The last day of November was warm with a brisk wind to scurry about the colorful leaves. I walked the streets in Clayton to do some banking and grab a bite to eat on my lunch hour. The wind whipped from the west and changed directions several times that hour. The tell-tale sign of changing seasons. A mild autumn is quickly going into winter-like weather this week. The weekend forecast includes snow flakes, and colder than normal temperatures next week. “Each year is a parable begun in stillness, and chill, of bare ground warmed with spring life returning, then bursting, buzzing, peaking in summer, and issuing a final flare in autumn, to subside in another winter’s seeming nullity,” author Stephanie Mills writes in her book Epicurean Simplicity.
Preparations for the winter season may not be a necessary stack of firewood in my suburban lifestyle. I remember as a child the excitement of my family’s annual New Year’s Eve stay at the one-room cabin my father built on the family farm in Franklin County, Missouri. The simple shingle covered dwelling probably no bigger that 500 square-feet had no bathroom or electricity, but a wood stove for its heat source. My father and Grandpa would cut down old trees on the 100+ -acre farm and split wood throughout the autumn season in preparation for deer hunting trips and these winter weekend visits to the family farm. My current preparations include sweaters and boots being pulled from the depths of the closets as well as my epie pin and antihistamine stowed in my purse for the next 4 months. An allergy to cold air and water is not easy, but is not the worst a person would have to deal with. Thank goodness for gas heat.
And now I focus on my own heart matters for today. Simplicity. “Try to see the beauty in your own backyard to notice the miracles of everyday life,” religious leader Gloria Gaither says. I would say that is great advice. Perennial thoughts and ways, appreciating what you have now, and making do. Simple, thankful, authentic, resourceful. I am intrigued by the choice of voluntary simplicity as I further my research for an enrichment class to teach at my work place. There are authors, activists, and societies devoted to this way of thinking and lifestyle. Choices made such as local community versus global; homegrown versus mass produced; renovate or upcycle versus disgard; a 3-generation home versus having separate homes; public transportation, carpooling, or riding a bicycle versus commuting to work with one’s own vehicle everyday; hand-crafted versus manufacturer made; purchase local versus big brand, slow food versus fast food, and the list goes on. As author and ecological activist Stephanie Mills states“bigger has not turned out to be better.” I like the change back to some old ways and traditions. What does simplicity mean to you? How have you made simplicity a lifestyle choice? I would love to hear.
Hand-crafted art speaks the soul of the artist and craftsman. “… in order for them to have a soul, they have to be designed by something that’s connected to a soul—a human hand.” Stephen Frei, owner of a stained glass company in Kirkwood is quoted in a recent MissouriLife article. – See more at: http://www.missourilife.com/life/stories-stained-in-glass/. Frei speaks of his stained glass, an art passed from one generation to the next in his family. His craft trumps all modern computer programs in quality. Quantity is not the aim. See the beautiful stained glass in our church, built over 150 years ago. These glass masterpieces have recently undergone methodical cleaning and restoration. As I write I hear All Saints’ bells ring.
The restoration of our home is painstakingly coming along. The walls are all painted. See the lovely shade in the living room. I love a calming green. We had the solid pine wood doors delivered to our home this past week. Custom made for our house. These are being hand-stained by a seasoned painter with a tinge of cherry in the stain. What a warm feel these wooden pieces of art give to our home. Cannot wait for them to be hung as well as the laminate flooring laid. Dean and I are aiming for the last weekend in February to be back home to stay.
