Monday, July 30, 2012

On the other side

I'm not sure how many of my readers are aware of this, but yesterday we had the Tisha B'Av fast (delayed, because the actual Tisha B'Av was Shabbat). Generally I do not tolerate fasts very well; the 25 hours without food and water really gets to me. First I'm very hungry, then very thirsty, then just so weak I can hardly move a limb and get a bad headache. Also, ever since Tehilla was born I have been breastfeeding, and so have gone out of habit of fasting - only do this on Tisha B'Av and Yom Kippur, and on Yom Kippur just once so far because two years ago I was 10 days postpartum and a rabbi decreed I can take liquids in small amounts throughout the day.

Add  to the difficulty of fasting two very energetic little girls who must be cared for as usual... well, you get the picture. In this case, at the end of the day I was so tired I simply filled two water guns and sent them outside to play. Chickens make great moving targets. :o)

Anyhow, when I fasted previously I always ended up frustrated: "this is a religious obligation, but I don't feel it has any use whatsoever. I can think of no higher purpose when all I want is to eat and drink and carry on my routine and feel normal. Why can't we have, say, light meals and study about the Temple instead?" - but this time, something resonated differently for me.

As I was trying to survive the last hours of the fast, I thought of the Jews after the destruction of the Temple... weak, weary, unsure whether they can carry on another hour... and on top of it all, their whole world tumbling down upon them, dominated by a black void of immeasurable loss and grief we can only vaguely imagine. So I just sat quietly and talked a bit to Shira about the Temple - on an age-appropriate level, of course. I explained we are very sad because we have it no longer, and that we will always feel its loss until it is rebuilt.

May that happen soon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The hobbit hole

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."

I do have to say, I love the cozy descriptions of homes, food and company, both in the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien. While reading The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia, the parts I like best are the ones in which the tablecloth is spread and a delicious meal follows. 

I found this photo of a charming, real-life hobbit-hole-house on this website. If you have a few moments, I know you would be inspired, as I have been, to visit and read the story of one family which built its own home.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Baking day

This morning, I rolled up my sleeves, put on my apron and got to mixing and kneading dough. The girls had lots of fun "helping out" and kneading their own little lumps of dough as well. 
 I made pizza with my universal wonder-dough. It's topped with fresh tomatoes, leeks and of course, lots of cheese. 
From the same dough, I also made bread I put into the freezer for Shabbat - less work to do on a busy Friday!

It got rather hot while I was baking, but the delightful smell of fresh bread more than made up for that. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

The prize of de-cluttering

A pair of vintage glass holders my husband and I discovered while going through stuff in the storage shed in our old home. 

I think they are very interesting-looking, and find myself wondering how old they are, who they used to belong to, how many hands they have gone through, how many conversations over a cup of tea they witnessed... that's the beauty about old things - they hold part of a family's history, and it's lovely if they can continue to be useful, and pass from hand to hand, from generation to generation. 

And even without being able to talk, just think of the stories they tell. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

You, me and a cup of herb tea

After a weekend full of guests and mess-making, the next day always means a lot of busy-ness: the washing machine steadily hums away with load after load of laundry; beds are being changed, leftovers utilised, dishes washed, trash cans emptied, and on and on... and our usual midday break is especially welcome!
It's lovely to go out into the garden...
 ... and pick some herbs for tea.
 On the way, we may get rid of some dry leaves, water a plant or two... 
... or just watch how beautifully the rosemary grows.
If you have a herb garden, go out and brew yourself a cup of lovely fresh tea... if not... well, just any cup of tea is great, too, for your own little break.

