Thursday, September 30, 2004

Busy morning

This morning I cleared out our linen closet and Ellie’s toys. We have a tiny apartment, so we really have to live in a “one in/one out” principle.

My husband loves flannel sheets, and our single set of flannel sheets developed a tear last week. Yesterday, I bit the bullet and bought three new sets of flannel sheets, even though we really couldn’t afford them. We have five or six sets of cotton sheets, some of them very nice (400 thread-count percale), but we never use them. So I spent money we didn't have and bought the sheets I knew we would use, in sufficient quantity so that they wouldn’t prematurely wear out.

The cotton sheets I have triple-bagged and put in the garage. In clearing out the closet I discovered I now have one whole free shelf. Heaven!

I also bagged up Ellie’s newborn toys. Her toy box was full to burstin’, and she wasn’t really able to get to her things because everything was so tightly packed. So I have bagged up the toys she has had since infancy, and they have joined the sheets. Sure enough, she is thrilled. She has a lot more room, and fewer choices to make. As I am tying this, she has pulled all of her toys out of the (freshly) repacked toy box and is joyfully playing with toys I haven’t seen her touch in weeks. It is as if she has rediscovered her toy box.

Midmorning we went outside to play. It is certainly fall up here, so I needed to make sure she was dressed appropriately. She keeps her clothes pulled out of her drawers (her favorite game), so I was digging all over the place to make a warm outfit. I found a long-sleeved pull-over sweater that her Grandmother had embroidered on, one that was entirely too large. I remember when she gave it to us. I thanked her but inwardly knew that I was going to have to find a stuffed animal of some kind to wear the shirt, because it would be years before Ellie would fit it.

It fit perfectly.

We spent the morning running (OK, she spent it running; I kind of waddled and squatted) all around the backyard. Our yard isn’t fenced, so most of the time was spent trying to keep Ellie from terrorizing the neighbor's tomato plants. And what beautiful plants they are! She has multiple varieties—some cherry, some large beefsteak, all of them smelling divine.

We came back in and had a bath and a bottle. Her socks were filthy. I am waiting on her new order of shoes to come in, as she has outgrown her last pair.

What a little weed! She is also weaning herself, sadly. I don’t have a baby anymore.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Far Above Rubies

Over at GNXP, they are discussing a new Fortune article, which reveals *gasp* that in order to have an orderly homelife, you need a homemaker, someone who not only cooks and cleans but performs the household’s secretarial and magisterial duties, as well. Who whoulda thunk? Fortune thinks this is news because they have found this is true for successful women, as well.

I do wonder sometimes about the common sense of the chattering classes. They really can’t see the noses on their faces. When I became pregnant and we decided I would stay home, I began to put all of our finances into Quicken and examining the time we spent taking care of the house. Aside from the big, obvious issues, such as firing the maids and ceasing to eat out every day, what immediately became clear is how much more efficient it would be to have someone who could take the car to the mechanic, get to the post office before it closes (ah, the days of skipping lunch to stand in line), who could spend hours on the phone fighting with our HMO when they billed us incorrectly, etc. While these things don’t make up for the loss of my salary, they make a significant quality-of-life impact.

My husband has so much less stress now that I am home. I do everything that we used to try to do together in a mad rush on the weekends. Not only do I pay the bills but I can project our expenses out to the next year. I have his dentist appointments on his calendar months ahead of time, allowing him to schedule in advance when he needs the afternoon off. I have the time to shop around, really shop around for, the best deals on cell phone plans, long distance companies, car insurance, health insurance, etc.

My husband goes to work and comes home to a clean house, a warm dinner, and an executive summary of the days’ events. He doesn’t have to do anything but enjoy his home. He is more relaxed, healthier, and more productive. Who wouldn’t be?

My life is far from drudgery. Instead of sitting in daily pointless meetings constantly trying to find ways to make my boss look better in order to get him off my back for a few days so that I can sit and surf the web, I am actually doing real, useful work. I can watch my daughter grow. I watched her learn to walk. We didn’t mark the day on the calendar: “Baby took her first step today.” Walking is a process, like so much else in life, and I saw the whole, blessed thing. What could be better than that?

