Monday, October 24, 2005
When are we old? I know two women--one whose birthdays number seventy, the other, thirty-three. The seventy-year old one reads, studies, enjoys, goes when she can, delights in a new dress, has a host of friends, and is genuinely happy. And folks just make excuses to visit her because of her keen interest, her joy in good news, her mental alertness, and her whole-hearted friendship. The little school girl, the grandmother of eighty, the boy home from college, the new daddy, all go to see her for contact with that current of friendship that helps them to believe in themselves and stimulates within them a new interest that is joy in itself.
The woman of thirty-three is married, and has "enough to do without that."
What can we give our friends when we have shut all doors and put in storage all desire for progress? Nothing. Just nothing. And friends are entitled to more than that. Friendships, to remain permanent, must grow and thrive on interest in the new conversation, on growth in ideas, achievements, and mental alertness. But if we go mentally to sleep, we become parasites on our friends, and surely our friends have problems enough. We cannot carry them, and we have no right to expect them to carry us. And no matter how many birthdays we have, we can be made young again by a new realization that mind development, intelligence, and the ability to make progress are matters of interest, not age; of incentive, not years; and that we must build our own generating plant and work to achieve, to grow, to learn, to find good everywhere, to find delight in the every day."
Another quote from Mary Brooks Picken" "A real gentlewoman never needs to tell you that she is a gentlewoman. Her presence speaks more convincingly than words."
Friday, October 21, 2005
http://www.victoriancowgirl.com/gallery.htm I didn't forsee this blog becoming a clothing research site, but while we are on the subject, here's a wonderful place that someone sent me. I've worn clothing like this in the 80's, which was comfortable, versatile (could wear it anywhere, and at home), and durable. You can find patterns that are similar and make your own, or if you've got the money, order from here. http://www.victoriancowgirl.com/gallery.htm
Thursday, October 20, 2005
This saying immediately crossed my thoughts when I tried to change the subject recently, which was Emma's tactic to avoid hearing Mr. Kightley's explanation as to his jealousy of Frank Churchill. Click on the picture for a larger view. It looks like one of the scenes from the Miramax version of "Emma."
Besides being a great diversionary from unpleasant news or conversation, this comment applies to my current situation: the drain tub. We live in an older house that drains the washing machine water into a tub and then to a drain. The drain is apparently stuck up with a rock or some gravel from someone's pockets.
We have not had the time or the money to fix this problem (which is complicated), so we've been hauling the water outside by the bucket and putting it on a needed dry area of the land. After awhile both my husband and I noticed we had lost some weight and firmed up some flabby areas. Maybe we won't have a new drain installed for awhile ;-)
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
You've changed your life style and your attitute is improving. Your new way of dressing femininely in pretty skirts or dresses has given you an optimistic outlook on life. You wake up each day in love with life. You are just wearing a sturdy, practical cotton skirt, with a shirt and a vest; probably not something you would wear to church or a formal Tea. Then, someone says: "Why are you all dressed up?"
In past centuries, there have been three types of clothing: casual,(things you would wear when no on is around or when you are doing some dirty chore), semi-casual (something you would wear at home, in front of the family, when doing errands, --something that is decent and clean enough for going out into the public), and formal (something you would wear to a wedding). In short, ladies would have their nightgowns, their daywear and their formalwear. That seems uncomplicated enough for today and I see no reason to change it.
The idea was to match up the mode of dress, or the kind of clothing, to the kind of occasion (or the place) you were attending. The more formal the occasion,or the more elegant the facility, building, or home, the more formal the dress--get it?
Then, the home began being treated as though it were just a place to flop around casually, laying on the floor or sitting on top of the kitchen cabinet--who cared? The clothing began to match the casual attitudes, rather than the place or the occasion. People began to show up at weddings looking like they just surfed in from a beach party. I probably don't need to describe any other atrocious sights, as you can pretty much fill in the rest, after all you've seen of inappropriate dress in our society.
I saw things begin to change, in the 60's. I remember asking a 16 year old girl what she was going to wear to school (Years later I became a homeschooler) and she pointed to what she had on at the time--an old sweatshirt, denim cut-offs and tennis shoes. "Why should I dress up?" she asked.
