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I have a few friends who have recommended books by Elizabeth Goudge for a few years. I finally requested some from the library and decided to dig in. The first two I skimmed more than read. I felt like Gentian Hill and Green Dolphin Street were about twice as long as they needed to be. She writes wonderful descriptions of landscape, people, and concepts. Maybe I just felt like I had too much to do and didn’t take the time to appreciate the books. It certainly felt like I was reading to reach a goal, not to enjoy a book.
I stuck with it. The books were good enough that I didn’t feel it was a total waste of time. And I trust the women who recommended her. The next book I tried was The Castle on the Hill. She had me from the very beginning where she describes Miss Brown sitting on a bench and leaning against the roar of traffic and the street musician that draws her back into the pilgrimage. The characters were wonderful and varied and the ending was satisfactory. One thing that Miss Brown learned from the experiences in the book and from the always-happy Mrs. Heather was the foolishness of the fear that “life could cast one away. Yield yourself to it, and it will use you to the end.”
The book is set around England during World War II and we meet landed gentry, a Jew who has suffered and survived atrocities in Europe, children sent to the countryside by parents living in London, and Miss Brown, a woman who lives to wash and cook for others. I found the character of Mrs. Heather to be the most inspiring, as she has come to peace with life and death.
Then I started The Heart of the Family. This is the third book about the Eliot family. Obviously I’m not reading these in order as I haven’t read the first two. I want to find them and read them now. The characters are very interesting and real. The interactions seem too good to be true, but typical for an Elizabeth Goudge novel. I haven’t finished it, but I highly recommend it based on the 143 pages I’ve read so far.
This book has spoken to me this past week. I started it the middle of last week, and I was reading chapter 2 on Thursday the day of the visitation for my dad. At one point that day I read the pages where Lucilla, the 91 year old grandmother is thinking about how at “her age one was already beginning to live a little in the life to come and to know as they know who are set free from all deceptions and disguises of existence in the body.” She talks about her oldest son dying in WW I and how it seemed he vanished utterly from existence at his death.
“And yet now, after a lifetime of absence, here was Maurice back again, returned from the great distance and the deep silence with an ease that suggested that they were neither so deep nor so great as she had thought. He had made himself known to her as an enfolding of warm joy, as though her small soul was held within his, that was so much greater.”
Then she says to herself “And so, with you so constantly here, Maurice, my lifelong grief for you seems slightly foolish. If I had my time over again I would weep for nothing but sin.”
The whole book has spoken to me. The deep darkness, hatred, and fear of Mr. Weber. The strength of Hilary Eliot. The domestic daydreams of Caroline. The continuity of family over generations.
I can now say I understand why women are so drawn to the books by Elizabeth Goudge. She talks about the deep, inner life of a person. I am too distracted by the busy surface and need this encouragement to slow down and look deeper.
I did it. I created a shopping list first. It sat around for 2 weeks before we had time to go to the grocery store. My husband graciously bought the items on my grocery list while picking up food to make chicken parmesan for a visiting couple this weekend. Yesterday got away from me. So this morning I grabbed Connor and made him help. I browned the meat and onions while he opened and dumped cans in the crock-pot. We’ll see tonight how the Cowboy Soup turns out.
Connor grabbed the camera to get a few shots. The view of the stuff in the crockpot before we stirred it was pretty disturbing.
I just spoke with Judy to see how my dad is doing today. Here is an update from the past few conversations we’ve had.
This weekend they reduced the respirator quite a bit. They used the cpap and it worked for awhile, but they haven’t done it since then. He’s breathing on his own but gets tired and doesn’t breathe completely. The cpap helped him get a full functional breath. For now they are using the respirator but they are talking about a trach color.
He’s running a low grade temperature the past few days. They sayd the pneumonia was looking better but the VRE infection is still there so they are still monitoring and tweaking the antibiotics.
They have reduced the sedation and he is now aware that Judy is there. He’ll squeeze her hand when she asks him to. He still gets uncomfortable with the tube and general pain so they will give him pain meds and he’ll go back to sleep.
It’s all sounding a bit optimistic. I plan to drive up Saturday morning to visit with him.
Here’s a pic of me with my Dad in 1970. The pants and the couch go so well together!
I’ve already found some cool tips from the other posts here.
I discovered a nice little shortcut the other day. It may not be anything interesting to most of you. You’ll say – I already knew that!
I used to keep my files in a “data” folder on the C drive so the cutesly little short-cuts on the file | save-as box did me no good. I got used to ignoring them. A year or two ago my husband changed my set up so I now have keep my data under the My Documents area. But I didn’t change my habit of ignoring the buttons on the save-as or file | open boxes. Then the other day I paid attention and discovered that Desktop and Documents are right there. No more clicking the up button several times or wading through the file drop down to get back to the top level.
Specific tip – use these shortcuts to save you some time when opening and saving documents.
General tip – stop and rethink some of the things we do by habit.
Another tip is when you are creating a text widget on your blog to put a graphic or text, you can put this at the begining to center it:
And when you put the href entry with the url, you can put target=”_blank” in there so that when someone clicks on the graphic/link it opens in a separate window instead of replacing your current page with the new page.
<a href=”http://theimperfectblog.com” target=”_blank”>
This month it’s cooking!
I really want to do a better job of getting cooking done so I am happy to have this motivation. The introductory article is a great resource, discussing having a master menu plan and base grocery list. She also provides samples and blanks.
One key thing I see in having a master plan is that you have to have a wide range of options. Not so wide it’s unmanageable, but wide enough that you don’t get bored with it.
We tend to get in a rut and do the same thing for a few months and then get tired of it. But I am looking to begin using the crock pot and collecting other good recipes here. There are a lot of nights that we aren’t home, but the meals are still useful for lunch and individual dinners since on any given night usually at least one of us is eating at home.
Todo for this week – work up a master menu plan and a grocery list. Then begin to put it into action! It will be nice to have a month’s worth of meals already in the pantry and fridge with limited weekly purchases.
I’ve treated cooking as one thing I can ignore while I work to keep everything else under control. But I am going to change my thinking to see cooking as one thing I can control and contribute to my home, even amidst everything else that is going on.
This was today’s hymn, number 689 in the Trinity Hymnal. You can hear the tune here.
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to your God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: your best, your heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shall you better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe your sorrow and your fears.
Be still, my soul: your Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.
Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.