When I was visiting my Aunt Colleen and her girls recently she got out all the painting things and the four of us sat at the table to paint pictures. I realized how relaxing it was as we each thought about what we would paint and then set to work.
I had already noticed that all over the main rooms of the house there were paintings and drawings hung….that were painted or drawn by the family. And I really liked that. It made the house more cozy and personal and meaningful. I enjoy seeing people create things to feather their nests. I get the same inspired feeling when I visit my parents and my bestie Josephina.
I got out my paint stuff here at home yesterday. Before I knew it, Seth and Sarah joined me, without even being invited. We had our own little painting session together. Seth got out the hair dryer to help speed along his drying paint, Sarah quickly lost herself in her artwork and was never quite happy with her results, and I just started painting and ended up surprising myself.
It made us feel together. It felt good.
“Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.” -St Augustine
I didn’t want to get up this morning but Rich said I had to because he had important things to do today and we had to drive down and get my car and I said “I’m gonna sleep for a couple more hours” and he said “that won’t work for me” and I said “an hour then” and he said no and left the room. I stretched and yawned and twisted and opened my eyes and sat up. I flung the covers off and got out of bed. I put jeans and socks and shoes on, threw my coat on and grabbed a hat and my purse. It took me all of three minutes and there I was in the kitchen staring at my husband making coffee. I didn’t say a word as he turned to look at his wife. He had stayed up late to watch the college football championship and was sleep deprived and yet still couldn’t help but laugh the moment he saw me, taking out his phone and snapping a photo.
He texted it to me and when I looked at it I realized that I’m (see title)……
I plan on reading a lot this year. I’ve been a passionate reader since childhood so that’s a good indication to me that I should (as I heal from and process trauma) ….just go on reading. There’s something soothing, nurturing, and safe about books. This morning I finished a sweet simple tale from the authoress Elizabeth Yates. It’s about a little boy and his parents, and the hired man, who all work together on their quiet country sheep farm. One day a wolf went into the flock while they were grazing unattended and killed six of them, so the hired man stayed out all night until he could shoot and kill their predator; a wolf. I was reminded how in Scripture we are warned of “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and for that very same reason; if not for a guiding Shepherd, wolves would seek out and destroy the gentle tender hearted sheep. I thought I would share this quote from page 83:
“ There are some things that can’t seem to live right with the rest of the world. They cause trouble to the good things and so they have to leave. I don’t like what has to be done at times like that but a man’s got to be able to do it. In the Bible, David the Shepherd boy was able to do it, and he wasn’t afraid to stand up to a big one named Goliath who was causing trouble in his countryside. Easy going is the way we all like to be, but we can’t let easiness take the fight out of us.”
As a kind and gentle woman, I am hurt by “the things that can’t seem to live right” with the rest of us. I try my best to be loving to and to enjoy this beautiful world we live in. Once in a while something tragic happens that frightens me. Once in a while someone comes along who says persuasive kind words, but their behavior shows them for the wolf that they are. We have all learned some valuable lessons through horrifying experiences. Like the boy in the story, we want to be easy going, but there are times when even the kind and gentle ones must stand firm and fight and say “no more”.
It was a lovely house to enter once the cold days came. The rooms, although clean, were not too clean; they were also large and airy and warm. The house had an especially wonderful basement, most of which was taken up by a large bedroom and laundry room, but there was also a storage area that rarely had visitors. The mice had plenty of room down in that basement, and an abundance of possibilities there to fulfill their simple yet necessary wants and wishes. They soon settled and thrived in the dark corners. In time they discovered the best place for bedding was the laundry room; dryer lint was soft and gently scented and even looked like mouse fur. There were many long passageways behind shelves and boxes to run and play, and soon it was apparent that the best foods to be had were left on the floors, especially underneath the boys’ beds.
However, the mice were not safe anywhere in that house. The family itself was large, the father had a pathological horror of mice and an unmatched determination to kill on sight, and there were four cats to keep aware of at all times. These four cats were sleek and well fed, but none could resist the sight of a mouse. Too often a mouse was killed and eaten by a cat, and once only a head was left on the floor which, when stepped on absentmindedly by one of the boys, looked just like a flattened mold-covered strawberry in the midst of its own red juice. Mother bent down to pick it up, after the door had slammed shut behind the last child for school, but when she realized what it really was, she quickly threw it out the front door and rushed to the bathroom, looking at her mouse-wet and bloody fingertips, and gagging.
The latest loss occurred last weekend when a full grown brown mouse unwisely ventured from the basement and up to the kitchen. He was the deadly triune combination of bored, hungry, and alone. After a while, he found a crust of pizza underneath Mother’s fiestaware hutch. He felt safe under there amongst the dust and dirt, small toys and bits of garbage, twigs and ping pong balls. The crust was hard and rock-like and it felt good to work his strong jaw and sharp teeth up and down, scratching and breaking bits to chew and eat.
