Friday, November 18, 2011

I love God, because I love His creation

Outside My Window: I love fall! I found myself humming "It's the MOST wonderful time of the year!" ( Yes, I know it is a Christmas song) more than once after a walk or a jaunt outside. Out here in our rural area the day can sometimes "glow" with the sun coming through the brightly colored leaves. I'm not generally a person who enjoys hot weather, so I welcome the cooler temperatures. Cider, and apples and the scent of burning leaves, all is heaven to me. Now, we have sort of left the "glory" days of fall and all the leaves have blown off the trees and the days take on more grayness than sun. Still, it is my favorite season and I revel in it. Above are the "decoupage" pumpkin candle holders we made. I have discovered "Modge Podge". Pretty fun stuff!

Well, our Halloween was a muted affair. We sort of scrambled to come up with costumes (Gabriella, by and large, came up with that one herself!) and since trick or treating doesn't happen on our country road ( too far to walk between houses :) we hid some candy bags in the backyard and the kids seemed happy with that. On a whim, we decided to drive to a neighborhood down the road, but even there, only 3 houses were giving out treats. For those to whom this holiday mattered, I think it was fun enough. :)
Jed is enamored of "Stupendous Man" from Calvin and Hobbes.
These pumpkins we actually got from the pumpkin farm, but we did get 6 or 7 small pumpkins from our own crop this year.
Of course, even during fall, the inevitable happens here in MI.
You know, if I was out walking and saw a diamond ring on one of my neighbor's drive, I wouldn't be the least tempted to pick it up and pocket it ( unless it was to give it back to them) as I am if I see bittersweet on their property. Seeing that makes me start coming up with all kinds of covert operations to go and snip some for myself (they'd never miss it, right? ;) Thankfully, I was saved from my shameful thoughts by finding some in an open field, although by the time I discovered it, most of the pretty orange leaves had blown off by a couple windy days. Still, I love it and all the dried plant life I find this time of year. I adore flowers, but I think I love dried more...mostly because it can last so long. (I may add that if you find bittersweet at a Farm Market or such like , it is darn expensive...thus the excitement over finding it :)
A little Thanksgiving project. The original idea ( have to find that link) that a friend shared is much cuter and is done with more fallish colors. I was trying to use "what I have in my hand" and came up with this. You put little unruled index cards in the envelopes with things you are thankful for throughout the month and year and I plan to read them at T'giving dinner.
Here is what bittersweet is REALLY supposed to look like....this little bit I actually found down by our marsh. Funny, what a small amount there was when in other places there are trees just loaded with it.

For some reason, this house is plagued with a glut of cables on the outside ( do cable-guys have no aesthetic appreciation?) I don't know if it is because we are out in the sticks or these particular cables were done long ago, but they really look ridiculous. The worst offenders are on the overhang to the door to the patio. I even found some cute lights to hang there, but I think it made it look worse with the electrical cord from them added to the mix. My magnum opus this fall was to hang some...what else....bittersweet vines and another vine...maybe wild grapes? (don't quote me) intermixed with the wires. Well, I have no idea how well this solution will hold up...if they will start looking tired soon, or if the snow and ice will bring them down eventually, but for the time being, I like.

I am thinking: "[Americans] are extremely eager in the pursuit of immediate material pleasures and are always discontended with the position that they occupy....They think about nothing but ways of changing their lot and bettering it. For people in this frame of mind every new way of getting wealth more quickly, every machine which lessens work, every means of diminishing the cost of production, evey invention which makes pleasures easier or greater, seems the most magnificent accomplishment of the human mind...One usually finds that the love of money is either the chief or a secondary motive at the bottom of everything Americans do." Alexis de Tocqueville, 19th Century :)

From the schoolroom: Nothing much interesting here...just ticking away.

I am reading/watching/listening to:

"On Canaan's Side" by Sebastian Barry. Mr Barry has definitely made it onto my list of favorite authors. Not only can he tell a good story, but has the added talent of inserting lofty thoughts into his tales. I have to say, as seems to be the case with a lot of authors, I don't always embrace his worldview, but enough of what he writes is edifying enough to keep me reading. I suppose the simplest review would be to say this is a tale of an Irish woman who has loved and lost, in a variety of ways, but there is much more to it than that ( of course. :)

