Monday Ponderings {May 22nd}

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Could mere loving be a life’s work?

 

The Dean’s Watch

Elizabeth Goudge

p. 122

(I can’t tell you how much this line impacted me this weekend. The surrounding passage is beautiful. This book is lovely, but it would have been worth reading for just that one line. Praying and pondering over this thought.)

Anne of Green Gables: Chapter 11

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Continuing our reading…

“Well, how do you like them?” said Marilla. 🙂 … “I’ll imagine that I like them.” said Anne soberly. p. 78

I loved this chapter about Anne’s new dresses made by Marilla and her first experience at church. I noticed a lot of beautiful words in this chapter, of course, L.M. Montgomery always uses lots of flowery words. That’s why I love her so much. I don’t think modern literature can even come close to this kind of language anymore, maybe due to time constraints and readers not really talking this way or reading these types of books. I suppose in some ways, it comes down to a matter of taste. I absolutely love Montgomery’s effusive style. Here are some of the words and phrases I loved from Chapter 11:

snuffy – serviceable – sateen – pampering vanity – frills – furbelows – skimpy wincey things  -so much gratefuller – puffed sleeves – thrill – disconsolately – fidget – irreproachably – arrayed – skimpiness – contrived – a golden frenzy of wind-stirred buttercups and a glory of wild roses – promptly – liberally – garlanded – a heavy wreath – daunted – lonesome – splendid – queer – horrid – rebukingly – melancholy – tragical – snappy

Quotes: “But I’d rather look ridiculous when everybody else does than plain and sensible all by myself, ” persisted Anne mournfully. p.79

“I said a little prayer myself, though. There was a long row of white birches hanging over the lake and the sunshine fell down through them, ‘way, ‘way down, deep into the water. Oh, Marilla, it was like a beautiful dream! It gave me a thrill and I just said, ‘Thank you for it,God,’ two or three times.” p.81

Marilla felt helplessly that all this should be sternly reproved, but she was hampered by the undeniable fact that some of the things Anne had said, especially about the minister’s sermons and Mr.Bell’s prayers, were what she herself had really thought deep down in her heart for years, but had never given expression to. It almost seemed to her that those secret, unuttered, critical thoughts had suddenly take visible and accusing shape and form in the person of this outspoken morsel of neglected humanity. p. 83

~

 

 

 

Monday Ponderings {May 15th}

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A good reminder for me today.

 

Speaking on the her childhood:

In those days, women made whatever was good and never minded how tedious the process, but now we live in a short-cut age. But house-keeping is fun, and I think women who hate it lack imagination. It is one job where you enjoy the results right along as you work. You may work all day washing and ironing, but at night you have the delicious feeling of sunny clean sheets and airy pillows to lie on. If you clean, you sit down at nightfall with the house shining and smelling faintly of wax, all yours to enjoy right then and there. And if you cook – ah, if you cook – that creation you lift from the oven goes right to the table. One way to look at it, of course, is that women’s work is never ended, and I have heard housekeepers say they hate to make cakes because they are eaten right up anyway. You can make it drudgery if you want to, but it isn’t. And it is not monotonous either, for no day is ever really the same. Lucky the woman who has a home and can live in what she is creating!

Stillmeadow Seasons

Gladys Taber

pg 70

emphasis mine

Hearth Ridge Diary {Tuesday night}

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{ a stream near us that I dubbed The Withywindle. It’s stuff dreams are made of, don’t you agree?}

Tuesday night is always taco night here at the farm. I don’t remember when we instituted this tradition, but anticipation builds every week. I’m glad a bit of meat, sour cream, salsa, cold lettuce, a big giant family-sized bag of shredded cheese, with a side of crispy tortilla chips elicits such rave reviews. The home cook takes all the encouragement they can get! ¡Olé!

The morning dawned cool and rainy, misty grayness hovering over the farm. Perfect for coffee and reading together. We were particularly moved and had a good discussion over Elizabeth Yates’, Amos Fortune, Free Man.

