Saturday, April 30, 2016

Attention, Ladies: Bad Housekeeping May Land You In Prison!

In Italy:

An Italian woman faces six years in jail after her husband accused her of not doing enough cooking and cleaning at home. 
Her husband made a formal complaint to the paramilitary Carabinieri police, saying that his wife was slovenly, failed to put meals on the table and left their home in a dreadful mess. 

Rather than dismissing the case as a domestic dispute, the police referred it to judicial authorities.
They decided to send the matter to trial, with the 42-year-old wife facing between two and six years in prison if found guilty of the charge of “mistreatment within the family”. 
The crime, article 572 in the Italian penal code, “punishes whoever mistreats a person in their family or a person entrusted to them for reasons of education, care or custody.”

Her husband, 47, accused her of “bad management of domestic affairs”...The husband complained that for the past two years he had been chronically neglected by his wife. She failed to clean their house, refused to cook for him and on occasion kicked him out of the bedroom. 

Read the whole article over here

Friday, April 29, 2016

From The Home Front

Just some nice pictures.

My husband has been busy with a recycling project, he is going to make a door out of an old window:

I have finally finished knitting this skirt:

It's woolen, but then we've had spell of cold weather which just allows me to wear it a couple more times.

And I bought this cute new magazine:

It has sewing projects for in the home, including a children's birthday party, some Tilda stuff on the back cover:

And, among other things, ideas for in the kitchen:

I'm not sure whether I try my hand at any of these projects or not, but it's nice to read something so cheerful when the weather is more like November than April!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Your Appearance And Your Mood

A 1950s book which I'm currently reading has a following description of a lady who is in a state of shock because she suspects her husband is going to murder her (this is a Dutch version of an English book, so I'll have to paraphrase):

She looked as a woman who had lost interest in everything. She paid no attention to her hairstyle and her skin. Her clothes had been originally of good quality but appeared unkempt. There were hairs on the collar of her jacket and the hem of her skirt was saggy. Her stockings were twisted and her shoes not polished for at least a week. 

According to the author, the appearance of that unlucky female (who was, by the way, in her early fifties) was a clear reflection of her inner turmoil. I wonder what she would have thought about our modern society where polishing shoes is something which probably happens in most households once a year, provided people wear shoes at all and not sneakers.

No wonder depression and anxiety are at all times high!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Working With A Housekeeping Help

There can be different reasons a homemaker will desire to have help at home, for instance a growing family, weak health, a big house, husband working long hours etc. Before hiring someone determine how many hours you want them to work and how much you are prepared to pay. Be careful about people you allow into your house, especially when small children are involved or you are vulnerable in any other way.

When interviewing the prospective help, try to find more about her background and working experience and on your part, tell her what tasks she is supposed to do, how many hours exactly you expect her to work and what her wages will be. Your new cleaning lady is your employee so you should treat her as such. Be polite but firm, don't get too familiar, don't pry into her affairs and don't gossip about her - it's extremely bad manners.

The first working assignment is crucial as you can observe your help in action so to say, discover her weak and strong points and decide whether she is really suitable for your household. It's better not to leave her alone, at least in the beginning before you can fully trust her. Don't expect perfection and be flexible. If your help is better at scrubbing the floors than at ironing, let her do it and iron yourself.

You shouldn't ask her to perform dangerous or very unpleasant tasks such as cleaning a cat toilet or washing windows outside on the third floor. After two hours of work, your help is entitled to a cup of tea or coffee with a cookie. It's also good manners to give her a bonus with vacation and a present when she quits.

It makes things so much easier to have a cleaning plan or schedule and discuss it with her so that both of you will have a clear idea of what she is supposed to do on any certain day.

I hope the information above was helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to ask! 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Summer Dresses

Lydia Sherman had a post some time ago featuring several dresses that the Duchess of Cambridge had worn during her visit to India. They were quite long and had long sleeves, too. Now it can be due to the local customs, but the "Bohemian" style and long dresses for summer have been a trend for quite some time.

However, these dresses usually had short sleeves, and now the sleeves appear to be getting longer, too.

Compare this

to this.

Of course, it's a somewhat different style, not mentioning the price and quality, but the idea behind it is the same: a long summer dress with long sleeves and a high (as far as modern fashions go) neckline. Is that a beginning of a new trend?

BTW, I'm not an affiliate of Bonprix and am in no way connected to them, but I bought stuff from them in the past. They offer lots and lots of relatively cheap dresses of reasonable quality, so if you are interested in switching to more feminine styles, you may want to check them.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Great Abortion Debate

There are folks who come to my blog and do a search on abortion and I've never written about it since I prefer to restrict myself to writing on positive topics. However, the abortion debate triggered by Mr Trump's comments has been raging through the blogosphere and I came to the conclusion that I actually sometimes dislike both sides for their insincerity, their pigheadedness  and their inability to actually talk with each other without flying off the handle.

