Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Gentleman

Today, Anna and I studied an interesting, brief essay by John Henry Newman, called "The Gentleman."

Where are the gentlemen out there? And why do most men who do want to be gentlemen, not know how?
Mr. Newman gives the men of the world some tips:

"It is almost a definition of a gentleman to say he is one who never inflicts pain.... He is mainly occupied in merely removing the obstacles which hinder the free and unembarrassed action of those about him, and he concurs with their movements rather than takes the initiative himself."

In other words, a true gentleman is like a perfect English butler.  He is invisible.  He makes your life easier by every action he takes. He thinks constantly of the comfort of others.
Newman says he is "like an easy chair or a good fire." Nature does provide rest and warmth in other ways, but none are so comforting as a soft wing-back, and a blazing, well-tended fire.

"The true gentleman in like manner carefully avoids whatever may cause a jar or jolt in the minds of [others] . . . his great concern being to make everyone at their ease and at home."

In other words, the man who runs up to the door, jostles my purse off my shoulder, grabs the door handle, shouts, "Let me get that for you," and otherwise draws attention to himself and embarrasses me, is not a gentleman.  He is well-intentioned, I'm sure, but he does not know what he is about. If he wants to be a gentleman, he should be invisible. He should be helpful.  His job at the door is to allow me to enter the building as if I were silently walking through a wall, without missing a step, without the slightest annoyance. A gentleman's goal should be to make me feel good, and look good.
I'm embarrassed to tell you what Mr. Newman says about how a gentleman conducts himself in conversation. He remembers the names of those he's talking with. He avoids unreasonable allusions that his listener will not understand. He steers away from topics that may irritate his listener. He does not make himself prominent in conversation, defers to others, and is never wearisome. He does not listen to slander or gossip, and interprets everything for the best. He is never, ever rude.

Do you know anybody like this anymore? I'm afraid the internet has encouraged us all to be as ungentlemanly as possible!

And ladies, Mr. Newman's assumption, in the 19th century, is that ladies know how to be ladies. If gentlemen are to be gentle, deferring, helpful, smooth, and generally make us look like ladies, we must allow them to do so. Both sexes have forgotten the old dance. In order to dance it well again, both partners must practice.

Thank you, Mr. Newman!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Something New:

I'm trying to crochet this hat:
Here's the website for Drops Design -- the page the hat is on. As you know, I don't really like to follow patterns when I'm being "creative," but my creativity does have limits, and there are times when it's a good idea to follow other people's brilliant conceptions! I doubt I could have come up with this hat pattern on my own, and I'm learning a lot by making it.

My one problem? I don't have the right size hook. I have a "G" and the pattern calls for a much smaller hook, a "C." So, I think my hat will turn out too big. My gauge is all wrong. Ah well. It's good practice. I'm taking pictures of my hat, but I'm not posting them until I know it will turn out decently!

A Cup of Blog-Tea

That's what I wish I could give you today -- it's rainy and cold, couch-sitting weather. I have a blanket over my legs. A few minutes ago, Anna said she could see her breath. That may be an exaggeration, but yes we are trying to keep the heat turned off, now that it's almost April!  Goodness, what's with the weather?!

So, to warm the spirits, here are a few sips of blog-fun:

#1, click here. It'll take you to a page with a guy's face on it. His name is Owen. He is a friend of mine from high school. He's a musician; he's been playing the guitar forever. The song on the page is called "October."  Just click on the little "arrow" button next to the song's name, and it'll play the song for you.  It's so beautiful.  I find delicate guitar to be mesmerizing, haunting, soothing.  I could listen to it all day long. Owen wrote the song, but it's being performed by a friend of his.

#2, here's a silly story for you. What happens when one engages in those online dating services, and thinks one finds a person that one has SO much in common with? You just never know!

#3 this study found that religious, church-going people are fatter, but simultaneously healthier. It's fun to consider why.

#4, this USA Today article talks about how Washington, D.C. standardized test scores seemed suspiciously high in recent years.

#5, but this other USA Today article rebuts the other one, saying the unusual qualities of the tests are explainable.

#6, a little bitter in your tea. This World article by Cal Thomas is rather harsh in its assessment of the uprisings in the Middle East, and of the U.S. response. Is he overly cautious? Perceptive? Time will tell.

