Monday, February 20, 2017

A Daybook


FOR TODAY, Monday, February 20, 2017

 Outside my window . . . blue, cloudless skies. It's a school holiday, so the street is quiet and there aren't the usual groups of students walking and chattering, heading to the school a block away.

 I am listening to . . .the soundtrack for The Cider House Rules.

 I am thinking . . . that I'm going to attempt to rise above some worry that has been plaguing my mind this past week.  I'll hold the person in prayer in the morning and then try to let go.

 I am thankful . . .for my husband's handiwork.  This weekend, he made a knife block for a drawer in the kitchen -- much tidier and safer to be sure.  And a shelf for the laundry room.  He's a keeper.


One of my favorite things. . . my new sneakers. They're sooo comfortable. Great arch support.



I am creating. . . a sanctuary within my home.

I am watching . . . the Father Brown mystery series on PBS.

I am reading. . . The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton


I am hoping. . . to finish up some desk work today, and still make time to get outside for a while and enjoy the beautiful weather. 

 In the kitchen . . . I am cooking up recipes for a family cookbook that my friend Pamela and I are putting together. Well, we're supplying the recipes and pictures. Her daughter Lori is our publisher!  Yesterday, I made Turkey Spinach Meatloaf.  And a batch of chocolate chip cookies, just because.  Tonight, I'm making Pecan Salmon and a spinach salad.



I am learning . . . to slow my pace a bit. That life isn't a race to the finish line. That I can be satisfied working on a project a little at a time. This is big for me!

 A moment from my day . . . snail mail! All the way from the UK, a sweet note from an Etsy shop regarding an order I put in.  I love postage stamps, so this was such a treat.


Post Script . . . I'm really struggling with Facebook these days. I turned off my account before the election, because I just couldn't handle all the political statements. Even from people I agreed with! it was so much sparring and trying to have the last word.  I'm back on, but now I find myself wanting to comment all the time about the state of our country and what's going on. I feel an obligation to speak out, however, I don't feel that FB is the forum for it.  I have a small circle of FB friends and I very much respect their opinions and don't feel that I need to educate any of them.  So, I'm trying to control my 'trigger finger' when I want to Like a post, just for the satisfaction of saying, "Yeah! Take that!"  I miss the old days when FB was just a social place to catch up with friends and family. And I feel that I've become one of the people who have steered away from that.

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 The Simple Woman's Daybook is hosted by Peggy. Click here for the link to join in.


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Friday, February 10, 2017

A beautiful view


This was the view today from what my family lovingly calls, "Mom's Bench."  It is a park bench that bears her name, located at the top of a trail in an Open Space area in our town.  Today the wind was blowing like crazy, but it was warm and sunny, upwards of 75 degrees F.  These clouds looked so soft and plump, I wished I could lay my head down on them.

Days like this in February aren't unusual here, but I appreciate them so much.  There's still a lot of winter left to come.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Homemaking

Housekeeping seems to be a topic of conversation around Blogland these days. I think the new year has a way of prompting us to straighten up, not just ourselves, but our surroundings, too!

Rachel Anne's post yesterday, in keeping with the theme of our homes as sanctuaries, was about cleaning and the empty nest. Coincidentally, I spent part of the weekend cleaning my house and came up with -- yet another -- system.  

My cleaning methods have changed over the years. When my family was younger, I tended to be more of a neat freak about things, which was my survival method for trying to maintain control of all the stuff that a family of five accumulates.  I've never been a fan of cleaning, but I do like things to be organized.  My weekly cleaning method in those days was a day for laundry, a day for shopping and then clean like crazy on another day.  There was some sort of satisfaction in having the whole house clean at one time.  Looking back, I can see I was crazy.  And probably hard to live with.

I imagined that once all the kids moved out and it was just me and Dan, then everything would fall into place.  The house would just stay orderly, because we are such orderly people.  Except, I'm not.  I'm one of those out-of-sight, out-of-mind kinds, so I tend to leave things out where I can see them.  It is taking some real effort on my part to try to change my ways.  Decluttering is a big help in this regard.

I'm also finding that I just don't have the energy or desire to clean the entire house in one day like I used to.  And because it's just the two of us -- and I am slowly converting to enjoying empty spaces -- I can clean one area at a time, and now that I'm on a rhythm, the house feels fairly put together all the time.

Here's my new schedule:

Monday -- Change sheets; dust and vacuum bedroom
Tuesday -- Dust and vacuum living room
Wednesday -- Kitchen: clean out fridge; wipe countertops and appliances; tidy pantry as needed; mop floor
Thursday -- Dust and vacuum dining room
Friday -- Vacuum and wash car; clean storm doors windows in entryway; Dust and vacuum living room (with a dog, I need to do this a couple times a week)
Saturday -- Laundry; Clean bathrooms; wash towels; extra cleaning as needed

I keep Tuesdays and Thursdays light, because they are my longer work days. I do laundry once a week, because with just two of us, we just don't accumulate enough to do a full load of darks, whites, etc. more frequently than that.

