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2 January 2009

Lazy summer

It's been a lazy time for me this past week. I haven't made any bread or swept the floor for a few days. There are little balls of dog fur under the kitchen table. : - ) The weather's been hot and humid and I'm listening to my head when it tells me to take it easy. It's going to be a very busy year for me so I'm taking advantage of these slow summer days and you know what? I feel no guilt, I'm happy to tell you about my dirty floor, and I might even take it easy again today.

I do have to do some washing today. I've had my white cotton table cloth, used on Christmas day, soaking in a bucket of oxy-bleach water. It's time to wash it and hang it out to dry. It's been in the bucket for a week, another sign of this deliberate, delightful laziness.

As a writer I sometimes find things that I wish I'd written. Many of you, like myself, are admirers of Jewels and read each posts as soon as it's there. Of all the things Jewels has written about that beautiful life of hers, this paragraph is the one I admire the most, the one I keep returning to, and the one I wish I'd written:

"I hope your day is beautiful. Hold your children, your husband, those you love and care for, tenderly, close. Kiss them and hug them. Smile often-- a soft, bright, loving, accepting, approving, smile. Be thankful for those you love, and be sure and express your pleasure with them, to them--through words, through your touch, so they know what your heart holds, towards them. Sincerely praise for even the smallest things that are praise-worthy, and with eyes open wide, take note of, and be thankful for, each kindness shown to you. Life is fleeting, and the only moments we can be entirely sure of, are those that we're presently in, right here, right now. Let us live our lives deliberately, purposefully, making every one of those precious fleeting moments matter, for now, and for eternity, in our life and in the lives of those we love."

I feel those words right down to my bones, I hope you do too and I hope your day today is beautiful.

Although I've been deliberately lazy these past few days, I'm still working on my book and will continue to do that for months yet. It is just those chores in my home that are being put aside until I feel like doing them, or I am forced into action for fear of mildew - as in the case of the white tablecloth.

Another delicious part of my day today will be to finish off a book my friend Sharon sent as a surprise Christmas gift. It arrived new year's eve, quite out of the blue, there is was - Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalis. I'd hadn't heard of the book before I laid eyes on it but it's such a charming, well written account of growing up on a farm during the Great Depression, I'm sure it will remain one of my favourite books and will be reread over and over again. Thank you Sharon and Claude.

There are few pleasures I enjoy more than that moment I realise the book I've just started reading it something really special. That moment came to me on new year's eve. I'd just had a cool shower, was reclining on the bed in my white cotton nightie, the fan was buzzing overhead and I was surrounded by a half moon of pillows. Sheer luxury! After the first couple of pages I recognised the beauty of Little Heathens and was beginning to see glimpses of the familiar in it. I could see my own mother, and myself, in her mother, and reading through those pages made me realise that even though we were on different sides of the world and were not the same age, we had a similar childhood growing up in working class families in those long ago, hard, but simple, times. One of the themes of the book is hard times build character. I firmly agree with that and while I don't see myself as living in hard times now - even though I am - I see instead that I am what I am because of my childhood, those parts of it I choose to remember and those parts I choose to forget.

Little Heathens is one of those books you read slowly because you don't want it to end, I will finish it today but keep it in my knitting basket to browse through when I remember favourite parts of it over the next week or two. And one of the enduring memories I'll have of this lazy summer will be reading that book on a hot summer night, with my ceiling fan buzzing and smiling when I read "... the Urmys [her family] could easily have served as models for the source of H.L. Menchen's definition of Puritanism as 'the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.' ... " : - )


  1. Lazy days at home can be wonderful days! Wishing you and Hanno a wonderful year ahead, filled with peace and love and the joys of a life lived simply.
    Diana x

  2. Oh I loved that book too !! It brought back so many good memories and some things were new to me and it was a fun learning read in those places. I will also reread it over and over. I put off reading the last pages for a month 'cause I did not want it to end!
    :-) Jody

  3. I love your beautiful (relaxed) attitude Rhonda Jean. Also, thanks for the recommendation of the Little Heathens book. I will look for it. A happy and blessed new year to you...may 2009 see your dreams come true.
    Good thoughts from...

  4. I have little balls of dog hair rolling around my floor too Rhonda! I have also had a beautiful, quiet and fairly lazy week.
    I have read about the book Little Heathens and have it on my reading list.
    Happy New Year to you and Hanno. Regards Patricia

  5. I loved it too when I read it recently. Coming from a large family with a hard working Mum who taught us how to work hadr it rang many bells with me too.
    BTW I have been subscribed to your blog with Bloglines Beta for ages now. I always make sure to click through to your actual blog rather than reading it on Beta so that your counter registers a hit. I'm not sure it would if i just read it on Beta. Perhaps you know?

  6. Hi Rhonda

    I read most of your posts, but haven't commented before. I just had to comment after seeing this post's title. The UK is in the grip of it's coldest winter for 10 years (or so we're being told). There were a few snowflakes this morning as we drove home from a friend's new years party (where I live in Bristol, we rarely ever get snow at all).I always associate this time of year with cold and damp, so it seems strange to me to think of you guys sweltering away! But it also reminds me that our darkest days are past and soon Spring and Summer will be upon us, with all the possibilities it will bring.

    Happy New Year to you all!

  7. Good morning Rhonda,
    It all sounds just delightful. I'll check the library for the book. There was a time when I just would have gone out and bought it but I'm a little wiser now and will try the library first. The lines from Jewels are so inspiring. Wouldn't that make a wonderful sampler done in Redwork [cross stitch] I might put that on my to do list for 2009.
    Have a great day.
    Blessings Gail

  8. How ironic! I bought this book today and THEN came home and logged on to your site. I'm going to buy another as a gift but this one is definitely a keeper!

