Friday, March 20, 2009

Quick Takes

We recently did a unit study on Wales (which turned out to be something totally different than my two little boys thought it would be). Wales is one of those overlooked countries, you know? But my husband's and my surnames are both of Welsh extraction, and we found in our studies that it's a proud and beautiful nation. My Dad is proud of his ancestry, which is why I guess he used to always sing a Welsh fighting song. I always thought it was a funny song, because it sounded like the opening words were "Men of Garlic in the Holly." So, I was thinking about this song the other day and thinking it would be a good thing to add to our knowledge of the country, so I looked it up, and through some trial and error, found the following:

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Go figure; it's not Men of Garlic, it's Men of Harlech. The opening stanza goes like this, in English:

Men of Harlech, march to glory, Victory is hov'ring o'er ye, Bright eyed freedom stands before ye, Hear ye not her call? At your sloth she seems to wonder, Rend the sluggish bonds asunder, Let the war cry's deaf'ning thunder, Ev'ry foe appal.

Here is the English version of the song, in which you can really hear the garlic and holly part. According to a gentleman who posted it on Youtoob, "This song is called "Rhyfelgyrch Gwŷr Harlech" in Welsh and describes events during the siege of Harlech Castle, a Welsh stronghold, between 1461 and 1468, the longest known siege in the history of the British."

Ya learn something new every day. But, I'll still always think of it as the Men in Garlic song.
Yesterday was the feast of St. Joseph, so, in his honor, we spent the day working on the garden. We had just added some more planter's mix to the beds, so we tidied it all up and smoothed it out. We double dug the long pea-bed, raked the yard and garden area, and dug a trench around our wire tunnel to add more soil to it. We've been trying for years to get something to grow up and over this tunnel the boys built, but the ground is
pure clay. I'm determined to make it work this year, though, so we're just replacing all the soil. We can't decide what kind of vine to put over it, though. We want the children to be able to play in it, so we don't want anything that will attract bees. Any ideas?

I'm looking out the window right now. It's a cloudy day, but no wind, thankfully. Yesterday it was gloriously sunny and warm, but so windy! As I've been looking, one of the puppies which has apparently been wandering out in the fields somewhere has come back with the remnants of a pumpkin. A nasty, half-rotten pumpkin. Bluck. I was just getting ready to go out and do somethig about it, when Mama Bella went over there and grabbed the pup by the tail and pulled it away from the pumpkin and then nudged it over to its brothers and sisters. Which is exactly what I was gonna do.

Check out this messy little fella. They swim in their water bowl, then roll in the dirt. And no matter how hard we try, we can't keep them from tipping over the dog food. This little guy looks contrite, though, doesn't he?

This Sunday being Laetare Sunday, we have a special family event planned. Laetare Sunday is a landmark for us, marking the middle of the Lenten season, and it's the one day of the year that we take the whole family out to a restaurant. For years we went to the Western Sizzlin here in Denver, but that closed down, so we started going to the one outside of Colorado Springs, but that one closed down. Being creatures of habit, we were in mourning over the loss, until we missed our turn on the way to Omaha this fall and stumbled across what appears to be the last surviving Western Sizzlin within driving distance. Wahoo! So, we'll get our steak. And our icecream bar ~ which is the reason the kids like the place. Life is good. And Lent is half over.

This is my new cozy spot. I found this old rocker at an antiques store a couple of years ago and had to have it because it's the same shape and style of a rocker my grandmother had when we were little. Alas, though, it fared poorly in our last move. The arm was jarred and broken and, somehow or another, we'd managed to split the fabric on the back. But, between Paul and Dan, the arm is back in place, and, until I can have it reupholstered, I'm using a table runner to cover the split, and two matching placemats are hiding the worn fabric on the arms. (Can we call that green "repurposing" you suppose?) When we changed my study to a laundry room, we had an extra bookcase that needed to be repurposed, so we put it by the rocker. Add a lamp that had been stored in the cellar, and voila! Perfection. There's something about this chair that everyone loves, and it's location, perched between the kitchen and the dining room is perfect for socializing or relaxing. It's now everybody's favorite hanging-out spot. How did it take me so long to think of doing this?

