Monday, July 31, 2006

Flowers straight from the Bed

If you look very, very carefully (as if, use a magnifying glass), you can see my teeny-tiny zinnias in my thrift-store pitcher. Sigh. As if finally getting my seeds in the ground on Memorial Day weekend wasn't bad enough, when my zinnias finally bloom they are, like, Miniature.
I am used to the Giant version. RED. ORANGE. PINK. Maybe I didn't look at the seed package well enough. Maybe there *are* such things as mini-zinnias, but I've never planted them before...
Oh, well. They are Dainty, fer sure. And they are MINE. I grew them my own self [if you know me, you know that's a pretty big thing]. And I had my cute pitcher to put them in.
If I look at it the right way, I can *really* congratulate myself. As in, "they don't have these in Australia right now"--because it is WINTER.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Birthday Hunny

Happy birthday to my Prince Charming! Above you see him in a picture taken at the home office of his company. The large blue name in the middle of the sign is our last name. The two red initials (KK) are his initials. Even his favorite color is "Yellow." There is that unfortunate acronym of the K's Korn Klub, but...
I'm showing you this picture because we found the very same sign on ebay, and bought it for him for his birthday! So very soon we will be having this sign on the wall of his music room.
Want to know just a few things about my honey?
1. On July 20, 1969, while Neil Armstrong was trottin' around on the moon, he was sleeping "under the stars" at the National Boy Scout Jamboree.
2. He beat out 5000 people for a place in the 1973 class at the University of Notre Dame. (out of 7000 applicants, 2000 were chosen.)
3. He once got a 269 in bowling. (this may not be a big deal for you, but *I* have never topped 150...)
4. He has written over 50 songs. Five or so he considers Grade A, a dozen more Grade B (acceptable for the public to hear), and the rest "unsuitable for human consumption." That is, could be permanently stored in a trash can and that would be okay.
5. When I found out his last name, and that he grew up in Michigan, I thought I Had It Made. Yes, he is related to the Cereal Guy--his ancestor and W.K.'s father were brothers, but around the time of the Civil War...way too far away for any money or notoriety to have trickled down.
The rest of the things I would love to tell you might be too *gooey* for publication here. But he is the most wonderfullest man alive, and I am proud to be married to him, and to be the mother of his children.
Happy birthday, darling!

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Little Project

I got this idea from Mrs. Wilt at The Sparrow's Nest. It is a fabric trash bag. Mrs. Wilt suggested a trash bag for the car. I will use this one near my sewing machine, to catch stray threads and bent pins.
Above you can see the finished bag. I used a very pretty 1930's reproduction print in peach and green.
I used some ribbon I had saved; it tied up a group of fat quarters I bought at my favorite fabric store, Yoder's Amish Store in Shipshewana, Indiana. The name of the store is printed on the ribbon:

It turned out a little larger than I thought, but that means I won't have to empty it as often!

Thank you, Mrs. Wilt, for helping me to make my life a little prettier!

I'm Jane!

I found this quiz at Mrs. Blythe's.

Here is the quiz: (sorry, the link didn't work before)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Roses for Rose Anne

My dear oldest sister Rose Anne went to be with the Lord five years ago today. She was twelve years older than I; eighteen older than our baby brother. She was so glamorous! Gorgeous legs (I'm still jealous); she went to many "formals" in her day; she could dance wonderfully.

I was her flower girl when I was seven. She had a darling Girl and Boy in the years to follow.

Evidence of mental illness became more apparent in her mid-thirties; she lost her family to divorce. She endured now barbaric treatments that were standard in those days, including shock therapy, which destroyed the memories of her raising her babies. She lived in an apartment on disability income, but was "creative" all her life. She found the most fabulous gifts at thrift stores; she also crocheted and did other crafts.

The illness began to further steal from her: panic attacks made socializing more difficult. The last time all five of my parents' children were together was Christmas 1988 for a surprise for our parents. She was not able to attend their fiftieth anniversary celebration in '91.

