Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Our handmaidens and another free Postcard...

 You know, for so many years I have heard women lament of not having any handmaidens, such as the Proverbs 31 woman mentions in verse 15, and it always astounds me how they have completely overlooked the handmaidens in their own homes today. I think Mrs Proverbs 31 would have loved some of the ones that work in my own home.

Growing up I saw my Nana work hard each day, never begrudgingly, and for us not having a fridge or washing machine or vacuum cleaner or hot water in the home was quite normal. I did not realise that some people around us had a real refrigerator, a twin tub washer, or that they could turn on a hot or cold tap right inside their own house. My little world revolved around the home Nana and Pop made for us and in comparison to many of their peers it could even be called primitive by late 1960's standards, in fact I was thirteen when Nana and Pop moved into a different flat, one which had hot and cold running water at the kitchen sink (though we had to light the gas for it). Up until then Nana boiled water in the old copper (which doubled as her washtub as it had a detachable wringer) and every few days she'd carry bucket loads of hot water from the copper, up the back path to the bathhouse and pour it in to the old tub for us to take turns bathing in. 

Then the water had to be emptied from the tub, bucket by bucket, and the bathtub cleaned and dried. On in-between days Nana, Pop and I would scrub our hands, faces, feet, behind the ears and wash our hair under the cold tap by the back door. This was our normal and I never imagined life to be different.

I can still remember the Ice Man arriving every week to deposit a huge cube of ice in the Icebox because until I was thirteen we did not have a refrigerator. 

Now, you know, I love the old days, the old ways, and enjoy learning the skills of those times, and there was a time where I expounded over and over how if it was good enough for Nana then we should all aim to step back and do things the way they used to be done. But things change. A child, which is still what I call myself before God, grows up and the Lord instils a bit more wisdom and common sense along the way. 

When Nana finally got a twin tub washing machine in the early 1970's it was a gamechanger for her. She was getting older, around the same age I am now, and she did not have the strength of her younger years, so for the next ten years she delighted in her new handmaiden until she passed away in 1982.

And one day this came home to me as I studied Proverbs 31:10-31...the fact that if Nana were alive to day she would love a front loader like mine. She would have thoroughly enjoyed using my vacuum cleaner and steam mop. She would definitely find my two refrigerators quite a step above the small second hand Kelvinator she eventually got around the time we moved in 1972.

My dishwasher, iron, sewing machine, coffee machine, blender, oven, cooktop, hair dryer, hot and cold taps, water filter...every one of these is also a maidservant in my home, just as they are in yours.

Pondering lately how well my Nana kept house, how everything she owned was appreciated because my Pop worked hard to purchase them, how her little abode twinkled and shone with care and homemaker pride, how her days reflected a gentle unchanging rhythm of habits and routines...I've been struck by my own lack of appreciation for all the modern appliances which fill my home and make my life easier.

Though our homes are larger today on average, I can easily mop a three bedroom house far quicker than Nana could scrub the one-bedroom walk-through on her knees.
I don't have to shop every day or two for fresh produce as she did, but can shop weekly and store it all in a larger fridge and freezer as well as the walk-in pantry.
My washing is done one load per day, on a 30 minute eco cycle, before I hang it all out in the sun on the clothesline (I don't have a dryer nor want one). Nana spent many hours every Monday doing the weekly wash and until we got the twin tub (which was still far more work than our modern machines) she did it all by hand.
Nana would take all the rugs outside and hang them over the clothesline to beat them with a huge broom to dislodge the dust each week. I just vacuum.

How wonderful are our handmaidens?!

I'm writing about this today because like most things in life that we take for granted, a lack of appreciation for what we now consider basic everyday items, can creep in to our hearts.

This next month, as you and I fill the washing machine, vacuum the carpets and rugs, cream butter and sugar in minutes with our electric mixer (Nana had a hand beater that took forever), brew a coffee, heat up leftovers in the microwave for dinner, or attend to any number of household requirements, let us give thanks for each of our labour-saving handmaidens, okay?

This week's Postcard from Heaven is number four in the series of six.
Over the past year or more I think there have been many tears shed across the world, and many hearts do not realise that those tears matter deeply to our Heavenly Father.

