Monday, December 26, 2005

Hand-Made, Home-Made

I'm very grateful for everyone's comments. I haven't had time to post them all, so if you don't see yours right away, please don't be offended.

My husband and I were discussing family living of the past, and the subject of gifts. One outstanding characteristic of those days was that not everything came from stores. Not everything was bought, but it was not because they didn't have money. They liked being creative and took great joy in using their artistry to make gifts for their family members.

Sometimes when I'm making something by hand, someone who happens by, will ask me why I bother, when these things are so available in the stores and can be bought. Why bake your own bread? Why make your own gifts? They don't understand it. It has something to do with a feeling you get from doing it, and the feeling you have for your loved ones.

And, lately, the things that people place the most value on, are those things left behind by their grandmothers, like quilts, hand-made furniture, paintings, personal letters, original poems and stories, diaries, and hand work of any kind. While they might enjoy having their grandfather's watch, the family photo album and scrapbook are equally treasured.

Even though the items were hand-made, neither one of us can recall that people felt pressured, stressed, or upset by the effort it took. Maybe it was because making things created an inner contentment in the maker. They were thoughtful people, appearing to be musing about something. While engrossed in hand-making an item, one would look up to focus on a far-away scene out the window. There was a two-fold purpose in this: one, to be able to work their creative minds, and two, to rest the eyes from close-up work. I don't know if people know that these days--that you have to look up from your typing or reading, and focus afar, for the health of the eyes.

Our fathers made things from wood, such as little shelves, toys, rolling pins or carvings, and yet, we can't remember hearing fits of temper over the work. Our mothers made tablecloths, napkins, dish towels, doilies and small carpets (which were in past times called "coverings.") At the treadle sewing machines or when hand knitting something, these women had an aura of calm. We couldn't recall them hurrying or trying to do things at factory pace.

I thought it might be interesting to find out more about things people made at home for ornaments or gifts. In my family, we used trash items such as empty egg cartons, tin cans, empty food boxes, or old cards and wrapping paper.

From the egg cartons, our mother showed us how to fashion silver bells which we used as ornaments to hang on the curtain rods so that they would sparkle in the windows. We just covered them with foil, put a bit of string in them with a wad of foil on the end for the bell.

You can make ornamental tea cups from egg carton sections, by using the cup part for the tea cup, and some of the flat lid for the saucer. Cover in any kind of thin wrapping paper, and decoupage it with glue, or, paint it and decorate with glitter. Make a handle out of some of the carboard or use metallic chennile wire.

Any empty container or box from the kitchen could be covered, painted, glitterized and used as buckets and baskets or treasure trunks holding even more gifts. Kitchen supplies such as applesauce and cinnamon, or waxed paper and parchment paper, were used to make everything from writing paper to scented ornaments.

We were enchanted with glitter, in those days. Glitter covered a multitude of crafting imperfections and the sparkle of it was very welcome in the dull winter climate that had hardly any light. Glitterized things would catch the light of the Coleman lanterns and the home seemed like an imaginary enchanted cottage. Old cards could be cut into shapes and the edges glitterized. We made our own greeting cards, so we used glitter liberally.

In the winter, fathers made sleds for their children, and in the summer, little sailboats to play with on puddles and ponds. Mothers made dolls by drawing out the shape of a doll on fabric from worn out pillowcases or clothing. These dolls had either yarn or pen-drawn hair and hand-sketched faces, sometimes embroidered. Now, there are dolls deliberately manufactured to look like these old hand made toys, but I am sure that as girls grow older, they would much prefer to have a sentimental, worn out doll made by their mother or grandmother's own hands, that would truly be one-of-a-kind.

I'm not suggesting that we should try to make everything we own, but that there can be purpose and satisfaction to making a few things, at our own pleasure and leisure, in this life.

Painting: Acrylic paints on wood. (Click for a larger view)

Friday, December 23, 2005

Living Simply

One of the prominent reasons for stress in the home is disorganization. Sometimes when the house is in disarray, people's tempers run short, and everyone is cross. Sloppy living can sometimes lead to sloppy thinking and confusion. Confused thoughts seem to multiply as the mess multiplies.

It is difficult to have real peace of mind and a peaceful, happy home when disorganization reigns. Women of the past knew the value of cleaning out a desk drawer or straightening out a closet, when their minds began to swim in a muddle of confusion.

I heard many conversations while I was a child, about how women coped with confusion and disorganization in the home. This was long before therapy books, counselling, or tell-all TV shows existed.

"I just start sorting out a book shelf, or clean the kitchen," said one, and "I wash my hair," said another. Asked what they did when they were engulfed in loneliness or grief: "Clean house." It took me years to understand this, but it was something that was practiced in times past, that was constructive. Learning what to do with restlessness, discontent, worry or anxiety, is a lesson that future generations need.

I've tried to put together a simple list of things I've observed in families and homes where peace reigns.

1. Have an accounting of your own posessions and know where everything is, so that you can go straight to an item when you need it.

2. Have friends who build you up and give you energy and inspiration. Too much negative information from people whose lives are always fallling apart, can rub off on you.Daytime shows on television are full of people getting into trouble, getting out of trouble, and getting back into trouble. If you wouldn't allow such troubles in your home, it is wise not to let it broadcast into your living room.

3.Simplify by getting rid of things you do not really need and could do without. I'm not talking about a few good heirlooms from your grandmother's estate, but the unimportant things that are never used and don't have a purpose in the home.

4. Create beauty and order in the home by learning a little about colors and interior decorating. This is a worthwhile investment because it results in many happy, contented hours at home.

5.Do something creative in your life every day--sew, write, paint a picture, arrange flowers, build or craft something, or just arrange a table;--engaging the mind with creativity organizes your thoughts.

6.Treat your family members as though they were the most precious people on the earth, even when they are out of sorts.

7. Don't get caught up in the frenzy of "getting somewhere" in life. As soon as you get there, you will only find somewhere else better to go. Instead, concentrate on building character qualities that will get you anywhere.

8. Read something to improve your mind each day.

9. Don't have too much to do. Too many social obligations, or too much activity can burn out your creativity and cause depression.

10. Instead of pressuring yourself to give people "things," write them notes or letters to build them up.

"To live content with what you have;
To seek elegance rather than luxury,
And refinement rather than fashion;
To be worthy, not reputable, and wealthy, not rich;
To listen to stars and birds, babes and sages with open heart;
To study hard;
To think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions,
Hurry never;
In a word to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common--
This is my symphony." -- William Henry Channing

"Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have." Hebrews

I certainly don't want to be insensitive to those who are starting out with nothing, nor imply they shouldn't have goals toward getting the things they need to set up housekeeping, but the less you have, the easier it is to find it when you need it. Being organized can eliminate a lot of the pressures in life.

Poster by Judy Gibson

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Yearly Reports

I've been getting all those reproduced letters that come once a year, from friends and family, which list all the events of their lives over the past year. I don't know about you, but I am affected quite negatively by these yearly family reports, for some reason. Since I haven't heard from them all year, the changes unsettle me and some of them leave me in a state of shock.

I don't send out these yearly progress reports, because there is so little to report around here. This year, as in other years, there has been no trauma or drama and nothing much is really happening. Our lives remain placid and uneventful, but I suppose it is better than the alternative. I am sure that major changes are looming on the curve of the New Year, but I'm much happier at the uneventfulness of things. I'd rather report a wedding, some births, and the house being painted than the latest degree, promotion, or vacation.

I haven't quite figured out why I don't warm to these newsletters. Maybe I'm looking for some kind of news that has more character, or I don't want to admit that they make me feel like I'm not doing very much! I'd like to know how others feel about it, and why they do or do not enjoy the yearly newsletters.

painting by L. Sherman (Click on for a larger view)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Learning From the Stars

A few summers ago when our family was all in the same place at the same time (which gets rarer as they get older), we began a discussion about the significance of stars. We discovered that rather than being just a bunch of cute, twinkling lights, they had significance in a physical and philosophical way.

