Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Visits

Today is Sunday.  We went to church and then out to lunch, running into old friends at the restaurant.  It was great to see them and it started me thinking.  What happened to Sunday Visiting?  You know the tradition of going to visit friends or family after church and sharing a cup of coffee or tea and some coffee cake and spending time with them.
I remember my maternal grandmother telling stories of Sunday visits that she would make with her mom and siblings.  My great-grandmother was quite a lady, literally, and she made it a point to make sure others knew they mattered.  On Sundays after church my great-grandmother, Marie, would go to the home of someone the family knew, or maybe a family member's home to visit.  My grandmother, Loraine, was the third child, second daughter, in a family of five children.  The children would enter the home and sit on the couch (davenport as it was called then) and be respectfully quiet while their mother chatted with the hostess.
Occasionally, the children were offered a treat of some kind and then they were allowed to only take one piece of whatever it was, say thank you, and then resume their quiet sitting.
My great-grandmother actually practiced this with her five children.  Great-grandma would buy a candy bar and then cut it into five pieces, each one a bit larger than the other.  One of the children would then  serve his or her siblings.  The training was so that the children would know to take the smallest portion of whatever was offered.  Finally, when everyone was served, the server would get the last and biggest piece.  You can imagine that the children would hope they could be the server.

I often think about the family who first owned this farm.  Did they have people over for Sunday visits?  Did they use the front room as a parlor for visitors?  What was it like to live here nearly 100 years ago?

In today's busy world of RUSH I think this natural pause in the week has been lost.  Sure we keep in contact with Facebook, e-mail, texting, voice-mails, Twitter, even blogs--but when was the last time you stopped and made time to visit with a friend?  I don't get to do this on Sundays but I do strive to visit with friends on Saturdays.
Two childhood friends and I would rotate one Saturday a month at each other's homes.   We'd bring our children to play together while we would sit at the kitchen table and drink coffee.  It was the time we took to stop everything else to say that our friendship mattered.  We'd try different homemade goodies, share photos of our latest experience, or our most recent craft accomplishment.  We could be there for five hours or more and think it was only two hours many times.

I know that LIFE will not stop to allow time for a visit with dear friends.  I, for one, want to take a page from my great-grandmother's life.  I want to MAKE time for those I love.  When I die it won't matter to me if I spent hours and hours at work-whatever work may be.  It WILL matter to me if I took the time to show others how precious they were to me.  I challenge you to do the same.

Friday, August 27, 2010

laundry day

My mom loved to hang laundry on the clothesline during the summer.  I remember looking out the window and seeing it flying and flapping, like it was trying to gather the courage to soar into the sky.  
I know that most people don't like to do the laundry, I am one of the "weird" ones, because I actually enjoy it.  I also enjoy doing the dishes, cutting the lawn, vacuuming, basically anything that makes order out of disorder. But I digress...

Here at the farm we don't have a dryer.  Correction, we have a dryer, it just isn't connected yet.  It will be connected by winter, but in the meantime, I have a clothesline on which to hang my laundry.  
There is something about seeing my family's clothes hanging on the line, soaking in the sun.  I like the simplicity of letting nature help me do my work.  I know in the eco-conscious world we live in I am doing something that helps the environment.  Really, I am doing something that feeds a deeper part of me.
Doing the laundry and hanging it out to dry on the line does require some planning on my part.  I need to make sure it isn't going to rain during the day--kind of a requirement.  But should it rain and I don't get the clothes off in time, they just get a second rinse, at least that is what my mom calls it. 
I have a system in place when I do the laundry.  I do my husband's work clothes first, so they are ready for the next week, then I do the boys' clothes, my "nice" clothes, the towels, and then the whites.  It may seem silly, but I make sure to hang the whites on the line so that they are not visible from the road.  Think whatever you wish, but white clothes generally are not made for public viewing.
There is a painting of my grandparents' farm that was done 100 years ago give or take.  Included in the picture is the clothesline with the laundry blowing in the breeze.  We have often wondered if the white squares were my grandfather's cloth diapers.  Maybe, maybe not.  
I think all farms should have a clothesline. 

Anyway, tomorrow is laundry day.  I am excited.  

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Critters, cows, and creativity