So how did paper get to be so overkill? All the junk mail even during the electronic era? Before scrolled pen & ink messages,the typewriter, word processors, and computer words were carved in stone and wood for communication. Story-telling, musical lyrics, and fireside chats rather than books, blogs, and online chats. I’d like to reserve my paper adventures to handwritten “thank you” and “thinking of you” notes using recycled or hand-crafted papers, or papiermache or decoupage trinket boxes or other craft projects recycling greeting cards. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner for a paper creation.<
With these wintry days time is on my side. I am not working two or three jobs any longer. No greenhouse chores. No pressing family matters to attend to. My allergy to the cold tells me I cannot play outside in the cold. At home and at work, I have a plethora of papers piled in baskets, boxes, trays, and file cabinets. All of which are in need of my attention. Not one paper is of immediacy. It just requires time to make decisions about what stays and gets filed, and what gets purged. I do not consider myself a hoarder, but I am beginning to wonder about myself as of late. Lack of time would be the culprit. But 2015 is the year for repurpose, recycle, and rejuvenation. How many trees can I save?
At home, the unwanted papers are a part of an annual fire ritual set aside for a wintry late afternoon using the kitchen fireplace. It is the perfect Sunday afternoon to make split-second decisions before throwing the unwanted papers in the blazing fire or set aside for the files. I guarantee there will be another wintry day for filing. Our feline friends find the whistling of the fire fasinating. My work week has been somewhat subdued considering the kind of weeks and months coming out of 2014. Project deadlines and security issues were priority over these damned papers. To the shredder rather than a fire the excess papers go. I now keep most documents on electronic files. During another lull time, I will organize my computer files.
What paper projects do you create or undertake during the winter months?
Some days the pets as well as neighborhood squirrels and birds watch us as if we are their entertainment. Most other days, it is the reverse. The household and outside critters are our entertainment. Our pets, Midnight, Celine, Jonas, and Pennylane will greet us at the front door after a long day at work. The dog with a wagging tail and panting smile, and the feline friends with purrs and nudges to be petted. The birds and squirrels gather at the dogwood tree to feed on seeds at the feeder or underneath where the seed remnants lie on the leaf-mulched earth.
When asked what my new year’s resolution is, the word is “repurpose”. Repurpose items already obtained. Rejuvenate, repair, renovate, recycle, all to mean the same as repurpose. Utilize an item for a purpose or meaning once again. To go with this year’s theme of “repurpose”, this weekend I had purposed to wash all the stuffed animals and characters that have residence in our home. We have quite the collection of teddies, rabbits, chicks, dolls, doggies, and even a Tazmanian devil from my children and grandchildren. These toys provded hours of entertainment and occupied a hammock hung in the back bedroom or sit on the bay window seat. One basket situated in the living room was bed to some favorites, ready at a moment’s notice to be gathered into the arms of a visiting child. Since my daughter moved in, more space is needed in the back bedroom. We placed these critters in plastic bags until after the holiday madness simmered down. To the local laudromat we went with 3 large plastic bags, filled 2 front loading machines. Dean and I watched as the soapy faces plastered against the door windows, as if they muttered “help!” from their foaming mouths. After the wash cycle we dried the freshly washed critters for just a few minutes in a gigantic-sized dryer. We brought home the damp stuffed animals, lined them on the trundle bed to air dry. Dean captured this photo of their greeting smiles. A bath always makes you feel better! Later we turned the critters on their heads, with their backsides up to air dry. We waited for our Labrador, Midnight to land himself atop the stuffed critters as the trundle bed is one of his favorite spots to nap. But the stuffed critters remained undisturbed.
Maybe there were too many of the critters, slightly overwhelming? We think so. Two of these toys date back to 32 years ago, my oldest daughter’s 1st Christmas teddy and 1st birthday Hush Puppy. The Care Bear with a band-aid on his leg was given to my oldest when she recovered from appendicitis at age 5. Another doggy belonged to my other daughter, and a teddy with a blue beret belonged to my artsy son. Others are a handmade rabbit and doll from a special grandmother. So the other purpose for the communal bath and animal reunion was to donate the less familar clean, germ-free critters to Goodwill. Some other children to love on their cuteness, softness. Tote to a tea party, wagon ride, or bedtime. We filled 2 bags to repurpose. And the other special animals and dolls sit in the living room inside the white wicker basket with a pink-gingham cloth lining. These await another child’s love, maybe more grandbabies?