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Sunday, March 28, 2010

apple!

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When I was a teenager I babysat on Saturday nights. The mom of three boys across the street hired me for around $1.50 an hour. They were good boys who played hard and fell immediately to sleep when I tucked them in bed. The oldest boy was busted up badly when hit by a car while riding his bike on our quiet street one day, but not on my babysitting watch, thank God. The image of his mother running down the street with terror freezing her face, toward him lying on the pavement next to his curled bicycle is a permanent negative image in my mind. Thankfully he recovered fully from all those broken limbs. Oh, cherished little ones we entrust to babysitters! It's almost too frightening to think of it. How fragile, and how life changing a minute can be. Such responsibility.

One mother I babysat for managed to get me to watch her two energetic kids, plus feed a third - a baby in a high chair - and do the ironing for that amount. I think I only worked for her once. The money wasn't much, but it gave me a small amount of cash for a movie or a vanilla phosphate at the drug store (otherwise I raided my mom's wallet - brazen!). There was something else I hoped for at the houses where I watched kids. The parents were always nice and said what was in the cupboards and fridge was mine. (You might know by now that I love food.) Oh I remember babysitting my nephews Todd and Eric once, after my sister Nancy had made fried rosemary chicken for their dinner. She made enough for me, and I can still taste the bliss on my tongue. Usually I wasn't quite that fortunate, but the one snack I did hope for was a good apple. You see, my dad was as frugal as they came. This meant that he bought boxes of overripe fruit from under the counter at Horrock's, our local produce market. They'd put apples under there that were starting to soften and bruise, and they were cheap. Dad would put them in the fridge's crisper drawer (hopeful!), and within a few days the whole fridge started smelling like fermenting apples. This was my life. Me. A lover of a good apple, doomed to smell bad ones and never eat them. Except when I went to babysit. I might get paid eight bucks for the night, but if a good, crunchy, fresh apple was given as a bonus, I felt I was very well compensated. That frugal father of mine, bless him, had plenty of cash in the bank to loan us when we needed a down payment for a house - I'm grateful! But I just wanted a good apple.

By the way, I just made the shift from a PC to a MacBook Pro. Fresh!
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76 comments:

Leena said...

Good for you, Ruth!
I have changed my Windows Vista to Linux and I was so excited doing this, that I did not think loosing all fine softwares, which I had :)
But who cares, I got plenty new ones with Linux, Picasa also :)

I had this week Melli and Mikael here, it was great. Now you can guess, I am quite exhausted a couple of days :)

Thank you for your comment in my new ( again ;) blog!

julie king said...

congrats on the mac, ruth! i don't think i could live without mine and recently upgraded to an iphone too. how very spoiled i am but even more greatful.

my parents were very frugal as well. we had a huge garden and sold produce from a little stand out on the highway.

i did my share of babysitting and loved every minute of it. i so enjoyed getting to know kids, playing games with them and bonding.

i would not enjoy being a young parent in today's world. so many more worries than when i was a mom.

shicat said...

Hi Ruth, I remember babysitting a few times,but the weight of the responsibilty was too much for my free spirit,so my career was short. My family was as frugal as could be, we never went out to eat,movies,nothing. We celebrated Saturday night at the movies at home watching t.v. and eating popcorn and all of that was fine. Awreys cookies was our big treat, we would get them occasionally and my mom would get so mad when the kids ate them before she even had one. Frugal was a way of life for us the children of depression era parents, and it was o.k.. We went to Boblo,the zoo, and the beach every year,once in a while we even had a vacation.
The photo of the apple is beautiful,I think you should go pro.
Meet soon?

Ginnie said...

As I read this, Ruth, I had to laugh over another Dutch idiom that kept coming to mind everytime I saw you wanting a fresh, crisp apple: It was like an angel peeing on your tongue. You could also just say it was like an angel on your tongue, but it's even better to add the peeing part. Isn't it funny what we remember about Dad! I thought he got all those apples for free! Horrocks saved them for him because they knew he'd eat them. Otherwise they'd have to throw them away!

