ALWAYS WILLING TO SHARE MY IGNORANCE...A Story by Shari Vaudo
This is a story I wrote a few years ago when our son was in college and still living at home. At the time, we lived on a dirt road in a rural area of the Southern Tier of New York State.
ALWAYS WILLING TO SHARE MY IGNORANCE…
As I’m sure you know, unless you live under a rock, the economy is bad and predicted to get worse. In an effort to mitigate the damages to our poor, suffering pocketbook, I did some research and decided to live the ‘voluntary simplicity’ lifestyle. In case you don’t know it’s kind of a pioneer lifestyle. Now, I’m the first to admit that I really love my modern day conveniences, but with costs going up daily, I might be able to do without some and modify my use of others.
To start things off, I called a family meeting and discussed my idea with The Frontiersman and The Computer Genius to get their cooperation with my project. That went about as well as I expected. I think I lost The Computer Genius’ support the minute I said I wanted cooperation from him and his dad in reverting to the pioneer lifestyle; he’s waaay too hi-tech for that. I had The Frontiersman on my side right up to the point where I said I might want to buy a horse and buggy and ‘retire’ our vehicles. After that, it was a struggle just keeping them in their seats to hear the rest of my plan.
The Frontiersman hoped I didn’t notice that he was falling asleep in his chair even though the closed eyes and the snoring sounds coming from his direction were a dead give away.
The Computer Genius kept ‘sneaking’ into the kitchen to get a snack. He tried to say it was because I was so entertaining he wanted to be sure he had a snack or two so he could ‘settle in’ and listen. I just spoke louder to make sure he heard me.
Once I finished mapping out my plan for our lifestyle changes, The Computer Genius said, “No way”. He was not willing to make even the slightest adjustment to accommodate my adventure. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t think it would be exciting for a week, just to try it out. He said something about giving someone an inch and them taking a mile; whatever. He also didn’t see the relevance in my idea of rigging up a way to allow him to pedal a stationary bike, hooked up to a battery, to power his computer. I thought it was a good idea; power the computer and get exercise at the same time. He thought for a moment, looked at me and said, “Thank you. We’re all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view”.
Well, forget him, I thought, moving on to more likely outcomes.
I had to shake The Frontiersman awake and his response was, “Huh? What’d ya say?”
I told him I wasn’t repeating any of my plan so he would just have to go with the flow. He said, “Ok, but no horses; no buggies”.
I decided to set my plan into action the next morning.
I set my alarm clock and woke up at 5 a.m. Ok, I know it’s an electric alarm clock, but I haven’t gotten to Wal-Mart yet to get a wind up clock. I hope they still sell them. Holy cow; I forgot 5 a.m. comes so early.
I found my slippers and shuffled my way to the bathroom. I splashed my face with water, brushed my teeth and got dressed. If I were lucky enough to have one of those old fashioned wood burning cook stoves, I would load it up and get it started for the days cooking, but short of that, I filled a two-cup measuring cup with water and popped it into the microwave. In the few seconds it takes to heat the water, I put a tea bag in one cup for me and instant coffee in another cup for The Frontiersman. (Note to self. Remember to buy loose leaf tea and regular coffee next time I go to the Ghetto Bodega.) Once the water was heated, I poured the water in the cups, added Splenda for me and sugar and milk for The Frontiersman. (No, I’m not giving up my Splenda. I don’t care how modern it is.)
I’m in a cheery mood as I made my way to the bedroom and woke up The Frontiersman.
“Dan…Dan. Wake up.”
“Dan. Wake up. It’s time to get up.”
“Why? What time is it?”
“It’s 5:20; time to get up.”
“Why”, he asks again, still with his eyes closed, “What‘s wrong?”
“Nothing”, I answer, my cheeriness now waning. “Today is the day we start our ‘pioneer life’, remember?”
“You’ve lost your mind”, he declares. “We can start this at ten o’clock.”
“No”, I say as I thrust the cup of coffee at him.
“It’s your coffee. C’mon, sit up. The coffee will help to pry those sleepy little eyes open.”
“I’ll meet you in the kitchen”, he says, rubbing his eyes.
“What time”, I ask, trying to prod him a little more.
Getting annoyed, he gives me his standard answer. “In five minutes”, in a tone that means, ‘I am already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth’.
I make my way back to the kitchen to plan my day.
Since it’s Monday, I decided to do my laundry. I remember, when I was a kid, Monday was laundry day for my mom. Just as I finished planning my day, The Frontiersman came into the kitchen. Hmmm, I think, not bad; not five minutes, but not bad. We briefly talked about our plans for an old fashioned day and Dan said he was going to work in the vegetable garden and he might also cut some grass. That sounds pretty old fashioned, I decided, although I knew he would be riding his lawn mower. I knew I would not be able to convince him to buy one of those old fashioned push mowers since we have about five acres of grass that needs to be cut. I decided to pass on mentioning that, or he’d be telling me to cut the grass. I’m all for exercise, but being quiet at the right time is the better part of valor.
