Sunday, February 19, 2012

It's Sometimes Difficult to be Alone

With two preschoolers in the house several days a week, it becomes a challenge to even find time for a personal trip to the bathroom. Heather and I always make sure that one of us is "on patrol" before taking such a break. Once in the bathroom, you realize that it's the first 5 minutes you've had to yourself all morning. And then you hear a little noise at the bottom of the door, and several tiny fingers poke through – wiggling as if to say, "I know you're in there!" That's right – you just THOUGHT you were alone.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Stepping Back in Time

Before Christmas, my husband, daughter and I were discussing various Christmas traditions and how they got started. With a little research on the Internet, it became clear that many of our current traditions had their roots in the Victorian Age in England - 1837 to 1901 - which is basically the time of Queen Victoria's reign. The Christmas tree, ropes of cranberries and popcorn, Christmas cards, caroling, giving presents, and Santa Claus are just a few of the things that the Victorians initiated. 

I wondered if any documentaries had been done on the Victorian Christmas and went to one of my favorite websites: Top Documentary Films and did a search. What do you know? The BBC actually did have one - The Victorian Farm Christmas - done in 2009 which is a part of a longer series entitled The Victorian Farm. Here's a synopsis of the series:

Historical observational documentary series following a team who live the life of Victorian farmers for a year. Wearing period clothes and using only the materials that would have been available in 1885, historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn are going back in time to relive the day-to-day life of the Victorian farmer.
The project is based on the Acton Scott estate in Shropshire – a world frozen in time, lost in Victorian rural England. Its buildings and grounds are cluttered with antique tools and machinery collected by the Acton family, who have lived on the estate since the 12th century.
Working for a full calendar year, Ruth, Alex and Peter are rediscovering a lost world of skills, crafts and knowledge, assisted by an ever-dwindling band of experts who keep Victorian rural practices alive.

After watching the first one, I was hooked and continued with the entire series. Not only that, but I am currently watching the next series - The Edwardian Farm - and plan to continue with The Victorian Pharmacy!

Documentaries like this would be so helpful if placed alongside learning history in school. One could begin to see the difficulties of making a living by farming, mining, or fishing. Their lives seemed a never-ending chore of growing, making or buying raw materials and then turning them into something to sell or for their own consumption. If you wanted livestock - pigs, sheep, cows, chickens, etc. - then you had to plow the ground and sow the seed, harvest the result and store it through the winter months. If you wanted to increase your herd, flock or gaggle of geese, then you had to borrow or buy a bull, ram, or gander. You had to plan 3, 4 or 9 months ahead of time. And even then, things could go wrong - too much rain, a fox in the hen house, a lame horse. If you had to repair a chimney, you either had to make your own bricks and fire them or buy them (money which the farmers usually didn't have).

But it wasn't all doom and gloom. They found ways to have fun and celebrate, albeit in small ways. Sometimes they mixed work and fun together to get a big job done. And, although we look at their lives and think it was so hard, they no doubt thought that they had it better than their ancestors!

I do think that we have lost a good part of our humanness as we have become more and more isolated and out of touch with God's creation around us. These Victorians and Edwardians, at least the working class ones, were closely enter twined with the trees, plants and animals that surrounded them - deriving sustenance, healing, and shelter from them. Which of us is really better off?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Choose Your Yoke

There's an expression that I somehow missed as I was growing up, and now I find myself using it to encourage others who feel a bit inadequate in the way they handled or approached a given situation: "You did (or have done) the best that you knew how." It's an expression that I need to say to myself more frequently.

Being the primary bookkeeper and accountant for our personal and piano studio resources, there are many times when my planning and budgeting don't seem to match up with what a present need is or the unexpected curve balls we get. And, since our culture insists that we should always be able to budget, plan and save for future events (and thus avoid undue stress and needs), it becomes very easy to stamp "failure" on my forehead.

But God only asks us to do the best that we can in a given situation, and when the burden becomes too heavy, we are to place it upon his shoulders. How freeing that is! Instead of focusing on all the things I'm NOT doing, I can concentrate on doing what I can and trusting God with the outcome. But it will take quite a bit of reprogramming to undo decades of negativity. Lord, have mercy.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Time to Merge

Up until now, I have tried to maintain two separate blogs - one focusing on my journey in the Orthodox Church and another dealing with everyday events in my life.  The former was initiated several years ago and the latter only this year.

Initially, when I was considering and reading about the Orthodox faith, there were no grandchildren and my husband and I were being led away from our Evangelical roots.  My searching and discovering took up much of my time, and I felt the need to put down some of my thoughts and experiences from the journey.  I established the first blog: Narrow Pathways.  In the past year, my lifestyle has changed rather dramatically, and I found it necessary to work on living out my faith in my current, very busy and often unpredictable situation.  Therefore, as in my personal life, I feel it is time to merge these two blogs into one, since there are so many things that seem to overlap.  

So here, with Two Harvests, I will be sharing life events and reflections on the Orthodox faith as I continue to learn and grow.  My challenge for the year 2012!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Giddyup! Ow!

I've GOT to stop thinking that I'm in my 20s with toddlers again! My mind is still there, but my body will not cooperate with my bent toward thinking up creative things to do with a two year old. 

