The Friendship Blog (1)

I have been wanting t write about friendship for a long time. The more I thought about it, I became concerned that I would offend someone who has shown friendship to me, and that is the last thing I want to do. What I do want to do is to clear my head a little, but also, if you need encouragement in this department, I want to encourage you. I know I do. And if I do say something that makes you feel pointed at…..please remember that I have three fingers pointing back at myself. I will do my best to not let myself off the hook, but I can’t guarantee that you won’t find anything prickly in my words. I am also happy to be responded to and challenged in what I say or think. That is part of my reason for writing.

Having made that caveat, I named this the first blog. I don’t like blogs a mile long, and I won’t write them. So this is the first ‘episode’. And I think that I will just make introductory remarks.

When I was young with three small children at home, we moved to a place about an hour from where we had been living. We went from a neighborhood to living in a house on greenhouse property. The house needed help and the greenhouses needed renovating. Needless, to say , my husband was shoulder deep at the greenhouses and loving it. As I watched him from the house, I always saw him moving about amid a huddle of workers. I didn’t have any kind of casual conversation outside of my husband and young children. I remember being in a long checkout line at the grocery store and I made some kind of remark and everyone got this alarmed look on their faces that said, “She talked! I can’t believe she talked!” We were not far from where we had been living, but we didn’t know where anything was. We didn’t know what was a mile in any direction. I went to a Women’s Bible Study and one time the teacher, who was a good teacher, spoke on friendship. At another time in my life, I would have thought it  a great study, but at that time, it stung. I cried all the way home and never went back. I really hadn’t thought of that until I was contemplating writing this blog, but I remember those emotions very keenly.

Zip through thirty years and I have found myself in another patch of comparative isolation, but it has come much more subtly. I had been teaching in a small school that a friend had started. And we had been going to an inner city church that we had played a part in planting. They had been works of delight to us and we felt a rhythm with the people with whom we worked . We shared just about everything. Due to structural changes in both of them that seemed unsustainable to us (my husband and me), we ended our relationships with said organizations… we thought. But it seemed that we ended any kind of friendship at all. I felt caught between my feelings and not really knowing exactly what we were doing. One day I said to Joel, “I just need someone to listen to me and tell me where I am crazy or not!” It soon came, dear friends showed up and told me I wasn’t crazy. That was a great encouragement to us, but it didn’t bring us into a community.

Some months later, my husband developed a herniated disc in his back. In this pain, it was all he could do to get to work and back. We didn’t make any evening engagements of any kind. Sometimes he couldn’t make it to church, but lots of times he would stand in the back for a while. Pain is isolating. Probably pain of any kind is isolating and maybe once in a while we need this reminding. But coming on the back of recent experiences, it was a lonely time. We were going to a church where we didn’t know anyone. The pastor had visited us with a listening ear. But I would think about stuff like. “What if I died? Would anyone I know notice? Would strangers bury me? Who would take care of Joel?”  Remember, I still live in the same area I have lived for practically 30 years. It might be absurd to have such thoughts, but that is the level of isolation I was feeling. I was beginning to think a lot about friendship and why I am in circles where it is tied to what I do and if I’m not doing it, why people in those circles don’t seem to have time for me.

Meanwhile, other things were going on. A few years ago, three houses on our short block went up for sale. It’s a small enough space that one nasty neighbor can make life difficult for everyone else on the block and here we were, faced with three changes. Well, as one neighbor puts it, we won the neighborhood lottery! In this time, we have had potlucks and game nights. They stacked our wood when Joel couldn’t. We have supported the local politician and the new mothers among us.

Well, this is about as long as I dare make a blog, so you will have to wait for Episode 2 . There is a lot more to be said.

Over and out.

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So what happens if everything becomes unplugged?

Do you ever think about this? I do! I had a grandmother who lived without indoor plumbing and electricity. I have always been thankful for that. When I was young, it was like fancy camping out, which we left after a few days, and now that I am old, I know how it’s done. I know how to brush my teeth without a sink. I know the glow of lamplight in the evening hours, the smell of coffee and woodstove in the morning.

But…. we are ever so much more dependent today than in my childhood. How would you make coffee in the morming? How would you keep your food from spoiling? I read recently that people used to keep milk from spoiling by putting a silver coin in it. Who can find a silver coin??

What actually made me think of writing this post was someone saying that penmanship is a moot point. It seems so, but I don’t  agree. There is more to it than legibility, although legibility is a worthy point, especially if things are unplugged.