I have no idea if I should congratulate you or not on your Mac. If so, congratulations! :D I'll want to know all about it one day.

Barry said...

Ah, the joys of a good crisp apple.

I remember being asked to babysit for neighbours a few times.Being a boy I wasn't considered responsible enough to babysit for most neighbours.

And they likely were right. I remember getting fired from one babysitting job for spraying the children with the garden hose.

Vagabonde said...

I just went to your last post and re-entered the comment I had written as it had not appeared and now you have an even 100 comments. I had not heard about babysitting in France until I came to this country. As I said in my last comment our childhood were so different – the different countries have a lot to do with it, plus the fact that you were 8 kids and I was alone – maybe that was why your father was so frugal. My mom used to go to the outdoor market twice a week and brought wonderful fruits and cheeses and veggies. The only time we did not have much food was after the war when we had coupons, but then I was never hungry so it did not matter (I wish my appetite was still nonexistent!)

Shari Sunday said...

Just think. If all those overripe apples had become cider, you might have had a very different childhood. Just joking ha ha. Very cute story and a little sad. A fresh apple once in a while would have been nice.

♥ Kathy said...

I love a good apple too :) Isn't it amazing how little people used to pay to have their children cared for? I remember babysitting for $2 an hour and now my daughter gets $10 an hour to do the same thing but with less work (I always had housework to do along with watching the kids). When my niece was just 2 1/2 she was run over by a drunk driver while playing in her front yard. Her mom (my sister) was sitting on the porch watching her play and the drunk came out of nowhere. He dragged her 70 feet down the road before she fell out from under his car. She's had many surgeries and is now a healthy, beautiful teenager but you're right, life can change in just a minute. Happy Sunday Ruth ♥

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Have you tried the new Ambrosia apples? Divine. Tart and sweet both, with an excellent crunch. I usually have an apple in my handbag, for those all too frequent afternoons when I realize I've forgotten to eat lunch.

Hearty congratulations on the Mac!! The only way to go!

Fragrant Liar said...

Mmmmmmmmm, I love a good Fuji or Pink Lady. Especially in combination with a tasty slice of cheese.

I quit babysitting when the kid's family dog circled us on the lawn and then hiked his leg on me. Oh yes, he did. So apples, babysitting, angels, and peeing means something sort of, um, special to me.

Heh.

Susan said...

Wow, that sounds like the kind of big bucks that I made babysitting for my sisters! And I was lucky if there was a stale cracker in the pantry, much less a fresh, crisp apple! Luckily I was able to work for a few people along the way who paid a little better, but not much!

Perfect apples are a gift, are they not? I just had a nice, crisp organic Fuji right before I sat down in front of the computer. Lucky me.

*jean* said...

oh ruth...one of my favorite foodie memories of childhood is gathering in front of the black & white tv with half an apple from the orchard (we only had apples in the fall and that was a huge treat), a bowl of popcorn served in the bowls my great aunt painted...and watching the wonderful world of disney...

and am so glad to hear you've traded up to the macbook...i love mine..

Pauline said...

Nothing like a good MAC!

Babs-beetle said...

Now THAT'S an apple worth it's weight in gold!

We didn't have apples as kids. food and money were very scarce in London, just after the war. Mind you we often managed to get freshly scrumped apples - straight off the trees - nothing like it!

lovely you said...

I've done a whole lot of babysitting/nannying in my day. I really love taking care of children, though you are right, it is a huge responsibility. But I think that's one of the reasons I love it so much because it requires me to stay focused in the moment.

Yay for fresh Apples, the edible AND inedible kind! I'm in love with Granny Smiths, which is why I named my Mac just that. Are you going to name yours?

CottageGirl said...

Love the tie-in, Ruth! Apples to apples!

Talking about those fresh apples makes my mouth water ... and then tying in your new Macbook!

I got one last summer. I love it, even though I'm learning new things all the time. Perhaps like you, being in education, I was an Apple girl for a long time, but was forced to do the PC thing. I'm glad that they now can synch!

Have fun learning!!

California Girl said...

Can't wait to see what you do with the Mac. My husband just ordered one for his photography. We bit the bullet on that. They are expensive!

