Starting again

Yet again, I am starting. Starting to write after a long time of not writing. It is strange to pick yourself up again and begin on something you really wanted, this time, to manage. Returning to it somehow seems to mean to me that I didn’t manage. But that is also okay. “Managing” to do something, perfectly, uninterruptedly, without pause is probably not in the cards for me – whether the task at hand be doing the dishes every night, or speaking kindly and without complaining, or drawing every day. But to stop returning to these things “because I will mess up yet again” is the real defeat. Inconstant, halting attempts net more in the end than perfect plans — a fact that I have a truly incredibly hard time convincing myself of. Well, maybe this time, I’ll manage.

Laundry Detergent

Laundry detergent. I’m making this kind with borax, washing soda, and Fels-Naptha. I like the way it cleans, and the way it makes gallons upon gallons of detergent. And the way Fels-Naptha smells. I sat on the couch, grating up the bar of soap. You

Mmmm, pretty

should try this recipe someday, if only for the fun of grating the soap. It has such a soft, waxy texture, and makes the most perfect curls. Don’t grate your fingers if possible, though I haven’t managed to figure out how to avoid it. Cooking the soaps together fills the house with clean smells and looks very much like a witch’s cauldron, especially when they come to a boil. I also realized about half-way into dissolving the soap that I don’t have a 5 gallon bucket. So I measured cups of water into a trash can, which, it turns out, holds 5 gallons! So now, laundry soap making not only makes cheap detergent, it gives my trash can a much needed cleaning. I promise, I cleaned the thing out before actually putting the detergent in…

The Right Way

I’ve been reading. Reading a lot of blogs about marriage and family life, homemaking and child-having. And having a lot of opinions about them, largely because said blogs are highly opinionated about how one ought to go about the aforementioned things. Which leads me to ponder – which things are worth believing “my way is THE way” about? Perhaps some are, and it is a kindness and an act of grace to point them out to others. But I think it might be worth my own while at least to accept that some ways of living, while they aren’t right for me, might be right for others.  I realize that this sounds extremely relativistic, but honestly, does there have to be one correct way to do everything? Do some fundamentals not suffice? So, with that in mind, I am going to embark on discussing my own experiences. Beginning, I think, with making laundry detergent.

(Also, I realize that I’m also telling people how to do things…but avoiding hypocrisy is not really my best skill)

Fence

Walking around my neighborhood today, I realized how lovely I find desolate, run-down, and broken things, though at the same time, I have a great interest in restoring and cleaning. Here is a sample of the images I collected while walking: 

 

Image

Tired

I am feeling drained today, which is not helpful for any kind of productivity, especially for working on the paper that is swimming around in my head without any fast place to rest. A page of writing would be the place for it. I wish I weren’t so exhausted by life, that just one hitch could derail my whole course of action for the day. But there is a little sun outside, and a bit more time to write, and hope that God can sort us and refine us, and make us stronger through the things that throw us. I apologize for the simultaneously sad and vague post, and hope the ramblings of this girl get at least clearer and hopefully both clearer and cheerier. Au revoir for the moment, mes amies!

Returning

Well, I think I would like to return to the blogging world. Doing anything with regularity has been a challenge to me for … my whole life, I think … and perhaps this time it will stick. Or maybe not. But at least it will be a small step in that direction. For today, I will leave you with a thing that is giving me joy today. I spent part of the afternoon celebrating the fourth Sunday of Advent and also decanting homemade eggnog into these wonderful jars:

There’s something amazing about those snappy lids and the creamy (and highly alcoholic) liquid they contain. With that, have a wonderful last week before Christmas, and I look forward to joining you again soon!

Poetry Collage Prayer

Literature is not just beautiful; sometimes it also says exactly what I want to — or ought to — say.  Here are the two bits of poems I’ve been praying over the past two months:

OH, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.
The first stanza is from the Robert Frost poem, A Prayer in Springtime
and reminds me to enjoy the part of life I'm in right now. 
The other quote is from T.S. Eliot's Ash Wednesday, and reminds me of the balance 
between trying one's hardest and placing the end results in God's hands.

As the sun shines through the curtain lace…

After the time changes, I am always surprised at how early the sun goes down.  The sun today at least made a grand departure — despite the fact that that departure happened around 5:30.  Early but glorious.  And a wonderful opportunity to stop, look, enjoy and attempt to capture.

And now some lyrics from one of my favorite Simon and Garfunkel songs, The Dangling Conversation:

It’s a still life water color,
Of a now late afternoon,
As the sun shines through the curtain lace
And shadows wash the room.
And we sit and drink our coffee
Couched in our indifference,
Like shells upon the shore
You can hear the ocean roar
In the dangling conversation
And the superficial sighs,
The borders of our lives.

And you read your Emily Dickinson,
And I my Robert Frost,
And we note our place with bookmarkers
That measure what we’ve lost.
Like a poem poorly written
We are verses out of rhythm,
Couplets out of rhyme,
In syncopated time
Lost in the dangling conversation
And the superficial sighs,
Are the borders of our lives.

Yes, we speak of things that matter,
With words that must be said,
“Can analysis be worthwhile?”
“Is the theater really dead?”
And how the room is softly faded
And I only kiss your shadow,
I cannot feel your hand,
You’re a stranger now unto me
Lost in the dangling conversation.
And the superficial sighs,
In the borders of our lives.

Affirmations

This week — or rather, this past month — has been a little stressful.  A lot, actually, and it has meant losing perspective fairly frequently.  So this morning I decided to jot down in my journal some true things that will still be true, no matter what happens today. And I would like to pass them on:

Whatever happens today:

~it cannot separate you from the love of God

~Mom and Dad and Grandma will still love you and believe in you

~you CAN do it

~you are not a bad person or even a bad teacher

~God is in control

~things will eventually get better

~you will probably still get married, someday

We’ll see if that helps keep some perspective on the day.

Christmas and other lovely things…

I love Christmas. So of course I was interested when a friend sent me this link to the Christmas cards he was buying.  Take a look. I find them sweet and refreshing and generally lovely. They are made by a group of nuns (The All Saints Sisters of the Poor) who use the proceeds to fund their ministries (they describe their lifestyle as mixed: work and contemplation together). Between monastic life (another fascination) and Christmas I am of course sold, and intend to purchase some of these cards. While browsing around the site I also found some cards with quotes from Julian of Norwich, a 14th century anchoress and mystic of whom I have been fond since reading some of her works in the 11th grade.  One of the quotes particularly caught my eye and has been encouraging me since I read it: “God is our true peace. He is our sure keeper when we ourselves are in unpeace.” The word “unpeace” is delightful and unexpected and a bit odd, and it caught my eye and, I must say, accurately describes my current state, which is certainly one of “unpeace” — unsettled, somewhat discontent, anxious. I am so thankful that it is God who is my peace, because I cannot simply say to myself or my fluttering stomach — be still. But he can, and can provide peace and stability and can keep us when outward and inward circumstances are all over the place. Praise Him.

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