When I became a homeschooler I decided to put a stop to all this nonsense. I saw kids at a very early age that were developing depression, attending the schools. We would dress up each day in semi-formal clothing. That is inbetween informal and formal, meaning not your pyjamas and not your prom dress, but clothing designed to help you work and play during a normal day. The boys wore button down shirts, sturdy pants of cotton duck and other masculine fabrics, and the daughter had skirts, blouses and vests. Mother got up in the morning and dressed up as though she was going somewhere.
I don't like changing clothes throughout the day, so I dress up well enough in the beginning, that I don't have to change into something "decent," as they say, to go to the grocery store or greet someone at the door. What I wear in the morning, has to serve me all day, so I have to be careful not to start out dressing too casually. I don't want to be embarrassed if someone comes to the door unexpectedly, or if I am suddenly needed to go somewhere in the public, so I just wear a skirt, which is appropriate for everything except climbing trees.
For years, I grew to expect the remarks of others, like, "Don't you ever wear jeans?" or "You'll have to wear something more casual if you want to come on this outing with us." Even on moving days, when we were packing up a truck, I managed to wear a skirt. What was I going to be doing, anyway, acrobatics and trampoline jumps?
I keep getting letters from women who love the feeling of wearing feminine clothing, but hate the remarks they are getting. I guess I failed to mention that it "comes with the territory." When you take a stand or turn in a different direction, you are going to get some resistance.
There are lots of elderly women who are able bodied and active, that spend tremendous amounts of money and time getting their hair clipped and coiffed, and their nails "done," who pay no attention to the rest of their appearance. They walk around in the "nursing home look" (jeans, tee shirt, reboks) revealing their unshapely bottems, and yet I wouldn't ever say to them (although I would DREAM of it) "Don't you EVER wear a dress?"
This is another painting by Susan Rios. I've got a collection of beautiful paintings by artists from the 1600's to the present, of women. Does any one think this painting would be more charming and appealing if the artist had painted her in the slop-chic that is fashionable today? Would "The Favor" by Edmund Blair Leighton, or "Waiting" by the same artist of the 1800's be such a favorite among moderns, if he had painted these women wearing jeans and tee shirts?
You might do a study of the history of jeans and pants on women. Pants come from the word "pantaloon" which was originally underwear. How did the garment known as underwear 100 years ago, become outerwear on women today? After you do some studying on the matter, you might not think jeans are so pretty. I found valuable information in looking up the Bible words "modest" and "apparel" to find their root meanings. Jeans and pants didn't match up with those definitions. As the rear end is the biggest part of the body, I think it best to disguise it. There are now garments like leggings and cuddle-duds, that you can wear under dresses, for warmth and comfort. If you do wear pants, you can make them more ladylike by wearing a longer top over them that covers the rear end.
In the comments I'll put some good replies to those remarks you get.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Like most people, our lives have been a series of successes and setbacks. We just seem to get what we need, and where we want to be in life, and a new challenge comes along that uses up our resouces. We've gone from "car city" to a one-car family. As "Pa" said often in Little House on the Prairee, "No setback is without a small blessing, " (or something like that).
Since I'm the one that uses the car the least, I'm also the one who spends several days a week in isolation. I'm not alone in a neighborhoood, either; I'm far away from stores and friends. About 5 hours into the day on one of these "alone" days, I called my daughter, Lillibeth, and told her it was getting a little tiring being alone and that not one car had even driven by on the road to town. She replied, "Well, mother, you are always trying to research the Pioneers. All you have to do is pretend you are in Pioneer Days, when they spent so much time alone on the prairees. You can identify with them."
That perked me up for a few more hours, and I began to imagine all sorts of things. About three hours later, knowing I had yet another 6 hours before anyone came home (I'd given up trying to invite people over--just about everyone I knew was occupied or didnt' answer their phones--does anyone stay home these days???)--I called her again, and said rather darkly, "I've about had enough of this 'Pioneer Stuff"
The Pioneer, Civil War, or Elizabethan reenactments are great, but they are usually with a great crowd of people--in real life in those days, women spent many days alone. I'd like to challenge anyone who feels they have overloaded their minds and bodies with activities, to have a day alone, and catalog their emotions during this time. Although it might not be possible to be left completely alone in the woods, as many people have home duties and children about, just get as alone as you can.
