Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Little Rant By A Little Voice In My Head



Emboldened by my success at growing radishes, [see above], albeit puny ones, in spite of impressive verdure [today's word of the day from Merriam Webster!] I decided to apply to take a master gardener course offered by the county. Bit of a leap from novice radish grower to master gardener, but, one should aim high I've always heard. Not that I'll be magically transformed or anything like that. All day, every Friday, for twelve weeks, will be devoted to trying to cram horticultural knowledge into the few wits remaining in my cranial cavity, if I'm accepted into the course.

I see-sawed back and forth about applying, but then figured, looking at it from a purely selfish point of view, I could only come out ahead, as my brain would be snatched from the gaping jaws of senility by the necessity of flexing and stretching it to accommodate all this seed and weed know-how.

Filling out the form was easy, until I came to a question near the end.

"Do you work?" was the question. As in, "Are you employed?"

This usually rattles me because I know the answer they expect from the likes of me. I'm possibly a little hyper-sensitive on the subject since my father-in-law, bless his aged, bald, and shiny pate, has made a point of needling me about my lack of "gainful" employment for the last forty years. He especially likes to tell tales from the old country. One in particular, about a new bride whose f-i-l informs her, soon after her marriage to his son that, in his household, those who don't work don't eat. All the while casting pseudo jocular glances in my direction. As though washing his son's underwear and raising his grandchildren were merely hobbies to fill the gaps between tropical vacations and frothy bubble baths....

Reluctantly I marked the "No" box. But a rebellious little voice in my head objected, and went on a little rant. Something like this:

No. Instead of working I like to spend my days cleaning toilets; sweeping floors; keeping ahead of clutter; changing bed sheets; doing laundry; folding clothes; occasionally even ironing them; shopping for groceries; planning meals; cooking meals; cleaning up after meals; trying not to trip over the cat; taking the aforementioned, decidedly unwilling animal, to the vet, which cannot be accomplished until he is in the cat carrier, into which he can only be wrestled by three muscular grown men wearing leather gloves and face protection.

Or one determined housewife who does not work.

Other desultory activities include, but are not limited to, staying in touch with the children; listening to problems; making sympathetic noises when I can offer nothing better; cheering them on when things go well; remembering birthdays; visiting my aged and cantankerous father-in-law, grinding my teeth and holding my tongue while so doing [years of practice]; pulling weeds; planting vegetables; pulling more weeds; planting more vegetables; making lists; losing lists; making more lists; wasting time looking for lists I've lost; writing on Blogger; searching, always, for a pen that works---in a house that has as many pens as a raccoon has fleas; making, remembering, and keeping appointments with doctors, dentists, chiropractors, vets and friends; trying to make regular dents in the UFO pile; trying not to start new projects that will ensure I do not make those dents......

Scratch, scratch, scratch.

Changed my answer to "Yes."

Next question: If "yes," what is your job title?

General dogsbody?

Don't get me wrong. I have a good life and much to be thankful for. As long as I keep the house from falling down, I can set my own schedule, and carve out time for the really important things in life --- reading, writing and quilting. I only think about running away to join the circus once every three weeks or so. Besides, the circus is here. Just because I don't get a salary for being the ringmaster doesn't mean it isn't a job...doesn't mean I'm not employed.

So, revised short answer: Yes, I work.

What else could I add that might tip the scales? Flexible schedule. Plus, I'm willing! Important because, in return for the knowledge, those who complete the course have to commit to many hours volunteering at garden and plant shows, answering phones---and, intriguingly, writing articles. Now they're talking! But one is probably required to have a clue about gardening before one can write about it! Ergo......


How am I doing Isabelle? I shouldn't blithely toss out vague promises, such as "I'm going to post something every other day." Because you never know who's listening and taking notes. I hereby amend my foolishness to "every other day, or two, or three, or four or even seven!"

And still waiting, and sighing, for reciprocation from the motherland [or maybe that should be the sisterland....]

