Monday, October 31, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What Constitutes a Necessity?

I saw this list on the web today and found it interesting. They were making the point that lots of things today that we think of as necessities aren't. How many of them do you have?

Some things our grandparents lived without, that are really not necessary:

Luxury car
food processor-*
smart phone
iPad or other tablet
flat-screen TV
refrigerators with ice makers (or perhaps refrigeration at all)-*
air conditioning-*
central heating-*
hair dryers-*
workout machines
toaster oven

All the items with * by them are the ones I have. The only things I consider to be absolute necessities are air conditioning and a refrigerator. I can't imagine south Georgia in the summer time without them. All the rest are, to me, just conveniences. One other item I consider a necessity which didn't even make the list is a washing machine.

What do you think? What do you consider to be a necessity?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Madeleine L'Engle

I just finished reading The Summer of the Great-Grandmother by Madeleine L-Engle. It is a poignant true story of the last summer spent with her mother before her death.

She looks back on her childhood and growing up years as an only child of parents who were very cosmopolitan and well-travelled. She laments the fact that she can no longer communicate with her mother as she once did while having morning-long talks over coffee at the kitchen table.

She has to come to terms with the fact that after her mother's death, she's now the 'matriarch' of the family clan; a role she doesn't want but has to accept.

Here's a quote from the book about one thing that formed who she became as an adult. "School was mostly something to be endured; I don't think I learned nearly as much from my formal education as from the books I read instead of doing homework, the daydreams which took me on exciting adventures in which I was intrepid and fearless and graceful, the stories Mother told me, and the stories I wrote. It was in my solitudes that I had a hand in the making of the present Madeleine."

I agree with her, because that is also my experience. I've learned so much more out of school than in. Only in solitude can I work out solutions to problems, think in peace, and be creative.

If you've never read any of her books, I highly recommend them. She's probably best known for A Wrinkle in Time. I prefer her non-fiction. She was also a writer of spiritual books. In the above mentioned book, she was struggling with who God is and traditional religion, but later on she became much stronger in her faith.

*The lady in the photo isn't Madeleine L'Engle, she's an ancestor of mine, Lydia Walker.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tennessee Neighbors

This fair lady is the neighbor of my parents in Tennessee. Last time I visited, she gave me a huge cabbage from her garden. When I got home, I sliced, blanched, and froze it. I'll make cabbage stew this winter.

I've taken photos of her barn in all seasons. I want to do a watercolor of it soon.

When I was a small girl, I'd visit her parents with my grandma. Two smells I associate with their house and yard; tobacco (one of both of them dipped) and boxwoods. They had these huge ones on either side of their walkway you'd have to pass through to get to their front door. Today when I smell a boxwood, it makes me swoon. I guess that's one of the reasons I love Williamsburg so much. There are hundreds of boxwoods there. I'm going to order two English boxwoods for containers. They are the ones that have the wonderful smell. I'm not so sure they'll flourish down here with our humidity, but I won't know unless I try.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall Cooking

The only time I really, really enjoy cooking is in the fall. I love using cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

I FINALLY made gingerbread biscotti. It's been on my project list for about two years. I think I was a little afraid of it, but it was easy. They were a little too cakey, though. Next time I'll add the dark brown sugar the recipe called for (I used light brown) and a little more brown sugar.

The ginger cookies are a tried and true staple at our house. They're like ginger snaps only chewy. Amazing with a cold glass of milk when they're warm from the oven.

Tomorrow morning I'm making prune bread. I know that sounds terrible but it's wonderfully moist and taste very 'fallish'. I'll be taking a loaf with me when I go help out another new mom of twins, no not my daughter. A family friend had a girl and boy about four months ago. Her husband is out of town for a few weeks so I'm staying with the babes while she does a Wal-Mart run.

Sunday night I stayed with our twins so Laurel could go to church. They pretty much cried and ate the whole time. Holding two at the same time is quite a feat. Let's just say I was glad when their mama got home!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Facebook Posters

I really like all these posters I found on Facebook this morning, and the funny thing is....they were all posted by my relatives! Inspirational!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Darkness Be Gone

I thank the blog Gladsome Lights at for the following George MacDonald poem. It's from A Book of Strife in the Form of The Diary of an Old Soul.

With every morn my life afresh must break
The crust of self, gathered about me fresh;
That thy wind-spirit may rush in and shake
The darkness out of me, and rend the mesh
The spider-devils spin out of the flesh—
Eager to net the soul before it wake,
That it may slumberous lie, and listen to the snake.

I've finally shaken off the melancholy of the last few weeks and stopped listening to the snake.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Autumn's Melancholy Explained

It's back again, that slightly depressed feeling. It always hits in October. I want to go home. I want my mama and daddy. I need to be nurtured, petted, and babied.

Since no one in my house will indulge that particular fantasy, I'll just have to do it myself. And I will be going home to see my parents in two weeks. It always gets me over the hump.

My oldest daughter and I were talking about it the other day, and she said she read somewhere that there's an explanation for the feeling. So I googled, "Why do people feel melancholy in autumn?" Here's the answer I got, and I think it's a pretty good one. What do you think?

