Monday, July 31, 2006
Not much going on in my life right now, so thought I would paint the kitchen.....o.k., so there is a lot going on right now in my life, such as 26 days and counting till the wedding.
I took off my oh so chic clothes and opted for the one and only tee shirt I own beside my Hummer/Bummer tee shirt from Whole Foods. Put on these outrageously huge paint splattered, modern art on the seat, Capri's. I forgot to comb my hair as inspiration hit late last night and I woke up running. The kitchen was part of my past, that Amish look and I needed to move on. Now we are going to have a French Country White look with perfect art work on the walls, (yet to be found) or perhaps I will paint a mural, one never knows what can happen in any given 24 hours around here.
Somewhere in between painting, and pulling off shelves that once held gallon jars of flour, sugar, oats and that sort of thing, I made a pretty tasty lunch of meat loaf, steamed new red potatoes served with fresh from the garden tomatoes.
Around 3 pm it seemed I was loosing steam so a huge glass of iced coffee flavored with Starbucks Gingerbread syrup, hit the spot and the caffeine gave me a second wind. No stopping me now.
Life is so exciting, so full of opportunity. Tomorrow, a new looking kitchen to have breakfast in. That is fun.
The once wooden wall over the stove that holds all my cast iron cookware will now be white and in time have gleaming copper pots hanging on it.
No way would I share a picture of me in my painting clothes, with hair that is a fright, so here is my paint brush and paint can. Imagine the rest : )
When Blogger likes me better, I will add the photo that was intended to go with this. I gave up after 6 attempts at uploading it !
For some time now, perhaps a couple years, I have been watching people. Listening to their life stories, and hearing the same theme deep within each line.
Some people want to take for the hills, and homestead. Changing life completely. Getting " Off Grid" and seeking their peace and happiness that way. Other folks, eat too much, trying to numb the things they are feeling, mostly loneliness, even with people all around them. Others shop till they drop and end up with credit card debt so beyond what they can pay off, they are visiting the Doctor for depression in no time. Fights over money the biggest reason for divorce in the country.
Some or many have jobs that stink. There is little of no loyalty on either end. Bosses on ego trips. Maybe they are out of control in their personal lives so they become office Control Freaks, trying to control everyone around them, without compassion, patience, fairness or any hint of ethics. We work for things, SUV's that guzzle gas, big homes that suck money from people and although big and spacious, you have no time or money left to have people over to see what you work for. Closets full of stuff you have no idea why you bought and garages packed with no room for the car. Just all this stuff.
Many children seem totally self centered, and they have no idea how to play or amuse themselves. Super Nanny needed in more homes than not. Hard to give proper discipline to your children when you can't discipline yourself.
Rooms full of gadgets that we hope will keep them happy, but I suspect they are just like the rest of us, lonely and would rather have real people in their lives other than on line friends, game boys, x box and the like.
Its a tough world out there and what we really should be seeking is real, face to face in person friendships and family connections.
Friendships and family unity takes time and commitment. And we are on some sort of conveyer belt of rushing and acquiring that doesn't allow us to get off and work towards the things that will really meet our needs.
I have lots of computer friends but there is something strange and uncommitted about that sort of friendship. Your email taken wrong, some simple misunderstanding, no facial expressions to show it was what it really was and voila, you are gone, sent to deletia, taken out of the address book, put on a blocked list and that's that. Simple, no work, can't be bothered etc.
In my mothers day, she had family all around her. I grew up with cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents etc all in walking distance. If my mother was busy, I had Gram or a cousin or someone handy to chat with. My mother had real friends, not computer buddies. She could do her house work in the morning, look around and say, "wonder if Mary would like to come for coffee? " call her up and in no time Mary or whoever she called would be at the door. They could see each other, see expressions on each others face and talk about serious things or crafts or just life. Life was like that. Simple in that way. Once a month the ladies met for Craft night and had fun sharing ideas and recipes, they bowled on Tuesday mornings, they had woman's missionary meetings at church one evening a month. They dressed up, no jeans and tees for them. Social needs were met. No one had storage buildings full of stuff or ate more than what they needed to. Women might be plumpish, but I didn't know obese ladies then. Possessions didn't take center stage, relationships did.
