Saturday, March 30, 2013

Beauty Lifts the Heart

I was given this lovely magazine, which contained no bad news ;-)

It featured photographs from Carolyn Aiken, of Aiken House and Gardens, listed on my blog roll.

I was particularly interested in the hay-bale cottage that the magazine featured. The owner shared how it was built.

I am blogging for the first time from my ipad, so I will make this short before I start messing things up.

If any viewer uses an ipad to blog, would you please leave a comment and tell me how to get the writing underneath the photographs, rather than on top.  I had to use my regular computer to straighten it out.

I do plan to post about the Passover and the Resurrection, after the sermon tomorrow.

While we do not know the exact date of His birth, we can just about calculate to the day, the time of his death, burial and Resurrection, as there is so much historical proof, and ways to count the days from the Passover, which Jesus celebrated when he was giving instructions to the Apostles, for observing His memorial, in the upper room.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Woman Reading
by  Ricardo Lopez Carera, Spanish, 1866-1950

There is a great post on the blog, Adventures in Keeping House about discretion.  I am going to be discussing this subject in light of the New Testament in the Ladies Bible Class tomorrow. The author of the blog  has provided a definition of the word "discretion" and explained it at length in that post.

The discretion issue is something that is of prime concern for many people because it is like an endangered species; it is fading from practice. Discretion is a worthy and useful quality of the personality for everyone, but I would like to address the problem of women and discretion.

Proverbs 11:22 states that a woman without discretion is like a ring of gold in a swine's snout. (Put your finger over the verse citation and the verse will pop out.)  This means that some things will just not cover up bad manners. A woman can be properly dressed, have the latest hairstyles and her nails all polished, but if her speech is not polished and she says every crude or shocking thing that comes to her mind, it is just like dressing up a pig in jewels.

Discretion shall preserve thee; understanding shall keep thee. - Proverbs 2:ll

Woman in Pink Dress by Roberts
from the Australian National Archive

Discretion shall "keep" you means that if you acquire it, you'll be protected. In the prevailing culture around us, it is considered healthy to express things that would have gotten you a sound punch in the nose, back in the day, or "way back when."  Now everyone must be so honest that they speak things that are personal, even about bodily functions, that even 50 years ago was so unacceptable that if spoken, could cause the loss of a job, the loss of social acceptance or, in some cases, the loss of a fiance'.

The acquirement of discretion  should begin when a girl is young, but if her character training has been neglected, she may still, with determination and honesty, learn how to be discreet.

You can almost see the word "secret" in "discretion" and guess at its meaning: it is a quality of being quiet about some things that are not appropriate to speak of.  Lack of discretion is to cast all caution aside and speak of things that are offensive or are not appropriate for young ears, or that may be of a sensitive nature towards those who are suffering, or who would be embarrassed.
by Perugini

For some, just looking back at the previous century and the people's sense of decency will make them realize that we are slipping too far. Without any knowledge of past polite customs however, we still have the guidance of  the Bible on the subject of courtesy and propriety, good taste and upright behavior.

 There are some people who object to manners being taught because they think they are stiff, formal rules, but the Bible says to be courteous and tenderhearted and loving. I Peter 3:8

At the Garden Gate
by William Affleck

 Things that show lack of discretion are:

1. Subjecting others to embarrassment by not covering yourself appropriately, exposing too much: dressing immodestly.

2. Asking too many questions of a personal, or even impersonal nature, that keeps another person on the hot-seat trying to get the answers.  Questioning is not always healthy, and can make another person feel very burdened.  Questioning can become like cross-examination and make another person feel he is being put on trial. This is a type of impertinence.

3. Impertinence: This means to go beyond the limits by being pushy, demanding, or improperly forward. Forward is a word not used as much as it used to be. It was considered forward if a girl asked a boy for a date. It was considered forward if someone asked if they could come to your house for dinner or to ask for a gift.  It was proper to wait and be asked.
The Young Gardener
by George Leslie Dunlop

4. Impishness: Annoyingly playful, thinking you are cute, while saying things that put others on the spot, or that are witty and even base, and can be perceived as naughty and trouble making.