I never babysat which is probably why I did not like children until I had my own! LOL. True!

ds said...

Apples to Apples--CottageGirl beat me to it. Oh, well. You made a fortune babysitting! The going rate for my friends & I was 50 cents an hour; double after midnight. Later, it was $1/hour. I sat for a colleague of my mom's (4 kids) one night & when he handed me a $20 bill, I didn't want to accept it--thought it too much...
Many memories a-stirring with this post; you do evoke yours beautifully.
Congratulations to MSU for making the Final Four!!!!

Peter said...

I'm making my first baby-sitting as a grandfather - not payed! :-) Yes, somehow you feel even more responsible than with your own kids! Nothing bad just must not happen! (But it's also so nice!)

Gwei Mui said...

Ah The MAC - enjoy I know you will. That's one item I truly yearn for and am saving up for. I remember doing the baby sitting thing too I was paid one shilling (five pence in modern terms) I thought I had won the jack pot

Deborah said...

I enjoyed reading this a lot, Ruth. You were pretty well paid!! Up in Canada wages must have been lower generally, since I remember only getting between 50 to 75 cents an hour. Maybe I wasn't a very good babysitter!:)
It's pretty amazing to think that you were thrilled with an apple - hard to imagine our children being content with something so simple. This little trip back in time was a treat!
Have fun with your new Mac...and maybe next time I'll get one.

freefalling said...

I'm just starting to appreciate apples.
Previously, I've been all about the mangoes and watermelon.
But I'm starting to understand why people love apples so much.

You raided your mum's wallet - I can't believe that of you.

shicat said...

Ruth I know it's no comment but where was that awesome playhouse on your small blog.... Frankfort? It's great... your little outdoor studio should be open soon:)

Jeanie said...

Sense memory -- isn't it the best? Do you ever smell apples and not think of that? Lovely.

lesleyanne said...

That is really sad that you just wanted an apple and couldn't have one! But now you have fresh apples growing in a tree in your yard, can't get much better than that. :)

I just noticed that you have 100 comments on your other post! Wowza.

Life is oh so fragile. I was just having a conversation the other night with my cousins about babysitting, how much responsibility was given to me when I was only 12 years old! Potty training, and feeding, and putting to bed, and I was but a child myself! Amazing. Life is a bit different now, I think. I'm not sure I will leave my children in the hands of a 12 year-old (no offense to any reading).

Deslilas said...

What a refreshing blog !
Partager son journal intime à l'aide d'Internet, c'est un réel cadeau pour nous tous.

Mama Zen said...

That's a lot of work for an apple!

Bob Johnson said...

I love apples too, the good ones, great story and pic Ruth, I love your image of Bishop, especially the saying underneath, and I am going to get the code for your real time earth moon, too cool.

Arti said...

Welcome to the club! I've been using the MacBook Pro for a year now and just love it. I kept reading and reading your post and voila, your last sentence comes as a punch line and I thought, of course... why didn't I see that coming!?

Bella Rum said...

You're gonna love that Mac! Best apple I ever had.

Ruth said...

Dear Leena, it's just the same with me. I don't have PhotoScape now, which you introduced me to, and I miss it very much. I don't think they have a Mac version. I learned also that Picnik does not play well with Firefox; but it works fine in other browsers.

Love to you, Melli, Mikael, and the whole family. I hope you are having some spring now.

Ruth said...

Julie, there is a beautiful curve I see inside. It started out with a little resistance, I was going uphill, fighting some differences in the Mac. Then the slope of ease, and loving certain things. It's nice little ribbon of undulation. I'm enjoying the ride.

Ruth said...

Cathy, I remember all 10 of us going to the Kellogg Center for Sunday dinner a couple of times, it was cafeteria style then. You know, sometimes I think we have improved our lives so much we don't know how to live.

Yes, meet soon - May? (April is my work Armageddon.)

Ruth said...

Boots, you may be right about the apples being free. Wow.

