Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Importance of Keeping House

Dear Mrs. Rothwood,

     Vintage women's magazines are a bit of a passion for me.  I love collecting the housekeeping ones from the 1930's-1960's.  Within their pages are articles and ads that reveal just how important women's work was in the home.  It seems it was just taken for granted that women wanted to, and were needed to keep the home and thus keep the nation.

     I also have a collection of Bettina's cookbooks, a fictional lady who prides herself on keeping a lovely, modest home and feeding her family well on economy.  (A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband with Bettina's Best Recipes, A Thousand Ways to Please a Family with Bettina's Best Recipes.)

     Additionally, I have vintage housekeeping booklets meant for new brides as they take up housekeeping.  

     One thing is very apparent in all of these sources:  housekeeping was an important career for the betterment of the family unit, and thus our nation.

     I never really saw it that way before.  I always figured it was just a quaint way to go about my day, because, frankly, I hate the idea of having a boring old day job, and I loathe the idea of trying to balance one with raising children.  So, while I have been able to, I have been a stay-at-home woman.

    Something happened recently that really shifted my thinking, though.  My youngest son was diagnosed with allergies.  Usually stuff, really, but it hit me.  Listening to him sniff and snuffle and sounding like he's talking through a glass of water breaks my mother's heart.  The doctor told me that I need to make sure the dust and mildew of the house is kept down, and the air purified to help him.

     Now, my house isn't filthy and unkempt. But, coming home and seeing that it isn't immaculate worries me.  We live in a small cottage, and we are a larger family.  That means there is generally more dust and less air.  To accomplish cleanliness and health for my family truly is a full time job!

     My grandmother keeps her home immaculate, and always has.  She had a routine every week that kept her house spotless.  One may say that a well-kept house is the sign of a wasted life, but it certainly helped keep her and her family healthy and well.  

     It isn't drudgery.  It is life-saving!

     I am not sure how much longer I have to be a stay-at-home woman, so I am renewed and determined to make the most of it.  Lent starts tomorrow, so this is a perfect time to make changes.  

     Oh, and to purchase just one more vintage magazine before Lent...in which I promised not to spend needlessly on myself during that time.


Mrs. D. Scott

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Chapel

Dear Mrs. Rothwood,

     The Lenten Season is coming very soon.  How do you prepare for and observe Lent?

     This time of year always has me more introspective of my Christian walk.  One past incident came to mind recently and I have been meditating upon it.

     Several years ago, Mister Scott went through a time of serious illness that had him hospitalized several times.  I would visit him and we would try to have a merry time together in his room while the fog of worry and concern that illness, especially that of the breadwinner, brings.  

     When it was time for me to depart, the exiting hallway had a side door that led to a non-denominational (though heavily Catholic leaning) chapel.  I would walk by it numerous times; the dim light, the soothing water fountain, the kneeling bench at the alter, the plush chairs facing the crucifix all seeming to inviting.

     So, one time, I did venture in.  It was empty of other people, and I perched myself on the edge of a chair and tried to pray.  But, I felt so uncomfortable and like I didn't belong!  Therefore, I left, wondering why I felt so ill-at-ease.

     Three reasons came to mind as I contemplated my inability to worship in the little chapel:

     1. It was Catholic and thus not for Protestants like me.  (As if a Catholic atmosphere hinders Protestant worship.  How can that be?  While we may vastly disagree on theology, ultimately, Catholics love and serve our Savior, too.)

     2. I felt too worldly in my dress.  I dressed up for hubby.  Skinny jeans, tight tops, high heels, full make-up.  I wanted him to see me sexy and know his wife was still "keeping it together."  But, I felt so worldly.  That little chapel seemed to whisper of prayer veils and modestly feminine attire fit for removing the focus from ourselves and onto the Lord.  