After discussing the different types of stars and galaxies, we retired to the front lawn, where we laid on our backs upon quilts, looking up at the evening stars. On the nearby road, several cars honked at the sight of this extended family of 10, ranging from the newest child of our daughter, to our twenty-something sons, myself (who is ageless) and 60 year old "Papa," laying face to the sky, on the lawn. I'm sure they might have thought it was a strange ritual we were participating in.

The stars are bodies of light that appear at night in cloudless skies. They are fixed, or planetary, however, planets revolve around the sun and do not twinkle, as do the stars. Each month of the year, a different "house" or section of stars appear in the sky, identified by ancient names, such as Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, and others. These names were formed when astrologers drew imaginary lines between certain stars to form figures of men, beasts, and objects.

Throughout the ages, people of different cultures, though they did not know each other, often created the same pictures from the stars and identified them by the same names.

Stars follow an orbit and are always in the same relationship in placement and distance, to one another, which makes each house easily identifiable as the seasons change. Stars are worlds unto themselves containing galaxies within galaxies, exhibiting the astonishing world of space.

The pole star is a bright star that appears in the tail of Ursa minor, commonly known as "The Bear."

Wandering Stars are a different type of star that do not follow a fixed pattern. They have no fixed path and lead into darkness.

Twin Stars revolve around each other, and appear as one when either is behind the other, ora as a very bright light when beside one another.

The Morning Star is not a star, but the planet Venus. It is often called "The Star of Hope," because it is the last bright light before the sun rises, symbollic of hope. which ushers in the greater light.

Symbolism and allegory are legion in the study of the stars. My first observation is of the importance of early training by faithful mothers and fathers who care about what happens to their children; parents who will tirelessly direct their children and train them, eventually setting them on a fixed course of good habits, good manners and sensibility in decisions.

Another observation is that, while it is amusing to follow a wandering star for a season, fruitless pursuits will lead to ruin. Observing the wandering stars can be of value, though, and also stimulate creativity, as long as it is tempered by good direction and values.

The Morning Star is the star that everyone can hope to be one day: that hopefulness and optimism that it is sometimes darkest before the dawn; that when plans and opportunities are crushed, disappointment can be used as a springboard for success. Your (always) brilliant comments are welcome.

In the 19th century, families often amused themselves in the evenings with telescopes, observing these heavenly objects. Conservatories or upper rooms containing special porches for star gazing, can be seen in some historical homes around the nation.

painting: Evening Serenity by Jim Hansel

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Elements of the House

The furnishings of the home enhance its comfort and beauty, but how do you know what is needed, and when you have enough? A less expensive home will be more affordable to furnish and decorate. I would much rather have a small home that I could afford, than a large house that needed a lot of furniture.

If you are new at homemaking, it is best not to overwhelm yourself with too much to look after. Keeping house is just a part of life at home. If you have too many dining rooms, living rooms, bathrooms and recreation areas, you will have to spend more time looking after it. Keeping things simple means that the keeper of the home will have more time for pursuing talents and caring for others.

The inside entry requires a handy place to hang coats and hats and a receiving area for any bags or merchandise you have upon entering the house. Add to this a mirror and a place to hang keys.

A seating area should be small enough that people can speak to one another without shouting. A small rug can give the room more comfort and warmth. A table beside each chair for reading or holding refreshments, is always nice. A coffee table is lovely but not necessary. Some people have found that such a table only collects clutter and gets in the way. Lamps on each end table, and a pole lamp in a corner will give adequate light.

Although dining rooms are very glamorous, they are not necessary and often are more work than they are worth, when considering the steps that have to be taken to get the prepared food from the kitchen to another room. The old fashioned farm kitchen, if you are just starting out, is the most efficient and simplest way of serving your loved ones and keeping house. A corner cabinet that houses any fine pieces of china, tea cups and other collectibles, is a sentimental and beautiful addition to a simple home.

In the beginning, opt for only one bathroom, and that is all you will have to buy soap and towels for, and all you will have to clean. In settling on a house to live in, don't bite off more than you can chew. It is easy to get carried away by looking at what others are doing, but if you choose a small house, you will be able to afford the draperies, rugs and furnishings to fill it.

(painting by L. Sherman)

Monday, December 19, 2005

A Place Called Home

To some people, a home is just a place to be when there is nowhere else to go, and nothing else to do. Here they get their clothes washed and find something to eat, or pay a duty visit to their families.

Home is more than a place; it is a culture of the family. Here the people develop their own language and humour. Here they find out who they really are. In a world that elevates the independent spirit, people at home learn the art of inter-dependence, where one benefits the others, and in return, others aid in the goals of their own brethren.

Home is a place for fellowship; that is, fellows in the same ship. Every family has its unique qualities that can only be understood by other members of the same family. It is a place where such fellowship can be extended to privileged outsiders, but it is not a place where the family identity can be overrun by the public. It is a private, inner social center that includes only a chosen few, and yet, the flavor of it flows outward to benefit the public in many ways.

Home is also a place of recreation. As the years have gone by, I've found it less necessary to go "somewhere else" to pursue my goals and dreams. My adult children have also learned the value of the home, where they can have their own library, their own art center, their own music studio, and their own place of recreation.

Home is a place of creativity. I've spent many evening with my grown family bouncing ideas off one another; exchanging creative ideas to see if they would work. When my children were growing up, they learned that mornings were the most creatively productive times, and spent their early hours of the day pursing writing, drawing, constructing, and any manner of creativity.

Home is a place of enterprise and history. Just about anything a family does, can be turned into something worthwhile to share with others or to give to the next generation. It seems like every detail of our lives at home has a meaning, from the conversation at a meal, to the way we spend our time. As I remember more things about my own grand parents and great-grandparents, I realize how important our everyday, common habits and speech are to the next generation.

When I speak of "home" I am not necessarily pointing to the structure that surrounds the family, or the house. The house is a shelter for the home, and as such, its care and embellishment is a reflection of the values of that home. The dwelling is an extension of that family's values. Its use is boundless. It can be a place of recovery from illness, a place of care for those who cannot care for themselves, or a place of preparation for adult responsibilities.

Home is a place of learning. Having experienced home education myself, I am glad to tell you of its success. There are no boundaries to learning, when it takes place in the home, for here you have a school without walls, a curricula without limits, and a learning without the restrictions of a prescribed course. I've experienced the delights of children learning to read and write, and then taking it beyond what I could have ever imagined. Further though, it is even more reassuring to see that home-education creates in the family a love of learning and a desire for wisdom.

I've seen people walk into a home and be apparently oblivious to its meaning. They barely notice the family photographs or appreciate the arrangement and comfort of the place. They stand there as though they had just walked through the doors of an instutition supported by taxpayers dollars. They lack the ability to appreciate the home.

When my daughter created her first home, she purposed that she would only have things in it that had meaning for her family, not just things that were there for the material benefit or because of a popular style. From the paintings on the walls, to the colors and textures she chose, her home emits that feeling of meaning.

Happily, there are some people who recognize the potential of the home and are doing their best to preserve marriage and the family. The dwelling itself is becoming the most popular place in our country, as television shows that specialize in home makeovers, are becoming more popular. The home improvement business is the fastest growing industry in the country. We will do well to match the bonding of the family --children to their parents, and parents to each other--with this.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

No-Fault Marriage: A New Trend

I think people are sick and tired of the divorce culture that the "no-fault divorce" laws have created. It all sounds easy on paper, but when it actually happens, there are many other things to consider that were not made apparent at the first. There are his kids, your kids, visitation, holidays, airline flight arrangements, division of property, relatives that become ex-es, and broken-hearted children who often are shifted from one home to another throughout their lives. The children then have to deal with a step mother and a step father, as they are transported by court order from one home to another.

I was visiting with a group of women, a group that has met often over the years. One woman who was usually quite upbeat and pleasant, sat weeping audibly. She could hardly tell us what was wrong. As words of explanation came out between heaving sobs, she explained that her daughter-in-law had suddenly divorced her son, after 20 years, and run off with someone she barely knew, someone who has swept her off her feet, was younger than she was, had no job, and no place to live.

