"The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest."

Thomas Moore

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Simple reflections from a crossword...

Though breathing is still not as easy as it was two weeks ago it is most definitely on the improve.

I think being housebound is wonderful for a convalescent's physical recovery, but it can also lead you into an almost depressed mental state, and so it was for me. Thankfully I recognised what was happening and discussed it with my husband, so this morning we packed plenty of water and headed north in the Jeep for a country drive ending up at Abergowrie, north west of Ingham, where the air was cool, and cows munched contentedly in the lush green paddocks scattered between cane fields ripe for harvest. 

It was refreshing to have the tropical winter air blowing through my hair as we drove along, capturing my mood of late and carrying it away, far from mind. As we passed through Ingham we stopped at Lou's Food Emporium for a package of Crostoli to nibble on and two cold bottles of mandarin cordial to quench our thirst. Very simple, quite delicious. 

Home again early in the afternoon I was tired yet satisfied we'd made the effort to close the door behind us for a bit and be reminded that life is more than the world within our house. Too often during illness, or in seasons where we're housebound for any number of reasons, an introvert like myself can find herself sinking further and further into a reclusive state of being, and though I do prefer to spend most of my time at home anyhow, it's also crucial that I 'get out' and come up for air every so often, to gaze with wonder at the beauty God has surrounded us with in this tropical paradise.




My desk has been somewhat neglected of late and I was not at all inspired to sit there and begin catching up on things until I placed a small white milk jug of flowers on top of the printer and then all of a sudden it felt welcoming.

Truly, one small thing can change an outlook, lift a flagging spirit, paint a smile on weary lips.




Out on the back verandah my schlumbergera cactus has also had a change of outlook. After more than a year without blooms these pretty deep peachy pink blossoms have appeared...




Chatting with Blossom the other day I shared with her my lack of creativity right now, and the sense that someone had pulled the plug on that side of my mind and drained it all away. 
She said, "Mum, go into your sewing room and cut into a favourite piece of fabric - then do whatever you like with it."
So yesterday I did just that, right before dawn when I had given up on sleep and the rain which had fallen softly on the roof all night closed the sky with clouds and ushered a chill throughout the house.
Padding into the sewing room with slippers, coffee and a thick cardie, I knew exactly what fabric to pull off the shelf.

I'm pretty sure they have sat in my stash, much admired, for about seven years. Two 1/4 yard cuts of pinkish red loveliness, waiting, always waiting.

Like all things in my mind at present, they needed a simple setting...




...and I'm very slowly enjoying moments of quiet sewing as I watch how they marry together in 
applique and embroidery. 

It's been a while since I worked with just one colour. How calming, easy, relaxing. Even beautiful. 
No hours, days even, of double guessing back and forth as to whether a palette of assorted pastels will play nicely...just unwinding one more length of pinkish red thread at a time, unhurried, sure and certain.
How reflective of me right now.
Needing to be unhurried, needing to be sure and certain, needing simple times for as long as I can have them.


When I was at the doctor's surgery the other day an older gentleman sat near me in the waiting room. The large area wasn't crowded but there were perhaps twelve or fourteen patients, some with children, scattered in seats awaiting their name to be called. I'd been there about twenty minutes before the older man set himself down just a chair's space from mine and I may not have given him a thought except for what he did next.

In a room where everyone, without exception, even mothers and fathers with babies and toddlers, were looking intently at their mobile phones, fingers scrolling through websites, emails and texts, playing games or making calls...the gentleman nearby pulled out the local newspaper from under his arm, removed a pen from his pocket, and turned the pages until he found what he was looking for. The crossword puzzle.

A contented smile spread across his face as he flattened the newspaper open before refolding it into a letter size so the crossword was the only section showing, and then with pen in hand he began.

I could not help myself. So engaged was he in answering the clues and filling empty spaces with answers that I simply had to keep looking over. In fact, at one point when his face frowned with deep concentration over what was clearly a not so easy clue I wanted to lean over and ask if he'd like some help! I actually found myself both in awe and envious of his waiting room pastime. His delight when an answer came was obvious, but mostly I was struck by how at peace he was unencumbered by technology, oblivious to the dozen or more phone fixated patients surrounding him.

 I was sick yes, agitated at having to wait so long, fearful of a positive pneumonia diagnosis...yet much of that drifted away once my crossword loving fellow patient sat nearby. 