When the "crunch time" comes where you think you can't stand it anymore and you want to scream, you aren't allowed to turn on the television or put in a movie; you can't call a friend unless it is for the purpose of sending out encouragement (you aren't allowed to complain.)
Famous stressed-out people spend thousands of dollars to go to monastaries to give their minds a rest. At home, it costs you nothing.
I found it interesting that after an intense period of anxiety and withdrawal symptoms,which I thought I would not survive, I was surprised when I came out of it into a kind of "light" with a clearer mind and a more active imagination, as well as a creative urge.
When I again met with "people," some of them said that I had "changed" and that being around me made them feel consolate and reassured, less nervous and wacked out about everything. When I had an overload of socialization, I felt I didn't like people as much!
I seem to be on this anit-socialization kick, not because I don't like people, but because I think we've been programmed from a very young age, for the wrong kind of socialization. We were gotten up and sent to school first thing in the morning to be with people we were forced to socialize with. After school was completed, we did the same thing, only we went to work to be with people we had not personally made friends with, either, and whom we were forced, once again to socialize with daily.
One of the reason people feel restless at home is because of the amount of socialization they partake in. Almost from the beginning of their lives, they are trained to get up in the morning and go somewhere else. If you want to get used to staying home, it takes awhile to get over the addiction of socialization and focus on the tasks at hand.
I was discussing this concept with someone, who replied, "Yes, but there are just some people who can't be alone." I think it is more likely that they've been conditioned not to be alone, and that they could be conditioned, by practice, to prefer more alone time. Some of us are indeed more sociable than others, that is a fact. What I am talking about is the value and the necessity of the human being being alone. We see time and time again throughout the Bible the people who spent time alone and the benefits of it.
One day alone can show a person how much needs to be done at home, or in self-improvement. When I was a teenager I attended a class for young ladies, in which we were given a "self-improvement" test. It contained a list of character qualities, both good and bad, (promptness, criticalness, cooperativeness, discernment, etc.) and we were supposed to write down the things we lacked in our lives, and then do a report on the word, such as "perseverance" or "endurance."
One day alone can help bring about some of this needed introspection, not to mention a chance to look around at the home and see things that need to be done. In a constant whirl of social activities, these things cannot be achieved. People that get too wrapped up in coming and going, can actually become afraid of being still, because they will have thoughts that come into their minds, that may be uncomfortable. Being alone means you have to face yourself and your God but it is essential if you want to have a healthy mind.
The one day alone is a perfect time to catch up on letters. After you really get in to writing letters, it casts the mind into a completely different realm. Anytime we serve others or get outside of ourselves and our problems, our minds become more balanced. Contrast this to what the worldly counsellors tell you: get inside of yourself and dwell on your problems. Today, those that practice that are still debilitated by their problems, and not living victorious lives. "After all, I'm only human," they say. Consider what an insulting remark this is. God created humankind in His image, as the Bible says, and we say, "after all I'm ONLY human?"
One day alone....let's try it.
Monday, October 17, 2005
I've noticed a tendency amongst younger women especially, to feel overwhelmed and under stress, even after they leave the working world and settle in to be home bodies, where a more relaxed life is expected.
I think what happens is that when your time is freed up from the stringent requirements of school or work, you tend to feel you have to fill it up with other things. People may impose on you, also. They think since you are home, you can do extra things.
If you want to eliminate the unnecessary stress, you have to also be careful about church things. I know it is nice when there is activity going on in the church, but many of the people who run here and there doing "church work" are neglecting their homes, neglecting their rest and their spiritual lives. Their minds are always in a whirl as they try to attend all the available classes and fellowships.
I'm writing this as a Ladies Bible class teacher of some years, and a children's Bible class teacher: don't feel guilty if you have to quit these programs for awhile. All that is required of you is stated clearly in the New Testament, and does not include many of the things that are going on. Real strength in religion and the church comes from within a person; from their reliance on the Lord, and from their praise, devotion and obedience to His word, not on a dozen programs that keep you going, going, going.
