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November 10, 2007

What would Ma Ingalls do?

More about me than you ever wanted to know

Sometimes when I find myself getting whiny about my really-pretty-easy life, I ask myself "What would Ma Ingalls do?" ("What would Marilla say?" works pretty well too.) I've found it's a good way to make myself just do the dishes already, or to get out of bed in a timely manner when the house is a bit cold. I've been reading the Little House books over and over for almost twenty years now, and as I get older I become more and more aware of how amazing Ma seemed to be, packing up over and over, following her husband to frontier after frontier, always making ends meet, making a happy life for her family. And the knowledge of how ridiculously easy my life is compared to that generally shames me into just sucking it up and getting on with things. (Yes, I know the historicity of some elements of the Little House books is debatable, but I'm using this as literary inspiration, not historical.)

For example, if Ma were faced with half a bag of apples that weren't as good as expected in the first place and were now getting overripe, would she throw them out? No, she wouldn't, because they're perfectly good food and we do not throw out food. She'd do something like cook them into apples 'n' onions* instead:

Apples 'n' Onions

The only problem with this method of self-motivation is that it sometimes breaks down when it comes to more newfangled "should do"s. The answer to "What would Ma Ingalls do?" is generally not "do yoga" or "cook tofu" or even "exercise," since Lord knows she got enough of a workout in her everyday life that it would just be silly for her to expend more energy when she didn't have to. Although, now that I think about it, she probably would approve of physical exertion as a way to raise body temperature and cut down on heating fuel consumption...

Man, I've got to pull out my Little House books and reread them all. It's been way too long. By which I mean maybe a year, but... still.
* Yes, I know apples 'n' onions were made by Almanzo's mother, not Ma. Still. And I ended up going with Mark Bittman's recipe rather than the one from the Little House Cookbook because I didn't have half a pound of bacon fat lying around.

Posted by Kat at November 10, 2007 07:36 AM
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