I'm chilly again! Time to warm up my cup of tea!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Beauty of the Countryside

On Sunday morning, Adam preached first at this gorgeous little church, out in the country. For those of you who live your lives day in and day out on concrete, among tall buildings and stopped at stoplights with the fumes rising about you ... well, all I can say is that you're missing out! Many country churches worry that they are dwindling away. Why are we all desperate to live in the city? I suppose that's "where the jobs are," but I think it's a shame. The countryside in Southern Alabama was relaxing, calming, soothing.  All the things that city people need, I think.

Isn't it a beautiful church? And we had TWO organs and a piano, for our accompaniment to the psalms we sang. One was a pump organ. We had a good crowd, and a good worship service.
Do you see that their azaleas are in bloom?

Anna peruses the church's old cemetery. Or, as a pastor friend at another church once described it to Adam, "The larger part of our congregation."
The rest of the day got so busy, I forgot to take any pictures of the other beautiful church, or the delicious pot-luck supper, or all the friends we made. Ah well. I did pull out the camera when we got back to Montgomery. This photo is for all my literary friends, particularly Mary Jo, who is an F. Scott Fitzgerald fan.

Monday, March 28, 2011

They're Up!

My heirloom Brandywine tomato seeds have germinated! Yippee! Maybe I'll have tomatoes this year after all!

Gaines Ridge Dinner Club

On Saturday evening, we had the lovely privilege of visiting Gaines Ridge Dinner Club for a meal. What a delightful place! I could rave and rave about the delectable food, the understated charm of the house, the gracious helpfulness of all the staff. Wait, did I just rave anyway?  It was such a nice evening.  This is not a place just for eating; it's a place to enjoy every moment. Here's the front door, which is reached after a long, dark driveway lined by trees dripping with Spanish moss. Gaines Ridge maintains a casual, homey atmosphere.
But I wouldn't call the inside "casual, "exactly.  The house itself, the furnishings, and china everywhere -- all of it says "elegance." I would say, unpretentious elegance. Everything is perfect.
Here are our two angels of the evening.  Miss Betty is on the left; she owns the home and runs the restaurant. The lady on the right tended to our every need at the table. They have lovely smiles even after a long evening. Betty is amazing. She's been running Gaines Ridge for 26 years, but does many other things.  I suppose she's never still. Her work is a blessing to her community.
This is just one little corner, showing what I mean by "china everywhere."  I have a weakness (a serious weakness) for china pitchers. I felt my heart fainting away when I saw these shelves!
Our group sat in the back room. This room is not original to the house, but Betty added it on because she needed the space.  She carefully chose everything so that it would still have an "old" feel, and she did succeed! Don't you love the long fireplace? The weathered wood? The blue bottles and farm implements?
I have to tell a story on Peter.  After our appetizers (fried pickles, fried tomatoes and delicate, thin, crunchy onion rings which were decadent!), and our salads, our main dishes were brought. Peter had ordered a steak sandwich.  I tell you, that sandwich arrived, and he inhaled it silently before I knew he'd done it. I looked over at his plate with a few crumbs and a dribble of steak juice on it, and asked, "Where's your sandwich?"  He smiled sheepishly and shrugged his shoulders.  "It was really, really good!"  he said. A kind lady in our group said, "Do you want another one? Order another one!" And he did.  He ate that too. I suppose he was hungry, but I also think it was just a very delicious steak sandwich (or two).
And all of the food was that good - steak, shrimp, crab cakes, tilapia.  Just wonderful!

The outdoors at Gaines Ridge are as beautiful as the dining rooms. Betty has ornamented the porch and patio area with twinkle lights, beautiful plants, and all kinds of lovely things hanging from the boughs of the trees. There's a quaint archway with a Lady Banks rosebush clambering over it. It was dark, so this photo does not do it justice.
Betty is also a quilter, and this thrilled Anna! She had several of her quilts brought up to the house for Anna to see. Betty has only been quilting for six years, and she does it all on machine -- she says she doesn't have time to do it all by hand, considering all the wonderful quilting ideas she wants to complete. Here are a couple of examples of her work:

For dessert, we had Black Bottom Pie. We were told that Gaines Ridge's Black Bottom Pie is among the 100 things a visitor to Alabama must experience, before leaving the state, and I believe it! Anna and I split a piece. It had a ginger snap crumb crust, and there was a wisp of liquor in there with the chocolate -- rum perhaps? It was wonderful.
We left Gaines Ridge satisfied and content.  Or, as they say in the South, "fat and happy." If you are traveling anywhere near Camden, AL, you must eat here.  Here's a website with a little more information. And if you go to Google or Youtube, you can find an interview with Betty, in which she relates the ghostly experiences she's had in the old house.  Exciting!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Goin' South