It is easy for me to feel depressed when only 6 people show up at the weekly Ladies Bible study, where we enjoy the fellowship and the smell of good food, but I have to stop and think that people come on a voluntary basis, not because they are required to. I know there is a clear command in the scriptues not to neglect the Lord's day assembly, and if the younger women can be there, it makes Christ happy and it helps the church. To put pressure on them to do more than that, would be unfair and unscriptural as well.
I found that once I, as a teacher, relaxed and didn't put pressure on people to do anything, some of these other activities during the week, became more appealing to them. Take a piece of string and lay it on the table. Give it a push from one end and see where it goes. People who feel obligated to do something from pressure, don't do it well or as creatively, bringing out their true talents and abilities, as they would if they were given a take it or leave it approach. People naturally do a better job at whatever they do if they do it because they have their heart in it, because it relaxes or encourages them, or because they feel they are contributing.
I remember when I was younger, and raising children and managing a house as well as church work, how it all began to feel mechanical and meaningless to me. Once I eliminated a lot of the running around and the non-required church activities, my mind became more stable. I think in many ways, feminism has entered into the minds of the women of the church. They think they must accomplish so much, and do so much for the church and the Lord, that they fall into bed unaccomplished and exhausted every night.
Bible studies during the week are lovely, but often impersonal compared to the ones you do all by yourself or with your family, where you get down to solving your real challenges and helping each other with theirs. So, don't feel you must attend everything. Just choose the ones you need, and eliminate the rest.
Looking back at past troubles when I was a lot younger, I managed to connect them to lack of rest and lack of time for reflection, too much verbal interaction with people, and too many social activities. It may not be so with everyone, but it is something worth examining. We ought to balance our social life with quietness and rest.
Social activities too, put a lot of stress on people. I was reading where some of the early settlers of Oregon used to have one final social activity at Harvest, because for the winter season they would be more confined to their homes. By spring, they were excited to get back into social activities. They were fortunate to be able to assemble just once a week for church services. Good works didn't have to be organized into committees and groups. (Inside each person is a built-in committee that knows how to do a good work all by themselves, without a group.) The women would naturally want to offer their help when someone was in need, a baby was born, or someone wanted to be taught something. One account of a preacher stated that when they saw each other on Sunday, there were many tears of rejoicing that "gave the scene a zest, a richness and a charm, which no tongue can tell, nor heart conceive, who has not been one of our number." (written in 1850)
The "zest" he wrote of goes flat and dull when we engage in too much socialization. We are much happier to see people when we haven't seen them in awhile. The hugs are tighter and the handshake firmer; the face lights up with more excitement and gratitude. It is lilke waiting to open a gift that you don't receive every day.
I'm not trying to discourage those who want to build up church memberships by their devotion to activities, good works, fellowships, etc. There are usually two types of people: those who are in a stage of life where they can be more active with church responsibilities, and those whose work at home occupies them. We shouldn't expect that every single lady in the church should come to the Ladies Bible Class, nor should we expect that every single lady in the church would have the same pressing responsibilities at home.As ladies grow older, they may have more time to do thngs that the younger women will not have until they themeselves are older.
Just like too much fat or sugar in our modern diets, resulting in extra weight, we also suffer from the modern malady of too much socialization, which puts unnecessary stress on our lives.
A little peace and quiet won't hurt.
"When He giveth quietness, then who can make trouble?" Job 34:29
"In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.." Isaiah 30:15
Here is a truth that is good to know: It is just as scriptural to rest, as it is to work. It is good to take a fast from social things and let your mind rest.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
I got these refreshing notes in my inbox today:
I’m only twenty, but I very much enjoy “Homeliving Helper.” My mother works full-time. Her mother worked part-time. My family is by no means wealthy. Yet I long for the way of life the Bible has in mind, the way of life you lift up with your lovely articles and links. With so many vile things in the media every day, I am glad your blog is available, a haven of sorts. Cacophonic voices promoting filth and the degradation of the family seem to be everywhere; it is a treat to tune my ear to the calm, beauty, and humble reason of yours. May God continue to bless you in your comings and goings.