More later; I have to get back to work. :)

~~Mrs. Blessed

Saturday, September 25, 2004

It's Gonna Cost Ya

Bryce Zabel, former Chairman and CEO of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, ruminates on digital media and content-on-demand. The future looks bright for those who are willing to pony up the cash for it. For all their annoyances, commercials at least kept broadcast media from being “just another utility bill.” Everyone paid a flat fee, whether they were heavy consumers or light ones. In Zabel’s proposal, all content would be provided by multi-tasking “media servers,” and users would pay by consumption rate.

I predict we are living in a glorious, fleeting time, an era before Big Media has a chance to fully synthesize this paradigm shift. In the future, it may be true that every “film, TV show, video game and song ever made” will be available to you. It will also be true that this access will be controlled relentlessly. Gone will be the halcyon days of simply paying a cable bill for 300+ channels and pre-recording a program for the purpose of fast-forwarding past the commercials. I am cynical enough to expect that, in the future, fast-forwarding will cost ya, either in monthly fees or per-view.

This may not be a bad thing, at least for the nuclear family. A family of five accessing five different media delivery systems in five different parts of the house would probably run up a pretty big bill. Perhaps the high cost of heavy “media consumption” would bring the family together for 50’s style “family viewing” yet again.

Probably not. I imagine that the scenario above, lived too often in America today, is due very little to the relative cost of individual pursuits and interests. But that is the subject of another post.

Thanks to Michael Blowhard for the link.

On Care & Feeding of Husbands

"Whatever may have been the cares of the day, greet your husband with a smile when he returns. Make your personal appearance just as beautiful as possible. Your dress may be made of calico, but neat. Let him enter rooms so attractive and sunny that all the recollections of his home, when away from the same, shall attract him back"

-Thomas E. Hill, Hill's Manual of Social and Business Forms (1881)

So What Am I Missing Here?

Since this is a homemaker blog, I thought I would ask the question that burns at the soul of every housewife today: “What, in the name of all that is holy and pure, is the point of “Tide with a Touch of Downy”? Has there been a rash of Downy-ball thefts? Are Americans really so busy that they don’t have the time to add fabric softener after they add detergent?

Apparently, Procter & Gamble has put a lot of money behind advertising this product, and boy, does it ever show. You can’t avoid the commercial onslaught this new product has cursed us with.

And they still haven’t sent me my free sample, durn their hides.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Design Blog

I am not a big fan of modern contemporary design, but MoCoLoco is an inspiring web magazine. It breaks me out of a creative rut, and makes me grateful I don't live that kind of life. It must be exhausting to be hip.

VDARE on "Self-Hating" Minorities

Great post on VDARE's new blog. Read the whole thing. A lovely excerpt: "I’ve always felt that anyone accused of being self-hating for refusing to toe the left-wing line (Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, Ward Connerly) should simply look the critics in the eye and say, “I don’t hate me. I hate you.”


The Gods Of The Copybook Headings

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market-Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn.
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breath of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market-Place;
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch.
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch.
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings.
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew,
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not God that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four-
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man- There are only
four things certain since Social Progress began:-
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,

And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wobbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins

When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

--Rudyard Kipling

Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

Shopping with the Destructo-Beast yesterday, my little girl had an epiphany. At 11 months-old, she is just now assigning Mr. Blessed and me names. I am “Ama” (pronounced “AM-uh”) and her father is “Ada” (“AH-duh”). Today she noticed that the world is full of other humans sharing Mr. Blessed’s salient characteristic—his “Ada"-ness. As we strolled through the grocery store, she would crow from the basket every time she spotted a man, “Ada! ADA!” Flapping her arms wildly and pointing with both hands, she was quite pleased when we spotted a whole herd of young men hiding out at the magazine rack, something her Ada himself is prone to do.

I find it fascinating that not only can she tell men from women, but understands that what makes her Ada an Ada and not an Ama is this very maleness. Far from being fungible “parents,” we are instead distinct male and female entities in her mind, enough so that the very name she has given us she now uses to describe others of our particular sex.