     3.  Lastly, I actually felt silly in there.  I didn't want to appear vulnerable. I didn't want to cry.  I didn't want anyone to see me and judge me.  Openly worshiping and praying is very hard for me.  I am more of a prayer closet person.  I am uncomfortable with PDW (Public Displays of Worship).  I don't like to pray over meals in restaurants.  I don't like to raise my hands in church.  But, in my shower, my bedroom, my car, I can praise and worship all I want.

     Am I ashamed of God?  No!  Probably more ashamed of myself.  This goes back to #2, how I was dressed, but it also goes beyond that. Maybe it is an indication that I have too much compromise, too much self in my life.  Maybe it is a personality flaw I ought to overcome.  Maybe both.  Maybe habits.  Maybe fears.

     Maybe someday I will more humbly enter that chapel again.


Mrs. D. Scott

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Mother's Child: The Sweet Hello

Dear Mrs. Rothwood,

     Children are a heritage from the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward.  How are your dear little ones?

     Mama's boy holds such a negative connotation in our culture.  It brings to mind a co-dependent man-child who is lorded over by and dotes upon his domineering and controlling mother.  It makes me cringe, though, when a young boy-child is name-called "mama's boy" simply because he seeks out his mother for comfort, as any child ought to do. It is God-given and natural.

     Mother's child is my preferred term.  Not only is it sweeter sounding and is not part of our derogatory colloquialisms, but it is also gender-neutral, which lessens gender-biased judgments.

     I wax political, but ultimately, I am writing about my second son.  While they are all, of course, my mother's children, Little Master B has a special love for me right now that warms my heart.  He is at that age, you know, where mothers are their first loves - old enough to be conversationalists and companions, but young enough to still depend upon mother dear.

     His evidence of special love for me is apparent in his eyes, large and rimmed with long lashes, and in his chirpy little voice.  "Hello, mom," he says, in the sweetest way possible.  It brightens my day.  It awakens me.  It blesses me.

     Even his teacher at school has fallen for his genuine affection and loving nature.  Sweetheart, sweetie, darling, and such a good boy are all adjectives applied to his character.  He is a special one, as they all are in their own ways.  Each one warms my heart differently, but today I write of how he warms mine.

     He was the one baby I could really relax and enjoy.  My oldest, being the first, was a challenge for me as all my preconceived notions and expectations fell to the wayside. It took me by surprise that I wasn't the naturally perfect mother I imagined myself to be.  My daughter came next and little did I know in her infancy that she had special needs, which in turn made her a very challenging baby and toddler.  I wish I could go back and do it over for her, but I just didn't know.  I had never heard of babies having sensory processing disorder and migraines.  My youngest boy, I unfortunately suffered strong postpartum depression.  I did my best to enjoy and hold onto his infancy since I knew he would be my last, but depression is merciless.

     Little Master B, however, oh, how I enjoyed him.  I nursed him without boundaries.  I wore him and held him and co-slept, staring at his adorable pokey little profile.  He didn't cry for the first 3 months.  He didn't need to.  He was content, as was I.  I knew there was something unique and special about him.  There really is.  

     I refuse to name favorites among my children, because how can you pinpoint a favorite among so many wonderful variants?  Each are uniquely marvelous and uniquely flawed in their own, miraculous ways.  I adore them all!  And Little Master B. is certainly a shining star.  This mother's child.  Even within a simple, sweet "hello."


Mrs. D. Scott

Monday, February 20, 2017

For Richer or Poorer

Dear Mrs. Rothwood,

     Wouldn't it be fun to be wealthy enough to put together a home as you please?  

     One of my favorite little things to do since I was a young teen is to open to the back of Country Living magazines and explore the house plans they used to have listed.  I would go room by room and picture myself living there and how I would utilize the spaces.

     Today, I picked up a back issue and found a luxurious sprawling ranch.  The master suite was almost 1/3 of the house!  It had a bedroom with sitting area with french doors to the deck and a fireplace.  Attached was a study room.  Beyond the sitting area was a huge walk in closet and full bathroom with soaking tub and shower!  Let me tell you, I was ready to move right in and stay in that master suite for a long, long time!  

