Friday, June 17, 2022

The woman who inspired me...

 I am discovering that even when life overflows with family illnesses, employment challenges, and a variety of other things which could so easily pull my thoughts into a downward curve, deep within me is a slow-paced, prayerful, thankful and tranquil heart.

I have been wondering just how common is the 'homebody' these days? Since becoming a mother that's exactly how I have described myself, but as I think back further, to my younger years with Nana and Pop, I am reminded that I was already a homebody then.

Being home was such a wonderful place to spend time. There was comfort and security observing Nana's daily rituals of homemaking, every week almost a mirror image of the one before, yet never boring, never constrictive - always peaceful, always productive, and always with that added cup of love and laughter. 

I have drawn often from my childhood memories being raised in Nana and Pop's modest little flat, with it's bathroom and toilet and laundry in the backyard. As I learn about preserving, I remember our choko vine which grew over the back fence and ended up wound around the toilet roof, and how every year Nana would pick those spiky chokos, peel and chop them, then adding onions and spices, she'd cook up a huge pot of pickles and fill every jar she could find with them. Those pickles were delicious and for the next year Pop and I would generously smother our roast beef sandwiches with them. I also liked them spread on toast, topped with cheese and grilled for breakfast. My mouth is watering thinking about that! When Nana died, there were just a few jars of her pickles left in the cupboard and Pop insisted I take them. He was always trying to bless me.

Growing up in a time when people only went out to visit on the weekend - and I realise that growing up with grandparents was probably different to being raised by parents in the 60's - may well be why I enjoy life that way today. Life was calm, predictable, a gentle rhythmic hum of routines from week to week. I knew that when I got home from school there'd be milk and a snack at the kitchen table while I told Nana all about my day. Then homework while she got started on dinner, folded washing, or prepared my school clothes for the next day. 

She wasn't distracted by phone calls, the television, social media, texting...Nana was right there in the moment, with me. There was never a rush because she got all her household tasks done each day - she wasn't 'called away' by the distractions we have today. 

After the dinner dishes were done and the table set for breakfast, we'd usually sit out on the front steps and watch the sun go down in summer, or gaze at the stars in winter, a cup of tea in our hands, Pop in his rocker near us with glass of port in his hand. 

Some of the neighbours would be out on their front steps too, and we'd all wave and chat a little about the day, but then we'd all return back to our family conversation until Pop said, "Come on ladies, time to go inside. I have to get up early for work tomorrow and we all need some sleep." 

Precious, calm, lovely, warm memories of simpler times.

Today I am inspired by those days gone by, the slower pace, the diligence of keeping a clean and welcome home, the quiet evenings, the large pots of tea, and being undistracted with the ones you love.

Today I read of a world which is has a "rushing to and fro" lifestyle for most people, with endless distractions from mobile phones and the world within them. I read that many people have lost the art of simplicity, and for too many peace eludes them. At first I thought this was the younger generation, those who have grown up with the internet and mobile phones - but apparently this sad state covers all generations. The hook of social media life has well and truly robbed many minds and lives of quiet thought, time to push a mop, ears to stop and listen, a slower ebb and flow life. 

But that does not mean we gentle domestic homemakers, cannot go back to simpler times. It's a choice, really, isn't it?

Do you remember when we had to save up before we could buy something? There's patience in that lesson. 
Do you remember what life was like when there was only a few channels on the television, and every night those stations would close down from late evening until the next morning? We were more inclined to read, play games, or talk to each other each evening.

I remember Nana mending and knitting in the old armchair, and Pop telling stories of his day working on the wharf, and our dog Soxy curled up beside me. Families connected every day, by being together, eating together, hearing each other's stories. 

My favourite times were breakfast when Pop had days off, and he would chop potatoes into chips and fry them in the leftover fat from a Sunday roast. Nana would cut thick slices of bread, butter them, and Pop would fill them with the hot chips. A sprinkle of salt and pepper, and wow, so delicious! No one could fry chips like Pop, so Nana didn't even try. 
Another favourite was Sunday evening. We'd had a roast for lunch, so on Sunday night Nana would bake a big batch of scones, brew a pot of tea, and lay the table with butter, jam and honey. The three of us would feast on those scones, and drink lots of tea...and then we'd play cards. They taught me to play poker very well. ;-)

Memories carry more weight than we realise. I'm looking back over a lifetime and finding my childhood memories lived in a simpler time, in a simpler way, in a simple home, with kind and caring and happy grandparents, to be one of the greatest treasures God has gifted me. 

