The Joy of Common Work

Visitors Center at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

Visitors Center at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

. . . Do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.
– Robert Lewis Stevenson

It’s easy for me to get caught up in wanting everything fancy, just like I think everyone else has it.

But of course, very few have everything fancy. For most of us, we have to cook and wash dishes, do laundry, clean, and take care of our children and / or pets.

There’s a joy in it – in the routine of scrubbing pots, folding clothes or sweeping floors. There’s a joy in the pleasure of a dog when you’ve bent over next to them to put on your shoes and they can look up at you and wag their tail.

Joy is everywhere, but we have to remind ourselves to seek it and be aware of it in the little things in our lives. To not let daily living overwhelm the sweet little things of our everyday actions.

For your amusement, below is the original and some experiments. I like the one that includes the “worn brick” texture and really found it hard to choose between it and the one I finally used. Both look good, but for different reasons.

I Hate Chores!


A photo on an uninspired day of my daily photo challenge; edited with a vintage filter.  See the photographer in the teapot?

A photo  of the disk rack on an uninspired day of my daily photo challenge; edited with a vintage filter. See the photographer in the teapot?

Today’s challenge on 30 Days of Lists is to list chores I actually enjoy.

My answer is:



Nope, nothing

I used to enjoy baking, but a) my husband dislikes homemade bread, especially for his sandwiches; b) my daughter didn’t care either and c) I can’t eat much of any baked goods, especially if I want to keep my weight down.

I enjoy the end result from cleaning the house, but bitterly resent it while I’m doing it.

Cooking, groceries, laundry, and vacuuming are all so transitory.  I make a big sacrifice of my time to get them done and as soon as I finish, they’re already unraveling.  It’s the same thing with yard work, picking up dog poop, and paying the bills.  It never gets finished and it never stays finished.

Chores soak up time, take away from fun and passions, and give very little in return.

So ends my rant for today.  And my comment about yard work never staying finished?  It for sure doesn’t stay finished when a beagle decides there’s a mole to be found.

[Later note – a few weeks after this, I actually cleaned the house as part of nurturing my creativity.  What a strange change in events!  You can read about it here.]

Augh!  Find the mole already and be done with it!  The problem is he has already found and killed one this summer.  Obviously there are more.

Augh! Find the mole already and be done with it! The problem is he has already found and killed one this summer. Obviously there are more.


Things To Nurture This Month

Clouds over the Smoky Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina.  Taken in the late afternoon.

Clouds over the Smoky Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina. Taken in the late afternoon.

Where do I spend my time and energies? What do I need to focus on to bring along and develop? Wiktionary defines nurture as “that which nourishes; tender care, education, training”.

So what do I want to nurture this month?

  • My photography and creativity
  • My soul (spirituality)
  • My body

For the next three weeks, those are the things I want to emphasize, grow, and develop.  I didn’t put my family or pets on here, as I am already nourishing them.

For my photography:

  1. The classes I’m taking
  2. Investing in a new camera
  3. Blogging daily
  4. Decluttering the house more (it frees up physical and mental space)
  5. Taking better care of my body

For my soul:

  1. Praying regularly
  2. Doing my daily devotions (I use YouVersion for this)

For my body:

  1. Get back on my diet
  2. Walk daily
  3. Do 20 minutes of yoga each night (of course, tonight I was too tired and skipped it. . . again)

It looks beautiful, in the few minutes before the squash started to rot before they ripened and the vines died from powdery mildew.  The tomatoes burst open from blight.

It looks beautiful, in the few minutes before the squash started to rot before they ripened and the vines died from powdery mildew. The tomatoes burst open from blight.

There are things I no longer want to nurture, mostly dreams and passions.  I’m no longer interested in homesteading, gardening or food preservation.  The garden totally didn’t work out despite repeated efforts (my husband think it’s not enough light in the yard).  My husband is not interested in homesteading and I don’t have the time or energy to do it by myself.

I’ve cut back my writing.  I don’t feel like sitting in front of a computer for hours on end to craft a book.  It’s a great idea, but not for me at this time in my life.  I want to record my life, so I’ve increased my journals and photographs.  But writing anything else is not happening.

Cooking has also gone by the wayside.  I simplified my diet as I lost weight, but there’s still a lot of cooking to be done.  I’ve gone to cooking protein once a month and freezing portions for use later, supplemented by fish several times a week.  I cook vegetables and a bit of carbs every other week.  It’s not fancy, but it doesn’t have to be to nourish me without costing a lot of time.

So. . . photography / creativity, spirituality, and body.  That’s what I want to nurture (nourish) this month. 


Marry Fragrances For The Holidays

Just a reminder that Norad is tracking Santa’s progress around the world.  I’ve enjoyed this for quite a few years – check it out here.

Scents evoke so many  memories and emotions.  I love the way the house smells after making butternut squash, turkey or especially cookies.  It’s easy to marry up compatible fragrances for some holiday cheer.

Combine together:

1/8 cup mulling spices
3 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick (3″ or 4″)
several pieces of dehydrated apple end or fresh orange peel

I dehydrated the apples myself, but you can buy them commercially at the grocery store or from a bulk foods bin. Leftover orange peels also work fine. If you are giving these as gifts, you’ll want to use something dehydrated though.

The spices are from Penzey’s. They are fresh and reasonably priced especially for large purchases.  I’m fortunate enough to live close to one of their stores, but have mail ordered from them for years before they expanded nationwide.

I get about three days of frangrance from this recipe by leaving it in the pot on top of the stove overnight.  Be sure to set a timer to check every 30 minutes to add more water when it is simmering.  The chances of boiling the pot dry and ruining it are high and a timer makes a big differences in remembering to check.