From across the room, a large orange tomcat lifted up his head. He had been napping soundly for hours but a small noice and strong smell of mouse had lifted him from dream-land. He yawned and stretched. He stood and stretched again. Mr Brown Mouse was only aware of the cat when he was startled from his next bite of pizza by the thud of four cat feet.
Mother was busy and rarely noticed mice. She would smell a dead one in the walls now and then, which would cause her to perform cleaning frenzies and motivational speeches to her husband (speeches of which, as of this writing, have not worked their magic). However, she always and always noticed her precious kitty-babies. She saw her precious cat with an “I see something very exciting” look in his eyes, and she bent down beside him to look underneath the hutch. Sure enough, tucked into the very corner of the hot water base board heating, was a mouse. She got down on her stomach and called for her daughter. They both decided to try to save it from the cat, Mother by grabbing it with metal tongs, and daughter, by turning it into a pet.
Unfortunately, the tongs didn’t work and the mouse got away. Mother, Daughter, and Cat ran around trying to figure out where it had gone but soon gave up. Mother immediately became full of the urge to clean and scrub. Oh yes, a cleaning frenzy would calm her nerves in no time and she had seen all the dirt underneath her hutch of favorite dishes. She gathered her supplies and set to work, swept the floor underneath the hutch, wiped down the walls, washed off the top of it, and then lastly, vacuumed thoroughly. The hutch was heavy so she didn’t have much room to work so she pulled the attachment and reached blindly around as far as she could reach, bending down to be sure to get all the nooks and crannies. Her progress was stopped when she heard the sound of something flying through the tube. She held her breath but within that fraction of a second, the object passed completely through, ending within the bagless canister. She turned the vacuum off and said, “I really can’t believe that didn’t get stuck, ping pong balls always do.” It was truly a “Praise the Lord” moment for her, as ping pong balls are extremely frustrating to get out of the middle of a vacuum tube. Whatever this was, it had rushed through almost like it was made just for that purpose.
She unhooked the canister to take it outside. And what do you think Mother saw? Yes, it was Mr Brown Mouse, now in an alarming state, tail and legs in the wrong places at wrong angles, body and head twisted and bunched with all the other unwanted items; floor dirt and hair, legos, pizza crust, and strings. She lifted him by the tail, and he was still breathing, but after throwing him over the porch railing into the garden, his breathing slowed and eventually stopped. He is resting in peace underneath the shrubbery after escaping from a cat, but falling prey to a determined housewife with a vacuum.
Mother just came in and saw my story. She said she “just knows the men and women who read this will want to know that it was a Shark vacuum cleaner”, and because its powerful suction caused the death of a mouse just by its sheer force, she will never buy another brand again.
When you stand on it in the middle of the day and close your eyes you can hear in the distance the sounds of acorns falling heavy out of tall oak trees. Crickets are chirping continuously in the key of D, birds are busy eating from the feeders nearby. The air feels cool out here on the porch, insects buzz, the old dry leaves of dying sunflowers rub together like crumbled papers. Another nut falls in the woods. You can smell dry pine, rotting mushrooms, pond water, leaves, wood bark, wild grapes, earth and wind. Colorful zinnias are waving like upright magic wands back and forth, back and forth. Bees hum, chickens sing, and the clean dewy grass is lovely, you know it would feel so good pressed against your temples and forehead. Garden toads and worms are in the hidden parts of the gardens surrounding the porch. Wind-chimes, clothesline, bells, all dangle and wave. The sky is smoothly blue and dotted with clouds. If you squint at the trees all you can see is orange.
But in the morning all is quiet. Misty falling fog wraps around the porch. Large plastic spiders have woven a cotton doily web and a black cat sits, patiently waiting to be let inside for his morning can of food.
I’ve been obsessed with Goodwill lately and I go at least once a week. I’ve found so many treasures that I told my family they will be getting some Christmas gifts from second hand shops this year. It’s delightful to peruse the aisles never knowing what I’ll find next.
For example, yesterday I found a beautiful and scenic oil painting….for four dollars. Not only was the painting beautiful, but the frame was, too.
I didn’t even have to think twice!
Once I brought it home I had to contemplate where I would hang it, which is how I found myself eventually standing on my art table.
Whilst standing on my art table, I was able to reach up and hang the painting by a nail centered above the big picture window.
