So. What can you do?

So the lesson in Relief Society yesterday was interesting. It was based on the concept of "provident living" and these were the 5 main areas the teacher covered:

1. We are responsible for our own social, emotional, spiritual, physical, and economic well-being.

2. We have been counseled to participate in home food production and storage.

3. We should work for what we receive.

4. We can become economically self-reliant by saving, avoiding debt, and living within our means.

5. Preparedness is a way of life that brings its own rewards.

The problem with these kinds of lessons is that they end up becoming All About Food Storage, and this one was no different. I really would have like to have spent more time on #1, especially about social, emotional, and physical well-being, because it seems like those are things that the some of us in the room are actually concerned about and perhaps struggling with. And it could have been that the teacher wanted to go there but didn't get a chance because the lesson had already veered off into Food Storage and Emergency Preparedness Land, with everyone wanting to share tips and comments and personal experiences.

During the bit about "home production," one girl went off about how a friend of hers asked her for help sewing a baby quilt and it turned out that her friend couldn't even sew a straight line and it was just so absolutely baffling to her. She went on and on about this, and about how stunned she was that her friend couldn't use a sewing machine and doesn't already have a room full of the quilted art she has created.

Only here's the thing. Why is that so baffling? Why should her friend know how to sew? It's not like we learn in school. It's not like the knowledge is passed down through Mormon amniotic fluid or in the Cache Valley water (although, seriously, that last bit wouldn't surprise me). Unless someone takes us aside and teaches us at the age of 6, or unless we have the desire to be all crafty and buy ourselves a machine and figure it out (and perhaps ask a friend for help in getting started), how would we know? Also, what if we don't care? What if we're not crafty? What if we don't want to make our own clothes or tie quilts or create Americana-themed wall hangings for our living room?

Also? What's up with canning and all that? Why should we do it? If I already have a year's supply of peaches from Costco then shouldn't I be good? Why on this sweet earth should I spend a Saturday up to my elbows in sticky nastiness just to give myself botulism? I mean, if you like to do those things and you like knowing where your food comes from and it gives you a feeling of satisfaction, then that's wonderful and I say more power to you. But what if you just don't care?

So that's the question I really wanted to ask, even though there was no time for it: If you really could not care less about this stuff and you can get your food/clothing needs met in other ways, why bother with it? Should we learn just because you never know what might happen and it's good to have as many self-reliance-type skills as possible? Because I actually can accept that as a reason. I just want to know if there are others.

Also, I'd like to know what the guys talked about. Because even though they had the same lesson, I'll bet you money they didn't talk about the important of learning how to sew and can peaches. They probably just said something like, "So . . . try to marry a girl with skills. But who is hot at the same time." And then they went outside and played touch football or something.

ps. The title of this post comes from a sweet overzealous boy I knew once. That was his conversational starter with women. He basically wanted to know if they could sew and can peaches. He eventually did find his dream girl, which just goes to show that this game is rigged.


Anonymous said... [reply]

The lesson in Alaska was much the same. A few people made comments concerning using your talents and resources more wisely and learn to fix things, save money, spend less, stay out of debt, etc. A lot more could've been said about the rest of the article. I think the teacher was just nervous.

goddessdivine said... [reply]

Ah....lesson hijacking; I'm sure the teacher tried her best, but it seems to me that there were other points that were just as important (education? self-reliance? being debt free?)

I would have raised my hand and asked if that girl was 'baffled' by my lack of domestic skills. I can't sew worth crap; nor do I care. Besides, I think it's cheaper these days to buy clothes already made; material is so expensive.

If that's what guys are looking for in a mate then I am screwed (but I already knew that).

Funny, but I just posted about food storage as well.

.::still blinking::. said... [reply]

I didn't go to church yesterday, and I am in the Young Women's so even if I had it would have been about training the youth of america to be perfect young ladies who know how to can peaches and quilt.

But the thing is, if I fill my basement with 20 years of wheat, what am I going to do with it? If there really is an emergency, it is not like I am going to know what to do with it. My family will starve to death wondering what to do with all this wheat. I don't know how to use a dutch oven to cook. I don't know how to turn wheat into bread. It seems far more reasonable to fill my freezer with totinoes pizzas and my basement with canned peaches. At least I know how to open a can and then I would be able to feed my family.

They say to do this stuff, but there are actual skills that need to be taught as well.

Janssen said... [reply]

I think food storage is important, but I agree that there is no real reason that having Costco canned peaches is less worthy than having done them yourself (plus, it's probably just cheaper to buy them, seeing as I could get a can of tomatos for around thirty cents and the jar itself for canning would cost me more than that).

And I completely agree with you about the "stunned" girl. Who cares if her friend can't sew? And for crying out loud, she was trying to LEARN. Is it so bad that she's learning as a twenty something rather than a six or seven year old?