The whole abortion debate has been framed in the term of rights, which is, frankly, retarded on the part of traditionalists because the whole idea of human rights isn't traditional at all, but something which was brought by Enlightenment, the very antithesis of the traditional Christianity. Pro-lifers are further dishonest when they claim that abortion had been universally forbidden before Roe vs Wade since under English common law abortion, even a late-term one, wasn't a criminal offence until the 19th century. Salic law as far as I know, treated late-term abortion akin to murder, but not the early abortion.

What is certainly true, is that Christian Church universally viewed both early and late term abortion as a sin, with the punishment of accordingly 3 or 10 year penance and that abortionists were prosecuted if the abortion resulted in the death of the woman.

And here we come to the main problem with the modern pro-life position: while they keep claiming that abortion is murder and holocaust they also state that women who procure abortions are just as much victims as the aborted fetuses and should never be as much as spoken harshly to, otherwise it would be "unloving." Strange enough, they aren't ready to extent the same "love" to the doctor who performs abortion.

While it's undoubtedly ridiculous to portray those women as totally ignorant of what they are actually doing, the other side in this whole debate (should the women be punished, that is)  rather comes across as a bunch of vindictive guys with a grudge against women in general who are more interested in punishing the would-be mothers (preferably by death)  than in really stopping abortion.

Actually prosecuting the doctors but not the women seeking abortions makes a good deal more sense and I'll try to explain why. When someone dies, in most countries you'll need some type of a medical report stating that the death was due to natural reasons, otherwise police will get involved. To prosecute a woman for terminating her pregnancy would mean that she'd have first to register this pregnancy officially or to make it publicly known which is rather complicated when she isn't showing. Some women learn that they are pregnant earlier than others.

Many many pregnancies end in miscarriage, sometimes after as little as 3 weeks. Will the police create a special department to investigate whether all these miscarriages were entirely natural? Do we really want it? Will every fertile woman have to undergo a pregnancy test if she is 3 days late and report the results to the government?  From the practical point of view, if abortion is to be restricted, it's much easier to punish the abortion clinic than its clients. 

The real reason most pro-lifers don't want women to be punished is probably due to the fact that despite the rhetoric that they use they don't really believe that abortion is murder, though they undoubtedly and in my opinion, correctly believe that it's a type of killing and something very unnatural which wouldn't be touted as "a right" in any healthy society.

Any healthy society further on would frown upon extramarital sex, extoll chastity in women, encourage traditional family roles and view motherhood as something deeper than a hobby. We don't live in a healthy society, so I don't expect abortion to be forbidden any time soon. Pro-lifers in America expend a lot of energy fighting for the cause but so far haven't achieved anything. May be, they should rethink their strategy?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

More On Working Wives And Househusbands

If you have watched Job Switching, you must have noticed several things. First, both Lucy and Ethel are housewives though neither of them has any children at the moment. Yet, their staying home is still shown as the normal arrangement. It's suggested that neither of them worked before they married, either (Have you ever tried to make a living?) which means that they got married right after school/college and probably belonged to middle class background.

Working women later in the episode are shown as masculine/unattractive (too plain to catch a good husband hence they have to work school of thought). Interesting enough, in another episode which features a two-income couple (the Fosters) it's heavily hinted that Grace Forster has a certain "reputation".

Housework is shown as " real work" and Ricky and Fred learn the hard way that keeping house demands more than just "lying around on the sofas" and it also proves that this stereotype already existed back then. And yet, the apartments of both are tiny by the modern standards (one bedroom). You can also see the importance of home cooking, not only dinner, but breakfast, too!

Lucy wears trousers at home in the first scene, but she puts on a more formal outfit when she goes out to work and so does Ethel. Ricky and Fred's behaviour changes considerably when they switch to being "housewives". While in the beginning of the episode Ricky behaves in an authoritative manner he starts sounding submissive when asking Lucy what sort of job she's going to take. This whole episode proves once again that the husband's authority was tied up to his responsibility to provide an income.

In the end they all decide to go back to the "traditional way" of doing things which is shown as the victory of common sense. And though Lucy could do a much better job of saving money and managing her finances, it was never implied she had to engage in "home businesses" of any sort. In fact, the series heavily ridiculed this idea in more than one episode which is probably the reason so many "fundie" Christians obsessed with their women making a dollar while homeschooling 12 kids and grinding their own flour dislike it.

If you have any more ideas or observations, feel free to share them in the comments section.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Two New Dresses

Someone asked me to take pictures of them so I thought why not posting them on my blog.