Congratulations to me, yes yes. It's just been an arduous process switching over, getting my work calendar especially, the new email server, and figuring out how to deal with photos. But I'd say it is well worth it at this point. (And having PS CS4 thrown in for nothing is the bonus of the decade.)

Ruth said...

Barry, it sounds like fun to me. Parents should lighten up, and I think kids need more boy babysitters.

Ruth said...

Dear Vagabonde, yes, I'm sure 8 kids was part of why Dad was frugal. But he was that way to start, because his mother was that way. They were very poor, and his dad died when my dad was just 9, so he and his brother had to work young. He understood the value of every penny. I admire his conservative ways. It stuck with all of us kids to varying degrees.

I'm so sorry about your comment in the last post, but I appreciate you taking the time to rewrite it. That is such a pain though!

Nancy said...

I had a nice crunchy apple for breakfast. I can relate.

I worked for $.50 per hour and often cleaned their house. (?)

photowannabe said...

Way back in the "Dark Ages" when I would babysit the pay was.75 to $1.00 an hour. I thought I was rich. it seems there were always added responsibilities to go with watching the kids.
In high school I watched a boy who was about 8 but as big as me. He definitely had issues which I didn't know about when I took the job. After he chased me around the house with a very large hunk of wood, intent on doing me harm, I said that was enough of that and my parents agreed. Not enough money to feel endangered.

shicat said...

May works:)

Terresa said...

I love apples, and I'm a sucker for Fuji's. And MacBook Pro. Yes. I love mine to pieces.

As always, a lovely post and glimpse of your life.

Ruth said...

Shari, if I talked with my dad about it - then or now - I wonder what he'd say. I have a feeling if he knew it mattered to me, he would have bought some crisp ones. I never once said anything.

Ruth said...

♥ Kathy, oh I winced through your niece's story, poor thing! Thank God she's all right now. Oh dear.

$10/hour??

Ruth said...

Pamela, no, I haven't tried or seen an Ambrosia. Maybe Whole Foods would have them, I don't think my local store does. I will look! It sounds delicious.

Ruth said...

Hi, Fragrant Liar, mmm, those are good ones. I buy Braeburns a lot.

Haha, you must have read my sister Ginnie's comment about the angel pee on the tongue. Funny!

Ruth said...

Susie, I wish the unsprayed apples were as perfect as the sprayed ones. :(

Ruth said...

Jean, and then do you remember when you got a color TV, and saw the Disney peacock - the wonderful world of color?

Susan said...

Hmmmm, makes me wonder, because the organic ones I've been buying at Kroger seem pretty darn perfecto! D'ya think they're fibbing?

I'm such a dolt! Didn't even make the connections between the Apples! hehe

I remember exactly when I saw the first color TV (7 or 8) and Bonanza was my first show. Of course, it was at someone else's house. I didn't have a color set until I got married!

Susan said...

The first year at this house, the three old apples trees in the yard went absolutely bonkers and inundated us with tart, delicious fruit. There was so much we took bags and bags to the local food pantry.
It's been meager pickings since, but those apples were a wonderful welcome.

dutchbaby said...

This post brings me right back to high school when I used to make $1 per hour babysitting for several families in the neighborhood. One family habitually filled their sofa with their unfolded laundry. I folded it, of course, mostly because I wanted a place to sit while watching TV.

I used to tutor a girl in math and science while I babysat her. It took me long time to figure out that this single mom mysteriously went out every time this girl had a math test coming up.

I also babysat for a boy who had hemophilia -- that was nerve-wracking.

Your description of your father's frugality paints a vivid picture. I'm glad you can eat all the crispy apples you want now.

Helena said...

I used to babysit two little boys of an alcoholic family. It was horrible. They were not bad people but they couldn't control their life. I wish I had been older and a better "mother" for the children.

I would never leave my children with anyone except my husband and mother. Babysitters can be crazy too. You never know.

Ruth said...

Pauline, Macs are great, and I used to love McIntosh apples, but they don't seem to be as good any more.

Ruth said...

Babs, I do love me some Brit vocab: scrumped. I guess from the context that means: nabbed, or something like that.

Ruth said...