I will soon have to jump headlong into afternoon chores, to go over the shopping list, fold the laundry and put it away, feed the animals again, sweep the front porch, give the floors a quick mop... but in the meantime, we can relax in the middle of another full and busy day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

From the happenings around here

 Defying the insufferably hot weather, I made apple pie.
And here are our 6-week-old chicks. Or should I call them pullets? It's difficult to get a good picture of them because they move around the yard so much, but they have already lost all their baby fuzz and got feathers in all sorts of pretty patterns. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

The downside of panic

Two days ago, my husband and I woke at around 4 a.m. to the sound of a rooster's desperate wails. Of course, the first thing we thought was "another fox attack" - and then we scrambled for our clothes. We found the poor rooster in the balcony fence, where he was stuck without being able to move backward or forward. The moment we disentangled him, he jumped down and bolted towards the bushes... there was no way we could have found him in the dark, and the fox must have got him in the end because we didn't see him since. 

Foxes are sly creatures. When they can't get into the coop, they prowl around and rattle the fence and do everything in general to induce panic in the chickens and make them leave their safe high perch and fly outside the coop, where they become easy targets, or run amok around the coop, where the fox can get them with his paws. 

While the first rooster was running like crazy around the yard, the second continued safely on his perch, where the fox absolutely couldn't get him. It was as though he knew that the best thing in his situation would be to do nothing... or perhaps he was just too sleepy to react.

This got me thinking... we human beings are supposed to be much more intelligent than chickens, but how many times do we run amok, exposing ourselves to the very danger we seek to avoid? Panic may induce us to do things we will sorely regret later, while in fact, in some cases it is truly better to do nothing; to wait out on our safe perch until the danger passes by. 

Illustration photo: wikinut

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Some crafts

Even though life has been very busy around here lately, and perhaps because of it, I found the time to do something little on the side, in the few spare moments I have here and there.
 Above: a crocheted placemat. Just because I felt like it. 
And a seashell necklace I made together with the girls. They like it very much and take turns wearing it! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Curves in the road

I have recently received a very touching message from a young woman who feels very home-focused, and desires marriage and family most of all, but as she is currently single her family very strongly feels the necessity (due to various circumstances) of her going through college and obtaining a job. Here is part of the message I wrote to her in response.

I have been thinking about your letter for these past few days, wondering how to best phrase all the many things I would like to say to you... as someone a little older (not much - certainly not enough to be your mother, but enough to be an older sister!).

The first, and perhaps the most important thing is, that life runs a rocky course, taking us to places we never though we'd like/choose for ourselves. If you are at point A, and would like to go to point B, and it seems to you as though you know the straightest and best path to point B, it still doesn't mean that is the path you are meant to take. It isn't always possible to do what seems the very best, or what someone else is doing. 

The good news, however, are that G-d has a plan - a plan which sometimes involves taking us just where we are meant to be, through places where, as it seems, we are not meant to be at all, in His perfect way and His perfect time. I have experienced it many times myself, and looking back, I have marveled at how, though each step of the way might have seemed a step backward, the way eventually led forward.

If you pray and seek G-d's will for your life, as a young woman desiring marriage and family, and to be in her own home, you need not fear, even if circumstances temporarily take you - seemingly - astray. As long as your heart and mind are focused on what you want to become, you are on the right path. Almost without you being aware of it, your thoughts and actions will be directed towards that dream you are praying about, and when you look back, you will eventually see that each and every step you were made to take was, ultimately, necessary.

Even if you cannot refuse taking the route your family believes is best for you, you can still carve out time to do and learn what you love, and to guard your heart for the right man whom, I hope, you will meet later - there is no knowing how much later - down the road. I sincerely hope that this was, in some little way, helpful, and that things work in a most wonderful and special way in your life. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Just a peep

 Things have been going rather fast here lately... we've got quite a heap piled on our plate, but I just had to pop in and share a couple of photos of these very cute, fuzzy babies that hatched in our incubator yesterday.
I have a lot of ideas swirling in my head and hope to update again soon. In the meantime, I'm wishing you all an excellent week!

Your friend,

Mrs. T

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A new friend

This is Snezhana, our beautiful new Swiss Shepherd. She is an exceedingly gentle dog, very affectionate and friendly. She's had her hair trimmed recently, but when it grows back she's supposed to look much more fluffy. Personally I've never even heard of white Shepherds before, and I think she's gorgeous! It's funny how we, both definitely not "dog persons" throughout our lives so far, became so taken with dogs during the year we've lived here.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The same work?