I wonder how much my life would change if I had just lamps, fans, stove and refrigerator. Oh yes , and the water heater, can’t forget that.Oh, you might as well plug in the coffee maker if you have all that.. and the toaster.. and the mixer. Is the internet on? I think I’ll post this blog…. and go for a walk and listen to the birds

☺.

February Friday

I know I am in a writing mood when I think of a title before I think of anything to say!! By this point in February, I am counting the days till March. We have had mild temperatures this week and I have let the fire die out. This morning I just wanted to sit by the fire. Maybe that is what makes me in the mood to write. Sometimes it just makes me sleepy!

Blogs are great place for recording productivity, but I haven’t been productive!! So here goes a record for my boring life. In January we went to the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show. I went several years ago and was just amazed! Every manner of things having to do with the industry are represented. It’s way bigger now than then. It was at the convention center in downtown Baltimore. One can find Joel and his relatives at 4 different booths, unless they sent someone else to represent their business.

A

fter that we went on the Whole 30 diet.The No’s are simple if you remember the Yes’s. The Yes’s are all you can eat of meat, fruit and vegetables. We both lost a little weight. I felt my blood sugar balance in a way that it hasn’t in years. I can get hungry without feeling shaky, and I can get hungry a few times without eating. After a couple weeks I felt tired all the time from being hungry, so I started drinking a little milk and then I went back to eating my own granola for breakfast because I needed to have some energy. It taught us to watch the sugar and bread more closely than we do. Joel went a whole month without any kind of alcohol, and he felt pretty good! We learned spaghetti can be made with squash And taste pretty good, even without cheese! Mostly I modified my own recipes. We used squash for pasta and cauliflower for rice. We went through 15 lbs of potatoes and 10 lbs of carrots! We went through a couple heads of broccoli and cauliflower every week. We might garden a little differently this summer…

During the winter when I don’t have a job, it’s kind of a lonely time for me. I don’t have a car every day, either. I do have good neighbors, though. I’ve been trying to have a regular time to have ‘tea’ one afternoon a week. My neighbor who comes regularly is my coffee buddy. I don’t have many friends who drink coffee in the afternoon. My mom had a book called ‘The Coffee Train.’ It was a story about a Scandinavian community where the the train came through and whistled at 4:00 every afternoon and everyone knew it was coffee time! One time we were traveling on the Turnpike and there was a liquid truck that said COFFEE on the back. I took a picture so I know I wasn’t imagining things, but can it be? A truck loaded with coffee, like milk??

Well, this is enough prattling for a winter morning. It has gotten my brains going so I can think. It’s either that or listening to beautiful music.🎹

Keeping Christmas Our Way

That’s actually a title of a chapter from GSPorter’s book ‘Laddie’.  But this morning I was chatting with a friend whose children are also grown about how different Christmas is now. If we go into it with the same expectations, there will be disappointment. So, how do we adjust? The fact is , we don’t need to do so much and we can’t, so what will feel like Christmas that we can actually do? I flagged several songs in my Oxford Christmas book of carols that I have never learned or I never learned well and they’re a little complicated so it gives me something to practice. Yesterday when daughter and son-in-law and family were here, I pulled one out that I knew but could not play or sing. My 11 year old granddaughter jumped up and said, “oh we are learning that one” and sang it…..in Spanish! (Riu, riu chiu)😄 We also agreed to address a couple Christmas cards every evening after supper, after eating at the table (which we don’t always do) and do yoga! You can tell which ideas were whose but we’re both pretty agreeable with each other! There is also the regular Advent reading, Grand children’s programs and a couple annual parties. I got rid of a lot of Christmas ornaments I didn’t want a long time ago so I use dried flowers or whatever else I can Preserve and paper ornaments I make , plus a few keepsakes to decorate my tree. Then there is the outside decorating…….getting right on it! 

Sounds like Christmas keeping to me!

My favorite holiday….

Is Thanksging. And here’s why.