I'm like my new plan! How about you? Do you have a routine that works well? 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Candlemas


Today is Candlemas Day, marking the halfway point between Christmas and Easter. For Christians, it commemorates the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, and the Purification of the Virgin.  I have a vague recollection as a child, of candles being taken to church to be 'blessed' for use in the house the rest of the year.

In present day, this ancient holiday has been overshadowed by the silly tradition of Groundhog Day,  which I've always felt is much ado about nothing.  How much more meaningful is one of the pagan traditions for Candlemas, of marking the midpoint of winter by having someone dress up as a bear coming out of hibernation and terrorizing young girls in the community?

Today, I'm thankful to have Candlemas to remind me of light in the darkest of hours. On this icy and foggy day, a candle glows on the desk next to my computer.  In February and March, when the days are long and can be pretty dreary, I'm reminded that light comes in many forms.  A good book, a walk with my friend Joan, who makes me laugh like no one else, and spending time in the kitchen, cooking up delicious body warming meals.

Before long, I'll be planning the garden and looking for the first buds of spring.  But, for now, I'll seek the pleasures of this season, reminding myself that there's no time like the present.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

More on Sanctuary

As I pursue my word Sanctuary for 2017, another word keeps popping up.

Space

I’ve been doing what so many other people do at this time of year, decluttering, cleaning and freshening up my house. I often find myself in good company, when I ask a friend what they’ve been up to and their reply has something to do with, “Cleaning my house and getting back to normal after the holidays. I took X number of bags to ARC yesterday!” We all get deep satisfaction from reclaiming lost space, which also means reclaiming lost time.  Less time spent taking care of things.

As I clear away books, clothing, household items that are no longer useful to me, my goal is to leave some of the space empty.  Like my time for quiet reflection each morning, the lack of clutter in the space around me gives my mind a place to rest.

The simplicity of cultures like the Amish have always intrigued me.  I used to view their lifestyle as a model of self-discipline and deprivation. Like fasting. As I find myself craving simpler surroundings and wanting to let go of too much stuff, I'm drawn to the clarity that a less complicated lifestyle provides.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Grandpa's way

I'm in week 2, following along with Rachel Anne at Home Sanctuary, focusing on the word Sanctuary for 2017. Yesterday, Rachel posted about the importance of morning routines.

My morning routine consists of waking up to freshly brewed coffee, thanks to my DH.  He is out the door for work before I even begin to stir, but I think of him first thing when I wake up (I do, Sweetie!), grateful for the pot of coffee that awaits me.

I pour the first cup, add sugar and a healthy blop of cream, feed Lilly a biscuit, and then head to my favorite chair to choose from a selection of devotional books that I keep close by.  Sometimes I have to fight the urge to put the TV on and catch up on the morning news, which is never a good idea, because then before I know it, an hour has passed by.

I wake up slowly, I always have.  I'm fortunate these days that I can take my time easing into the day.  After devotions, I get dressed and start some chores.  This is where I tend to be a bit scattered and could use a better routine.

Yesterday, the Home Sanctuary post linked to an older post about "messy perfectionists."  Boy, can I ever relate to that term, coined by Rachel.  It's the art of putting off doing things, because we don't have the time or the energy to do it perfectly.  I'll wipe the kitchen counter up later, when I have time to scour the sink the way it needs to be done.  I'll put that basket of clothes away after I get my closet organized the way it should be.  I'm so good at that.  Rachel advocates doing small things and calling it 'good enough.'

My grandfather had another phrase for the same kind of thing.  A fireman who provided for a family of nine during the Depression in Newark, New Jersey, my grandpa was a man who got things done.  In the early 40's he acquired a piece of land in rural New Jersey, and set to making a dream come true.  Building a house, putting in gardens, and raising chickens.  He didn't have a lot of money, but he had a vision and the determination to make it all happen.  For building materials, he gathered wood and supplies from an old house that was torn down nearby.  When things came out a bit wonky, his favorite phrase was, "A blind man would be only too glad to see it."

My family still remembers stories of the outhouse he built using old doors for several of the sides.  I still laugh when I remember him telling about his friends, who would try to find their way out, late at night after a good beer fest.

That was my PopPop.  A man who did things his own way and got the job done.  While I tend to be more of an observer in life, I have to remind myself that I have his genes, and if I dig deep enough, I can figure out a way to get the job done, even if it's not perfect.  Whether it's a chore that I'm faced with, a story I want to write or any kind of challenge, the first step is to begin.


Me and PopPop and Dusty (1959)


Wednesday, January 18, 2017