frenchtown fiber

Chris Mundy and Kate House try to make art while navigating the crap life throws at them.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Printed Word

When I returned from my 2-week trip, I realized how starved I was for the printed word. I didn't read much of anything, besides pamphlets I would come across for the next area we were going to be visiting. The night we got home, I stayed up until 3 am reading every piece of newspaper I could find in the house!

Since then, I have just wanted to read. I took a mess of books from the library, probably more than I can read before they are due.

I have already read a book called Nickel and Dimed: On Not Making it in America by Barbara Ehrenreich. This woman went "undercover" and worked at minimum wage jobs in Key West, Maine, and Minnesota to see if she could make it for one month on these wages. She failed every time. In Key west, she had to work 2 jobs to make her rent, but became exhausted and had to stop. In Maine she could make her rent for the next month, but she had to work 7 days per week. She was not sure how long she could go on that way. In Minnesota, where she worked at a Wall-Mart, she was moved to start agitating for a Union and she quit.

This is a very well written book, and by that I first mean that it is a real page turner! But also it is an eye opener about what it really means to try to live on these wages. She tells the personal stories of many of her fellow workers, who often end up living in their cars. Housing is what tends to undo everyone. Even if they could somehow afford the rent, no one can save enough money for the up-front rent and security deposit.

Here is an excellent quote from tha book:

When someone works for less pay than she can live on ... she has made a great sacrifice for you ... The "working poor" ... are in fact the major philanthopists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone. (p. 221)

This all dove-tailed nicely with my observations while on the road. We travelled some sparsely populated areas of Michigan and Wisconsin, and I really wonder how these people make a living. Any business we came across seemed to be closed, and not recently. They always say that it will affect jobs if we jack up the minimum wage, but I doubt that is true. I think we will just have to pay more for our hamburgers and the crap we buy at Wall-Mart.

I am currently reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I'm pretty sure that at this time I am one of the few women in the world who has not read this book. The author lives in Frenchtown, so I am definitely the last woman left in Frenchtown who has not read this book. (And own a signed copy) So far it is OK. I am trying not to judge the author for being so incredibly fortunate and successfull, but still acting like she is about to collapse from her "misfortunes."(Divorce, etc.) I don't recall crying on the bathroom floor every night when I was deciding to leave my husband, and she had no kids! The book is easy to read and I am interested in her travelling adventures; that is why I am reading it. The first place she goes to find herself is Italy. That's where I am in the book now.

I have already decided that I am going to Italy in 2010. I have been saying for years that I am going to Italy when I turn 50. My husband has pointed out that I will not be 50 until October of that year, but I understand that it is better to go in the off-season anyway. Unfortunately, my parents will be working (they have summers off) so that could cause difficultly where Kate is concerned. I could have her brother take responsibility. I have hopes he will be taking care of her anyway, when we are all gone.

(My son, Andrew, turned 24 years old on Friday. It occured to me that I was 24 when he was born. Weird.)

Anyway, I have time to work this all out. The other book I am reading now is a travel guide by Karen Brown. I don't have the name exactly, but it is a guide with itineraries and suggestions about where to stay in Italy. One of the itineraries includes Rome and Venice and points north. It sounds dreamy and I think this would work for me. It does skip Tuscany and Sicily, but I might have to do that next time. I also need to work on learning Italian. I hear that the Rosetta Stone CDs are very good, but very expensive. They also offer Italian at the local community college. I want Joe and I to learn together. My library is advertising that they have something called Mango for learning a language. I have no idea what that is yet.

Lately I have just been thinking how random life is. You never know what's coming. I want to go to Italy as soon as possible.

As for my sewing, I think it will be a little dry around here where that's concerned. I am trying to work on my big big quilt, and I have. But, progress is snail-like. It just doesn't translate well in pictures. My Etsy site is so dead, I can't see rushing to fill that up any more. It's OK, I'm just shifting focus a little.

One more thing, I have been sifting through the 750 pictures we took on out trip. I have it whittled down to around 300. I want to make one of those really cool and professional looking books that are available on some photo sites. I have i-photo right on my computer. I would like to get this done for my husband for his birthday, September 30. I should be able to do that.


Martys Fiber Musings said...

Funny you should mention Italy....I just put down my deposit for trip to Tuscany and Florence in April, 2010. But, I won't be learning any Italian. I think I can probably make them understand that I want a slice of pizza with my bottle of wine!!!

Chris said...

Oh, good for you! And you will go ahead of me so you will be able to give me some kernals of wisdom! I think you are correct, one does not NEED to learn Italian. But, I'm giving it a shot.