When I came home the picture of him sitting at peace with the folded newspaper did not leave me, and though for many days afterwards I just felt ghastly ill and barely found a glimmer of delight in anything, my mind would keep wandering back to him. So struck was I by the simplicity of that meeting and I wondered if he would ever know how God had used him to remind me that I could slow down too.

You see, when I was young my grandfather would do the crossword each day in the newspaper as well. Breakfast over with, a fresh cup of tea made, pen uncapped and waiting in his hand, Pop's mind was ready to be challenged. There was no mindless scrolling of social media. There was intention to sharpen the mind, to settle for a while in your own company and feel mentally satisfied when the brain workout was done. Simple satisfaction.

I like crosswords, and I'd forgotten that. I like jigsaw puzzles too.
I do not like the ones that come as an App though. In fact, I just deleted the games off my iPhone because there's now a yearning to do things the old way, the tactile way, the no-technology way. 

I want to be reminded by experience that there's a gentler life to be regained, though my steps will be small and my way yet to be defined, and choosing to seek those older paths may in fact be the way of the future, my future at any rate.

Indeed, this season of enforced rest is not being wasted. God is using it to wake me up and there are many more things ruminating within my mind at present but I daresay this is enough pouring out of thought for one day, yes?

If you have something to share on this train of thought please write about it in the comments. Blogger still are not forwarding comments to me via email but I will do my best to respond here. xx

God bless you ever so much,


30 comments:

  1. Hey Jen! All our family are crossword fans & on family holidays you could guarantee there was a crossword book (or two ... To avoid arguments!) & several 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles. A jigsaw was laid out in a central spot & everyone would stop to search for a piece or two as they passed through. Now that my folks are retired, there is always a jigsaw in progress in their hobby room. I'm not patient enough to do a whole puzzle, but it's satisfying to pop a piece in when I visit. :0) Hope you feel better soon. We've both had nasty head colds, but have avoided the flu so far. GB swears by his hot toddy of lemon juice, honey, hot water & a generous splash of Scotch. Even if it has no medicinal value, it makes him feel better. Tee! Hee! Hee! Big Squooshy Bear Hugs to you. KRIS xx

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  2. Crosswords are great. My daughter and I do the one in the daily paper when she joins us for dinner after work. We have lots of laughs as we agree we have one brain in two head's. Hub usually drops in an answer or two as he clears up the dishes. He is our geography and sport expert. Praying your lungs clear soon. You are a blessing to all who read your blog.xx

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  3. So glad you got out and enjoyed the day. Your applique and embroidery look beautiful and so tidy. How do you keep the fabric from fraying? Thanks.

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  4. Hello Jennie, I'm glad you are on the mend and had a nice day out. My oldest son has a cell phone, he needs it for work. It's the most basic he could buy...no smart phone, no apps, just basics. He is the only one of the 4 adults in our family that even has a cell phone. When I go to the Drs, I bring a good old fashion book to read. As for the comment problem, have you tried the fix found here. https://www.justletmequilt.com/2018/06/a-possible-fix-for-your-missing-comments.html
    Take care.

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  5. What a beautiful reminder to do more of the simple things. The old fashioned things that bring joy.

    I used to do crosswords, jigsaws and such, but like everyone else the phone seems to have taken over. Lately however I have been trying to use social media less and less. I find it is very distracting, and wastes so much of the precious time we have been blessed with.

    I usually take a book from home to read at the doctors, this seems to be the only time I get to sit and read.

    Hope you are back to your normal self very soon,

    xTania

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  6. i usually take some simple no fuss knitting when i visit the doctors! it is a surprise but there are still people out there that like the old fashioned feel of a newspaper, though some would cry 'poor trees' lol i prefer to read the paper when i'm down at our local markets, it just feels right.
    hope you're feeling better soon, very pretty reds there too; when you're ill the body wants rest, so try not to overdo the sewing & days out!
    take care & get well soon!
    thanx for sharing

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  7. Love your new photo of you and the baby on your blog!!! I waited over an hour in my local Dr's surgery last week. I always take some knitting with me!! Hope you have more time to spend with your 3 girls, when you have recovered!!

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  8. I'm so glad to hear you are improving and were able to get out of the house. I am a home body but have to get out every now. I start to get anxious if I don't.
    I know what you mean about breathing. Pneumonia makes each breath feel like an elephant is sitting on your chest.
    I had several aunts but one in particular was my favorite. She was also my role model in life. She loved crossword puzzles and always had one to work on. Anytime I see one I think of her. I have never been good at them. I can work the "Easy" Crossword puzzles but not the ones in the paper. My brain just doesn't work that way.
    The project you are working on looks beautiful. I love the colors.
    Thank you for all you do.