"Night Strangers" by Chris Bohjalian . "The Midwives Tale" was the first book I read by Mr Bohjalian, and I always liked that one, so when I see another title from him, I give it a look. None have ever measured up to the first, but I keep trying. This one I couldn't put down until the end. But the end was a huge disappointment, so that overshadows the rest of the tale. Sort of a creepy ghost story, sort of a psychological thriller. I hate to critique a seasoned author (what the heck do I know? :), but I always wonder how someone with such talent can just give up at the end and why do successful publishing companies and editors not say something?!? :)

"The Englishman's Daughter" by Ben Macintyre . This is actually a true story of an English soldier who finds himself separated from his company during WW1 in rural France. The people of that community hide him from the Germans, often at great personal cost to themselves ( lack of food was a very real problem, as well as the threat of fallout to their own selves if the Germans found him). Eventually, he falls in love with one of the village girls and they beget a daughter. Not long after, he is betrayed and is executed. An interesting glimpse of life during WW1 in an occupied country and a bit of "who-dun-it" as the author tries to find out who gave the soldier away.

"Wait for Me!" by Deborah Mitford. This is a memoir of a lady who eventually became the "Duchess of Devonshire". Far from being of interest only to those who identify themselves as "anglophiles" :) it really is a story of a remarkable family, life during and between the two World Wars, and the end of the English aristocracy (sort of). One of 7 sisters ( and 1 brothers) two of her sisters were hated fascists, and one a communist. She also had a great deal to do with the restoration of "Chatsworth", the family manor ( and what a manor it is!) so that finds a soft spot in my heart. She is very critical of those who tore down many of the old English homes during the 60's and 70's because no one could think what to do with them. Hello!? FIND SOMETHING! You just don't throw a glorious and ancient work of art into the garbage because it doesn't match your decor....why would anyone think to tear down these beautiful and important works of architecture? (Alright, I know it is a bit more complicated than that :) Well, they sadly did. So, it is nice to find a kindred spirit both in someone who finds that a huge loss and did something to prevent it happening to yet another victim. The only critique I may have is that the writing of her experiences makes it somewhat evident why the aristocracy induces common folk to want to pull their hair out at times. While she sometimes complains of lean times during her growing up years and not being able to afford the latest Paris fashion, the family never lived in a cottage on the side of the road, and always had a houseful of servants ( including a nanny, of course!) which enabled them to do nothing more than go out riding, hunting with their cantankerous father ( Lord Resedale), attend fashionable parties and the like.

Watching: These dark and cold fall nights have definitely been enlightened by watching the original "Upstairs Downstairs" series. After viewing the more recent edition, I was curious to see why the first was so popular. It really is evident. It is well writen and well acted, and even though done in the 70's, the costumes and scenery are also stunning. ( Nothing against the 70's, but there is usually much more sophistication in modern renditions of historical fare). Thankfully, there are a WHOLE lot of episodes... I may just get through the winter with this one. :) I often wonder why the subject of the relations between servants and their "masters" back in the day is one that so fascinates me? I suppose because, being a real Yankee, I can't imagine how these people were in such awe of aristocrats during that time and did such demeaning work for them for shockingly low wages.. Yes, they were rich, but no better than anyone else ( says I! in true American form:). Simply by being born into the "right" family they were deemed socially superior. I suppose that goes for the monarchy as well. Such a different mindset than we have now, I'm always trying to understand it....although I know there are always threads of that mindset weaving through even our own enlightened times. Human nature, I suppose. As a humorous side note: One evening Tim came up and saw that I was watching it. He said "I remember this being on at our house quite a bit. We were always checking PBS to see if Monty Python was on and instead it was that darn "Upstairs, Downstairs"! " Yes, Tim and I's marriage is the epitome of "opposites attract" ;)

Comings and goings: There have been a whole lot of comings and goings taking Naomi to her new job ( 5 days a week, I might add!), drivers ed, and the boys to basketball practices. Of course, there has been help from my dear sons when able, and a carpool with other basketball families, so it could be worse. Things I have been mercifully spared from driving to : are play rehearsals, youth group, and picking up/taking Tim to the airport. In everything give thanks! Well, there is a light at the end of the tunnel since as of today Naomi can actually get her permit and begin the task of logging driving hours. I don't know why there has been such reluctance on my part to get her driving. Call me sexist, but she seems so little and frail compared to her burly brothers to be operating a big lump of metal on wheels. She definitely is very responsible and has a good head on her shoulders. But, time marches less than a year she will be off to college and being able to drive might come in handy. :) We are looking forward to the premier of "Briar Rose", a play written by one of the boys at our parish, with musical scores written by none other than our dear Dylan, and Naomi being part of the cast.

Streams of consciousness from a mother of 10 who usually can't collect her thoughts and finds commas a nuisance.