Throughout her heartbreaking story, I detected more sorrow for her daughter-in-law than for her son. This woman had no daughters, and had befriended her one-daughter-in-law as her own daughter. Over the years as my friend had grown older, the daughter-in-law had helped her in various aspects of her life: driving her to the grocery store, seeing to her doctor appointments, helping her with her house, and phoning her daily to see what she needed. She left behind two young sons, and the husband of her youth.

The mother-in-law continued to cry until she died. I saw this with my own eyes. The tragedy of divorce is that while many counsellors will tell the prospective divorcee that they must do what it takes to be happy, they are imposing grief and unhappiness on their own families and the families of generations to come.

The reasons for this divorce, and others, under the "no-fault" laws, are really ridiculous. I've been married for some time now, and have some experience with these things, and can tell you that most of the excuses are just common growing pains in marriage. I will grant that there are reasons for divorce, but for now, I just want to deal with the excuses that can be turned around into no-fault marriage.

1."We just don't get along."
2. "We've grown apart."
3. "We were too young."
4. "I want my freedom."
5. "We were miserable together."
6. "The kids hear us arguing all the time."
7. "

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Secrets of the Happy Home Life (from 1894)

by J. R. Miller, 1894

Home is among the holiest of words. A true home is one of the most sacred of places. It is a sanctuary into which men flee from the world's perils and alarms. It is a resting-place to which at close of day the weary retire to gather new strength for the battle and toils of tomorrow. It is the place where love learns its lessons, where life is schooled into discipline and strength, where character is molded. Out of the homes of a community comes the life of the community, as a river from the thousand springs that gush out on the hillsides...

Home is the true wife's kingdom. There, first of all places, she must be strong and beautiful. She may touch life outside in many ways, if she can do it without slighting the duties that are hers within her own doors. But if any calls for her service must be declined, they should not be the duties of her home. These are hers, and no other one's. Very largely does the wife hold in her hands, as a sacred trust, the happiness and the highest good of the hearts that nestle there. The best husband—the truest, the noblest, the gentlest, the richest-hearted—cannot make his home happy if his wife be not, in every reasonable sense, a helpmate to him.

In the last analysis, home happiness depends on the wife. Her spirit gives the home its atmosphere. Her hands fashion its beauty. Her heart makes its love. And the end is so worthy, so noble, so divine, that no woman who has been called to be a wife, and has listened to the call, should consider any price too great to pay, to be the light, the joy, the blessing, the inspiration of a home.

Men with fine gifts think it worth while to live to paint a few great pictures which shall be looked at and admired for generations; or to write a few songs which shall sing themselves into the ears and hearts of men. But the woman who makes a sweet, beautiful home, filling it with love and prayer and purity, is doing something better than anything else her hands could find to do beneath the skies.

Painting: A Place to Dream, by Susan Rios, available online.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


It has always been amusing to read from "Sense and Sensibility" Fanny's sudden departure from the subject matter which was getting rather heated. "Tea!" she announced. I know several people that use "Austen-eese" (sayings from the Jane Austen novels) in their vocabulary, when the occasion calls for it .

Seeing we have had some heavy subjects lately, I have felt like saying "tea." Truly, this is an astonishing movement across the United States and Canada. I thought when it first came upon the scene about 20 years ago, it would be a passing fad, but here it is going stronger than ever. There always seems to be a new tea room opening somewhere, or a tea party being held at someone's house. Yet, there are still those who have never been to a tea ceremony or taken tea at home.

Once you've attended such an event, you'll understand why it is all the rage in this country. World events and strife can weigh heavily on your mind, and tea is a perfect respite from it all.
Ladies, just because you are minding the business of the home, and not out working, does not mean that your family will be automatically free from the problems of the outside world. You have to guard your territory, keep it free from those things which break it down, and build up your troops. Families that have meals together or stop for tea at home, seem to have less troubled homes. This does not mean you will be completely free from troubles, but it provides a quiet time away from them.

Now, if you cannot go to tea, tea can be brought to you. You can order tea packages and tea party baskets which contain all the food and the tea, plus a porcelin cup and even a tea pot. If you wanted to put the time into it, you could do this for someone who needs a lift, by finding the items you need, adding your own baked goods, and enclosing it all in a choice of containers: a basket, a bucket, round or square box, gift bag, tray, attractive table cloth or dish towel, or other containers that match the interest of the one you are gifting.

Although home is supposed to be a refuge, certain elements of stress from the world can leave you feeling like you have waged war with giants. That is one reason I believe we don't need a steady stream of news media (often called "the enemy within). The home can be vulnerable to an over-abundance of negative information, which makes it easier to break down. You know it is time for tea when the tension has begun to take over. There is no problem that taking tea cannot make simpler. It is a time to settle down and think. Home can be compared to a nation, with its borders, language and culture. Sometimes, when winds of adversity threaten you, it is good to close the borders for awhile and just have tea, talk your "family-eese" (or Austen-eese) and share your common likes and dislikes, unselfconsiously.

Non-tea-drinkers can enjoy the many flavored infusions that contain no tea leaves at all, and still enjoy using a tea cup and breathing in the aromatic fragrance of lemon, orange spice, or berry. Make tea time special by not drinking it all the time. Reserve a tray with all the increments on it for when you need to have that relaxation. Look forward to sitting down and taking stock of your life, looking out the window at a beautiful scene, or just being quiet.

This kind of ceremony adds a new, safe and quiet dimension to your life. One of the best teas I ever had was homemade bread with fresh strawberry jam, and hot tea. That was all, but it settled my nerves enough to give me a renewed vigour for the remainder of the day and its myriad of responsibilities.

My favorite scones are from the Anne of Green Gables cookbook, and the sandwich which gets the most approval is a shredded carrot sandwich from Andrea Israel's book, "Taking Tea," which my husband bought me in Texas when the tea party revival began back in the early 80's. At the time, it was the only book around on the subject, but now there are hundreds of them. Some parts of Texas were settled by the British in the late 1700's and early 1800's, and there are cities there which have a little of the British flair from that period. I particularly liked The Strand, a 19th century shopping area in Galveston. It has been said that some Texans have always admired the British, rather envy them, and want to be British. The old fashioned custom of having tea in the afternoon is certainly well-done in many parts of Texas that I visited.

You can learn more about having a tea ceremony here http:/

If you are alone, making time for tea can take the edge of that loneliness and revive your interest in life. Just take a tray with some hot water and your favorite tea, load up a small plate with wholesome bite-size pieces of good food, and carry it to a comfortable seating area. In a little while your mind will be cleared of the clutter of complicated living; free to allow the creative thoughts that bring light to your life. Fifteen minutes ought to be enough time to meditate on something relaxing and supply your body with the afternoon pick-me-up it needs.

I'd like to share a favorite poem with you:

To love someone more dearly every day,
To help a wand'ring child to find his way,
To ponder o'er a noble thought, and pray
And smile when evening falls: This is my task.

To follow truth, as blind men long for light,
To do my best from dawn of day til night,
To keep my heart fit for His holy sight,
And answer when He calls: this is my task.

by E.L. Ashford.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Livvy, Rose and Florie

A picture from the film I just reviewed.

More Unselfish Love

I've been accused of being a prude, mid-Victorian old lady, and well you know it. Victorians, however were not so narrow-minded and repressed that they did not look for better ways to do things. During this era, discoveries included: telephones, typewriters, computers, sewing machines, lawn mowers, electric lights, radio, phonograph (record players), indoor plumbing, washing machines, and the automobile, photography and moving pictures (movies) to name a few, and I mean a few.

Like any good Victorian, I am very keen on modern invention and technology. What I don't like is how it is sometimes used to demean marriage, home, and family. The film industry has had a reputation for assaulting the viewer with unexpected vileness and lewdness, and so I'm always happy to report about a film that gives hope to the human heart. This is a film you ought to run to your nearest Hallmark Store and buy for yourself, and one for a friend or relative.

This was filmed in Calgary, Alberta, which is considered a sister-city to Denver, Colorado. Although the story takes place in Colorado, my husband and I, having lived there a number of years, could only see Calgary. The scenery is beautiful, one of the marks of some of the recent Hallmark Films.

