Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Householder's Guide to the Universe

I finished A Householder's Guide to the Universe by Harriet Fasenfest some time ago. But I wanted to give it its due here in this space. It is a charming book, mixing her personal histories and viewpoints with practical tips and recipes. I definitely recommend reading it.

I got it from the library, based on a recommendation from Apron Stringz, one of my new favourite blogs (it's a new favourite for me, not a new blog). Unfortunately, I got it along with The Resilient Gardener, which I am still working my way through (Ack! Apparently I talked the title up a little too much. Someone placed a hold on it so I had to return it before I was even close to done). But within 20 pages of The Resilient Gardener, I thought I need to buy this book and have it as a reference. So the bar was set very hard for the Householder's Guide. And as charming as it was and as lovely a read as it was, I don't think I'll buy it to have on reference. I think when I get into jam making, I'll probably want a refresher on her way of making natural pectin from high-pectin fruits and her table of pectin contents of common fruits. But that's not quite enough to merit buying the whole book, for me. Of course, if I were to see it for $1 at a second-hand shop... well, I will gladly take it on.

Anyways... I really like her point of view. Here are some of her words for you to ponder:

"Being home to make a home was not always seen as a form of internment, the way it is today. It was not always th eplace of second choices or no choices at all. Home, for much of our history (for both men and women), was the center of our cultural, emotional, environmental, and physical well-being. It was the engine of our home economy, the place to practice our skills and trades. Being home meant being in place, living on the land you were to care for, surrounded by the resources you needed. But the farther we have moved from the land, the more the arts and trades required to manage a home have lost their significance. If householding is an attempt to bring the wisdom and the systems of the natural world back into the urban environment, we need to reevaluate what being home means."

And I especially enjoy her self-deprecation that comes out more towards the end of the book. I really identify with this:

"It's just that with so much damn intention crammed into a life, a person needs a little camaraderie. Of course, there is the distinct possibility that I'm as annoying as hell, and that even if everyone was home, I'd still be out in the cold. My friend Myo says she loves my 'self-obsession,' but that's because she's Italian and is used to people talking over each other. I understand I'm looking for a very particular relationship. Me: expat New York Jew, living in the land of hipsterism, growing food and still talking about Woodstock. You: someone who likes listening to me talk. Which is why I'm writing this book, I guess. Wow, a captive audience. But honestly, where do we meet?"

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