Men don't seem to have the same needs as women do. We are a social lot. We invent cyber groups, looking for social connections, only they are not quite meeting all our needs. And we can delete them with a click of a key. Not so easy with face to face friends and we have our cyber friends on our terms on our time. We don't learn to give and take with the same level of patience. So few people have family all around now. Big holiday get togethers, picnics, and the like. Our children don't know many second cousins I fear. Family is scattered. So here were are in a progressive world, with instant everything, including friends, but we are missing something. We are not sitting around the grind stone grinding wheat together. Talking, being women. We are chasing after pipe dreams, hollow things that leave us empty. We don't even recognize what we want. So we fill up on what's at hand, food and shopping. A quick fix that doesn't last.
I really believe things like the Red Hat Society have popped up and become so popular because of our need for friendships that are real and not just cyber.
I am personally making a commitment to create a circle of friends that are the kind of women who want this very same thing. The kind that will bring casseroles to one another in times of need. Women who can just pop over for coffee or tea. Women that want to have a sense of community.
I miss that about the Mennonite life, but that is changing for them too. They are getting more money and money can separate you from need and need is what people help us with and fill a need within us. You think when you have money, you can do so many things by yourself, be independent. You can but that's not all its cracked up to be.
Friendship takes time and energy. It takes putting up with stuff from time to time. We are not perfect.
Homesteading and getting off grid might put us in touch with seeing where are needs really are, but it won't fill the needs within us unless we reach out.
The high executive life might give us things and give us a sense of worth, but we retire and then what is left, memories and the fact that no time was there for making life long friends that are close to us, in our homes for coffee with no fan fare. Just "grinding wheat" together.
Voids can be filled. It just takes some time to figure out what the container is in need of.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
If I could encourage anyone in one thing, it would be to seek to know your roots. Know the people you came from.
I am fortunate regarding my family history as it has been so well documented through the years. Its wonderful to have all this information to pass on to the next generation. My family seems to be good at record keeping and sharing amongst ourselves pictures, stories and history.
Ask questions, be brave and call relatives to ask them things. Search the internet. In this busy world where we become more scattered daily, its good to be connected to family. If your family is less than, shall we say easy to work with. Start from your generation and build a legacy for your descendants to be proud of.
Family history is important to me. I feel a sense of belonging to a valuable legacy by knowing who did what in my family. Its not the grandeur that they lived in that is important to me, it certainly is fun to see but its what they did for society and how they handled themselves in life that matters. The Legacy.
I have shared with you the legacy of my Great great grandmother, Francis "Fannie" Heckbert and shared her obituary with you. Now a bit about one of her sons. Edwin Ernest Heckbert. He was a Harvard law school graduate. Having a practice in Portland Maine until the fatal accident of his 12 year old son. Daniel had been carried on the shoulders of a servant and accidentally dropped. They reserved a train car and took him to Boston to the hospital there but he died. After this, Edwin and his wife Georgiana moved to Portland Oregon. She became a rather well known artist in the Pacific Northwest. They had another child who just recently passed away at the age of 91.
As I was reading her obituary today, I thought about her life, her contribution to society and how it keeps on going, generation after generation. Maybe it struck me about the importance of how we raise our children and what example we set, as it doesn't stop with us, or our children. It carries on to generation to generation. For me, my great great grandparents example still a vital part in how I live my own life now.
My own grandparents so influenced by their parents and their lives influence on me and even on my children and yet to another generation as it comes along.
Here is a picture of Edwin Heckbert as a young man, and pictures of his home in Portland Maine, scans from a book so a bit fuzzy, but still you can see the wonderful Victorian influence on how it was decorated. The house burned to the ground in the late 1970's.
Looking to the past, gives us a glimpse of who we are today.