In 1993 she was in the hospital for pneumonia when she had a stroke; they found her not breathing. She was in a coma for thirteen days, with only one brain "wave" evident. My sister and brother were called into town, the date was set to "pull the plug."

The Lord had different plans. When we went in to "do it," Rosie was awake, all bodily functions working! We rejoiced that we had seen her virtually "raised from the dead." Her earthly healing was not complete: she spent the next eight years in a nursing home, her body crippled and bent, unable to speak (she could mumble words), unable to swallow (which meant a feeding tube), short-term memory gone (but she could sing "all four verses" of any hymn in the book!). We could not understand why a healing could be "halfway." And, why bring her back if she was to exist as a prisoner in her own body? But I have walked with the Lord long enough to Know Him. That these earthly sorrows are not to be counted when the Lord is "conforming us to the image of His Son." Suffering--that precious Gift, but the Gift No One Asks For.

We got a call one day that she had slipped away. Mourning Rosie has been strange--I think I mourned more during her coma. How could we do anything but rejoice when she was freed? Her healing was finally complete: no longer a prisoner of her body or of mental illness.

I know what she is doing today--she is one of the ones around the throne (probably dancing) who is singing with so many others, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD, who was, and is, and is to come!"

Blessed be the Lord, who doeth all things well!

graphic courtesy of Lise's Garden Graphics

Friday, July 21, 2006

Goodwill Hunting

These are pyrex "refrigerator" containers--before plastic baggies were invented. In the '50's, we had two of the medium size, in blue and red, and we used them for cereal. I suppose my mother had more, as well. I got these for $1.50, $2.00, and $2.50--I think they were a Deal!

This pitcher was the first find of the day. (I put it here with my very first antique teacup-and-saucer.) It isn't "vintage," (it's Martha Stewart :) but I loved the color, and I wanted something in which to put my cut flowers from my garden.

I also got a couple of books--The Ox-Cart Man (such a lovely picture-book), and a Children's First Encyclopedia, with very-cool pictures of animals and other things. These are for the "grands."

Not a bad haul for a quickie trip to the Goodwill, on the way home from other errands!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Not too Shabby

You Passed 8th Grade Science
Congratulations, you got 7/8 correct!
Could You Pass 8th Grade Science?

Well, I was a biology major in college, so I *hoped* I still remembered Something! I feel pretty good about myself, since it is 37 years since I have been in 8th grade. I think it is time for an ice cream cone, don't you?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Home is Where the Heart Is

"Home! The place where all man's best and happiest hours are passed. Where in our language shall we find a word of four letters that stirs the sweet pulses of life, like this of home--our home?"
--Sarah Josepha Hale (1868)
editor, Godey's Lady's Book
I was thinking about the movie Cheaper By The Dozen (the recent one). We had done the book (and its sequel, Belles on Their Toes) as read-alouds in the evening. We had also seen the original movie, with Clifton Webb.
When we saw the newer version, I had no expectations of it remotely resembling the original. It was a really "fun" movie, and of course it was done "over the top" as far as the comedic situations. (Frankly, I've never heard of anyone soaking pants in meat juice for a "gag," and if my children were so mean to each other....well, they just wouldn't be.)
When I look at the quote at the beginning of this entry, I can't find a trace of it anywhere in the newer movie. Is this, tho', what the Hollywood establishment sees as American Home Life?
It used to be that Home was where you came to get away from the world you were forced to enter, for your work- or school-day, or shopping or whatever. Now it seems that Home is just a place to drop one set of things, shower, dress, and be ready for the next foray into the world.
I read a really sad article one time about a family of five who, five days a week, left the house at 8am, scattered to their various duties, and came together about 10 pm for a quick bite to eat and a going-over of the next day's activities. Saturday was games or more lessons. Sunday was a free-for-all, everyone doing their own thing--mother shopping, etc. The parents believed that this was great training for the world in which their children would find themselves as grownups.
My dear husband often says that our home is his "haven" FROM the world. I have a lot to do to make it a "real" haven. We watch too much tv. We do too many "good" activities, as opposed to the "better" choices. I could do better nutritionally. I tend to want "Me Time" way too much. (it's important, but I take a LOT of Me Time.)
As I was thinking about this concept of Home as Haven, I wanted to encourage those women who are attempting to do this in a world where it is getting increasingly harder. Those of us who stay at home are facing higher prices in gasoline, food, and utilities. The pressing in of the world is getting harder to resist. It takes a lot to "never, never, never, never give up," as Churchill said. But the rewards are priceless, and, even if I never achieve the expectation I have set for myself (I'm sure it's way-unachievable by any human), I can reach toward that goal. The Bible says we should "not be weary in well-doing," for we will reap the reward. My reward is a family who has found a "haven" from the world.
graphic courtesy of Lise's Garden Graphics