5. Impudence: The 1828 dictionary describes impudence as: not attentive to the consequences of words or actions; rash; heedless. The imprudent man often laments his mistakes, and then repeats them. Other dictionaries describe it as  a brash and brazen way of speaking and acting towards others. This is similar to pushy, arrogant behavior, as well as thinking you are awfully cute while you are doing it.

6. There may be a word for this, but I cannot think of it: the habit of making hasty, sharp replies. This can be perceived as a sudden rush to judgment of a matter before you have fully taken everything into consideration.

7. Imposing:  To lay a burden on, to obtrude (push) fallaciously (expecting something from someone, deceitful, misleading.)  Imposing today means to push your self on someone or take over something they are doing, or try to be the center of attention.

Training in discretion takes place best from childhood, but a habit can be broken, once the heart is penitent, the mind is teachable, and the soul is yearning for God.

To gain the quality of discretion, do a word-study of discretion from the Bible and write about your understanding of it in a notebook or journal.

Eugene de Blass

Acquire instead:

Innocence: Purity of heart, blamelessness, not guilty.  These words carry significance because the secret to being and looking innocent is to be blameless and free from sin.  To acquire innocence even after you have lost it, you can apply yourself to living in a pure way. In speech, do not use innuendos, tell off-color stories, or make teasing remarks that refer to bodily functions or private acts.  Living an innocent life will require removing things from your life that cause you to stumble spiritually, and things that pollute your mind and take you away from the joy of the Lord.
Afternoon Tea
by George Dunlop Leslie

Composure: When a person learns to live an innocent life, free from cynicism and suspicion, there will be a change in their composure. Composure is  similar to countenance, which the Bible speaks of. In Genesis, God warned Cain that if he would conquer his temper, his countenance would be lifted. Countenance refers to the expression on the face, including the look of the eyes, the smile, the set of the jaw. It can either be hardened or it can be sweet and innocent. Composure is effected by the way we think and live, so if you want a good composure, practice living innocently.  Think of the word "pose" when you think of composure, and it will help you understand how to be at ease around other people without being too casual.  Composure is closely connected to discretion. A discreet woman will be cautious about decisions and words and other things.

by George Dunlop Leslie

To practice discretion and courtesy, avoid the "so-what-is-it-like" questions, as in the following:

So, what is it like to have a miscarriage?
So, what is it like to lose your house in bankruptsy?
So, what is it like to recover from_______?
So, what is it like since your son/daughter left home?
So, what is it like to be married to a man so much older than you?
So, what is it like to be a homemaker and not get a paycheck?
So, when are you going to retire?
So, what is it like, being a widow?

There are hundreds of these kinds of questions, which can be offensive to some people. You may think that asking what it is like to be retired is innocent, but it is better to allow people to voluntarily introduce the subject themselves, when it concerns them, rather than bring it up.

Why be discreet?

The Word of God impresses us that we must.
It protects the reputation of your family.
It protects the reputation of the local church to which you belong.
It protects the reputation of the church, worldwide.
It protects your children from growing up with a stigma upon them.
It protects your own credibilty and the trust others put in you.
It gives you dignity and preserves your reputation.
It protects the reputation of your children in the future.

As Proverbs says, discretion will "keep" (preserve, guard) you.

A discreet woman strives to be careful with her questions so that they do not make the other person feel uncomfortable or feel that their privacy is invaded.

In previous centuries during times of political danger, there was a saying: Loose lips sink ships.
This saying might be used to explain discretion more accurately. Sometimes we need to keep things to ourselves. Do not tell people where you keep your valuables, or even how much something is worth that you own, if it has a lot of value.  Information that gets to the wrong ears can be used as a temptation against you. You may tell a friend, but think of that friend telling someone else, and you will see how it could damage you.
Telling everything you know about the location of a ship during war, can cause the ship to be sunk when the enemy gets a hold of the information.

