My Tummy Isn’t What It Was

Saturday 5-4-57

My Dearest John,

I just got home from shopping so will get a note off to you before I start lunch. Spent $18 on groceries this week, but quite a bit of it went into the deep freeze so I guess that is not too bad. Lots of day-old bread on sale, a half gallon of ice cream at 59¢ and a pork roast in the freezer. Also go fryers for 29¢ for dinner tomorrow. I guess that I should have gotten a couple for the freezer, but the pocket book wouldn’t take that.

Perhaps you are wondering where the money came from. The Lord directed others and are needs are being met – the enclosed letter from Wheaton explains $30 that was sent here yesterday, and Kreimes sent $24 for insurance that I used. Got the rent paid, groceries for today, and enough for offering tomorrow. Still have the utilities, gas, and telephone, plus insurance that will have to be paid this coming week, so if mail comes from you today, those things will be taken care of.

Danny stayed with the girls this morning without complaining much. He is feeling much better, but still has a bad cough, cold, and measles on his body. But the temp is down a lot and he wants to get going, though he tires easily. I won’t take him out tomorrow and it is the rally for CEF [Child Evangelism Fellowship] which disappoints the youngsters. They will go, but I won’t hear Dorothy’s Welcome Speech.

Got the whole downstairs cleaned yesterday – really cleaned, floors even waxed. It won’t last long, as sand is tracked in by the shovelful. It is beautiful pure sand that they dug up from the sewer hole, and the children play in it and bring it in. This afternoon while Danny naps we hope to start our garden.

Have had a good fire going yesterday and today – a cold wind blowing – so different from the first of the week.

I have a terrible headache. Dieting always causes constipation. Guess I’ll have to choke down some all bran today. Dr. said to take mineral oil or milk of magnesia whenever I wanted it, but they are both terrible, too.

The package came from Sears that Mrs. Warner ordered. Two lovely dresses – dark blue with a white collar, lovely for Sunday, and a navy blue with pink-rose top that is lovely, too. Smock type. David keeps kidding me about starting in to wear them. Since I’ve lost some weight my regular dresses still fit, though I guess my tummy isn’t what it was.

David just brought a pup in. The eyes are open now. Two weeks old today. My typing is horrid, but I guess you can take me by what I mean and not what I write.

As much as we would like to see you and are waiting for summer, I still think that you had better stay near school next weekend and try to get caught up with your papers, etc. It should all be done soon, and if it goes to the last week, you’ll be a wreck for the whole month of June which is no good. Another thing about staying near school this summer — perhaps you could work on the radio programs that Dan Ball has been working on. Camp still intrigues me, but unless we ate in the dining room all summer I can’t see where with our size family we could get much done outside of taking care of them. I keep looking for ideas in case we do go, and at the same time, work on things here in case we move to Chicago. We are praying and planting as though we will stay here! Quite a situation! If we do stay, let’s think about a trip to Washington.

I can day dream and suppose a lot – eh? Well, I had better close and get down to realities – plenty of them around here. I love you and marvel at the Lord giving me such a patient, loving husband, when I am so much the opposite.

All my love,
Nellie
xxxxxx

Pencil marks on the wall

[No date – March 1957]
Dearest John,

Just a note today. I started scrubbing pencil marks off the wall and there’s no stopping place, so I’m up to my neck in a job. Wish I had a ladder for the ceiling.

Nothing new around here – the children enjoyed the wrestling match. Dick was on his back once – scared everyone, but he soon pinned the other one down and is still undefeated. He had several degrees of temp. but still went out.

Mr. Reid was good, and a fairly good crowd out since it was prayer meeting night.

Hesper was over yesterday and told me that both of her girls accepted the Lord – at different times – in my Good News Club last year. I hadn’t known of it but it was gracious of the Lord to let me see or know of some definite results.

All for today — I’m like the kids. Seems so long since I’ve seen you! I love you – so much.

Nellie

Miscarriage Scare 2-11-57

2-11-57

My Dearest,

Again it is Monday morning and as usual I hate to settle down to real work on Monday, so I’m doing things I like to do. Fixed up my Jungle Doctor story for next Wed. night and listened to Back to the Bible. Now I’ll write and will probably be here until Dr. Culbertson’s message. Brought the typewriter to the kitchen. Don’t tell anyone but the desk is piled up like I said I wouldn’t let it get. But Karen is coming tomorrow night to babysit so I’ll have to get cleaned up.

