Summer of My Discontent

Lincoln mother rug

This 21′ diameter beautiful — but very worn — 4-strand braided rug from 1943 is found at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial.  It is in the hall honoring his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln.  I have a big article in the newsletter about its history, and Country Braid House is making a new one for this site.

Christine here.  The summer is always one of my most difficult times. The kids are home and need chauffeuring around Pittsburgh to things where there is no parking; my husband doesn’t teach during the summer and inconveniently invites family and friends to come stay for awhile; and, in the division of marital labor, the mowing has fallen to my husband but the trimming, weeding, and planting have fallen to me. And we have a big yard (for a city, anyway).

This is an especially busy summer due to a bunch of other details – a car broke down and stranded me in Harrisburg for a week, then we had to shop for a new car. My husband had to consider every possible car option… before we went out and bought the exact same model we got 14 years ago. The one good thing is that the new vehicle has individualized temperature controls for the front passengers. At this time of life, I am only comfortable with the air conditioning set on Arctic Blast, and my husband takes issue with having to wear a winter coat in the summer just to ride in the car with me.

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Large Braided Star pattern is found in the current newsletter issue.

Some other Difficult Summer details: we are getting some carpentry work done on our exterior cedar shakes and a couple moldings, and we have taken to calling our carpenter “Annoying Man” because he either calls us 5 times a day with questions, comments, or excuses, or doesn’t show up at all. This is in preparation for exterior painting. The garage needs to be replaced, which will also be a lot of money. And, my Dad is sick with some unknown problem that has made him lose 20 lbs. in the past month. That worry underpins all my thoughts.

But, as John Lennon sang, Life is what happens to use when we’re busy making other plans.

It’s been making me think a lot lately about how we choose to spend our time. We all have a certain allotment of time in a day that is our own, and how we choose to occupy it is a big indication of our personality and our goals.

There are truly situations in which we simply “don’t have time” at all – raising small children comes to mind, or caring for someone who is sick, or having an insane job. Then, our time is not our own to choose what we will do and what we won’t – you simply move from one task to the next, marching forward, handling the next situation as it comes.

Many of us are beyond those demanding situations, and we have reached a point in our lives where we can have more freedom to choose how we spend our time. And yet, day to day, doesn’t it still feel that we’re rushing to get this or that or the other thing done? I have a “TO DO” list that I cross off every day, and it has grown to two tight pages. Sometimes my husband “helpfully” adds items to my list. More tick-off squares get added every day. How is this possible?

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A pattern for this small star ornament is also found in the current issue of the newsletter.

I’m reminded of that wonderful piece of satire written by Judy Brady back in 1972: “Why I Want a Wife.” She listed off all of the things that wives do, and said she wanted one for herself (Ms. Magazine, premiere issue, 1972). Think of how much more time we’d have if meals were never our responsibility, dishes washed themselves, and someone else figured out the mysteries of food shopping. Since my husband has shown no inclination toward changing his gender, I guess I’m stuck with my situation as it is.

I remember when I was a kid that there was this idea of “leisure time.” That one day, in the future, we would all have jobs that only required about 25-30 hours a week, but we all would have enough money despite that, and leisure time. The image was of smiling families out together driving their big American cars toward some sunny golf course, or beach, or other vacation spot… all tanned, rested, and ready.

In the summers, I don’t have leisure. It’s supposed to be a more relaxed time of the year, but I feel as if I’m scrambling to keep up. There just doesn’t seem to be any time left at all for sitting, relaxing, and braiding.

And, do you know how long it’s been since I just sat and braided a rug????

No wonder I’m going crazy.

9 thoughts on “Summer of My Discontent

  1. Ooh, I’m right there with ya! Maybe not quite, but close enough to smell the burning rubber as the
    wheels spin 🙂

  2. Praying for your father that his illness is resolved quickly. 🙏🏻💕

  3. Hey Christine, remember the library advice? Bet they would let you braid there! Dianne

  4. I hear you although my dilemma is of a 71 year old woman who no longer has child responsibilities and just when you have time to do what you want you can no longer keep the pace that you were able to keep. I don’t want to clean my house and do the mundane chores I have done for 47 years. I applaud myself when the bed is made and rooms picked up. Then I award myself by starting a braiding project which makes a hilatious mess which somebody has to clean up.

  5. Oh Christine, I can identify with this post and then to be worried about a parent would put me over the top. I will keep your Dad in my prayers. Hang in there!

  6. Hi Christine!
    I hope your dad is doing better, it’s so scary when someone close to us is sick. My husband
    of 45 Years had a stroke two years ago. I never dreamed that once our kids were grown and we had grand kids that life would be like it is now. Just when I think I can braid, some thing (he falls, a dr appointment, someone is hungry -after all these years can’t he feed himself) happens and there goes my quiet time. I just take each day as it comes and try to remember that though we may plan our steps, God has the final say!!
    Jackie

  7. Hi, My answer to a full schedule is to get up earlier and set aside the time. It is quiet, peaceful, and this time of year the birds are singing at 4:35AM!
    Hoping your Dad continues to feel better because no amount of getting up early or braiding or anything can take away that worry.

  8. Karen Levendusky and I have a rule. If you do a task not on your list you get to add it. Growing up in the Deep South, Cotton country we always had household help. Still not the same as a wife but it truly takes more than one woman to make it all happen. It will be interesting to see have society evolves in generations to come

  9. Hang in there Christine. Life can sometimes throw you a sucker punch. In your case it sounds as if it were two or three at least. Prayers for your father.

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