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  9. Hi Jenny,
    I think Blossom's quote should be stitched and framed for all to see! That's inspiration!
    go into your sewing room and cut into a favourite piece of fabric - then do whatever you like with it.
    Love reading your blog!

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  10. I love taking my stitching along to the doctor's office. It is nice to feel that needle going through the fabric. It calms me and everyone around me watches cautiously out of their technology for a few minutes as I stitch. I like using that time that would otherwise be wasted. I am glad you are feeling better and at the same time getting that opportunity to slow down and enjoy the simple things. We so need the simple things these days. Keep resting and thinking and praying. God is using you to speak to us. What a blessing you are. K- lkw2x6-apq@yahoo.com

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  11. Hi Jen
    So glad to hear you are on the mend, I to love jigsaws, I keep a table up with one on it at all times, but I love to read so I always have a book with me for drs visit and such, you are always such an inspiration and always have such nice things to say about where you live, I always look forward to reading your posts, I love hearing about your kids and grandkids, I have 5 grandsons and one granddaughter. Keep feeling better.
    God Bless
    Mary

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  12. Hello Jenny; It is nice to hear that you are feeling well enough to go for a drive and to start a project. Which looks so pretty already from the picture you showed. It is an amazing detail in sewing, quilting, and stitching that so often we do not think of but when we are having any type of difficulty in our lives, picking out a favorite fabric and starting a project really does lift our spirits and we begin to see a positive. Jenny, I have provided a link to a blog post of a quilting online friend who really knows her way around in this computer world of blogging. In this post, I hope that you can find some help with your comment problems. I know that if you leave a comment to Yvonne she answers as quickly as possible and just mention I sent you. I will also tell her that I have given her this link. I truly hope this helps. Have a great day!

    https://quiltingjetgirl.com/2018/06/25/website-maintenance-discussion/

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  13. Coming out of lurkdom (enjoy your blog!!) to mention that there's a solution for comment issues in Shez's post here....http://shez86.blogspot.com/2018/06/how-to-fix-comment-problem-another-bunny.html Be sure to follow all the steps, including the one that has you seemingly saving something that doesn't need it. It worked for me and for everyone I've told about it! Cheers.

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  14. Je travaille chez une vieille dame ( 88 ans ) qui débute sa journée par les mots croisés de son journal du matin ....pour elle c'est IMPERATIF !!
    Bises de la France

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  15. So lovely to read you enjoyed your little blessed sewing time and the break away from those four walls we know as home. I am so encouraged to read you say you sink into depression but noticed what was happening then into Blossom's prescription. I'm suffering with my Fibromyalgia at present - seems to have had a nasty turn, I was going along quite fine. Anyway I will push through it and take my darling husband out from the nursing home today (Western Australian time) and come away from the four walls and depression I feel has started within me. God bless you and your lovely family richly and particularly touch you with improved health. Thank you for your writings on your blog - many a time they have lifted my day. xx Louise

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  16. As always, aviit with you is inspiring and calming. I have been kind of housebound by very hot weather and I have lost my ambition to be creative. I guess I am feeling off. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. This past year has been difficult and I am still trying to move forward. I always feel better when I visit with you!

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  17. COMMENT ISSUE has been resolved! \o/
    I followed the link Dorian left in her comment and all is well again. Thank you. x

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  18. Dearest Jenny, I do hope you are doing better. Pneumonia is not fun. I still manage to get it even though I stay up to date on my pneumonia vaccines. So irritating. I do a crossword everyday. I really enjoy them and I think they keep this aging brain of mine in condition. It is getting hard to find good crossword books as I think that nowadays they just spit them out through computers. I also don't know current pop culture. But when I come across a good book it is highly enjoyable. Keep resting. You will keep feeling better.

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  19. I needed the breath of peaceful air that wafted over me as I read your post. I'm glad you found some special uninterrupted time in your sewing room. What a bonus to have your cactus bloom. The blossoms always remind me of an angel thrusting herself forward, eager for whatever she encounters. I hope your recovery continues at a swift pace.

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  20. If I could have gotten another "dumb phone" when my last one died, I would have. My husband got his first one from work and so when my phone gave up the ghost we opted for the "smart" phone. I rarely use anything other than the phone and camera. I usually take a book to read when I go for a medical appointment as I don't like reading on the small screen of my phone. My husband and I both do crosswords and frequently will work on one together. I also like jigsaw puzzles.