Edwin Ernest Heckbert born 1870
His home on Danforth St Portland Maine
The reception hall of the house
The drawing room
Saturday, July 29, 2006
What a delightful bridal shower ! About 20 ladies attended. No big modern production, just an intimate gathering of friends to celebrate the upcoming wedding. Melanie received beautiful gifts, all chosen with good taste. Melanie was given more than one HELLO KITTY gift, which really put a smile on her face.
Wonderful carrot cake with a pumpkin mousse filling was served with coffee and cold drinks.
The hostesses were gracious and welcoming to everyone. Casimir's family are as charming and warm as he is. Melanie is blessed to have such nice future in laws. Casi's sisters, aunts and mother are wonderful people. .
As always I came away feeling like I talked too much or tried to "entertain the troops" more than needed. How I wish it was my nature to be demure and quiet !
Life is a learning experience and hopefully by the time I am 60 I will learn to be that mysterious quiet woman in the corner : )
I was quite pleased with the results, if I should say so myself !
Off to have a little something to eat, perhaps just a small dish of yogurt with some berries. Planning to have a bit of cake and some tid bits at the shower so am planning accordingly.
Today I want to take a little gift to my two friends that are hosting Melanie's bridal shower.
My home made soap seems to be my gift of choice for them as they both love it.
I have been making soap for about 15 years. Its rewarding to make something you use everyday and that other people enjoy. For several years I made soap to sell and at the same time I taught so many ladies how to make it, that they all began selling it too. Their need for pocket money greater than mine. For me, soap making is just a hobby. I was happy for them to take up the mantle of soap making. I just have a handfull of customers now, they are the ones who say they cannot live without it. Sweet, kind ladies they all are.
I took out my boxes of soap and picked up a few pieces and smelled each one separately. Amber Rose dark in color from the amber, a romantic scented soap. There is the old standby of Goat Milk soap with oatmeal and aloe. Good for your skin, practical soap.
But my all time favorite is a olive oil soap scented with anise. It scents the house for weeks when first made. It always reminds me of the Italian cookies I make. My sister and best friend were visiting last November and we made a huge batch of this soap together. They wanted to learn how soap was made. If you go to the archives for November 26 , you can see pictures of how my soap is made.
Today, a bar of each will be wrapped and taken along for each of my dear friends.
A little thank-you for being good friends !
Friday, July 28, 2006
We eat too much in this country. Our servings way too big. Smaller portions served on small plates is one way to help.
I love the line in the movie French Kiss, where Kate is talking about Juliette and how she (Juliette) cuts her meat into such tiny little bites and eats so little.
A lesson to be sure, as Juliette has a gorgeous shape.
Tonight's menu, cucumber sliced, rice with fire roasted red and yellow peppers, onions, garlic and a sprinkling of shredded carrots added in the final moments of steaming the rice. I do wish I had added something with a bit more color to the plate. But I made do with what I had on hand.
Mahi Mahi with a bit of olive oil, tarragon and basil.
Blueberries with a bit of whipped cream for dessert, accompanied with some fine champagne.
With all the wedding plans, I was thinking about the weddings in my family through the generations.
I eloped so there are two slides of our wedding. Not one print. I had the flu so bad the day before our wedding, my photos are less than glamorous.
But still, we should have one made into a print for history sake.
My great grandparents, William Seward Neil and Alberta Jane Hines were married as the century turned and although their wedding photo shows the damage of the years, it is still a treasure. But how serious they looked on their special day !
Emery's grandparents, Loren Franklin Lockwood and Anna Levina Haun were married on the 30th of June 1912, he was 21 and she was 25.
My grandparents (maternal) eloped so no photos exist from their wedding. My grandmother was 17 and my grandfather 18.
My mother and father, married in 1942. He was in the Marines at the time and looked quite dashing in his uniform. They were married in my grandparents home. I can't find the picture of them together but did find one of them as they headed off on their honeymoon.
Next is Melissa and James, married now for a year and a half. Each picture we have of them, they are smiling, not like the pictures of old.
I love family history and the pictures that tell the story.
By winter, our family will have Melanie and Casimir's picture to add to the family book as well as Steven and Pricilla's picture.
