Monday, June 25, 2018

Home Things

It is the oddest feeling to be sole cook and bottle washer. Sometimes it is sad, but mostly just odd... something to get used to, like new shoes. Whatever gets done is only what I have done myself. I wonder, as I tend and arrange, what my own style or way of doing this, is like. I honestly can't remember after 30 plus years of making home with the help and talents of our children, what I do when I am on my own with it.
We had fun with home decor and management. The girls cooperated so well helping to make our home, as we envisioned. They cleaned and arranged and even initiated renovations with me. New floorings and wallpaper and trim went in upstairs in their bedrooms. Now they all are making their own houses into beautiful homes. They're good at it. They've mastered the art.
Now I am learning to dream and home make on my own again. Amy came in last week one evening and commented, "Mom, how do you make your house feel so comfortably home like this?"
Of course, I'm feeling a little flattered, but on second thought, I look around and wonder what it is she is seeing, "But Amy, you are doing the same thing, your house is beautifully homey, too." She says she learned it from me, and I say I learned it from all the women in my world: my mom, Elv's mom, my sisters, and the girls.

Elv's mom and dad moved fairly often in their lifetime. So one of her joys in life was to make the new place "home" as quickly as possible. I admired this a lot. No such thing as boxes sitting in corners waiting to be unpacked for her. Anything not unpacked or set up either got sent away to a different destination for give away or trash or it was stored neatly in the store room away from the living space.
She liked tidy surfaces and plenty of closets and chests of drawers for games, linens, toys, pantry, dishes, and tools. Organization was her strong point.
And she didn't let undone projects bog her down. Either she pursued them to the end or she dispensed of them. She enjoyed home making, thus being a great example to us.

I have a few rules that work for us.

~ Keep it simple. Too many of anything is messy. Keep toys, tools, gadgets, and papers at a minimum. Wall art, shelf settings, and nick-knacks should be few and only what I really love.
~ This goes for dishes and kitchen tools, too. With a small kitchen all these years it is an easy decision to make. If we already have one, we really don't need two.
~ Something in, means something out. This goes for furniture and dishes mostly.
~ To see an end table in a bench, a newly painted nightstand in an old ugly end table, a table in an old pile of boards, and wall covering in a pile of salvaged cedar.
~ Do without until I can afford one nice, quality one.
~ A poor, old room can be make wonderfully beautiful with a little vision and a lot of elbow grease. Scrubbing tools and pine cleaner and inexpensive wax can do wonders for an old hardwood floor. Besides it is so fun to find that warm wood. Even the scars and embedded stains add to the charm. It's only the dirt we don't want.
~ I've also rediscovered English oil to shine tired wood furniture and cabinets. This one is from my mom. She lately moved from a new house with lovely kitchen cabinets into an older home with used up, cheap, wood cabinets. She handed us girls the Old English and rags telling us to use it liberally and buff well. It made a huge difference in the appearance of those old cabinet doors. Yes, it was work but the result was reward enough.

~ To bravely let expensive trends pass by unnoticed. They're quite fleeting anyway. Who knew that ceramic sinks and cook stoves would return to our kitchens after all that 70's shag rug, olive colored drama. I am ever so glad for wood and white and practical.
~ To go ahead, hang up that funny looking tapestry that I like, above the piano, and enjoy it. To go with what I believe is pretty, because I may, in our own house.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

In Summer

 His text said, "Weather permitting we are going to put green canoe in and putter down Billy Boy with a picnic lunch in afternoon." So we did. We tried to remember when was the last time we took our green canoe out for an 'explore'. Couldn't pin that down. So we concluded that it had been far too long.
We put in on the Couderay side of the channel here in Northwoods Beach. Elv had loaded the Pelican right side up on a trailer earlier so all we had to do was to back it in to the water and let the canoe scoot off in the lake, me holding the rope while standing on the dock. The forget-me-not flowers on the landing were gloriously adding their bits of periwinkle and gold to our adventure.
The water was up a little in answer to the lovely summer breeze. We headed south out of the bay straight across the lake the wind in our faces and that lovely little wake off the back. There is nothing quite like a summer day lake ride in the Pelican. I love the choppy water and the spray and everything about it. Elv is careful so I lean into it fully.
We had to putter west up the other shore till we got to the bridge we were looking for where the lake connects with Little Couderay. Elv slowed it way down as the bottom came into view. Clear and shallow there under the bridge. Memories of playing in the shallows of our river at home always come to mind. The fat Red Horse were darting back and forth there. If they were not so quick, you could pick them right out of the water. We mused out loud again about catching a few in a net to can up in jars for fish patties. Another time later maybe. It's one of those promises we make to ourselves for when we have more time. The future is rich.
Crossing Little Couderay is shorter. We head across again angling south and mostly west to find another bridge under which we quietly putter past the "no wake" sign and into the Billy Boy flowage.
The yellow iris are in full bloom right now. Along all three miles of shoreline on both sides are iris blooming in yellow, blue, and white. Mostly yellow this week. I try to absorb this beauty with my eyes, and my two cameras. The sunshine bounces and glints and plays everywhere on the water, swamp grasses, and flowers making it all so dazzling and brilliant it is hard to get a picture. Too much light, too many details. Over exposure everywhere. But who cares. It's an awesome creation to enjoy.

A pair of loons were nesting somewhere about the middle mile of the flowage. We saw only one of them and he was calling to her, our trespassing, till we got closer, then he ducked under the water and stayed put till we passed out of sight. We have in the past been able to spot the nest but not this time.
We scared up two herons just by drifting by. I caught the one just before lift off.

Getting off to the swamp for a few hours helps me to weigh up my worries for what they really are: a sickening distraction from the reality of living with Jesus in my heart.The Psalmist encourages worship and prayer with this simple command. Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you: He shall never permit the righteous to be moved (shaken).
Lately I've noticed that a burdened mind/heart is full of stress. It soon becomes a convoluted mess of hard-to-solve questions. Problems loom larger than reality and it is difficult to think properly. Worries and frustrations get bigger than they should. I notice that great solutions never come of fear and doubt. We think we are so knowledgeable and smart and godly that we can think our way through these things on our own. We do. We try it.
The best solution to a burdened heart is to turn to Jesus. He said, and I have to keep being reminded, "My yoke is easy, My burden is light. Come to Me, all You who labor and are heavy laden. I will give you rest." 
That's a promise.
An island of red pine in a large swamp became our picnic spot. We nosed the canoe into shore and climbed up the grassy knoll and spread out our picnic there. Life, as we know it, seems far away and unreal when tucked away so, the only eyes and ears, God's, for miles around. We sat and savored until the bugs found us. I wish it could have been longer. Next time we'll take bug barriers.

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