Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Haves and The Have Nots

This evening Hubby provided us with a fabulous dinner. As head chef, he's responsible for the only really decent meals we eat at home and lately we've been picking around at the olds and ends of left overs or just heating up canned soup. This morning we got up to our first hard freeze, with a wind chill of 15 degrees, and the frigid air brought out the need in Hubby to provide us with hearty fare. We had huge T-bone steaks, fresh mashed sweet potatoes, homemade biscuits covered in sausage gravy, and a fresh lettuce salad. The steaks themselves must have set him back $15. The meal was fit for a queen and all four of us loved every mouthful. The boys were sure happy to have the T-bones when we were done.

Yet just this morning, with the temps well below freezing and the wind whistling, metal detector duty at my high school was a heavy chore. I stood at the near end of the table closest to the front door and every time it opened, the wind chilled me. I had dressed appropriately -- heavy fleece shirt, winter-weight slacks -- and I wasn't really suffering, just feeling a bit chilly.

Through the door came a young man dressed in a light tee shirt and a pair of jeans -- and that was all, except for his back pack. As I fumbled through his pack, I smiled at him and said, "You're going to have to get that coat out and wear it tomorrow . . .it's too cold now to go without." And he replied, with a look of defiance, "I don't have a coat."

The kid charged through the metal detector, with me standing slack jawed. I hollered at him to the other end of the table as he retrieved his bag, "We can fix that if you want." He shook his head and vanished into the school.

Fully 10% of our boys came to school this morning with no coats. Some had on heavier shirts, but many were like the first guy: short sleeved tees and light weight jeans. They were blue with cold but the were at school. Most has back packs stuffed with books and folders.

How many actually didn't have a coat at home? I don't know, but I imagine probably most of them. And we expected them to read Shakespeare and study the Boxer Rebellion and do equations and learn anatomy, when, at least some of them, don't have warm clothing, enough food, or heat in their homes.

Tonight in my toasty warm house I ate T-bone. Some of my kids huddled in dark rooms with empty bellies trying to stay warm.

This can be a cruel world when you're without.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Weekend Work

The first couple of years Hubby and I lived together / were married -- and owners of my first house -- we didn't have a washing machine, much less a dryer.

Hubby, 11 years older than me, had owned his own home for a good 10 years when I met him. He had a washer and dryer in his kitchen, a huge Kenmore combo. Right after we bought "our house," he moved his mother into his house, which was just around the corner and two blocks down, within easy walking distance. She kept the washer and dryer and I was fine with that because I'd deliver the baskets of washing to her, she'd do all the work including the folding, and I'd take home the clean clothes.

About seven years into our relationship, Hubby's sister decided to move lock, stock, and barrel from our town to Houston and into an apartment where she had no room for her own fairly new washer and dryer. She donated both to us.

Since then we've owned a couple of washers and several other dryers and I have to admit, I do see the relevance of having your own washer / dryer on the premises so you can do the laundry whenever the mood strikes and the need is urgent.

Hubby will do the laundry, if asked. The problem is he has no sense of delicate versus the overalls he has been wearing while roofing. Whites, reds, blacks, navies, pinks -- all the same color to Hubby -- and all the same color in the wash after he's finished. Two years into owning a washer / dryer in this household, Hubby was banned from ever doing the laundry.

Our washer /dryer is located down 18 steep steps into the basement -- and back up 18 even steeper steps (yeah, I know, the same set go down and up but on the way up they get a whole lot higher and more narrow, especially when you can throw the dirty laundry down the steps but you've got to heft if all back up in much neater bundles) and the whole thing is hideously tiring.

I've come to hate doing the wash. In fact, both Hubby and I now own enough underwear to carry us through three complete weeks before I HAVE to wash clothes -- and if push comes to shove, we could make it through four weeks, but we'd be embarrassed to show up at the hospital wearing those undergarments.

Today I'm doing the wash. Down stairs, heaving the laundry bags before me. Loading washer and then dryer. Carrying up winter clothes from the trash bags we stored them in last spring. Back down stairs, carrying the excess hangers. Heaving heavy baskets of wet laundry. More unearthing of sweaters, sweats, nubby pants, and wool socks. And always those daunting 18 stairs to climb.

Frankly, I'm getting too old for this.