Sunday, November 15, 2009
A day in the life... Chelsea
Well hello! It is amazing to me that I last posted few weeks ago, but it is true. My aim today is to post a day in my life. Many people have been asking what I have been doing, and though it seems very normal to me I guess it is not so normal to all of you. So here it goes.
We wake around 7am and hit the road. All Jeff and I have to do is brush our teeth and get dressed, because we eat breakfast with everyone at the house. Some weeks we are responsible for waking people up and making the breakfast, which means we get to the house a little earlier. Here is a photo of our morning walk, complete with rainy day weather. The walk is a nice way to shake out the cobwebs from sleep, but it sure is muddy. Usually my pant cuffs have mud splatters, and it is totally normal around here. After breakfast I usually do things like help with medicine, double check tooth brushing, laundry, etc.
At 9:30 (supposedly, anyway) everyone goes to work. My morning task is in our house, cooking lunch with three other women. We have three hours to cook! It is too much, but means that I am doing all sorts of fun things. We also manage laundry and cleaning in there, so the time is certainly not wasted. First we head to the "store," which is a building all of 30 feet from our front door. There we have a community storage space filled with all the essentials. We pick up the vegetables and maybe meat for the day, and stock up on any of the essentials that we may be out of in the house. You know-- cereal, TP, flour, light bulbs. Several people are involved in maintaining the store, and some days they are in there doing their work in the morning as well. It is really wonderful, and a good way for the community to save money because it is all bought in bulk.
After we get our stash for the day (lately, a lot of root vegetables from the garden and thats about it) we start the cooking. We work on this massive beast called an Aga, which is basically an old-fashioned farm house stove. It used to be a wood stove, with a fire in the middle, warmer on the left, ovens on the right, and stove space on the top. The Aga and I, we have a love-hate relationship. I do not know how I would do cooking for 15 every day on a conventional oven. But, ug... the Aga is not an accurate stove or oven. You can "change" the temperature, but the only settings are 1 through 5, and it changes the temp of the whole thing at once but very, very slowly. The roasting oven is sometimes too hot while the baking oven is too cold. Baking cakes and cookies is difficult, as they are either scorched or doughey. Oh, and if it is a windy day the Aga may be lukewarm all over anyway. I am learning, and so far I have not burned myself on it (which is apparently impressive). So that is morning work. We are supposedly done cooking at 12:30 and eat at 1:00, but with my cooking style I am often steaming spinach right before we eat so that it is perfect. Some days I sit for that half hour, other days I do not.
Usually tasty, sometimes crazy. Today we made squash soup, paprika cabbage, and quinoa with lentils. Camphill generally (that is, not just this community) is stuck with some residual gender role issues. Not only do I cook with three other women (and it is the same in nearly every house), but we also serve up everyone when we cook. I and Christina, the other co-worker who cooks with me, serve everyone their plate. We sit down to eat and the first people to be served are asking us for seconds. Don't get me wrong, some people need help getting their food and I do not mind that. But sometimes I would like to enjoy what I am eating for a couple minutes! There are some people that recognize this, and others that do not. Anyway, sometimes I feel a bit like a 1950s housewife, which many of you can imagine, does not settle well with me. Jeff has been jumping in here and there to break the stereotype every once in a while.
In the afternoon I work in the weavery. Look how beautiful! Like I have said earlier, I do not actually do a whole lot of weaving, but a lot of finishing work. That can be as simple as tying the ends of a scarf, or as difficult as a bag or toy. Here, you can see a few of the things that I have been working on. The purple purse is my favorite, I just finished it today! Also, a big bag, a turtle, and a cushion. There is a whole lot of room for artistic preference here, which is wonderful. It is for a funny reason though-- the weavery here is not dependent on selling any of the products made. So they do not mind if we make crap now and again because there is room for mistakes. Don't get me wrong, we do still sell a lot of it. Soon we will have an advent fair, which is what the push is for now. A lot of the things we are working on now are for in-house consumption as well, as people prepare for Christmas time gifts. I am anxious to buy some items to send home! They really are beautiful. By the time I leave the weavery, it is dark outside already.
The evening is pretty mellow. Before supper some nights I help with showers, other nights I just chill out for a while. We usually help prepare supper which is a small meal here, just bread and jam or perhaps some cake or fruit salad. Afterward, everyone does their own thing. The house we are attached to is not particularly social, which is tough sometimes! If we sit together after supper, it is really just that-- sitting together. Jeff and I have made some headway getting people to talk with us, but it is slow in coming. People start heading off to bed at 8, and if we are "housekeeping" (which is two nights a week) we mop the floor and encourage people to do their nightly routine. There is more hand-holding in this respect than there was at Community Homestead, and I am trying here and there to encourage more independence. For instance, does a person really need me to get them to go for their evening juice? No, he does not, but the routine suggests that he goes when we say something rather than when he feels like it. Little bits of independence that could be encouraged. If we are not housekeeping we go back to the cottage when we feel like it. But if we are housekeeping, come 9:30 everyone is off to bed, and we start our walk home. I like this walk, as it is a nice reflection time.
Well, there you have it! This was a very long post, but I think our moms appreciate knowing what we do every day. If you have questions, please post them and we will answer them in our next one! Lots of love...