Monday, September 20, 2004


What a great start for a Monday morning. We are curtailing our non-essential spending for the time being, so this will have to wait, BUT I haven’t smiled like this in quite a while. Mickey Che T-shirts are for sale!

More on "Middlebrow Culture"

In the same vein as my last post, Terry Teachout over at wrote about narrowcasting contributing to the death of middlebrow culture. He writes,

The catch was that the middlebrow culture on which I was raised was a common culture, based on the existence of widely shared values, and it is now splintered beyond hope of repair. Under the middlebrow regime, ordinary Americans were exposed to a wide range of cultural options from which they could pick and choose at will. They still do so, but without the preliminary exposure to the unfamiliar that once made their choices potentially more adventurous. The rise of digital information technology, with its unique capacity for niche marketing, has replaced such demographically broad-based instruments of middlebrow self-education as The Ed Sullivan Show with a new regime of seemingly infinite cultural choice. Instead of three TV networks, we have a hundred channels, each "narrowcasting" to a separate sliver of the viewing public, just as today’s corporations market new products not to the American people as a whole but to carefully balanced combinations of "lifestyle clusters" whose members are known to prefer gourmet coffee to Coca-Cola, or BMWs to Dodge pickups.


What’s really sad is that most people under the age of 35 or so don’t remember and can’t imagine a time when there were magazines that "everybody" read and TV shows that "everybody" watched, much less that those magazines and shows went out of their way to introduce their audiences to high art of various kinds. Those days, of course, are gone for good, and it won’t help to mourn their passing.

I remember three-channel TV very well. I grew up on the U.S. Mexican border, and cable TV was but a distant dream. We were lucky to receive radio signals. One read either Time or Newsweek as well as the local paper.

I think that Mr. Teachout has it backwards, actually. Our culture shattered long ago, and narrowcasting and other forms of push technology only acknowledge the demand. As I mentioned earlier, I think that demand-driven media actually helps middle-brow consumers, who heretofore were forced to consume ubiquitous lowbrow culture if they were to participate in popular culture at all.

Thank you to Fenster over at for the link to

~~Blessed Wife

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Adult Participation in Modern Culture

It is a great time to be an adult and a parent. Most American pop culture is driven by the inchoate desires of 14 year-old boys, so up until very recently, adults were simply shut out from mainstream culture, if they were inclined to grow past “Must See” TV. Now, thanks to DVRs and the Internet, which have given the consumers demand-driven media, adults can partake in popular culture once again.

For example, I hate the radio—obnoxious, ignorant DJs, insipid, redundant commercials, and the same songs over and over. Before the Internet, I would have to drive to a music store (I still think of them as “record stores”), get frustrated with a surly minimum-wage slave who had no interest in music made prior to last year, and purchase an album I wasn’t precisely sure I liked. I never would have risked a new genre, or an unknown artist, because the chance of being unhappy with my decision was too great.

However, Yahoo!’s LAUNCHcast Plus has been the best 30 dollars we have spent in years. Unlike mp3 peer-to-peer file-sharing networks, the burden isn’t on the user to go out and find new music. It recommends music I never would have encountered on my own, by relying on my prior ratings. I have discovered Scott Miller, The Two Dollar Pistols, Chet Baker, Mississippi John Hurt, Kasey Chambers, and The White Stripes, to name a few. What a wonderful experience! And I can play the station on my computer while I write, not doing anything but listening. It is a wonderful thing for my daughter, too, since she loves music. I can play her the music from my childhood, songs from people like Tom T. Hall, Willie Nelson, and Don Williams.

The same quiet revolution for the middle class has occurred with the digital video recorder (DVR). To be able to watch pre-recorded television and painlessly remove the commercials is a wonderful thing for everyone, but is a real blessing for a parent. Ten years ago, I probably would have been one of those mothers who simply didn’t watch TV, and rejoiced when the set died. Today, I am convinced it can be a wonderful tool for families. We can pre-record shows on the History channel or the Discovery channel, or even some children’s channels (they are the absolute worst), and feel comfortable with our children watching television with us. The ability to pause the live broadcast as well as record means that viewers are no longer slaves to the TV’s schedule. This will have a significantly positive impact on parenting.