Early afternoon found us tackling chores, while listening to an old folk song and hymn collection from our Charlotte Mason community group. “Goober Peas” rang out and the broom sweeping seem to keep time to the beat. The sky clearing a bit, I was able to run out in the afternoon, in an attempt to help at a friend’s yard sale, but alas they really had it under control. I felt a little like Mel Gibson in his movie “Brave Heart” while out, silently screaming, “FREEDOM!” in my mind as I drove gaily down the road. A diet soda, chocolate-definitely-not-on-my-diet, and podcasts cheering me on my way. I threw around all sorts of ideas with this empty bit of time on my hands as I pointed my Dodge Caravan homewards. Should I find a place to sit and sip coffee? Are there any nice places open in my rural area past four o’clock in the afternoon? (Don’t laugh. A real dilemma in rural areas.) I settled on a bigger public library. I ransacked the memoir, writing, and poetry section and sat down to peruse in a comfy chair by the window. Pure bliss.

Glancing at my phone, I realized it was time to head home. I put some of the books back including a fascinating one about literary places in the Midwest. I definitely hope to check into Sterling North’s museum and a few other places someday. Road trip, anyone? I am currently reading Aldo Leopold’s A Sand Country Almanac and would love to visit The Shack.

As I left the town, my eyes drank in the view. Oh my. Spring here is delicious and food for the soul. The green is so hopeful, so light, so refreshing. The hills reaching to the blue sky, touching the clouds. The Amish were out enjoying their little horses and carts, scooters, and roller blades. I saw the freshly plowed fields finished, I had passed them working earlier.

It looks like more rain moving in from the east, but the rain-scented air is worth it. My two year old is out picking bouquets of dandelions for me, the sun setting. A lump forms in my throat about these precious children I’ve been given for such a short time. Glorious gift and weighty responsibility. I read this morning about how Gladys Taber’s mother left the to-do list and took her on a picnic,

“And it occurs to me now that it is a good thing for any parent to stop now and then and wonder what memories they are giving their children. We all try so hard to leave real property, but memories are property of the heart.”

Stillmeadow Sampler

pg 33

~

 

Long and Slow

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I’ve been thinking lately about this Charlotte Mason educational life journey that my children and I (my husband,too) are on. Partly because, we are coming upon the end of the 2016-2017 formal learning  year and I’m beginning my planning for autumn, a new, fresh year. I’m rereading a few favorites, The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason by Laurie Bestvater and Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study With the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola, and the more I read, learn, and walk this road, the more I see that it is simmering and savoring kind of life. In a way, sort of like my favorite kitchen appliance, the crock pot. Early in the morning, with the sun’s rays slanting in on the floor, the smell of my coffee brewing, you will often find me loading up my crock pot for dinner. A pinch of rosemary, slices of potato, pieces of ham, a bay leaf. Water pouring over it all, salt and pepper shaken in, and broth added. The top is then dotted with butter, lid on, set on low, and dinner is being prepared. It is a long and slow process. My day is settled and oh, so much more calm when I have dinner started before 9:00 AM. A sage piece of advice told to me from a seasoned mother. Charlotte Mason knew this wisdom also, but in the educational sphere. I’m stretching this analogy, but I love analogies…I’m a visual learner and it helps me to see things in a new, helpful light. Those ingredients that I added are like the methods of a Charlotte Mason education, the habit of faithfulness to working my plan is like getting the dinner into the crock pot, and then it’s the long and slow simmering in my life and the lives of my children, the philosophy of all of it,  the leaving alone of it, that makes the whole. Do I just constantly fuss with that crock pot and always impatiently check it, adjusting it, throwing it out if not perfect, tasting, worrying, and fretting over it? No. That’s the point of this wonderful piece of kitchen equipment. It’s the letting alone and trusting the process. Yes, sometimes, the meal isn’t that great at the end of it, sometimes things don’t work out perfectly according to my recipe, maybe a little burnt around the edges, but for the most part, I faithfully add the ingredients, day in and day out, knowing that the slow process produces nourishment for our lives.  May I fill our crock pot with delicacies and then rest in the Lord, smelling the beautiful aroma floating through our lives each day.

~

April Reads

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Silence by  Shusako Endo – (*****) This was an interesting and challenging book. The descriptions and writing style were beautiful. It made me think deeply. That is why I rated it so highly. However, I didn’t really love this book. I have a longer review on Goodreads, if you are interested.

