CARRYING ON – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Carrying On


I am a nurturer. Not necessarily by DNA, but because that was the task assigned to me when I was young and it has hung on there for a lifetime. It is, as they say, “woman’s work.”

I have always been taking care of someone. Child, adult, cats, dogs, everyone. Cooking and shopping. Making sure it all got taken care of … somehow. These days, as my ability to do a lot of things I used to do without even thinking about it become increasingly limited, I wonder what will happen if I can’t?

There’s no point in worrying about it. Life will bring what it brings, for good or ill. Everyone will get sorted out. Those who never thought they could do “that” will discover, after all, they can do a lot of things they didn’t think they could manage.

My mother was a reluctant nurturer. She had so many projects going on at the same time. Painting, sculpting, sewing, knitting, rug hooking. That was what she wanted to do. She never learned to cook, but she did it anyway … which encouraged her children to learn to cook early and often.

I’m sure a woman who could do all those artistic things could have learned to be at least a passable cook, but for some reason, the kitchen was where she drew the line. I grew up in that changing period when women were expected to do everything. We won the freedom to have a full-time career and raise the kids while making sure the marriage hung together.

Mostly, it failed. Almost all we “superwomen” of the sixties wound up divorced. It turns out, we weren’t super. No one can do it all. Something had to give. Typically, the marriage went first, but eventually, other things, too. For many, careers went down the tubes. Other women just ran for their lives or simply disappeared.

It didn’t seem like such a heavy load in the beginning. When you are young and have tons of energy, you bounce from the job to the kitchen with a supermarket in between, balancing childcare and work and a social life. But it grinds you down, even if you don’t notice the process. It’s like a potato being slowly peeled until one day, there’s no more potato.

Your partner doesn’t understand because it never seemed like a big deal. That’s what all the wives did. You were doing what you were supposed to do. Carrying on. Taking care of everyone. Knowing where the mittens were last seen, making sure the cupboards were full, know when who was supposed to be where and when.

Time has played havoc with much of that. These days, I can’t remember anything unless I write it down — and I have to first remember to write it down. Then I have to remember to look at the calendar because writing it down was just step one. Getting it done — the harder part — was steps two through however many more steps were required.

I don’t know if young women today see themselves as nurturers the way my generation did. Despite the grueling nature of the process, we were proud of our ability to balance everything and somehow, make it work. I don’t think they see their lives like that and that’s for the best.

It didn’t work out well for us and trying to recreate a reality that didn’t work before doesn’t seem likely to be any better now. The time has really come for an equal partnership where both members of a couple pull together. Willingly. And fairly.

The thing about women’s liberation is that it wasn’t freeing. It wasn’t liberating. What we won was the freedom to do everything and be good at it. Better at it than anyone else. Because being as good as the man next to you wasn’t good enough for a woman to make it.

We had to be better.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Wednesday – RECOMMEND


There are two expressions that make me instantly wary.

The first is “Trust me.” When I hear those words, my distrust level goes sky-high.

The second is “This product is highly recommended.”

In the first case, I want to know why I should trust you. I want facts. I want to know that you have actually studied the subject, really know something about it. For the second, I want to know if you actually own it and if you do, how long have you owned it? More than six months? Still working?

Today, being the day before Thanksgiving, every company in the world who sells anything is selling it harder than usual. Everything is highly recommended, usually by the company’s sales department. Who else would know?

Even WordPress is having a sale on its upgrades. So right now, I’m waiting for someone to offer a heavily discounted air fryer. I think it’s the only thing I want, except a big hit on the lottery.

PORTRAIT OF A SMALL TOWN – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I live in Easton, Connecticut, a small (8000 people), rural/suburban town in Fairfield County. I came here for summers from the day I was born in 1949 to the day I moved here full-time in 1991. We used to be called a ‘bedroom community’ because our residents commuted to work in nearby cities like New York, Stamford, and New Haven.

Small waterfall in my backyard

The town is strictly residential. Zoning doesn’t allow commercial enterprises that can’t be grandfathered into a business that existed in the mid 20th century. There have been constant fights over the years to allow some commercial zoning so we could reduce our exorbitant real estate taxes. But the town purists, including me, have always prevailed. So there are at least six working farms in town, four farm stands, and only two small general stores.

The food stands sell more than just produce these days. They all sell baked goods and milk. Some sell jams, dressings and sauces, and other condiments as well as honey and other specialty items. Two sell locally cured bacon and other pork products.

One of the farms that has a large farm stand/store, is called Silverman’s Farm. It’s been around since maybe the 1930’s. The founder, Silverman, Sr., came here from Russia and I think he was the first Jew in town. My grandfather was also Jewish and from Russia and he spent summers in Easton from the time I was born, in 1949. I used to love to listen to Grandpa and Silverman, Sr. talk in Russian and Yiddish. I also loved Silverman’s five daughters who all helped in the store. I was heartbroken when one got married and moved away.