Well, here I sit, far from home, in the Deep South. We're traveling this weekend for Adam to preach in Alabama. I've taken a few random photos along the way.
First of all, I've wanted for years to get a shot of this "peachy" water tower. It's just across the state line, as you go from N. Carolina to S. Carolina.  I was about to call it a "Georgia Peach," but I think my South Carolinian friends would be offended at that!
On our way through Georgia, we stopped at Toccoa Falls College, for Anna to visit the school and see what she thinks. One building she truly wanted to see was the library -- her favorite place to be :)  Here, I took her picture next to the library's old card catalog! Remember those? I spent many hours flipping through index cards in these at various libraries.  I was a library fan when I was young, just like Anna.

By the way,  Anna really liked the college.  I think she'd like to attend there;  now we just have to see about the big issue for all families looking at college these days:  the money. College is rather expensive! We're hoping it will work out at Toccoa.  They have a great cross-cultural major that Anna's interested in. The college has historically been very strong in missions/cross-cultural studies.
We stayed overnight on Friday with some great friends in Montgomery, Beth and Win, their 3 kids, 4 cats, and 3 dogs. We took Sandy along, so it was a lively house, and a really wonderful visit -- what a joy to see old friends and enjoy conversation with them! I have to brag on Beth -- she decided a while back (maybe a year or so?) to lose 100 lbs.  And you know what?  She's succeeded!  She has only 3 lbs. to go. I'm so proud of her, and she looks great.  So, if you're someone who longs to lose lots of weight, and thinks it's impossible, it's not! She's used a combination of Weight Watchers, exercise, and a friend who held her accountable.  Beth is a great friend.

As we drove further south, I noticed the Spanish moss begin to appear.  The trees are downright shaggy! It's such romantic-looking stuff. I also saw about a mile of roadside forest, and all the underbrush was these short palm tree/bushes.  I'd never seen them growing wild before! Amazing. I pulled out my camera too late, though.
Our trees in N. Carolina aren't quite leafing out yet, but down here, it's just beginning.  See that early, bright goldy green! I love this look that Nature only has for a few days.
And I had to take this picture -- I haven't seen a Piggly Wiggly grocery store in so many years! I grew up with Piggly Wiggly and Jitney Jungle. Such creative names, don't you think?
We're having a great visit so far.  This is a very beautiful area along the Alabama River, and we've enjoyed driving around. The riverside areas remind me of coastal Carolina, or perhaps Florida. Just beautiful.

Have a great weekend! I'll be sure to post any more fun pictures I come across.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What's in your Food?

I wrote awhile back about my attempt to find milk without bovine growth hormone -- rbgh, as it's called.  I succeeded.  For a bit, I had to switch to WalMart milk, but later we noticed that our Aldi milk is also rbgh-free, and it's cheaper. I'm voting for healthier milk, with my debit card :)

I watched this excellent video on GMOs -- genetically modified organisms in our food supply. Did you know that the large agri-business corporations modify grains like corn, soy and alfalfa with proteins at the DNA level? Food allergies are always a result of a reaction to proteins.

This has been going on since about 1994.

In the past 10-15 years, food allergies (many to corn and milk) have increased by 265% in the US, according to the Center for Disease Control, assessing hospital admissions for food allergy reactions.

No human or animal trials have been done to prove the safety of GMOs.

Only 29 countries out of the world's 195 grow GMO crops. Many nations have laws against them; most of Europe does not allow them.

80% of our processed food in the U.S. has GMOs in it, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

(My blog is cropping this video, and cutting out the fellow. For a full-screen, double click and it will take you to Youtube to view it.)

The amazing thing to me is that the GMO producers are fighting so hard to ensure that these products are NOT labeled. They don't want the American public to know what's in their food.  They claim that it's not harmful, even though no studies have been done to prove this.  They say that their products are not substantially different from what's been fed to Americans before, yet they insist on patents for them, licensing, and tough penalties if you transgress this patent on a grain that's really the same as the ones your grandfather used. Can you smell a rat?

What I like about this video is that these folks are not extreme.  They are the first to say that science, and even genetic engineering in food, is a good thing, if it's done properly.  But done in secret, without accountability or disclosure, to the harm of the consumer?  No, that's not okay. These corporations won't release their seeds for use in any test that might be harmful to their profitability.

I also appreciate her concern for American farmers who are trapped in the middle. This woman has done her research and her leg-work.

