Monday, November 26, 2007

More Gems From Minnesota's Past

As I said earlier, I've been enjoying the book "Bring Warm Clothes: Letters and Photos From Minnesota's Past" by Peg Meier. Although the letters and newspaper articles are more than 100 years old, I've been struck by how applicable they are to our modern-day life.

Here are some more gems I've found and my thoughts about them:

The next big election is less than a year away and I have to admit that I am already weary of it. I will pay attention, of course, because I don't want to waste my vote. Apparently elections grew old 120 years ago, too. Check out this article printed in the Minneapolis Tribune on April 3, 1887, during a spring election campaign: “An old Irish gentleman was making a speech last night at a political meeting, and referred to the fact that in his precinct there were 24 Democratic and 17 Republican candidates for alderman. He explained this great number by telling a story of a kind who sought the advice of his prophet on the weather one day when he wished to go hunting. The prophet said it would be a fine day. On the road the king met a farmer riding on a jackass, and the farmer warned the king not to proceed, as it would surely storm. It did storm, and the king called the farmer to learn how he knew of the coming storm, and the farmer replied that his jackass told him. The king then discharged his prophet and put a jackass in his position. “And from that day to this,” said the speaker, “every jackass wants an office’.”

From thoughts of politics, one must naturally move to thoughts of romance. That is, if one looks to Bill Clinton for guidance, I guess. In any case, I got a huge kick out of these excerpts from “The Book of Natures: a Full and Explicit Explanation of the Structure and Use of the Organs of Life and Generation in Man and Woman”, published in New York in 1875 and found in the library of a Cottage Grove man. After reading this, I must say that I am glad I am poor and that my husband values cleanliness as much as I do! “The rich are qualified for marriage before the poor. This is owing to the superiority of their aliment [food]; for very nutritious food, and the constant use of wines, coffee, etc., greatly assists in developing the organs of reproduction; whereas the food generally made use of among the peasantry of most countries ­– as vegetables, corn, milk, etc. – retards their growth.”

And then: “Too much importance cannot be attached to cleanliness. Men may be careless as to their own personal appearance and may, from the nature of their business, be negligent in their dress, but they dislike to see any disregard in the dress and appearance of their wives. Nothing so depresses a man and makes him dislike and neglect his home as to have a wife who is slovenly in her dress and unclean in her habits. Beauty of face and form will not compensate for these defects, the charm of purity and cleanliness never ends but with life itself. These are matters that do not involve any great labor or expense. The use of the bath, and the simplest fabrics, shaped by your own supple fingers, will be all that is necessary. These attractions will act like a magnet upon your husband. Never fear that there will be any influence strong enough to take him from your side.

As the Minneapolis Tribune reported on April 3, 1881, the girls apparently practiced cleanliness very well and did not worry that their intended would leave their sides. Far from it - they were showing their affections in a scandalous fashion that I fear I am likely to repeat when I go home for Christmas. Scandalous, I tell you, highly improper! “Engaged Girls. Fashion has decreed a change in his matter. The engaged couples of 1881 are not commanded to hide their endearments under a bushel. They may even kiss in company if they are changes about it. I saw a daughter of one of the wealthiest and most refined of our families touch lips with her husband-to-be before at least a hundred persons in a picture-room of the academy of design the other day. He had been out of town for a week, I was told, and their meeting here way by chance. She greeted him affectionately, but without ado, and put up her mouth in the most self-possessed way imaginable. He was not so cool about it; yet he gave her a smacking salute with a good grace, right in the presences of his future mother-in-law. The girl did not blush nor simper. Such a public kiss would have been scandalous in March 1880; but in 1881 it is fashionable and therefore proper."

Perhaps when I get home, Champs will give me a smacking salute, huh? I hope so - I can assure you that I will neither blush nor simper!

I am planning on one more installment of gems for later this week. I hope you enjoyed these!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Gems from Minnesota's Past

I've been reading a book called "Bring Warm Clothes: Letters and Photos from Minnesota's Past". It's a collection of letters, newspaper articles and more. I've been finding the glimpse into our past both enlightening and humorous.

Here are just two gems:

Sometime in 2002, Jesse Ventura managed to offend any number of Irish people and St. Paul residents by appearing on Letterman and declaring that the haphazard streets of t. Paul are impossible to navigate because it was originally laid out by drunken Irishmen.

