Mary Beth Writes

We are new subscribers to “Imperfect Produce” which is a service that delivers imperfect (duh) but safe and flavorful veggies and fruit to your house. This helps to keep “imperfect” produce from being wasted. (https://www.imperfectproduce.com/  I don’t get kickbacks from them.)

We are open-minded about trying new things to eat so when they included a pomegranate – cool. I enjoyed pomegranate, raisin, and walnut oatmeal I invented for myself.

We also received persimmons - the orange fruit Downton Abbey types put in their silver bowls on their antique sideboards during the Holiday Season. I cut into the first personal persimmon of my life and bit gingerly into the flesh. It tasted like sweet, soft, “Caribbean breezes” butter. (I’ve never been near a Caribbean island, but a girl can imagine, right?)

I said, “Mmmm….”

Four seconds later my mouth twisted sideways and my eyelids popped wide open as the astringent after-effect surprised my mouth. It didn’t stop me from eating half of the fruit, but I ate it slow and in tiny bites, my eyes squinting as I waited for the tannic pucker. Persimmons do a chemical number on mouth cells! 

How stuff looks is seldom as important as how it tastes or serves or works or feels. The truth of Persimmons is that how something LOOKS seldom tells the whole story – and this is a truth to deal with when living any life, especially a frugal one. 

Most of us care about how our houses and families look. Having hopes, dreams, and ideals about the shape and style of our personal lives is good. We know what we are aiming for.

Also true: Having hopes, dreams, and ideals about the image of our personal life is a path straight to hell.

Like this. Have you been in a home where there are well-displayed professional family photos; yet you know that the family is mostly unhappy? The photo communicates Norman Rockwell family sweetness, you know the family swims in stress, acrimony, and sadness.

Why spend money on more professional photographs? Why not find classes, couples counseling, second opinions, support groups for whatever the family is dealing with, lawyer consultations if that is warranted, or maybe just a Saturday afternoon no-agenda family trip to a park. The sound of kids laughing and adults not arguing is real, the family photo on the wall is an image.

We are fed a steady diet of how our lives should look. I bet you could fill in this list with the Standard American Image

  • What our homes should look like. (Lately it is white walls, mid-century furniture, and those mini-gas station flags draped on the wall over a kids bed. What’s up with that?)
  • How we dress ourselves or our kids
  • What career we or our kids “ought” to aim for (Don’t study literature or music or history, they say. In what world do we not need literature or music or history?)
  • Where we are going to rent or buy our next home
  • Where we are going to vacation next. (I didn’t say Disney. You said Disney…)
  • What we are going to cook for the holidays
  • Gifts we ought to buy for others so that they know we love and like them. (There’s a highway.)
  • What we are going to do when we “go out” this weekend.       
  • What our kids are going to do in their “free time”.
  • Etc.

 How things “ought to look” is such a trap. Do we really think how something looks can tell us if we are happy or not?  

 We need better questions.

 Such as:

How does it feel? (How would it feel to not have a car payment, to never again assemble a “wrapping station” for 37 presents, to not gain two pounds in one day each time a holiday or birthday happens, to be able to spend December evenings listening to music while working on projects and not in a blizzard of shopping details? And on and on.)

 What is the taste you would go for if you weren’t thinking about impressing? (Sourdough bread with salami, pickles, super-tangy cheese and an IPA? Spaghetti with sausage in it, wine, people talking and laughing? Two chocolate donuts, a cup of strong coffee, and a whole morning to read – something only so-called “lonely, single” persons can arrange on Christmas morning? And I’m jealous.)

What do you want to hear? The Messiah chorus sung by three choirs with a backup symphony orchestra is amazing. Yes it is. But would it FEEL calmer to not buy tickets, not drive downtown, not dress up – and just listen to the Messiah chorus while you clean up after dinner every night for a week?  

 Would you love the sound of your kids and grandkids not arguing? Look at these: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gl3e-OUnavQ

Or (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ARqqqLSn4c&index=2&list=PLbdbo77TuYpxUBQ6wICFf6qeuRIod5fdA)

What do you want to FEEL against your skin?  That moment when you step outside and it is 12-degrees and the wind is howling – but you are wearing long underwear under your jeans, and your not-new winter jacket blocks the wind, and you can pull up its hood and snap it across your chin, and your boots are lined with fake fur – and you feel good.  Or your house is chilly because you set the thermostat low, but there are two afghans and one cat on the sofa waiting for you.  Or no one else wants to go out in the rainst but you have a waterproof coat with a hood, and you have boots, and you  walk along a lake and the sound of the rain hitting the water is so awesome you laugh out loud.  

...

 Most of us spend too much time, money, and energy arranging how things will look. If we slowed down and asked a few more questions could we could have less debt, more sense-rich adventures, more awareness of the people we love and like? More time alone on the sofa with afghans, books, cats, and donuts?

If we ask good questions can we come up with a plan to, in a few years, transition from this job we don’t love to one we do? If we keep asking questions and paying attention, can we dive beneath our mild and horrible addictions, to find the bottlenecked creativity inside us?

Ask better questions.

Persimmon Cookies!

I had an extra persimmon so what to do? I found a cookie recipe, changed it a lot; they were (and six still are) so tasty.

The secret to my persimmon cookies recipe is this. You don’t actually have to have a persimmon.

Also I doubled amounts because I was giving them to friends who would be sharing with others, so I wanted there to be a lot.  You can cut this down.

...

Ingredients:

1 cup of Crisco or other shortening

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup of soft persimmon

2 soft bananas

4 cups of flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon nutmeg

½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans, I bet almonds would be interesting, also that's all the nuts we had in the house, hyou can add way more) 

1 cup raisins (any dried fruit)

 See what I did there? It was supposed to be ALL persimmons, but I only had one so I added bananas.  The cookies tasted like banana bread bites with edge-crunch from the Crisco. So you could just use old bananas and skip the persimmon. Hah.