Hopefully, public awareness on this issue will drive the industry to correct itself.  But the public can't vote with its pocketbook, and correct the industry through good ole capitalistic means, unless the public knows.  How can you vote with your purchase, when the purchases aren't labeled?

Here's Robyn O'Brien's book website.

Here's Mark Bittman's NY Times article, to which they were referring.

Here's the poll itself, with comments. Over 96% want the foods labeled.

Here's a post on the MSNBC poll.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Blogasbord Snack:

Never Abandoned -- This beautiful account of love for an orphan made me cry.

Knowledge as Submission -- Andree Seu at World Magazine clearly shows that knowing God must result in trusting Him. "We 'submit' to our claim that we know that our mechanic has changed the oil; we do that by paying him and driving off 10 hours to Michigan. Not dissimilarly, we 'submit' to our claim that we know God by living as though His promises are true and will hold us up."  I've never heard it explained so clearly before.

In other words, when we fight against trusting God in times of trial, we're basically saying "I don't really know You. I don't know you well enough to trust You."

Why Do We Let Them Dress Like That? -- If WSJ mom-writers are asking culture questions like this, then shame on Christian moms who haven't been.

South Dakota Abortion Law -- The NY Times clearly doesn't like the restrictions of this law, but I think it's wonderful that lawmakers are finally taking the deaths of the babies, and the abuse of the young women, seriously. I'm sick of our culture thinking of abortion doctors as heroes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

If the bees were here ...

Adam is preparing his hives. The bees will be here in 1 1/2 weeks. Don't they look pretty up on their little hill?
The three with little roofs are called Warre hives; Adam made them himself. The other one is called a Langstroth hive.
If the bees were here already, they'd be enjoying the blooms we have now.
Julia is naming the hives. They are: Leprechaun, Sasquatch, Dragon and Dwarf. The numbering system is to help Adam keep track of his generations of bees. She says when Adam makes two more, they'll be called Goblin and Hobbit. Can you tell we're just a bit into fantasy stories in our house? Good grief!
Our Canadian plum tree is in glorious bloom. I bet the bees would like that.
I love the silver blossoms against the pale blue sky.
Our neighbors (who already have generous chickens and ducks) just bought some more of both! Here's one of the adorable ducklings.
Our pussywillow tree is all gone to seed now, and is losing its pollen. At least, I think it's pussywillow; if anyone knows differently, please let me know!

John Keats -- His Legacy

I'm a sneaky teacher. Early in our unit on the Romantic poets, I had Anna watch Bright Star, a movie about John Keats and the woman he loved, Fanny Brawne. A compelling, warm, sad story, Anna was caught in their lives. Like I said, I'm sneaky.

Later, I pulled out a huge red book. (I mentioned it here.) Prose of the British Romantic Movement -- I put it in her lap and asked her if it looked interesting. It's comparable in weight to a dictionary, and about as fun inside. She opened it and sighed. Prose. A book of essays. Ick.

Then I told her that the book also contained John Keats's letters to Fanny Brawne, and her eyes lit up. Then I read her some passages from his letters, full of passion, jealousy, despair, adoration.  She was hooked.

To her, John Keats will never be just a boring poet from the 1800s.

"Write the softest words and kiss them that I may at least touch my lips where yours have been."

"I have two luxuries to brood over in my walks, your Loveliness and the hour of my death."

"I cannot exist without you -- I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again -- my Life seems to stop there -- I see no further. You have absorbed me."

"Love is my religion -- I could die for that -- I could die for you. My Creed is Love and you are its only tenet -- You have ravished me away by a Power I cannot resist...."

Keats was jealous of her, and jealous of his friend, Charles Brown. "When you were in the habit of flirting with Brown you would have left off, could your own heart have felt one half the pang mine did."  He was tortured to watch her with any other man, even in light flirtation.  "I will resent my heart having been made a football." He asks, "How have you passed this month? Who have you smiled with? All this may seem savage in me. You do not feel as I do -- you do not know what it is to love ...."

Six months before his death in Italy, far from her, he wrote, "I feel it almost impossible to go to Italy -- the fact is I cannot leave you .... If I cannot live with you I will live alone .... The world is too brutal for me -- I am glad there is such a thing as the grave ...."

Later, writing to Brown, he describes his consuming passion for Fanny: "O that I could be buried near where she lives! I am afraid to write to her -- to receive a letter from her -- to see her hand writing would break my heart -- even to hear of her any how, to see her name written would be more than I can bear. My dear Brown, what am I to do? Where can I look for consolation or ease? .... this fever has never ceased wearing me out .... A person in my state of health should not have such miseries to bear."

