Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Super-Long Daybook Entry. . .

I ran across an old “daybook” post I wrote two years ago, and I smiled reading it. I have no idea if people are still doing these posts (I’ll have to look into it and officially join the fun, if so). I don’t know if this is the original format or my own (or someone else’s) modified format, but here goes.

I’m at my sister’s house because her usually very active 18-year-old daughter has mono and the poor, sweet thing can’t do much more than lie around. My sister is out of town for the week, and my brother-in-law has morning meetings and then goes for a run, so here I am. I’m just really glad I can do this, and it happens to give me a lot of free time, so why not write a post and add lots of photos to it? Be forewarned: This post is super-long! (And please forgive all of the messed up spacing. Blogger just doesn't seem to work for me like it used to, and I don't have time to figure out how to fix these little glitches that show up in the posts but not in the compose box when I put them together. I do not know HTML, so looking at the Edit HTML page is hopeless.)

Don't forget to click on the photos if you want to see them well.

There are a lot of blooming flowers planted randomly around the yard.
These roses are part of a large bush that is covered with blossoms.

I am wearing. . . 

Old blue jeans, a grey “Oregon Ducks” t-shirt, a bright pink polar fleece jacket, zipped to the neck, and bare feet.

I am reading. . . 

An awful lot of Psalms lately, always out loud. I think that’s the only way to read the Psalms, but I sing them if I know a tune to any of them. I’m also reading through Claudia Roden’s wonderful cookbook featuring Spanish food. And I am reading (I actually do read it and not just look at it) the only magazine I like to splurge and buy—the British version of Country Living. I’ll occasionally swing by Borders to see if they have the latest issue. Finding this magazine is kind of like playing the lottery. Only a few issues come in at once, and they leave almost as quickly as they appear, so my timing must be lucky if I’m going to find the magazine in the store. I like this magazine because it seems real. Real people rather than perfect models. Stories about country life and issues. Imperfectly decorated homes with a bit of muss in them. The homes and people and features seem relaxed and low key and really country rather than portraying merely an affected style, though it would be that, too, to some degree because it’s a magazine, after all. I’m sure a large part of the appeal of the magazine is that I lived in England for 3 ½ years. Two of my kids were born there, it’s where we bought our first home, and I loved everything about that country. My memories are possibly idealized, but I loved it just as much when I was there, so maybe not.

I am hearing. . . 

The hum of the refrigerator. The clicking of keys as I type. Nothing else. Except an occasional sneeze by me (it’s allergy season—and this being the grass capital of the world, with grass pollen counts many times over the high that is show on charts, sneezing is a way of life around here until early July).

Learning all the time. . . 

Well, I just learned about the ins and outs of altitude training for track athletes, and it was fascinating.

I’m learning how to live alone, and I must say there is truly a gift in dealing with a bit of loneliness. Maybe I’ll write more about that another time.

I’m also learning about the positive benefits of bright light exposure (BLE). Optimally, the exposure is natural light and it must enter the eye. It was discussed in the track clinic I attended as being one of two keys for balancing the body’s circadian rhythms, the lack of BLE was discussed recently on NPR as a cause of increasingly poor eyesight in children, and I’ve read about the importance of BLE many times in books and articles about health (regarding hormones, insomnia, depression, and much more). This has captured my interest, so I’ve been doing some extra reading about the body’s need for BLE.

And speaking of light, I’ve been reading about light in the home and how it affects the people who enter it. Why people are drawn to some rooms and not others, why light should be warm (and if it’s not, how to make the light in a room appear warm), and more. Very interesting stuff, and it all aligned with my intuition on the subject.

I am thankful. . . 

For a home, for a comfortable place to sleep, for clothes on my back, for the gift of a car, for never running out of good things to eat, for friends and family, for good books to read, for strength and health to walk and hike, for a quiet life, for beauty, for laughter, for love, for joy. 

I am hopeful. . . 

To finally haul my things from my storage unit down south to my house in Eugene. The plan was to go retrieve it this coming weekend, but now my kids are all planning to migrate to my house for a 4th of July celebration, so the stuff can wait! It’s really hard to put a home together when a house has mostly-empty, echoing rooms with not much personality in them yet, but I was thinking about this and am taking it as a challenge to look past what fills the rooms to the heart of a place.

This was taken the first day or two that I had access to the house.
It's empty here, but a lot more set up and cheery now,
with a table and chairs and tidy counters.

When all my kids and grandkids are here this weekend, I guarantee it will feel like home! It’s going to be about food, fun, games, conversation, and togetherness. And when there is the free spirit, life, and laughter of children in a house, it’s impossible for it not to feel like home! Children are unencumbered by burdens (even if difficulties exist in their lives). They simply trust that all will be well, and in the big picture, at least, they accept things as they come.

