Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Empty Heart of Paradox


As we pass through these golden days of autumn, I hope to fling more gold to anyone who may ask. I have so far to go before I'm living at the empty heart of paradox.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cotton in Georgia

The light was so pretty late yesterday afternoon in the cotton field behind our house, that I just had to go try and capture it. Golden and soft, my favorite kind. I'll go back out today and try again. Time is short. Harvest is coming soon.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Places Where Things Happened


I'm nostalgic about both of these places; one is where I spent the first eighteen years of my life, and the other is where we've raised our own five children and made a life for the last twenty-three years. The remaining sixteen years were spent in other houses and places, but these two hold the most meaning for me.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Keeping Dreams Alive

Never again, she vowed, would she live a noisy life that killed her dreams. They were her reason for living, the only thing that she had to give to the world, and she must live in the way that suited them best.
From A CITY OF BELLS by Elizabeth Goudge

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Being Introverted in the 21st Century

"She, like every one else, had to find out by experience in what mode of life she could best adjust herself to the twin facts of her own personality and the moment of time in which destiny had planted it, and she was lucky perhaps that she found out so early." A City of Bells by Elizabeth Goudge.

I keep finding nuggets of wisdom to share from this book. There will only be a few more, and then I'll be done. The above sentence resonated with me, because I've always thought I should have lived in an earlier time. My personality really isn't suited to the fastness of modern life. I have to constantly pull back, reassess, and recover. I think of all the creativity going to waste because of having to do this. Jane Austen's era appeals to me; the quietness and smallness of it.
Wouldn't it be lovely to live in a small English village and walk to church? To shop at individual stores and know the shopkeepers personally? I much prefer visiting individually the baker, greengrocer, shoe repair shop, cleaners, and druggist instead of having them all under one roof. I prefer one-on-one conversations to the noise of the masses.

This contrast of modern city life with 19th-century country life is contrasted in the movie Lost in Austen. I highly recommend this entertaining movie. If you're a Janeite then you'll love it! Mr. Darcy comes through time to modern-day London and calls it "an infernal hellhole". I love London but would call any large city the same. The noise and busyness is hellish to a person with a quiet temperament.

So even though I'm in the fifth decade of my life, I'm just now getting comfortable with what I have to do in order to survive and flourish in the 21st-century. Comfortable meaning that I don't feel like I have to live up to anyone's expectations anymore. Comfortable in being who I am without apologizing. Yes, I'm highly sensitive AND introverted. I'm not a terrible person because I need/want large amounts of quiet time alone. It's not selfishness. It's pure and plain survival!

So all you extroverts...try and understand your introverted friends and family. Don't pressure them to get out more and socialize. There's nothing wrong with preferring being with one or two people rather than a crowd; or even better...being alone!

Yes, I know the importance of balance. But for an introvert in this century, the problem isn't getting out enough. It's having enough quiet, alone time. That's the daily struggle.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Early Morning

"The early morning was very nice. It was lovely to see the world all misted over with the dreams of the night. The dreams that people dreamed were not visible when they came down to breakfast, except sometimes as a shadow in their eyes, but the dreams of the earth clung about her till the sun was up, soft and filmy and rainbow-tinted. What did she dream of? Perhaps of the days to come when men would have eyes to see her beauty and minds that would not pollute it." From A City of Bells by Elizabeth Goudge

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

All Roads Lead to Home


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Richness of Books

"In my experience when people once begin to read, they go on. They begin because they think they ought to and they go on because they must. Yes. They find it widens life. We're all greedy for life, you know, and our short span of existence can't give us all that we hunger for, the time is too short and our capacity not large enough. But in books we experience all life vicariously." From A City of Bells by Elizabeth Goudge

I know this to be true in my own experience. Books have enlightened my mind when it was muddled. I've identified with characters in novels and felt less alone. Books take me away from my, sometimes, harried life and help me relax into other worlds. I've visited places in books where I'll never physically go, and I frequently revisit places for their warm familiarity.

Books are friends; sometimes even better. They have no expectations and can't see us. They give without asking anything in return, yet often I find myself being changed. A thought or an idea trails off from the page, and I must follow. It will often lead to deeper revelations as I follow the strand from book to book, chasing the gossamer thread until I grab hold, ingest, and make it my own. Oh yes, books have changed me.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Oh, To Be a Bookseller

Half-way through the afternoon he stopped stock-still in the middle of the floor, Pride and Prejudice in one hand and Wuthering Heights in the other, to deliver a homily on the profession of a bookseller.