Keats died 3 months later.

This is his death mask.

Keats agonized that he was dying young, before he could make a permanent literary mark on the world. 
"When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripened grain ....."

Keats envisions a library, full of the books of poetry he longs to write. The library is a room of silos, full of the poetic harvest he's reaped from his mind. What an image!  But it was a vision he would not accomplish.

"'If I should die,' said I to myself, 'I have left no immortal work behind me -- nothing to make my friends proud of my memory -- but I have loved the principle of beauty in all things, and if I had had time I would have made myself remembered.'"

Oh, if he only knew how much he has been remembered! He is regarded as perhaps the finest of the Romantic poets. He died at age 26.  Wordsworth wrote nothing of importance until he was 27. If Keats had had another decade? Who knows.

Monday, March 21, 2011


At Aldi grocery store today, Adam saw a frozen gyro kit.  "Ugh," I thought. "I can't believe my husband is buying supper in a box!"
But the gyros were actually very good. We added onion and lettuce. The meat was good, the cucumber sauce was yummy, and even the pitas were fine.
Sorry to show you an eaten portion, but I wanted you to see the meat -- it's lamb.
Strawberries were on sale for $1/box, and I mentioned to Adam that Anna had asked what crepes were. So Adam made crepes for our dessert.
Here's the recipe for the batter (from Cooking at Home, by Jacques Pepin and Julia Child):

1 cupe flour
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup melted butter
2 tbls sugar
large pinch of salt
3/4 cup water

Use a blender to make a smooth batter. The pan should be at moderate heat. Adam used a pan with a sloping side, which is helpful when flipping them. Brush the pan with butter. It should be non-stick. Cook each crepe over high heat for 45 seconds - 1 minute, until lightly browned. They should look a little like beige lace. Cook on the second side for 30-45 seconds. Cool on a wire rack. They will be delicate, but will become more sturdy as they cool. Allow to cool to room temperature before using. You can freeze them also. Yield: 12-15 crepes.
Heavy whipping cream with some softened cream cheese & sugar:
These were SO good.
Adam made crepe mountains.

For Jenny: Of Wrinkled Shirts

Do you spend time wondering what God thinks of you?

These days, churches, pastors and self-help gurus tell you that God loves you, loves you in spite of all your ugly sins, accepts you just the way you are, accepts your awkward crayon drawings and slaps them proudly on his refrigerator in the sky. You are his daughter, and that makes you a princess.

And that’s all true.

But if that’s all true, then why does God allow pain in your life?

The end of Peter’s first epistle is full of instructions to his readers of how to cope with burning trials – the fire of persecution. These trials are there to refine them, to improve them. The fiery trials are for their good. They make Christians ready for heaven. Our trials make us ready for heaven too.

My friend Jenny told me recently that we are like wrinkled shirts – we are clean, we are dried, but we are thoroughly unfit for wear. Even the most beautiful garment (or heavenly princess) is not really presentable until the wrinkles are gone.

Is God ironing out your wrinkles? Does it hurt? How do you think your shirt feels, under the heat? Can it see what lovely improvements you’re making to it? The flat placket and the immaculate creases? Just think – the shirt will never get a chance to see itself from a distance. It has no sense of perspective on its own fiery torture.

Worse yet, all the pain it’s undergoing is only to serve as an adornment on another.  The shirt doesn’t get to walk around the town square alone, showing itself off. Its only job is to make you look good!

Poor shirt!

And then, when it’s dirty, it has to go through the whole process, all over again. And again. And again. Hot irons and sizzling cotton. Ouch!

Do you ever feel like that shirt, under God’s hot iron?

You are a heavenly princess. But God has plans for you. You have princess training to go through. And it’s gonna hurt sometimes.

"Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" Ps. 27:14

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lemon Cloud Pie

Or:  All-Out War in the Kitchen!!
I mean, how much trouble can one recipe be? (Or, conversely, now stupid can one cook be, hmmm?)

So, back on Valentine's Day, I saw this recipe over on Gumbo Lily's blog. Scroll down past the chickens and grandbabies. It looked divine. I said to myself, "Self, we're gonna make that pie."
Eventually, I remembered to buy lemons and cream at the grocery. Two weeks later (today), I made it.
I took Gumbo Lily into the kitchen with me :)
I decided to make the filling first, and worry about the pie crust later. (first of many mistakes...)
Here, I gently whisked 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, 3 Tbsp cornstarch, 1/3 cup lemon juice, and 2 egg yolks, in a saucepan. I turned for mere moments ...

