Tuesday, May 30, 2006

By What Measure?

I've thought many times how funny our house looks.

No, it isn't just because we built it ourselves, or that it threatens to live forever in the "half-built house" stage. There's a couple pound block of parmesan cheese, for example, sitting on the shelf above the won't-be-used-for-the-summer cook stove.

There are several plastic buckets that I recycled from work. One became a minnow carrier for fishing trips. One regularly holds barley that is soaking for 48 hours (or whatever). Then there's the giant stainless collander that holds the damp barley as it is sprouting. The dehydrator that lives above our microwave. It dries things in its time, but it also incubates yogurt sometimes, and it malts the barley.

The fishing poles are in a corner of the living area.

There's the green plastic dish pan that holds a homemade cheese press, and a rather large bar clamp that goes with it that serves to keep it from toppling over when it is in use, and the funny little bucket that holds the bowls that serve as the weight. We actually measured how many bowls it took at what point on the arm (leverage) for the different pressures we needed.

And the milking bucket, the extra stock pot I take for milk too, the butter churn, a large number of wide mouth half-gallon jars.

Lots of buckets used for various and sundry. Spray bottles with homemade fly spray and homemade cleaner and usually pyrethrin too -- different bottles of course. And there is the old cat litter canister that someone gave me (empty) ages ago that has forever since found a use as the vessel in which to take water to the rabbits.

There are barrels with wheat and barley and corn and cereal and oats. Actually at this very moment, there is a box and a couple bags in the floor from the last bulk order that haven't been decanted into ziplocks and placed in the barrels yet. There's several pounds of baking powder and gluten and at least a pound of yeast, also dried fruits. And salt.

On one wall hangs my horse's harness. Draft horse harness is not a small thing. Some people might not find it as decorative as I do.

And those are just the odder things. And what I'm seeing at the moment. More usual but perhaps still odd is a whole rack of cast iron cookware that is all regularly used.

And I'd bet my use of time looks funny too. It takes rather a lot of time to make what most people would consider ingredients. Or to milk the cow (and then process all the milk, keep it rotated, used, etc.). Just to wash dishes for a family that actually eats pretty much all its meals at home, after cooking them there too. There are days during which I make two loaves of bread and a half-gallon of ice cream and a pound of butter and a couple pounds of cheese and incubate buttermilk and yogurt and then I wonder what it is I've gotten done.

I don't have much of a point, but I recently read a quote, and gosh darn if I can remember where (so clue me in and I'll edit this) that if we value something other than commercial culture, then our lives will reflect that. Sometimes I see things with my mother's eyes which are critical and in which I never manage to measure up. That's when the house is half-built and messy, and the children look like raggamuffins, and the junk pile is but a junk pile. But sometimes I see them with my own eyes, and the house fits us and how we live exactly, and the children are happy and interesting, and the junk pile is stockpiled metal if the really hard times hit.

With some of the talk of culture going around, I surfed on over to Appalshop. And then later, in the garden, I thought of how some yankee filmaker with a point to make might take footage of us in our garden and use it to illustrate poverty. Whereas for us our garden is prosperity, and being in our garden is peace and health and fulfillment, not drudgery. As always, really, it is just a matter of perspective, and choosing the ones you want.

Or, as Tom Robbins put it, "It is never too late to have a happy childhood."


Ren said...

"Or, as Tom Robbins put it, "It is never too late to have a happy childhood.""

I say that to folks quite often!! Nice.

Your house sound charming.:)

H. Stallard said...

After having "Kept the Farm (which mainly consisted of taking care of the animals)" for CG for a week-end while she and hers were gone, I can describe the house in one word...PRACTICAL.

gtr said...

Good thoughts! I'm still trying to reconcile how my house looks (messy, practical, plenty of 5 gallon buckets around) with how I was raised (mother concerned about appearances, etc). I'm working on relaxing and not being embarrased when "mainstream" friends or parents come to visit and look, um surprised? Or maybe they don't care, it's just in my head. Hmmm..

Belle-ah said...

As long as your house is a home for YOUR family...that is all that matters. There are different homes for different families. I would hate it if we all lived in identical boxes.