"It is the most friendly vocation in the world," Grandfather announced. "A bookseller is the link between mind and mind, the feeder of the hungry, very often the binder up of wounds. There he sits, your bookseller, surrounded by a thousand minds all done up neatly in cardboard cases; beautiful minds, courageous minds, strong minds, wise minds, all sorts and conditions. And there come into him other minds, hungry for beauty, for knowledge, for truth, for love, and to the best of his ability he satisfied them all...Yes....It's a great vocation."

From A City of Bells by Elizabeth Goudge

Monday, August 12, 2013

Reflections from Gift From the Sea

I'm rereading Anne Morrow Lindberg's Gift From the Sea for the tenth time. It's like the Bible in that no matter how many times you read it, you'll find something new every time. This morning's reading had this (she's talking about the marriage relationship) jumping out at me: "There is also a dead weight accumulation, a coating of false values, habits, and burdens which blight life. It is this smothering coat that needs constantly to be stripped off, in life as in relationships."

For several years now I've been decluttering our physical space. I think I noticed this paragraph above because maybe now it's time to simplify and clean out our marriage relationship. I'm not getting rid of him (ha) but would like to become more friends again. Now that all but one of our children are gone, it'll be easier. We don't have to wait to talk or shout to be heard over the din. We definitely have a 'smothering coat that needs to be stripped off' but how to go about it is puzzling to me. I think I'll treat it as an on-going, never-ending project and have my checklist made and ready.

Anne again, "One learns to accept the fact that no permanent return is possible to an old form of relationship, and more deeply still, that there is no holding of a relationship to a single form. This is not a tragedy but part of the ever-recurrent miracle of life and growth."

We've come a long way and shared a lot since we were married 37 years ago come August 28; five living children, three in heaven due to early miscarriages, moving cross country and back, building a house, home educating five children for 28 of those years, having three of those children seriously injured at different times and ages, three children married, six grandchildren, etc. We've had a good time together, and hopefully, God will grant us more years to try and perfect this thing called marriage.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

In your journal, list five ways you want to leave a legacy to your children. (For example: loving relationships, moral excellence, a vibrant faith, etc.) Under each area write at least two practical goals or ways you will implement your plan this year. Make a six-month plan for specific ways you will establish routines or traditions to build these goals into your schedule.
From Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson

I wish I'd had this book thirty years ago. I'm giving it to my oldest daughter who's in the middle of the battle with six children ranging in ages from ten to one. But I'm not thinking that it's too late to leave a legacy to my children even though four of them are adults. I believe that we can always learn from one another, and that I can still be a godly influence on my children.

So I'll be making my journal lists soon. I want to give it some thought first and really commit to the goals that I write down. I'll post them sometime next week.

Read the book and then give it to someone who has children. It's very challenging and will give you hope that no matter how you've messed up in the past, there's still hope and redemption.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Our Days; Our Lives

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The American Kitchen

This is a good read if you're interested in anything you could possibly want to know about the American kitchen from Colonial times up to the present day.

Here is some household wisdom from days past. "Never oblige your servants to tell a falsehood for you, and they will not be so likely to tell a falsehood to you." Godey's Lady's Book, August 1867.

HABITS OF SYSTEM AND devoted to preparing for the labors of the week. Any extra cooking, the purchasing of articles to be used during the week, the assorting of clothes for the wash, and mending...these and similar items belong to this day. Tuesday is devoted to washing, and Wednesday to ironing. On Thursday, the ironing is finished off, the clothes folded and put away, and all articles which need mending are put in the mending basket, and attended to. Friday is devoted to sweeping and house-cleaning. On Saturday, and especially the last Saturday of every month, every department is put in order, the casters and table furniture are regulated, the pantry and cellar inspected, the trunks, drawers, and closets arranged, and everything about the house put in order for Sunday. By this regular recurrence of a particular time for inspecting everything, nothing is forgotten till ruined by neglect. American Woman's Home-Catherine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1869

MAKING OF CLOTHING-With the present facilities for sewing, it is practicable for every housekeeper to cut out and make up all the articles worn by the different members of her family, with the exception, perhaps, of dress-coats and overcoats. The saving which she will thus make will more than pay the wages of a domestic, who will perform all the drudgery of a household such as washing, cleaning, ironing, sweeping, etc. The Philosophy of Housekeeping-Joseph & Laura Lyman, 1869