Lovely, I like your point, that when you're watching kids, you are completely focused in the moment. I never thought of that before.

I was excited when I read your comment about naming my MacBook, because I never once thought of it. Leave it to Creative-Lovely You.

I hereby christen this MacBook on the spot: Apple Blossom. Probably Blossom for short.

Ruth said...

That's right, CottageGirl, I've wished for a Mac a long time, but the university never seemed to encourage using them. But when I went to the computer store on campus I saw that they had a whole showroom of Macs, and I thought, huh, what took me so long?

I'm loving it so far, but a few glitches still have to be worked out. All my transferred files in Word and Excel are "read only." Bleh.

Ruth said...

California Girl, my son has been singing about Macs and photographs a long time. Does your husband use Lightroom? Peter says the color on Macs is the truest in techno-world.

Yeah, it's funny how birthing your own kids changes everything.

Ruth said...

Thank you, DS. It's a different world these days. But yeah, I was Ms. Gotrocks in the babysitting world. Not.

Thanks about the Final Four! We are very excited about our Spartans and our great Coach Izzo.

Ruth said...

Peter, ohhhhhhh I can't wait!

Ruth said...

Gwei Mui, thank you. I could not afford it myself. Luckily my department at work has extra cash at the moment, so as long as I got it before June 30, I was good!

Ruth said...

Deborah, maybe a bag of fresh crisp apples seemed like an extravagance to my dad. A Mac computer is an extravagance to us. I could not have afforded it. I'm grateful my department bought it!

Ruth said...

Letty, it's autumn by you - apple time!

Oh yes, all the change - quarters, nickels, dimes, pennies - I helped meself. Despicable, no?

Ruth said...

Cathy, yep, Frankfort, and yes, time to sweep up dead bugs in l'atelier. :D

Ruth said...

Ha, Jeanie, when I smell apple orchards with apples rotting on the ground, I definitely remember our fridge. :|

Ruth said...

Wesrey, yes, those transparents are so yummy!

We can be so grateful that all the kids we babysat survived, right? Little Sal loved you, and we love how he said your name. So much that I still call you Wesrey.

Ruth said...

Daniel, bonjour. Are you saying you took a break from the newspaper to read my blog post? My French is awful!

Ruth said...

Mama, right?

Ruth said...

Bob, I am very happy you found the real earth moon gadget, yippee!

Ruth said...

Arti, ha, would you believe I was not consciously thinking about the MacBook when I started writing about an apple? I'm serious. So I guess I didn't see it coming either. :)

Ruth said...

Hi, Bella, I do love it already. Thanks to Lovely, I named it Apple Blossom, Blossom for short.

Ruth said...

Nancy, it was like child labor.

Ruth said...

Sue, I guess money went farther in our early days, but I would have said sayonara pretty fast.

Ruth said...

Cathy, ok then.

Ruth said...

, mmm Fuji, Braeburn, Gala, Honey Crisp. MacBook Pro. Yummy.

Ruth said...

Susie, maybe I'm still living in the dark ages, I agree, I think organics have improved a lot.

I remember the first time I saw color TV too. It was Phyllis Diller, at someone else's house - imagine! She's colorful enough without color!

Ruth said...

Susan, they went out of their way for you.

The deer get our transparents before they hit the ground. A few make it through, and they're yummy, make good pies.

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby, after reading so many similar comments, I am fascinated to observe how much our culture has changed about babysitting. I guess it's a different attitude toward young people, who have been put into carseats since they were infants and protected in many ways. That mom got quite a deal having you tutor on top of watching her girl, goodness. She was smart.

When I think of my dad, I can only believe that he just didn't give a hoot himself. Actually maybe he didn't like crisp things. He was from the South, and you know, they do cook their vegetables to death, or at least my aunt did. So he let Nature do her work on the apples!

Ruth said...

Helena, you are a generous person, the way you perceive that situation where you babysat. Even if you were not fully mature, I am pretty sure you were a very good model and helper to those kids.

Yes, my daughter and I were talking about when she and Brian have kids, she would not want to entrust her children to anyone but relatives and friends.