Thistle and Thyme: Tales and Legends from Scotland by Sorche Nic Leodhas – (****) I loved these! A bit creepy, mysterious, and romantic. Short tales and legends with Scottish charm. Children would love these as much as I did!

The Crimson Skew by S.E. Grove -(**)   Last month, I talked about the first two in this YA series. I was looking forward to this last title in the trilogy. Unfortunately, I was so disappointed!  I liked that questions where answered that had been asked earlier in the series and there were some delightful moments, but overall, this got a bit preachy for me on social issues (ie. war etc) and I thought it got a little weirder with the fortune teller and the grove of memories was too vague. Bummer.

Stillmeadow Daybook by Gladys Taber – (*****) I often read Gladys’ seasonal memoirs to coincide with the current month or season I am in. So it takes me awhile to get through her books. However, that is not a problem, as she never fails to delight! I was so enchanted and once again I found myself slowing down to notice little things about my daily homemaking, my family, and the nature around us. This is one of the three Taber titles I own, so I’m glad to read more of my delicious library shelf titles.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield – (***) I loved Margaret Lea and the beginning part of this book…I wanted to just follow her around and hear more about her life and dig around her and her father’s bookshop together. Yes, I’m THAT boring. I did not like so much the mystery or Vita Winter’s life. Maybe I’m too hopelessly romantic or something or too unrealistic. Miss Winter’s life was SO dark and hopeless and I was just like, “What about you Margaret?” Also I did not like the switching of perspective between Margaret, Vita, and the character’s in Vita’s story…I got confused…a few times I skimmed over parts. The writing of this book was BEAUTIFUL, Setterfield is a fantastic writer, I just wasn’t loving the grim, darkness of the horrible life lived by “Vita Winter” and her family. I did appreciate Margaret’s sorrow over her family secret etc, but the tie in with Vita’s was strange to me and felt forced, dark, and hopeless. I don’t like hopeless fiction. The ending felt sad too, and again hand me an ice cream and a fuzzy puppy, I’m not that great with sad endings. Overall, I was drawn in and this was well-written, it’s probably just my taste.

A City of Bells by Elizabeth Goudge – (*****) I’ve read this title many times, so a reread for me. There is something about Jocelyn trying to find his way through his darkness and despair that just grips me. The beauty of words, the house & bookshop, the beautiful cathedral town in England, the family relationships Jocelyn fosters (especially with his Grandfather), and the mystery surrounding Ferranti, a reclusive man, draw you in. I love that Ferranti’s writings and the bookshop full of beautiful books are the bases for Jocelyn’s journey towards healing. Highly recommend.

Suncatchers by Jamie Langston Turner – (***) This book is VERY slow reading because of the heavy character driven descriptive style. However, I love Turner’s way of writing about someone outside of the Christian faith looking into it. This had a simple plot, and you spent an huge amount of time inside the main character Perry’s mind and what he was thinking about all the people who were around him. I enjoyed it, but it did not move you along, you were standing still, listening into conversations and thoughts. S – L – O – W. I appreciate Turner’s writing style and think it is beautiful and thoughtful. So far, my favorite title of this author’s is Winter Birds.

Judges, Ruth, Acts: The Holy Bible (*****)

~

Springtime Thoughts from Harold E. Kohn

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There exists a real temptation to be academic concerning nature, to spend one’s nature study hours among heavy natural history textbooks and journals, seeking what the most authoritative scientists have to say about those problems. But if that is done, one misses the most important aspect of nature study – the exposure of one’s eyes to beauty, the inhaling of evergreen-scented air, the feel of rough bark under one’s finger tips and the softness of a pine-needle-carpeted forest aisle under food and the soft caress of a lake breeze across one’s face. The well-balanced student of nature is one who recognizes the problems of his field of interest and works towards their solution, but in the meantime he experiences nature directly, living it, breathing it, rejoicing in it.

This balance between recognizing the problems of life and exploring its joys is a secret of achieving happiness. If we do not weigh the problems at all we become jittery activists or empty-headed sentimentalists, and if we consider only the problems we become burdened by discouragement and pessimism. The most satisfying attitude is to face the problem of a situation realistically while wringing from it the most possible good.