If you know of someone who needs comfort, hope, or affirmation that their sorrows matter to God, this postcard would be a precious gift given from the heart or posted anonymously.

Perhaps your are the one who is in need of strong arms to carry you for a while, an ear to listen and a genuine infusion of compassion and love? Stitch this for your own heart dear one. Know, and do not doubt, that the Lord cares, and as it says in Psalm 56:8 -

"You keep track of all my sorrows; 
You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. 
You have recorded each one in Your book."

Use the link below to download the free pattern.

Other things around HOME...

I clearly remember Nana mending, always mending, making things last. As I was going through my dress patterns the other day, looking for one to make that was cool and modest, a memory of Nana mending Pop's woollen socks came to mind. As with many memories, this led me on a journey of thought which eventuated in my decision not to make a dress, but to mend a few dresses which had been packed away due to various unravelling, holes and other problems. 

Each day I've been working on one or another during the late afternoons while waiting for the washing to dry and the chickens to finish their free-range time.

I uncovered a few more items than can either be mended or repurposed after cleaning out the wardrobe in the bedroom and giving the inside a good scrub. It's funny what you find when you take things apart to clean. There was one bag of old things which made their way to the op shop, but everything in need of mending made a tidy pile in the sewing room.  Which made me think how blessed I am to have a sewing machine as a handmaiden! 

The south of our state is in Covid lockdown again, and up here in the north, for the first time we have mandatory wearing of face masks. As this has not been needed until now our dear Blossom set to work on her own sewing machine to make fully lined masks for the family. 
I prefer ties to elastic and she wisely chose to tear strips from one of Ross's old t-shirts for stretchy ties. 

We tried them out yesterday when we went out shopping to stock up on essentials and she's made them very comfortable and quite easy to breathe through.
I came home with a good number of glass jars for the pantry so as we won't be leaving home again for a while I can finally get in and sort out the walk in pantry, removing the last of the plastic containers and replacing with the glass. I'd wanted to do this last week but other things cropped up which needed more attention. Tomorrow this will be my focus and I'm very excited about it. 

It's raining! Hang on for 5 minutes...

Well, I got the washing off the line just in time, one egg collected from the coop, and as dinner is already in the crock pot I shall brew myself a cup of Earl Grey and nibble one or two Ginger Kisses before returning to the mending.

How are YOU faring this week? I'd love to hear what's occupying your thoughts and time. 

Bless you heaps,

PS: Block 3 of Simple Days is now in my shop. Go HERE to purchase as an instant download.


Julie said...

My grandmother was born in 1910. I asked her what was the most important invention in her lifetime. I thought ot cars, washing machine, dishwasher, microwave, etc. She said Betty Crocker cake mixes changed her life because now she could make a cake that would come out perfectly every time.

Lin said...

Lovely post Jenny. When I was growing up I was always fascinated by a visit to Nana and Grandads house. They lived on the edge of the forrest so there were walks to the pond in the middle with Grandad. Then there was the open fire. I was not so keen on the outside toilet though. But for many years there was no proper bathroom and the bath was at one end of the kitchen with a wooden cover which was removed once a week for baths!
Wearing a mask here has become second nature and there are spares in the car and in my handbag. Not so nice in warm weather but I have to say it was jolly cosy on early morning visits to the market during the winter! Always a silver lining somewhere. xx

Tammy said...

Good morning Dear friend. Its raining here today. Did my laundry yesterday and some mending the day before trying to do it now as it needs doing. To quit having a pile staring at me constantly...It seems to take the stress away a little bit. We always had electricity growing up and a washing machine but never a clothes dryer until I was married and moved to the city. My Mom grew up with no electricity and having to wash in a wash tub out doors , doing laundry in the same tub outdoors. Cooking over a wood fire burning stove . Her and her family were very poor they still used a mule drawn wagon and picked cotton in the cotton fields for the farmers. It was a very hard life they had.... All their clothing was sewn at home and very basic. a cake was a luxury. I am so happy my life hasn't been anywhere near as hard as what they had growing up. I love and appreciate My hand maiden. And my most favorite hand maiden is my sewing machine

Little Quiltsong said...