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  21. Yes to the crossword! My husband does the NY Times everyday, and I do the LA Times everyday, both of us in ink. Although I do have to admit to more errors than my hubby. What fun with early morning tea, sometimes before but usually after reading my Bible!

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  22. It does do wonders for the mind to get out. I too am ghastly ill yet i bundled my dad [91] in the car to go to a favorite coffee shop just for a coffee we were about to come home i said would you like to go the long way, yes, an hour later we drove home As there is only my dad [who has only been given months to live]and myself as full time carer, pushing myself and him to get out of the house is wonderful I just love driving and viewing God's creation the air in my face my assistance dog beside me It does wonders to not just the mind but the soul I had lost the motivation to do anything with the shoebox's yet getting out focus's me to get stuck in again thankyou get well soon i love your emails and blogs crosswords are not my thing but my grandpa use to fight nanna to the paper she was a proofreader and with red pen she would mark all the mistakes ....memories not thought of this for ages thanks

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  23. What a pleasant read! I am too dumb to operate my smart phone, but it doesn't bother me at all. I get so irritated when everyone at any gathering (two to a room full) constantly is checking their phone. I predict that soon the younger generation (and indeed many of we older ones) will not know how to converse audibly with those around us. I also fear that correct spelling and handwriting will be a thing of the past, all because of the "smart" phones. To be honest, I never even turn mine on unless I'm away from home and having an emergency; that really aggravates my friends and family. Hope you feel better each day. ---"Love"

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  24. It would have been lovely to get out in the fresh air with hubby. I find myself at home a lot and it sometimes takes a lot to get me out, usually lack of food in the house or garden lol. I pictured myself as your dear gentleman sitting doing a crossword. I love crosswords and buy a crossword book every month. When I am at a cafe I usually do the crossword in the paper. Lovely stitching happening there. Hope you had a lovely cherished day with Blossom and the girls.

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  25. You should see Mick and I each afternoon after I get home from work. He makes a nice coffee, I get out some bikkies out and we sit down with the papers. Me with the local, which gets thinner all the time, and Mick with the Tele. Me doing th Sudoku and Mick with his crossword. It is a nice wind down time. I sometimes then do another Sudoku on line. I love your bloom. We bought Three of those plants at a garage sale last winter. We cover them each night to protect them from the frost. One has a pink bloom nearly out and one has its first bloom of the palest pink, nearly white. I’ll have to take a pic. I also love your latest project colours.

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  26. Jenny, there has been a work around found for comments. Shez explains it well in this post. http://shez86.blogspot.com/2018/06/how-to-fix-comment-problem-another-bunny.html. It took me quite a few attempts before I could get it to work but finally it decided to play. Give it a try and see how you go.

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  27. I'm glad you are taking it easy as pneumonia is a serious ailment and takes time to heal. I have COPD which has been maintained well for several years but recently have endured difficulty breathing. The doctors are putting me through many tests to find the reason and I'm doing breathing treatments 3 to 4 times daily which is all interrupting my daily life. It is so hard for me to slow down and I miss caring for my grandson right now. That drive sounded wonderful and your hand work is so sweet. Hope you heal quickly. mary.

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  28. jenny, God Bless you as you recover from pneumonia. I'm glad that you were able to get out of the house. Along with an unpleasant malady from I suffer, there is a huge element of depression associated with it. I take three anti-depressants. For the first time in a long time, I finally have times when I feel "normal." Other times, I just sit and cry even on the medications. It is an unpleasant thing to battle. I have some wonderful friends that encourage me to get out of the house. I'm hoping to get a service dog to help with the PTSD and depression. I smiled when you were recalling the calmness of crossword puzzles and jigsaw puzzles. I love puzzle books and jigsaw puzzles. I like doing sudoku with pencils much better than electronically. I think doing these activitieis not only can help keep the mind sharp but can in some cases foster companionship. My late husband and I would do crossword puzzles together. Please take good care of yourself and slow stitch just as you are able. susan.dietrich@cox.net

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  29. Hope you are feeling better! I also deleted the puzzles from my phone. It is much more relaxing with paper and pen. Take care and go gently. Karen

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It's always nice to receive feedback on a blog post, so *thank you* for taking time to comment!
I will try to reply via email unless you are a 'no reply blogger' which means you'll have to check for my reply in the comments. Of course, life is a rather hazardous activity, isn't it? So if I don't respond to your comment that's the reason why - life simply stepped in...
hugs
Jenny
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