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!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Our Cottage Painted

The painting of the house is finally finished. From 1990-2012, it was blue. While I did like it that color, it wasn't my first choice. My husband picked out the color, and while it looked good, I figured 22 years was long enough for one color, which is why I decided to get it repainted white with green trim, cottage red porches, and light blue porch ceilings. I love it! Most of the family like it, too.

Painting porch ceilings blue to mimic the sky is a southern tradition. Supposedly, wasps won't build nests there because it looks like the sky. Since we've always had problems with wasp nests on the porch ceilings, we'll see. I've always wanted to paint ours blue, but just didn't have the nerve. But I figured, why not? If I hate it, I'll just paint it back white. Fortunately, they look great!

And the red porch floors? I really like them, too, even though they're a little harder to keep clean. Originally we just left them bare wood, and dirt didn't show up at all.

Tomorrow I'll take you on a visual tour of all these places.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Housekeeping-A Poll

I'm conducting a poll this morning, ladies, and the reason is that as I've been working on my daily schedule for this new year, I've allotted what I thought to be a sufficient amount of time to do my housework. Unfortunately, the last two days have been almost nothing but housework. This could be because I'm still putting things away from the holidays, or it may be because we have too much stuff and I spend too much time putting it away.

While I'm willing to give it its due, I don't want to spend all my time every day doing it. There are so many other things and interests I want to pursue. A fine balance is what I wish to establish.

So here's the poll: How much time daily, on average, do you spend doing work related to the maintenance and keeping of your home? I'll not tell you now how many I spend. I don't want to influence you in any way! Your answers will be most appreciated. Thanks!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Keeping At It

Rereading through my old journals, I came across this prayer I wrote there in 2005. It isn't originally by me, and I don't remember where it came from. I needed it eight years ago and I still need it today.

"God, give me due respect for the abilities you have given me. Don't let me sell them short. Don't let me cheapen them. Don't let me bury my talents through indecision, cowardice, or laziness. Plant in me the necessary determination. Keep me at it. Rouse in me the fires of dedication. Keep me at it. Give me the energy, strength, and will power to bring your gifts to their proper fruition. Keep me at it. When I falter or fall, lift me up and set me back on my destined path. Keep me at it."