17 comments:

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Years ago someone , filling in my particulars on a form , said " And you're just a housewife , then ". I'm still not sure how I kept a civil tongue in my head ....
Sonata .

dianne said...

a politically correct form would have queried if you work "outside the home" ... do you work? sheesh!

when i was "gainfully employed" i believed in the myth of SuperMom and tried to be all things to all people in all ways ... now that i "just babysit" (which is NOT to be confused with the "gainful" part of employment) i am asked why i don't accomplish more since i am home all day ... i blame it on the time that i spend eating bonbons whilst dressed in my bathrobe as i lounge upon the divan watching soap operas and buffing my nails

persiflage said...

You are absolutely right, Molly, and how the men get away with this propagandist fiction that domestic work does not count as real, valuable, or worthy of pay, I will never know.

Relatively Retiring said...

The option for men would seem to be 'employed or unemployed'.
There is no such thing as an unemployed woman. I wonder how that can be?

Isabelle said...

I've just written a long and hugely witty comment and Blogger ate it!!! So this is a test.

Isabelle said...

Well, it worked - good - so now I'll have to remember what I said in the eaten comment, thus revealing that.. it wasn't actually witty at all. Sigh. I've lost the creative impulse now.

Anyway, thanks for mentioning me (twice! I'm honoured!) and also for commenting so fully (if slightly surreally) on my last two posts. Your readers' loss is my gain.

Thimbleanna said...

So, now, do you wait to see if you're accepted? My sister took the course and is now a master gardener. I think she really enjoyed it, but she's really busy, and I find myself wondering how long she'll have to volunteer with their programs.

And don't worry about the question of whether you work. Here's a "working" girls dirty little secret: the "job" is a lot easier than the real work at home. It's kind of like that rice krispy commercial that I love so much -- the family thinks you've spent so much time in the kitchen when it really was easy. After "working" all day, you can complain about how hard it is to go to "work". See? (If you tell hubby, I'll deny it! LOL.)

Warty Mammal said...

Your father-in-law ... well, you're a good person. I've left people with ragged, chewed-off stumps for necks for lesser comments.

I think ... I hope ... people are getting more consciousness about the "do you work" question. Now I hear "do you work outside the home?" I also love the assumptions which come with being a housewife, as though one never has done much of interest and isn't terribly intelligent.

Kacey said...

Molly! I see you have stepped in and taken my position the minute I retired. There are not that many women who are inclined toward being "just a housewife", but those who choose this position are usually very good at doing a million things at once. Even after I went to nursing school at 40 and then went out to work in a hospital 3 days or nights a week....I considered myself to be a housewife first and a nurse second. I was amazed that the hospital actually paid me for doing what I loved. My husband does not pay me for being his right hand mate....I just take all the money and let him have a few bucks for spending.

herhimnbryn said...

Oh, this resonates! I gave up full-time 'paid'work last October. I now make mosaics, that i hope to sell. But some comments from other peole have had me biting my tongue too.

Meggie said...

Fabulous post!

Pauline said...

just cut and paste what you wrote here and they will not ask again what it is you do ;)

have fun at the course and be sure to share the best tips!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Nobody works harder than a "housewife." I hate the word because it reeks of derision when uttered by the likes of your father in law. I would hope that your husband takes your part when the old goat harangues you because you have the most demanding job in the family.

Let us know how the gardening course goes. It's a lovely thing to do.

dianne said...

totally off this topic but in response to your comment - the paper-pieced blocks finish at 6" and are BOMs from a lqs (taken from Sylvia's Bridal Sampler) ... i love other peoples' scrappy, but i cannot seem to do it myself ... and i knew that i would be wasting my time if i tried

brigette said...

thanks for the laugh.
occasionally, my dear husband used to come home and look around and say "what did you DO all day?"... and then i would come unglued and ask him if he wanted n (insert expletive) LIST.
but now we're older and wiser.. and he KNOWS... when i'm not working, i'm just doing OTHER things. sometimes they're terribly productive, and sometimes, they're NOT.
but our kids were happy, we had wonderful meals together and somehow we muddled through.. even with my sidetrackedness... that's not a word, but i'm thinkin' it should be.
i want to be a gardener when i grow up to.
perhaps you can teach me a thing or two...
happy radishing...you master radisher you!

brigette said...

okay.. typos galore
"a"
and TOO.
im an english major and that just killed me seeing that there!

Julie's journey said...

A wonderful rant - many of us think the same but dont put it down on paper or computer.