Thursday, December 1, 2011

Part V: Gardening and Sewing

I have always had a traditional side to my life that many people find outdated or behind the times.  They look at me oddly when I discuss with passion my gardening, crocheting, or desire to quilt.  I long for the days when women sat around knitting or having a quilting party.  I think this would be a ton of fun, but many of my friends don’t participate in any of these activities.  Also, in this busy world, time to do these tasks is minimal and financially less lucrative. 
She picks out a field to purchase;
                Out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She is girt about with strength,
                And sturdy are her arms.  Proverbs 31:16-17
                Gardening is one of my all-time favorite activities.  Playing in dirt, soaking up the sun, watching seeds spout, encouraging plants to grow, and witnessing the blooms and fruits bring vivid colors and products to the world keeps me smiling and reveling in God’s natural world.  Now, I am not the best gardener, but this year I produced basil, chives, onions, potatoes, rhubarb, chokecherries, peas, cauliflower, beans, and zucchini.  I didn’t have a good year with the rest of the items, but it was a cold year and I had a graduation to pull off.  Life happens.  With the graduation though, I did get complements on my front flowerbeds that greeted my guests with flowers and foliage.
                I haven’t always gardened vegetables.  The work is hard and when I was busy working a fulltime job, weekend drills, and kids to run after, I just didn’t always have the time.  We also had rotatiller issues.  Even now if I am out of town for a week or more, my garden suffers.  Also, many people don’t have the yard to do gardening.  With these drawbacks in life, how can a woman be an Ideal Wife?  Well, out of her earnings, she can bargain shop for produce that is in season.  Instead of doing the expensive restaurant tour, she can make meals at home which are much cheaper.  I haven’t done this successfully, but container gardening is also an option.  When I have a bad year with one of my vegetables, I like to go to the local farmers market for produce.  This next summer I am hoping to take a few road trips to farms that sell their goods when you come to pick it.  I am not sure if these two latter ideas are cost effective, but I really love fresh produce from the sweet earth of the region.

She obtains wool and flax
                And makes cloth with skillful hands.
Like merchant ships,
                She secures her provisions from afar.  Proverbs 31:13-14
(Merchant: literally, “Canaanite” probably because the merchant class had been composed chiefly of Canaanites.”
She puts her hands to the distaff,
                And her fingers ply the spindle.  Proverbs 31:19
She fears not the snow for her household;
                All her charges are doubly clothed.
She makes her own coverlets;
                Fine linen and purple are her clothing.  Proverbs 31:21-22
She makes garments and sells them,
                And stocks the merchants with belts.  Proverbs 31:24
In today’s world, it is cheaper and easier to buy material already made by machines.  At the fair, there is usually a booth with people using the old techniques explained in these verses.  In fact, it is cheaper to buy clothing and bedding at local discount stores then it is to make it homemade.  Even to make the items and sell them, a woman would not get a good return.  When I took time off from my career to have my oldest son, I thought it would be awesome to sell the afghans I make.  One of the guys at Guard Drill, asked me to make him one.  After buying the supplies, it took me hours to make the blanket.  Because he was a friend, I only charged ten to twenty dollars above the cost of the yarn.  Though he treated me alright, he was not happy with the price.  Two years ago, I donated a beautiful blanket to our school’s auction.  It went for $35.  Hours and hours of my time went into making this blanket with prayers interwoven for the person who would receive it.  The money barely covered the yarn.  I couldn’t pay the electric bill or really any one of our bills consistently by selling things I can make at home.  Granted, I may be going about it all wrong, but times are different.
I can though bargain shop.  I have a friend who buys all her clothes at name band stores.  She especially loves Columbia coats.  I really like Columbia coats as well.  Someday, I would like to get one on a clearance rake.  Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.  When I need a coat, I go to a discount store and save a good $100s on my purchase.  This will pay a bill.  Last month, I had to buy birthday presents for kids and I started getting presents for the grandparents.  With a few coupons (and let me reassure you, I am not a coupon person), I totaled getting $130 off on purchases I had to make.  This paid the water bill and the insurance bill.  All year I save money to pay my daughter’s tuition early giving me a good $300 discount.  We do the same with our car insurance.
Years have gone by during the college years and early years of our careers where we weren’t able to do a lot of this saving.  But we continuously worked on saving money.  We have gone without.  Even right now, we do need a new couch.  I am thinking about doing a little sewing to fix a couple of areas because with some recoupment of back pay being taken out of the last couple of checks, tires needed for a couple of vehicles, a few more new windows this summer, four car insurances coming due, and a son who will need some help with tuition this next semester, we are tapped out.  The couch will wait.
Really, the short answer to these verses isn’t really about gardening and sewing.  The point is that we need to be thrifty and provide for our loved ones.  I will continue to garden and crochet blankets.  I will even continue to donate them to the school.  They make awesome gifts.  In fact, I didn’t have to buy my son any blankets for his college dorm.  One nana made a quilt; plus, he has an afghan I made him.  One aunt made him a quilt for his vehicle in case he gets stranded.  These items will wrap him in love and prayers.
Blessings to you all.

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