I loved the era of the 1940's that was depicted: the cars, the house and the interior. Life was simple then, and relationships were more important than things or achievements. I enjoyed watching the somewhat independent Livvy learn to admire her strong, good husband. She is proud of her graduate school studies and disappointed she didn't follow a career, but she learns to apply her knowledge in the life that is at her feet. She wanted to travel the world and explore the lost cities of Ephesis and Troy, but finds that the world has been brought to her through her friendship with two Japanese women, a German prisoner, and the historical artifacts of her own land. She's impressed with her own education but eventually becomes more impressed with the fellowship of the family into which she has married. With all the television sit-coms that portray husbands as doltish fools, or programs that capitalize on tension between men and women, this is a film that teaches the opposite.

At first she isn't too keen on caring for homey things. "You'll have the house to look after," he says, as though he had given her a great gift. (And he has--wait til you see the house!) He reminds her that the farm is not his farm, but "their" farm. Cooking isn't her forte and her face falls suddenly when he says he'll get his library card so she can check out some cook books. I'm sure many women can identify with this sudden change of life.

Although this world is now rich in communication technology, our families often suffer from lack of human warmth shown in hospitality from house to house. They sometimes don't have multi-generational relationships to help them learn what is truly important in life. Movies like this help so much in bringing this feeling of what things should and could be like. I think this is a good story for young people because it shows real love, and how it evolves, as well as getting through difficult times in marriage, learning forgiveness, and building relationships at home.

If you want to view this on television in the U.S. it airs on CBS January the 30th. However I don't think you can get the most out of a movie unless you watch it several times. A tremendous amount of work is put into making a film, and some details can be noticed by watching it a second or third time, so you'll want your own copy. If movies like this had graced our theatres and televisions more often in the last 40 years, we wouldn't have the broken homes that we have today. They give a standard for young people; a feeling of being on a mission.

Go here to find out more, and be sure to click on the slide show on the right, for pictures, as well as the trailer video online.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Blogs of Beauty

By the way ladies who have blogs: I'd love to add links on the side but an woefully confused and lacking in skill at doing this, even though I've been into blogger and tried to figure it out. If you've got a blog I can link to, and you can instruct me, I'd appreciate it! You can either email me or comment.
Have a look at this!

This makes my heart sing...and look, folks, we got nominated somewhere, I believe. This is such a wonderful idea, because it gives people a worthwhile goal of doing well on the web. It rewards them for doing good, and it motivates others to leave behind something of value in their path. I don't know about you but sometimes in the course of searching for blogs, I'll come across the most ridiculous and insidious stuff. There are some blogs that are blatantly bad, and they speak for themselves, but the ones that are really sad are the ones written by young people about the worthlessness of life. Here, someone has listed a lot of beautiful blogs. I realize in publishing this, it will cause many people to look who otherwise were not aware of these publications, so if you post, be sure to be polite!

The originators of this were both inspired and brilliant, and a positive reinforcement for those who use blogs for a purpose. There is so much creativity going on the world, and so much talent, I think that blogging will become even more populuar.



"Middlebrook" by Susan Rios available from Cherished Gifts on the web

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Kitchen

I thought you might like to see a description of an early kitchen where I grew up:

The kitchen cupboards were made of Blazo boxes and mounted on the walls. Mama made little curtains for them with flour sacks. Blazo was a type of fuel, that came in a can, packaged inside a wooden box. I believe my sister still has a couple of those boxes, which she uses for end tables. The use for these boxes was legion and we even packed them full of our posessions in the 60's when we moved to Australia.

The main focus of the kitchen was the cast iron kitchen stove. It had so many features on it for cooking, that I probably can't remember them all. There was a hot water reservoir, a warming section, an oven, and a place for the wood. These stoves were quite common in those days and some people even threw them out when modern stoves came on the scene. I don't know how much they cost in those days, or if maybe they just got them for free, and I have no idea how they were transported to Alaska, but many homesteaders had them. These days they cost in the range of 3,000 to $6,000.

The cooking pans were all made of cast iron, and the coffee pot was of speckled enamel. I sometimes wish it was all still there, and that I could walk through the house as if it were a museam. I've often had dreams of visiting it, and I see the table with the plates on it, and hear us kids playing outside. If I were really rich, I'd have the place rebuilt and decorated the way I remembered. My mother went back and visited the area in the 80's, and said that the log home was gone. She said someone thought it had burned down, but she could see no signs of a burn, and thought, instead, that it had been taken apart and transported somewhere else.

The kitchen had a surface top against a wall, with more fabric curtains hanging from it to hide the storage area underneath. There was plenty of room to roll a pie crust or knead a loaf of bread.

What was so magical about this kitchen was not the contents, but the transformation of my mother when she was in it. She, like other homemakers of the time, felt a dignity in the kitchen, that is difficult to describe. If you've ever seen the classical paintings of women with glowing halos behind their heads; well, that is sort of what it was like, only it was something far greater. It was more like a flash of light on her face. On the homestead there was always work to be done--digging in the garden, weeding, harvesting the food, laundry, chopping wood, etc., but when Mama got in the kitchen, it was not work, it was pleasure. Even today when she cooks for us it is with gusto, and not begrudgingly.

When someone dropped by, she would go in the kitchen to get them something to drink, which was customary. When she did that, she had an air about her that was akin to nothing I know of today. Even a teacher, a nurse, or a head of a corporation, does not carry the same aura of importance and service that these women had when they went into their kitchen. It was like a surge of current, as she pulled up her posture, wrapped an apron around her waist, and begin clinking and clanging the cups and the spoons, putting hot water on the stove to boil, and just being in charge. She was pleased and happy to have her own kitchen, and being a hostess meant she was even more important. She wouldn't have felt happier or more dignified if she'd been given a jeweled crown or elected President.

In ordinary times, the kitchen didn't have such significance, but you could really see and feel the difference when company came. There was a different look on her face, one that said she was in her glory. She ruled from her throne and became the light of the home, in that kitchen, as rustic and as humble as it was.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Unselfishness of Marriage

Getting married is important.

Name one society that does not honor marriage, that has the characteristics of loyalty, sacrifical love, and honor. Cicero, a pagan, knew that marriage was important, when he said, "The very first bond of society is matrimony." I've read that in ancient Rome during the days in which the empire was decaying, bachelors were taxed more highly than married men because the government could see that their society was falling apart at the seams. Socrates said, "By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you will become very happy. If you get a bad one, you will become a philosopher; both of which are good for a man."

I personally don't think it is normal to have a large singles population. Young people should be either identified as part of the family in which they were raised, or as part of the family they are raising. Nowadays, they want to extend their video games every night, and hang around with friends, live the single life free from responsibility, instead of facing the serious responsibilities of marriage, home and family. In some societies, it is said that if a man waited too long to marry, he was regarded with suspicion, as it was supposed that he was shirking responsibility or living selfishly. Although this may not be the case today, it is well to note how highly marriage was once regarded, and what an important part it played in a society's economy and strength.

Marriage provides protection and opportunity for men and women, in many ways. There are many things that can be done better as a couple and as a family, than as a 'single.' The true potential of marriage has not been fully explained to young people, else they would seek it out as the most important part of their future, as they do education or careers.

No longer me, but we.

When a couple gets married, they will most likely assume that "love" will guarantee them success in the relationship.
While this is important, the one thing that contributes more to happiness in marriage is unselfishness. Whether you intend it or not, life after you marry can no longer be a matter of "I", "mine," or "me." It will naturally be replaced with "we," "ours," and "us." Life will be about two people going in one direction. Our home, our income, our relatives, our money, our children, our friends, and our vacation, our joys and our sorrows, will do more to help the marriage than even love. When "I" becomes "we," you will protect it as though it were your own, for to destroy any of the "our" in your marriage, would be to tear down your own house. This is why married couples check with each other before making a major purchase, re-locating, changing jobs, leaving the house without informing the other of their destiny, or coming in late. This is the common courtesty that is natural when you become "we."

Be the best that you can be.