I am by nature an organizer. I like for things to be in place and for each day to be planned to within an inch of its allotted hours. BUT...I am a lover of spontaneity. I love a routine, and I love to throw it all out the window if something better comes along. I have noticed that our house is in its best-running order when I stay home all day and attend to 'things'. And I like doing that for a time. After that, I need something new. Yesterday that happened to be a trip to Wal-Mart. I'm pretty easy to please.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Cure For Boredom

"For those of the current generation the normal reflex when bored is to watch a video or surf the Web. What can we do to help our young people accept the short-term pain of learning creative life skills in order to avoid the long-term pain of chronic subconscious boredom? What can we do to teach them that an addiction to electronic entertainment will shrivel their souls? Many of the short-term solutions to boredom undoubtedly give pleasure. But these are unsustainable and provide only a counterfeit of life and ultimately lead to spiritual emptiness." (p. 124)

Unfortunately,I can't remember where this quote came from. Of the nine books I've read in April, it has to be either What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty or Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler. I'm thinking it must be the Jane Austen one for it made many contrasts between the 19th century and our present time. They're both worth reading. I'll be reviewing Rigler's book here soon.

I think the solution has to be the parents. The most important thing that we can do is to not be addicted to "counterfeit life" ourselves. Our children are going to emulate us. If they see us always connected to a portable device, then that's what they'll want, too. We need to be parents and people who are interested in real life.

My parents and grandparents took me along with them when they did their shopping, visiting, and chores. I learned how to be an adult alongside them. They took an interest in the world and so did I. If I wanted to learn something new which they weren't interested in, they made sure I had lessons. I was in 4-H club where I learned all sorts of things. I read voraciously and was outside most of the day when I wasn't in school or doing chores. The great outdoors is a great teacher! And because of my upbringing, I'm never bored today. In fact, one lifetime isn't enough time to do all the things I'd like to try and accomplish.

I believe many children today have too much leisure time. If they're keep busy and engaged doing chores or being with adults as they work, then when they do have free time, they'll treasure it. Games, books, and toys should be provided for the children to use as well as large quantities of unscheduled time outside. This is when their imaginations are expanded the most and they learn to appreciate nature.

Anyone have any thoughts on how you keep your kids from being bored? Are you bored yourself? Is electronic device addiction something with which you or your children struggle?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

When He Just Doesn't Get Me

I ordered Desperate for my daughter who's in the middle of childrearing with six small children but thought I'd read it first. This paragraph on husbands resonated with me.

"One more example of my unhealthy expectations: I expect that my husband should "get" me. Oh this. How many of us just wish our husbands "got" us? We want them to understand us in profound ways, and then accept us with open arms. We want them to admire who we are, how we're made, and who we are becoming. We want to be known and loved.

What happens when they don't "get" us? What happens when they don't understand why we have to leave the dishwasher open all the time, or why we like Taylor Swift, or why we can't enjoy our time away if our feelings are hurt before we leave?

The "I expect" voice is a killer of joy and true contentment. My husband is not going to understand all of the inner workings of my soul. He's not always going to think I'm fabulous, and he is not always going to agree with me (he might even think I'm crazy sometimes). When we let our husbands off the hook and are content to be who we are for the glory of God and not the approval of man, life is greener and more full. I want to please my husband, and I want his unconditional love, but he's a sinner just like I am, and humans can't really give unconditional love; it's hard enough just to love.

We've got to snuff out that voice or it will burn our marriages. Find contentment in the overwhelming fact that you are perfect to God; He gets you because He made you. Live free in that truth."

Whew! That's a tall order. I confess that I've struggled with this issue for longer than I've been married; which is a long time. I'm a people pleaser, to those I truly love, in a big way. For the most part, I've let go of my real and unreal expectations, and life is surely more peaceful. But here's where I still struggle. When my husband DOES "get me" now, it doesn't mean a whole lot. I've hardened myself to not need his praise, but the fact that I've done that, I guess, really means that I truly still want it?