Miss Kimberly Hettler
Dear Lady Lydia,
I wanted to pass on this link that has beautiful toys for little girls that can help them develop a love of homemaking. It is from Pottery Barn Kids:
In response, I have this to say:
Have you ever felt so sick of the world breathing down your neck that you wanted to run away?
We all get sick of the constant onslaught of information trying to bend our minds. Even a "nice" movie ends up having an agenda and you want to scream because some "issue" is being presented instead of a nice love story with normal emotions.
I've had great success in shutting out the world by shutting off the media, including newspapers, magazines (watch those decorating magazines too--they often tell stereotypical, unresearched fibs about the past), radio and all film. No reading material but the Bible. I just shut down all artificial communication and go back to my pioneer roots. No lights, only candles, and no noise. No entertainment except to write a letter, sing loudly (and off tune if I like it), and look at only pretty things.Visit only natural country things and keep away from the shopping centers. If you have to go near them, go in only the stress-free zones with items that please you, and with soft music.
Take a fast from the world sometime and see what you feel like in a few days. You might go through some withdrawal symptoms but don't give up. It is really worth it to bring the love of life back into your heart.
If you'd like to make a helpful comment, I think you can click on my name and it will direct you to a convenient email address. I will post only what is helpful to our readers, and that which will uplift them spiritually and will aid them in successful homemaking and family life.
I don't know why some people waste their contrary comments on blogs they don't agree with, when they could get their own blog and post away to their heart's content.
Friday, October 14, 2005
In a Gift Store I spotted a cute idea: In a gift box was a mother-daugher devotional kit, containing a tea set called "Rose and Dot" with a devotional book and blank notebooks, along with pens.
This one is from http://www.familychristian.com/shop/product.asp?prodID=12126 and probably could be locatd in several different places on the web. The script on the cup and pot is "Let the beauty of our Lord be upon us." They are sold individually, so two regular sized cups could be purchased.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Sunday, October 09, 2005
http://www.marmeeskitchen.com/Homekeeping_collection.htm I've seen a preview of some of the chapters in this, and would very much recommend it!
Friday, October 07, 2005
After the Pioneer Day, I heard several women say sadly that they wish they had been born in a different time, particularly because of the clothing. The costumes we wore, even with stays and corsets, were surprisingly comfortable and elegant feeling. Here are some from Cattle Kate http://www.cattlekate.com/womenswear.html This one on the left is called the walking jacket, and the blue one is "Tea Party Dress," and the These patterns found in the costume sections of the sewing pattern books at fabric stores, are not difficult to make.
So, to answer the sorrowful comment about being born at the wrong time, I would say that you are born at the right time. Perhaps a lot of you are here, like Esther was in her time, for just this sort of thing: to help bring back some decency and beauty into the scene. I was looking at old photographs of the Pioneer era, and in close ups of the streets of the towns and cities where both men, women and children were freely walking around, saw not one bit of immodesty in any one of these photographs, compared to the same streets of the same towns today. If you like these fashions, just wear them. You might have been brought here for such a time as this.
There are clothes available that follow the same principles of line and beauty that these clothes have, so you can still dress nicely and modestly without looking like you are from the 1800's. April Cornell is popular now, with all the feminine trims, and the shawls and accessories are most appealing. http://www.aprilcornell.com/
Another from Victorian Cowgirl: there are many patterns available that could easily be sewn into garments similar to these. Check out their wedding gallery also.
From http://www.recollections.biz/ there are a couple of nice outfits, and http://www.victoriancowgirl.com/gallery.htm has beautiful suits, gowns, every day dresses. This is from Victorian Cowgirl:
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Someone just related a delightful story that they read, about some of the events of the covered wagon people who came to Oregon from the east, in the 1800's. I don't know who the author is, as yet, or the name of the book.
As the terraine grew rougher, many of the Pioneers left valued posessions behind. Later, it was learned that scavenger sales people came along and retrieved a lot of it, then travelled further up the Trail, where they set up trading posts, met up with the wagon trains, and sold a lot of it back to the original owners, who were able to carry these posessions comfortably over more stable terrain for the duration of the trip.
One such family had three daughters. Before leaving their home, their father had made them each a wooden hope chest, carefully carved and painted with their names on it. When the oxen became weary, and they began to be concerned about whether or not these beasts would last for the rest of the trip, they unloaded one of the hope chests; that of the eldest daughter.
