Monday, March 5, 2012

Quelle Epoque!

This was the title of a radio show I used to listen to in France. It spotlighted one crazy new innovation each week. Flavored gelatin in a prepackaged container brought it to mind yesterday, in the midst of children with stomach flu, long division, Ivanhoe, cleaning house and arranging piano and archery lessons, the former at home, the latter out in a snowstorm.

I thought, "what kind of world am I living in where the ghost of the idea of canned Jello even enters my head?" Then it came to me...a flippin' fantastic world! I can give my little guy the one thing he is willing to eat, even though I did not think of it three hours prior, even though I do not have a cook to take over and make it for me while I hold a little head (or the other end) over a toilet once again. It is a despicable waste of resources, a shameful source of pollution once eaten, full of dye of all sorts of numbers and generally disgusting, but it will help his little tummy heal and make him feel better. 

We used to depend on each other; some of us had cooks, gardeners, nannies, chauffeurs (I really regret the absence of this last). Some of us were the servants, taking care of the masters, which was not nearly as nice as the other way around, but they watched out for us in some way too, we were not alone, and our neighbors and families were there for each other. We lived closer together, or at least in closer community. Now...we live our busy, isolated little lives, buzzing around in our own little (or not so little) automobiles, but someone had the foresight to put the gelatin in a plastic container for days like yesterday. We are masters of adaptation, we human beings. This gives me great hope for the future. So far, we have managed to adapt to the most diverse conditions with ease and speed enough to survive. And we are not always stupid. The local food movements are growing every day, more and more people I know are living with extended family. We are returning to the source, even as we pick and choose among modern conveniences that improve some aspect of life.

I love my life, which seems quite selfish some days. I don't want to feel the daily disapproval of say, a head butler, a maid, the lady of the manor, a spinster cousin. There may be something fundamentally wrong about this.  Perhaps being held accountable to a greater family around us makes us better people somehow. Or perhaps the truth is that we do well when we hold ourselves to high standards on our own, though we need other people at some point in our lives, to learn what those standards could and should be.

I am blessed to have a wonderful family who has grown to take me as I am; a little eccentric, a little ornery. They make me feel loved and important. I have friends who either like me the way I am or are kind enough not to mention my great failings. My friends are truly a support system and the saving grace of daily life, whether they are online or right here, dropping off food and videos or ready for a cup of tea or a glass of wine. But I am American, and I like to figure things out for myself, as do most of us  here. I like that I am able to provide for my family in all circumstances. Importing non-food from the far-flung corners of the globe for digestive purposes is not living up to my ideals, but it does mean I can take care of my children alone for a day.

But is there not another way to survive gastroenteritis? As many ways as there are children with mothers, I imagine. In France, for example, I got along fine without gelatin (or electrolyte-restoring liquids for infants) when upset tummies took over. I nursed my babies and fed my kids rice, grated apple, bananas, and on the second day: yogurt with quince jam, a little chicken and a soft-boiled egg. (And we did give them soda to drink, if things were really severe, doctor's orders.) When in Rome...we follow the Roman doctor's orders, and in the US it is; bananas, rice...and Jello (just add water!)


  1. what a lovely, well-written post. You are so eloquent, Angela, and I do enjoy reading and then pondering your posts.

    Isn't it odd, that even though the population on this planet is at its very largest, what we consider family has shrunk down to the nuclear, mother, father, and kids, model.

    We need to get the kids together and I will get you the steam vac.

    Have a great day!

  2. Thank you, Marlis!

    It is odd, this nuclear family phenomenon. Check out John Taylor Gatto, "The Underground History of Education in America."


    I am changing over to Wordpress.


Thank you for stopping by. I am always happy to hear from you! Please leave a comment and let me know how you feel about a post or add advice, anecdotes, etc. of your own.