"During a furlough in North America, one of [the] children said at a family reunion potluck, 'I sure will be glad to get back to Africa where we just have to eat manioc.'"--The More With Less Cookbook
"One year the only material I had to make costumes was from a pile of old black Navy uniforms. I told the children they could be anything they wanted to be as long as it was something black."--Amy Dacyczyn, The Tightwad GazetteJennifer Duenes (Life from the Roof) wrote a guest-blog post last week on Money-Saving Mom. (Her blog is about "her insights from life in Uzbekistan and tips on making the most of your resources in high-cost urban areas.")
This is the part that struck me:
"....when I returned for the first time to the US after my initial 2 years in Uzbekistan. I went into Wal-Mart to buy shampoo, and ended up just standing there for a few minutes staring at an entire aisle of shampoo.
"I was so overwhelmed, I ended up just turning around and walking out without buying anything. While it was hard at times to be deprived of access to certain products in Uzbekistan, I now understood what Wordsworth commented on in his poem Nuns Fret Not at their Convent’s Narrow Room. Instead of being limited by what we cannot buy, perhaps sometimes we should look at having too many liberties as a weight, and at our limitations as true freedom."
What homeschooler hasn't had a similar reaction in a conference vendor hall, or when confronted with one of those telephone-book-sized American curriculum catalogues? (The Big Book of Home Learning was called that for a reason.) I feel the same way in those 100-variety coffee shops: I just ask for their "regular coffee." (Side note: don't ask for that in the donut shop, though, unless you want coffee with cream and sugar. I once really messed with a Tim's cashier's head by asking for a "regular coffee without anything in it.") (For a 2008 look at a Yikes shopping trip, read Black Friday on Beck's Bounty. Photos, too.)
Recently I finished reading Rumer Godden's In This House of Brede, a novel about Benedictine nuns set during the 1960's, when their lifestyle became less cloistered and their veils were updated with front hair showing. ("Who knew that Sister X had red hair??") The older nuns who refused to go along with the modern "dishtowel" veils had their reasons: the completely-covered habit kept them from having to spend any time at all worrying about what their hair looked like. Another point made in the book is that 19th-century English nuns had to fight in the first place to be allowed to be cloistered; it was seen as a privilege.
And what more can I add? The theme for our first week of Advent will be Simplicity--an attempt to keep from buckling under the weight of too many choices...too much liberty.