Another example that will help clear up any misunderstanding about discretion, is the one where a young couple wants to buy a house. They confide in friends that they are wanting to buy this house but have not made up their minds yet. They like the house and they like the price and really think it is a bargain, and express that they can't believe what a great opportunity it is to buy it. Behind their backs, the friends they confided in, buy the house, "right out from under them."

Young people need to be careful not to divulge to friends about their father's place of employment, the amount of money he makes or his status or his personal history.  Parents are very sensitive about the things their children say about them, and every child should be taught to be discreet.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

From the Heart of Babes

Desinare Della Vedova   (Dinner for the Widow) by   Gaetano ChiericiItalian, 1838-1920
Please click here for a detailed view of the painting and then click on the painting again at allposters.

Today I have an interesting true-life happening to relate.  As you all know, a few days ago,  my father, a WW2 Veteran (USS Enterprise) died at the age of 87.  Anyone who loses a loving father will understand how hard it is to conceal the grief and loneliness that is felt.
Joe Brooking McGaughey in navy uniform, c. 1943 or 44
(b.1926, d.2013)
The name is pronounced, "McGoy."
Most people called him "Joe-B", and I often wondered why. I suppose, at the time, there were so many Joe's in the United States, that it was nice to be distinguished by having a "B" connected to your name. In some circles, if someone shouted "Hey, Joe!" half the men in the room would turn around and stand at attention. He was a painter of boat and sea-scenes and was related to the English marine painter, Charles Brooking.  Middle names were often chosen to preserve previous family names or maternal family names, and one of his grandparents was a Brooking.  My father was from a Texas family and learned to be resourceful through hard work and hard times in Texas. His father had been a cotton and cattle farmer.

My 6-year-old granddaughter told me how sad she felt, too, because it meant that when her grandfather was old, he, too, would die, and later on, her own father would die.

 She asked me, "When is your father's funeral?"  I told her it was on Thursday.

She then said, "I will wear my pink dress and I will bake a cake for the family."

"Oh, no, dear," I corrected her:  The funeral is in Australia on Thursday, and we cannot attend, because it is too far away to get there on time.

At this point she wept. 

Then, she asked, "Why can't we have the funeral here?"

I had been resigned to a grieve-as-you-go, existence, crying intermittently while doing housekeeping, laundry, dishes, cooking, and sewing.  This was the way I always had to do it, because my side of the family was never nearby. That is the way it was for a lot of women of my generation, especially if their husbands had pioneer spirits and wanted to travel far away from home base.

I argued with this little girl, back and forth a few times, offering my objections, showing how it was impractical. She would not accept it.

"We can't do it that way," I said, to which she responded: "We can."  She then began to collect the flowers in a vase, pick out her dress and hang it out to wear, and name the kinds of things she wanted us to prepare.

"That is a wonderful idea," I said.  "We could all choose a time to call all the relatives that live in this country and have a memorial for him in our living room!"

"No!" she said, "I want a real funeral like the one we gave to our friend, Judy.  I want flowers and singing and praying and a funeral sermon, and a meal provided for the family, just like they did for Judy's family."

I thought on that for awhile.

Because I was married to a minister who located us in far-away places, the congregations we served never knew who my family was. When my grandmother died, it was noted in one typewritten line in the church bulletin. It was too far away for me to attend the funeral or the memorial.  When my brother died,  it was announced during the announcement time when worship services ended.   

Other families in the local church had large funeral gatherings, listened to a funeral sermon (a funeral sermon is a speech designed to comfort the family), had the congregation sing the favorite hymns of the loved-one, listened to prayers that were offered, and then to a multitude of speeches about the character of the person, including special memories.  

Vases of cut flowers, and plants, filled the auditorium on these occasions, and sometimes our family was invited to take some of them home with us.

I began to think about why a "real funeral" is offered by the local church to the families of the deceased church member. It has a way of reassuring the ones who are left behind, and giving peace to the ones who are severely shocked and grieved.