Mrs. Wolcott called me shortly after she got home on Thursday night to tell me about their visit at school. She had lots of nice things to say about the trip. She would like to get there some time when she could visit classes.

Saturday we really worked, did a washing, went to town and the youngsters started to scrub down the bathroom. They did a lot of it, but it was supper time, so I went in to finish, and it took more than I had anticipated. Dressers to move, floor mop up and a little of the walls to finish. I noticed that my back was hurting and didn’t pay too much attention to it until I came out to get supper, and down low I seemed to have spasms of pain. It dawned on me the possibility of miscarriage. I hurriedly flattened myself out on the davenport and let the youngsters take over. I started to chill and didn’t get warmed up until the night sometime. The youngsters can take over in emergency – they got their own supper, took baths and Dorothy helped a lot. I couldn’t eat and in the morning still felt badly – had the most terrible night’s sleep that I ever remember.

But by S.S. time I got dressed and took them in and stayed in the nursery myself. Winnie invited Dorothy and David to their place for dinner and Manns had invited Margaret over. So I fed the little boys, put them to bed and lay down myself. Then Mrs. Wolcott and Mrs. Bunce came over. I just told them I had a back ache, but they wanted to bring out a lamp of some kind and were so concerned that I told them what I was afraid of and why the caution on my part. I wasn’t going to tell folks that I was pregnant because so many are concerned about me staying here now and that would just add to their concern; but sometimes it gets complicated to try to evade the real trouble. They’ll know sooner or later anyhow.

David made another good chocolate cake and Dorothy tried her hand at pies and they came out very good. I guess that I should go to an orchard and try to get a bushel of apples again. I’ve been buying some in the store for their lunches, but they cost so much that way. If you can shop on the way home, vegetables would be the best thing to look for. I have a good supply of shelf goods, but the veg. are really good.

Goodpasters gave me some carrots from the garden and potatoes. Ours are getting low. I bought some smelt Sat. Time for that again.

Judy and Jack have an apartment on Jefferson Street and the chapel is considering a shower for them. They never come to the chapel now, but we would like some way to show an interest in them. Oh me – young people. Someday we will have six or seven, or eight if it is twins after all these years. Think we’ll be able to cope with all the questions and problems that so many young people will bring with them?

I well know that these years of perhaps harder physical work are by for the easiest. Little Danny so busily engaged with a jig saw puzzle and Jimmy sitting here waiting for a turn at the typewriter (to type Vickie a letter — they start early these days) are really a pleasure at this age.

About the music lessons. Dorothy and Margaret take them on alternate weeks. David has not started in again. Mrs. Bunce asked if Gertrude was patient with the youngsters. She said that at the Baptist church she has quite a rep. for her impatience.

Mr. Irvine is quite a person – I guess all Scotchmen are. The youngsters sat up and listened to him and enjoyed it too. A good message and livened up with the Scotch sense of humor and keen way of expressing themselves.

Well, I had better close now. Only five days until you’ll be home. Oh yes, there is a chapel fellowship meeting Saturday night – potluck supper and they gave us a special invitation to come. They are working hard to make it a family affair again – for all the chapel and not the clickish – note the new way of spelling that – way it was started. Wouldn’t that be a good time for you to get with the people to visit with some of them? Potluck supper. I know they would very much appreciate having you there. They seem to sincerely miss you and your influence around here.

Chuck Monroe was laid off work – might remember that in prayer. Barbara expects the last of March and will keep on working until the first of March.

All my love,
Nellie

Cleaning before Being Cleaned

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There’s something radically new in my life: a young woman comes every other week to clean my house. It’s pretty weird. But I’m getting used to it.

I was telling my husband about a book I was reading,  The End of Your Life Book Club — the story of Mary Anne Schwalbe and her son Will, and the books they read and discussed during her final two years. As I explained their background, I said, Well, they lived three doors down from Julia Child. And Mary Anne worked full-time, back when moms typically didn’t work. But she must have hired a housekeeper because all they did was read on the weekends and you KNOW that someone had to clean toilets.  And Curt, bless his heart, leapt into this opening he had been waiting for to suggest that we hire a house cleaner.

