Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Pleasures and Value of Homemaking

Some rosemary I trimmed from one of our bushes this weekend.

"Our family members will carry the atmosphere we create in our homes for the rest of their lives." ~ Miriam Lukken

I got a little (too?) excited recently over the number of books I was finding through interlibrary loan and was selecting up to my limit of 3 a week. You just never know when they will come in and they all have individual due dates: sometimes 2 weeks, sometimes 3. And then, there are some that can be renewed and some that can't. Plus I was on the local library's waiting list for Barbara Kingsolver's newest book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and, it being so new, I was sure I'd have a long wait.

So, guess which one came in first?

Yes, the Kingsolver book came in with a 2-week (as opposed to our regular 3) limit, since it was new. And then... all the interlibrary loans arrived within the next 3 days. Everything is due either on the 2nd of August or the 8th. So, I have been reading as quickly as I can and prioritizing as much as possible! It is a bibliophile's dilemma, to be sure, and not too terrible a problem to have.

One of the books I've acquired is Miriam Lukken's, Mrs. Dunwoody's Excellent Instructions for Homekeeping: Timeless Wisdom and Practical Advice, published in 2003.

I am not too far into the meat of the book, but the preface is quite lovely and loaded with quotes I'll need to be adding to my own "Little Book of Quotes," which I keep. That's the trouble with all the reading I do - and especially when I don't own the books! It is rare that I simply read a book and then sigh a great sigh of pleasure at the end and move on to the next book. No, I generally work my way through a book, it seems, sticking little sticky notes all over it for referencing later: quotes, future books to read, resources to look up on the internet, etc.

Mrs. Dunwoody's... is, so far, proving to be a very charming book (those are some of my favorites!) filled with much practical advice, yet much of it I, so far, already seem to know. I can see that it would be a lovely, lovely book to give as a gift to a new bride who was interested in being a homemaker. For me, the philosophical points of the book are the ones that I am enjoying. Lukken puts into words, often in the guise of "Mrs. Dunwoody," many of the sentiments I hold about home, what it means, and the importance and value... and honor I place on my role as keeper of it and the goals I hold within.

Simple, peaceful setting

Some quotes from the preface of Mrs. Dunwoody's...

"Even the common articles made for daily use become endowed with beauty when they are loved. We must strive to see the goodness or usefulness in all things, taking nothing for granted. And we must approach every task as a blessing to be received, never as a chore."

"In her notes, she wrote that homekeeping wasn't just a matter of cleaning a house; it was a matter of presentation, hospitality, entertaining, etiquette, organizing, letter writing, caring for loved ones, cooking, sewing, and just plain general information that made for a thoughtful, meaningful and considered life."

"In a letter to a grandchild Mrs. Dunwoody wrote, 'Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. [Giving a nod to the famous William Morris quote, I presume.] Home is a sacred place for you and your family. Home interprets heaven. It is heaven for beginners. Take the time to come home to yourself, every day.' She taught that home is where you came to rest, and so it should thereby be restorative. It should be a relief to come home at the end of the day, close the door behind you, and find things as they should be (and always have been). She taught that comfort and security are found in sameness. She truly believed that our own inner peace and happiness could be worked out by organizing our physical surroundings."

So, if I can continue to speed read my way through this book, I think I shall continue to enjoy it very much! :)

In line with Mrs's Dunwoody's seeing the goodness and usefulness in all things, I was quite excited to find this very pretty cutting board at my grocery market this weekend. I had just been thinking that I wanted a new board. The flexible plastic one I'd used for a while bothered me. I was concerned about all the cutting and the plastic in contact with my food. I thought I would be on the lookout for a new wooden one. Much to my pleasure and surprise, I came across this one while on a quick errand!

Bamboo is an easily renewable resource and is being used in all sorts of things now from flooring, to yarn, to... cutting boards! Best of all, it was local! So, I snatched it right up and am quite pleased with my purchase.

Hope you all have a wonderful day!
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