Internet recipes drive me crazy. They show you a zillion photos and they talk about their kids and the dog and whatever… . It’s almost as if they are selling the IMAGE of a cute life...

Here’s the deal. Put the Crisco in your mixing bowl. Add the sugar while letting your mixer beat at least two minutes.

(Thanks, Meg, for sharing this huge cookie-making secret that the butter or shortening and the sugar have to spend a LOT of quality time with each other before one adds anything else.)

I chopped the persimmon small and added it to the sugar/Crisco.  Then I added the bananas.  Let all that beat until you can barely see fruit bits. Add the eggs.

When this slurry is utterly whipped – add the dry ingredients. I usually put them all into the sifter while the mixer does its thing. I also microwaved the raisins in water for a minute to let them plump, but that’s just because I really like the people I was going to give them, too.  Fancy steps, you know?

Drop by small spoonfuls onto a lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake 11-13 minutes at 350-degrees. They are soft in the middle, crunchy on the edges.

 The best thing about them is not how they look but how they taste.

Comments

Another great post. I agree! We are marketed to believe our lives are insufficient, always needed more stuff, better experiences etc. After all contentment is bad for the economy. I look at things now in times of life force. How much life force is that going to cost? How many days/hours do you have to work for that...is it worth it? Thank you for another thought provoking post. Patricia Fl

Thanks so much for your response. I remember Amy Dacyzyn suggesting folks look at the cost of something in terms of how many hours they would have to work to earn the money to pay for something. Years ago I worked at a retail store for $7.25/hr. I was daily tempted to buy their $4 hot pretzels... but would consider that half hour it would take to earn it... Yeps.

If you haven't already done so, you might enjoy reading All the Blue Day blog by Jo. Have a peaceful and quiet week end, Mary Beth. Patricia/FL

I will definitely check it out. Thank you!

Add new comment

CAPTCHA

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

How Big IS Grandma? Do You Need More Space?

Our internet service had been goofy all that day; the house alarm system sent a random beep to my phone at 3AM. Waking from deep sleep to “Is there a bad guy coming up the steps right now?” turned into the kind of insomnia that requires … decluttering videos. My heart stopped racing as I watched a mild woman talk about the closet in her laundry room.

How I saved Tens of Thousands of Dollars Lately and also got a New Kazoo

Just in case you thought I stopped paying attention to how to live cheap and well. 

1. For several months we have composted veg and fruit scraps - our weekly garbage reduced by half! We collect detritus through the day in a bowl on the counter, carry it out to a steel garbage can we brought from our last house. I’ve dug some of this collapsed organic stuff into the garden.

Less Lemming, More Living

Last week I posted an essay railing against our North American/western maniacal consumerism. We are so deep into climate crisis and into destabilizing world poverty caused by the oligarchy of the few.  Something has to give. Plus this: If we are living on $50,000 a year or more, we are already earth’s top 1%. Isn’t this nuts? It really is up to us to turn back this crazy lemmings’ march to the sea.

Mindful Chickens/ The "Before its Too Late" Edition 5-14-2019

Mindful Chickens   5/14/2019

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

1. Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).

2. Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.

3. Paying attention to the constant tumble of dollars and choices.

These are things we have thought, attempted, and done in the past month to live more lightly and frugally on our City Plot of Planet Earth.

We have to change how we live ...

We can’t go on like this.  Our everyday Western/American lifestyle -- is utterly unsustainable. 

Bread, Tortillas, and Chocolate

 As many of you know, I follow a website called The Non-Consumer Advocate, written by Katy Wolk-Stanley who defines herself as “… library patron, leftovers technician, Goodwill enthusiast, utility bill scholar, labor and delivery nurse, laundry hanger-upper, mother and citizen.” She has purchased very little newly-manufactured consumer goods since she joined The Compact; a movement of people who choose to rethink mindless consumption. http://thenonconsumeradvocate.com/

Tag Cloud

17 minutes AARPtaxes AAUW Accountable apples Arrows baby balance Barkskins Beauty Becky BookReport boy scout Bread BuyAngry Cahokia Canada cello Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus Clowns clutter consumerism Courage creditreport death December DecisionFatigue decluttering Detroit Duty eBay Eclipse FairTrade farmer firealarm Fitness Five Flexible flu Fort de Chartres Franc FrancGarcia friends frugal Frugality Garden GarfieldParkConservatory ghosts GovernorThompsonStatePark Guatemala guns happiness Healthinsurance HelleKBerry History home HomeRepair Honduras HouseinBlueRiver Innkeeper Interview InviteMe2Speak JoyceAndrews Judy JulianofNorwich justice Karen Lamb LeeLeeMcKnight lemming Len Lincoln LockedOut Love Ludington Macaw MargaretFuller Marquette marriage Mayan MayaWorks MilwaukeeMarch4OurLives MindfulChickens Mistakes Mother mouser movies museums must-haves New York City Nomadland OurBrother Outside PastorBettyRendon Paul Hessert PDQ Penny persimmon poetry Preaching privacy Quern Questions recipe recipes recycling Reruns resolution Retirement RitesofPassage Roses Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes Sermon sewing Shepherd ShortStory sickness SofritoBandito SpaceShuttle spring square feet StoryStarts Stubborn Survival Susan taxes teenager Thanksgiving ThePerpetualYou ThreeBillBoards TimeBeing toddler tortillas Traveler Tubing UnrelatedObservations utilities UTLAStrong vacation Valentines vanilla Vietnam VivianWokeUpDrowning vole WalkingAndSeeing war WarsanShire weaving wedding WhyAttendChurch WillaCather
Ad Promotion