Yes, our lesson talked about food storage, but fortunately we talked a lot also about some other nifty stuff, like gaining skills and experience in school, getting good grades, teaching your children to work, etc. But, surprisingly, almost nothing about spiritual prep. . . how ironic.

Sarita said... [reply]

You needed to be in our relief society. Food storage was barely mentioned, and it was more so in a way that we've been told that we need to do so no need to beat a dead horse.

It was all about our spiritual, emotional, financial preparedness. Having our lives in order.

And ended with the RS president stating that we are living in a material world...*smirk* and we are material girls....

blackjazz said... [reply]

Our priesthood lesson was mainly about finances. It was in danger at one point of degenerating into the 4 Yorkshiremen Sketch, so I tried to stop it by pointing that out.

I would have liked a food-storage discussion because I'm getting all enthusiastic about it at the moment. The Church has published a new leaflet that is so simple that surely everybody can read and understand it - "All Is Safely Gathered In".

I think the counsel has changed and I wanted to discuss that. It looks to me as though we're being asked to store 3 months supply of some of the foods that we use and eat, and a year's supply of food that will store for a long time. I like the idea of storing 12 months supply of wheat in a way that will last for 30 years and I'll never open it unless there's a serious emergency. And I like the idea of only using food that I normally eat.

I'm not interested in canning stuff myself either. Cans won't last 30 years. And who needs quilts?

Liz Johnson said... [reply]

Well, if your entire identity isn't wrapped up in your craftiness and scrapbooks and ability to can pears and sew burp cloths for your 8 children, then can you really be a good Mormon? I mean, isn't that a temple recommend question?

I, too, believe that 90% of the time, it is cheaper to buy clothes than to make them. And that Costco is able to can fruit cheaper and safer than I can. I prefer to utilize my buy-in-bulk resources, thus making time for the baking/scripture study/praying/cleaning/ironing/teaching/family history/service activities/fellowshipping/missionary work that I am also supposed to be doing.

Not that I feel overwhelmed.

FoxyJ said... [reply]

I learned how to sew as a young child and used to make many of my own clothes. I haven't done that for years, because it generally is cheaper to buy clothes than to make them. At the same time, basic sewing skills are a good idea so you can save money repairing clothing rather than just getting rid of it when it gets ripped or torn.

Canning your own fruit or making your own jam can save money as well, but if you are single or have a small family sometimes that doesn't make as much sense. The other day I got a big thing of strawberries on sale for real cheap. I went home and made some freezer jam with them (it's so easy to make freezer jam). Then I realized that it's going to take me and S-Boogie about a year to go through six jars of jam. Sigh.

Over the last few years I've learned that having a stock of stored food (I don't have a lot, but some) can get you through those times when unexpected expenses come up and you need to use your food money for other things.

I agree, though, that the lesson should have been about self reliance as a general idea and less specifically about food storage. I am also glad that I have good cooking and sewing skills, because they can come in handy at times. At the same time, I don't choose to spend my time canning food or making crafts because I have other priorities.

Unknown said... [reply]

"What if we don't want to make our own clothes or tie quilts or create Americana-themed wall hangings for our living room?"

I'm seriously starting to worry about your testimony, Nemesis.

When my parents moved out of state a couple months back, they finally threw away all the jars of cherries that they've had for over two decades. My mom said there was no way she was going to move all of them again, especially since they were just sitting there and not being eaten.

Oh, and we mostly just talked about finances, too—budgeting, learning to distinguish between wants and needs, and so on. It wasn't the greatest, but I have a feeling it was better than being guilt-tripped for not being Susie the Self-Sufficient Homemaker.

TOWR said... [reply]

If guys are going to begin with, "So. What can you do?" I think we should start talking to them with, "So, how much do you make and how handy are you with a wrench and electric drill?"

If it's good for the goose it's good for the gander.

Jenny said... [reply]

I think if you know someone who can do things you can't you should trade services. Nemesis doesn't need to make any jam because she knows I will give her a jar and she will babysit for me or buy me something shiny in return. And if I need pants hemmed I call my friend. So I think that should calculate into everyone's 'provident living' strategy to a degree.

I've never read anywhere that you had to make all your own food storage etc. You should just be prepared and who cares how you get there. It's all about working smarter, not harder. And giving other people opportunities to use their skills so they don't get rusty...

TheMoncurs said... [reply]

My freshman roommate had a theory that all singles ward/YM/YW lessons ended in the same place: Law of Chastity

-Temple marriage and law of chastity
-tithing and law of chastity
-food storage and law of chastity

This post just reminded me of that.

Food storage is something I finally started doing once I got married and actually really like because I never run out of the basics. I always have the necessities for baking cookies and whatnot.

I don't know how to sew, though. Which basically qualifies me for a general shunning and scorning.

Unknown said... [reply]

so... wait. Food storage? Why would I want to store food that I'm not going to use? *confused*

word verification: tysuh
you can turn that into "Tushy!"