I got the laundry baskets and sorted the laundry; carried the first load down to the basement and turned to face my hi-tech, fancy washing machine. Uh oh, I think. Well, I don’t have an old fashioned gas powered, wringer washer, but I’ll just have to make do. I loaded the laundry in the machine, added the detergent and adjusted the settings. Oh man, I think, we’ve got a loooong way to go to be old fashioned. I headed back upstairs knowing the washer would buzz to let me know when that load was finished.
Being that we don’t have any livestock, I wouldn’t be going out to feed the pigs or chickens or clean their pens or gather any eggs or milk; not that I would even know how to do any of that stuff. Also, I wasn’t going to cook any eggs, pancakes, potatoes or bacon for breakfast, as women would have done in the old days. The Frontiersman doesn’t need his arteries clogged any more than they already are.
I turned the radio on to an A.M. station (that’s pretty old fashioned), and sat down with my now reheated cup of tea and a newly added bowl of cereal. As I ate my breakfast, I thought about what I could do in an old fashioned way. I know; I’ll clean the kitchen! I began by hand washing my cup, bowl and spoon that I used for breakfast. That’s pretty old fashioned, don’t ya think? I didn’t put them in the dishwasher.
I then moved on to washing the kitchen windows, took the blinds down and put them in the bathtub to soak with Mr. Clean and ammonia. Wow! I’m really into this old fashioned stuff now.
Next, I swept the floor and cleaned out the fridge. Darn; another electric appliance! I don’t think they sell ice boxes anymore, or the big chunks of ice to go in them. Ok, I’ll have to think about this one for a while.
The reminder buzzer went off on my washing machine so I went back down to the basement and took the laundry out. I decided not to use the dryer though because I do have clotheslines in the back yard. We didn’t put them there; they were installed by a previous owner. Heh…maybe they had thoughts of living the ‘simpler life’.
Once out in the backyard, I checked out the sky for clouds. There weren’t really clouds per se, the sky was just darker than I would have liked it to be, but not to be deterred, I began hanging my laundry on the line as I hummed a little tune I remembered from the ‘60s. I thought, just for a fleeting moment about all the neighbors putting in ear plugs. Oh well, that was their problem; I was happy.
Mid way through hanging that load of laundry on the line (that even SOUNDS old fashioned), I spotted a beautiful robin sitting on the grass over near the creek (pronounced crick by the locals). All’s right with the world… I was humming, there was a light breeze wafting over my freshly hung laundry, the robin picked up and flew over me and pooped right on my head! I suddenly realized this ‘simple living lifestyle’ is fraught with danger! Note to self: buy a hat to wear when hanging laundry.
I decided I had done enough work for now; it was time for a break. Is that too modern do ya think? Well anyway, I went inside to put my feet up and read until the next load was ready. I picked up my book and began to read, but then I found myself daydreaming about what life must have been like in the 1800s. I wondered if women in those days went to beauty salons to get the latest hairstyle or did they offer that service at the general store?
Just then, I was bolted back to reality by the sound of the buzzer on my washing machine. Why did I put it on ‘loud’ anyway? Back to the basement and back out to the clotheslines. I was, once again, humming away when I noticed a swarm of gnats heading in my direction for their Monday morning breakfast. I bet the neighbors sent them to try to get me to stop humming. Heh heh HEH…I was ready for ‘em; I had wet laundry AND I had the beat! I knew just how to handle this…swat, clip, swat, get another piece of laundry out of the basket, swat, swat, clip, clip, etc. The fact that no one understands me doesn’t mean that I’m wrong.
As I went back into the house via the back door, The Frontiersman was walking in the front door. “I’m getting hungry”, he stated dynamically.
“It’s ten o’clock”, I answered, “too early for lunch”.
“Not when someone wakes you up at five o’clock in the morning”, he shot back. “At this rate, we should be going to bed about 4 p.m.”, he said with a note of sarcasm in his voice.
I decided to go out to the flower bed to get away from the hostile environment. I got my gloves, kneeling pad and gardening tools from the garage and began weeding. Suddenly I was feeling more tired than old fashioned. The grass was looking more and more like a wonderful green mattress.
Just then, I thought I felt a rain drop…then a couple more. Holy cow; those gray skies weren’t kidding! I quickly grabbed up my gardening things, threw them on the table in the garage; ran out to the backyard and began grabbing my freshly washed laundry off the clotheslines. I threw them into the laundry baskets, took them back into the basement and stuffed them into the dryer. Thank God for modern appliances!
Okay, I thought; maybe this old fashioned living isn’t all it’s cracked up to be or maybe it will take a while to get used to or maybe a little more research. I decided to have some lunch and take a nap. I could think about it later.
I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and baby carrots for lunch and put them on a paper plate. That way I wouldn’t have any clean up to do. After lunch, I picked up a book of poetry and headed to the bedroom to fall asleep reading.
May the light always find you on a dreary day
When you need to be home;
May you always have courage
To take a chance,
And never find frogs
In your underpants.
© 2012 Shari Vaudo
AboutI am retired and live in Virginia with my husband, also retired. We have two grown children, both married and a beautiful granddaughter, born June 26, 2012. She is the apple of my eye; I just love h.. more..