Human interaction is so extremely complicated. Especially when you've been with someone so long. It's impossible to unravel events, emotions, wrongs, rights, and whatever else goes into a marriage to make sense of it. So what to do? More next time and an analysis of the book What Alice Forgot.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Down By The River Side

This week I've been taking every road I know that crosses the Ogeechee River trying to find a 'Kodak moment' for an exhibition coming up at the end of May that'll benefit a local organization called The RiverKeepers. They're dedicated to cleaning up our local river, and our art association wanted to draw attention to them and raise a little money in the process.

The above three are the best ones so far. Each person can submit up to three works of art for entry into the exhibition. If they sell, a portion of the proceeds will go to the RiverKeepers organization. I love entering these local contests! Wish me luck or good providence.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sprucing Up For Spring

Well, after 23 years, I'm finally adding more gingerbread to the outside of our house. When we first built, I was overly caution about how much trim was added not wanting the house to look like a wedding cake. Our house style, Carpenter Gothic circa 1835, is more plain than later Victorians.

But after living with it for so long, I've decided it needs a little more fancying up. So over the next 3-4 days, I'll be poring over online catalogues trying to find what I really like. If you're new here, the top house is ours. The following photos are possible trimmings, brackets, and gable decorations. Stay tuned for the final results.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I'm On Instacanvas!


My photographs can be seen and bought now on Instacanvas. Check out my gallery, and if you see something you can't live without? Well, you know what to do!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Company of Good Books

"What one wanted when exhausted by the noise and impact of physical bodies was not no people but disembodied people; all those denizens of beloved books who could be taken to one's heart and put away again, in silence, and with no hurt feelings." The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge

I immediately knew what she meant when I read the paragraph above. Sometimes when I'm weary of life's clatter and noise, I retreat with a favorite author who feels very comfortable without requiring anything of me. I don't usually long for the comfort of favorite book characters as I do favorite authors. Some writers just give me a good feeling and take me to places I long for.

Some favorite authors that I reach for over and over again are Elizabeth Goudge, D.E. Stevenson, Pat Conroy, Jane Austen, Rosamunde Pilcher, Miss Read, Patrick Taylor, George MacDonald, and Anthony Trollope.

The places I usually like to retreat to are the British Isles, Italy, or the American South. I feel most comfortable in these places because they take me to a place like home where I'm most nurtured and soothed. Is it a coincidence that my ancestors are from these places? I don't think so!

What about you? Do you have favorite authors you turn to for comfort? If so, who are they? Or is it book characters you most often like to meet?

Monday, March 25, 2013


I don't know if you've noticed, but on my blog and Instagram "About Me" I say, "Homeschooling mom for 28 years" as the main thing that defines me. I'm very proud of that fact and always will be, but I don't want it to define me anymore. I'm ready to move on to the next stage of life, whatever that may turn out to be. Do we ever really know until it's over?

I know some things I want to try to be; a mom who's always there to listen or help, a grandmother who spends time and listens to her grandchildren, a wife who is a companion and helper to her husband, a homemaker who keeps a clean, happy home for all who visit or live there, a friend who is available, and a woman concerned with the larger world and doing what she can to alleviate suffering and advance Christ's kingdom throughout the world. A tall order to be sure!

I also want to write, paint, and capture beauty with my camera. I want to travel and see new things. I want to be happy and passionate about life.

I've known so many people that, as they get older, just sit around and don't do much of anything. They seem content enough, but I want more. I hope I'm never satisfied with just sitting around unless I'm unable to do anything else. Then I hope I accept it with grace and serenity.

For the rest of my allotted days, I want to run (or walk) and laugh and hold my breath in awe over a sunset. I want to wake up in anticipation of what the new day will bring. I want to fully live and have no regrets over a life less lived than it could have been.

So, I guess it's time to change my "About Me" paragraph to reflect my current life and to let go of what I've accomplished in the past, not that those years will ever be forgotten. How could they when they encompassed half of my life?

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Beauty Experiment

While I admire the premise of this book, I wasn't too impressed with it. Maybe I'm just getting impatient in my old age, but it seems like she took a lot of pages not to say very much. I do admire her for finding her own way with regard to her hair, makeup, and clothing. I, too, am tired of seeing ultra-made up faces everywhere you turn and photoshopped bodies in magazines. And don't get me started on plastic surgery! Our culture is obsessed with an unattainable perfection. At least she's willing to look natural and real. I've shared her angst with trying to find the perfect dress for a party only to be frustrated in those 3-way dressing room mirrors with how many bumps and lumps can be seen.

