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Pause and do a Twirl

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Recently I was doing school lessons with my little niece while visiting with my sister-in-law and the kidlets. Reading lesson was over, and Fairy-godchild lifted up her catechism book onto my lap before flitting from light-switch to lamp to other light-switch, “getting some light in this place!” As she whisked up onto the couch to turn on the final lamp, she semi-reached, then had a split-second of thought before delightedly spinning a twirl with a dainty bounce. She then turned on the lamp, scrambled over to my side on the other couch, and sat down and to have her catechism lesson.

Being her “Fairy god-auntie-mother”, I naturally watch her every move without her being aware, and smiled as I watched her flitting about with a purpose to bring better light to read by. But when she paused mid-action to twirl and smile brilliantly to herself, I was struck by how right she was in pausing amid her necessary task to enjoy a twirl of gaiety before continuing her school work.

It never fails to amaze me how such simple lessons can be taught to us by innocent children. We all need to take a pause during the busy day and do a twirl of our own – stop and watch the sun set, take a deep breath and listen to the morning birds sing (yes, I’ve already heard morning song birds twice in the past week! Early spring? I hope so!), jump over a puddle, sprint down the sidewalk in a race with a friend while you’re out for a walk, or just do a little twirl as you’re cooking in the kitchen. It’s important to stop and remember to enjoy life, instead of being caught up in the hurried bustle of everyday without breaking to appreciate the simple and beautiful things life holds.

 

 

 

 

The art of Housekeeping

“Well now, there is one very excellent, necessary, and womanly accomplishment that no girl should be without, for it is a help to rich and poor, and the comfort of families depends upon it. This fine talent is neglected nowadays, and considered old-fashioned, which is a sad mistake, and one that I don’t mean to make in bringing up my girl. It should be a part of every girl’s education, and I know of a most accomplished lady who will teach you in the best and pleasantest manner.” 

“Oh, what is it?” cried Rose eagerly, charged to be met in this helpful and cordial way. 

“Housekeeping!” answered Dr. Alec. 

“Is that an accomplishment?” asked Rose, while her face fell, for she had indulged in all sorts of vague, delightful dreams. 

“Yes; it is one of the most beautiful as well as useful of all the arts a woman can learn. Not so romantic, perhaps, as singing, painting, writing, or teaching, even; but one that makes many happy and comfortable, and home the sweetest place in the world. Yes, you may open your big eyes; but it is a fact that I had rather see you a good house-keeper than the greatest belle in the city. It need not interfere with any talent you may possess, but it is a necessary part of your training, and I hope that you will set about it at once, now that you are well and strong.

– excerpt from “Eight Cousins”, by Louisa May Alcott

Currently re-reading this novel, Uncle Alec’s house-keeping ideals couldn’t be more true, or better said.

All through the centuries, keeping house was a recognized position. A woman’s worth was not measured by her income, it was measured by her accomplishments and temperament. The upper class had time to spend on finer accomplishments – languages, painting, drawing, needlework, etc. The lower class focused on practical accomplishments – sewing, cooking, house work, etc. One was encouraged to also be an attractive personality, and grow in virtues of charity, patience, understanding, courage, perseverance, etc. But for both upper and lower class, was the art of house-keeping. Whether you were married to the blacksmith, or married to the Squire, you had a job to do in keeping house.

I remember my mom once saying on the phone, when asked her profession, that she was a “domestic engineer”. This answer was readily accepted, no further questions asked. But would the same response have been given if she had answered with “stay-at-home mom” ? Perhaps it’s the connotation that comes with the phrase “stay-at-home”, which I suppose could sound like a leisurely past time you choose instead of going out to an evening party. “Domestic engineer” does sound more like a pointed purposeful position.