Apparently, this is not a new complaint. On September 30, 1851 (114 years before the day I was born) it was printed in The Minnesota Democrat Weekly, "Never was a city laid out so badly as St. Paul. The plat of the town with its numerous additions looks as if some accident had knocked all the streets into pi. Measures should be taken immediately to straighten and reform them as far as practicable, before it is too late."

And if you've driven in St. Paul at all lately, then you can see 156 years later, the esteemed observer's warning went unheeded.

Another interesting editorial was written in the Minneapolis Chronicle on January 27, 1867. I can only assume in reading it that the author of this piece was not overly impressed by some certain young lady (or ladies) recently arrived in the newly formed state: "In a new country like Minnesota, there is no use for idle, frivolous, lazy dandies, or dressy, fancy ladies, who think it is a disgrace to wash dishes, make their beds, do chamber work or knead bread. People come to a new country to better their condition. They leave all superfluities at home. They do not want drones. They fail to appreciate ladies who think more of senseless fashions than in assisting to lay up a few dimes to purchase frocks for the babies. Drawling words, affectation, fondness of dress, living beyond their means, won't do here. The country is too new."

Now, Champs likes to say that he never found the right gal in Illinois to marry; he didn't find the right gal until he went out-state. Perhaps this writer's assertion explains why he found such a wonderful wife in Minnesota. I am certainly not a "fancy lady" and do not find myself opposed to "assisting to lay up a few dimes to purchase frocks for the baby". Indeed, I would say that I have put more than a few dimes to some very cute frocks indeed!

I'm going to wrap this up for now, but I may yet find some more jewels from Minnesota's past to entertain you....

And a comment from this post:
kenju said...
Thanks for the visit, BG; I would be honored to have some of your recipes.
That article sounds like fun to read. Nothing can make us laugh like stuff from the past that sounds so serious!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Blond Girl Update 18.4

Hello all.

Yes, this is the Blond Girl - finally - checking in. And yes, you've read the title correctly. I've been in Minneapolis now for 18 weeks and 4 days. I sent my last update at 8.3 weeks, and a lot has happened in the last 10 weeks. Rather than write an overwhelming description, here are a few of the highlights:

* On September 22, I worked all day with Paddy (my brother), Guitar Man (my other brother), and Guitar Man's wife, 2 sons, niece and my niece’s boyfriend to get my mom moved from a second floor apartment to a first floor apartment in different building of the same complex. I had worked for three weeks prior to the move to get all Mom's stuff sorted and boxed and my family made quick (though tiring!) work of getting it all moved across the compound. It was hilarious to see her dining room table turned upside down and strapped to a dolly to form a large moving dolly. I'll tell you what - those guys were pretty ingenious. It took another week and a half after the move to get Mom all settled in, but when she came home from Arizona (she'd been visiting my sister, TechnoGoddess, my niece, and my new baby grand-nephew Adam), she was all settled into her new apartment.

* The move didn't go altogether smoothly, however. The landlord and I did have quite a go-around about who assumes responsibility to pay for repairing brand-new carpet when it is damaged because the painters hired to repaint the apartment left a full can of brown paint on the upper shelf of the closet... without the cover tamped down, and the new tenant spilled said paint, not realizing the can was uncovered. Let's just say that we didn't pay anything for the needed repairs.

* In October I finished my final leg of classroom customer service training. Now I know more than I ever thought I needed to know about trading options. Of course, that doesn't mean that I know how to choose the options to trade, only that I know how to enter the order. Margin, put, call, buy to close, underlying security ... I speak a new language. Now I’m just looking forward to the day when I have enough money to actually invest in the stock market, not just work in it.

* On October 9, Champs and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, we could not be together that day, which was very hard for both of us. Anniversaries past have found us with no extra money, celebrating at home, but we've always been together. This year we spent time together online, talking on the webcam. Not exactly the heights of romance, but it had to do for the day.

