Friday, December 25, 2015

.....Light and Darkness.....and Advent and Christmas

It is no secret by now that I love my summer job.  All season long I am paid to keep shop in a 100+ year old general store, or have tea in a Victorian mansion, or cook on a wood-burning stove in a 1900's Farm House, or make brooms from broom corn, or teach Spencerian penmanship in a one-room school house, or scrape a buffalo hide and work on beading my pair of moccasins.

From May to mid-October we re-create Iowa's agricultural history in the glaring brightness of the summer sun. We wear long sleeves and long skirts to keep the sun off our bodies and use bonnets and parasols to keep our faces shaded and protected from the burning heat and UV light  radiating from planet's closest star.  We carefully pace ourselves in our daily tasks.....chores that must be completed, but workers that must not be depleted.  We avoid the light as much as possible.

Now that we have transitioned to our winter programming, those brightly blinding days are replaced with  work hours in the twilight of cool fall evenings.  We learn to function during a time of the day best described in Mary Poppins  as "the chimney sweep's world"....."Things 'alf in shadows and 'alfway in light..."  Just enough darkness for you to think about lighting the lamps, but still too much light for the lamp to be effective.  We begin to yearn for the light.

Did you know that there was such a time of day? When it is not dark enough yet  for true light to be effective?

In part, I believe this applies to Advent as well.  The season of the year where we wait for the darkest time of the year in anticipation of how brightly that Light will shine.

Anticipation much like kids on Christmas morning....

Earlier this month I was asked by a co-worker to name my favorite Christmas Song.  My first response....
"Anything but Christmas Shoes"

My second pick was harder....Carol of the Bells, Hallelujah Chorus, anything by Mannheim Steamroller...

My favorite Christmas verse? 
That's much easier.
It describes us while wandering in the shadows of the uncertainty of this life, yet anticipating the glory of the life yet to come.  That time of the day/year/life when it feels as if the light is too dim and yet not dark enough for a new light to make a difference.

The time of day/year/life when there is much to do and not enough of you to go around and even if there were two of you, the task would seem impossible.

That time of day/year/life when we  painfully linger in the darkness,
if only to appreciate the Advent of the Light.

Isaiah 8:20-9:7

Chapter 9, Verse 2

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;

of those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

 and Isaiah 9:6
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given."

Because I am taking the class on basking in the Light in spite of and because of the dark... 

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 18, 2015

farm houses, hospitality and Thanksgiving...

There are many things for which I am thankful.  Faith, Family and Friends seem like such broad and common categories, but they do cover the "biggies" so to speak.   If I could add one more, it would be farmhouses. Specifically the one at my #bestsummerjobever.   The one that holds my favorite cook stove and pantry.  The one with the white picket fence around the yard and the red barn across the way.  The one with the softly glowing lanterns in the windows in the evenings and the deer tracks in the frozen fields in the mornings.

It is in this house this fall that I have learned the fine art of napkin folding, dessert table lay out and the fact that I love hooded wool cloaks.  And it is in this house that I have decided that paper plates (no matter how pretty) just will not do for Thanksgiving Dinner.  

We usually have a few friends over for Thanksgiving and I usually cook a fairly large bird because we love leftovers.  For the last few years, one of our guests has been a spirited lady who could very likely walk into my favorite farmhouse and run it like a pro....not because she has spent any time researching rural Iowa farm life, but because she has lived it.  Complete with wood stove, out house, kerosene lanterns, white picket fence, scrub boards for washing and horses in the red barn across the way.  She can frequently be found gently laughing and shaking her head at me as I delight in all things 1900 farm style.....something about how I should probably live  in the present and be thankful for electricity and indoor plumbing. But she indulges me and my excitement, so this year I decided to "up my game" in the hospitality area and use the good china because that is what you would have done in the era of rural farm life...put your best foot forward for company

I still have a bit to learn, but this was my attempt this past Thanksgiving.   Good china, table center organized and "dessert table" ready to go.   I thought that I was all set and ready for our gracious company. 

And then she out-did me ....1900's style.

Her hostess gift made me cry.   A hand-embroided flour sack dish towel with farm scenes that look like they came straight off the 1900 Farm site.

So there you have it. 
My china, turkey and dessert table happily upstaged by a beautiful hand-made gift commemorating her childhood and my new-found career.

Together we shared our thanks for Faith, Family, Friends and Farm....

'cause WE didn't miss the class on that :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

"adulting" on a day off.....

I have a few (cough, cough) jobs that have kept me busy and away from writing this year.  I enjoy all of them, for the most part, and have been given more responsibilities in some areas. ( bosses all think I am capable of "adulting"....please don't give me away...)

Today I find myself in a rare circumstance.....I do not have to clock in or out or be responsible for anyone or anything outside of my own household.  



So I decided to "adult" this morning.  (Anything before noon is morning....right???)

There are a few things that I have neglected around the house over the last few months. Today would be a good day to get those things knocked off the Terribly Terrifying To-Do list.

For fear of someone calling my mother and telling on me, there will be no Before pictures.  

For fear of people in my family mistakenly believing that things should always look clean and having visual evidence that it once happened in this house, there will be no After pictures.

So I looked at my list:

Put away china from Thanksgiving Dinner. (yes...I know it was 2 weeks ago....)
Clean microwave.  (I can't remember when it was last done...must be time.)
Clean fridge.  (see Clean microwave)
Vacuum. (see owner's manual for Bernese Mountain Dogs)
Go grocery shopping. (see parenting teenagers manual)
Wash the shower curtain, bath rug and table place mats (see Clean Microwave)
Finish putting summer clothes away. (see previous post on seasonal clothing)

I was going strong on my first cup of coffee.   I had all the china put away and had vacuumed the rug and swept the first floor. Then I needed a second cup of coffee, which meant I had to open the microwave....and I lost all momentum.  It's bad folks.  Bad enough that even I in all my thrifty, discount and sales only purchasing philosophy, contemplated just buying a new one regardless of cost.   So I closed my eyes, hit the 30 second re-heat button and hoped it was enough to sterilize cup- o -joe #2.  

Then the children started making sounds like they were about to be hungry.   For those wondering, it sounds something like a cross between a hungry lion and a hungry hippo trying to speak English.  They try to say things like:
"Mom, when are you going to get a second mortgage so you can buy hundreds of dollars of groceries to get us through the next two hours?"
In a futile attempt to quiet the starving menagerie masquerading as my children, I opened the fridge to prove that we did, indeed, have food in the house......

I haven't done a full shopping trip in a while.  That meant the fridge was sounding a bit echoey.  Which also meant I could see the state of the door pockets and shelves.   And unlike the microwave, there is no 30 second re-heat/sanitize button.

So I decided to do what any good parent would do in this situation.....
Spend countless hours lovingly cleaning and sanitizing the home for the comfort of all occupants.


Microwave and fridge to be cleaned by the zoo inmates while the zoo-keeper puts in the order for more fodder..

And then I think I will be done "adulting" for the day.   It is, after all, my day off.
If you need me for the remainder of the day, I will be down in the guest room, NOT adulting.
You see...I have a pile of fiber and a long list of projects that I have been waiting to knit. I am going to take my chocolate, coffee and laptop, head down to the yarn stash, and knit until this mama tiger feels just a bit more human.

Because while I know that I am an adult with grown-up responsibilities (see Clean microwave), I also know that some species, when stressed, eat their young...or their mates... and as a responsible adult I realize I probably shouldn't act like one of the zoo exhibits.

So I will choose to do the most loving thing I can for my family and go knit.

'cause I didn't miss the class on that.