Katie Lynn is in a climbing stage and sees a step stool as a free ticket to discover things that have previously been out of reach for her. Next to carrying around her lovey, Larry the Lamb, the most common thing to see her carrying around the house is a small step stool. When you see her pass by with it, you'd better follow her!

Climbing not only includes sofas, coffee tables, beds and being able to stick her hand in the table water fountain. It also includes climbing on people! She loves to have someone lay on the floor so that she can climb all over you and hopefully end up in a good round of tickling. She also loves having someone get on their hands and knees so that she can pretend she is on a horse. This is all well and good. But last week, as I was in the "horsey" position on the floor, Katie Lynn asked me to "giddyup". This is when my body should have screamed at my brain, "Are you kidding???? Don't even think about it!" The next day, I could barely get out up out of my chair and walk without limping! Scratch "horsey rides" off my list. Good thing I already had an appointment with my chiropractor tomorrow!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fireflies and Flashlights

She was in the bathroom, putting on her makeup under the watchful eyes of her young granddaughter. After she applied her lipstick and started to leave, the little one said, "But, Gramma, you forgot to kiss the toilet paper good-bye!" She will probably never put lipstick on again without thinking about kissing the toilet paper good-bye.

My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday. He asked me how old I was, and I told him, "62." He was quiet for a moment and then asked, "Did you start at 1?"

My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, "Grandma,do you know how you and God are alike?" I mentally polished my halo and I said, "No, how are we alike?" You're both old," he replied.

I didn't know if my granddaughter had learned her colors yet so I decided to test her. I would point out something and ask what color it was. She would tell me and was always correct. It was fun for me, so I continued. At last she headed for the door,saying, "Grandma, I think you should try to figure out some of these yourself!"

When my grandson Billy and I entered our vacation cabin, we kept the lights off until we were inside to keep from attracting pesky insects. Still, a few fireflies followed us in. Noticing them before I did, Billy whispered, "It's no use Grandpa. Now the mosquitoes are coming after us with flashlights."

When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied,"I'm not sure." "Look in your underwear, Grandpa," he advised. "Mine says I'm four to six."

A nursery school teacher was delivering a station wagon full of kids home one day when a fire truck zoomed past. Sitting in the front seat of the truck was a Dalmatian dog. The children started discussing the dog's duties. "They use him to keep crowds back," said one child. "No," said another. "He's just for good luck." A third child brought the argument to a close. "They use the dogs," she said firmly, "to find the fire hydrants."

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I Can Touch the Sky

I took my granddaughter to one of our favorite parks this afternoon. I think it was the first time just the two of us have gone to the park. Mommy sprained her foot and is on crutches, Papaw had a migraine, and, well, Daddy had to stay and take care of Mommy who can only get around on crutches at this point. So, armed with water bottles and a snack, we drove to nearby Crowley Park.

It appeared to be a busy day with several family picnics going on, a birthday party on the deck by the pond, some kite flying in the nearby baseball field, and several groups fishing in the pond. But everyone was pretty spread out so it didn't seem overly crowded. Katie Lynn doesn't usually like being on playground equipment when there are a lot of kids around (I can't say I blame her), so I suggested we go on the deck to feed the turtles and tiny fish in the water. That suited her just fine. The entire deck (which is rather large) is surrounded by sturdy wire fencing, so that there's no danger of her falling off. She loves the freedom of running from one corner to the other and peering through the fence. There are actually two smaller sections of the fence that are a tiny bit lower and are just the right height for her to step up on one of the rails and look over the top herself - a great feeling of independence.

Once we ran out of bread cubes for the fish and turtles, I glanced over to the playground and noticed that no children were on the swings and suggested that we go back. She liked that idea and proceeded to run over the wood deck (it makes a wonderful noise when you run!) on her way to the playground. On the way, I pointed out the colorful kite, and she instantly associated it with Arnold the Pig in the Kipper videos (Pig and Arnold love flying their kite).

Katie Lynn chose the smaller swings - the ones for preschoolers that are sort of like buckets with holes for your legs. That way she can enjoy the fun of swinging without worrying about falling off or shifting your weight. With a "Ready, steady, go!" (also from the Kipper videos), I pushed her and continued to push her for, what seemed, a half an hour before she was ready to get down. She enjoyed watching the other kids playing on the playground equipment (without being in the middle of them) and seeing several little dogs go by with their owners walking them.

I loved swinging as a child (is there any child who didn't??). In the summertime, when school was out, my friend and I would walk down to the school playground and swing on the big swings, and time seemed to stop, as I dreamed dreams and thought about all sorts of things. I was reminded of those times this afternoon as I saw Katie Lynn slip into such a relaxed state going back and forth. Has anyone thought of swinging as therapeutic? Why don't they make swings for adults? What if a psychiatrist prescribed 3 hours of swinging each week for his patients? Would it make a difference? There is something so freeing about the back and forth motion and feeling like you could soar like a bird. It's too bad that we relegate so many things to childhood and don't carry them over into adulthood.

It was a good afternoon, and I think we both benefited from the time outside. By the time Katie Lynn was ready to get off the swings, the playground was full of grade school children and pretty hectic. I suggested it was time to go home, and Katie Lynn agreed. Her lovie, Larry, was in the car waiting for her and a package of Bunny Chews. Life is good!