So, as I have mentioned I have 2 boys.  My youngest, "Arliss," is a true animal nut.  He loves any and all critters, no matter if they have fur, scales, or slimy skin.
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Frog IN my windows
A few mornings ago I heard Arliss call me to see a frog on the front picture window.  I came to find a beautiful frog colored like lichen--all of the greens and blues would have made him blend in well in the forest.  My front window is not the forest.  Then I noticed that the frog was not on the outside of the window, it was on the INSIDE between the storm window and the regular window.  How it got there, I couldn't tell you.  I knew there was a small gap at the top of the window between the two windows and figured if it got in it could get out.
Our brittany dog kept watch over the frog (our dog will track ANYTHING that moves).  Throughout the day the frog would jump from one windowpane to another and eventually it disappeared.  I figured it got out.  I was wrong.  The frog was on the sill between the windows and it didn't look like it was moving.  The boys, Arliss and even "Travis," our oldest,  were concerned that the frog would die in there.  What's a mom to do???  I took 2 standard screwdrivers that were about 8 inches long and went outside to see what I could do.  I managed to loosen the storm window from the house and took one of the screwdrivers to coax the frog out.  The frog dropped into the hosta below.  I quickly put the window back and got some water for the frog.  After I poured the water on the frog it seemed to perk up.  HOORAY for the animal wrangler.  Little did I know my day as a wrangler was not over yet.
That evening the sunset was amazing.  I am a sucker for nature pictures and immediately went outside to take some pics of the ever changing sky.  I took a short walk to pick some of the goldenrod growing across the road.  Turning toward the hay field I was startled to see half a dozen of our cattle in the field taking an evening stroll.  The hay field is not fenced in, the cattle had made a break for it...
I started to walk toward the cattle, slowly, I knew better than to rush them.  I called the family that takes care of cattle and told them what had happened.  In the meantime I continued to slowly walk toward the cattle.
A few minutes later the cattle turned and ran back toward the break in the fence, every cow went back in the way they came out. HOORAY again!  A few minutes after the cows were in the cavalry arrived to fix the fence and check that all the cattle were there.
Arliss and Travis were psyched to know that the cows had gotten out and were now back safe in the barnyard.  What a day... I love living here,  one never knows what to expect.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lessons I Learned from My Grandma

My grandma taught me many things over the years.

She taught me how to cook while I wore my father's childhood apron.  I would be included in making sugar cookies at Christmastime,  rolling out the dough, using cookie cutters, and most importantly, placing the red cinnamon candies on the reindeer for Rudolph's nose.
Gram taught me not to rush, even when I just wanted to finish so I could do the next thing or accomplish the task so it was "done." She taught me that I would be more proud of the finished task if I took my time and did it correctly.
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My grandma and her uncle

Gram taught me how to set a table.  At the family meals, my cousin and I were responsible for setting the table.  Gram had worked in a restaurant while she and Grandpa were dating, so she knew the proper places for the knives, bread plates, glasses, etc.  I still tell myself the little hints about why something goes to the right side and not the left side of the plate.

Gram taught me how to hold my tongue and not speak harshly, even when anger is an appropriate response. I don't do this well, but I will always remember that even when a good scolding was in order-like the time my cousin and I used all of Gram's salt to try to buff some rocks we found around the farm-she didn't yell.  She just said, "One mustn't do that," in a calm voice.

I learned how to love a husband by watching the way my gram loved Grandpa.  In all of my years I never once saw them kiss each other.  I did see tenderness between them though.  Gram never nagged Grandpa, she might express herself, but she always did it respectfully, honoring his decision.  I never heard them argue either.  She loved him very much although I never heard them say, "I love you."  It was evident in every way they served each other throughout the day.  I think Gram's love language was the gift of service.
I learned how to be a lady by watching my gram.  She was a farmer's wife who had many varied tasks on the farm, but she didn't try to be one of the men.  She didn't wear pearls to pick vegetables or cut flowers, but she carried herself with grace and gentleness.

I learned to love the beauty of nature because of Gram.  She had a green thumb that could grow the most amazing gladiolas, mums, peonies, and zinnias.  She grew concord grapes to make into jellies and juice for her family.  She knew how to identify plants by their leaves or flowers and knew what kind of bird it was by its call.

Gram taught me how to live with faith.  Her faith brought her through more trials and difficulties than most know today.  She trusted God when she moved into town at 14, away from the family farm, to be a Mother's Helper, earning money to help her family, and allowing her to go to high school.  She trusted God when she moved from Wisconsin to Illinois to work at a restaurant, again sending money home.  Gram showed amazing faith when due to distance she could not see her mom, with whom she had a deep relationship, as often as she would have liked.
Gram's faith was tested in silent ways, ways she never shared, but the evidence of her deep faith was always visible.  She prayed for her children, grandchildren, and eventually great-grandchildren daily.  She trusted God when her husband of 63 years passed away.  She held on to her faith when her son died suddenly.  She didn't speak of these heartaches much, she instead, entrusted God with her pain and He gave her peace, even when it didn't make sense.

I learned how to love from my grandma.  I learned that love is something that is best given in secret, quiet ways.  Not given with the desire for credit or attention, but instead given with the desire to show the receiver he or she matters, he or she is precious.  Gram showed each person in her family that she loved them, in a way that meant something to them.  She would make their favorite meal, discuss their favorite book, or make their favorite dessert.  Whatever mattered to them, mattered to her.
I learned that no matter what family is what matters most.  Gram lived that out every day of her life.  My hope is that I can apply the lessons I have been taught.  She was an awesome teacher and I miss her terribly.