I remember when Roman had just turned two and he broke his femur. He had surgery and ended up in a body cast that stretched from his waist to his toe on the side with the broken leg and down to the knee on the other. He was in pain and, for a while at least, he was immobilized. And it didn’t take him long to accept this as the way it was. When his leg began to heal and Roman felt better, he began to work to flip himself from his back to his stomach. Eventually he did, and then he struggled and struggled to drag himself forward. It was touching, really, and we all cheered when he finally figured out how to propel himself. He dragged himself just a few inches forward, then a few more, and then he looked up and exclaimed with great excitement, “It’s going! It’s going!” Soon, he was dragging himself along with amazing skill, but if he had only a short ways to go, he’d simply flip himself over and over from back to front and front to back, with comic speed, to reach whatever it was he wanted.

I remember telling Michelle back then how struck I was by this. Roman was barely two-years-old and had no idea what was going on. For all he knew, this was the way he would remain for the rest of his life, and yet, his cheer and spirit was not even slightly daunted or diminished. He simply accepted his lot and did the best he could with it without letting it bother him. 

Watching this, I wanted to learn from it. I still do. 


I have been eating a lot of different grains and legumes lately (brown rice, mung beans, quinoa, green lentils, barley, black beans, chickpeas, white beans, black Chinese forbidden rice (delicious!). I didn’t used to like chickpeas all that much because I thought they were mealy and too round, but I’ve come to love them. I’ve made Heidi Swanson’s delicious, garlicky chickpeas with dandelion greens (only I used arugula) and the spicy Indian chickpea recipe from Mad Hungry.

My spice cupboard. Michelle likes it! 
Cooking the latter recipe was inspired by something Michelle said recently when she visited. She opened my spice cupboard and said, “Ooh, it’s so pretty in here. It makes me want to snoop around and see what you’ve got.” Yeah, I thought then, it really is pretty, and those pretty spices are also fragrant and delicious, so why haven’t I been using them lately? So, as I flipped through a cookbook or two looking for dinner inspiration, I was particularly looking for something that would let me use some of those wonderful, colorful spices, and that’s when I ran across the chickpea recipe Mad Hungry. Delicious! 

I am creating. . . 

A blog. Sort of. There are a couple of obstacles to doing this well that, hopefully, will be eliminated soon. One is that I don’t have internet at my house, so I’ll put up a post quickly at my sister’s house or at the nearby Borders store, and then I’ll look at the post later, see all kinds of problems with it, and lack the time to “repair” it. I’m waiting to sign up for internet service when Comcast offers their “$19.99 a month for 6-months” special again, and then keeping a blog will be more natural and easy.

The other obstacle is that I was going to largely write about home stuff this summer, but I’ve been waiting to start getting things set up, and the trip to the storage unit keeps getting pushed further down the road. But life goes on, and if I don’t have anything to say until my things are in my house, something is quite amiss. 

I'm bringing beauty to my home. . .

 All in order, sweet and lovely.” (Blake) I’m bringing beauty to my home by keeping it clean, fresh, cheerful, and orderly (which isn’t much of a challenge as there is not much to keep in order, really). I cut flowers from the plants in my yard to set in jars or vases to brighten corners here and there. Before long, I’ll be sewing curtains for the kitchen (there’s a whole post around this that I think I’ll do, come to think of it, so more about curtains and such things later).
This must look familiar by now.
This window is directly opposite my stove (see the kitchen photo).

The end of the living room. The lighting of this photo is way off,
but it gives a look at one corner of the living room. I will definitely
be painting the brick on that fireplace white and doing something to hide
the cavernous black (I can't build fires because the chimney is closed off.)

 My curly $5 Goodwill clock.

For some reason, I started picking up Goodwill dishes
in yellow and brown, so I'm cobbling together a cheery set!


Outdoors is where I love to be in the summer. I love nature, and I love hiking. I haven’t gone on very many all-out, all-day hikes (as in driving to a trailhead in the mountains), but I’ve been on quite a few mini-hikes around the periphery of Eugene. And I take long walks almost every day. This town has an amazing, gorgeous network of miles and miles of trails in the woods and bike paths leading to almost any place in town. I like the wooded trails in particular because of the quiet beauty away from traffic and town life. Plus, they’re almost all hilly, and I love a vigorous climbing hike. I love to walk the bike paths and town trails, too, when I am alone (I don’t hike the wooded trails alone) for a chance to see the town and all of the cheerful people out walking and riding those trails.
Taken one evening on a walk that turned into a hike
with my son, two nephews, and a niece.
Looking down at part of Eugene from a trail in the southeast hills.

My son and nephew on that same evening hike. 