Life is pretty relaxed when you can watch the wax drip on the candle !
Breakfast took 20 minutes today. Exactly. I had the timer set as I was dying my hair. Dye the hair, eat and then wash that gray away. Oh yes, a full head of gray hair is my dream, but all gray hair and not just this skunk stripe in front.
My sister Sandy has the most beautiful steel gray hair, and I envy her so much. I seem to be graying at about the same rate she did, so am hopeful that in a few years I will have hair like hers. But in the mean time, the stripe had to go. Natural dye, not to worry. Vanity, oh yes ! Admittedly.
The other kitty is Ling Ling. Melanie named the kitties can you tel ? We are keeping two kittens since our beloved Brennon died, leaving a bit of a hole in all our hearts. So we have 4 cats once again. Mr. Fergus MacSnow is so out numbered. 20 chickens, 4 cats, and just the one soccer playing, barking farm dog.
Morning time is always special to me. Its a time of discovery. Birds and little creatures busy with the new day, often ones not seen in the afternoon or evening.
The day, new and unfolding with all the joys to be had. In a new day there are so many chances to improve our thought patterns, to be kinder, gentler and more wise. Each new day we have opportunity to grow past the things that don't serve us well. To put aside jealously, envy, and wishes to "get even" or make a point that isn't really necessary. Things that can be on a grand scale or just with our loved ones in our home, that no one else ever sees. Including righteous indignation that is for our purpose alone, but with a title that eases our conscience. Wars are raged over such thoughts. Sleepless nights for others who hold on to that type of thinking. Peace is so much better.
We can grab hold of each new day with enthusiasm, no matter how difficult our situation and seek out the beauty around us. We often make the choice to see good or bad within moments of waking. Being conscious of the choice makes the difference so many times. On my walk, eyes wide open, looking for lessons in nature to help me grow into a better person, is often profound, life changing.
I am not rushed. I can be deliberate in which path to take or let the whole journey of the day unfold, unplanned, random, full of chance. Either way, I learn.
Roses wet with dew. Yes, I did stop to smell the roses . A new bird for me, a Yellow Crowned Night Heron. I watched him and he watched me. Patience on my part, uncertainty on his part.
Watching people rush to and fro in their cars. Rushed looking, stressed looking, talking on cell phones, eating food on the run. I felt a bit like Grasshopper in the old TV show Kung Fu. Observing and wondering if these rushed people will ever stop to feel deeply what is around them. Can they hear their own heartbeats beat slowly and calmly in their chests ? Will they ever see a yellow crowned night heron ? Do they even know they would want to see one ?
A new day. Unfolding, telling, sharing truths. Teaching me to live better.
Roses, planted to give joy
The Yellow Crowned Night Heron...10 pictures taken, one of him in flight, it is my favorite. Cropped and enlarged so you can see him better. Wish I had a camera with a telephoto lens (sigh)
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Since dumping most of my clothes in the last couple weeks, I have had such good reason to visit Goodwill. I need some new clothes. Our local store is great, they have fantastic stuff come in a couple times a week.
Today I found this darling little silver tussie-mussie for 50 cents complete with flowers and bow, and these brand new baby bibs for 59 cents each. Yes, I am anxious for grand-babies !
I found a myself a chic royal blue silk jacket and a Jones New York gray cotton knit shell, still with tags on. They were both under $4 each. Both are hanging on the line, otherwise I would share pictures of them.
You just can't beat the prices and there is some sort of excitement that comes with finding a great bargain.
They have frequent shopper cards there, after ten $10 purchases you get $10 off your next purchase. Those purchases are so sweet.
Here's to bargain shopping and the joy of other folks cast offs !
Less than a mile separates these two buildings and yes, one is rather grand and one rather humble by comparison, but still you can learn from the obvious. One is cared for and one is neglected.
