Thursday, April 16, 2009

A "Farmer Boy" Lunch

Dear friends,

I've been reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's book Farmer Boy to the kids the past few days. (This started because I read one of the Little House picture books and the kids decided they wanted to read the whole chapter books again since we hadn't done it in quite some time. ) Farmer Boy is the story of Laura's husband Almanzo's New York farm upbringing. It always makes me hungry because she describes in detail how he stuffs himself with all of the goodies that his mother makes from scratch: sausages, apple pies, preserves, crispy ham, doughnuts, mashed potatoes with gravy, baked beans, fresh baked rye 'n' injun bread, fat pork, beet pickles, roast turkey, pop corn, cider, corn bread.... Yum... (Except for the beet pickles, which I will pass on down the table.) Sigh... It made me so hungry that I got up and started flipping through The Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker, and drooling over what we could have for lunch.

We don't usually do big lunch meals at our house. Basically, the kids fix their own grub, which could be heating a frozen burrito, making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or fixing black bean quesadillas on the stove. But today was different. Today was inspired. :-) We were going to have a "Farmer Boy" lunch -- or at least a taste of one. Don't be too impressed. Naomi made the cornbread from two boxes of Jiffy mix, and we served it with store-bought butter and a jar of strawberry jam. (I did make homemade jam last year, though.) The baked beans were from cans (Bush's and Great Value, if you are very curious), and I fried up a bit of leftover turkey ham from the fridge to add to it. That was our Farmer Boy lunch. The kids loved it. So did I. I managed to save a little cornbread for Rachel when she gets home from classes, but the beans and ham were devoured. I've also started making an apple pie for tonight -- using a frozen pie crust -- but at least I'm cutting up fresh apples for that!

It strikes me that our 21st century lives are extremely easy compared to 100 or 150 years ago. I should say that our modern suburban American lives are easy. Some people in other areas of the world and country still live like they did back then, if they are even fortunate enough to have subsistence food to eat and a piece of wood to make a fire to cook it on. Julia sure did have to "rough it" in Bolivia for three months.

Our kitchens boast microwaves, dishwashers, electric ovens, refrigerators, and running water. Our cupboards and refrigerators are stuffed with canned, boxed, and frozen convenience foods. We can drive to modern supermarkets with cars instead of horse and buggy. We're getting just a wee taste of the old way of life this week since our electric dishwasher bit the dust and we're using human dishwashers. (Micah is finishing a load at the sink as I type. Oh yeah, they didn't have computers or blogs back then, either.)

Oh, and I often hang our bath towels and bedsheets on the clothes line to save electricity. Something just feels wholesome about getting out of the house into the fresh air for a few minutes anway. Speaking of fresh air and modern technology, this morning we went outside and watched a humongous cement truck and several workers pouring a new sidewalk across the street. It may not be traditional book work but it's education in real life -- a field trip outside our front door.

But back to my original topic: personally, I don't want to go back in time. History seems to have a certain romance to it, but real life back then was grueling. It would be a nice "place" to visit (with books and food we can sort of do that) but I wouldn't want to live there. I like my conveniences. I just need to be grateful for them, and make the best possible use of the time that they save me. And right now, that means getting off of the computer and getting on with the rest of the day!


Friday, April 10, 2009

Follow You

Follow You
By Virginia Quarrier Knowles

When I serve you, Lord
I wait for a pat on my back
Until I remember
Whips came down on his back
Bloody raw
I want people to shake my hand
Until I remember
They nailed his hands
To the cross

And oh, my Jesus
What you have done for me
What have I done?
What can I do?
Unless I take up my cross
And follow you.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Holy Week

"The Resurrection of Christ"
Russian Orthodox artist Mikhail Nesterov, painted in the 1890's

Today, Palm Sunday, marks the start of Holy Week. I don't have time to write much of anything today, but I wanted to share with you a poem that I found in a book a few years ago. The resurrection painting and the poem below are part of the assignments that I have given my 7th-8th grade home school co-op English class this week. There are links to fine art, music and Scripture. You can find the rest of it at Easter assignments.

If you have a favorite quote, poem or link for Easter, please add it in the comments below. (If you are reading this by Facebook feed, go to I'll try to post other poems and artwork this week.

by Mary Whitcomb Hess after a homily by Saint Amphilochius in the 4th Century

They stretch Him
On a Cross to die ---
Our Lord Who first
Stretched out the sky

Whose countenance
The cherubim
Dare not gaze on …
They spat on Him

And gave Him gall
To drink
Though He
Brings us wells
Of eternity.

He prays for them
“Father, forgive…”
For He was born
That all might live.

Round the sealed tomb
Of Him they’ve slain
They set a guard
In vain, in vain

Round Him
Creation can’t contain
Who dies for us
To rise again.

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