In the late 90’s, after a cross-country move, we found a school/home at Dayspring Christian Academy. We saw that the children could grow up as part of a school family and they would be loved, as well as taught. After a couple years, I joined the going-to-school ranks, filling in a need for a Latin teacher. There are two things that come out loud and clear at DCA. There is a lot of talk about self-government, and Thanksgiving. I found the self-government helpful as well as challenging, and useful in family life. It is key to the Thanksgiving story. At first Thanksgiving was celebrated by an all morning event, which the teachers were instrumental initiating the re- enacting and the mothers co-operated in providing a whopping turkey dinner. The kids had to re-enact as well, and after doing it year after year, they were ……let’s say, getting bored with it. Then there was the staff meeting our headmaster asked us if we wanted to do a living museum and the students could volunteer. This was totally embraced. Sewing machines came out, prop painting was undertaken, how to store the props was planned and scripts were written. Several stations were planned, starting with an intro and we first meet the ‘Pilgrims’ at Scrooby Manor, William Bradford’s home. This was ‘my’  station. Memorizing, rehearsals, setting up our stations. It was delightful work. It Was work. And camaraderie. Then the evening would come and we would repeat our scene over and over for about 3 hours straight. I think we did two evenings. By the next day, we were on Thanksgiving break  and, if we were done with our grades, we were free. For a week. It wasn’t like Christmas where you have to be mindful of gifts and decorations and concerts/recitals and visits. It was free. It was the end of the first trimester, the culmination of that early push into a new school year. It was a sweet week. There was time for music and dinner with family and friends and to enjoy each other’s good company. 

I still feel that time, maybe not for a whole week, but this slow down, the gardens done, the fire is lit, time for company sort of sense. I miss those kids who have grown up and have children of their own.

Last week I saw on FB that they were doing it and I thought, ” I never saw the whole thing!” So I signed my man and me up when we went! I saw at least a few former students acting in adult roles. I hope their Thanksgivings are refreshing and sweet.It was so good to see familiar faces and to see good work continue.

Many thanks to those who said the same things over and over again for 3 hours.

Manufacture- Made by Hand 

I have this idea that one of our social ills is that we value what is made by Hand so little. When you can run to the store and pick it off the shelf Or go shopping before you get out of bed  (that’s me!!!), it is easy to miss the work that made it possible. I also say this as I download a Latin dictionary app.I couldn’t get over all the choices!

But in my regular private life I try to make it myself, sew it myself, or salvage it myself. If I have to dispose of it, I try to find the best way of doing it. I keep watch on the trash can and what goes into it.It’s easier to recycle a battered, yellowed book than a VHS tape. You can obsess over stuff like this!

Mainly my efforts have been in the clothes and food department. Since school ended in the spring and I’m not working, I try to invest my time wisely. I made a lot of summer clothes and now I’m into winter ones. I make my bread and my yogurt. Yogurt is a new thing for me, but it’s not that different than making bread, where you have to be a little temperature sensitive and then all goes well. I picked up a quart at the store one day and it was $5.! I thought I could improve on that. I get my milk from a farm, but raw milk is not a necessity for making yogurt, although it is pretty good! It takes about 15 minutes, but I can watch it while I do other things in the kitchen. I incubate it in soup thermoses that I got for school last year. I make my cereal, too. I have been making granola probably for as long as I have been married. I have a recipe someone gave me while we were on our honeymoon. But I don’t grow the oatmeal or anything else I put in it, so even at this stage of DIY, someone else is preparing something for me, and I am grateful for that. Someone else milks the cow for my yogurt, too, and I’m glad I don’t have to do that! But I do have know who it is, and I know where the cows feed!

I’m thinking about this because I just bought my dh some jeans. I paid $20./pr. They were exactly what he wanted right down to the size of the little pocket in the big pocket. It crosses my mind what it would take to make them, even with skipping the parts of growing the cotton, spinning the thread and weaving the fabric. And they wouldn’t be so sturdy as they are with all that triple top-stitching. But it’s probably pretty automated. I can’t imagine spending my day sewing  the same seams day after day and then I get another pile to do the next day. And here the musing gets complicated. I don’t think the ‘way it is’ is okay, and I try to look out for what I can do better. I’m not sure that going back to the ‘way it was’ is better. To put it simply.

Is this the most boring blog ever? Oh well, I’ll be back with something more interesting later, now that my writing juices seem to be waking up after a long spell!

Backyard Beauty again

Some days I wish I had a big backyard. Today I’m weeding and Mowing and raking and it’s not one of those days! But that’s not the only reason. One of the other reasons is I find a lot of beauty out there while I’m working! I see the Bumblebees overcrowding the yellow zinnias. I see the Black Swallowtail flitting over the carrots. I see the nasturtium intertwined on a Oakleaf hydrangea seedling, and the curve of the stem of The Perennial begonia. I see the plants that we have put there begin to breathe when the debris from the storm is removed or the vines that grow faster than we could imagine have been pulled away and found Treasures of heirloom tomatoes still ripening under the vines. Is that enough for one morning? It’s getting hot out there.