The only thing that remains separate is your responsibility to improve yourself: your habits, your faults, your talents and skills. If your mate wants to improve him/her self, that is up to them. You are not responsible to monitor personality improvement in your mate, but you are responsible to do all you can do in order to become the right person, yourself. Learn to overlook a fault in others, but not in yourself. Treat your mate as though they were a human being with normal problems and don't be judgemental. If they ask for help in an area, do what you can to make it easy for them to do right, without becoming self-righteous over them.

Everyone has faults, and it is possible that you married someone that is a human being just like you, with normal human problems. One of the things that has helped me so much has been my own husband's non-judgemental attitude. He's never complained about the house when it was in disarray (although he always compliments me when it is put in order) and he's never complained if I was sick, needed extra sleep, gained some weight, didn't always spend money wisely, or wasn't living up to my full potential. He has always been absorbed in many different interests and has not had the inclination to be critical. When a person doesn't not have that criticism hanging over their heads, it frees them to be creative, and to be all that they can be.

Think of the kind of freedom you'd really like to have in the country you live in, and give that to your mate.

This is not saying that your mate has a right to live away from you or live as they please. It is the kind of freedom within the relationship that avoids nitpicking and criticism.
Be unselfish. One of the things you have to give up in marriage is selfishness, or the defending of personal rights. The only rights you have are those that are innate, such as the right to be a man or a woman, with all the masculine and feminine qualities that come with it. When you learn about the unique natures of men and women, you begin to see what you formerly thought of as faults, in a different light. Some reactions on the part of your mate are unique to their sex, and some so-called faults are just male or female qualities. When you start taking personal rights, you will tend to be defensive. It won't take long before you have a long list of rights that you must then defend the minute your mate violates them. Giving up your personal rights or deferring has, in the long run, far more power than defending your rights.

Love unconditionally and give sacrificially.

Some people enter marriage with a sense of mistrust. They are worried that if they give their whole heart and their efforts to the marriage, their mate will not do his/her fair share. If you have an inkling of such suspicion or worry about this before you marry, then do not marry the person.

What can we expect of a generation that grew up on self-esteem rather than self-sacrifice? I wonder sometimes what it would be like if a two people entered a bus, one who had just read "Winning Through Intimidation," and the other was reading "Looking Out For Number One." There is only one seat on the bus. How would they work it out? I don't know how it would work out in deciding who would get the one seat on the bus, but such self-centered philosophy in marriage would work out in disaster. With the Golden Rule, each person treats the other as they would like to be treated. I've seen this worked out rather humorously in the marriages of days gone by. My mother-in-law and her sister used to fight over the last piece of bread at a meal, not in the way you think, but just the opposite. Lucile would say, "Inez, you have that last piece of bread. I insist!" and Inez would say, "No, Lucile, you take it!" They would shove the plate back and forth between them, until Joe, Lucile's husband, who was constantly irritated by this ceremony over the years, would take the bread himself, just to end the contest.

Maturity in marriage means that you do what is right, no matter how the other person responds. It is better to have given yourself wholly and sacrificially, than to worry about who is giving their fair share. It will make a better person of you.These days, people worry too much about what they are going to get out of marriage, and not enough about what they are going to give to the marriage. In giving, you make yourself a better person, and it is better to give, than to receive. However, it is rare to find a giving person who is not rewarded immensely.

Avoid bitterness.

One of the most dangerous practices in marriage is the tendency toward bitterness. One or both of the partners will begin to add up a list of offenses, and then wait for them to cross the line again. This is a love based on conditions. It means that the mate can only be loved and accepted if they never make a mistake or never say the wrong thing. One thing that is so dangerous about this mentality is that the person who is the most critical, will have the same problems as the person they are criticising. (And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Matthew 7:3)

Sacrifical love differs from sentimental love, in that it is the for the good of the person you love, rather than giving yourself a good feeling. It is stronger than the sentimental love that often tries to avoid sufferring. Instead of thinking "What can this person do to make me happy," sacrifical love says, "What can I do to make my mate happy?"

Practice Forbearance.

To forbear means "to spare" or to indulge someone with love. It is the practice of patience or the delay of resentment and anger towards those that wrong us. It means restraint from anger or reaction towards a fault. ("Forbearing one another in love.." Ephesians 4:2) In the story "The Magic of Ordinary Days," by Ann Howard Creel, Olivia tells the family she has married into, "I've learned more about love in my 6 months with this family than I did in the 25 years in my father's house. I've received love, and I've received forbearance."

Painting: "The Proposal" by Consuelo Gamboa

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Education and Research to Enlighten Feminists

Please send any links that would be helpful in exposing the feminist doctrine and its affiliates. Just put them in the comments section.

Get In On Life - because those years spent in college and career are your best years for marriage and family. It is your youth, where your strength is to stand the rigours of home living and child rearing.

Feminists Duped by Corporate Elite  If you believe you are a feminist but also embrace the Bible as your guide, you may want to have a look at the roots of feminism here and then decide if you still want to be a feminist.

Sovereign Solutions - Where did the federal government get its authority to become an empire: a menace overseas and a threat at home?  Some of the videos on this link provide the answers.

The Thinking Housewife - this woman cannot be intimidated by feminists. She has seen what they have done to women, and she is not going to put up with it.

Except for the true origins of a certain party, Ann Coulter got quite a few things right in this article.

This article will enlighten any feminist or Marxist about what really happens when a government is out of control and attacks its own people.

My Beliefs  - A summary of important scriptures that clearly show the truth in doctrine and living in submission to Christ.

Theme Articles

Reducing Stress - Women need to be free from unnecessary stress, so that they can put a lot of love and thought into home living. Here are some things you can do to keep out extra demands on your time, and unnecessary troubles.

Raising Your Own Children - There is more to life than the physical needs of children. Many women think they have to go to work in order to "take care" of their children, or in order to keep a job, but they are missing the better part of their children's lives.  Time lost cannot be recovered, and a childhood is fleeting. Children need their mothers, not babysitters.

Needed at Home - contains a few verses of the poem, "Ad Lib" which was so popular 40 years ago.

Commentary on Titus 2  The special place of honour in the kingdom of God, that certain women have.

Should You Go to Work?  Mother, your children need you, and you are the only one that will do! This article is addressed to men: Daddy, Please Let Mama Stay Home.

On the Home Front What should we do in a world of turmoil?  Do we have to wait til the political scene settles down before we can get on with our lives at home? Should we be in a constant state of nervousness and worry about "wars and rumours of wars?

How to Stop Worrying About Politics and Still Change the World

Renovated History:  Every time I write about the virtues and vices of any era, whether it be Bible times or Victorian, someone writes and tells me that all those people were miserable and no one was happy and that I am just living in the past.  I write about the principles and values that make a society good. I never suggest that we go back to washing our clothes in a river or taking a horse-drawn carriage to town. It is the beauty and the manners that I look for in any era. We can also learn from the errors of the past.  This post, "Renovated History" shows how ridiculous people are about the Victorians. Their hatred of the era is so intense that they draw broad conclusions that are not supportable. This is a laughable tongue-in-cheek rendition of the modernist belief that nothing good happened in the Victorian era, and that all women were oppressed, compressed, (by their corsets of course), suppressed and oppressed (by men of course). If people hate the Victorians, they hate their own kin, for there is not one modernist that does not have a Victorian ancestor. 

Modernism/Liberalism--This is not about living in the past. It is not about giving up your electricity and water: its about returning the old ways of life regarding women being at home and men earning a living. It is about maintaining family life. Modernism says that the secret to success in anything is money, but no money can replace time spent at home with your children, or time spent creating a wonderful home for your family.

The Wife, by Washington Irving

When Queens Ride By - A play written in the 1930's about a farm wife who neglected her home and children. When she has a conversation with another woman, she learns that home and family are more important than anything else.

Protecting Our Daughters

Most Requested Posts:

Charity Begins At Home

Home, the Woman's Realm

1930's Sermon on Submission

Mothers and Grandmothers of the Past

Keepers of the Springs

Taylor Caldwell on Women's Lib

Making the Best of Things

Free-Range Housewife

Why Dont Boys Whistle At Girls Anymore?

