We're beginning the third last chapter today and the title of this chapter is SHARING.
I guess most of us who value homemaking and all this entails over the course of a lifetime would imagine 'sharing' to be second nature; we share often in natural response to our multiple roles of wife, mother, child, grandparent, friend, neighbour etc.
But let's follow the conversation with Jane as she expounds on different expressions of sharing...
INVESTING IN SHARING
"A creative domestic space is one that not only enables individuals to flourish, but also encourages shared lives and experiences." (page 200)
"Passing on, sharing, and communicating the value of skills such as baking and sewing and creating textiles is the best possible way of keeping them alive." (page 200)
Not sure if I've mentioned this before but growing up with Nana and Pop I was not taught any homemaking skills. Nana was 50 and so proficient in keeping their tiny one-bedroom flat spic and span that when she took me on as a grieving 3yo I don't think it ever occurred to her that she needed to involve me in the day to day running of her home, even when I had grown into my teens. She simply loved 'doing' for Pop and I.
Hanging washing, drying our few dishes or making up my bed on the living room couch each night was about as far as I got.
But I was there beside her, watching, studying, as she polished the taps, swept the floor, cooked huge pots of pickles and ladled them into sterilised jars, shopped wisely at the grocer and butcher, darned Pop's socks, knitted Pop's vests, gloves and balaclavas, baked jam tarts and rice custards...and so many other jobs she diligently applied herself to in the days, weeks and seasons of each year.
As a very young mother and wife at age 17, I had to lean on my memories of Nana's example in order to gain confidence in the art of keeping house, and discovered nothing was as simple as I'd imagined. You can image how much sweeter was my gratitude and awe of Nana during those first few years tending to a family of my own.
"When it comes to the gentle arts I am mostly self-taught...and when I want to learn a new skill, I find someone to teach me." (page 200)
Now here's how I learned some of my domesticity - in books such as The Commonsense Cookery Book, which taught me more than you can guess about every aspect of preparing meals; one of Nana's dear friends who was known as Auntie taught me (patiently) to knit and just having that solid foundation allowed me to try more intricate designs and fancier stitches to knit warm cardies for my children; through the friends I made at playgroups who generously shared their skills; from neighbours who as a response to my gifts of delicious baked fare would show me how to do many other tasks I'd not previously been competent in.
And today we can turn to the internet for even more ideas. We can now learn a vast array of skills and techniques, from making our own soap and fitting fly screens to a door (ask Blossom about a 3 year old who ran through one, twice) to preparing herbal salves and propagating plants. My husband and I have become avid learners of all things which pertain to becoming self sufficient and many an evening is spent watching the construction of retaining walls and root cellars, how to prepare a no-till garden, or what goes in to building an earthship...among many other unusual and interesting things!
I'm SO grateful to those who share tutorials and videos in order for their skills to be passed along and not forgotten!
Not a fan herself of marshmallows, Jane's daughter Phoebe loves them and soon mastered the technique of making them. Her older twin siblings were born on Valentines Day and this gorgeous heart shaped pink marshmallow was Phoebe's surprise for them.
"Home really is where the heart is." (page 202)
PEAS, PEACE & LAUGHTER
"Domesticity should be punctuated with a healthy level of giggles, guffaws, snorts, chuckles, cackles, hoots and screams of hilarity, glee, mirth, merriment and amusement. Laughter makes the repetitive nature of so much domesticity bearable..." (page 206)
Jane listens to funny radio programmes whilst ironing, chases their hens when trying to mow the lawn, helps with a child's homework as she washes dishes, and often meets with a friend to share a cup of tea and laughter as a welcome relief from routine.
This is one of the main reasons she loves the painting below.
Chatterboxes (1912) by Thomas Kennington
"I won't pretend that these two young women, who are no doubt in service in a grand house, would have had an easy life but I love the fact that they are enjoying a moment of laughter over a shared domestic duty....I am struck by the sense of ease and enjoyment that emanates from this beautifully clear, limpid picture...of life-enhancing, shared, domestic laughter." (page 206)
Once again it is daughter Phoebe who has inherited her mother's baking gene and just like Jane she always refers to cupcakes as fairy buns. Jane believes the art of baking a fairy bun is perhaps the first entry a child should have into the world of sweet bakes.
Jane discovered that one of the best ways to occupy young girls was to gather them in the kitchen and bake. Her two daughters would often bring friends home and there was nothing quite as much fun as baking fairy buns and covering them in icing and sweets, or making marshmallow.
"...fairy buns are a magical way to enter the kingdom of baking. They are quick and easy to make and are a great collaborative activity, bringing old and young and their friends together." (page 208)
I'm very excited to one day have Cully May and Rafaella here icing their own cupcakes, and perhaps even making marshmallows.
We will finish the chapter on Sharing by reading through pages 217-223 and I'll have that blog post up on Tuesday, October 1st.
Links to all the previous book study posts (today is our 24th one!) can be found here
* What skills do you have which can be passed along to family, neighbours and friends?
* What new skill have you learned in the past year? Who taught you?
* What skill would you like to learn?
Just this morning my dear husband shared that he'd like to learn the art of lead lighting so after breakfast and an iced latte we went off to investigate some classes. We chatted to the gentleman who runs the course and wandered through his workshop to see what it would involve (he had a class in session at the time) after which we decided we'd do the next course together. It begins in just two weeks so we're quite excited!
Bless you all, and I promise not to delay the next book study post. We're close to the end and I must admit it's been a wonderful exploration of the many and varied facets of the gentle art of domesticity.
A lovely bit of sharing in my own life today was the gift of this beautiful sunflower from my neighbour. She left it by the back door for me to find when I came home from a morning out with Mr E.