     It is fun to imagine, but I try not to let it eat away at my reality.  Considering that the closet in that house is about the same size, if not bigger, than my current bedroom, I have to be careful to not turn green.  I also realize that we are humble folks and to furnish such a space as I would want it to be furnished would require a lottery win.

     Then, there was the other day when I patted my trusty rusty minivan on the dusty, faded dashboard and thanked God for it.  It isn't pretty.  It isn't luxurious.  The radio doesn't work, the heater's tricky, and the driver's side window doesn't roll down.  But, she gets me safely from A to B and doesn't cost me an arm and a leg to keep.

     I have a heart for junk.  I have a love for used.  Probably because I grew up on second hand and make-do.  I learned to appreciate it and make the most of it.  It is very difficult for me to get anything brand new, and always a rare treat when I do, so I have come to find the creativity and joy in hand-me-downs and yard sale finds.  

     My little cottage is very much a patchwork of whatever I could cob together to make it work, and I like it.  Oh, sure, I would love to walk into the furniture store and custom order a new living room suite.  It would be so much easier to just buy a loft bed for my 2nd son rather than scrounging for how I can make one.  But, I appreciate the effort and creativity and money saving that goes into my scavenging.

     Oh, please don't think that I am fishing for back door sympathy or making myself out to be woe-is-me impoverished.  I am doing neither.  I am just thinking "out loud," and frankly, I am getting the itch to go junking again!  Spring is coming.


Mrs. D. Scott

Saturday, February 18, 2017

In Sickness and in Health

Dear Mrs. Rothwood,

     It has been a little while since we wrote to each other.  I do hope you are well. This winter has been unkind to many a body.  

     My ability to write you has been hindered by illnesses.  The children and Mister Scott have been affected back-to-back with ailments both acute and chronic.  Two are now on antibiotics.  Holistics worked well with two of the four, but the others just could not shake it.  As such, I have been caregiver and making sure I do not succumb to the various germs going around. Rest is of utmost importance, as well as good nutrition.

     Thanks be to God for providing the funds for me to spend so much of grocery budget (and beyond) on supplements, medications, and nourishing foods.  I am spending more time in the kitchen making broths and soups and simple meals to build a body and soul up.  Yesterday was my first minestrone soup and it came out so well!  Today, was my usual chicken soup with added baby dumplings.  I have vegetable broth at the ready for yet another soup.

     I read somewhere once that the famed Tasha Tudor owed her longevity partly do a steady diet of teas and soups.  I don't doubt it!  Along with living her life as she pleased, and thus happily with little stress; active and engaging her mind, as well as good genetics, she had an enviable autumn and winter of her days.

     In keeping with the theme of improving health, and in light of the spring-like weather we are having today, I will be taking a winter's walk in the woods soon, followed by an evening of Sabbath rest.  May your Sabbath be restful, too.


Mrs. D. Scott

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Idolatry of Leisure and Self-Importance

Dear Mrs. Rothwood,  

     I have a confession, dear friend.  I realized recently that I resented work and effort.  As I loaded wood into our stove and shoveled snow so I could get to our winter food stores, I realized how weak I had become physically and how anger was building up within me.  Just the day before, I lost my temper over the messy state of the house, knowing full-well that much of the problem lay within my own capabilities and my lack of enacting them.  

     Oh, I longed for rest and leisure.  There was a time I sorely needed it because I did work so hard.  Then, I got used to it.  Mister Scott was able to be home more from his job, and his health improved greatly and he took on more of the workload.  I enjoyed the pampering of lounging while someone else put in the effort.  After all, I deserved a break!  Young Mister Scott has a God-given work ethic that I am so appreciative of, and is now of the age where his efforts actually make a dent in the daily tasks.  I started relying on him.  I noticed instead of leading my children to tidiness, I barked orders from a reclined state doing mindless nothings.

