The largest portion of a mother’s efforts goes into the priorities. First things first. Healthy meals, clean clothes and a clean house require nothing short of exertion.
A mother attends to the business of seeing that the children have something to eat, something to wear, and something to learn each day. A little creativity expressed in providing all these things can make a mother’s work more enjoyable. This is how she mixes business with pleasure.
She enjoys putting a personal touch into her work if even in a small way. Her menial tasks feel lighter and her chores carry with them a special shade of meaning when a little spare energy is available for finishing touches.
The yellow kitchen of the Lady-of-the-House is a working kitchen – best known for its messes. One rainy morning she dolled up the sink with sunflowers. It made an overcast day feel more cheery.
Finishing touches speak, “This is home” even if a family is renting and their location is temporary. When an idea makes its appeal a homemaker will set aside a little energy for the pleasant task of taking steps to see it through. A chair could be painted a courageous color – or a door (if the landlord permits). A seasonal table could be kept at the door for young children to display their finds. A few flowers gathered from the garden, a basket of picture books by the sofa, a garnish of fresh herbs to an entree, - a set of cloth napkins, an accent pillow or curtain she might sew - bring taste, color, interest, and comfort to the home.
Perhaps, at this time in her life, a busy mother hasn’t the where-with-all for finishing touches. She may have just had a baby or adopted a toddler. She might be recovering from surgery or experiencing an exhausting household relocation. She could be driving a loved one for frequent medical treatment. Until she can pick up her paintbrush, needle, or garden trowel again, what she can do is bless her chores with a smile – not the least - but the best finishing touch of all.
What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable. Joseph Addison
A Track Record
Much of the energy spent by the Lady-of-the-House is in the keeping room where her yellow kitchen, dinning area, pantry, and laundry room reside. She almost said collide by a slip of the tongue. For if a dotted line where drawn on the floor tracing her steps it would be a confusing web-like pattern for sure.
Up and down the blue staircase she goes, too. Her office, where she writes among piles of review materials – and does the ironing - is in the attic on the third floor.
Taking a step up the first flight of stairs, she glances through the French doors, into her little parlor. Her eyes rest momentarily on the wing chair. It is conspicuously placed in this inviting spot on purpose. She likes to look at the chair when she isn’t sitting there. It was gotten by inheritance (from a descendent of Emma Cook) and is the prettiest chair she has ever had. When her work is done, here she likes to stitch, read or just rest her head on a wing.
Afternoon sunlight illuminates the chair brightly making it perfect for needlework. She may not, however, get to that chair until supper dishes are washed up. That’s okay. Enough light reflects off the white walls in summer for her to stitch comfortably for fifteen minutes.
It’s work before pleasure in the square house. But a moment of refreshment makes a world of difference to the Lady-of-the-House. It allows her to focus on a project for a finishing touch – though it may be months before the project is completed.
Mixing Business with Pleasure
With Summer Flowers
On Saturday the Man-of-the-House and his Lady walked together through the Grower’s Market. They filled the trunk of the car with local produce. (His Lady has been slicing peaches for the freezer.)
An Amish mother sells bouquets of her homegrown flowers there. A bucket of individual stems (not shown) was what attracted the Lady-of-the-House. She chose white blooms for one dollar with a mind for adding pink to the vase from her own garden. How long it has been since fresh flowers were in the parlor!
If the English language made sense, lackadaisical would have something to do with a shortage of flowers. Doug Larson
With a Summer Plate
While the Man-of-the-House and his Lady were out together poking about a used-miscellaneous-shop, he spotted a set of Brambly Hedge plates. The summer plate features pink flowers for a wedding. “I found something you might like at the far end of the shop,” he says.
“They’re darling,” she says after following him through the maze of clutter.
His male ears sometimes tire of the words cute and darling. Regardless of this, she involuntarily uses the words again at home while she sets the plates in the grove of the corner cupboard and adds, “How do you manage to find things like this among all the outdated contraptions, memorabilia, and bric-a-brac?”
Smirking he replies, “I browse for both of us while you’re talking with your kind at the till.”
“Come into the parlor and see my new dessert dishes – one for each season,” the Lady-of-the-House says to her married daughter who is visiting.
“Ah, so cute,” her daughter says.
The lone teacup, which matches the summer plate, really belongs to this 30 year-old daughter who received it as gift on her 16th birthday. “This is my cup isn’t it?” she recalls, fingering it gingerly.
“Yes, hum . . . I’m keeping it safe for you,” her mother claims as she closes the cupboard door. With a voice just over a whisper she explains the reason being. It concerns her grandsons who are at an age when their sudden movements fall into the bull-in-a-china-shop – category. “If and when you get the right shelf or cupboard, just say the word and I’ll give your birthday present to you.”
“Okay Mom,” she acquiesces.
With a Summer Work-in-Progress
A new project suggested itself to the Lady-of-the-House this summer – a new-old project actually, for the rug yarn was purchased with anticipation in 2003 when she still lived in Maine. It lay dormant in her stash.
When she came upon a simple chair pad design on monk’s cloth at a stitchery shop she thought, “This is it - my next finishing touch.” Her anticipation was rekindled. With raspberry, pink, and two greens she hopes to bring the poesy to life.
It feels good to make progress – no matter how slowly.
While in the parlor with Dean’s camera around my neck I thought I’d show you my beautifully bound hardcover copy of A Charlotte Mason Companion.
It has a ribbon place marker. Somehow, A Charlotte Mason Companion washed up on shore in South Korea and the Christians there asked if they could publish the book in their language.
That was some years ago, but I keep forgetting to tell you about it. I feel deeply honored that they chose to make it a hardcover (and with the finishing touch of a dust-jacket) in our electronic age. (Click any image to enlarge.)
I appreciated hearing from you through our post office box this month and filling your orders of the Mother Culture CD. There are plenty in stock.
Thank you for visiting,