For many decades, the farm stand used to just sell produce. The property had apple and peach trees which supplied summer and fall fruit. Around the 1980’s or 90’s, old man Silverman turned the business over to his youngest son, Irv, who is my age. Irv extended the building and added a nursery, a florist (the florist is gone now), and a Christmas tree farm. (There are several others in town).

He also limited his produce items but expanded his inventory in other directions. This included delicious house-baked pies, plus jams, bottled dressings, sauces, salsa, etc., maple sugar products, apple cider, ice cream, candies and a wall of baked goods.

Part of Silverman’s store with an orchard in the background

His brownies, cider donuts, and oatmeal raisin cookies are the best I’ve ever had. And his Fruits of the Forest pie is unique. I serve it often and everyone raves about it.

Silverman’s also has a section that sells rustic, country chatchkis and plaques. And Irv created a large and very popular petting zoo across the street from the store. This attracts crowds of families on weekends and in the summer. He also used to give apple cider making demonstrations that attracted local school children as well as tourists from other towns.

The business is thriving. Silverman’s is written up as a tourist attraction in local as well as New York City papers and magazines. Lines of cars jam his road in the fall when he advertises ‘pick your own apples’ and sells pumpkins for Halloween. Plus he has a large number of year-round customers, like me.

Apples and other fall fruits on display

Irv’s kids don’t want to take over the business and Irv is past retirement age. I hope he can find a new owner who will run it as well and as lovingly as he has.

Another local farm is Sherwood Farm. In season, they grow their own vegetables and make their own honey. They sell locally made pastries and fabulous fresh baked bread. Also locally produced milk and yogurt. They sell eggs from their own chickens. They have a large greenhouse and keep goats and cows on the farm.

I go here several times a week for a good part of the year. I’m addicted to their bread and Tom loves their fresh milk and their locally made mozzarella, which he eats with the farm’s homegrown tomatoes. He’s also crazy about their creamy, flavorful ice cream, which is made at a farm in upstate New York. They have interesting flavors like Banana Chocolate Chip, Black Raspberry, and Pumpkin.

This place looks and smells the most like a real farm! In the summer it’s great to see bags of corn or beans being brought in from the fields and dumped on the counters.

You can also talk to the farmer about which crops are good this year, when flat beans will be in season and what the difference is between the different squashes.

One of the two stores in town used to be my grandmother’s butcher and general store. We called it ‘Halzak’s’ because that was the name of the two brothers who owned it and ran it for maybe 50 years, starting in the 1940’s. It used to sell a little of everything, like a true, old-world general store. And everyone stood around chatting with the brothers before, during and after their purchases. So buying meat and groceries was a social event for my grandparents.

About twenty years ago, the brothers sold the business and it was modernized into The Easton Village Store. After much wrangling with the zoning board, the new owners were allowed to expand the store into the back rooms that used to store the meat when it was still a butcher shop. But not much was done to change the interior décor or set up.

Five years ago it was sold again and totally redesigned and modernized. These owners went through another battle with the zoning board and finally obtained the right to have tables for people to sit down and eat on premises.

This was not in the original zoning permit or the past usage. So the town said that this was not a valid feature. Hence the zoning battle. Fortunately, the store finally won and now has granite counters in the back as well as a few wood tables in the front.

The grocery store items are limited and The Village Store functions primarily as a deli. It also has a pizza oven and sells some fresh baked goods that we like (mainly scones, muffins and bagels). It also sells coffee from those big metal canisters. Not very good but it was the only game in town.

The other local store in town has just undergone a major transformation. I’m so excited about it, I’m going to dedicate a separate blog to my new favorite place in town. I think I’m going to call it ‘Cappuccinos Come to Easton.’

SHARING THE WORLD, THANKSGIVING EDITION – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your Thankful World


Are you an Early to bed, early-to-rise person, a night owl, and daytime sleeper-dozer, or an ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’ person?   

Age has made me reconsider the idea of sleep. I need to get some or I just can’t function.

Now, if only I could give up on reading at night … I go to bed early enough, but then, there’s that book.

What are some misconceptions about your hobby, should you have a hobby?

People think I’m a lot better a photographer than I am. I do take pretty pictures, but I don’t process them nearly as well as others do. I’m not even in the same class.

No matter what anyone tells you, a good eye does not overcome quality issues.

A penguin walks through the door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?    

He has come bearing cruise tickets. He is our lottery vacation Penguin.

Aliens have landed. Do they come in peace?

I doubt it. They landed? They have an agenda. Maybe it’s benign, but until I know what they want, I’m being really careful.

I play with robots! Especially Robbie.

Really really careful.

What are you really, incredibly thankful for this week?

Garry’s ears are good and my son is doing Thanksgiving. Hallelujah!

 

THE FIRST BLOOM ON THE CHRISTMAS CACTUS – Marilyn Armstrong

First Bloom on the Christmas Cactus
FOTD – November 21, 2018


They have been full of buds for a week, but this morning, one bloom opened. And I’m pretty sure that before the blooms fall off the two Christmas cacti, there will be buds on the orchids, too. Just as well because it’s cold out there and the birds are very happy to have a feeder in the ‘hood.

Christmas cactus