     Everything I resented was in my power to change!

     The Good Lord convicted me!  The Bible says that He gives us rest.  He leads us beside the still waters.  He restores our soul.  Not mindless entertainments.  Not idle hands and idle minds.   Yes, He gives us rest, and we do have times of leisure and entertainment afforded to us, but not every day!  We are here to work.  Our retirement as Christians truly comes after we are freed from the earthly bodies.  Until then we are called to work for Christ, and as part of the consequence of sin, we are made to work to live here on earth so long as we are physically and mentally capable of doing so.

     We are to do all things to the Glory of God!  I never really grasped that before today.  I feel energized and elated knowing that I am NOT entitled to daily leisure and entertainments.  I may need it.  I may need a break, a time-out, a bit of rest, but I am not lazily entitled to it.  I am here to work, not resent work.


Mrs. D. Scott

Monday, February 13, 2017

Changing Light

Dear Mrs. Rothwood,

     Yesterday's snow storm has turned into today's clear, sunny day.  This time of year, when February clouds give up the sky to the glory of the sun reflecting bright off the freshly fallen snow, I notice a change.  No longer is the sun so low in the sky.  No longer does she abed before the supper bell. No longer do her rays shy away from my living room picture window and peek out only from behind the trees.  It almost feels like a New Year the way the sun shines now.

     This new light brings a new realization. It reveals the toll the winter hibernation has taken on my little cottage.  It illuminates cob webs that sneaked into corners unnoticed in the December and January darkness.  It reveals dust on the edges of high shelves.  It lays bare the drips and grease of cooking!

     Oh!  It sounds as if I don't clean at all!  I assure you I clean practically non-stop, but as I said, so much does get hidden in winter darkness.

     I have already tackled some of the tasks.  It feels delightful having the sun shine on crisp and clean!  As the temperature rises above freezing during the daytime hours, I will be able to throw open windows and shake and beat the dust out of the linens and upholsteries.  

     I prefer cleaning in late winter and early spring because once the snow melts off I am out of doors in the gardens and coops. So much needs attention outside in the spring that I cannot be bothered with interior work.

     When do you do your spring cleaning, Mildred, dear?  How did you fare in yesterday's snowfall?


Mrs. D. Scott

Thursday, February 9, 2017

On Truth and Authority

Dear Mrs. Rothwood,

    My mother and I are very similar.  We look the same and we tend to think similarly. We both muse how as children we could easily sit quietly and obediently at school or church and would be rather annoyed at the other children misbehaving and being rambunctious.  

     My own children are, well, children!  They have normal levels of concern for authority and empathy, while my mother's and mine are amplified.  It does get under my skin, and I frequently mourn over it with my mother as we shake our heads in an inability to understand it.   

     My notice of my own way of thinking and concern for my children in this matter was increased this morning.  Today, the children have a snow day from school.  During breakfast I pulled down a Bible and flipped to Proverbs.  As I scanned through the familiar verses, I would pause and read some out loud.  I noticed that my voice had the same tone of reverent authority as my mother's.  That tone of unquestioning Truth being spoken...and you'd better believe it! I believe it, because like my mother I just do. I don't tend to question authority much, and certainly not the Bible.  It's in there, so it must be true!  But, do my children feel the same?

     I am not against one questioning the authority of the Bible.  My oldest already questions Creationism.  It's good that he does as it helps him study God's Word, dig deep in his faith, and build a foundation of faith and truth.  I am simple.  I am content in just believing without ample evidences (though I do find it very interesting, but am more apt to absorb it from outside sources rather than delve into its study, myself). 

     Don't get me wrong.  I am no lemming.  I know that there are corrupt or mistaken people out there who twist authority and truth.  In this day and age I find I trust the authority of news media, and even that of friends "in the know" because so much seems sensationalized and turned on its head.  It is hard to discern truth from lie, manipulation from fact.