Another lovely post - led me down memory lane too with the old wringer washers. My mom didn't have a dryer till I was a teen - and even then it was used very sparingly, as it cost hydro. I really miss her bustling around in the basement, while I played with my paper dolls in the adjacent rec room that was dining room, office, playroom and everything combined :). We lived in a tiny house, but it never felt tiny somehow. Our refrigerator was a 'defrost' kind and the freezer part so tiny it was amazing anything could be stored in it, but it lasted till our children were teens. Somehow those days, were filled with a lot more back breaking work, but an abundance of smiles and laughter too. Thank you Jenny, for this walk down memory lane, and the thankful heart you gave with your post!

Maureen said...

Wonderful post! thank you for the gentle reminder. And the post card is just lovely

Anonymous said...

I've been making the post cards during this Lenten Season and finish them into coasters. Now they are a daily reminder of God's presence in our life.
Mary Beth

A housewife writes said...

You are so right on our handmaidens! Maybe we need to live for a little while without them to gain a new appreciation?!? I found an article written in the 1930s and in it, the housewives were grateful for the inventions of a long handled dustpan to ease backaches and the hot water heater. It put things in a better perspective for me! Great post!!

Joanne said...

Hi Jenny,
Mending's regrowing one's wardrobe :) Those small chores, once completed, sure make a difference :)
We were just chatting yesterday about how the older generation lived. They were more environmently friendly than they knew at the time !
See you in April !
hugs, take care,

Winifred said...

You live on the other side of the world Jenny and although the climates are very different yet our homes and lives were so similar. My Mam like your Nana had no hot water, we had a baths in front of the fire after she had heated the water for us. We didn't have a fridge everything was kept cool in the pantry. There was no washing machine for years and no spin drier. I learned to sew on an old treadle & wish I still had it although I love my old turquoise Singer. I still mend lots of things and what can't be repaired goes to be recycled.
Thank you for the postcard, I love this one.
Hope your family have a wonderful Easter.
God bless. x

Farm Quilter said...

There once was a time when the pilot light went out in my hot water heater...with three girls (all with long hair), I remember heating up water on the stove and in the microwave to give them was very time-consuming and I have never taken hot water for granted since!! Right now, many of my "handmaidens" went home with my husband and daughter...I'm finding out the limitations of my old arm when it comes to beating something to bake without my mixer!! Definitely makes me change my mind frequently!! Even so, I can control the temperature in the house with my phone - who would have thought!!?? I prefer to hang my clothes on the line as well, but in the winter I use my dryer as I don't like my clothes to freeze on the line and hanging them in the basement makes the basement smell musty. My mom always told me that she and her sisters had small waists because their washer required hand turning and wringing! We are definitely blessed with so many modern handmaidens that make life easier for us. We can even have robotic vacuums and mops so we can do something else while they work. Not quite the Rosie of the Jetson's cartoon, but close! I'm sorry you are having to wear the masks (we are calling them face diapers after a year of being forced to wear them). They t-shirt ties are definitely very comfortable and I also prefer them over elastics. Praying you all stay healthy.

Rozy Lass said...

I just finished a book about women homesteaders in Montana during the first two decades of the 20th century. Oh my! I live in the lap of luxury and have no cause to complain. You are right about us having plenty of "handmaids" around us. I'm so grateful for the luxuries of modern life! And say plenty of prayers expressing gratitude for them!

Mary said...

I agree with you, Jenny, that we often take for granted all the modern "conveniences" that God has graciously given us.
I have always said that the washing machine is the #1 greatest invention of the twentieth century. I actually can imagine what I would have to do without it. I can remember when I was a small child, my mother owned a used wringer washing machine. It was put on the back porch so clean-up would be easier if it over-filled, a regular occurrence. I can see her turning the handle in one hand while holding the dripping wet article of clothing in the other, forcing rinse water out of it as it was squeezed between two rollers, while the hose hung out the nearby window, pouring the excess rinse water into the flower bed. As a young girl, I thought it must be fun, fun, fun to wash clothes! I don't think my mother shared my positive outlook!

Julie said...