    Rhonda, I am one of those in 'lurker land' who reads your blog daily ~ I so enjoy your writing, your choice of topics and your wisdom. I'm am about your age (okay, I'm older!!) and I am thrilled that so many young people are paying heed. Learning never ends and you are such a source of knowledge. Thank you for sharing.

  9. i loved little heathens. i found it interesting how life for her growing up during the depression wasn't all that desperate. sure, life was simple and homegrown. and there were no extras (i loved when she talked about how the kids simply never asked to do anything that would cost money, it just wasn't part of their life. they didn't feel they were missing out, entertainment just didn't come with a price tag).

    reading about life on their farm was not like reading about working class folks in more urban/dependent areas during that time. of course they were not in the dust bowl so their crops were hearty. i wonder if you had similar impressions... they had a very self sufficient life during hard times. but there WAS food on the table. (though the upstairs bedrooms were mighty cold!)

  10. That's too funny! I have this book on my coffee it from the library last week, but haven't had a chance to sit down with it yet. Now, with your review, I will be picking it up this evening!

  11. Rhonda, I read Little Heathens and loved it also. It is a book to be read slow and deliberately. Happy New Year to you and your family. Again thanks for the wonderful blog and writting you do.

  12. Hi Rhonda Jean :) A very happy new year to you from NC! Sending love and hugs and thanks for the way you share and encourage - and looking forward into this next year with you. Love, Q

  13. I loved Little Heathens, I am happy someone else has found joy in it.

  14. Hi Rhonda, your blog was recommended to me today, and I'm so happy to discover it- and even happier to find out that you are a fellow Aussie.
    I have just finished emptying buckets of the childrens bath water onto my vegie garden, which is about 100 metres away from the house. Its a good workout!
    I adore Jewels writing also- she is such a beautiful person. I'm endlessly waiting for a new blog post from her, though....

    Eva in Tassie

  15. Oh! I loved Little Heathens! It was eye opening to read a personal account of life during the depression that wasn't negative really. It also was inspiring to see how the family, through loyalty and hard work survived hard times. I completely recommend this book to everybody.

  16. I love the lazy days of summer. I am looking forward to them after our winter is over. There is nothing like lazing around on a hot summer day.

  17. lazy summer evenings are among my favorite things. add a good book in the mix and i'm nearly in heaven! lol

    btw, i have a spring seed giveaway going over at my blog-

    stop by and check it out, if you'd like!

  18. I just finished that book yesterday, what a treasure! It's freezing here and we are snuggled inside watching the snow fall, it's one of those days when I can't even remember what it fells like to be hot. "Little Heathens" was so good I'm having a hard time deciding what to read next, how about doing a book suggestion list?
    Happy New Year to you!

  19. The book sounds great Rhonda, I'll put it on my wish list!
    Happy New Year to you and Hanno from a freezing Dorset (I shuddered at the thought of a cold shower...brrrrr!

  20. Hi Rhonda,
    Happy New Year! I hadn't heard of Little Heathens before, so I went to your link and read the first chapter, and now I'm hooked! I'm going to have to somehow try and find a copy of it - seeing as you've been teaching me not to impulse buy :o) I'll try the library first.
    I love these lazy days of summer too over Christmas and New Year's. It's my favourite time of the year because my husband is home from work, we don't have to be doing schooling, and it doesn't matter if the housework doesn't get done. I look forward to this time every year - lovely, long, peaceful days pottering around the house and garden.
    Rachel L from NZ

  21. I'm not familiar with the book you mentioned, but it always catches me by surprise when you mention spring or summer weather. It's early winter here, Oklahoma, and we are having mild weather now but could get hammered with a winter storm early next week. We just got a load of firewood delivered this afternoon, in fact.

  22. If you ever have the time and the inclination, I would like to interview you via email for my own blog and newsletter; the blog and the newsletter highlight women using the arts and crafts to build community and work towards economic justice globally. I was very excited to learn you have a sewing circle and a new knitters group, and that you see that as not only ways to help people live simply and build community but as ways to help the poor in your community. You can check out my blog and see if it's anything you'd be at all interested in contributing to at . Regardless of whether you're interested in an interview or not--you may be just too busy--I enjoy your blog immensely. I just finished "Little Heathens" myself last month; you will love it and it's loaded with simple living tips!

  23. I read Little Heathens, too. My friend, Steve, from Virginia sent it to me and I couldn't put it down. The recollections of a real-live farmgirl kept us both enthralled. Josh and I took turns reading it out loud. Loved it.

    Every single page.

    Happy New Year, Rhonda Jean. Thank you for continuing to inspire us all.

    Also, thank you for your love and support as Josh and I waited for children. I'm still amazed that we had four beautiful children with us this Christmas. Wow.


  24. Glad you're taking it easy! It's nice to be able to flow with life's rhythms, isn't it?

    Thanks heaps for your blog - I check it most days and am really pleased to have found such practical information on how to actually *do* some stuff.

    I just wanted to drop you a line and say thanks for your instructions and your photos. If you hadn't actually had a photo or two of a 'mother of vinegar' in your vinegar posts, I wouldn't have known what I was looking at in my friend's vinegar bottle and it would have been tipped down the sink. Instead, I started an apple cider vinegar and a red wine vinegar today!

    And I made my own dishcloths last week. :)


  25. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog today, I had added you to my "Favourites" on my pc but have also now added you to my fav blog on my list within my blog...hope you dont mind!! Andrea x

  26. Oh, those lovely words Jewels had written. I saved them to my personal inspirational quotes notebook ages ago, and then was so happy I did, because Jewels closed down her blog soon afterwards.

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