Position titles aside, both come with the necessity of keeping-house, which is a far more complex endeavour then given credit for. A home should be the sanctuary of a family, a safe haven, where all the cares and worries of the world are wiped off your feet on the front door matt, and you are free to be loved, encouraged, and cherished openly and without reservation. With this care and attention come daily necessities, such as food, cleanliness, warmth, beauty in things surrounding you, etc. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, comfortable and nice things, may sound rather trite and odious to some, but there is so much more skill needed in doing these things then is realized. If these tasks aren’t done with love and care, they don’t mean half as much. Anyone can prepare food if necessary, particularly when Costco’s frozen food section is filled with such a vast variety. But real cooking takes time, energy, and a certain devotion in learning how to do things. Anyone can pull out a swiffer mop, dust, vacuum and call it clean. But cleanliness isn’t in the larger things, it’s in the details; grout groves, door jams, polished glass – strong arms and determination. Housekeeping – the key ingredient to a home – is so looked down on now, is it any wonder houses are no longer “homes”, homes no longer the centre, families no longer the root of an individual, and the world is so full of people who don’t understand true love.

If proper care and attention went into teaching girls the purpose and beauty of making a home, there would be happier and more fruitful homes and families. Housekeeping isn’t to be scoffed at, or seen as inferior, or for those incapable or undesiring of a “real profession”. On the contrary, it takes a truly conscious effort and willpower, backed by love, to effectually complete the task of housekeeper. And a housekeeper  is rewarded with the best of all – the satisfaction of knowing and seeing you’ve made others happy and content.

 

 

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true that

 

 

 

A Gleeful moment to appreciate online shopping

 

Image result for online shopping meme moment of silence for all the clothes we put in the cart but never bought

 

Image result for online shopping meme      Online shopping is the greatest thing ever. Well maybe not ever, but as technology and I are not quite friends, nor do social media and I have anything in common enough to have even a friendly acquaintance kept up, the extent of my computer usage is kept generally to work, occasional binge-watching, and email correspondence. Except [insert cries of glory here] for online shopping. Not only can it be done in the comfort of my couch and pj’s, or from my desk during the quiet hours at work over the Christmas season, but in the process I avoid the much detested crowds of malls and loathsome big box stores, as well as the disappointment with said loathed big box stores not having what I’m looking for. Almost everything can be found online, and – unless outrageous shipping fees apply – with a click of my little finger it’s brought right to my front door! (Or, if outrageous shipping fees DO apply, I can stop at the store nearest me and pick it up upon arrival!).

      Amazon is wonderful, with books (which are, to be honest, the key focus of most online shopping I do) and so many other items often found for less expensive there then in the store. I know my figure well enough to be 95% successful at online dress/skirt shopping (happily having been given long legs and curves, I occasionally (very occasionally) look with slit eyes upon tiny girls who can pull off any set of trousers they fancy – which is a confession alluding to the fact that I avoid shopping for jeans and other trousers at all possible costs because of the frustration and disappointment at rarely finding some I am completely happy with). The only downside to online dress shopping is that most cute and feminine onliners come from the United States. Not only is the CAD bad right now but on top of the higher rate with exchange, we then have to pay duty to have it come across the border. I once paid the cost of another dress to have something shipped over. (Of course it was worth it because the dresses fit my sisters and I splendidly! Plus we would never have found anything as superbly feminine and classy at any local clothing store, so it’s worth the extra cost every now and then).
      My most recent glee towards online shopping stems from finding and ordering two of Louisa May Alcott’s books, “Eight Cousins” & it’s sequel, “Rose in Bloom”, and one of my personal favourites, “The Scarlett Pimpernel” by Baroness Orczy. Book stores don’t contain them, even the much-acclaimed-and-very-large-place-of-excitement used bookstore downtown (which is always worth the trek to get to!) didn’t have a decent copy of “The Scarlett Pimpernel”. But I believe I found a lovely, if not hardcover, copy of it, for a most astonishingly reasonable price, online!! After several attempts at finding these three novels online for a decent cost, I found them. And ordered them!! Hooray!! I read Alcott’s two as a teen, having laughed and cried I remember them fondly and would like to read them again, giving them their own spot on my bookshelf – and now they shall have just that. And, despite how much I enjoy the 1982 Anthony Andrews & Jane Seymour adaptation of “The Scarlett Pimpernel”, the book is that much better!! And now that, too, shall have a place on my bookshelf. How very exciting.
And there are my few words of praise regarding online shopping.
NB: Despite the enthusiasm of this post, my home is not filled with consumeristic items from obsessive online shopping.