Oh how I love your posts Jenny. I think I've told you this before ... but when I see one on my blog roll - I always wait til I've brewed a cuppa so I can sit & enjoy it & it's as if you are chatting to me. I remember having a twin tub - it was a horrid thing & frequently broke down or jammed. I remember Mum having a wringer & how she would hit the wringer top when it jammed & pull out the sheet that was stuck. Nowadays I have a beautiful old green wringer washing machine in my garden planted with Impatien flowers & when I had the Cottage running, people were always drawn to it with their memories. I also have a large tin cooler box hanging in a tree & they remember when it was their "fridge". I love to remember the old ways & try to appreciate how lucky we are today with our appliances that make life easier. Thanks for the reminder dear Jenny. xxx

terricheney said...

Just this week as I was blogging, I mentioned that I'd start a load of wash so that my servant could 'work' while I was doing another task outdoors. I too grew up in poorer homes for a few years and I call every appliance a servant for which I am very grateful! Lovely post!

Lorrie said...

Oh this brought up so many memories. My mother had a wringer washer and once my sister's arm was caught in it. Not broken, fortunately, but frightening. Clothes were hung out on the line, and in winter, the sheets would be frozen stiff and crackle when they were brought in.
When we moved to South America in the 1980s we were told to ship in appliances as we would have electricity. However, our place did not have sufficient power to run our fridge, washer, or dryer. When we finally got adequate power, I vowed to never take a fridge for granted again. I think of that often when I use my "handmaidens". What easy lives we have regarding housekeeping. Let's be thankful, as you've reminded us.

Jill said...

Hi Jenny. My grandmother was born in 1902 and she grew up poor and during some hard times. She was a hoarder of all things. "Never know when I might need that" she would always say. Unfortunately, that is one trait that I inherited from her. She obtained fabric from soldier's uniforms (I am not sure of how this happened) and she made and embroidered tea tray runners and other doilies. Her embroidery is so neat, much neater than mine. I was lucky to get these handed down to me. She also grew up without any of the "handmaidens" that we have now. My mum had a washing machine that had a wringer and I always asked to put the clothes through it. Oh gee, so many memories you have stirred. Thank you for this post.

Fran said...

How wise you are to remind us to be grateful for our helpful handmaidens around the house! I too remember our icebox and wringer washer and how my mom cleaned and polished the house every Friday to be ready for Sunday. Our stove had a gas cooktop and oven, but was also wood and coal fired as that was the only source of heat in the house. It was very common to have ice on the inside of the windows in winter, especially the bedrooms, brrrr! I remember those icy linoleum floors.
We’ve been wearing masks for a year and living an isolated life, only seeing family outdoors since Thanksgiving (October here in Canada). Hugs are what I miss the most.
Could I gently point out to you, to pass on to your talented daughter, that she may want to forego the topstitching down the centre seam of her masks? While it creates a professional looking finish, I was told that it also creates too many holes that virus molecules can get through.
I have been making 3 layer masks for the past 6 months as it’s been recommended that 2 layers are not adequate. For those at risk or in places where distancing is impossible, here we are now told to double mask. I say this only to share information and not to criticize in any way.
May you all stay safe and well.

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Thank you Fran, I shall pass this along to Blossom - bless you!

Ondrea said...

Such synchronicity! I recently bought a dryer as I haven't had one for over 20 years. It is one that does not require venting. Yesterday I was late home but had a pile of washing to do which I knew wouldn't dry on the line and my clothes horse wasn't big enough so I put it in my 7 star rating dryer. I realised how stress free I was worrying about getting all the washing done due to this wonderful time saving device. I only had a manual carpet sweeper in my first flat and I bought a twin tub washing machine. It was only small so I don't know how your nan managed. My grandparents used a copper and bucketed water from the kitchen to the laundry until dad insisted on plumbing the laundry for them when they were quite elderly. The Kookaburra stove fascinated me. I have never had a microwave and still don't want one, Love the masks. I had ties on the ones I made but ended up using paper ones and I just bought 2 fabric masks with adjustable ear loops. While not now compulsary, I choose to still wear one as many people are not social distancing which is still required. Keep safe.

Janice said...

When Mick and I were first married we loved vintage items, as we still do. My uncle, who still lived in my grandma’s house, commented that I should have been born in the 20s. I replied that I’m glad to be in the current times with all the wonderful appliances. We can still have the aesthetics of a previous era, but with so much more ease. I remember my grandma scrubbing the floor on her knees and her washing machine, while electric, was over concrete tubs and quite labour intensive. She still boiled the copper. She didn’t have a vacuum, only a carpet sweeper. I’m sure that she too would have enjoyed today’s appliances. Blossom has done a wonderful job on the masks. Fingers crossed you won’t need them for long.