We've been asking ourselves that question a lot lately. "Why didn't we do this before?" We've owned this house for going on twelve years now. We knew it was a possibility to move the washer and dryer from our bedroom closet out to the mudroom (turned-study), but we always had other uses for our time and money. As it turned out, though, it wasn't nearly as much time or money as we thought it would be -- but we couldn't have done it ten years ago, or probably even five years ago, because we didn't have the missing link that made it do-able. Namely, we didn't have grown-up sons, who'd had enough working experience and problem solving ability to help their Dad make it happen. To everything there is a season, right?

Everything is a process. We needed the impetus of putting the house on the market to get a lot of things done around here. Isn't that how it is? It's happened to us several times now. Every time we sell a house: work like crazy to get everything done we've known all along needed to be done; make everything look particularly pretty; then move and leave it all behind.

We've gotten half way through the process this time, and this last week or so have stood back to look at it all. We like the changes. We're feeling a warm, fuzzy glow as we look about the old place. Are we really moving to something better than what we already have? Or that we could have with a few more judiciously chosen changes?
It's a hard question. The idea of living in a newer, bigger house, with a modern floor plan, and without the problems of an old house is very attractive. We're getting older, our help is growing up and moving out. But, then, it'd be hard to recreate the charm of our hundred-year-old farmhouse, and we've put so much of ourselves into it over the years. Our children have grown up here.... What to do? We've written lists of pros and cons. We've asked St. Philomena and St. Joseph. And, yesterday, on the feast of St. Joseph, it seemed pretty clear. While going through all the reasons why somebody would surely buy this place, we sold ourselves on it. We decided to stay.
Maybe when Dan retires and the kids have all gone we'll get that modern floorplan ~ in a cabin in the mountains! Which I'd like better anyway.

Look what flew over our house this morning!

This doesn't happen every day!

You should've seen us all running out in our socks and pajamas to see it.

(Or, well, maybe you shouldn't have.)

Run on over to Jennifer's for more Quick Takes!


Heather Jaracz said...

I love your chimney/fireplace. Did you do it yourself, or was it like that when you moved in? The rocking chair looks so cozy next to it. We moved into a 90-year-old colonial home (done in the style of a 1700's colonial) last year, and we love it!

SQUELLY said...

It is so great your kids are learning about Wales - kids in England don't even learn about Wales properly. It is a very proud nation and very beautiful! What well rounded and knowledgeable people your children will be.

Also that puppy is super cute!

Lisa said...

Heather ~ Yes, the fireplace is original to the house. I'll have to post about that fireplace; it's really kinda special... We definitely have a love-hate relationship with old houses. They're a pain in the neck, but they have a charm you can't get in a new house.

Squelly ~ We've really enjoyed learning about the British Isles this year. We've already explored England and Ireland will be next. I wish we had time to really delve into the history of each of the countries, too. You live in a wonderful part of the world! (and since our heritage is Irish, English and Welsh, it's particularly interesting to us...)

Laura said...

Don't looks "caught" not contrite.
Cozy spot looks awesome.
And, I need to recommit to my Lent promises...this has not gone well.

Suzy said...

So your staying :0) That's lovely. I love old houses, they have charm and they tell a story.
I have to admit I've always loved the idea of a cabin in the woods too though :0)

Wales is a very beautiful country. So lush and green, the mountains are magical, stunning scenery.
It's lovely to teach children their heritage I think.

Blessings to you all ~

Suzy said...

So your staying :0) That's lovely. I love old houses, they have charm and they tell a story.
I have to admit I've always loved the idea of a cabin in the woods too though :0)

Wales is a very beautiful country. So lush and green, the mountains are magical, stunning scenery.
It's lovely to teach children their heritage I think.

Blessings to you all ~