The first one is more of a sort you would wear to engage in housekeeping and daily shopping. It's quite warm, too!

The other one is more for the weekend:

They are both brands but I bought them quite cheap, for my birthday present (though it's still several weeks before it. I just thought I deserved it:)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Unconventional Life Of Isabella Bird

Isabella Bird was a Victorian lady born to middle class parents in 1831 and she had always been sick. She had back pain, headaches, weak nerves and insomnia. At the age of 19 she was operated and a tumour was removed from her spine. Due to ill health, she was unable to attend school but nevertheless, received quite a decent education from her parents, and by the doctor's advice she spent a lot of time outdoors and learned to ride a horse and row.

In spite of what Wikipedia calls "a narrow Evangelical education", the girl was interested in a variety of political and economical subjects and amused herself by writing articles for newspapers. Yet her health wasn't improving and the doctors urged a sea trip. At the age of 23 she was sent to visit her American cousins and since that time she basically led a gypsy life with some exceptions till she died.

Despite being an oppressed Victorian woman living practically in the Dark Ages, Isabella managed to write books, climb mountains, study nature and ride through the American prairies in a man's saddle. She managed to do all these things while wearing cumbersome Victorian outfits and threatened to sue the newspaper which stated she used to dress like a man.

Though every woman supposedly "hits a wall" after 35 and could better die already, Miss Bird was quite popular with men and at the age of 42 became involved with a notorious American outlaw Jim Nugent who liked "violence and poetry" (a strange combination if ever was) but her common sense told her that though he was the man "any woman might love" he was also one "no sane woman would marry". So she chose to leave and he was shot dead a year later.

However, it wasn't all. When she returned to UK another man fell in love with her and he was about 10 years younger, independently wealthy and pursuing the career as a surgeon. Isabella, poor thing, had been feeling sick the whole time during these shenanigans and decided that her health demanded she travelled to Japan, China, Korea and the rest of Asia.

Her sister Henrietta, who was NOT sick, stayed home and in the meanwhile, died of typhoid. This sad event prompted Isabella, 50 at that time to finally accept her doctor friend and thus they were married. Her health deteriorated right away ( I personally think it was due to her finally having to do some housekeeping) but though her husband was much younger and healthy, he died after only 5 years of wedded bliss and left her all his money which was a lot.

Now Isabella, being a true Victorian lady, decided that she had to do something in memory of her dear late husband and started studying medicine. By the time she finished her studies, she was nearly 60 but that didn't stop the indomitable Mrs Bishop. She went to India where she established a hospital and named it after her deceased husband.  Later on she joined a group of British soldiers and visited Iran, under the protection of the commanding officer.

Isabella became so popular with her books and her photography that she was made the first lady member of the Royal Geographic society  and the sultan of Morocco gave her a black stallion as a present.

She finally died at the age of (nearly) 73, and despite being continuously sick she had travelled all over the world which proves that life is often stranger than fiction. And that's the story of Isabella Bird. Read more about her at Wikipedia.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Jane Eyre 2006

Normally I'm not a big fan of Jane Eyre. I find the book boring, full of Victorian moralising strangely mixed with Victorian feminism. Yet, like everybody else, I watched several screen adaptations of the novel.

The one from 1983 with Timothy Dalton is considered more or less a classic one, at least for our generation, as there were plenty of screen versions made before including several Indian ones. Then there was the one from 1996 which my friend loved and many many others. The story stays popular for some reason, may be because there is so little quality romance produced by contemporary authors.

Anyway, recently I watched the BBC 2006 mini series for the second time and I really enjoyed it. First, I liked the actors. Second, I liked the fact that unlike the other two adaptations they chose not to lay the accent on the general horribleness of Victorian society, or the hypocrisy of the clergy, or how disgusting all the wealthy people are.

 The 2006 version chiefly concentrates on the relationship between Jane and Mr Rochester and its development. It even manages to tone down the famous "feminist" monologue of Jane so instead of her proclaiming herself his equal in everything she becomes his social equal which is more or less true since she comes from a "good" family and has a decent education.

The only minus point I could find is that they omitted the fact that Mr Rochester partially regained his eyesight in the end which made him less dependent on Jane, but if you know the story it's not a problem. In short, I find 2006 Jane Eyre a quality production and would recommend it to anyone.

P.S. While watching it I pondered on the fact that when Jane ran away from Rochester and nearly died she literally chose death over the dishonour of being his mistress. Honour for Victorians wasn't just an empty word and you can see it reflected in literature of the times. While nowadays, young women openly cohabit with men and nobody turns an eye, least of all their parents.  Just as Victorians were idealistic we appear to only be concerned with material things. It's a strange world we live in...