For those of you who don’t want to be tied to a subscription service, such as TiVo, Replay TV, etc., or want to avoid the constraints of a single-use appliance, there is hope. If you have an old computer laying around, you can build your own PVR (personal video recorder).

Friday, September 17, 2004

Digital Technology's Impact on Culture

Michael Blowhard makes the interesting point that while "the move from analog to digital is the most significant change in the basis of culture since the invention of the printing press," there is a frustrating dearth of commentary on this phenomenon. No one asks or attempts to answer such questions as “Where are we going? Where have we been? And how is our experience of culture changing?” re: the digital revolution. Realistically (and I am showing my ignorance here), were there folks commenting on the impact of the printing press on the culture in which they lived? I doubt there were many. Besides, future punditry ends up so solipsistic, doesn’t it? Better to comment on tactile, safe territory such as robots and cordless phones.

I would have to say that this is precisely what makes blogs such as 2Blowhards so wonderful. They can engage on more nebulous topics, which print publications like the NYT must stay in safer, more explored, and already-developed areas.

Thursday, September 16, 2004


I have to say I love men being men. Men when they aren’t being hushed by their wives, or trying to get laid, so that they have to act all nice and, er, civilized. I like men discussing war. This isn’t to say that I like discussions of war. Being a woman, I mostly find them boring. My eyes glaze over and I start to wonder if I spotted the laundry this week. (My husband watches the History channel when I am asleep as a kindness to me.) But I do have a finely-developed appreciation for men discussing men-like subjects with other men. There isn’t any sugar-coating of the language, no circumlocution, no euphemism.

That is why I love the War Nerd.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

"The White Man's Burden"

A wonderful collection of original documents commenting on the great Rudyard Kipling's poem, "The White Man's Burden," can be found on BoondocksNet.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

An early morning for me

I woke up this morning at 3:00 a.m. in a panic. School has started, and the work I do from home has picked up. I was compelled to get up in the early morning in order to answer the voices that hound so many of us, saying “What a phony! Soon you will be found out for the fake that you are!”

I assume that this inchoate fear is what drives most people to perform. Perhaps there are some out there who do what they do (for money) simply for the love of the thing, but I think most of us operate due to peer pressure and raw fear. Fear of not having money to pay the bills, fear of looking dumb or incompetent.

I am blogging about this because I was struck by how I still have such anxiety performance when I no longer “work.” My paying job is 5 hours or so a week, more when I get special assignments. My real work is running the house, taking care of our daughter, etc. And yes, I do have anxiety about that, as well, but not as much (well, perhaps my insomnia is due in part to the fact that I forgot a dentist appointment today, despite the fact that it was on TWO different calendars *sigh*).

This is not yet another droning voice added to the din of conventional wisdom which believes that housework isn’t real work. In fact, I feel my work in the home is more real that my career used to be. I think most people would admit, if you got them sufficiently inebriated, that their jobs are pretty pointless. Perhaps it is my generation, being that I am 33. Us GenX’ers don’t seem to find a lot of job satisfaction, I hear. I find that doing dishes, cooking from scratch, and taking care of a toddler is at least as rewarding as teaching college students, oftentimes more so.

A lot of women of my SES and educational level say that they could never be a stay-at-home mother, because they would be too bored. Leaving aside the fact that no adult with a library card and Internet access could possibly be bored for more than a few minutes unless they were boring to begin with, I think what they mean is that they would be terrified of not having the structure of a job. It is truly frightening to face day after day without having someone tell you what to do. We Americans don’t have a lot of experience with this. More on this later.

Flylady Marla Cilley has made her career helping American homemakers kick themselves in the pants, and God Bless her for it, too!

My husband calls, so I must off.

~~Blessed Wife

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

A woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute

To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors, and holidays; to be Whitely within a certain area, providing toys, boots, cakes, and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.

G. K. Chesterton
"The Emancipation of Domesticity"
What's Wrong with the World (1910)