My 14-year-old daughter and I have been doing a lot of shopping lately to find her something to wear to a school masquerade dance. We found it fairly quickly, but just walking into a store and being confronted by all the choices almost makes me hyperventilate! I HATE shopping. Add in the stress of trying to agree with a teenager on dress length and top coverage and it's a wonder I don't break out into hives!

We did agree on one thing. We've both noticed how before you walk into the store you feel pretty good about yourself, but as soon as you walk through those big glass doors, you feel dowdy and inadequate. The clothes are so perfect and the salespeople are the same. And then to add insult to injury, you have to confront the dreaded 3-way mirror in the dressing room. Shopping online eliminates all the negative aspects of shopping for me. I can look at the garments one at a time and not have my senses assailed by too many selections. And I can shop in my pajamas and no makeup. Shopping bliss, I tell you!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wordsworth on Birth

"Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come,
From God who is our home."
William Wordsworth

I think this is such a beautiful description of an eternal soul. Contrary to popular psychology, we don't come into this world a 'blank slate'. Ask any mother who's ever carried a child for nine long months, and she'll tell you that each one has an individual personality apparent from the very beginning. Girls are different from boys. Siblings are different from each other. We're all uniquely made by a Creator. We should spend time each day marveling on that fact.

"I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." Psalm 139:14

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Betty Collins, Quilter Extraordinaire

That's my mama I'm talking about! She's an amazing quilter with stitches so small they can barely be seen. Recently, one of her quilts called Tomboy Bride was included in an exhibition sent to China. The book shown is from that show and tells about each featured quilt and quilter. She's also been in a few other books and has taught quilting for many, many years at a local college. I own several of her quilts, I'm happy to say, and consider them my most prized possessions.

People ask me if I quilt. I say, "Yes, I can, but why should I?" I have many quilts already and will someday have more. I really don't see the point. I guess because it's not my favorite form of needlework. I like smocking, embroidery, and French handsewing much better.

Mama instilled in me a love of the needlearts, and I thank her heartily for taking the time and effort to fool with a stubborn, left-handed daughter. I love you, Mama!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Too Many Choices

"This abundance of choice not only makes every transaction take ten times as long as it ought to, but in a strange way actually breeds dissatisfaction. The more there is, the more people crave, and the more they crave, the more they, well, crave more. You have a sense sometimes of being among millions and millions of people needing more and more of everything, constantly, infinitely, unquenchably. We appear to have created a society in which the principal pastime is grazing through retail establishments looking for things-textures, shapes, flavors--not before encountered."

I don't know who made the above quote, but I agree with it. This is why I almost never shop for clothes in a physical store. I shop for what I wear online. I've even bought chocolate, tea, herbs, books, and movie tickets that way. My senses are overwhelmed when there are too many choices. I'll walk into a dress shop, stop, and just stare. The choices are paralyzing, where in a catalog I can see what's for offer in very small bits. And even if something has to be sent back, it's worth it to me not to have to drive to the store, walk in and return the item, and try to find a replacement. It might cost a little extra in shipping, but having peace of mind is worth a few dollars.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Xanadu Gallery-Scottsdale, AZ

Check out the above link as I am now officially included in Xanadu's on-line gallery. I'll be adding about one new piece a week. I'm pretty excited to be included, so check it out!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Little Food for Much Thought

To become all that we are meant to be, we must learn to become a little less than we demand to be. Joan Chittister from The Liturgical Year.

Some understanding might be found in the Gospel of St. John 12:24: "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."

Discussion now open.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pilgrim's Inn-One More Quote

"Hilary always found it impossible to look at a candle flame and remain gloomy. The shape of it, like tapering hands held palm to palm in faithful prayer, the wavering yet hopeful fight against the darkness, its tiny loving glow of warmth. It was no wonder that Mother church, all down the ages, has had such a passion for lighting candles."

I remember going into one of the side chapels in a European cathedral and finding a stand holding many tea light candles. Not being Catholic, I hesitated to light any, but I overcame my reluctance and lit one for each of our five children saying a prayer for each child as their individual candle was lit. It was a reverent, touching moment for me, and I'm so glad I didn't listen to my fearful self.