Each day, the covered wagons would rotate, so that no one wagon was always in front. The front wagon from the previous day, would travel last in line. This family was first in line that day. No doubt, the custom was arranged so that the same family wouldn't have the dust in their face all day long or face all the ruts or dangers every single day. Nonetheless, people didn't really like going to the end of the line, as it was more lonely to travel back there.
It so happened that a young preacher was at the end of the line that day, and his wagon had very little in it. He did not have to walk as much, because the weight was not as heavy. Other travellers were concerned about the weight their oxen had to pull, so they walked as much as possible. That day, the young minister came across the abandoned hope chest, and recognized the name of the girl, whom he was acquainted with from the general wagon train company when they stopped for meals or evening activities. Since his wagon was not as burdened as the others, he loaded up her trunk and covered it with a blanket.
Halfway to the west, he proposed to her. They were married during the trek out west. He invited her to his covered wagon, where he pointed to his wedding gift to her. She lifted the blanket and there was her hope chest.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
We just attended an annual Pioneer Day for the homeschoolers of the area. It took place on a farm, with a barn full of fresh hay.
Almost everyone was in costume: the girls and ladies with their pioneer dresses and bonnets, and the boys with their cowboy hats, suspenders, bows and arrows. In one field, bow and arrow lessons were taught, in another, filberts (hazelnuts) were gathered, and in another area, corn was shucked for the evening meal.
My job was to present a children's pioneer craft, so I chose a simple toy made from a button and a piece of string, which used to amuse children for hours. Put the string through a button hole, tie both ends securely, and wind it up til you can't wind it anymore. Then pull tightly at both ends with your hands, and it makes a whirring, singing noise. The motion of the colorful button on the string is most delightful to children, as well as the pretty sound. I saw several of the children sitting in the barn in the hay, playing with their old time "buzz saw." You can read more about pioneer toys and other things here http://library.thinkquest.org/6400/toys.htm
I'll try to post pictures of this event, soon, including my daughter and I in full costume, down to the boots, and her little men in their overalls with straw hats. The day began with pioneer foods, then games for the children. There were a lot of chores to be done, including feeding the animals, washing the dishes and clothes outdoors, cutting wood and bringing it in to load on a stack, building a fire, and preparing supper.
When it began to get really dark, families had to go home, and the little boys cried because they had to leave the hay bales and the barn, where they were just beginning to really play and enjoy one another.
I must comment on what a nice atmosphere was there, and what a different feeling it was to be with over 100 people of all ages, all in agreement about education and family. The children and adults interacted together most normally, and the children were kind and loving to their parents. I liked this non-tense feeling of enjoying one another. Three girls, triplets, dressed in pink, blue and yellow, began to follow my daughter and I around, and asked us many questions. One of them invited Lillibeth, who is the mother of three pioneer boys, to the barn and urged her to climb up on a hay bale. "It is alright if fine ladies do this!" she said. We were both quite amused by this.
The highlight for my three grandsons was the corn-grinding. One of them must have grinded the wheel from the time he got there til evening. Later, the meal was used for the most delicious corn bread, with the butter they churned, that I have ever tasted. The name of the cake used to be "Journey Cake" which was eaten on the Oregon Trail when people came out in covered wagons, but through slurring speech, eventually became "Johnny Cakes."
The covered wagons were not a mystery. They were just a more primitive type of motor home or recreational vehicle.
The party did not go unnoticed by passers-by on the nearby highway. Many of them slowed down, honked and waved at the ladies walking through the fields in their long dresses and bonnets.
As time allows, I'll post more about my thoughts and observations of the Pioneer Era, and why I think people want to re-enact it. On this particular day, I felt that a certain respect was being shown to their forebearers for opening up this beautiful land to be settled and enjoyed. It wasn't easy for them, but they had a spirit of endurance and faith. They could not easily retreat, and had to make the best of it. Many of them are unsung heroes, for the sacrifices they made. Their optimism was contagious upon the next generations, who were great inventors. Our children skipped back over several eras and settled upon the Pioneer era of the 1800's for their interest in study. This was an era that fully fascinated them and inspired them.