Thursday, April 29, 2010

We've Got It Easy, Even when we think we don't

A good friend reminded me today that blogging sometimes needs to be about more than book excerpts and competitions.  I was honored when Mirella Patzer, an author of significant historical knowledge cited me as an authority on the old west.  I stopped and thought about it, and realized I really am.  I've spent countless hours reading about the Lakota Sioux, researching their tribal traditions and rituals, and studying the trials and tribulations that pioneer men and women faced.  For Sparta Rose, I researched the area, to familiarize myself with historical landmarks, schools, banks, and hotels from the past.  I may not be a "true" authority, but I sure know a lot more now than I did when I began writing historical novels.

This morning, I bemoaned the fact that I needed to change our bedding.  While I slipped on clean sheets then stuffed the "used" ones (I started to type "soiled" but that conjured up a big ewwww) into the washing machine, I realized how very spoiled our generation is.

 Had I lived in the old west, I might not have owned anything that resembled a mattress.  Although by the 1800s, beds raised off the ground were commonplace to avoid insects and rodents, poor pioneers often slept on straw covered with quilts or blankets. Rough wooden frames with crisscrossed rope created the foundation. Feather beds were common only among those wealthy enough to have access to down feathers. In some cases, straw was sewn into a bag, and cleaning the bedding meant dragging the heavy sack outside and beating the dust from it. Same for anything that covered the wood or dirt flooring.  No Hoovers or Dust Devils then!

As I added detergent to my washing machine, I thought about the women of the old west who at one time beat their clothing clean on rocks, and later marveled at the invention of a scrub board and a wringing device.  Oh, talk about thanking God for my life.  Do you know that in some third world countries, women still do laundry this way?  Don't you feel lucky?

Tomorrow...more on the pioneer's life.


MC Halliday said...

I feel very fortunate as I recall my childhood where most of the washing was done by hand, then set in a 'spin dryer' which took the excess water from the load, and then everything was hanged to dry. Later, we had a wringer washer (fed the rinsed fabrics through your fingers!) and a clothes line. 'Laundry Day' was exactly that; an entire day of washing and hanging clothes and linens. The next day was for ironing out all those creases from the wringer!!!

Good reminder, Ginger, of our ease of life now.

Marie Higgins said...

Yes, I feel very lucky. I would have never made it in the 1800's. I would have had to be wealthy. lol Maybe that's why when I write about those days, my characters have to be wealthy as well... I don't want them sleeping on straw! Yuck!


Cate Masters said...

I actually like doing manual labor. I call my gardening techniques "extreme gardening" because I tend to rearrange the landscape, not just plant a few things. But having to do these chores every day would get old fast, I'm sure! Although now I tend to ignore housework in favor of writing... (shhh!)

Margaret West said...

Funny this should be brought up. I always say to my husband I was born out of time because I like the victorian style of dress etc. He mentioned that I wouldnt like the fact they didnt bathe,never washed their gowns and rarely changed their underwear and frequently had nits.... euwww. Now there's a thought.

Anonymous said...

You are so right, Ginger. When I was a child, I remember seeing a old fashioned wringer washing machine that was quite dangerous by today's standards and yet any household that had one considered itself lucky. Thanks for the reminder. Gotta go, I need to take stuff out of the dryer!

MuseItUp Publishing said...

I remember my mom's washing machine, the one she dragged by the kitchen sink and the clothes were placed through a wringer a few times to rinse out the water. Loved it.

In all honesty, last year I got fed up with the expensive lawn mowers that broke after a year. The gas ones gave me a back ache and the electric ones were a bit off to maneuver. So, I went and purchased the old fashioned ones, the type that has blades and you can walk your dog and mow with the other hand. Love it and wished I had thought of buying it a while back.

Neighbours give me 'the look' and I smile when I see their drenched faces and huffing and puffing after mowing their lawn. Whenever it strikes me I take out my little 'putt-putt' as I've named it and cut wherever the grass has grown a bit than other places. Lawn is always cut.

Maryann Miller said...

Very nice post, Ginger. Thanks for the reminder that life is easier today. But it is more complicated. Life was simpler when the women swept dirt floors and washed clothes at the river. Not easy. Just simple.

Anonymous said...

I am thankful for the days of past...for I see clearly....the foolishness of today...

Cheryl said...

Oh, yes, I do feel lucky. I'm a big Laura Ingalls Wilder fan. The thought of living back then isn't very appealing to me though. :)

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