In these long winter nights, I light candles throughout the house; ones that smell like the winter. Balsam, Pumpkin Spice, and Apple Vanilla. I do look forward to Spring coming but will miss the coziness of winter after all.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pilgrim Inn by Elizabeth Goudge

The Elizabeth Goudge reading challenge is coming along nicely having just finished Pilgrim Inn this morning. There was one paragraph in the book that really spoke to me. That always happens in her books. Her gentle, insightful writing soothes you into a calm complacency, then a phrase or description will suddenly jump out at you and you'll recognize yourself, or your former self, or even the person you wish to become. In the paragraph that follows I saw my former, present, and hopefully, future self.

"Don't you know anything about women? Don't you know the difference between a woman like Nadine and a woman like Sally? Nadine-she can't help it, poor dear-was born a hungry, unsatisfied woman. Her perpetual search after perfection is a lovely thing in her; because of it her home and her person will never be less than exquisite; but it makes all the normal relationships disappoint her by their imperfection, so that she looks beyond them for happiness. At least she did until now. I think that perhaps, just lately, a glimmering of sense has been vouchsafed to her. Sally-and she couldn't help it either-was born the other way round. She does not demand gifts of life; she just loves it for itself, and her humility makes her feel that what she is given is always far too much. She'll feel exactly the same about you as she does about life. You won't disappoint her."

An aside-I believe the English say, "Poor dear" like Southern women say, "Bless her heart." Just an observation.

I relate very much to Nadine's sensibilities. I've always been on a quest for beauty; though not necessarily perfection. I want things to be the best they can be, but I know in this life that perfection will never be achieved. That doesn't stop me from striving for it. I do idealize relationships and life and am disappointed if things don't measure up to what I think they should be. This attitude, I know, puts too much pressure on those you love most, so I've really tried to have few expectations. This seems to work much better for everyone.

But I'd like to retain the striving for beauty with Sally's ability to love life and people for themselves and not expect anything. Then nothing will ever disappoint. That would be nice, wouldn't it? I don't know that I'll ever be so humble that what I'm given will seem like too much. I can only hope and pray that it happens.

The Scent of Water is next on the list. I bought it as I want to eventually own all of her books. I'll be re-reading them for the rest of my life and then passing then down to some fortunate heir. She's that good to me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Victorian Reading Challenge

I've decided to do another reading challenge in 2013; a Victorian one. I was inspired by this blog:href="">

I'm glad to be doing this challenge as it will delve into my TBR stack. Out of the twelve books, I own ten of them. I've always loved this period in literature. And many beautiful movies have been made from the books; many of Thomas Hardy's, one of my favorites.

So here's the list:

1. Middlemarch-George Eliot
2. The Small House at Allington-Anthony Trollope
3. Tess of the D'urbervilles-Thomas Hardy
4. The Woman in White-Wilkie Collins
5. The Way of All Flesh-Samuel Butler
6. The Cloister and the Hearth-Charles Reade
7. The Soul of Man-Oscar Wilde
8. The Story of the Amulet-E. Nesbit
9. At the Back of the North Wind-George MacDonald
10. Lady Audley's Secret-M.E. Braddon
11. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-Robert Louis Stevenson
12. Cranford-Elizabeth Gaskell

There are many more I could have added, but I really wanted to read what I already have.

Do you have a favorite Victorian author? Mine are Trollope, Hardy, and the Brontes. I didn't include the Brontes in my list, even though I own all their works, because I've read lots of their books and wanted to try new authors. I could have listed Charles Dickens also. I may have to read more than twelve this year or have another Victorian challenge next year!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Self-imposed Elizabeth Goudge Reading Challenge

One of my favorite authors is Elizabeth Goudge, and the book of hers that I love most is The Dean's Watch. I've decided to read and collect all of her novels this year. I have six already with eleven more to buy. I'm going to try and read them all this year even though I've read some before.

I found this quote about her somewhere on the internet. It's a good description of Goudge's books. ‘There is a sort of ‘light’ in all of Elizabeth Goudge’s books, it’s like the light of a sunny day just before the sun has properly risen. A light that catches on dew drops on the roses or icicles hanging from the gutters; a light that shines into people’s lives, a light that can shine into the dark places of the reader’s life’.

There's an Elizabeth Goudge Society which provided the following.

Here is the complete list of Elizabeth Goudge books.