* Now, we may not have been able to be together on our anniversary, but we did still get to celebrate. On the 19th of October, Champs and Sweet Girl flew into Minneapolis. It was so good to see them! After a family dinner at Champs' favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Mom took Sweet Girl home for a night with Grandma while Champs and I went off to a local Hilton Garden Inn. We had two nights while Sweet Girl had a night with Grandma and then a fun day and night with our good friends, K & K and their daughter, Snow White. Snow White is Sweet Girl's best friend and is always at the top of the “to visit” list when she's here in Minnesota. Champs and I had a wonderful time at the hotel and then spent the next two days with Sweet Girl, playing games, snuggling and generally just taking it easy. I took them back to the airport on Tuesday. It's never been fun to drop your loved ones off at the airport, but I do wish we could still go into the concourse to stay with them until boarding time and watch their plane leave. As it was, leaving them at the sidewalk check-in was the hardest thing to do. I think the larger part of my heart got on the plane back to Illinois that day and I haven't gotten it back yet.

* A couple of weekends ago, I had the joy of helping my best friend Geekwif, and her husband, The Geek, move into their new home. They've been working toward this goal for years, and started the process of buying their land and building about a year ago. To finally step into the mudroom of their home and see all new appliances, perfectly placed flooring, freshly painted rooms and vast expanses of windows gave me a wonderful sense of fulfillment. Now, if I could feel that way, just being the friend, I can only imagine how exciting it is for Geekwif and The Geek. Their new home is in St. Criox Falls, Wisconsin, just south of the St. Croix River. The land is hilly and beautiful. I've never thought of myself as anything other than a big city gal, but if I were to ever become a willing small-town girl, I would want it to be a beautiful river city like that.

* We had a shift bid at work and I got my first shift choice. On December 3rd, I will start working from 6:00 a.m. to 2:30 each day. It's early, but it will leave me home for when Sweet Girl gets off school each day. I can't wait to be home working this schedule. Of course, starting that early will not be fun here in Minnesota. I'll be leaving for work by 5:20 each day. Ug.

* Of course, I don't have it as hard as Champs! He just started a new job working as a route sales driver for a linen supply company. His job starts at 4:30 or 5:00 everyday. I think he's going to be really happy at the job and I'm really pleased that he got it. That said, the one who has it hardest is Sweet Girl. She goes to Grandma Grandma NeeNee's each night and spends the night there so Grandma can take her to school, then goes to daycare after school until Daddy gets home. They have just a few hours together until it's time for him to take her to Grandma's again. We are so glad that Grandma NeeNee is there for Sweet Girl and we are beyond grateful that she can help us this way. I have to admit, though, that I wish I could read a story to Sweet Girl and she could go to bed in her room each night. I crave the stability of both parents at home for her. I am grateful for Champs and Sweet Girl having strong family support now... but I miss being a part of their lives.

* Speaking of Geekwif, she got me to sign up for NaNoWriMo, the nickname for "National Novel Writing Month", which takes place each November. The idea is to write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. I wanted to try to write a romance. I have characters, a story, a plot... but not many words. I walk the halls at work writing sentences in my head, but I haven't been writing on the computer. Instead, I've been focusing on learning as much as I can about my job during the day and missing my family the rest of the time. Sounds so darn pitiful, doesn't it?

* Now we're halfway through November. And I am out of events to write about. All I have left is this: I.Want.To.Go.Home. I'm not sure how soon that will happen. It seems like each time I turn around, another person asks me what day I'm going home. I don't have a date yet. I wanted so badly to fly home for Thanksgiving when Champs got his new job, but I have to work the day after Thanksgiving and I was unable to negotiate getting that day off. Now I'm just doing my best to get my metrics and quality measurements up to speed so that I can go home. I'm hopeful that I can go home by the second or third week in December. I would write about the emotions that I stuff each day; the longing to be a mom again, the empty ache of wanting to cook dinner for my family, say goodnight prayers with Sweet Girl and wake up next to Champs in the morning. I would write about it, but it is easier just to hold it in.

So there it is; my latest update. I guess the last paragraph explains best why I haven't written in so long. I can't always stay upbeat and happy; it's easier to keep quiet and do what I need to do to get my training done and get back to my family. This experience has left me with a new appreciation for military families and what they go through during deployment. Both of my brothers-in-law, Motor and Tank, have been deployed overseas and to tell the truth, it is largely their encouragement and example that have helped me to see that I am doing the right thing for my family when it is hard to go on for missing them. I will make it, and I will be a successful employee once I am home. This is a good thing for my family and we are blessed by God's hand in all of it. We are immensely grateful for the help of our friends and family, especially the help we've received taking care of Sweet Girl.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. I'll write another Blond Girl update when I either have more fun news or I know when I'm going home.