There are a lot of variations on this that can be found by Googling for potpourri.  The Frugal Girl also recently posted a recipe for this.

I didn’t have any pictures of my little treasures made up to share.  Instead, here is a recent picture from the botanical gardens that I thought looked festive with all the red in the background.  Enjoy!

© 2011 dogear6 llc

Word for tomorrow – BLOGGER’S CHOICE.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.

Feeling Thick Textures

I love to feel textures – thick ones, thin ones, nubby ones, silky ones – I love to feel them all.  That was one of things I really enjoyed about sewing my own clothes was feeling all the textures as I worked.

I haven’t sown for years, but I still enjoy feeling textures.  I’m very tactile.  I love handling my glass paperweights and wooden bowls.  When I compliment someone at work for a nice sweater, I can’t resist touching their arm and feeling it for myself.  And going through the stores, I like to brush the clothes as I go by the racks to feel the fabrics.

My sister and I both made the dresses we’re wearing in this Christmas picture.  Hers was a linen type fabric, but mine was a thick red velvet with thin lacey sleeves.  I’m not much of a shoe person, but I was thrilled to have those matching red shoes with their big bows.

Have a good weekend!  The weather in central Virginia is sunny and in the 50’s.  I even sat outside in the sun for a short while to read this afternoon as the dogs went wild in the yard.

© 2011 dogear6 llc

Word for tomorrow – GOBBLE.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.

Support For My Body

I am truly amazed at what it takes these days to get me out of the house in the morning.  When I was newly married, I would roll out bed, get dressed and to work in under 30 minutes.  I obviously didn’t wear make-up, shower in the morning, or fix myself up much!

These days it’s a whole different matter.  Not only do I shower and wash my hair each morning, but my support system then requires that I:

  • Comb my hair & fluff it with my fingers
  • Put on deoderant
  • Brush & floss my teeth
  • Use moisturizer and sometimes under eye concealer
  • Put in eyedrops for my dry eyes
  • Put on eyeliner (gray) and mascara
  • Smooth out my eyebrows
  • Fluff my hair again
  • Lotion my feet and legs

None it takes very long, but I’m a bit irritated that I have to do so much to look good and feel good for the day.  I know it’s pretty simple, especially with not fixing my hair up, but it seems like my daily routine should be easier.  At least I have a routine for my support system – it’s much easier when I don’t have to spend time thinking about what I’m doing or make a bunch of small decisions.

That doesn’t take into account the rest of the morning ritual – making the bed, letting the dogs out and back in, giving the dogs a treat so I don’t have to chase the beagle all over the yard to get him back in, making my lunch and eating some breakfast.  Whew!  I’m glad I don’t have to get a small child out the door anymore either.

Is it all necessary?  Yes it is.  But it’s worth it on most days.  It’s too bad I didn’t make a list of my morning routines years ago when I started keeping my journals.  It would be interesting to see how they’ve changed over the years.  The biggest change is that I no longer exercise before work.  Now I do it during lunch instead.  Probably not much else has changed, but I’m not sure.

© 2011 dogear6 llc

Word for tomorrow – INDISPENSABLE.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.

Home Is Where We Are

My favorite boy toy and I have moved 13 times in our marriage, including our first apartment when we got married, and lived in 8 different states.

It’s hard to explain quite how that happened.  The first few moves were setting up our household, then a small fixer-upper, then a medium fixer-upper and finally a bigger fixer-upper.

After that, the short story is that the moves were for my job.  The longer story is that I work in a niche specialty.  When employers don’t need me, they tend to be fairly uncomplimentary about my skill set.  But when they need someone like me, there are few of me out there to be hired.

A number of our moves were not voluntary – employers went out of business, moved out of state without wanting the old staff, or changed the job in a way that vastly diminished my skill set without giving me something back in exchange.

A few were voluntary – opportunities that I would have never gotten if I’d stayed where I was at.  The move to Virginia happened for two reasons – the opportunity to live closer to the child and also go back to work for someone I’d worked for in the past.

But I digress.  Over the years I’ve made some observations and my favorite boy toy has had some as well:

  • We can make a home anywhere.  The house, the neighborhood, the particulars of where we live can all be found anywhere we go to.
  • We are our best support team.  Part of why each move succeeded was that we had our family unit – my boy toy, the child, and myself.  We were each other’s best friends then and still are to this day.
  • Our things contributed to having a home.  The outside brick, siding, and landscaping were all nice.  But it was having our furniture, our pots & pans, our sheets & towels, and our pets that made a new house into a home.
  • One great thing about living all over the country was having new places to explore.  And have we explored – we have seen all kinds of great things and taken lots of pictures too.
  • We can make friends if we want to.  We haven’t always chosen to.  Sometimes I got what I needed from work, my boy toy from business associates.  We lived near my sister for a while and I was so enamored with it that I didn’t bother to make friends.  I spent my time with her and her family instead.
  • I have friends all over the country.  It’s comforting and wonderful.  We stay in touch, fall out, then get back in touch.  The affection remains though.

Our moves have been successful, our marriage remained strong, and our child adapted and adjusted each time.  She was given a choice and chose each time to move.  It wasn’t always fun, but she did well.

We’re here in Virginia for a while.  I’m not sure why, but I don’t see us moving anytime.  We’re putting down roots, making friends, having a garden.  We see our daughter every other month.  Our life here is good.

Here are some books I’ve enjoyed on home and on wandering:

Home by Mary Gordon

Slow Love by Dominique Browning

When Wanderers Cease to Roam by Vivian Swift

Here’s a picture of our current home.  I did not Photoshop that sky – it was that rich and blue the day I took this picture.

© 2011 dogear6 llc

Word for tomorrow – LADY.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.