Monday, June 22, 2009

Who Are You Calling Domestic?

I was talking to my Mom last night and telling her about how I had just made a batch of Pesto from the basil that I had grown – after I had done some sewing, and done a bit of gardening. Her response: “My, aren’t you domestic!” That comment irks me a little. What is so wrong with enjoying making things with your hands? If a man were to make a bench or fix a leaky pipe we would call him “handy” so why is it when a woman does traditional things she’s considered domestic?

I know that I can go to the store and purchase a jar of pre-made pesto, a necklace or a dress for the party I’m attending, or even as many tomatoes as I can fit in to my car but where is the joy in that? There’s a simple pleasure in producing something whether it’s sewn or home grown that you can’t get from picking it up off a shelf in the store. It may be more time consuming but at least you know what it is a product of.

I know that I made my favorite pajama pants, not some poor child laborer working for twenty cents a day in Indonesia. I know that the lettuce in my salad I grew from seed in my back yard, so I know it isn’t tainted with Hepatitis C or whatever the latest food outbreak is. The same goes for any other little thing that I create or grow, there’s a satisfaction in knowing where it came from and what went in to it.

I suppose that my adverse reaction is probably due to the word domestic itself. To me the word domestic causes a mental cross reference to animals that we have as pets or food stock – so domestic means they are no longer wild and untamable. The other image I get is the typical “bare-foot and pregnant in the kitchen”.

I guess one might even call it a cultural revolution that as of late gardening is growing in popularity and there seems to be a great number of people who still enjoy crafting and sewing regularly. My personal belief is that it needs a new name… instead of domestic just call me “make it yourself friendly.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Eat the View: Part 5, “Rise of the Word Garden”

Every morning I get up at 5am and go out to the back yard to water my vegetable plants. Living in the North West means that we actually have day light at that hour, it’s not much but it keeps me from stubbing my toes. My plants all loved the heat wave we had a few weeks ago making them all double in size. I had hoped that would mean tomatoes soon, but then the cool down back to normal temperatures quickly dismissed that idea.

As one might imagine, I check out my plants every morning as I’m giving them their drink of water. I have had about half a dozen or so snow peas to harvest on my snow pea plant every day and my cherry tomato plant has tiny green tomatoes on it. The problem is because our temperatures have gone back to their normal range of the 70’s it is not really warm enough for the tomatoes to finish ripening. So, I wait. Watching and hoping. I know sooner than I believe I will have more tomatoes than I know what to do with, but a part of me feels a little like Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka jumping up and down and screaming “I want it now!” I’m still learning that I can’t rush nature.

ShoeDiva came over on Sunday night to have dinner watch the season premiere of True Blood and in the down time between eating and the show starting we sat out in the garden with a bottle of “3 Buck Chuck” and began to talk. Like they say, one thing led to another, and we ended up naming all of the plants in my garden. We stayed with a theme of author names and tried to match them with the plant’s characteristics (did I mention there was a bottle of wine involved?): my two zucchini plants ended up with the names Poe and Wilde, the snow peas are Hemingway, the strawberry plants are Dr. Suess, my Shady Lady tomato plant is Plath, and the basil is Doyle. The list goes on, but I won’t venture to try to remember all of them. Being the intelligent ladies that we are, because we don’t want me to forget all of these fabulous titles we have bestowed upon these plants we wrote the names on popsicle sticks and put them in the soil next to the plant. Now I’ll never forget that my Lemon Verbena plant has been dubbed Lincoln Steffens.

Friday, June 5, 2009

What's the opposite of a "Pity Party"?

I am feeling full of deep thoughts this morning. I think it may have something to do with the big thunderstorm that rolled through yesterday evening. It seems like it hit all of a sudden, and after a torrential downpour, thunder & lightning and perhaps even a little hail, by the time I had finished cooking dinner it was all done.

Hubby's dad (MusicMan) has been doing something daily that I find intriguing. I guess he's been feeling down about the housing market and the balance between work and life so his business coach advised him to get up a little earlier every day and do something he loved before he started going through his routine of getting ready for the day. So MusicMan has started emailing every morning his thoughts on life. He started out with a group of ten or so people and Hubby tells me that MusicMan is now up to 50 on his list. Hubby forwarded the emails to me (MusicMan is titling them "Passion Party", the opposite of "Pity Party") and I read through the first 9 of his emails this morning. WOW. They are really simple observations on life, but you can tell that he's pouring his soul in to them.

I hadn't really thought about it much, but I think that I have my own little "Passion Party" every morning when I water my garden. It was still raining this morning so I didn't water my plants when I let Cleo out... & I kind of was disappointed about that. Like I said, I hadn't realized that watering my plants is kind of like a morning meditation for me - doing something I enjoy before I get my day started. And I do it every morning.

I hope you're doing something for yourself lately.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A "Material Girl" I'm Not

Day one of the month of June and I already feel summer in the air. I feel like we hardly got spring first but that’s just fine with me. I love spring and summer in Portland they’re nothing like what I grew up with in Sacramento – it just feels like there’s so much more life in the heat of summer here.

With the heat of summer comes a change in wardrobe. Everyone sheds their big wool coats, knitted scarves, and rain hats for sun glasses, strappy sandals and short sleeve shirts. Now, let me get one thing out there, I am not nor have ever been what you might call a girly girl. I like to think that I’m in touch with my femininity but not obsessed with it. To be completely honest, I haven’t really been too concerned with fashion until the last year or two and even then I’m all for function over fashion. I won’t pin-point all of my evolutions here for you, though if asked I could likely tell you.

I don’t know if my evolution in to femininity is a result of me growing up or a result of the world in which I live and work. Given, I put more energy in to how I look in my office setting than I do at home or with friends. I find that if I have extra money I would rather spend it on a dinner out than a new pair of shoes. That doesn’t mean that I don’t look at a nice pair of heels and think “Damn, my legs would look nice in those.” I may think that, but I likely won’t be able to bring myself to spend over $50 on an item of clothing. Heck, I spent $20 on the cocktail dress for my company holiday party last year, and then another $10 on jewelry and I’ve worn the outfit three times. Though I can’t tell if that is just being frugal or me thinking that fashion isn’t worth all the money people put in to it.

I can’t put my finger on what makes me feel how I do. I just know that I am not “a material girl” or “high maintenance,” I do know that I like to feel like I look good but don’t feel like I have to be fully “done up” to go grocery shopping. I’m sure I could go on for pages about the evils of the fashion industry, but I won’t waste anyone’s time with that.

In the end I think what this all means is that I’m growing more comfortable skin. I think that’s all really anyone can ask for.