City of Bells series

· A City of Bells (1936)

· Towers in the Mist (1938)

· The Dean's Watch (1960)

· Three Cities of Bells (omnibus) (1965)

Eliots of Damerosehay series

· The Bird in the Tree (1940)

· The Herb of Grace (1948) aka Pilgrim's Inn (1948 )

· The Heart of the Family (1953)

· The Eliots of Damerosehay (omnibus) (1957)


· Island Magic (1934)

· The Middle Window (1935)

· The Castle on the Hill (1941)

· Green Dolphin Country (1944) aka Green Dolphin Street (USA title)

· Gentian Hill (1949)

· The Rosemary Tree (1956)

· The White Witch (1958)

· The Scent of Water (1963)

· The Child From the Sea (1970)

Children's books

· Sister of the Angels: A Christmas Story (1939)

· Smokey House (1940)

· The Well of the Star (1941)

· Henrietta's House (1942) aka The Blue Hills

· The Little White Horse (1946)

· Make-Believe (1949)

· The Valley of Song (1951)

· Linnets and Valerians (1964) aka The Runaways

· I Saw Three Ships (1969)


· The Fairies' Baby: And Other Stories (1919)

· A Pedlar's Pack: And Other Stories (1937)

· Three Plays: Suomi, The Bront√ęs of Haworth, Fanny Burney (1939)

· The Golden Skylark: And Other Stories (1941)

· The Ikon on the Wall: And Other Stories (1943)

· The Elizabeth Goudge Reader (1946)

· Songs and Verses (1947)

· At the Sign of the Dolphin (1947)

· The Reward of Faith: And Other Stories (1950)

· White Wings: Collected Short Stories (1952)

· The Ten Gifts: An Elizabeth Goudge Anthology (1965)

· A Christmas Book: An Anthology of Christmas Stories (1967)

· The Lost Angel: Stories (1971)

· Hampshire Trilogy (omnibus) (1976)

· Pattern of People: An Elizabeth Goudge Anthology (1978)

Non fiction

· God So Loved the World: The Story of Jesus (1951)

· Saint Francis of Assisi (1959) aka My God and My All: The Life of St. Francis of Assisi

· A Diary of Prayer (1966)

· The Joy of the Snow: An Autobiography (1974)

Anthologies edited by Elizabeth Goudge

· A Book of Comfort: An Anthology (1964)

· A Book of Peace: An Anthology (1967)

· A Book of Faith: An Anthology (1976)

Anthologies containing stories by Elizabeth Goudge

· Dancing with the Dark (1997)

Short stories

· ESP (1974)

I know I have her biography, The Joy of Snow, somewhere in the house. I'll search for it tonight until it's found. It'll be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hannah Coulter and a Vanishing Way of Life

As I sit to write this post, I have an aching heart, lump in my throat, and unshed tears burning behind my eyes. All because of a book I almost didn't finish. I was ready to put it down around page forty, because of its slowness. But since it was for bookgroup, and I hate not to have read the book, I kept on. I'm so glad I did.

This is the first writing I've read by Mr. Wendell Berry. Oh, I've heard plenty about him. Lots of people talk about his poetry and admire his lifestyle of being a farmer AND an intellectual. So I've been meaning to read him for a long time, and when a member of the bookgroup picked this particular book to read, I was glad. Now, at long last, I'd read Wendell Berry.

He's written several books that take place in Port William, Hannah Coulter being one of them. And this one is written from a woman's point of view. That was the first thing that struck me as amazing. How could a man know and describe a woman's heart so well? I don't understand. I could no more write a book from a man's point of view than I could turn into a man. I just couldn't do it. Mr. Berry must have an extraordinarily developed sense of empathy. I wonder what it's like to be his wife? I'd like to meet and have a good long visit with her.

The book is about community life in Port William and how interdependent all the inhabitants are on each other, not only socially but economically. They call themselves 'the membership'. They remind me in many ways of the Amish and Mennonite groups the way they all come together to help bring in each other's harvests and have barn raisings and other gatherings to support each other.

I remember life being this way during my childhood in the late 50's and early 60's. I grew up on my grandparents' farm in a very small town in the Tennessee mountains. Life revolved around community and what was happening with each other. The children played outside until dark in the summertime while the adults finished chores or visited on the front porch. Life was slow and savored.

On Sunday afternoons, we'd go over to my daddy's parents' house and visit all afternoon. We only lived a few miles from them but didn't often see them during the week. The women would sit inside and talk about their children and recipes while the men stayed on the porch talking politics and other things newsworthy. I much preferred the company of the men as I thought their topics of conversation so much more interesting than the women's in the next room. Often my uncle would bring out his guitar and he, my daddy, my grandpa, and anybody else there would sing old hymns together.

