Don’t Touch My Decorative Towels, Man!

Pam Pollock
February 2023

Back when I was a newlywed, 40 years ago, a family came to our house trying to sell us a vacuum cleaner.  The wife was so happy explaining everything in detail.  They left that night without a sale – my spouse and I could not even afford a TV at the time, and I was not domesticated in the least bit – there was no way we were spending hundreds of dollars on a vacuum.  I naively remarked to my husband when we were alone, “I hope that I never get that excited about an item for the house.”

Forty years later and I am still not a domestic diva.  My spouse and I are in the process of moving into his parents’ house,  his childhood home.  We are moving from the ranch house that we have spent our entire married life to a 170 year old farmhouse on wooded property.  I’m leaving an all-electric heated house with the bathroom right beside my bedroom to a 2-story house with incredibly steep stairs – and the bathroom downstairs and the laundry in the basement.  I am experiencing sticker price shock at the cost of heating this house with oil.  (Geez Louise!) And don’t even get me started on my frustration when we first moved in and I realized that cell phone service was horrible, and we could not get cable TV and internet.  We had to rely on this horrible, horrible satellite provider for internet and tried to do the TV streaming.  I had meltdowns galore and finally drove to the nearest cable provider and literally begged and cried for them to make an exception and come down our little rural road with cables.  After 5 times of pleading on the phone and in person, they agreed and made it a Pollock Christmas Miracle for us!

But I am loving the peace and quiet and rustic quaintness.  I like waking up in the morning and seeing the sun rise over the field across the road from me.  In the evening, I step out on the deck and see thousands and thousands of stars twinkling in the night sky.  The birds and squirrels flock to my feeders and peer in the windows.  Deer run down the backyard, and I swear I saw a bear scamper into the woods one early morning.  When there’s snow on the ground, our lawn is covered with animal tracks of so many different species.

We had our first taste of the old homestead ups and downs right before Christmas when the brutal temperatures struck with some snow.  The electricity went out, which we knew would happen because it always did that when Steve’s parents were alive.  Steve went out in pitch dark before 6:00 am to start the back-up generator (something he would drive up and do for his Mom for many years).  The windchill was -31º and the wind was howling.  I was struggling to get fires started in the fireplace in the living room and the woodstove in the kitchen/dining room.  I was not very successful.  As well as not being domesticated, I am also not a woodswoman.

When my spouse walked back into the house, I greeted him with a block of wood and a rolled up newspaper.  “So, how do we like the homesteading life now, honey?” I sarcastically bellowed.  My spouse can, at times, have the patience of a saint.  He had started the generator and gotten us some power.  He calmly walked over to the thermostat and moved it from the 62º that I insist on keeping it set on, up to 68º.  He took that block of wood and added more wood and soon had toasty fires going. 

He's assembled a bed stool so I can climb into the enormous 4 poster bed. He’s watched as I’ve slowly started to become this domesticated old grandma.  I was talking to my friend Tina the other day.  I was in the process of loading wood from the shed into a wagon, which I then wheeled up to the house.  I was choosing each piece of wood carefully, making sure it was dry enough. I spent more time deciding on that load of wood then I did picking out my wedding gown.  Tina exclaimed, “Well, look at you, Pamela!  You are just a regular Laura Ingalls Wilder, aren’t you?!”

I screeched with glee, “Girl, yes, that’s exactly who I am! Well, except that I have electricity, running water, a bathroom, a car, modern appliances…”

My son’s girlfriend V came over and bedecked our living room and staircase for the holidays.  My daughter created a Pinterest board for me with decorating ideas for the mantle and staircase.  I started to purchase little trinkets and signs about how great it is to be living in a farmhouse - #homesteadlife.  One night Steve came home from work and found decorative towels hanging from the oven door.  After supper, he foolishly grabbed one to wipe up a mess. I bellowed, ‘Not the decorative towels!  What are you thinking?  They are for looks only!”  He was puzzled, I mean, in 40 years of marriage, I never cared at the other house if he used the towels hanging from the oven door. “But these are *DECORATIVE, HOMESTEAD* towels,” I stammered.  “We can’t use them; they are for appearance sake only.”

Remember my remark earlier about never wanting to be excited about buying a vacuum cleaner for the house?  Well, that still holds true – but I got positively giddy the other day when I rode along with my husband to buy a wood splitter.  Yep, you heard right – I was thrilled with our purchase of a wood splitter.  We came home and I took photos and videos of my spouse and son splitting some wood.

I get up in the morning and attempt to get the fires blazing because I still insist on having that thermostat set at 62º.  “Put on a sweater and use a blanket, or two or three,” I instruct my spouse.  I started cooking meals and then doing the dishes right after we finish eating.  This is not normal behavior for me.  I fussily hang blankets and throws on a ladder propped against the living room wall. 

My spouse remarked the other evening, “You’re becoming quite the Pioneer Woman, aren’t you”. I retorted, “I’m Laura ‘effin’ Ingalls Wilder!  Get it straight, man.  And keep your mitts off my decorative towels!”