Nana's example of living and breathing the life of a gentle domestic homemaker inspires me to do the same. I don't want my home to fall apart from neglect because I'm busy elsewhere or distracted or lazy. Like Nana, I have a heart for home, and I pray the Lord will continue to show me how I can improve, what needs to go, and the things which should be added...and not just with homemaking, but within me as well. For truly, the home should be a reflection of my heart, just as it was with Nana.

The photos I've shared are my (finally) completed Simple Days quilt. As I mentioned earlier this month, I had given myself a target of August to complete the hand quilting, but once I began, the easier and more fulfilling was the process. 
As it was, I have had more spare time than usual these past few weeks due to Blossom's family being very sick with this nasty influenza which is sweeping across Australia this winter. The children, especially Charlie David and Rafaella, were the worst, and finally after three weeks they have recovered. 
Blossom, who was the healthiest of all (praise God, as she needed to care for her children) only felt the full force of this influenza early in the week - however, she is already recovering, though the virus is still lingering in Ross. As they were confined to home, I have grocery shopped, picked up medications, and prepared some simple meals for them, doing what I could in some small way. 
We prayed daily for their healing and for my own protection on my few visits to drop off the necessary food and medications. It did get scary at times with the two youngest children, but then we would lift our hands and hearts to heaven and let the peace of God fills us anew.  All praise to our Heavenly Father who carried the family through their illness. And as a mum, I praise my daughter too, because she went above and beyond her own energy reserves (*sometimes not sleeping for more than 48 hours) to care for her babies. So proud of the woman, wife and mother she has become.

So the hand quilting was all completed on Sunday, then the binding was made and sewn down on Wednesday. I took photos yesterday, after sewing on the label. 

This whole quilt was inspired by Nana, and her example of living a simple life. Designing and stitching each block was pure delight, and now I can hang it in our home, a permanent reminder of a woman who truly made this child's life beautiful. 

Who inspired you in life? 

Who are YOU going inspire?

God bless and big hugs,


Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
Thank you for a wonderful post filled with beautiful photo's of Simple days while sharing heart warming memories.
Lots of images pop in to my head :)
2 and a half channels...2 clear and 1 was fuzzy, and we had to stand up and walk to the tv. With two brothers and a sister we could still argue about what we wanted to watch. At one time the outside antenna had to be manually turned. One of us would go outside, one would keep an eye on the tv and one would knock on the window to signal that it was good :) That took teamwork !
One phone for six ! No automatic redial. A dial phone ! with a cord plugged into the wall. Didn't have to look for the phone :) No answering machine...they'll call back if it's important! But there were quite a few " will you get off the phone " moments .
Reading your stories is so simmilar to me growing up on the farm. Really brings it home. Good memories indeed :) And then there are the memoires at Garandma's house :)
Thatnks for starting the weekend off with such a great vibe !
Take care,

Elvira said...

Me he quedado maravillada , se nota la paz en cada puntada y ese brillo en cada bordado, tanto brillo como en su explicación. Sí estamos en unos momentos difíciles para la familia . Y apostar por ella parece caduco.
Su preciosa colcha dá prioridad a todo lo que hace feliz en un hogar. Enhorabuena por el diseño y la perfección de las puntadas

Patty McDonald in Southern California said...

Again, I so enjoyed this post. My Granny was a HUGE influence in my life. I stayed with her often and she gave me the attention and love I was missing. Growing up in the 50's and 60's things weren't as busy as they are now but my parents were always too busy to spend any time with me. Thankfully, Granny was always available. She had a ringer washer outside and hung clothes on the line and did laundry for the priest at her church. She made bread and soup weekly and, anyone that visited, left with both. She emigrated from Belgium to the U.S. when she was 65yo and would speak part Flemish and part English to me. In the evenings, we would pray and she would work on Belgium lace work. She had two bedrooms but always let me sleep with her. Such comfort! All those things and many more made me want to be like my Granny. Caring, giving, and homemaking were always my priority. No grandchildren yet but I try to be caring and giving to each person I meet. So many terrible things in life now but I try to bring peace and talk about our Lord Jesus...the author of peace.