I found myself singing “Beautiful! Beautiful!” as I carefully got down to the floor….a song I made up spontaneously, but then…..I choked on my song as I noticed An Eye-sore. On the windowsill above was an unsightly plastic bottle of almost all gone water. It was there since the day the boys got a little wild “bottle flipping”. In fact, it was there for maybe even a year, so high up that I had easily ignored it. However, with a flash of insight I knew I could never look at my beautiful art piece without my eyes going up to that water bottle, so…..I got back on the table with a broom. Ugh! What a work out.
That accomplished, I dusted off my hands and started singing again.
This time of year, what with my favorite season giving me joy, the colors inspiring me, the fresh cooler air and bright hotter sun, I delight in my little home. I’m getting it all ready for the coming cold months, when we will be cozily within the pretty rooms again for most of the day.
I put my flashlight away, which I had used as a hammer, and the broom, which I had used as an arm-extender, and started upstairs to gather laundry when I stopped in my tracks.
I couldn’t even believe my eyes.
I had to get the broom again! I was no longer in the mood to document. However, if I had, the video would have been exactly the same, only longer, and you would have heard me groan loudly and say to no one, “I don’t think…..I can….get it.” But with determination I figured out just the right angle to use the broom and eventually the tube of green paint fell just like the water bottle had.
And that’s how I hung my four dollar painting! I’m always having the best adventures in my little ol daily life. I am happy to say that once they came home, my husband and the children noticed the painting right away, too.
They looked at me with wonder and awe. “How DOES she do it?“
Rest assured, dear children, with pocket money, a Goodwill store, a nail, and a flashlight, you too can do little things with great love.
As soon as the queen awakens, she is presented with both the morning’s news and with pressing problems to solve.
With coffee in hand, she waves in the first child; who requests a ride to the grocery store for “pizza dough so we can make pizza for lunch, there’s pizza sauce in the pantry.”
The Queen rarely wishes to give rides, so she demands the child to make his own dough. He leaves, satisfied with her ruling.
The next child is welcomed. She hands the Queen a folded up piece of notepaper, with a tragic expression written (not just on the *said paper*) but also upon her pretty face.
After reading the note, the Queen Mother is not surprised to be encouraged to write back, “now”. The child will wait.
The Queen has never hired a scribe, as she takes pleasure in writing all her own notes.
Thus begins a rather lengthy discussion, involving tears (on the child’s part) and gallant stifled amusement (on the Queen’s part). They share possible solutions, reminders of past times, comforting AND uncomfortable truths, and a baring of souls. Finally, seeing no end in sight and feeling that she had reached the end of her resources, (and also rather hungry for breakfast), The Queen eventually makes a proclamation:
“I have said all I can say on this topic. The rest is up to you, child. Life is full of times that are less than ideal to our personal wants and wishes, and we must all figure out life’s riddle; how to make do with Plan B.”
There was no applause. So she sent them away from her presence. By this time she had also been back and forth from the kitchen several times to help the dough-making-boy, and it was time to dress in her royal garments.
I don’t think it’s wrong to step away from it. For the most part, I am aware of what is going on in the news. Troubling, awful, and heart-wrenching things are happening all over the place. I hate it, and I grieve over it, and I groan for things to be made right.
And my thoughts shift; what can I do? Is this even the correct question to ask of myself, an ordinary 45 year old housekeeper, wife and mother who hasn’t worked outside of the house since before she was married……..what have I done, all these years? who am I?
wife; be the wife mother; be the mother housekeeper; be that, too
also (of slightly lesser value) friend, daughter, sister, etc.
For me, it’s quite obvious that I find the most value in my relationships. I delight in encouraging people. And I know that what we (I) love is what our (my) purpose is. So I will continue in the cleaning, cooking, snuggling, grocery shopping, singing, playing, walking, talking, texting, and taking advantage of every opportunity. Rich and I are working together to get the three younger children going in their fall sports, and one dear son prepared to enter his first year of college.
I love homemaking. I have a closet that’s simply begging for some TLC, and throughout the house a bunch of now-unneeded possessions to be sorted through and donated, and some family papers and treasures that need to be rediscovered, cleaned and organized.
Maybe others are like me, after hearing the news, and wonder what there is to be done? I am open to any and all suggestions, but I tend to go back to what I know for sure; “Shanda, do what you love to do most, excel in your own purpose; as a loving wife, mom, and homemaker, and all that trickles down from that.”
It’s not that I don’t care about current events and history-in-the-making; indeed, I care more than words can say…..which means I feel almost helpless in the face of such tragedies in our world. I find hope and strength in God (“He’s got this”), and in quiet daily living, doing my own small part, knowing that all good people are working together in our unique and priceless ways, and it does make a difference.
Sending love and prayers to all my friends here.
“Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude.” Colossians 4:1
So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4