Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I work too hard!

And on Tuesdays I work especially hard! I get up early, get my son to school by 8 (1/2 hour drive) so that I can be at work by 8:30 (hopefully another half hour drive if I really push it) and then I will work until 8- and my lunch hour will be spent getting back to my son's school to get him home so that he can get homework done and have an evening. You should feel sorry for me, yes? That's the way I feel until I have a day off (like today- because when you work for the city you get paid personal days that have to be used before the end of the year or you lose them and I decided today was as good as any...) and I see something that gives me a reality check.
It's as simple as this...
Because this reminds me how hard that my grandmother had it. 
When I was a kid, my grandparents lived on a dairy farm. My grandfather got up before the sun even lightened the eastern horizon to bring cows in to milk them. Soon thereafter, my grandmother did too. She made his coffee and helped him milk the cows (at least for a while). Then in she went to get breakfast started. Except... she probably had to stop get eggs. But not at the store... from the chickens. Cooking was a completely different ordeal then. Her kitchen didn't have a microwave and she didn't have a dishwasher. She washed everything by hand. The milk she used was milk they had just milked from the cows. The family she fed worked hard and the husband and three young men she fed ate like the hard working field hands they were. Cleaning up the kitchen was time consuming but cleaning the rest of the house -especially the bathroom and the clothes used for chores was laborious. Keeping a house Mr. Clean clean (and my grandmother was quite fastidious) when your work entails (just to begin with) muscling cows  into stalls for milking and shoveling cow shit is no easy task.
The rest of the day was spent feeding livestock and sometimes butchering the evening meal (and believe me, that was not easy or a fun thing to do-- or watch!) until the afternoon when  it begins again because cows have to be milked twice a day, 24/7, 365 days of the year. There were no personal days and no holidays and sadly even Christmas, the cows had to be milked.
Springtime added additional chores with planting fields of wheat and corn for the men. For my grandmother.. she was feeding additional men on the field and planting a large garden. Summer (still feeding men on the field!) was maintaining it while the harvest was going on in the fields. Fall was harvesting everything in site (including buying things from nearby orchards). Which leads me to my picture...
Canning. Hours and hours of cleaning, cutting and cooking (an unairconditioned kitchen, mind you!) and then putting the food into jars and then boiling the jars until they (thwop) seal (and now the kitchen is also sweat-rolling-down-my-back-and-beading-on-my-forehead hot!) all so the family could have vegetables for the winter and springtime. Until the next summer when there are fresh garden vegetables to eat again!
So nah! I ain't got it so hard. 

(Addendum: This is not a post about working conditions. I am not saying that if you or I don't work as hard as my grandparents did you or I shouldn't complain. I think the 40 hour, five day work week is quite adequate, thank you! This is a post about modern conveniences- about getting milk, eggs, meat and vegetables from the store, putting dishes in the dishwasher and popping a meal in the microwave to get a quick bite... this is a luxury that was completely unheard of even within my lifetime. I am not too young to remember my grandmother slaving over the stove like this and I am incredibly thankful that I can run to the store get something for my family to eat and I don't have to pluck it out from under a bird, grow it and can it myself if I don't want to or kill it in order to feed my family!)  


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