A different kind of being outdoors is sitting at my table and chairs on the little patio in my backyard It’s sort of sweet place, really, and I sit out there whenever it’s sunny, which hasn’t been as often as I’d like, but we have had some lovely days, and I know there are more to come. (Today, there’s rain.) When the sun shines, that backyard is a lovely place to be. It gets the best sun of the day, and since it hasn’t been overly hot this year, it’s never gotten uncomfortable out there. I’ll walk outside with my breakfast, go out to sit with a book, take my lunch out there to eat, and sometimes, I’ll eat dinner out there, too. And when any of my kids are here, we end up sitting outside a lot. The patio has a lot of cheery, sunny drawing power, and I’m thankful for it.
Not a sunny day, but, still, it's where we end up.
You can see the patio just out the kitchen sink window, and there’s a laundry room just to the left of that where the door to the back garden should be. There’s an ideal place for a door in that laundry (a space that seems made for it). How hard can it be to punch a hole in the wall and put a door there, especially when it makes so much sense to do it? If this were my own house that would be one of my first projects. And I would often sit on the steps leading down to the patio. But, as it is, I must walk through the laundry room and then take a few steps through the garage to a door that leads outside, and that’s not so bad. When my grandchildren are here, this works well as they are in and out continuously. I at least have to give kudos to the owner for making the garage room-like. There’s a nice little window on the southeast side, and the (finished) walls are painted the same color as the interior of the house. 

I am thinking about. . . 

The potential there is in quietness (if we will not avoid it) to allow us to see ourselves as we really are, to let the Lord change us, and to grow deeper and more compassionate.

 One of my favorite things... 

Is. . . is. . . Gosh, I don’t know. Everything is one of my favorite things when I’m enjoying it.  Depending what’s going on in a day, I would be prompted to say different things in answer to this. But, definitely, one of my favorite things (of course!) is getting together with my family, so I am greatly looking forward to having them all here this weekend. 

A few plans for the rest of the week... 

To prepare for the weekend. Food planning, setting up well for the kids to have fun (though they will be outside most of the time), finding games to play, making sure there are the makings for coffee and tea, etc.
 Tea time with Aimee and sweet little Avery.
Aimee is the one who always gets tea time going when she's around!


  1. *happy contented sigh*

    just...stay. will you?

  2. I am in the process of reading a book I think you would like. Actually, you may have already read it! It is called Plain and Simple by Sue Bender. It is just what I need right now. I have even grabbed my journal and pen to write down passages that I want to remember. I found my copy at my local library. And, yes, to echo Tonia, you have been missed. Your writing has a way of bringing value and encouragement to us who are striving to make a house a home.

  3. Have to agree with the sentiments in the others. I really loved reading your other blog and am enjoying this one now too. You DO have a very beautiful way of writing. You express, perfectly, all the things that matter when it comes to home and family. I too hope you'll be able to stick around in blogland for a long time to come. But I understand time can be an issue, especially when you've just moved and are in the process of getting settled. I'm looking forward to more of your "making a home" posts.
    Thanks for sharing those lovely words and photos.
    ps: I love COUNTRY LIVING magazine but it's pretty hard to get a hold of here too lately. Not sure why, it was always a regular at the newsagents before.

  4. Thank you, Tonia. You are sweet! :-)

    Michelle, yes I have read that book (and own it)! And you are so right in thinking that I would like it. I found it soothing and inspiring. I do what you do--read with pen and paper in hand when I read a particularly impacting book. Thanks for mentioning this, and thank you for your nice words.

    Claina, funny that *you* have a hard time finding that magazine over there! Thank you, too, or encouraging me today. I'm so glad you stop by here. :-)


  5. Hi Susan-I just discovered that you are blogging again! Yes! High Desert Home and your blessings blog are definately favorites. I am excited to read your writings again - I can echo all that has been said the the comments. Thanks for sharing! Shirley in Washington P.S. Do you still drink Green Lemonade?

  6. sigh...ditto tonia's words.
    love that green couch in the living room! :)
    you could try to paint the inside of the fireplace white?
    or fill it with birch logs?
    wish i could curl up for a chat and coffee with you, susan.
    sending much love,

  7. I think I need you to come East and just stand in my kitchen to tell me how you do it. Your photos always make me take a deep breath and take in the simplicity and beauty of ordinary things placed in a meaningful way. The door is always open...thank you for stepping back in. You were truly missed.

  8. your mid-century sofa ... thud. ;o)

  9. Oh, Shirley, it was you that asked about the green lemonade! (I answered it today.) It's nice to see you here!

    Megan, I love the couch, too, which is really a love seat (and the matching chair), which I got for a song at a thrift-antique store that was going out of business and had slashed already low prices. :-)

    Mary, very sweet words! Thank you! I'm glad you get a sense of what I feel and hope to communicate.

    jAne (I want to spell it like you do!), I like that sofa/loveseat, too. It's nice when people connect with the same taste. . . :-)

  10. I also am learning to live alone due to husband working clear across country and emptyynester. Would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

    Do you pray the liturgy of the hours?