Joluise says: "It's important to remember that every woman who works outside the home also does what you do, they also work at home. All the tasks a SAHMS does, I do likewise even though I work full time."

I decided to refer to this comment in a separate post because it holds a grain of truth. It is true that many women who work outside the home, also work hard in their homes; I honestly believe that true career-oriented women are few and far between - a lot less common that women who have no deeper interest than their home and family, but are ingrained and educated with the message that to be worthy, they need to be doing something - anything - outside the home that will bring in a paycheck.

Actually I believe this is one of the biggest disservices feminism did to women. You can take a woman outside her home, but you can't take the home out of the woman - the hominess, cosiness, being family-oriented, children-loving... all of this comes far more naturally to most women than to most men, and so it happens that even when both spouses work, often the bulk of homemaking and child-rearing still falls on the woman's shoulders, making her overworked, overburdened, and overwhelmed. The feminist ideal, of both spouses working equal hours and spending equal hours at home and splitting the childcare and housework exactly equally, just doesn't work in real life (naturally, I'm speaking on a society-based level, not on a personal level). 

However, having said that, I believe it is futile to deny that much - MUCH - of what makes a house a home went down the drain once women went into the paid workforce. On a general level, no, the woman who works outside the home usually does not do all she would have done, had she been at home full time. Of course this depends on many variables, such as the age and social status of the woman, the number of her children and whether they would have attended school/preschool/daycare anyway, or they are sent off only because she works outside the home. Perhaps if one is super-organized and has a super-efficient routine, and no children in the neediest ages, she may pull it off and have a nice home and a happy husband and a nice job as well, and all this without feeling constantly torn apart and pulled in different directions (because if that is the case, I feel the price is too dear to pay). 

I'm not trying to make it sound as though in every home with a working wife there's serious neglect. I know that in every normal home I've been to, dishes are washed, meals are cooked, and the floor does not look yucky. Actually in the homes where the wife works and the children are sent away to daycare/preschool, the stuff usually looks nicer and keeps longer than in, say, homeschooling families. With less people at home for less hours, there's less to clean up, and upkeep is a breeze. But is it the true spirit of home? 

I confess I know little of living my life at home as a childless wife. I did that, for a while, but G-d saw fit to bless us with our firstborn a mere 10 months into our marriage, and so for most of that pre-children time I was pregnant,  not feeling very well, busy with various health appointments, etc. Now most of my time during the day is spent caring for our two girls (now 3.5 and almost 2 years old). So I learned - like a woman who works outside the home - to be more efficient in my homemaking routine; I do things with the girls when I can, and when I'm pressed for time I use the little pockets of spare minutes I have here and there throughout the day. At this season of my life, I seldom have time for extras, such as gourmet cooking or keeping a spotlessly clean home. 

I don't, however, see this as ideal; I am looking forward to a time in the future - perhaps with daughters who are a little older, and can lend a hand with the same goodwill but with more efficiency - when I am able to invest more in my home. To re-learn the habit of ironing, to try sourdough bread, to go back to making candles, to improve my knitting, to have windows with no fingerprints... perhaps all these things don't seem terribly important, and perhaps sometimes one has to forgo them for the general good of the family, but somehow it just doesn't click in my head that the bare minimum I am currently adhering to is the absolute best. 

A trip to the beach

 Last week, we spent a lovely afternoon at the beach. For me, really, there is nothing like the crashing of waves and the feeling of sand under bare feet. It was also a great joy to watch how Shira, who last year was reserved to mildly afraid of the sea, leapt in - under careful supervision, at her own pace - and squealed with delight when hit by wave after wave. 
Later, back home... in the car, little ones full of sand and salt, falling fast asleep... already looking forward to the next beach outing. I think we all are, too. :)

I hope your weekend was/is lovely likewise.

Mrs. T