Julie said...

Your memories touched a chord with me dear Jennifer as I was raised fairly similar, though by my parents & not my grandparents. Definately much simpler times & always that little afternoon tea treat waiting when I got in from school. I do think we have lost so many of these qualities in our hurried lives these days, both young & old.
I have just moved my dear Mum into Resthome care & was packing her socks. She had a hole in the toe of one pair & asked me to please mend it for her with some black wool she found. It took me a night to do this & it was nowhere near as good as her darning would've been. Your quilt is just so beautiful - I love every single thing about it!! Xxxx

Lin said...

Beautiful quilt Jennifer and a beautiful post. Lots of lovely memories. xx

Janice said...

Dear Jenny, you may not have enjoyed your Mother’s presence and love as you grew up, but you were so blessed to have been raised and loved by Nana and Pop. Life was so much simpler back then, without all the expectations that are placed on families and children. Some would say our lives were much narrower than today, but we knew no different, so were content with what we had. Money was always tight in our family, as probably with most, but we never went without. Mum cooked nutritious simple meals, Dad had his large vege garden and was a practical man around the house and yard and of course Mum had her sewing and knitting skills. We always had to save to buy something, and as a result were more mindful of those purchases and looked after them. No throw away society. Our childhood bikes were all second hand, but we didn’t mind. Having the latest brand named items wasn’t even considered. There is a lot to be said for a simpler life.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post Jenny.

Miriam said...

Nice memories, thank you. I always think of my childhood as a wonderful period too. Your quilt is perfect as all the things that you create.
Have a nice week end. Big , big hug,

Dots said...

Hi Jennifer, Poker! Haha boy did I laugh! My parents use to play penney-any poker. I watched but did not learn. But my dad did each me many card games. I have many memories of me and him playing cards. To this day I like to play Spades.
Awesome memories you have of slower times. I admit I prefer slow lazy days to all the chaos of this crazy world system.
I do buy less, shop less.I have changed much in my older years. Less is more, to me now. I am about to do the declutter thing with room by room. I want just the necessities. Not the over abundance of too much to attend to. So that looms ahead for me. I am thinking about a possible move coming up in the near future. Down-sizing for a an easier living of more life.
Be well, Jennifer

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

That's funny, my own thinking for the Sunday blog post today was along these lines.

I was born when my parents were in their 40s, Dad was divorced and Mom was a widow with children mostly grown. She already had grandchildren when I was born. So, I was also raised by parents who were of the Great Depression/WWII era. They had an entirely different way of thinking than even many of my friends parents did at the time.

Createology said...

Life is too busy with all we have shoved at us every minute of every day. I am so blessed to take the time to sit and read your blog without distractions. Life was simpler back in the day. I was born in 1948 and I vividly remember my childhood. Jennifer Dear your quilt and stories of Nana and Pop are so special. You are blessed to have had that childhood and domestic experiences. Blessings that Blossom and her family are getting well. Now for a cuppa and planning my week…

Angie in SoCal said...

Like you, my mother's mother - Abuela- was my inspiration, my example of what to strive for. We lived with her for four years. I use to come home at lunch from school (we had an hour and our house was just catty-corner to Abuela's. Her life was simple but a little more stressful as she was caring not only for the home as yours, but also my grandfather who had a stroke and was not able to farm. They lived on a 7 acre farm. There were three rentals on the property and we had one of them. We all helped out with the crops, goats, rabbits, pigs and chickens. In summer, I walked with her to our local church, San Salvador, for Mass every weekday. Afterwards, she'd stop at Mrs. Redd's factory and buy me a broken pie for 5 cents. I'll always remember those days.
Glad to hear Blossom and her family are recovering. Blessings,

Winifred said...

Glad to hear that the family are recovering. We didn't have the flu outbreak last winter, maybe because we were still wearing masks most of the time to avoid Covid. We'll probably get it next winter!

We may live on the other side of the world but so much of your early life was similar to mine. I spent a lot of time with my Nanna & Granddad, sewing knitting and baking, going to the allotment with Granddad, picking the gorgeous tomatoes, strawberries & gooseberries, collecting mushrooms across the fields early mornings and drawing & painting with him. So many lovely memories like you.