The little building would be quite nice had it not be left to ruin. Its humble stature has little to do with its condition. It would be a nice building had the trim been kept up and the building painted. It would be a quaint shop with freshly washed windows, perhaps some shutters of a contrasting color. Trim, neatly painted and perhaps a new roof. Had those things been maintained through the years the work would never have gotten so out of hand. Keeping things in order makes light work. The weeds and grass over grown, making the place look forlorn. The broken windows remind one of a haunted scary sort of place.
Now the big building is well maintained. Manicured grounds, gleaming windows, and no object left to wrack and ruin.
If given the choice I would much rather spend a day in the well maintained building and not due to its size or level of fanciness. Its just nicer looking, more approachable.
To the point now.... people like buildings need to be maintained. Health wise first off, and then beauty wise. We may not all be some glamorous creature, cut from a fashion magazine, but we can maintain ourselves daily. Not letting things get so far gone that its a total make-over every time we get asked to go someplace nice. Keeping you hair styled, your clothes pressed and clean. Maybe a bit of fashion. You can be MODEST with style ! Dump the dumpy clothes. Nice fabric, good colors that sort of thing. No potato sacks. Why not look our best all the time ? I am not one to go spend tons of money on clothes and certainly not on make-up. But it has occurred to me lately, after this major transition of mine, that I like looking my best. I feel better inside and out and to be honest, others receive me better when I am looking cared for instead of neglected. Goodwill has provided me with some amazing outfits for so little. And I can sew a nice skirt and jacket for about the same as a couple of calico jumpers and one looks good and one looks dowdy.
I treat people who are all put together with more interest. I care about the beggar on the street just as much mind you, but that is a care of mankind sort of thing, not a "why don't you join us for dinner" sort of interest. We have all seen the studies, pretty people get more attention. Male peacocks certainly interest us more than the drab pea hen. A pretty house more attention than a shack. Certainly a brand new car gets more attention than my old Taurus wagon. Positive attention that is : )
My husband looks good all the time. His hair combed, his dress impeccable. Today he has on this wonderful dark green silk Oleg Cassini shirt on, ($2 Goodwill, tags still on it) black trousers and I have to tell you, he looks good. I like that, him looking good. I would be a liar if I said I didn't. I love him when he is mucking out the barns but you know he is more appealing when he isn't.
Same would go for me to him. He loves me, adores me but I think he enjoys it when I am spruced up, like when we dated so long ago. I would try on three outfits at least when getting ready to go out with him. I wanted to look my best. So, why not be the same now ? I love him more so why not care more about the way I look ?
You can of course carry this all too far and become so self absorbed that you want to carry a mirror with you all the time, perhaps even sleep with one.
I trust you know by now, I am talking balance in life.
Simple beauty is a work in progress, starts on the inside and is polished on the outside. If you are ugly hearted, all the care in the world of the appearance isn't going to matter when all is said and done in your life, so take special care of who you are and what you are too. A legacy of style is probably not enough, but one of a good heart and style, now that is a combination to be remembered for many generations.
This week on a list I belong to, the conversation was about "getting the man out of your closet". Simply, getting rid of the clothes that you own that a man could and would wear.
It is about being feminine, being chic, being modest, whichever phrase you choose and for whatever reason you choose, women just look better in clothes that are feminine.
So having this light bulb moment of "getting the man out of my closet", I went through my dresser and found lots of tee shirts, actually purchased in the men's department. I liked the men's simply because they are longer in length and covered more of me.
With this new approach of, " if a man will wear it then dump it" I started watching what the ladies are wearing in my area. It appears that 80% or so wear loose fitting tee shirts, polo shirts, and pants that are jeans, khakis and sweat type pants. Shoes were just about the same, sneakers and flip flops, some hiking boots too. And honestly, men's tee's with long skirts are well, still like having the man in your closet.
There was one young woman that stood out of the crowd of shoppers and she was so chic, cute, feminine, whichever term you choose.
Capri's, a cute little top, and sandals with a small heel.
Its really something to think about, this "man in your closet thing".
There is something good about looking good. Changes how you feel about yourself and how others see you.
Renewed concepts for me after years of cape dresses and head coverings.