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Summer Reading

"It was the day before Christmas, and it had been snowing all day...
"Children came rollicking out with their sleds, bundled in gay scarlet or green or blue, reveling in the snow, shouting to one another with muted voices that seemed amazingly to have lost their resonance, deadened in this strange padded atmosphere. Till even their young ardor was baffled by the increasingly bitter cold, and the pitiless slant of whiteness that shut them from one another, and one by one they drifted from a suddenly frightening world, into the warmth and brightness of the fireside, to careful mothers who kissed their little cold wet faces, dried their smarting wrists and folded them in warm garments with comforting embrace."

--Grace Livingston Hill, The Substitute Guest

Not much more refreshment to be had on a blistering summer day, than to read a book set in a blizzard!

graphic courtesy of Free clipart, animations and web graphics

Monday, July 17, 2006

Apple Happiness

Last Friday, my friend invited me to come pickin' apples at her orchard. These are my favorite kind for applesauce--they are early "Transparent" apples. I put a few in a glass bowl and took a picture, but really, there are just four paper sacks-full on my dining room table, ready to be processed. I will post a picture when I am finished canning.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Couldn't Be Wrong-er Quiz

You Are Noon
You are upbeat, ambitious, and never at loss for energy.You have a lot that drives you in life. The desire to be the best, and a secret hope of fame and power.And while you definitely have a Type A personality, you are still fun to be around.You have a ton of charisma and a genuine interest in others. You are adored by many.
What Time Of Day Are You?
If you know me at all, you are laughing your head off right now. This description of me could not be further from the truth. Well, maybe the last part is okay--"fun to be around," "adored by many..." But "ambitious," "never at a loss for energy," "Type A personality?" Puh-leeze. If you look under these words in the Thesaurus [under Antonym], maybe.
I answered all the questions honestly, it wasn't like I couldn't decide *what* answer to use...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Good Taste

As a biology major in college (actually, I could say, "as a Christian," or even, "as a human being who has the capablility of seeing Creation with her own eyes,"), it is sometimes hard for me to believe that any thinking person could believe in evolution. Please don't take offense if that *is* your belief--I'm sure you might then say the same thing about me! The great thing about having beliefs is that you are convinced they are True. Otherwise, they wouldn't be worth having.

But even if you believe in evolution, it does not explain everything about us. There are obvious things like fingerprints, earprints, and iris-prints--all these are different for every person. But there are subtle things that are different about each of us, that I find fascinating.

One of these things is our "favorite colors." Almost all of us have one, or two. Mine is green, and I like all shades of it. One of my sister's is purple; the other's was peacock blue. How do we choose these, except for the fact that they are "pleasing" to us?

Then there is food. I love lima beans and peas--many people do not. I don't think I've ever made gingerbread for my (poor) family--I don't care for ginger. I have a can that I bought early in our marriage (almost 31 years)--do you think it has any taste left? My sister-in-law loves ginger, but never uses nutmeg. I really can't stand the taste of Mountain Dew--Dr. Pepper is my poison. I do dark meat on chicken and turkey--my son won't touch anything but "white."

I could go on. Decorating. Fashion. Movies. Books. On and on and on. We have these differences not because ( I believe) of "nurture," but "nature." Having a belief in a creative God, this makes sense to me. He has filled the world with people of different tastes in every area of our lives, maybe Just Because It Pleased Him to Do So. Maybe no other reason than creativity. Something that the theory of evolution can't encompass.