Thoughts Afield

Harold E. Kohn

pg 22-23

(emphasis mine)

~

 

 

Elizabeth Goudge

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Happy Birthday, Elizabeth Goudge. I can’t tell you what an impact your books have made on my life. Your fiction is so beautifully real, full of vitality, moments that you have read and lived, a compost of life. Your non-fiction collections inspiring and beautiful. If there is one of way of describing what you wrote it would be that you have found romance in real life. The sweeping nature observations, your love of England, your beautiful turns of phrase, and your real, troubled characters that could be anyone of us. Their thoughts and feelings ring true. I love that your writing forces me to slow down as not to miss one single thing. It makes me realize how fast I live, how distracted I exist, and what a gift I’ve been given by God here in my place on earth. I realize that I’m gushing and I know you weren’t perfect or that we would have really seen eye to eye on everything, and yet, this stay-at-home mother has found in your words, a feast for the cracked edges of her soul. I have found that my heart is turned toward my Creator and the imperfect, yet lovely relationships with people all around me. I have reread Pilgrim’s Inn and A City of Bells many times, and others I still remember in detail. Your words have become cherished friends and I will continue to revisit them for years to come.

“In times of storm and tempest, of indecision and desolation, a book already known and loved makes better reading than something new and untried … nothing is so warming and companionable.”

Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells

 

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The Music of Domesticity

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{Spring book love}

Life is full, isn’t it? I’ve been caught once again between the things that must be done and the things that one wishes to do. However, thankfully, there is some overlap and that is the beauty of looking closely at life, a sort of thread of music woven throughout. A tune carrying us forward. There truly are moments of delight to be found in every hour of mundane.  As Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve been ruminating on the relatively short years of my mothering journey so far, trying to remember when I began to see mothering and all things domestic as a gift and a song. My memory isn’t the greatest, but I recall a book called, The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocketboth of my dear sisters and I laughing about the title, yet it meaning so much to me. It gave me a permission to ENJOY art, culture, beauty, and domesticity in my home. Even though my faith is extremely important to me, when I started as a wife and mother, unfortunately, I had some unrealistic standards from the faith community that I took on as a burden. This was a lack of discernment and error on my part, viewing opinions that are man-made as truth, but are not actually from The Holy Bible. Insecurity reigns supreme and it scrambles to look for formulas.  I also remember savoring Edith Schaeffer’s books and Ruth Bell Graham’s poetry. And of course, the gift of Gladys Taber, who I was introduced to through another lovely person, Susan Branch. Gladys column in the Ladies Home Journal many years ago was titled, “Diary of Domesticity” and I think that is just lovely and it inspires me.  In the Family Circle she penned, “Butternut Wisdom”, so sweet and quaint. And of course, my dear mentor, Charlotte Mason, shared on education, life, and relationships. I was so encouraged to read this today and this the other day, thankful once again for having found the name Charlotte Mason almost 10 years ago, and following the prompting to dig a bit deeper. My own dear mother, Margaret, has been a constant example of servant-hood. Just laying aside her own desires for others out of love.  These sweet notes of encouragement also have floated out from many fiction authors over the years. I especially fondly recall hours with L.M. Montgomery, Elizabeth Goudge, and Jane Austen.  Katrina Kension and Annis Duff come to mind as well. All of these women are so different, not all of the same faith, not all mothers themselves, but yet have so invested in my growth, kept the light burning, so to speak, in my heart.  So, anyway, I just was thinking through this, wanting to record and share in hopes that it might encourage others as much as it does me.  Now a bit of life beauty recorded…

Hearth Ridge Daily Diary Entry {4.17.17}

Amos and I discussed a few things. I need to learn to listen better and forgive quicker. Snuggling on the couch with my boys, we sang through “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”, my 9 year old, running to find the book for my 2 year old to look through. Rain clouds rolled in, this hill we are on wears all the weather’s feelings on its sleeve and we can see what’s coming miles ahead of it.