The Effect of Architecture of Home Living

Free to be Home

The Decline of Civilization


Society's New Bad Word - Just another negative label to intimidate Christians and prevent them from letting their light shine.

More evidence for the hatred of America, as Communist teachers infiltrated schools and colleges way back in the 60's.

Karl Marx and Reconstruction - Did you think the "reconstruction" of the South after the war meant re-building burnt cities and restoring the war's desolation?  Find out what reconstruction really meant!

Government Should Get Training From Wal-Mart--Government fails financially while Wal-Mart prospers and helps others prosper. What could be wrong?

New York Times Article in the Year 1913 Warns of the Follies of Feminism:  Warns flatly that feminism is a bad idea that will lead to the downfall of the home and of women's rightful place in the home. "The suffragist wishes to busy herself with the affairs of men. We wish to preserve in the home that which is really the home: an atmosphere of sweetness, tenderness and gentleness. ..Misdirected government is a bad thing, but misdirected sex is a national tragedy.

Political Socialism  Churchill called it the equal sharing of misery. Margaret Thatcher said the trouble with socialism was that you eventually run out of other people's money.

The Creature From Jekyll Island -- If you cannot get the book, at least read the reviews on that link, especially at the end of the page, which explain this horrible money system that has taken over our country, and which causes us to be used as pawn in changing the world for the worst.

The Marxist Take Over of America  Do you ever feel that you dont belong in your own country, that it has gone crazy and feels totally foreign?  Are you afraid to even open your mouth in public or among friends? Do you sense a strange atmosphere of unfriendly fear?  This article explains who is really running the place and why you feel the hostility directed at you.

Cultural Marxist techniques: These techniques are broadly based on the Frankfurt School, the University department bought by the Soviet Union in 1935. The Soviets asked it for the best methods of undermining other nations so it could bring them under its control. The EU has been implementing these techniques in Britain since the early 1960s.

 1) The creation of Racialism offences
 2) Continual change to create confusion
3) The teaching of sex and homosexuality to children
4) Huge immigration to destroy identity and create tension
5) The undermining of schools and teachers authority
6) The promotion of excessive drinking
7) Emptying the Churches
8) An unreliable legal system with bias against the victims of crime
9) Dependency on state or state benefits
10) Control and dumbing down of media and TV
11) The attack on fathers and the encouraging the breakdown of the family
12) Multi-Culturalism
13) The creation of trauma through injustice
14) Destruction of the monetary system
15) Political Correctness Sound familiar? Political Correctness is Cultural Marxism, its Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms. Political Correctness is a form of mind control to control free speech, to undermine public opinion, to weaken the defences of democracy and to re-educate schoolchildren; it is a well documented communist subversion procedure.

These are only a few of over 200 techniques, they are ALL used to destroy western civilization and bring about a "One world government" and a Socially-Marxist society built on repression, poverty and war. Cultural Marxism is used to socially engineer a society through the subversion of culture. These techniques have been remarkably successful at undermining local and national government, the Police, NHS, schools and children. It has alienated British people from our nation and its politics; millions are now disinterested and apathetic. ● Cultural terrorism ● Cultural warfare We are at war! Read more about Cultural Marxism:

Click on number 244 Hear-it-Now to listen to the ridiculous answers some of our delegates and elected officials give when grilled on whether or not government is ever limited by God.

 Look on the list and find a place where This Radio Talk Show Host is playing in your time zone.  Sometimes he sounds like the preachers of .old used to sound.  He doesnt preach that Republicans are good and Democrats are bad, like many conservative talk shows. Instead, he points out that the government is no longer American when it ignores the will of the people. Both parties are the same, he points out, and they can all be seen at the same parties, making deals to bring America down.  You cant be overly sensitive when listening to him, though: he's a man's man who speaks the truth. He offers one simple way that might cause a change in people's thinking: when you are standing in line at the checkout in the grocery store, casually point to any photograph of the current president and other politicians and say quietly to someone nearby, "Its too bad he turned out to be such a Communist-Leninist." 

Bringing America Back to Her Religious Roots

All the Reich Moves

All the Founding People

Tradition, Family and Property

Politics as Usual

Here's To You, Thomas Jefferson

Intrusive Government

Original Intent of Our Founding Fathers

How We Lost Our Country

Warning Against Socialism

The Swine Flu Hoax

The Bird Flu Hoax

Dangerous Ingredients

How To Brainwash a Nation

The Dumbing Down of American Education

Eco-Feminism in India

Hollywood's Culture of Death

Monday, November 21, 2005

Managing the Home

I benefitted a lot from the visit of two sisters who called themselves "The Slob Sisters." They were, like the previous letter, daughters of a perfect mother, but her habits never quite rubbed off on them. After years of getting lost in their own piles of unsorted junk, and forgetting which meal it was time for, they got together and formed a system. They practiced it for awhile and then began to hold seminars to teach other "side-tracked" homemakers to have a more orderly life.

I believe many of their ideas were adopted by what is now called "Flylady," who sends regular emails when you sign up, to help you get a schedule at home and manage your time and work better. Here are some of the simple things I learned:

1. Don't begin your day until you are dressed and presentable enough to go somewhere, and put on your shoes.
2. Start at the front door and work clockwise, neatening, arranging, cleaning. Work from top to bottem and clockwise around each room.
3. Pick it up, don't pass it up. If you are going to your room to find something and you come across toys, shoes, papers, etc., pick them up on the way and distribute them where they belong.
4. Never leave the house until the bed is made and the dishes are done.
5. Plan your evening meal at the beginning of the day.

You are welcome to add more to this if you've got any knowledge of this system.

note: I've not had time to moderate comments, so be patient if yours don't appear immediately.

Picture: Apple Pie Harvest from allposters

Sunday, November 20, 2005


This video is about how chocolate is made. It makes you feel justified in eating chocolate- it's good for the environment and small farmers!


Dear Mrs. Sherman,

I've been behind in my reading at LAF and just now came across the link to your March 5 blog post, "Making the Best of Things." I was surprised that so many young women are claiming past financial deprivation as an excuse for poor homemaking and hospitality skills. I would think that a poorer home would be an excellent training ground for learning to be a creative and economical housewife...if, as was your case, their parents did provide them with example and training in having good character.

I wonder, however, if it was the character training, rather than the financial means, that was actually lacking in these young ladies' past. My dear mother was an abused and then abandoned wife who worked hard to provide clothing and shelter and food and health care for my brothers and me. Mom grew up with great deprivation in the Depression years. But she's an extraordinarily diligent person -- the kind who can hardly stand to be still when there's work that needs doing -- and has an uncanny ability to squeeze money out of rocks. Unfortunately, she simply wasn't able to pass on this disciplined character to us. I think diligence just came so naturally to her that she was a bit bewildered by anyone to whom it did not come naturally, and did not understand the need we had for intentional training in this area.

And so I find myself, at 37, still struggling to attain the bare minimum standards of housekeeping. I know that this is my sin and my responsibility, but I seem to be stuck in a perpetually fruitless game of tug-of-war with my bootstraps. As I've grown older, my view of a woman's calling to her home has grown higher and higher, and with it my sense of shame has grown deeper and deeper. I feel like an amputee trying to hop along without a prosthesis or even a crutch. Sometimes I make it a block or so down the sidewalk, but I inevitably fall into domestic chaos.

As you wrote, being a good homekeeper isn't a matter of wealth or privilege, but of character. So how would you counsel someone like me who, in God's providence, did not have the benefit of developing a strong character through the usual means of parental training? Some days, like today, when the dishes are stacked up to precarious heights in the kitchen (and sometimes in other rooms of the house), and the laundry pile is threatening to take over the bedroom, and the floors are becoming an obstacle course of clutter, I am tempted to despair. It's hard to remember that our perfect heavenly Husband has not abandoned me -- that He will complete the good work He's begun. It's hard to submit to the slowness of His sanctifying work -- to be content and grateful for the immense grace He has show me, even though it's not always in the areas of my life where I'd like it to be.

Thank you for your taking the time to read.