The Bible says that creation recognizes its Creator. When we create something, it is recognizable as ours. My husband can tell when I make the brownies, even if my daughters use the same recipe. I can tell a James Taylor-written song, even if I haven't heard it before. Art experts can tell the artist behind an unknown painting, just by the style.

So that is why, on this day, God is obvious to me. I can see Him by His "style," everywhere around me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Small Groups

First of all, I have to tell you that I LOVE my church. We had been in a large church before we moved here--large churches have their "issues." So we were sure that we didn't want to attend a Big Church.

Where we live, there are three churches within easy walking distance. Nice-sized ones, by the looks of them. But the Lord had different ideas, and we ended up in a Big One. Across town.

Like I said, I love the church. But being big means that you could get lost in the bigness and never connect with anyone else. This is not what Christ meant when He prayed, "that they all would be one." "One" does not mean "alone." So, as in many large churches, we have Small Groups. These were first grouped by locality, as our city is somewhat spread out. The idea was to get to know a group of people well, so that burdens or blessings were easily shared, and that you knew that someone would be praying for your specific needs.

My husband and I never joined a small group. He was already involved in the monthly men's prayer breakfast, and heavily involved with the worship team. I worked in the nursery for several years, went to Ladies' Bible Study every week, and am heavily involved with the homeschool group. Even if we weren't involved with all those things, we have six grown children, who come around at least once a week for dinner. So we already had a number of people we were "doing life with" and whom we wouldn't hesitate to call if we had a prayer need or a physical need.

Every once in awhile, the Pastor-in-charge-of-small-groups would come around and ask us why we weren't Signed Up. He seemed a little confused when we told him we were already in forty-thousand small groups. (Hey, did I mention that all my children's activities came with ready-made Parents Waiting for Kids groups??)

I'm really not harping on small groups. For many people, they are the "skin" in the Jesus-with-skin-on that we are supposed to be. But America has this idea that if a little is good, then More is Better--more groups, more days a week to be away from home, more opportunities to be separated as a family "group..."

This past Sunday in Sunday school, a woman came around to tell us of an Upcoming Event: starting in August, we will be starting Interest Groups. These are small groups based on common interests: camping, archery, mothers of teenage boys, whatever. She asked for volunteers to say what *their* "passion" was--maybe *we* could host one of the groups!!

It's a good thing she didn't ask me. My current "passions" are Figuring Out How I Can Simplify My Life and Stay Home; and, Ways To Focus On Us As A Family.

So, my New Group is set. I already know where we're meeting (home) and who the members are (us--and only us.) Our Scripture comes from Deuteronomy 6 where we are commanded to teach our children about the Lord, when we rise and when we go to bed, when we are on the way and at home, etc.

Goody. Another thing I can check off my list!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Brave Little Hats

When I write about Grace Livingston Hill, (if you are a fan, too) there are just too many things to say about her books. Why do we love them? If I had to choose a word, it would probably be that they are Hope-full.

In the '70's, the Waltons became a big hit. A year later, Little House on the Prairie became another big hit. The critics needed a term to signify this explosion of "morality" shows--they called them Hope Operas. That's what I think of, when I think of my Grace books.

Some are Definitely better than others. These I have read over and over and over. I always read the "blizzard" books in the heat of summer--like The Substitute Guest. And, what is the one where the girl almost dies in the snow, lying on her mother's grave? I love Crimson Roses, Re-Creations, the Honor Girl, and Maris. But then, I also love Brentwood, Beauty for Ashes, and...well, I do have about 60 or 70 of them!

