Friday, February 27, 2009

My dearest readers:

I have something of great interest to report. The lovely Barefoot Mama has invited all of us to chronicle our days a la mode de Jane Austen. Madam Mama is a blogger of the utmost respectability and delicacy, not to mention that she is the personification of creativity indeed.

I have it on good authority that Madam Mama is "at home" during the afternoon hours. I do encourage you to take a stroll over to her lovely home in the blog--o-sphere. I am afraid that I shall not be able to accompany you, as I am indisposed at the moment.

After this necessary preamble, I shall proceed to inform you all that I am happy to have my children suitably matched and married and settled in good positions. Now, it comes upon me to take up the task of praying for my dear friend, M___, to be wooed by a gentleman every bit as fine in character as my own honrable and beloved D____. Of course, the Lord may have other plans in mind for M____ , so I must keep that in mind. I do so have the itch to see everyone around me settled into that harmonious state of matrimony that befits men and women of gentlemanlike and ladylike character. They say that there is a lovely young woman named Emma Woodhouse who is of the same mind. I don't mind telling you that I hear that she has caused much mischief to her friends by her impetuosity in these matters. Perhaps, I should proceed with extreme caution, myself.

Last night, when I was awakened with a rhume de cervaux et de caisse, I heard the most frightening of noises. These creaks and rumbles did so remind one of creepy castles and abbeys, in which husbands attempt to poison their wives, as my friend Catherine assures me happens all of the time. I must remember to ask D______ to check our attic or our plumbing or some such thing. Perhaps, something is amiss with the house. How is it that noises which sound so cozy and friendly during the day seem so eerie when one is coughing in the wee hours?

As for our gardens, I am sure nothing is amiss, there. I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new rose bush. I hope it will be an adornment to our humble cottage. Do roses appeal to my sense or my sensibility? Beloved D_______ thinks it's the latter, as I do have a romantic fondness for them, but have little notion how to care for them in practicality. Perhaps, I am too prideful, thinking that I can, with a little persuasion, coax my various rose bushes into blooming health. Then, again, maybe I am prejudiced toward roses as they are such noble blossoms. What can I say? Once one falls in love with a rose, there is not the least thought of going back.

This morning, as you can imagine, I am not receiving company due to la grippe. I must tell you that I am quite bored being shut off from the delights of society. We did, however, enjoy having our church small group over night before last. It was such an agreeable company of spiritually minded people. I must say that young C___, is such an agreeable baby with the handsomest of blue eyes. Dearest readers, do you think it is too early to start dreaming of his future? I have in mind a beautiful young lady of six months, who would suit him quite well, I think. After all, they are of an age together. Wouldn't our dear Emma approve of my thinking?

Perhaps, next summer, I shall re-read Mansfield Park, just to be sure that our dear Fanny and our dear Esmond are still happy together. People repeat all of the most horrid things about poor Fanny -- saying that she is insipid and can't speak a word for herself. I maintain, on the other hand, that her modest charm is why many of us love her so.

I remain, my Dearest Readers,
Most affectionately yours,

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Here's a photo of a hybrid musk rose. I have a rose with a very similar bloom. I haven't quite identified the rose yet, so will keep looking.

For some reason, I'm on a flower and poem kick. We had a nice warm day here, but I was inside with a cold and actually fell asleep swaddled in blankets and in front of the fire. I prefer a real fireplace to our gas logs. However, at times like this, it surely is nice to be able to flip on a switch and have an instant flame.

Do you keep books of pretty poems and lovely quotes, as I do? If you do, I'd love for you to share with me some of your favorites.

Here's a little poem of musk roses and spring:

A Violet Bank

I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows;

Quite over-canopied with lush woodbine,

With sweet musk roses and eglantine.

William Shakespeare


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

By William Wordsworth (1770-1850).

Monday, February 16, 2009

For Today...

Outside my window... The day is sunny and crisp. After a taste of spring last week, our high today is only in the mid-forties. Our daffodils are up and growing tall. I'm hoping they'll bloom soon. The neighbor's ornamental pear tree is still budding.

I am thinking... about the lovely Valentine's Day that my dearest hubby and I had.

I am thankful for...having the same wonderful Valentine for 29 years.

From the kitchen... white beans in the crockpot.

I am wearing... black skirt, black drapey top, black jacket and...curlers. I really hope no one comes to the door!

I am reading...time to take a bunch of library books back and get new ones!

I am hoping...for spring!!!

I am creating...finishing an apron.

I am hearing... the dryer going.

Around the house...much to do, as always.

One of my favorite calls to and from my children.