Children then would sit quietly in the presence of their elders and listen if they were interested or go off and play with each other. Now that I think about it, I was usually the only one who loved listening to them. I learned much about life from my listening.

So other than Hannah Coulter being about her life, it's also about two ways of life; one dying life beginning after WW II and the new one taking its place. It's about the agrarian life being replaced by the technological. And it just makes me sad, so sad, for I lived living it. I've seen warm summer evenings catching fireflies change to no one being outside. I see children not know the value of a hard day's work and not being willing to work unless they're paid much more than their worth.

I've seen farm after farm with fields lying fallow; the broken and rusty machinery of their trade lined up beside barns that no longer hold anything but memories. Gone are the aproned grandmas standing behind screen doors watching for their men to come home from the fields. And it makes me sad, for this was the world of my childhood, and I want it back.

The book also contrasts two kinds of people. One is the kind that hankers and yearns for more. More life, more travel, and more education. These are the ones that don't come back once they're seen and tasted the bigger world.

The other kind of person is satisfied to do what has been done for generations before him. He's not dissatisfied with his life and wants nothing more.

There's an irony in Hannah's story, because she wants her children, as most parents do, to have all the benefits she never had. So she and her husband make sure all three children have college educations. While wanting the children to come back and help on the farm and someday take over, they realize that because of their exposure to new ideas, people, and places, the children are gone forever which perpetuates the dying of the farm and the life the community holds so dear.

As a grandmother, Hannah notices a grave difference in how she grew up and how her grandchildren now live. Since she lived in Port William all her life, she knew intimately all the other people living there which included her family. You get to know people that you spend time with; face to face in conversation or side by side doing work.
Now since her own children have moved away and only come for occasional visits, she doesn't have the pleasure of knowing her grandchildren very well. And that is only made worse by her grandchildren's indifference to her by their absorption in their various video games, phones, and other electronic devices. There is very little to none 'face to face' anything going on.

For anyone who's studied much of history, you know that ways of life come and go and the world keeps on spinning. And I'm sure it will continue to spin until God deems it time to end.

But this I know. People need to realize that with technological advances, wonderful as they are, comes much personal responsibility. We need to know when to limit our childrens' time with their various machines of entertainment. To say, "Enough. Turn it off and go outside and play." And then to do likewise, for if we don't follow our own good advice, neither will they.

We can still have a rich, mindful life today but not without much vigilance. For this I've learned, that the more you have and the more complicated life becomes, the more is required of you and the harder it will be to live simply and wisely.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Housekeeping Poll Results

Thanks to all those ladies who answered my poll about how long it takes you per day to keep your house clean. The answers ranged from thirty minutes to more than two hours. Of course, that all depends on your standards of cleanliness, the size of your house, and the number of people living there. My standards are to have a pretty clean house. We have four people living in ours which is a little over 2000 sq. ft. Not so big by American standards.

I have a cleaner who comes in twice a month to do the dusting, mopping, and cleaning bathrooms, so those are things I never do. Even still, I spend around two hours a day on cleaning and straightening. That doesn't count cooking. I'd like to spend less but don't think that's going to happen right now. I know if I had less stuff in the house, it'd be easier to clean and keep clean. While I admire bare houses, I have a really hard time getting mine that way. I equate certain things with coziness; books, rugs, throws, and pillows all say "home" to me. In the summer I do tend to pare down and have less around.

It's a goal I aim for though, to take less time cleaning. In two weeks, we'll only have three here. A son is going to Russia for a 6-month mission trip, but that's another blog post.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

An Outside Tour of Baileywick Cottage

The herb garden in summer
The front porch
The dining room window with master bath window above. The window boxes will soon be filled with pansies.
Side porch which is our main entrance. I love the louvered vent above!
Around back is the balcony off the master bedroom. Kitchen window below looks out over the gardens.
Below the kitchen window is the shade garden with a hydrangea, ferns, and ivy. Beau is looking at me through the railing going down from the back porch.

And that's a short tour of the outside of our house. As I was walking around taking photos, I saw all the work that needs to be done. Leaves to be raked, empty flower pots to fill, and just stuff that needs to be thrown away. Here in Georgia that's what January and February are for; preparing for spring. Things are already starting to bloom and push out of the ground. I also need to prune the roses before Valentine's Day. Much to do!