Sunday, December 17, 2017

A Pioneer Spirit

Last night on TV, Jim and I watched the Gaithers. We enjoy their singing. And yet I kept thinking to myself how much I would love to be listening to bluegrass music. I have some, and I know when I get the house to myself I will be listening to it. Also some of the other music from the Appalachian mountains. I long to take my place next to some of the people who have known the deep grief and suffering. The out of the mainstream folks who are poor and somehow made it. I almost quiver as I write. I so long to hear their voices. Voices of a hard pioneer stock. Gentle folks with hearts torn and yet able to go on to live for the ones they love.

I think of Suzanna Wesley who had 19 children and lost, I think, 10? I wonder how she lived through all of that? But she did live and, through her life, she brought up sons who brought revival to England. John Wesley preached the sermons and Charles wrote the songs. Suzanna’s husband was in debtor prison most of the time and he was hardly home. But Suzanna home schooled her children and went on. Oh, the tests and trials she went through. And the Lord kept her, huh? And He can keep the rest of us, too.

Ya just put your shoulder to the plow and keep on walking. As Shirley told me (Jim’s older brother’s wife who lost 2 girls as a young mother), “Connie, you just keep on walking and doing whatever is in front of you to do. Be thankful for the time you had with the baby and go on.”

And as Mary tells me, “Mom, pray for me as I have Brandon to live for and care for … he needs me.” And I know I must live on, too. Jim has to go to work today. I need to put my house in order. There are things to do … thoughts to write out. I think of the news on TV about our gas prices going up this winter. We mothers must look at this in a sober way. What is our plan? Papa and I plan on getting mighty cold.

Oh, that’s OK — I have been cold before. About 5 years ago, our gas prices for one month went from like 70 bucks to like 500 bucks. Everyone in our area had that happen. So I shut the heat off altogether. If I heard the heat kick on at night, I would get up and shut it off. (The kids were all older. I wouldn’t do that if my children were young.) We used a little kerosene heater. But I didn’t even have it on at all at night. My dog would greet me each morning and cry by the kerosene burner for me to turn it on. I hated to make my dog cry but she had fur, for crying out loud, and slept inside. But we all wore our coats and hats to bed. I wore, always, two pairs of socks and sometimes three. Our heat bill went down to 25 bucks. And after that, the bills went down somewhat so we turned the heat back on. I would try to bake each morning, too, and I had my stove on in the kitchen. Being out of the wind makes you warmer, anyway. So it isn’t as cold inside as out. If I got so cold I couldn’t function, I would take a really hot bath.

Dan tells me now that when Jim and I would leave the house, he would turn the gas heat on and get warm. And Mary was still at home and was probably glad for Dan. But ya know, I am not going to live to support the Gas Co. And now that it is just me and wild man here to hold down the fort, we will kick out all the props and go without any heat at all if we have to. Well, a person can’t go without ANY heat, as your house-pipes would freeze and that’s a mess if they pop.

One joke the boys told Jim lately that is too funny to keep down. They said that when Jim died, they would bury him in the backyard. They said, “The old home place wouldn’t be the same if Dad wasn’t there.” So Jim has to stay here, no matter what. I don’t know what they will do with me. I shudder to think of it? Christine, Johnny’s wife, said that she was gonna have Johnny stuffed. She wants to sit him by the front door and hang purses on him. John said that he was always holding her purse, anyway. Oh, those kids!

But, yes, this winter we will have to get very creative to keep warm. But ya know, this is no time to be depressed or to worry over stuff that God has a hold of, anyway. There is a hard winter up ahead and we must be ready for it. And we can make it if we are wise and prudent.

Dang … ya know? When things like gas prices go up, it hits the poor first. This economy doesn’t touch the rich for a while. But the poor are the ones who feel the pinch first. The poor later show the rich how to live. Like I have often said, “Well, it looks like folks are gonna have to live as Papa and me have lived all along.”

One way I would dress when I had barely any heat was the following. I would wear jogging pants under my skirt and wear a few layers of shirts and a sweater. Then the warm socks. And if it was really cold, I wore my coat over all of that. And then keep busy and running and you will stay warm. The layers of clothes are a way to keep warm.

With my burner, this is what I would do. I would get up early in the morning and light the kerosene burner. Never keep it on at night, or unattended. Don’t leave it on when you aren’t home. You can’t use these with little kids — they would run into it and get burned. Anyway, I would leave the burner on all morning until the house warmed up. Then, for the afternoon, I turned it off until the evening. We warmed the house up again and then shut it off for the night. Also, we had a lot of ventilation, as the kids would run in and out of the house. And we had to put the dog in and out, too.

I think this would be a good thing to discuss on our group. Fear comes as folks have no plans for what they will do in an emergency. Our spirits of homemaking are so important and especially now, as in no other time. And if Mother is happy and content, the rest of the family will follow her. Mother makes the home a place to rest. And if the family sees Mother making a game of it or taking the cold in stride, then they will, too. But ya know, we just have to pray and ask the Lord what to do. What would He have our families to do about he high gas prices? How will He lead us along?

And just make sure that you have things in the pantry to make things with. Buy as much flour as you can. Pick it up on sale … that and other baking supplies. Honey is so outrageously priced anymore. We usually have a small jar around but I don’t use it to cook with anymore. I just use sugar as I have to. I can’t afford to use honey. And that’s OK — I ain’t gonna go broke over vitamins and nutrition. The Lord is my vitamin pill. He is my gos-pill.

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