If you are a devotee, you will know the term "brave little hats." All the heroines had them--well, the "poor" heroines had them. If the girl was rich, her hats were...cowardly? Either the girl "brushed the hat till the pink velvet roses shone like new" or "the hat had already served her for three seasons, with its brave little feather," or she wore gardenias for a hat--"they were all she needed for an ornament on her shapely head." But, of course, the Bravest little hat was the one Hilda Lessing made in The Red Signal--she ran away from the bad guys straightaway from the kitchen where she was being forced to work, jumped a train, but thought she'd be conspicuous bareheaded (this was WWI). So she "whipped up" her brown denim apron into a semblance of an enlisted man's hat, "and no one knew, she had been so clever." Then she saw the general in charge of the whole Allied forces, and told them of the German plot. And the hero said, "oh, I thought it was a clever little hat." The hats, the hats--always the hats.

And what is it with Girls Walking Out? There was the girl in Crimson Roses. Also the one in the snow I mentioned before. Rainbow Cottage. Exit Betty. Not Under the Law. The Red Signal. I could go on, you know, this is not an exhaustive list!

But We Love Our Grace. When it came time to name our seventh child, *I* chose Norah Grace. Norah for the maid in The White Lady--she was so Irish. And Grace, obviously. (Of course, it is also a "virtue" name.) My dear husband wanted Abigail Joy. When she was born, he said "she looks just like you" and let me name her Norah. So I have my Grace. She, of course, will inherit my collection. When I'm DEAD. I'll still be reading them up to that time...

Okay, this will be the last post (maybe) about G.L.H. But I had to share a little about one of my passions...thanks for listening.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Why G.L.H.--part I

Some people who read my blog will know who G.L.H. is, and even understand the name of my blog, Rainbow Cottage. If not, I will tell you that G.L.H. are the initials of my favorite author, Grace Livingston Hill. I have read most of her books (there are 75 or 100), and have quite a collection of them in my home.

She wrote from the late 1890's to her death in 1947. Her books are formulaic--they feature the rich girl/poor boy, or poor girl/rich boy. One of the two is a Christian, and by his/her example, brings the other to a saving knowledge of Christ. The salvation message is always very clearly stated.

She wrote at a rate of 1 or 2 per year, so the literary value is minimal. She's not even always consistent--I can think of two books where characters change names in the middle. She wrote in a time where well-to-do whites were considered better than others--she portrays "garlic eaters" as dirty laborers who live in tenements with their many, equally dirty children playing in the street. The heroine always treats her "colored" servants "well." (as if they were equal.) I consider that a sign of the times in which she wrote--it doesn't stop me from reading them.

In Grace's books, the grandmothers are always "sweet," and to a one they are "dainty housekeepers." The villains always have "weak chins" and "fulsome lips." (as someone with fulsome lips myself, I take offense!) The heroes always have "firm, pleasant lips." (there's that Lip Thing again.)

Names crop up here and there in random patterns. The White Lady features Constance Wetherill--Marjorie Wetherill is the heroine in Brentwood. Then you have Constance Courtland in Matched Pearls. Courtland comes up in another book, too. There are heroes with Graham as the first as well as the last names. (I'm not complaining--*I* couldn't make up names for 75 stories!!) Grace herself writes under the name Hill (her first husband who died), Lutz (her second husband from whom she was divorced--bad guy), and I have a copy of The White Lady that says "by Marcia MacDonald," and underneath, "Grace L. Hill." M. MacDonald was her mother's name.

As for the name of my blog, Rainbow Cottage was the first "Grace" book that I read. That was the summer (1968) when I decided I wanted to read 100 books in the summer. I had a running list taped to my bedroom door. At least half of those books were Graces. It was a great time (age 13) to get steeped in healthy romance stories. A great move up from all the fairy tales I had read. (anybody remember the Colored Fairy books by Andrew Lang? Red Fairy Book, Blue, Green, Grey, etc?)

Thanks for letting me share. I'm hoping other Grace fans will find me here.

Next time: Grace, part II: the Brave Little Hats.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

First Things

Good morning, dear ones!

I decided to start a blog here because my daughter has started one, and she wishes to keep her comments open only to people within this community. I already have a blog elsewhere, so I may have to do some extra writing! Or, I may decide to make this one my "main" blog. I am not sure yet.

Wow, that sounded really boring, probably because it was--but a first entry has a tendency to do so.

Looking forward to being a part of this community.