My husband agreed with our 6 year old granddaughter, and he prepared his funeral sermon.  She busied herself trying to help the plan along.  A time was chosen for us to meet in the church auditorium. I gathered up the things that a normal grieving family would have taken to a funeral: photographs, things he made, letters he wrote.

A meal was prepared for a crowd of people, including punch, hot rolls, casseroles and salads. The table was arranged with the same care we always took for other members of the church. My 6 year old granddaughter did bake a cake for the family and placed it on a fancy pedestal cake plate with a dome. While she was helping to prepare food and gathering flowers, she said, "This will be the first funeral I have helped with."  She has grown up going to the funerals of the families of the church members and it has impressed her. She knows it is a loving thing to provide a meal for the family.

I rose early to unlock the two great doors of the large meeting house where we assemble for worship on the Lord's day, turned on the heat, turned on the lights, and set out the banquet supplies: plates, utinsels, napkins and punch cups.

At the funeral, although there were only about a dozen descendants in attendance, my husband preached the funeral sermon, saying we were here to honor the passing of his father-in-law, who died 2 days ago.  He related his own special memories of him and the conversations he had.  We chose the hymns he taught us when we were growing up: Jesus, Saviour, Pilot Me (my father was a seaman much of his life), and "Let the Lower Lights Be Burning."  Prayers were offered. Family members related Skype camera conversations with him and letters he had written, and personal experiences when visiting him.

Afterwards, we adjourned to the fellowship room, where a dinner was prepared for the family, and more conversation about him ensued. Then, there was the clean-up time, with washing the dishes, wiping the tables, covering the left-over food, and taking out the trash, the same way as any other family in the church at a funeral.

Since I had never experienced a funeral of any family member, I can say that now I know why we do this for the family. It does make some difference in the unsettled feeling that comes upon a grieving person. It is an acknowledgement of their passing, which is much different than just one line in the church bulletin, or telling someone you are sad today because you just heard your grandmother or brother died.

The service was video-taped to share with other relatives. I showed the whittled pegs he had made for nails to build the log house, called "the big house", in Alaska. The house was so well put-together, with no nails and no fastenings other than those carved wood pins, that when it was bulldozed down over 50 years later, it took several attempts before the remainder of it would even budge or come apart.
Some of my father's whittled pegs were very long. Here are a few shorter ones that I got out of the logs from the house he built. I plan to put these in special boxes to give as gifts for family members.  

Joe Brooking McGaughey (1926-2013) in Alaska on his "cat" looking thrilled to have started his own landscape business in the late 1950's.

I wanted to relate this because of the inspiration of this little girl. I hope in some way it plants a seed in the minds of people who are far away from their loved ones, to have normal ceremonies. In fact, I once planned a baby shower for a young woman. She, at the last minute, could not come, so I did not cancel it. The guests all shared the sandwiches and tea and enjoyed placing their gifts in a new laundry basket for the mother. (When you have a baby, an extra laundry basket is much needed.)  We went ahead and used the balloons and decorations, and enjoyed the event. Then we packaged up the favors and some of the foods, the gift bags, the flowers,  and chose someone to take it all to her house.

There are some things we do not have to miss-out on. It is a matter of thinking a different way.

I chose the painting, above, for several reasons. It looks like the mother is in grief and hardly able to focus on anything else, which is the way a grieved person feels. Sometimes tears flow so constantly that it can bring on illness. Sometimes you lose your appetite, or everything tastes like brown paper bags. Not that I've ever eaten brown paper bags, but that nothing has a flavor when you are in grief.   When death has come and taken our loved one, the earthly matters hold no value, and keeping house when your husband or child has died, does not seem to have a point.  The painting above shows the mind removes itself from the physical things of this world. The loved one is in another world, and the grieving widow is left in the physical world, yet is thinking about where her husband is.  The oldest girl looks like a 6-year-old looking for the brightness and goodness in life, yet somewhat connecting with her mother's grief without being quite as devastated. This is probably one little girl who would suggest that they put flowers on her father's grave.

