Sunday, December 19, 2010

Americans don't like to work very hard on Sunday

I have always been of the opinion that hard work keeps people interested and happy in life and that idleness becomes a bore and a curse. I always accepted the challenge of working hard in the primitive world I found myself in as a child.  We children never slept late in our lives.  We would get up ready to go out and do the morning chores after we ate an early breakfast of course.  Our dad would already have been up at dawn and gone to tend the water in the summer. The only time he did not get up at dawn was when he was still drinking, and that was a bad sign.
 I was used to my Grandfather King rising at dawn to saddle his faithful old mare after which he would be tending water or some other morning chore, until he was 87 years old and was felled in the fields where he was grubbing brush because he used gasoline for a quick fire.  It was hard sometimes to get a fire going, and he was impatient.
My Grandmother King would have gotten up with him to get an early morning start on her chores, feeding the chickens, and perhaps carrying water to fill a big tub on a wood stove in her wash house, so it could be brought to a boil, as she always boiled her whites.  I did draw the line at boiling our whites when my sister Margie and I took over our family washing at 9 and 10.
Or perhaps she needed to start an 8 loaf batch of bread for her household of field workers which always increased during the haying or the round-ups.

Oh, I remember my Grandpa King insisting on going along with the rest of the town's ranchers, driving their herd of cattle collectively over the mountain to Wayne Country where they would meet with the cattle buyers.  I would be worried about Grandpa camping out on the mountain, as when a frost hit, there was nothing that would keep out the cold in the tents they used for shelter at night.  They would try to persuade Grandpa he was getting too old to go on that fall cattle drive when the weather turned nippy, but he wouldn't stop.  I was afraid he would catch pneumonia and die because he was such a stubborn old cuss.
When the spring round up from the winter ranges came, Grandpa would be rounding us girls up to go help the tired cow punchers after they had been out for days gathering cattle.  He would know from the pack horses and extra cow ponies coming home, the herd would be there before nightfall. As soon as we got to the main herd, Grandpa would tell the men to go on ahead to the ranch for a good meal and a bath, and we would take the cattle on home.
I remember Grandpa had a horse that did not like to herd cattle, and was constantly nipping at the little calves' backs to make them go faster, but Grandpa always roped off him, so Old Shake Hands must have been a good horse in other ways.  Grandpa acquired him from a circus where he had been taught to do tricks like shaking hands and prancing with the band.  He was a pure honey gold palomino without the white mane and tail most of the palomino horses had around there.