A few plans for the rest of the week...We are having company this weekend, so I'll be preparing the house.


Monday, February 09, 2009

Generic Brands....

For twenty-eight years of housekeeping, I've always found it more economical to include certain certain generic brands in my shopping than to rely on brand names alone -- even with the help of coupons. Of course, everyone has their favorite brand names, and I buy those when it's important to either my dearest husband or myself. But, in general, I've always bought a lot of store brand items as well, and I have usually been pleased with the quality.

Lately, thought, I've noticed problems in two areas -- or maybe it's one area, depending on how you look at it. My favorite store brands of powdered dishwasher detergent and powdered laundry detergent no longer dissolve well in water. I've had trouble rinsing out powdery film on clothing and dishes. I have no problem with liquid laundry or dishwasher detergents, so obviously, the solution is simply to use the better-working products.

I'm wondering, however, if manufacturers are cutting quality due to the economy or if an effort to make products more eco-friendly has also made them harder to use. I did read recently that they are finding many of the newer eco-friendly products really don't clean as well as the old-fashioned basics. But, I'm not sure that would account for the problems with the store brands I've been buying.

Has anyone had similar experiences?


Sunday, February 08, 2009

For Today...I'm doing the Monday Daybook Entry on Sunday this week.

Outside my window... We've been in the 70's for the past couple of days. It was so delightful to air out my house yesterday. By now, we usually start seeing early flowers and buds on trees, but this has been an unusually cold winter and the bulbs aren't up yet. I can't wait to see how spring unfolds.

I am thinking... that I am a little betwixt and between, staying home today with some back issues. I ached late into the night, but as I'm up now and am icing my back, I'm feeling somewhat better. So, I feel too well to be in bed, but not well enough to be with my church family. Sigh.

From the learning rooms... I'm learning how much poverty of spirit I really have and how continually I need to cast myself upon the Lord's grace.

I am thankful for... Being able to take my father out yesterday for some fun errands; the warmer weather, a loving husband, getting my dining room curtains washed; getting to go out to dinner last night with friends; many, many things.

I am reading... I just finished the Five Senses of Romantic Love. I bought it some time ago and had read parts of it. But, since it's Valentine's month, I thought I'd finish it from front cover to back. It's short and easy reading. I came away with lots of thoughts about ways to give to my dear hubby.

I am hoping... to feel better!

I am creating... I am hoping to create a clean home through spring cleaning.

I am hearing... so many singing birds. I love bird songs. Plus, the songs remind me of this verse, "Those living far away fear your wonders;
where morning dawns and evening fades
you call forth songs of joy."

Psalm 65:8.

I don't know if that's what this verse means, but I like to think that birds are part of the chorus that God calls forth to sing songs of joy. I'd also like to join in -- off key and all!

Around the house... much is staring at me and saying, "Please attend to me." I will have to choose wisely. It doesn't make sense to stay home with a sore back and do things that might make it worse.

One of my favorite things... fresh breeze blowing in through open windows!!

A few plans for the rest of the week...Many things, but here's a little one: I hope the weather will remain so that I can get out and turn some dirt in my little garden.



Friday, February 06, 2009

Did you know?

I was looking for some ideas to help me tweak the way our front yard looks, and I came across this bit of interesting trivia from the University of Missouri extension service:

Foundation plantings started in the Victorian era as a way to hide the high foundations that were prevalent in the time. These foundations were considered to be unattractive. Who knew?


Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Art of Asking Questions:

Since it's the month of Valentine's Day, now is a good time to focus on making life special for our spouses. Children, parents, and dear friends could also use a little tender thoughtfulness to brighten their days.

Asking questions and listening well are two small ways that we can make this month extra special for our loved ones. If we make it a lifetime habit, we will be able to keep the spark of friendship alive in all of our relationships. It will also go a long way toward keeping the glow of romance in our marriages.

In the beginning of any relationship, particularly when we are drawn to that special someone we later marry, we make eager efforts to get to know a person. We ask thoughtful questions, and we listen raptly. Even if the other person has passions in life that we know little about, we want to hear more.

Such attention is endearing and draws two hearts closer together. Don't we all respond to someone who genuinely takes an interest in us? Sometimes, we will think that a person is charming or a fabulous conversationalist, when what they really are is simply someone who knows how to draw us our in conversation and how to listen. This ability is both an art and something that we can master if we put our minds to it.

In the dailiness of life, we sometimes take our parents, our children, and our spouses for granted. We chat about things; we show an interest in some current family event; but, we cease to put our heart into knowing our loved ones on a deeper level. We can become more interested in airing what's on our hearts and minds, rather than tuning in to the other person.

