2009.10.27 Plans for the weekend need some revision

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

Late on a Thursday night earlier this month, I emailed all my kids at once. The subject line was “weekend.”

“What's going on, boy and girls?” I asked.

Rozee emailed back early the next morning, also sending her response to Ben and Maddie.

“Tonight some friends are coming over for dinner because we got a bunch of southern stuff in our produce box this week like okra, black eyed peas, and pork chops.

“Tomorrow there is an Oktober Fest parade...then a counselor at Taylor's school is having a BBQ at his house in Luling, then we're going to the Avett Brothers concert in Baton Rouge.

“Sunday we're going to the Saints game.”

The “produce box” Rozee mentioned is similar to the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box David and I have signed up for these past two summers. We pay a lump sum in advance and receive a box of local organically grown vegetables every week of the growing season. Rozee and her husband Taylor pay by the week and receive a box of a wide variety of fruit and vegetables and even, apparently, pork chops.

Rozee lives in New Orleans where there’s always a lot going on, especially parades, concerts and Saints games. She and Taylor, an avid sports fan, have season tickets and they routinely take advantage of all the culture New Orleans has to offer.

Ben responded later that afternoon. He and his wife Sarah live in Miami and also have action-packed lives, but apparently not much was going on that particular weekend. He started out telling what he and Sarah were planning to do, but not to be outdone by Rozee’s agenda, he “embellished.”

“Going to watch MSU football game with Sarah Hoadley, read the Bible, listen to classical music, walk shelter dogs and cats, run in a Relay for Life, volunteer teaching blind monkeys to paint, attend an idiot savant conference (the smart ones), help kids build sand castles at the beach, practice the ukulele and maybe go to Home Depot if I have time.”

I laughed and laughed.

Maddie, swamped with papers, tests, and all the other demands on a college kid, responded to the emails with one word:

“Boring.”

I emailed her back. “Maddie, are you saying ‘boring’ to both Ben and Rozee or are you saying your weekend will be boring?”

“All of those,” she responded.

If this email exchange indicates anything—besides Ben needling Rozee and Maddie being overwhelmed by schoolwork—it’s the utter lack of any mention of the kinds of things I might have said if they had turned the question on me.

Do laundry, wash dishes, get the bathroom ready for wallpapering, clean the kitchen...

I might not have done any of those things, but that’s probably what I would have been talking about.

I need to get in a whole new frame of mind—maybe take a page from the book, “Half Broke Horses,” by Jeannette Walls, author of “The Glass Castle.”

“Half Broke Horses: a true-life novel,” is the story of Jeannette’s extraordinary grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, who taught school, broke horses, flew airplanes, ran a ranch with her husband, and did all manner of things most women weren’t doing in her lifetime.

Lily had a real practical, some might say shocking, philosophy when it came to household tasks.

“As for clothes, I flatly refused to wash them....We wore our shirts till they got dirty, then we put them on backward and wore them until that side got dirty, then we wore them inside out, then inside out backward.”

When they got so dirty that her husband joked they were scaring the cattle, she’d take them into town and have them steam-cleaned.

She approached cooking in the same no-nonsense way: “I made food. Beans were my speciality....My recipe was fairly simple: Boil beans, salt to taste.” Steak? “Fry on both sides, salt to taste.” Potatoes? “Boil unpeeled, salt to taste.”

I’m thinking I need to adopt Lily’s way of life. I’d definitely have a lot more time to do things like teach blind monkeys to paint.

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