So the the "man clothes" are gone. Replaced by more chic and feminine items. Some days I really long for the "lazy" clothes but its like any old habit, you can get past it.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
It's common knowledge, the more you walk, the more you can walk.
Nothing deterred me from walking today,
not even approaching rain clouds. The air heavy as if the clouds and the dew laden land met, filling the air with moisture that hung like a damp rag around my neck.
I dressed kinda cute for my walk. Combed my hair all nice and put on some make-up. Twenty steps from the house, my hair was frizzled with the humidity and my make-up seemed to be sliding off my face, it wasn't thankfully, but it felt that way.
It was early yet, so the sidewalk my own. Flowers blooming here and there. Some lawns green from tender care and watering, others parched with deep cracks in the soil. Like so many things in life, it depends on the amount of care given as to how it looks.The University, deserted. Not yet time for the influx of fall students and not many summer students around it appears.
As is my custom, I head right for the library. They have stairs. No need to buy a stair master, when there are lovely stairs not more than a mile away. 50 stairs to be exact. At the top, huge windows with a view of our small town. Reward enough for the exercise. They know me at the library by sight and have grown accustomed to my brief visit with them.
I suspect they see me as eccentric, but at 51, soon to be 52, that is far from important to me. Writing 52 seems odd, as though I have to make sure I am 51 first. Next month, on the same day as Napoleon was born, I will have to start writing 52 for my age. Funny, I feel 28, really, seriously I do.
As I walked today I wondered how you know when to head home since I never got tired. I walked at a good clip too but never felt the need to rush. I could have walked forever. Part of me wanted to just keep going and going to see if I would get tired ever.
Further and further I ventured. To the pond to see the ducks, past the post office and the few tiny stores we have. All over the campus and further. When walking, my mind feels free to think deeply about life, about changes, about the things that stay constant and about my personal goals.
No cell phone, walk man or disc man for me on a walk . This is my alone time. Thinking time. After a while, having no idea of the time, I turn a corner and head home. Refreshed, relaxed and feeling so profoundly healthy.
I am "living spherically and in many directions" and loving it.
A shaddy walkway
The library stairs
They have opted to frame #6 after turning it into a sepia photo, framing it, hanging it in their living room and jokingly have plans on telling their children and grand-children, " this is the day before our wedding, when we met for the first time and the dowry was discussed".
Such fun to be 23 !
Thanks to all for your input. You made this great fun.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Beautiful morning, with not a care in the world. I head out to the back of our land, where quiet reigns. Basket in hand, hat on my head and camera in tow.
I set the table with my Michael Miller fabric, springtime in Paris. Its just a yard I bought, not finished, never seem to be able to decide what to do with it. It works perfect for a table cloth this morning and I wonder if that is going to be its fate.
Blueberries and croissant. Iced water. My most pressing thoughts are, do I eat one berry at a time or two at a time. With one, they last so deliciously long, but if one is sour, it is not mixed with a sweet one in the mouth. A gamble to eat one alone, but I choose to be risky. I peel the croissant in layers, one at a time, bit by bit. I am alone and can make up my own table manners if I feel like it. Each buttery layer, a magnificent treat. It takes me ever so long to eat it this way. Birds singing all around me. Some creature stirs the undergrowth at the edge of the woods, catching my attention for a moment in time. Over head, blue sky, fluffy white clouds and a formation of egrets fly over. I feel spoiled. If I want, I could spend my entire morning just watching the grass grow.
Sipping the iced water reminds me that it is not hot this morning, but balmy. Lifting my glass I see the world in pink, a rose colored glass, shaping the view in kaleidoscope patterns. In childlike fashion, I start looking at everything around me through the glass. The leaves of the tree, the grass, my hat, my own foot. I totally loose track of time and purpose.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Its a soft peach color with silver bead work and embroidery. She has on peach beaded khussa's (shoes) to match which can't be seen in the picture.
Her shower will be this Saturday at 2, hosted by dear friends of mine. It will be a delightful day I am sure.
For Melissa's bridal shower, we had a formal tea and what fun we had at that. I wish she was not so far away.