Friday, October 9, 2009

I Have a Dishwasher

Yes, after a decade of hand-washing, I have a dishwasher.

Last Friday my husband and I decided it was finally time (actually we got tired of not seeing the countertop for the dirty dishes) so we sat down out the computer and started researching makes and models. Our initial guess at a budget was $500 (Canadian remember!) but after checking out features we wanted we pushed it up to $700. Noise reduction, with an open kitchen and vaulted ceilings, was really important to us and it turns out that comes at a bit of a price. It happened that the Sears Kenmore models kept turning up at the top of lists so we scribbled down some model numbers and motored into our first stop, the Sears Outlet Store.

The Sears Outlet Store is a wonderful thing. This is where all the returns, the clearance items, overstocked stuff, damaged stock and such get sent to be marked down and sold. All sales are final but warranties are still honoured and the savings, always good, can occasionally be jaw dropping. We decided it would make a good first stop if nothing else.

My initial reaction when we got to the dishwasher section was disappointment. The selection that day was a little small and seemed to be either high end stuff out of our price range or budget models without the features we wanted. But with a little bit of looking we discovered one gleaming white Kenmore Elite that was marked down from $1000 to $750. A bit above budget, especially after tax. But as luck would have it there was not just a tax-free sale on but the store was also knocking $50 off every purchase over $500 which made our dishwasher exactly on budget!

I have to admit, we did spend more money. We planned to buy a chest freezer within a few months so when we saw a nice one that was marked down $150 bucks because of a golf ball size dent in the top we got that as well. And there was a long, low and very solid wood TV stand marked down to $100 from $800. The stand needed some new hardware and lots of touch ups but we figured we could get it and fix it up or go spend twice that amount for a cheap press board stand. So yes...Purchase!

Anyway, all bragging aside, the husband picked up the dishwasher the next day. I called (who else?) my father for help installing it and he said he'd be up in the next week or two. I think my mother must then have had a chat with him because he called back 20 minutes later and said they'd be up the next day.

I have now had a working dishwasher for four days and it is wonderful. I really had no idea before what a lot of work the dishes were and how much times they took out of the run of a day. Marvelous.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Oh Yeah...My Birthday

Forgot to mention that it was my birthday yesterday. I'm now 36. I only mention that because I wanted to crow over my gifts.

The hubby and kids gave me two things: chocolates and an MP3 player.

Chocolates - These came from a local shop and were primarily irish cream truffles and ginger jelly things covered in milk chocolate. Oh. My. God. I have never eaten chocolates so slowly on my life. Both were fantastic but I has to say, the ginger is my forever and ever favourite. It's often said that women prefer chocolate to sex but these ginger chocolates pretty much are sex. I kid you not.

MP3 player - I dind't want one of these. I find most earphones and buds irritating. But hubby was tired of me carting his clock radio around the house so I could listen to CBC Radio One. Off he went to an electronics store and came back with a Sansa Fuze.

I was sort of not-thrilled when I first saw it but the geek in me soon couldn't resist the idea of 4 gigs of storage in something the size of a credit card. I opened it and turned it on. Okay, MP3 player yes. Only 4 gigs of storage but will take micro SD cards to dramatically expand the storage. Nice. Plays audiobooks and a ton of different audio formats (mp3, wma, ogg, flac) that cultish iPod Nanos can't handle. Also plays video and stores pictures (you can make a slideshow!). Interesting. Also receives FM (another things stinky iPods can't do). Ah! Now I see the husband's clever plan.

But two features have made me fall head-over-heels with this wonderful little device and promote it to the ranks of One-of-the-Best-Gifts-EVAR(along with Rowlf).

1) It's also a voice recorder! That means I can make up grocery list on the fly and transcribe them later. I can read my course text aloud and then listen to it later while washing dishes. I can record my choir songs and listen to my singing critically. I can record songs I know and then play them back and sing in harmony with myself! And yes, embarrassingly enough it's the last activity that's consumes huge amounts of my time. But isn't that cool!

2) It records radio!!!! That means mean that if I'm in the middle of an in-depth Van Morrison interview or an Ideas episode where philosophers are discussing democracy and the dog throws up or the kids decide to scream at each other I can just press "record", take off the ear buds, go deal with the problem and then come back and enjoy the recording at my leisure, preferably with a ginger chocolate or two or four! THIS IS FANTASTIC! THIS IS GROUNDBREAKING! THIS IS UNBELIEVABLY AWESOME!!!

That feature alone has changed my life.

So I end this with two recomendations. Get yourself some ginger chocolates and get yourself a Sansa Fuze (which is also less then half the price of one of those dorky iPod Nanos - Can you tell I've been fully inducted into the tribe of Sansa?)

Homemaking and Feminism - Is There a Term for This?

I've been bothered for some time by some elements of feminism that seem to dismiss the value of work that's traditionally done by women. This would be things like baking, needlework, housecleaning, etc. All the stuff I'm learning to enjoy, value and am becoming increasingly determined my kids should learn.

I want my kids to learn those skills for two reasons. One, if you can cook your own meal, knit your own scarf and scrub your own toilet then you can live a life that's got a measure more of independence then many adults have these days. Two, if you can make and can some crab apple jelly, knit a scarf and bake bread then you always have skills that you can always earn money from.

Now, I do consider myself a feminist. I live a very traditional life, the SAHM who cooks, cleans and leads a Girl Guide troop but I firmly believe that my enjoyment of that life wouldn't be possible if it weren't a life I hadn't chosen for myself. Feminism is what made that a choice rather then an expectation.

But back to the elements of feminism that seem to dismiss those of us on the home front (I'm going to be very bad and assume that's the case rather then provide citations to support that assumption). I have to wonder if that element isn't some kind a capitalist-feminist subset. Because if we're devaluing basic skills then it's because we accept that it's preferable to outsource those skills (cleaning, menu planning) or simply buy the products (that those skills would otherwise produce - jam, mittens) a company has produced in a store. We're accepting a model where we show our real value to society in our jobs, in the productivity we contribute to the market, not in the building of a stable home, family or character. Even parenting seems to be falling into this. Daycare is really outsourced parenting, parenting we purchase with the rewards we earn from contributing to the market.

I hope I'm making sense. I'm only thinking this out as I type and I'm quite sure it's no revelation and that commenters will point out things I haven't considered yet or to the volumes of discussion and writing that's already been done on this subject.

Bottom line is, I guess, that that kind of thing doesn't seem very feminist to me. It's about ceding to the market and/or pushing to have women valued by traditionally male standards. It's less about supporting women in what they are doing, revealing the value of that work, in whatever sphere they choose to step into.

As I said, this is all half-formed and mushy and I'll probably be embarrassed about how ill-stated it is by the end of the day but darn it, I go to write posts like this all the time and delete them because of poor writing and reasoning and well, the writing and reasoning won't get any better if I never open it to criticism and discussion.