My comments: One of the motivating factors in making a homemaker want to do her best, is that her place is her own. We naturally love and care for things that belong to us. Even if we rent a place, the dwelling and the atmosphere belong to us. It is there we can use our talents, our skills, or imaginations and our intelligence to make it appealing, comfortable and functional. What if it were put to a contest, and whoever was able to make their home the most appealing according to a set of standards, would win a prize, and, what if the loser would lose her home or have to give it to the winner? It is possible, you know, that if we are not good stewards of our homes or our businesses, we may lose them to others. Homemaking is a matter of personal pride and personal responsibility. We may think that no one knows what is going on in our homes, but the influence of it flows outward into the community.

Our temperaments are often a result of the way the house looks. Some people even say that the time when there is most likely to be a quarrel at home is when things are in the most disarray. Someone who visits us or lives in our home, may form an opinion about it. We may be observed by someone who is lost in a world of homemaking and doesn't know what kind of standard to live up to. If everyone were like us, what would the homes in our neighborhood be like? Our moods can rub off on other people, so if having a messy house puts you and the family in a bad mood, the best way to alleviate it is to practice some good habits.

Maybe one of the reasons our mother's good habits did not rub off on us, is that we were away from her during the most impressionable years of our lives, sitting instead in institutions with other teachers. I taught my own children at home, and even with all the reading and writing and mathematics, they were still able to absorb the inner workings of the home, even it that wasn't taught from a book. Some of our parents grew wonderful gardens and prepared food from it, but because we were not there to observe the process or work along side them, we didn't learn to do it.

You can put yourself on a schedule and follow it precisely, by the clock, until the things you need to do become so automatic to you that you don't have to look at your list anymore. In the face of non-emergency interruptions, you can say, "Sorry, that's the time I fix meals. I couldn't possibly make it." You can be strict about your schedule until you feel you've gained enough control over your home to become more flexible to allow for interruptions.

The homemaker I mentioned in other posts, was unique in the fact that her hands were never still and her eyes were always looking around her house for things to put aright. She wasn't doing it because she enjoyed hard labor, she was enjoying it. It was like playing house to her.

Picture by Rios, "Home to the Heart." My comment - artists seem to prefer the subject matter of the home, scenery, nature and family.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Harmony in the Home

I'm catching up to a few requests. This article is one of those that has been requested many times, regarding family conflicts. I'd much rather write about more pleasant things, but this may lead to something pleasant to someone out there.

What person who really wants to do right, would object to harmony among family members? If you've labored toward that end, you might be surprised at some of the undermining, some of the remarks, and some of the looks you get. People who have been married 30 years or more are often surprised at the new pressures they receive from others, about the longevity of their union. Seasoned homemakers whose children are grown will often be challenged by questions that demand to know what they are going to "do" now that house is empty. (It is never empty for long, I assure you.)

Strong families whose grown children assemble with them often for things like Thanksgiving or just special family get-togethers, are sometimes pulled apart by jealous folks who don't like to see happiness resting on their doorstep. The world thinks that close families are abnormal or unhealthy, and they attempt to split them apart. I recently talked to one heart-broken woman whose daughters will not even speak to her. They grew up in her home, and while home, were wonderful together, but were later influenced by rebellious friends. "You don't have to honor your parents," they were told, "because now you are on your own. You are grown up."

I've written further on this in an article for LAF ( which will be published later on, but I thought it might be good to express some inside views from friends of mine, about this problem, which will not be contained in the article. The title of the upcoming article is "Manners: Honoring Your Parents." It has not been published there yet.

I talked to a 30 year old girl who is living at home with her parents. She wants to marry but has not had that opportunity so far. In the meantime, she finds it best to be at home under her father's care and protection. She is not idle, and has many irons in the fire so to speak, as she is involved in helping with the Crisis Pregancy Center. She does live at home, though, and says she has had to stand her ground in the face of criticism. She receives the typical derision and remarks from others--not just her peers, but from the older people as well. They were from a generation that left their parents, not to marry, but to get out on their own, get apartments and get away from the family so that they could do as they pleased. They tell her that she is grown up now, and that it is ridiculous to be living at home. She also has sisters a little younger than she, living at home.

Another young woman I'm acquainted with, has come up with a good comeback, which she recently expressed to me: "There is no age-limit on honoring your parents." People assume that just because one is at home, they are under an austere set of rules and must be bossed by their parents. This is simply not true. Women who live at home, choose to do so for a number of reasons. One of them is that they enjoy the family harmony. They enjoy meals with their parents and good times at home. If they were out on their own, they would probably find themselves spending most of their spare time at home, anyway, just for the company and the fellowship. The single life is not all it is portrayed to be. It is an expensive life and a lonely life; two things which are solved by living at home.

I once attended a class where a very interesting illustration was presented on a board. The teacher drew a picture of an umbrella, and labelled it "Protection." Above the umbrella where he drew drops of rain, he wrote "Authority." Under the umbrella he drew a father and a mother and some children of various heights, some nearly as tall as the parents. On the right of the umbrella, he drew a terrible rainstorm, with all kinds of black swirls and big drops of hail. It might seem silly to some, but from my own experience of leaving home at an early age, I could see his point. He drew one of the family members walking away from authority. The person did not realize that in his attempt to get away from his family, he was also getting away from their protection. We have the same concept with civil law. It protects you as long as you stay under its authority. When you go contrary to the authority, you enter into all kinds of trouble.

The parents in this family are very interested in young people and often invite them to their home so that their daughters have a good social life. As an older person, (I hate saying that--I'm not that old!) I can attest to the happiness it brings when young people are included in my life. I can provide things that they often cannot, such as hospitality and a place to visit, and they can stimulate my mind and bring new thoughts to a conversation. The old and the young were created to interact together.

When a family is created, children are not born in batches of 20 peers, and married couples consist of just two. Yet we have a modern mindset that is harming the harmony that was once felt in the home, by insisting that young people travel and talk with only people their age. Young people need to be around the wisdom and understanding of the older people, and older people need the vitality of the young. (This is one of my objections to some kinds of education. They way it is set up, youth is not exposed to various age groups.) In real life, the family consists of people of many different ages and places in their lives. Peer groups do not provide this variety and this insight into life.

The secret to harmony in the home is respect for authority, and an honoring attitude. There are forces that do not want this harmony. "Why should you spend the holidays with your folks? Come and hang out with us, instead." They will then tell the parents, "Susan is old enough to make up her own mind. She has her own life now." All this is true, but it is not the issue. The issue is , harmony in the family, and honoring to parents.

There are many reasons to honor our parents, but one important one is because they watch for our souls. If you haven't got parents, there is probably someone in your family that you must respect and honor. Honoring means that you don't say anything derogatory about your parents or your family. Honoring means that you don't do things that would embarrass or shame your family. It means you don't shout at your parents, stage blowups at home, taunt or sneer at your siblings, be critical, argumentive, or hold resentments for years and years. Those are the don'ts.

The do's consist of remembering their special cautions, listening to their requests, being courteous and thoughtful (as you would anyone else), knowing what their goals are, and appreciating them for their sacrfices they made for you. As the young woman said, "There is no age limit on honoring." I will add to that "there is no time limit for honoring." Some of us have sadly parted with our parents through death, but we continue to honor them by living in a way that they taught us, that would not dishonor their name or nullify their raising of us.

To conclude the matter, I would like to say that most of the dis-harmony in the home can be traced back to a dishonoring, disrespectful spirit, and not always on the inside of the home. There are those on the outside who have had disruptive lives, lived rebelliously, and despised their parents and siblings. They meet other people who have done the same thing. If you have an honoring and harmonious home life, you look wierd to them. They don't understand your joys and your sorrows. They will not sympathise with you when there are problems in your home. They will not understand why you want to bother to work to create harmony in your home. They could be somewhat jealous also.

Ive even known of boyfriends who instigate troubles in their girlfriend's families. A truly upstanding young man or young woman, would do all they could to encourage their prospective mates, dates, or whatever they are (they don't really court or date these days, do they--they just sort of "hang out" together..) Instead, some of them seem to relish the conflict that the young lady has with her parents. I would like to give a stern warning to anyone who is "going" with such a girl or guy: get away from them as fast as you can. If they don't honor your parents and encourage you to honor and reconcile, you will find conflict continually in your life as long as you are associated with them. If you marry, your own children will have conflicts, due to that perrson's attitude toward authority.