I had to apologize to my 7 year old for snapping at her, and my 9 year old and I laughed about me dubbing him Sir Sam of Mathematics. He was having some negative feelings about hitting the numbers today. I hope I will have enough time to get through all the chapters for my book study tonight. Nothing like procrastination. Ironically, they are about forming good habits. Ha.

I’ve been thinking through my 7 year old’s upcoming birthday. It’s so interesting to really think about the people our children are, who they are becoming. A funny thing happened today, which I promptly shared on Instagram, I was reading from the Landmark Series, Vikings by Elizabeth Janeway, to my 12 year old son. My 5 year old was apparently listening because after we talked about the Labrador Sea and Greenland on the map, she came up and said, “Do you want me to send you back where you were…unemployed, in Greenland?” Oh my. Maybe we watch The Princess Bride movie too frequently. 🙂

The afternoon found us outside, fickle weather, sun peeking out. We blew bubbles and through the windy gusts, my older four played basketball. I showered and threw on a favorite comfy outfit of a black t-shirt, black maxi skirt, light brown sweater, my favorite old Red Converse Allstars, and don’t forget my favorite necklace, bearing words I need to remember daily. “Courage, dear heart.” by C.S. Lewis. At a restaurant before study, I sit sipping my drink, as I listen to that faint tune of beauty humming in the background of my life, soak in the words of a mentor, and thank God again for this blessed home life I live.

 

~

 

Anne of Green Gables: Chapter 10

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Anne is stubbornly refusing to apologize for The Incident with Rachel Lynde and Matthew slinks up to Anne’s room and encourages her to just smooth it over because Marilla is an awful stubborn woman. 🙂

I think it’s so funny how Marilla is worried about how happy Anne is acting.

“This was no meek penitent such as it behooved her to take into the presence of the offended Mrs. Lynde.” pg 73

In some ways, Anne’s apology is sneaky and a bit manipulative. I never looked at it that way before, maybe it’s the mother coming out in me. I actually felt a bit of sympathy and compassion for Mrs. Lynde, as she is simple and straight-forward. She shows kindness to Anne in sending her out to the garden and giving her some of her June lilies.

I love this part as Marilla and Anne are walking home.

“Anne said no more until they turned into their own lane. A little gypsy wind came down it to meet them, laden with the spicy perfume of young dew-wet ferns. Far up in the shadows a cheerful light gleamed out through the trees from the kitchen at Green Gables. Anne suddenly came close to Marilla and slipped her hand into the older woman’s hard palm.”

and this:

“Something warm and pleasant welled up in Marilla’s heart at the touch of that thin little hand in her own – a throb of the maternity she had missed, perhaps. Its very unaccustomedness and sweetness disturbed her. ”

pg 76

Anne:

“But I’m going to imagine that I’m the wind that is blowing up there in those tree tops. When I get tired of the trees I’ll imagine I’m gently waving down here in the ferns – and then I’ll fly over to Mrs. Lynde’s garden and set the flowers dancing – and then I’ll go with one great swoop over the clover field – and then I’ll blow over the Lake of Shining Waters and ripple it all up into little sparkling waves. Oh, there’s so much scope for the imagination in a wind! So I’ll not talk any more just now, Marilla.”

“Thanks be to goodness for that, ” breathed Marilla in devout relief. 🙂

 

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Happy Birthday, Gladys!

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Today marks Gladys Taber’s 118th (give or take a few years due to my Math skills) birthday. I originally was introduced to Mrs. Taber’s writings through the beautiful quotes in Susan Branch’s art and books. I am so glad I found her! I have been inspired and charmed ever since, appreciating her attitude of thankfulness for the simple moments in life. A life where beauty can be found anywhere, if (and this is a big if) we just S L O W down and notice it. Be still and know. The little hands of my baby boy squishing his hamburger with delight as he takes a bite, the stamp on a handwritten note, and the moon’s light casting a haunting glow over eventide. The way my husband’s hand rests on the back of my neck, our 12 year old, humming while he does the dishes, and the light hitting a stack of books just right. A gratefulness wells up in me, an astonishment over these gifts I have been given. It turns my heart towards my Savior, from whom all blessings flow. Thank you, Gladys for sharing your life with us. I think I will go make a cake in your honor.

 

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