     Perhaps that is why I find myself clinging so to the faithful authority of the Bible.  I know in my heart of hearts that it is Truth and God is the author of that Truth. It is truth I can trust and hold on to and I wish to understand more of it.

     I hope you, too, believe in God's Truth. How do you feel about it?


Mrs. D. Scott

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Stormy Weather and an Anniversary

Dear Mrs. Rothwood,

     It is a pleasure to write to you again.  Having the opportunity to express  myself through writing to someone is an exercise in creativity that I sorely need.  It is simply too easy these days to succumb myself to idle scrolling through quick bursts, clickbait, and soundbyte social medias.  I feel my brain turning back on, so to speak.

     How did you fare in the ice storm last night?  We lost no electricity, though we slept fitfully, the mister and I.  Storms always make me nervous in my adulthood.  I miss the days of blissful, peaceful sleep as I rested assured of my father's tender-loving, and capable care.  I knew, no matter the outcome of the storm, that we would be supplied - warm, water, food, light.  Even now, 15 years in my own home, every storm I consider the possibility of returning to my father's home to be under his protection and care rather than flying solo here.

     While I know that you are not speculative and judgmental, I am sure you had the passing thought of, "what about Mister Scott?"  You see, he is one of the top men in his career and storms often call him out to help others.  That leaves me to the running of the household, including emergency situations.

     Speaking of 15 years away from my father's home and the capable and talented Mister Scott, today is our 15th wedding anniversary! The time has surely flown and continues to pass quickly.  We had some challenging years, Mister Scott and I, as we endured the baby years and his career challenges.  It really grew us and I am happy to say we are the better for it!  Celebration of our happy occasion won't occur until this week-end*.  A simple affair of stomping about the Capital city.

     Please write back soon.  I look forward to hearing from you.  There is beauty in our correspondence that puts an old-fashioned light into our modern world.

Sincerely yours,

Mrs. D. Scott

*For some reason I enjoy the charm of a hyphenated "week-end."  It seemed a popular way to write it around the turn of the 20th century.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Dear Mrs. Rothwood,

     This February makes no exception to its age-old rule of gray.  Everything has a gray cast to it.  As a matter of fact, I am wearing gray today.  

     Gray isn't abhorrent as a color.  Kitten gray is marvelously becoming especially when knitted into a scarf with fuzzy alpaca wool. I ignore it for the most part.  It is what it is and invites the hibernation needed during these winter months to prepare for the busy seasons ahead. Soon, I will be outside during all hours of the day raking, digging, scraping, cleaning, turning, planting, plucking, sweeping.

     In other news, Little A and I baked chocolate chip cookies today.  I had such a craving for them and found bittersweet morsels in the pantry.  Don't you prefer bittersweet chocolate over the others?  Little A did such a good job stirring the batter, though when I went to find the baking sheet, I returned to see him shoveling wooden spoonfuls of dough into his little mouth! Thankfully, we use our own eggs.

     Speaking of eggs, how are your birds doing?  This being a mild winter, my hens have hardly slowed down their laying at all!  The ducks have, though, only surprising me on occasion.  I am trying to come up with ways to use them up as eggs are so easy to come by and every country road seems to have at least one household selling them that I can hardly give them away!  I hate to see them wasted and have even considered vegetarianism to increase consumption out of necessity for a protein source!  Really, though, simply being more disciplined and creative ought to solve the issue.

     I shall conclude my letter now and hope to hear from you soon.  I enjoy our correspondence since, in the words of Anne Shirley, "kindred spirit" community here is sorely lacking.  I am bitterly lonely at times, but that is to be expected when one is so out of the ordinary and the world speeds by in face-paced expectation of entertainment and luxury.  I find myself sucked in and left wanting. Oh, for quietude and simple fancies!  But, I ramble, so I bid you

Good day,

Mrs. D. Scott