If you save the picture and then use a magnifyer, you can see more details. In the background you see someone who might be the widowed mother and grandmother. Both women are thinking about their loss. They are there with the children, having dinner, but not really strongly focused on life at home. This really does happen in grief today.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Novelty

Summertime 1894 by Mary Cassatt

Today I would like to share a novelty item sent to me by a blog reader: a little tea-ball that looks like a rubber ducky.

The strainer is connected to the duck,

and filled half full of tea leaves. Then, when it sits in a cup of hot water, the tea leaves soak up the water and the duck floats upright.

After the tea is made, the duck sits back in the holder to drain.

The tea cup has snow drop flowers painted on it. I've mentioned snow drops a few posts ago on one of the fleece capes and hair pins.

Here is the duck floating in the tea cup. What a cheerful touch this has been for me today. 

The centerpiece is white daffodils.

I am still getting used to ipad and may be blogging from it soon.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pretty Eggs

My neighbor is a farmer who has an over-abundance of eggs, which she gives to me. The picture does not really show how pretty these eggs are in pink, light green, blue and brown.  Our own hens lay these colors also, but we have only a few chickens, hence the extra eggs are always welcome.

Click here for more information on naturally colored eggs.

Pretty Eggs

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sunny Cape

I am attempting to create sunny spots in the fog and rain. Today I had this picture taken of my butter-yellow fleece cape while it rained.

The fabric is 60" wide thin fleece from Wal-Mart, 2 yards at $2.96 a yard. Instead of buttons, I attached matching ties at the neckline, and the collar is made of white fleece.

This is the pattern I used.  This is probably not available anymore, but there are many current cape patterns available, which often go on sale for 99cents or $1.99.

This is what it looks like from the side,

and here is the front.

This is how the collar and shoulders look from the back.

Some ladies are hesitant about wearing the color yellow, because of the way it makes certain shades of skin look, but if you really like a color and it does not look good next to your face, just make the collar white, as I have done on this cape.

The cost of the cape and hat was under ten dollars, closer to $5.00.  Even if it had cost a little more, it is a great help to our family when I make a coat. Coats are extremely expensive, and it is so rewarding to make these capes in different colors according to the season or weather. 

Did you know that daffodils are not just yellow? Breck has a variety of pink daffodils. This is such an interesting flower, because sometimes it has the appearance of a rose.

The fascinator was created with a plastic dollar store headband, in a package of 3 for a dollar. I made yellow fleece roses and perched them atop a folded wired ribbon bow, also from the dollar store.  The bow was placed  on top of a piece of yellow sparkle sheer fabric. 
First, I cut an oval cap from white fleece and ironed it onto stiff, fusible interfacing, and hemmed it on the machine. This was hot-glued to the side of the head band at an angle, rather that around it, so that point was toward my face. 

To celebrate my completion of this cape, I found a tea cup with a yellow rose on it, from my thrift store tea cup collection. 

This is the only one of this style I have, but I have seen them in antique stores.

What I enjoy most about this cup is the little background scene with the steps on the terraced land, in the back ground. I used to see this kind of thing in front of older homes.
A close up view of those steps in the background scene.

It seemed like the perfect thing to do on a rainy day: sew a yellow cape and get out a yellow tea cup.

Father Dear

Victorian Family at Breakfast, 1840

Since my last post,  my father has been in the hospital, so I have not been able to get my mind on anything else, and that is why I have not posted very much.

I was thinking today of a quality of that generation that seems to be fading today: Privacy. Parents, though friendly and open about their beliefs and some of their interests, never divulged personal things like the state of their finances, or their reasons for living independently and explanations about choice of occupation or choice of anything.

While protecting their own privacy, they never exposed the privacy of anyone else, and did not cross-examine anyone when they gave them personal information, nor did they try to be overly curious about anyone else's privacy. That generation kept a respectful distance with their curiosity.  

  Privacy today is looked at as some kind of a flaw.  The people born back in the 1920's, as my parents were, kept certain things to themselves, and in my observation, it kept their children and those around them more polite and calm.  Today, curiosity is considered bright and intelligent, which, to a point, it is, but it has to be used for the right things. Too much airing of personal things can create a very nervous society.