Beth said...

I used my grandparent's twin tub machine a few times and I remember seeing Nanna's washboard - it went from England to Jamacia, back to England and then she brought it out to Australia with them in 1960. We thought Nanna's carpet sweeper was fun ... until we realised how much effort it took to use it.
In my uni days when money was tight I learned to mend by hand - darning my socks, stitching up holes, etc. I very much appreciate my sewing machine now, but I will still mend things by hand as well, particularly when it is something small and it would take less time to do it by hand than set up the machine. There was one time when I realised that a shirt I had was sewn with the collar in backwards (it never ironed flat). I managed to unpick it, turn in the right way round, and stitch it back up. It then sat beautifully.

Susan said...

This brought back so many memories from my own childhood. I was born in 1947, and we had an ice box, too. For years after I had a refrigerator, I still called it an ice box. My mother died before we got a refrigerator, though she did get an automatic washer, and she, too, hung our clothes out to dry. What a joy it was as she healed from her mastectomy the day she could raise her hand above her head to hang the clothes! I actually had a wringer washer in the 1970s and was thrilled to have it to wash clothes in my basement, where I also hung them in snowy New Jersey. I was getting my bachelor's degree then and had one child. What really hits home with me, though, is cars. The newest car my mother ever had was at least 20 years old, and it ran on prayer. I can remember SO many times praying that car would start. How many times as I've driven around in a 5-10 year old car I've thought how my mother never had anything so fine or reliable.

albirginia said...

Hola Jenny: Todavía me sorprende este tipo de lecturas. Yo tengo electrodomésticos en casa, lo que llamas "doncellas" pero los usamos tanto mi marido como yo, es más él hace algunas tareas de limpieza que yo nunca hago, en definitiva, compartimos tareas. Tú haces todo el trabajo de la casa? no es justo!Un saludo cariñoso y el deseo de que todo vaya bien.

KingsailK said...

Dear Jenny Happy Easter!What a truest ❤️ post!I have started for the first time Jeremiah 31.3 My love for you is everlasting! I have decided to give it a go!It won’t be like yours but I have adapted an idea as I am going to give it a go!You are v inspiring!soon I will be off to practice my piano hymns It is well with my soul.I love these old hymns.XxMary-Lou

Lori said...

Greetings, Jenny! My grandma, born in 1900, came to the US in 1907 from Germany. Her mother passed shortly after their arrival and she had many brothers and her dad to take care of. She was such a hard worker! She and I had a special bond. I loved her wringer washer, which she thought was a great invention, and looked forward to visiting her just to do the wash, lol. She did not have a dryer but hung everything on the line, as did my mom. I can still remember the roughness of the towels! I love hanging clothes on the line. My children look at me cross-eyed when I say that, but it is very meditative for me. We don't have a clothes line at this house, but will at our next one. Sheets just fresh off the line are divine! Anyway, I was one of those who whined about not having any handmaids in my younger mom days filled with the raising of 6 children. A friend gently corrected me and pointed out the washer and dryer and blender, etc. How did I miss that? I am so very grateful for those "handmaids" and for the friend who had the courage to correct me! So glad you addressed that. Thank you for the time you take to bless us with patterns and your wisdom. Yours is one my favorite blogs of the few I read!

Allie said...

Oh how I love my handmaidens!! And with a new vacuum, and new mop, my housework has been cut in half. I listen to stories from my friend Shirley (91 next month) about her growing up - we don't realize the strides we've made in the last 100 years!

QuiltGranma said...

My grandparents did not have a phone at home, so when Mother's teacher asked her to answer the phone in the school hallway, she did not know how to put it on "hold" so she hung up on the caller! Grandma had a wringer washer for decades and hung the clothes on a long line with a pulley that Grampa has set up. As she aged my father put in an electric washer and dryer system on her porch. She so appreciated that help!

Jennifer Kayla said...

Aweosome post dear

Lolita said...

Un abrazo desde Costa Rica 🇨🇷 donde siempre lee y disfruto tus palabras y el amor que compartes por medio de Jesús.