Welcome Spring! Welcome Spiders!

With spring in the air I find myself drawn to the outdoors once again. Winter is so dreary – it gets dark too early, and the most appealing past time is to curl up with a mug of tea and either read a book or re-watch the latest Downton Abbey season. But alas! Spring has made it’s appearance – and rather early this year, too 🙂

With spring comes gardening. As I harvested the first crop of lemon balm this afternoon, I found the full plant was home to so many critters I couldn’t keep track! From black ants, to various sized wood-bugs, to slow snails, to teeny-tiny aphids, to big, juicy, brown camouflaged caterpillars that curled up into a loop as soon as you touch them. But the most intriguing of them all was a green, almost glowing, spider, with two very long front legs, and two thin red stripes down either side of it’s abdomen. Seemingly have come out of no where, he was perched on an old leaf I had just discarded onto my little pile of weeds. He was in no hurry to get anywhere, as spiders always seem to be. After hanging out on the leaf for a while, he casually made his way up the side wood panel of the garden and along the ridge, politely halting while I snapped a few photos along his way, and eventually disappeared into the second lemon balm plant I was not harvesting and uprooting.

God’s creatures never cease to amaze me – whether they are tropical dancing birds in the rainforests of the Amazon, stealthy wild cats in Africa, or little insects in my own back garden.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thanksgiving is a type of prayer not to be overlooked!

Thanksgiving is a good time to reflect on exactly what you’ve been given in life by God. Often times we can become caught up in what we don’t have, in our desires for something not yet come, in how we are going to achieve our long term goals, or even in the small things we should put more into perspective on a daily basis. But to take the time to truly appreciate and be thankful for what we do have, here and now, is an important life ability

And an “ability” it really is. Not everyone has the ability to easily see the view outside their own routine perspective. If this is the case, it is something to be tried at and worked at. God gives us so much, yet there is always something more we want – whether physical or spiritual. It is human nature to look to the future – and indeed it should be, for as Catholics we strive towards the future of heaven. But on top of looking towards the future things we hope God grants us, we also need to see and be thankful for everything we currently have. The only reason we have it is because of God’s goodness to us. We rely solely on Him, our very breath is dependent on His Love for us. And so we should acknowledge and thank Him for everything we have right here and now. The future will bring whatever He wills – but the present is what He wills at this moment, and we must thank Him for it.

The Perks of being Nimble

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Stay nimble, ladies – you never know when it will come in handy. It’s also very good for your health. Go for walks, workout, hike, just on a trampoline, play at the park with your nieces and nephews, go swimming, anything that makes you use those muscles and keep them in tune. Don’t ignore them or forget about them. One day you might need to bolt across the street to save a toddler about to be hit by a car, or carry a solid wood bookshelf since there’s no man to do it for you, or you might need to pull a heavy piece of equipment out of a trapped child’s way, or climb the roof and squeeze through a window to let yourself into your home because you forgot your house key and everyone else is gone and locked up behind them. God gave us our bodies for a reason, and you never know when you may need the reflexes and agility that come with staying in shape. So always be prepared!

Minute Meditations

This is a post to rave about minute meditation books, and insist that everyone have one. Minute meditation books are awesome – filled with short meditations for everyday of the year. I’m not neurotically committed to it, but I like it best for those exhausted nights when the only thing I want to do once I’m ready for bed is to crash and “zzzzzz!!!” On such nights, I find the best form of prayer is a simple prayer I can whole heartedly be absorbed in – even just for a few minutes. The book I have consists of a short bible quote, with some considerations to dwell on for a few minutes. Then there is an invocation typically directed to Our Lord (unless it is a special feast of a great saint, such as Our Lady or St.Joseph).

The other night, this particular minute meditation really jumped out at me as one that every twenty something (or teen) could benefit from. So here it is:

“If we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord. Both in life and in death we are the Lord’s.” – Romans 14:8

Reflection: We belong to the Lord both in life and in death! This gives every human life a particular meaning, a particular goal, and also a special dedication. It casts a comforting and victorious light on every suffering, every sadness. and every trial. 

Prayer: Good Father, let me never forget that I am always completely Yours. 

God Bless!