As I learn more about the heritage of these people, I realize why they were able to accomplish so much. They reduced their words and increased their activity. They didn't constantly express their anxieties or explain details of their lives. This brought a sense of settled peace and contentment. Because you could not get verbal information, you would observe, and usually, what you saw in the lives of these people was a reflection of what they believed and what they were up to.  You did not have to question it.

Privacy is not respected today, and the older generation complains about it. As I grow older I notice that people ask questions and expect the answers, and sometimes will re-phrase the question in hopes of extracting the answer. As I get older, I've received questions about my plans for where I will go when I get old, and how much money I have, as well as things like, "Haven't you had your wisdom teeth extracted?" and  "Are you experiencing the 'change of life' yet?"  and other personal questions that make me blush.

The older generation does not just believe in privacy, they practice privacy.  They believe, as I do, that practicing your beliefs and standing your ground establishes them in the minds of others.

We have been bombarded with so much of the "tell all" mentality, where nothing is personal anymore, that an older person is looked at as an oddity if he does not want to answer personal questions.

That being said, I do hope to post again soon on a lighter subject, and, in the interim, I hope to see some comments about the value of privacy and how it builds the inner man and comforts others, or just leave a note about your observations regarding the erosion of privacy.  

Another reason for my absence is that I have been trying to learn how to use an ipad.  This is an extremely difficult situation, since I am emotionally attached to the dinosaur computer. It is slow-going. I want to blog from it but it is going to take some time to feel confident. 

I would like to request that those of you who are followers of Christ,  in the Lord's body, to pray for my father's recovery, if you have time. I want to protect his privacy but also tell you it has something to do with a heat wave where he lives. Dehydration is a problem  and also fluid on the lungs.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Thankful for the Older Men

Difficult Decision
by Louis Charles Moeller , American 1856-1930

Today I was noticing the older men in the church and how dignified they are. They all wear suits and ties, which after all these decades, look nearly identical to the ones in the painting  you see by Charles Moeller. They probably paid a lot for those suits many years ago, and they wear them every Lord's Day. What is nice about this, is how it separates this day from other days, for them, at least.  It may also help the people to see that some men regard the Lord's Day important enough to wear their suits. These men are now over the age of 75 and they faithfully freshen up, shave and put on their suit early on the day they are going to meet with the church.

It is reassuring to see them in their suits, as if to say that in all the worlds' turmoil, there is something stable and normal. No matter what is happening in their lives or in the news, these men will wear their suits on Sunday.

While women's clothing has radically changed styles over the centuries, I can see by paintings like the one at the head of this post, that the men's clothing has not varied much. The men's suits still cover them from their neck to their feet. I always wonder why that is: men are so much more modest in these suits than women are in their clothing.

The men wearing the suits have a bearing about them that is gentle, proper and masculine. I appreciate it more as the years go by and the modern styles emphasize casual sloppiness. We are wordlessly told that dressing up is a sign of conceit or over-emphasis on the appearance, or even making a big deal about nothing. Sometimes we are made to feel self conscious about our attention to earthly things like clothing, but it is not "nothing" to dress up. There are many more things that are involved when someone dresses up. The old men in their suits are showing respect for a special day of the week. They are showing courtesy to the women. They are behaving with personal dignity, as the sons of God that they are.  When we dress up, we set an order in our minds. Dressing up can put us in the spiritual mood to worship.

We are in a little country congregation where I suppose no one would expect anyone to dress up, and yet these men dress up in their suits for worship services. These men dress respectfully each Lord's Day not just for the members of our little gathering, but for the Lord.

It is a great example and it encourages me to put a little more effort into dressing up; to dress in a special way that is different from the other days of the week. Because I wear dresses at home each day, it can be easy to just put on a clean house dress and go to church. No one would object to that, but it would not separate that day and set it apart the way the men's suits do. So with the rest of the years of my service here I hope to dress up more than I would at home, for the first day of the week.

Tea Party 1905 by Louis Charles Moeller