘em and get that goodie out of them. Yeah, you can take the skin and fat off, but leave those bones in!
The rest of the ingredients are ‘to your taste’
  • Potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, cut to your favorite size
  • Turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, flavored with a bit of ginger and maybe some curry if you like
  • You can add some greens about an hour before it’s ready to serve, ever thought of chopping up a handful of Swiss Chard in your soup? Yum!
  • Season your soup with just about anything, I put several cloves of garlic, cut into chunks, for the great flavor and nutrition.
  • I will almost always add a jar of home canned tomatoes (not going to plagiarize my special recipe with canned tomatoes!)
  • I also like a variety of summer squashes in my soup.
  • Fresh herbs, as many as you like, parsley is good for the heart, sage and rosemary give it a holiday flair, chili seasonings or hot sauce will give it a kick, Hey fix it to suit you
  • I will almost always add a handful, or two, of barley, give it a couple of hours if it is in the slow cooker
  • Noodles are a must, if this soup is to be a gift for a sick friend.
  • At the end, you can thicken it a bit if you wish, a tablespoon of cornstarch mixed into a half cup of water to keep your soup gluten free.
Oh, you say you like dumplings? Or fresh egg noodles? Well, that is a different blog altogether, so before you are ready to serve your soup, add the dumplings and cook as directed.

     But, there is another step, it is one of the most important steps in good cooking! You gotta taste it from time to time to make sure the seasonings are just right. You will need a tasting spoon, it will be sitting near your stirring spoon. I still have the wooden spoon that I got from my Aunt, and she got it from my Gramma. You will taste your soup from time to time and add a spice or a bit more water if you think it needs it. But, you will not be the final judge, and you know it. Before you set your soup on the table or take it to the neighbor or the Church potluck, you will have at least one other person taste it, just to make sure. Then, if it passes all the taste tests, it will be ready to serve.
     Now, isn’t that the same as writing? We put in our best skills, stringing words together, then grooming them to perfection. But give it that last taste test, take it to the critique group before trying to publish!

     Did I leave out your favorite veggie or seasoning? Or did I miss a great writing tip? Please click on that button down there and leave your comment. I’m still learning this blog stuff, so have some patience with me. Thanks!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

And So I Write

If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one nearby to hear it, does it still make a sound?

I seem to remember that debate from some class I had years ago, and although I cannot remember most of what was said that day, I remember the way it makes me feel, still today.

If I say a word and my children do not listen to me, have I lost my word? Or did I just not make a sound to begin with? And if I write a word, and no one bothers to read it, does that word even exist?
Well, as time has proven, my words did have a bit of impact. My children grew and prospered. I have succeeded. And so I take hope.

Consider the stars. They are many and they fill the universe as we know it. They are tiny beacons twinkling silently, often unnoticed. But they stand through time and offer themselves, a guide to any lost soul searching for direction. And we learn from the stars. We learn about great distances and how we, our tiny and insignificant selves, possibly came into existence. And we learn about eternity.

As I admire the twinkling of a far distant ball of energy and ponder how many, many eons it may have taken for that pinpoint of light to grace my eyes and fill my heart, I know. My words will not fade. The words I write came from an energy in my mind, sculpted into form by my soul and set free by my voice or pen, and they float into this vast eternity again. One day, my words, like the light of this star, will grace the eyes and possibly guide the soul of another.

And so I write.

Share what motivates you to complete a task when there is very little to encourage you, and we will all be uplifted.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Carving Angels

     A person dear to me is undertaking a noble feat. She is writing a book. And like all of us, she sometimes says mean things to her poor innocent words. Now, I know several people who have written lots of books, long and short. I, myself, have begun that same journey. I will concede; writing a book can be daunting. It may even lead a person to wail, “What ever made me think I could possible do this!”
      Immediately I think of Michelangelo’s Angel carved out of a single block of marble. When asked how he was able to crate such a shape he replied. “I saw the angel in the stone and carved away the excess untill I set it free.”
     So just keep piling up those words. Create that gigantic marble block. And if you think it is difficult and you face days when you don’t think you can haul a single word, just consider how much fun it must have been to move that big rock for Michelangelo.

Then, when your pile is big enough, you can carve away the excess and imperfect parts to finally release your own masterpiece.

O yea, I have several of these dear women in my life, just sayin' :)