No telly, no phones, no cars, no fridges or freezers in fact no electricity at their house for years. A much simpler time when some things were much better. My grandchildren are amazed & laugh when I tell them about it. One even asked whether everything was in black & white like the films!

I hoped that the lockdowns would help people get a sense of how we don't need so many of the things in life now or maybe a bit less of them but seems like most just want things to go back to the exact way we were before Covid. Seems like people just can't count their blessings & be grateful for what they have rather than what they don't have.

Annabel said...

This reminded me of my Grandparents so much! I spent a lot of time at their place. I was born loving home. I was happiest home and learned to crochet very young so on sick days I was set up on the comfy lounge to crochet for the day. Bliss. I have a feeling we might all be returning somewhat to those days. I love it when I have days and days stretching before me that I know I will be home. Now and then I will go to town but not often. That is enough. The Scriptures are full of advice to be busy and content at home. There is so much to do. My Mother is funny about this... when hearing of some peoples problems and dramas she often says if they would only stay home and get their work done this problem would be solved!
I am sorry Blossom and family have been so sick... I hope they are all much better. Also I hope you dont get it Jenny! xxx

Ondrea said...

Beautiful inspiration resulted in a very special quilt. Such lovely cherished memories. Things changed over the years as population increased and more people needed paid work . When retail outlets gradually opened longer hours they provided more employment as do the social media platforms. As people work longer hours, do night shifts and work on weekends they need access to pay their bills and to shop out of regular hours and so it goes on and on. However, some strive for great monetary gain and lose sight of the simple things while others simply need to work long hours to support their families. Work often involves having to be available by phone text or email even when at home. The days of 9 to 5 jobs have long gone. I am a homebody and feel blessed that I am not caught up in the fast paced world. I couldn't cope. However, apart from family, being a carer and doing household chores I have little else to do. Infact, I crave some social outlet. Thank goodness for emails, phones and blogs. Lol.

Bobbie said...

Hi Jennifer,
I loved today’s post as I also remember much simpler times myself. My grandparents lived close by and we were often together. My mother and grandmother drinking coffee and doing some kind of needlework, I am trying to live a simple life myself but am not Always successful. But I am taking my inspiration from you to slow down and enjoy rather than rushing from one activity to another. But it’s not always especially as now that we are retired and have the money to do so, my husband wants to travel all the time. But there are quiet moments in between that I cherish for being the homemaker that I love to be. Glad that your daughter and family are better. It sounds like they had Covid and I know that it is no fun. Wishing you health and joy.

Kathy said...

I enjoyed reading this lovely blog post and yes there were certainly less distractions in the 70's, 80's and even 90's. We had 7 people living in a 3 bedroom house [one room for parents], one bathroom, one lounge room, one dining room, one phone which we all had to fight over to ring our friend and ask the parent who answered the phone could we speak to our friend. All the neighbourhood teens would ride our bikes all over the suburb and go down to the creek. We did end up with two tv's one in my parents room and one in the lounge room but it was always news time in the lounge room ABC [as a teen that was the worst station but as an adult it's a cool station]. We had a hot roast lunch every Sunday and we would go to the corner shop with our Dad with 3 empty 1 litre glass bottles that we would get 20 cents back and then buy 3 new 1 litre bottles of softdrink. Usually sarsaparilla, creaming soda and lime. Dinner Sunday night was always soup and toast. By the way this flu is terrible. My friend and I got symptoms the same day and I had spent time with her and I tested positive for Covid and she tested negative 7 days in a row. I got over Covid in 7 days and 3 weeks later she was still sick from the flu even though she had her flu shot but she only got the flu shot the week she ended up with the flu so maybe not enough time to go through her system.

Clara said...

Jennifer... the quilt is very beautiful and the memories are so touching. They remind me of my beloved granny Concetta, so able in crocheting, cooking, sewing and... loving. She has been so inspiring and also my parents have been, with their incredible marriage, full of love each single day, until daddy has passed away tre years ago: 58 years of marriage plus 10 of engagement... almost a world record.

Chrissy T said...

What a beautiful read. I just popped in for the first time from another blog. I smiled and remembered things from my childhood as I read your post. Beautiful work you did as well. Blessings from Mississippi (USA)