Mere moments, I say! ...

to the sink, to scrub the wax off the lemons ...

And the mixture was boiling (which was nice, because it's supposed to). But I hadn't really, fully, um, mixed in the eggs. So there were little wisps of egg floating around in my lemon custard. Sigh. Lemon Egg Drop Soup, anyone?
My professional household chef was standing at my elbow.  He said, "You can fix that by putting it in the blender."  My self said, "Ugh. Me too lazy."
Then I ran my finger through the mixture, removing a piece of egg. Yeah, the blender came out, and it was helpful.

After its experience in the blender, however, the mixture was very airy, but still warm, and I added 4 oz. of cream cheese, and 2 tsp. of lemon zest. (At that point I realized I'd only need 2 tsp of lemon zest, not two whole lemons, which is what I'd bought at the store. So now I have a whole, unused lemon, and I have a nagging OCD tendency to feel obligated to make yet another lemon pie, just to use said lemon. I will ignore this little, niggling voice.
I left the lemon custard mixture to cool at last, and turned to the easy, predictable part -- the pie crust. I like the one I use for my Apple Pandowdy. It's almost fun. But my brain was temporarily disengaged. I tried to press it out by hand into the pie dish, without cooling it or rolling it. I went and took a dementia pill (or too), and came back to my pie crust. And I realized that, once the crust was baked, it would have to cool completely, before I could put the filling in it. This was turning into an all-day cooking event. I put the pie dough in the freezer, the filling in the frig, and went and sat on the couch.

Later, after watching a dozen videos of Japan's devastation and reading all about Libya, I rolled out the dough and popped it in the oven. When I checked on it, I discovered the sides were falling! And I remembered I'd done this before, with this same crust recipe! Argh! But who am I to be picky about crust? I'm all about flavor. Only Adam cares about how the food looks.  If it's ugly food, I just close my eyes when I eat it.

Intent on not burning the crust, I took it out soon.  Too soon. Later, when it was cooled, I realized it really wasn't cooked all the way.

So, you guessed it! I turned the oven back on, put it back, and finished it off:
All that trouble for that ugly thing!

At least it was cool enough to lift out onto a cooling rack. Later, I plopped the filling in.  It will have to cool in the frig for three hours at least.

Do NOT pray to God for patience.  He's liable to tell you to cook this recipe.
And then I remembered what I'd forgotten to do today:  bake 2 loaves of bread.  Now that I'm done with this post, I'm back into the kitchen. I hope my brain is still working.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Why I Don't Clean:

Alright, that's an overstatement. But it's true that I am not a frenetic house-keeper. My mother calls her cleaning style "a lick and a promise." Most of my house is pretty presentable, most of the time. The kids' rooms are horrid, as is their bathroom much of the time. My bedroom? Dusty and cluttered. Here's my vanity, in need of attention. Actually, when I took this photo, the cleaning had already begun.
Just in case you didn't know what I meant by dusty:
I dusted every Saturday during my teen years: living room, dining room, den. I think I got dusted out.
I cleaned the perfume bottles that I rarely use.
In the drawers, I found items I've kept. There were many papers like this, from the kids when they were little:
I found a stack of Christmas photo-cards from friends near and far. This was quite a few years ago. One couple had no kids yet, but had 2 dogs. Another had 2 daughters graduating; now the younger one is married. One family has since lost their dear grandma. Another has since been ravaged by divorce. Another beset by illness.  Missionary friends had both daughters home then. Almost all have kids who've flown the home nest. These photos clutter the frig when I receive them. Then they litter drawers for a few years. But I'm glad I kept them -- it's been long enough now that lives have changed. We've all changed.
I have a stack of boxes for keepsakes and jewelry. This little box was given to me by my oldest brother's girlfriend. That was probably 30 years ago.
In it, I keep the rose pedals Adam has given me over the years. I think that little bag of bird seed is from our wedding reception.
The largest box was my great-grandmother's. The watch face was hers too, and the watch necklace. My mother gave me all these, and the lovely cameo in the bag -- I think that was her grandma's too.
Cleaning like this is not really cleaning.  It's remembering. Perhaps that's why I put it off -- because I know it will take hours. But it's a good thing to do, don't you think?
The vanity, by the way, was my mother's when she was a little girl. It's falling apart (again), but I love it.