Harmony can be restored to the home. You are much better off trying to get it, than abandoning all hope. A runner who enters a race, enters to finish, even if he lags behind and is having difficulties. You can establish certain practices in your own life that will restore harmony to the home. Things like creating beauty and order in the dwelling place, serving others in your family whether they return the favor or not, respecting the dwelling place and looking after personal posessions, not answering back rudely or in a way that will enflame anger, not speaking to others about family members, and sticking by one another--defending one another, rather than pulling the family apart. You can help other families be strong by reinforcing their family values, rather than sympathising with a complainer. You can reinforce struggling marriages by encouraging them to stay together. You can teach the message of reconciliation, a word that is rarely heard in families today.

Harmony in the home is more than having the right rug or a matching tea set. These things only add joy if the family has co-hesivness. The best way I know to work on this, is to speak only good of one another, to each other, and everyone else. We may not know we are doing it, but sometimes even if we say, "My husband is a terrible organizer. His papers are everywhere," we send a negative message to the immature among us, who may use that later as an excuse to chip away at your relationship.

Husbands and wives used to be able to tell silly jokes about their relationships, and people would understand, but today, there is a greater threat in the air. If a husband says, "I'll have to ask the chief before I can give you an answer," or "I wear the pants in the family," there are those who are too immature to understand it, who will take it a different way. Eventually they will form opinions of hatred toward the wife, and translate that negativity to the husband, which will demean the wife in his eyes, and then there will be conflict.

People with small minds conclude that the husband or wife must be a terrible person, and will chip at your loyalty in attempt to get you to "find happines." I have recently heard of two marriage counsellors, who instead of trying to get the couple back together, encouraged them each to do whatever made them feel good, or made them happy. This couple paid over $500.00 to recieve this advice that separated them even further. My husband gave them free advice: You will never be truly happy unless you do the right thing.

These jokes and comments were always good-natured and didn't mean anything derogatory, but I've noticed today, there is a generation that doesn't "get it." They may take these comments very literally and very seriously and cause trouble in your home. Much of this lack of understanding comes from not really being brought up in homes, where a natural banter goes on between the father and the mother, and where common expressions about homelife are developed. Daycares and schools have taken these things away from many people.

To create harmony in the home, sometimes you might just have to shut the doors and shut out the world and regroup. You may have to speak up for the family and take some unpopular stands. Some people can't stand happiness in others, and will say what they can to discourage your happy, harmonious family. Create happiness in your family; teach forgiveness by forgiving, love by loving, acceptance by accepting, gratitude by gratefulness. Make things right as quickly as possible and always right wrongs and make up with people as quickly as you can. Be kind, be nice, be patient, be good.If you give yourself completely to these things and they don't respond, you'll at least create harmony in your own life.

I've chosen "Lighting the Course" by Judy Gibson, which you can order from allposters, because of its symbollic meaning to this article. The harmony of the home is both a protectorate and a guide.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Peaceful Retreat 2

People have been asking for pictures of my dwelling, but I think after all I've said, they might be expecting something a little more fantastic than it is. I've learned over the years that it first and foremost must be a home, and that it doesn't matter if the furnishings aren't quite up to snuff, and if nothing matches.

While it is fun to look at the decorating magazines and see what other people are doing, I look only for ideas to do some things better, and don't try to immitate a lot of it. It doesn't bring on any envy on my part to see someone else's house well-done, as I am looking more for simplicity, beauty, order, love, sentimentality and spiritual values in my home.

I'll post pictures as I get them, but in the meantime, let me describe the home of my first friend who loved homemaking and had what I called an "atmosphere" in her home.

Carol lived in a small townhouse, but once I entered, I was transported to another place. She was very British, having been born in Scotland, and it took me years to figure out "how she did that." I detected no wealth or inherited fortune, yet, her house always had a rich look.

She and her sister had grown up in a home where their mother was particular about cleanliness and order, and good quality. They wouldn't hang on to something that was torn or broken, unless it was to be repaired immediately. Their father would fix things as quickly as possible, and the house was always kept in ship-shape.

I asked Carol once how it was that she had so much talent to make her home so orderly and to be so effective in homemaking, and yet make it so beautiful. She said, "I had it bred into me." I was curious about this, because, how does one who lacks the habits of orderliness and beauty, get such a skill? When something is bred into you, it is trained from youth, but it is still possible to reverse a habit or acquire a skill, if you want it bad enough. (It takes 30 days to change a habit, I'm told.)

Observing her house, I noticed she had green velvet curtains trimmed in matching ball fringe, tied back with shiny twisted rope, onto a decorative catch mounted ont he wall. While I thought she had got them at some exclusive store, I found out that she'd made them rod-pocket style from discount fabric. She draped the ends of the simple rods with matching hand-made tassels.
She had a simple couch with cushions made from leftover pieces of the green fabric. Next to the couch was a table and a lamp, with her husband's reading glasses and his mail and favorite magazines.

The fireplace mantel contained two candles on pedestals, placed in front of a mirror, which doubled the effect of the light. The mirror was a an unadorned piece, without a frame, which she had found at a yard sale.

She was particular about everything being clean and having a fresh smell, and you would never have guessed that she didn't shop the most expensive stores.

Her dining area contained a table draped in a pretty cloth, topped by a piece of clear plastic. I had eaten with her several times before I discovered that this table was merely a piece of wood set upon a new trash can that had never been used. The tablecloth was a sheet that she liked and thought was too pretty to put on a bed.

Over time, Carol was able to replace her old furnishings with more substantial things, but I've often wondered what it was about her place that was so appealing. Then one day as the pictures of her home clicked through my mind, I figured it out. She had a way of putting shiny objects (mirrors, brass candle stands) with her soft objects (velvet pillows and curtains), and her wood tables and shelves contained china pieces as well as the occasional dash of unexpected bright spots of color. There was a contrast between textures, as she paired shiny with soft, dull with polished, etc. The place was a "natural history museam" of her family's interests and accomplishments.

She had no papers laying around and no clutter, because she had the interesting habit of picking things up whenever she was in her house. She never waited for a cleaning day. If she was getting something out of her kitchen cabinet or fridge, she would also straighten out something, pull out an empty container, or wipe something with a cleaning cloth. She had a "clean as you go" habit. Things didn't lie on the floor; they were swept up immediately with a little broom and dustpan. Now I don't say that everyone can do this, but it is an interesting custom to aspire to. My home gets really cluttered and messy, but everyone knows I don't feel comfortable that way and that eventually I will remedy it. That's a lot different than someone who doesn't care a whit about it and treats the home as if it were just a stopping off place while on the way to something else.

Her home also had a wonderful scent, depending on the season. It wasn't just clean, it had a smell of spices and flowers and foods that made you just want to hide out in her house somewhere so you wouldn't have to leave.

In front of the couch was a trunk she had been given as a girl, which she now used for a coffee table. On it was placed a bouquet of flowers and a stack of coasters to hold drinks. In a corner shelf were framed photographs of her family. Everything in her home had a meaning. She didn't just put a picture on the wall because it matched; it had to have a message of value to her and represent her feelings about life.

When her husband came home, he always looked forward to sitting in his favorite place and talking to her about his day. She didn't complain about him not offerring to take her somewhere and I once asked her, "Why doesn't Dave ever ask you to go anywhere? You've been home all day and he never offers." She said she had made the place so pleasant, that he couldn't think of anywhere he wanted to go, that was more pleasant or relaxing. She had plenty of things she wanted to do, and was able to go out with her mother and sister during the day. She said, "We got married so we could be together. We got tired of meeting in restaurants and parks. We wanted to have a home to spend the evenings in."

Another painting by Susan Rios: "An Elegant Afteroon." Susan used to be a florist, as you can probably tell by her detailed paintings of foliage. This can be purchased online at Cherish'd Gifts online.