Even though my mother did more work than two women, I grew up with the idea she was kind of lazy just because the King women were such phenomenal work fiends. Mother liked to take a break by reading a book which was frowned on by the old pioneer stock.  When sitting down, Grandma and her sister, Aunt Net,  liked to cut rug rags for the weaver to make rugs, or knit afghans or crochet lace on pillow slips.  At worst they would embroider dish towels, but reading was looked upon with some suspicion even after my aunts went off to college and majored in English and journalism and the like.
Daddy, having been trained by such a mother, just could not be prevented from finding work for us to do.  I haven't named half of the tasks here. He told my younger sisters he would buy all the material if they would just sew their own clothes, and you never saw such a rash of satin and lace finery as they sewed. I was too afraid of being distracted from my writing so refused to learn to sew, which was blasphemy to the Kings.
So now that I am old, my working genes get me up early and looking for something to do. I have long since sworn off bottling and acting like I still lived in the woods without electricity or running water.  When I decided to become a writer I started doing other kinds of work and God help anybody who tried to stop me. I was always practicing my writing. When I needed people to talk to about my writing I resorted to talking to the spirits if I could not find anybody else. People in that primitive country were still not convinced writing was really work.  I did not make the mistake of talking out loud to the spirits as my Uncle Reed had done which only got him locked up, I wrote my dialogues down.  I always wrote spirit dialogues and threw hundreds of pages away over the years.  I wrote such a dialogue this morning to my sister LaRae who passed away over 20 years ago.  She had the working gene, so I know she understands what drives me.
You could not stop her from working when she was alive.  She always had a job and in her spare time she painted pictures or sculptured.   I was writing to her this morning about practicing reading the play I wrote about her when she was dying of cancer.  She was excited.  She said that she would be sure to come to that play workshop reading!
She agreed with me this morning when I observed that people thought Sunday really was a day of  complete rest.  For hard working country folks, Sunday was for going at religion, solving the problems of the world in big discussions in church.  If I could get a big discussion going in church, I would be inspired to go, but if I couldn't I would seek out my sisters or others I knew wanted to solve the problems of the world.  Sometimes people would quarrel too much in church to get anything solved I thought. I would sometimes be blamed for being an agitator when my folks did not even pay a full tithe! My dad did not go so he would not pay tithing.
Just as the people here quarreled out in the patio when I worked hard trying to get those round table discussions going.  I ran into so many temper tantrums that I finally had to give the discussions up, but now my son Raymond has come back to Phoenix and he certainly has the King working gene.
I used to go to his play writing workshops all the time when he was doing them.  After he started teaching, he was so busy inspiring kids, doing big productions, and trying to keep an adult program going on the side he had to discontinue the workshops except on rare occasions when we came together to do a play project.
Raymond has also been pursuing the company of musicians so he can improve his guitar playing, singing, and song writing. He is a mighty hard working guy when it comes to the arts.
My kids mostly let too much stop them from working with me.  They get mad and go for days without calling. Of course they are all working at jobs, and my daughter has a husband and a young child.  She is a hard worker in sporadic bursts.  I have not been able to convince most of them that you can get together to work on ideas, which means you have to give time.  They think they can take care of a relationship with phone calls of short duration, but that just does not do it.  I don't waste time criticizing them.  That would not be productive. I know they work hard on their jobs, so that is the most important.
I know very well that when I am gone the big regret most of them will have was that they did not spend time working with me on what I thought was important as I used to spend time with my dad and mother and my grandparents just to get the benefit of their work habits if nothing else.  My dad would discuss a topic all day and into the night, if we introduced one, he was such a worker.  He might shout in the heat of an argument but I appreciated the fact that you could always get my dad into a discussion.
What do you do when your kids don't even want to get into a discussion with you?  My kids are intelligent, all of them.  They are mostly all good readers. But they just don't get how you can work a discussion.  How you apply the rules of intense thinking to tackle the problems of the world.
My kids don't take advantage of the discussions we sisters have on the family site.  Well, first of all, they say they don't have the time, and maybe their time is limited, but I think we have had a lot of good ones on there our kids have missed. Some of the nieces participate who work, too.  They just put more priority on the family web site. My kids get upset when someone disagrees with them and can't throw off their mads.  You develop a tougher hide if you don't shun discussions.  You learn how to roll with the punches.
I love getting into discussions with people I know disagree with me with all their heart and soul, but if they are intelligent and know how to work a discussion, they are going to appreciate a spirited debate about issues.
That's what good politics is all about, people learning to debate the issues without coming to blows.  People used to fight duels over disagreements.  Now in congress they filibuster. But in congress people know they are going to have to contend with people who could not disagree with them more. 
People tend to think people in congress don't do anything but argue, but they are busy all the time, making deals, making their case, figuring out their strategy, working the floor, because eventually the bill comes to a vote and somebody wins or loses.The best debater just might win!
Only problem is the American people, the constituents, don't work hard enough to find out what they are doing, don't read the news reports, don't try to keep themselves informed, so they can make their views known in an effective manner to their representatives.
I was looking all over for a discussion this morning and finally found a way to try to start one on the family site.  Somebody gave me an opening! 
We probably get a whole lot more rest than we need.  Up and at 'em, as my dad always used to say.


Paula said...

Funny you blogged about boiling white clothes as just yesterday while I was getting a permanent wave the beauty operator and I were talking about how our Moms used to boil white clothes. We women now days just do not know how easy we have it. said...

This blog certainly hit the spot since I spent several hours last night and this morning without electricity. Nothing can bring to mind old Pioneer days better knowing your electric heat is out, the stove won't cook, the sewing machine won't go, the vacuum won't work. The cold creeped right in.
You can remember those wonderful pioneer times all you want, but I don't want to be without electricity. I want warm air comfort and a cup of hot coffee.
That's where I want those good old days to stay..back in the good old days.

Jazzie Casas said...

Real dads make their kids the prioritizing factor in every decision they make. They make sure that nothing and nobody takes precedence over their children. If needs be, they give up careers, homes, and dreams to be where there child is. They do it, and they do it at any cost.

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