So Jamie comes and I gather scattered books so she is cleaning and not picking up. I work on a deep-cleaning project while she’s here. To me, it’s akin to paying a piano teacher when you mostly need accountability to practice.

But, here’s the thing: the instinct is so strong to clean up myself before I get help. It’s neat to clean (Next to Godliness is my favorite soap from Trader Joe’s) but this is more about self-protection and perhaps some self-deception. I see this tendency in my life in other areas. After I lose 15 pounds, I’ll go to the doctor, I promise myself.

Years ago, I participated in a foot-washing ceremony. A group of women circled their chairs and the friend on the right got on her knees and dipped my feet in a large bowl sudsy with warm soapy water, washed, rubbed, and dried my dirty, stinky feet — a profoundly unforgettable encounter. It struck the same emotional response in each of us. We were happy (happy! happy!) to wash a friend’s feet, but our heart screamed No! when it was our turn to be washed.

Useless Lumber

This Saturday is the Annual Garage Sale at the home of our great Patriarch and Matriarch.  Last night Curt hauled tables and our first load of “stuff” over to his folks’ house.  We have two days left to explore more nooks and crannies for possible sale items before people start flocking around Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m.  Dad and Mom’s neighborhood join forces, with up to thirty families selling stuff in a few blocks.   All in all, this weekend is a great source of encouragement and thankfulness. 

Garage sales are the great astringent of life.

They make me thankful for:

•   The incremental nature of annual cleaning.  If you never go through your stuff until you are almost dead, the overwhelming task would finish you off.  Each year we imagine we won’t find anything to sell after our thorough pruning a year prior.  We are either self-deceived (i.e. we didn’t clean as well as we thought) or our tastes and passions have changed (e.g. little bunny decorative items now fail to make us sigh with pleasure) or an item has served its useful life in our family (porta potty – don’t ask).  Here is the best part:  it gets easier every year.  One sees progress. That itself is a huge encouragement.

•    Because it is an annual project, you can focus on different areas in different years.  This year, my husband went into the attic.  Ayup.  I need to go through the linen closet and our CD collection.  The point is that you don’t have to do every thing every year.  Lord willing, and the creek don’t rise, we’ll do it again this time next year. 

•    The feeling of buoyancy that comes with letting go.  It is not quite as good as losing twenty pounds, but a close second. 

•    The sense of martyrdom and sacrifice.  One needs a brave and stolid heart.  My great relinquishment this year is two boxes of empty canning jars, which reduces my collection of empty canning jars from 120 to 104.  I remember with fondness a time with three hungry boys when those jars were full of applesauce, salsa, peaches and grape juice.  I worry about selling the empty jars, lest my sons forget the former glory days of their martyred mother. 

•    A renewed love and respect for my folks, the ones who gave me my husband.  They love the beauty of a clean and ordered life; I keep hoping if I stand close to them it will rub off on me.  Their example constantly inspires me, but on these weekends my love for them surges. 

While I surveyed my house for potential sale items last night, I listened to this delightful piece from Three Men in a Boat.


George said, “You know, we are on a wrong track altogether.  We must not think of the things we could do with, only of the things we can’t do without.”


George comes out really quite sensible at times.  You’d be surprised.  I call that downright wisdom, not merely as regards the present case, but with reference to our trip up the river of life generally.  How many people on that voyage load up the boat ‘til it is ever in danger of swamping with a store of foolish things which they think is central to the pleasure and comfort of the trip, but which are only really useless lumber?


How they pile the poor little craft mast high with fine clothes and big houses, with useless servants and a host of swell friends that do not care a tuppance for them, and that they do not care three ha’pennies for. [with…, with…, with…]

 

It is lumber, man, all lumber.  Throw it overboard!  It makes the boat so heavy to pull you nearly faint at the oars.  It makes it so cumbersome and dangerous to manage, you never know a moment’s freedom from anxiety and care, never gain a moment’s rest for dreamy laziness – no time to watch the windy shadows skimming lightly o’er the shallows, or the glittering sunbeams flitting in and out among the ripples, or the great trees by the margin looking down at their own image, or the woods all green and golden, or the lilies white and yellow, or the somber-waving rushes, or the sedges, or the orchids, or the blue forget-me-nots.


Throw the lumber over, man!  Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need – a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing.

                                    ~ Jerome K. Jerome