The sights, sounds and smells of fall stir the soul, but delight is mixed with melancholy, says Michael McCarthy
Saturday, 6 November 2010

I think it's all down to melancholy. If you try and work out what the special attraction of autumn is, I think that, ultimately, you come up with a mood.
Melancholy can mean outright depression or dejection, but the word does have a range of overtones and what I mean in the context of September, October and November, and how we feel about the period, is a sort of sadness which is not entirely unwelcome; a sort of sober, slowing-down of the spirit, leaving us much given to reflection.
Of course, for some people autumn won't mean a thing other than the boring fact that it's not summer any more, and they might see it as merely an intense work or school interlude between the beach and Christmas, with longer nights and worsening weather; or maybe the time when the football season starts to get serious.
But for anyone capable of looking up from their screen, for anyone in the slightest way alive to the rhythms of the natural world and its sights and sounds and smells, autumn has a peculiar personality of its own which is powerfully attractive.
Most obviously, the world rebeautifies itself: the autumn foliage becomes resplendent. I've never heard anyone remark on quite how curious this phenomenon is, in biological terms, given everything negative we know about ageing.
The leaves of trees are welcome and wonderful in their green iridescence when they burst out in April, but by June their bloom is gone, and by August they're plain dull. With most life forms, that would be it. We could expect no more. Instead, by a pure accident of organic chemistry, leaves are reborn, as they start to die, in an astonishing range of colours that puts their spring birth to shame.
It's as if they have another spring in another palette, the second one even more vibrant than the first: terracotta, russet, bronze, purple, gold. Even that subtlest of shades, old gold – gold with a burnished look, gold with a tiny hint of red, almost the quintessential autumn colour (look at Stourhead in Wiltshire, pictured opposite).
And this is decay. This is the winding-down of everything, towards death. Yet the great gift of autumn is that the beginning of the end doesn't feel like decay, at least on the surface, it doesn't feel like a crumbling and a rottening and a collapse from within; it feels like the arrival of a world of new sensations.
The first one is mist. To me, autumn mist is something you smell before you see it; it's the initial hint of a tang on the air as you leave the house in the morning, just creeping into the nostrils, and you know in your tissues at once that summer is over and the world is turning; then you notice that the sunshine is hazy. I've sensed it as early as the last week of August, but I would guess it's mainly a feature of September.
The next one's smoke. This is another tang that drifts to the nostrils after the summer, the smoke of wood fires (and coal fires in the past), the smoke of bonfires; you start to smell that in October, and see it hanging in the air on still days of high pressure. A third one is frost: different again. Not just a whitening, but a hardening and a sharpening of everything, yet welcome, when it first arrives, with the pleasant surprise of novelty.
Mist, smoke and frost; yet so much more. Tastes: the earthy taste of mushrooms; the rich soft crumble of roasted chestnuts; the dark pungency of game; the resinous bite of juniper berries. Sounds: the swishing of kicked leaves and their crunch underfoot; the roar of a gale; the metallic cough of a pheasant echoing through the woodlands. Sights: the foliage, of course, in all its glory, but less obvious things: the softening of the sunlight; the faded blue of harebells; the reddening of ripening apples; the understated dun shades of chrysanthemums.
All of this is gladdening, a source of the most enormous pleasure, but would you not agree that it doesn't quite lift the heart the way spring flowers or birdsong do?
For bluebells and birdsong have hope about them, a promise of what's to come, whereas the signs of autumn, for all their splendour, are the signs of a world that is dying; and there's no escaping that.
There's where the melancholy comes from: the subtext, the underlying, insistent theme beneath the year's last burst of beauty is that this is only occurring because the end is not far off, the end that comes to all living things, including us. If we look, in the autumn foliage we can see our own mortality: a beauty with a sadness never far away.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Learning to Live by Remembering Death

‎"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose."

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

I just finished reading this month's read for my bookgroup, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I really liked it. It reminded me of lots of old black and white movies I've seen about tenement living in New York City. I can't remember the names of any of them right now, but there's always the nice, Irish cop walking his beat, mean little boys creating mischief, and parents trying to make enough money to feed their children. If anyone can recommend a movie like that, please let me know the title.

All I can say is that I'm glad I have enough food to eat, because I'd find it extremely hard if not impossible to be

hopeful and cheery living in that kind of poverty.

Here's a paragraph that really stood out to me when I read it. It's a prayer by the teenage daughter. "Dear God," she prayed, "let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry . . . have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere-be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost."

She was afraid of a life of drudgery and endless striving to get ahead; of becoming emotionally deadened to life.

Being a drama queen myself, this passage shouts out to me. I struggle with being obedient to God's Word by "living a quiet life" and "being content in all things" as the Apostle Paul learned to do. I want to pitch and rail, shout from the rooftops, fall down sobbing...I told you I was a drama queen. I don't do those things, anymore, but I want to.

I think I have a fear of complacency; of becoming an invisible old woman. What I need to do is be obedient to follow Scripture and God will be faithful to bring me along as He wills. Maybe I don't trust Him enough?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Doors Around the World

Oops! The 'door' at Tinturn Abbey in Wales is actually a window. It's at the bottom of the page. Tomorrow I'll do windows.