Kimberly said... [reply]

I am so glad that I'm in Primary right now. Instead of sitting in that lesson, I was taking a four-year old to the restroom. We had a nice discussion about how Horny Toads are endangered.

Isn't it great to be gainfully employed so that we can afford to buy clothes and food and not have to sew or cook if we don't want to? I work all the time so I can pay someone else to do that stuff.

Christian said... [reply]

For years, everyone has been jealous of my mom's food storage. Because it's just a whole lot of food that you might actually like to eat. Things like canned peaches (from Costco), corn, tuna, chocolate.

It makes much more sense. Because unless you have a handmill, you're not going to turn that wheat into flour to make bread.

Meadowlark said... [reply]

My wife teaches violin; I tend the garden and orchard to get as far away as possible, especially from the beginners... :) I do the canning, the bottling, the juicing, and love the results. The jam has only a fraction of the sugar; the beans have half the salt. Tastier, healthier, and a mental break from the details of a technical desk job. My lunch nearly always has something from the garden, year-round (cue up the David Mallet song, "Inch by inch, row by row, this is how my garden grows."

Allen in Oregon

Carina said... [reply]

I didn't get the lesson because I had to leave to go nurse the baby in the lounge (join us sometime, the water is fine and we have lots of fruity drinks.)

So my advice to you is to go find a baby to nurse and this stuff won't aggravate you anymore.

Then again, no aggravation means no blog. Nevermind.

Oh, I guess what I learned was that if I keep nursing it's almost like our family's yearly supply.

Lady Steed said... [reply]

Following along with the lesson on Sunday I wondered how applicable or reasonable this statement from President Kimball is these days:

We encourage you to grow all the food that you feasibly can on your own property. Berry bushes, grapevines, fruit trees—plant them if your climate is right for their growth. Grow vegetables and eat them from your own yard. Even those residing in apartments or condominiums can generally grow a little food in pots and planters. Study the best methods of providing your own foods.

Yes it would be great if everyone could actually grow their own fruits and veggies, but sometimes it's just not that provident of a thing to do. Watering a garden is expensive, especially where I live. The time to tend the garden is vast. The supplies to start a garden can be expensive for some. I myself have started a garden and am greatly looking forward to harvest time, but I wonder if it will really have been such a 'provident' thing to do.

Desmama said... [reply]

Um, we had the same lesson on Sunday too. But it focused more on staying out of debt and stuff. So that was good. I agree with everything that FoxyJ said on here, although I didn't learn to sew much when I was a kid, so I'm learning now--even though it's harder to find time.

This has been, um, interesting.

Anonymous said... [reply]

How is it that you guys got that and we got "How to avoid temptation"?

ambrosia ananas said... [reply]

"Why should her friend know how to sew? It's not like we learn in school."

Well, except in my school. We did learn, and it was traumatic. And I still can't sew a straight line. (I feel a post coming on.)

"Because unless you have a handmill, you're not going to turn that wheat into flour to make bread."

And you *don't* want a handmill, I promise you. Unless you have a bike or something to hook it to. You'd probably get more calories by just eating the wheat straight than by hand-grinding it to make bread. I like to hope, though, that our bags of wheat will be useful--seems that we'll probably need extra food at times besides just the Apocalypse, so hopefully we'll have electricity some of those times.

Julie said... [reply]

The church is so true on your blog, miss nemesis.

daltongirl said... [reply]

I can tell you what the old guys talked about--in our ward, anyway. They went around and made a list of everything they want (as opposed to need). One guy (our age) wants a ski boat. The rest of them are old, sick, and mostly alone. They want a home-cooked meal they don't have to make or clean up, someone to talk to, etc.

Have you ever thought of a Primary calling? It beats sitting through some of those RS "lessons." And you get to hear people ask intelligent questions, like, "Is Heavenly Father John the Baptist's uncle?"

Nectar said... [reply]

I gave the lesson last Sunday in the High Priest group. The emphasis I put on the lesson was how the principle of self-reliance is pervasive in the gospel. While we are saved by grace, it is only after we have done all that we can for ourselves. When we are worthy to live the United Order it will only be after we have learned to rely on our own efforts instead of shifting the responsibility for our welfare to others.

We have compassion for others, we serve others, and we are in a position to do so only when we have learned to provide for our own needs with the help of the Lord. We are in this together only works if each of us is willing to do his or her own part to be self-reliant.

We are in training to become like the Savior. Self-reliant through provident living, which enables us to lift those not on the higher ground upon which we stand.

Kelly said... [reply]

We're very focused on the bird flu pandemic in my stake, which, um, k. I suppose the good side of it is that they're only requesting that we have something like 3 weeks of food and water storage in case there's a quarantine. Heck, I probably have half that in my kitchen right now. Well, not the water. But the canned pineapple and tomatoes from Costco.

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