Tuesday, November 23, 2010


They turned off our cable (and internet) last Friday.  I've been stringing the cable company along for months, paying only the past due amount.  They have been wonderful about not cutting me off and giving me extra time to pay.  But last week a deadline slipped by me and we were cast into static.

I'll readily admit it:  I'm a TV addict!  I don't sit on the couch and mindlessly stare at the screen in full couch potato mode.  But I do like to have the TV on, even though the programming has gotten worse and worse.  I love the sound of football games (even if I'm not watching or even paying attention).  I love cooking competitions on the Food Channel like Chopped and Iron Chef.  I used to love the History and Discovery Channels until they became total slaves to ratings and quit showing history or documentaries or even Deadliest Catch or Survivorman ("Nakeyman" to us because he always finds a way to take his clothes off!).
And I like my news in the morning and my CSI or Criminal Minds or Without A Trace at night. 

I bookend my wall-to-wall 16-hour days with an hour of TV in the morning and and an hour or so in the evening as I wind up and wind down.  That's about the only down time I take -- and even then I'm multitasking with emails or laundry or tending to kids.

The turning off the cable which, in our modern age of digital signals, means no TV at all.  I've thought about turning off the cable for many months as a way to save money but it was never really a REAL consideration for me.  I just could never even conceive of that reality!  Now I'm living that reality full-time.

We don't have a TV in our little house in Enid and I've never missed it -- probably because there's never been one.  This has given me courage that I can survive!

Luckily, my iPhone fills in a lot of gaps with news and weather and internet so I don't ever feel totally unplugged (unless they unplug my iPhone -- which has happened).

Without TV the house is much quieter.  It's not depressing like I thought it would be.  More reading is going on.  My girls are all voracious readers so reading is not a new phenomenon.  I'm always glad to see them with their nose in a book enjoying a good story.  More movies are being watched.  The last two nights Sara-Grace and I have watched movies together.  This has been wondeful because I LOVE movies but rarely get to watch them.  DVD's are wonderful because when I fall asleep I can just pick up again where I left off the next time I get a chance!

Sara-Grace and I watched "Amelia", the movie about Amelia Earhart with Hilary Swank and Richard Gere.  Sara-Grace is doing a report for school on Amelia Earhart soon so this was research - very enjoyable research!  I'm so impressed with the way she's immersed herself in her subject and really wants to learn all about it -- not just learn the minimum necessary to do the report for school.  This was a beautiful movie!  I was very intriqued with how much Richard Gere reminded me of Mark!  I knew I married a star!

It will probably be awhile before we get the cable back on.  I'm sure there won't be an extra $325 (two months fees plus reconnect fee plus additional deposit) anytime soon.  I've been trying to figure out the whole digital converter box thing but even they are cost prohibitive at $30+ each times 9 TVs (I told you I'm an addict!).  Maybe I can gradually collect converter boxes but it seems silly to invest almost as much in them as it would cost to turn the cable/internet back on.  Maybe I'll just get one or two so we can have our fixes when we're really serious about it.  Maybe it will bring about some togetherness.  Or maybe it will create friction when we have to all agree on one program!  We'll see!

In the meantime, as with most things I've learned recently out of deprivation/necessity, I am realizing how far lessons learned by force go beyond lessons learned by choice.  Over and over again, deprivation has taught me appreciation and gratitude -- not just for what I've lost but, more importantly, for what remains or for what I had all along but never appreciated. 

I have lost my cable TV but I have been left with much in its place:  quiet nights, quiet mornings, books, children with their noses in books, getting to have movies in my life again, and time with my daughter(s).

Once again, deprivation becomes a blessing.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Laundry Al Fresco

{Here's an interesting opportunity! Offered here for your perusal and comparative anaylsis is the first version I wrote of my outside washing machine experience (entitled "Old Fashioned Laundry" the first time around-- the version I knew I'd written but couldn't find so I re-wrote it! Re-writes always suck so I think the original version is MUCH better. See what YOU think!}

"Now you're REALLY white trash!" he said as he wiped his hands on his shirt, an amused twinkle in his eye. My ex-husband had just gallantly brought and hooked up a spare, working washing machine so that my household could continue to run and no one would be panty-less!
The only problem is that the washer is in my backyard!
This washer situation will probably prove to be much to the apoplexy of my next door neighbors. They may even have seen it already -- I being unaware of how often or ardently they peek over the fence or run upstairs to their guest root to spy out the window that overlooks my yard.
You see, there are many things my neighbors don't understand. They are in their early 60's. They are financially independent. They only had one child and she is long gone and lives out of state. Basically, they have time and money. I have neither. They don't have jobs, children, dogs, or cats. I have three of each. They have peace. I have stress and persecution.
And, if my neighbors do, indeed, know that I have a working washing machine in my back yard, I'm sure to get a letter from the city before too long as they are always turning me in for some offense or another.

Do they know WHY I have a washer in my yard? Do they care? I'm pretty sure they think I do things just to be tacky and to annoy them!
So, I avoided the washer for the first day or so. Finally, in desperate need of towels, jeans, and undies, I slunk out with an arm full and plunged headlong into my own tackiness.
There! That wasn't so bad!
Soon I found myself in the back yard in my nightgown in the optimistic light of an early summer morning. The summer sun, the morning dew, the gentle breeze, a basket on my hip. This isn't so bad. Many people do laundry in dank basements or cramped closets or public laundromats. I get to hear the birds sing and see the gentle breeze in the trees. Enthusiastic dogs and a curious cat accompanied me. The sweet smell of soap. Bare feet on bare earth. Something deep and pleasent and familiar tugs at my soul. I wonder. It's as if I have a connection, a memory trace deep in my soul to some other time and some other place. Like I've done this in a past life. I have a deep sense of peace in this unfamiliar arrangement. There is a sense of duty and accomplishment, bare feet on the bare earth, connected to the ageless, timeless ritual of laundry. It's as if I can sense a clothesline nearby, the kiss of the sun and wind on the clothes and linens, some sort of solace, respite, or haven from other drudgeries... For how many eons was laundry washed outside compared to how long man (ok, WOMAN!) have had automatic, indoor washing and drying machines?
Maybe, in a past life, I was a "laundress". Maybe I lovingly washed the clothes of my husband and children. Maybe I was just glad to have water and an opportunity for cleanliness (next to Godliness, you know!)
What I know right now is this: (1) I enjoy being plugged in to the ageless, timeless task of doing laundry outside (as long as it's summer!) -- which CAN be just plain pleasant on a nice day. (2) I refuse to be ashamed of resourcefulness. (3) I would rather be one of the humble hard workers than the harsh and judegmental criticizers.