We also make the mistake of thinking that we can coast along on the knowledge we already have of someone. Yet, we are all moving forward in life, and our loved ones are maturing, going through new experiences, and changing. In order to keep that tender bond of the heart current, it's good to ask some insightful questions once in a while.

Now, we don't want to pepper our loved ones with questions so that they feel interrogated. We also need to watch for the right moment to bring up certain topic. Moreover, we need to be prepared to share from our heart, as well, so that the conversation does not become too one-sided.

There are exceptions to every rule, but, generally, women are more relationship oriented than men. Thus, women are often more talented in and more interested in conversation, as well. If an outgoing woman is married to a very quiet or private man, she may become frustrated because he does not talk to her. This may be something that he needs to work on in order to love his wife more fully. Often, however, the woman can draw a quiet man out of his shell with the art of asking and listening.

This is particularly true if the wife generally fills the conversational vacuum by doing all of the talking, herself. Some quiet men really do enjoy it when the wife is bright and chatty, and they love to hear their wives talk. Others, however, feel bowled over in conversation and withdraw even further. If you do talk a lot, you might experiment with sitting quietly by your husband, slowing down your own talk, and waiting patiently for him to express himself -- even if that results in some halting silences.

Whether your husband is quiet or not, here are some interesting questions to ask him. These questions may spur ideas of your own. A nice Valentine's exercise would be to pick one question a week to ask your husband and really listen to him, without rushing in to correct him or to state your opinion. Your goal is not only to help him express himself, but for you to grow in your intimate knowledge of him. You want to see him with fresh eyes. Again, unless your husband is comfortable talking deeply and you are in the habit of doing so, don't bombard him with deep questions. Just make a note to learn something new about him once a week or once a month.

1) What have you been learning about God lately? (From Focus on the Family)
2) How do you see God working in our lives as a couple? What do you see us doing in five years?
3) Is there anything you would like me to pray for you?
4) What was the happiest thing that happened to you today? What was the toughest thing that happened to you today? (This is also a good question to ask your children.)
5) What gives you joy in your life right now? (From the "Love Dare")
6) What is the toughest thing in your life right now? (From the "Love Dare")
7) What are three things you'd like to do before this year passes? (From the "Love Dare")
8) What are some of your favorite memories when you think about the intimate times we've had together? (You might save this one for the bedroom.)
9) What do you love most about God? Why are you following Jesus?
10) What was your childhood picture of God, or did you have one? How has that changed over the years?
11) What do you think about _____ ?(topic of current news or political interest).
12) What do you enjoy most about ______? (job, hobby, or sport.)
13) How is work going? If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be? How is that project that you've been telling me about coming along?
14) If we could take a vacation anywhere in the world -- with money being no object -- where would you like to go?
15) Is there someplace special you'd like to visit sometime in our lifetime? What will it take to get there?

You probably already know your husband's most cherished interests. Some of them may seem boring to you. However, you probably also like to talk about things that seem boring to him. Show an interest in his interests, and he'll likely show an interest in yours. Ask him questions about sports, for example, even if you don't care for watching sports yourself. Even if he doesn't return the favor by asking you about your love of antique lace, you can rejoice that you have been able to make him feel loved and respected by listening to him.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

If you've been reading my blog, you know that I've been looking for an old garden rose to add to my yard this year. I've decided on the one in the photo above. It's a Great Maiden's Blush, and it's an old Alba rose. I'll let y'all know how it does here in my Tennessee yard.

The author of the lovely blog, "very CALM" shared a link with me in the comments section of my earlier post about my search for the perfect rose. The link is a fun site called Love of Roses, and it has a special page about the meanings that have been attached to certain roses. With Valentine's Day coming up, now is a wonderful time to think about roses.

According to the site, my favorite color of rose -- pink -- signifies

  • Elegance, style, and poetic romance.
  • Sweet thoughts and thank yous.
  • joy and grace
Those are lovely things to think about whenever I see pink roses. :)

Re growing roses: My husband heard a new report that reiterates some old information. It seems that for the past couple of centuries, our climate has undergone alternating cycles of warming and cooling that last about thirty years each. We have just finished about a thirty year warming cycle, according to the researchers, and we are headed into a cooling cycle. This is influenced at least in part by currents in the Pacific, which affect the fronts that spread from the northwestern U.S. down to the southeastern U.S. I wonder if that could be true, since we are certainly having an unusually cold winter here in the States. If this is true, I wonder how that might affect garden plants, including roses. Has anyone else heard about this?