I’ve been hunkered down the past couple weeks, catching up on household chores, baking lots, and being crafty.
Even though temps have been below freezing this week and we’ve just come through a snowstorm, I made a pair of summer trousers with Indian striped cotton I got on sale ($6) and a pattern purchased in London (49p). Other than mistakenly putting the lapped zipper on the right side instead of the left (I really do need better lighting in my apartment), they came out pretty well.
I purchased the two Masai necklaces made of beans at the Cultural Survival bazaar, where I had a booth with Indian wares a couple weekends ago. The Cultural Survival bazaars have been going on for decades and have a dedicated following. Most of the attendees are interested in supporting the mission of the organizing nonprofit, which works for the rights of indigenous peoples worldwide. It seems as though every other person I spoke to had been in the Peace Corps, and most had traveled extensively. So, between the other vendors and the members of the public, there’s a non-stop parade of fascinating people to talk to.
My vending neighbors were a Masai warrior from Tanzania and a man selling Ecuadorean folk paintings and silver jewelry. The latter vendor served in the Peace Corps in India in the 1970s, and prior to that witnessed the burgeoning hippie scene in London in 1966.
I’ve also been reading. In the past couple years, in my never-ending -- and mostly Sisyphean -- effort to de-clutter, I’ve been doing my best to read books I own instead of popping over to the public library. Once I read a book, I pass it on if I don’t want it for reference or can’t imagine re-reading it.
In that vein, I just finished Only My Dreams: An English Girlhood by Hilda Ann Salusbury, published in 1990. It’s a memoir of a girl growing up in a Norfolk village and later, as a young woman, going out into the world, spanning the years 1913 to 1930. Written in a very matter-of-fact voice in spite of hardship (the author’s mother deserted her, her father, and 3 younger siblings early on) and disappointments (being forced to take care of the household instead of furthering her education).
I found the account of daily life of a working- class girl-- what she ate, how she did household chores, what she wore – fascinating. Later, when the author is training to be a nurse in London, she gives a vivid account of East London slums:
“One thing I discovered early in my course was that East Enders were allergic to soap and hot water. Their attitude to cleanliness was appalling; their knowledge of hygiene non-existent.”
Her romantic relationships with men aren’t too different from what you’d find in contemporary chick lit as most of them turn out to be cads (except for one, of course).
I’m lending the book to a friend, but will get it back and offer it as a give-away here at some point.
I’m off to read some blogs now with a cup of tea and an orange-walnut biscotti (or two). Recipe from Holy Cow!: A Vegan Recipe Blog.
Linking up to Not Dead Yet Style's last Visible Monday of 2013.