Candles and all they stand for

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I have a vision. A vision to bring back the timeless warmth of the home. A vision to introduce my generation to real living, which has been robbed of us in this cold day of efficient technology. I’m not at all against technology, but I do believe that too much of our culture is focused on efficiency rather than cultivating beauty and warmth in the home. As Maesimund Panchos once put it:

A stranger to our culture observing our commercial eating places might conclude that eating requires a stopwatch.

And it doesn’t stop at eating. We are more concerned with making everything ‘fast and efficient’, and less concerned with savoring the moment and cultivating relationships. We live in a world of speed at the cost of the things that really matter.

As I considered this great lacking in our culture, read books which mentioned it, and discussed it with friends, I came to write this (fictional) essay some weeks ago.

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“Apple Pie”

The words caught my eye as I stood before a broad display of candles, trying to choose a gift for a new neighbor.

shelfApple Pie?

I picked up the candle and smelled as my eyes fell upon another further down the shelf. “French Vanilla”
I began reading the names as I walked slowly down the row.

“Fresh Laundry”

“Spring Flowers”
“Fir & Cedar”

“Pumpkin Spice”.

Jim DalyAll of the names sounded so warm, so inviting, so homey. I remember my grandmother’s house smelling like that. But those smells came from warm cobbler in the oven, freshly baked cookies laid out to cool, and a warm fire crackling around the cedar logs I’d split for her in the fall.

Sometimes the house would have the fragrance of lilacs wafting upon the sun-warmed breeze that made the curtains dance as it blew through the open windows. I remember the smell of moss as I picked up hazelnuts in autumn, the spicy scent of fir boughs in the winter, and the hazy, warm smell of hay in the summer as I sat on the board fence and watched the men harvest the fields.

I used to watch Grandmother hang up baskets of wet laundry in the sun and later help her take the clothes down again, sweet smelling and warm from the sun’s gentle rays.

seasonalI remember the smell of berries on the hillsides and the fresh breezes that came off the lake below. I remember the sweet aroma of the strawberry preserves we would eat with our bread and butter.

We didn’t need to burn candles to make our house smell like home. Grandma did burn candles– but they were homemade. The everyday ones were made from her own tallow, and for special occasions she made bayberry tapers. 

But now, something has changed.

We’ve let beauty and harmony be banished in the name of convenience and efficiency. After all, I can’t imagine that someday women will be spraying their homes with  fragrances called “Microwave Dinner” Power Plugor “Electrical Heating”. Why do we think we can give our homes the illusion of real living — the way Grandma’s house was– by burning a chemically formulated simulation of the real thing? Have we become as artificial as that? 



I set the candle down and decided to bake a pie for my neighbors instead.

Wastate

 

     

 

 

Where are your seconds going?

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I have recently been wondering ‘where did the last year go?’ It seems like just yesterday that 2013 was the brand new year that lay ahead of me, to better or to worsen. What happened?

So I narrowed it down. Where were my seconds going? For as go my seconds, so go my hours, so goes my life.

What are you doing to improve your seconds?Image

Swell Song Saturday #9: City of New Orleans

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Country music. I never did think I’d enjoy it.
But then, there’s Andy Kenway.

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Andy is an up-and-coming balladeer who should be hitting the charts in a few years. He’s also a composer, who’s written “Play The Man” (my personal favorite of his), “Sands of Omaha” (A tribute to that battle of WWII) and “Up in the Morning Early“. Find more of his recordings on his Grooveshark profile here and his YouTube channel.

The song I’m featuring today is actually a Country number. You have permission to call the men in the white coats, but I truly do enjoy this one! (for those of you who don’t know, I’ve been known to go on tirades against 99% of Country music) They say there’s always room for sanctification. That must be true, because this is the girl who a few months ago staunchly insisted to a friend that she hated soundtracks, and now finds herself falling asleep with the Lord of the Rings stuck in her head. Yes, that friend is a little gleeful sometimes.

Andy Kenway on FACEBOOK and ReverbNation

Written by Steve Goodman, and sung by many popular artists, Andy Kenway recorded this treasure a few weeks ago. I love the folksy flair he uses. Want a tip? He puts up new songs every Friday on his Soundcloud channel! (you’re welcome) [edit: he does not do this any more, but check his channel out anyway!]

Also visit Andy’s website, and be sure to keep up with him on Google Plus!

Because I can’t resist, I’m going to add a bonus. My favorite song of Andy’s!

Swell Song Saturday #8: “What’s More Fun Than A Picnic Party?”

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It’s that time of week again– time to roll out the music!
There’s those old standards…..the favorites that everybody seems to know. Ones that our grandparent’s generation grew up on. Those timeless folk tunes that never go out of style. In 1962, a man named Ken Carson went about to collect around sixty five of these old favorites and recorded them on his six-record set “Treasury of the Golden West“. His versions of these classics were so refreshing and beautiful that they sold half a million copies! Some of the songs from that album can be found here. One of my favorites is the one featured today: the tale of a family outing going the way of most family outings—— Gloriously wrong!
So, without further ado, I present you: Ken Carson and What’s More Fun Than A Picnic Party?

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What’s More Fun Than A Picnic Party?

Now Mr. Jones and Mrs. Jones declared one August day,
That before the summer was entirely gone, they’d have a holiday
They decided on a picnic, in a spot just out of town,
Asked all their relations, also young Mr. Brown;

Chorus:
What’s more fun than a picnic party, with the vittles all on the ground,
Bugs in the butter and ants in the milk and skeeters buzzin’ all around;
Bzzzz! Bzzzzz! BzzZzzzZzzzZZzz!

They went in four big carriages, and when the reached the spot
They found that the ice had melted, and the butter was piping hot,
The sugar, too, was missing, and the shoes were left behind,
And the handle of the ice cream freezer was all that they could find!

Chorus

Now they broke the plates and spilt the milk and left it there to sour,
Jim and Bill got in a fight, and fell right in the flour,
The horses all got frightened, and reared and plunged and kicked,
Spilled one load in the mud hole, thus ended this picnic!

Chorus
TAG: What’s more fun than a picnic party, with the vittles all on the ground?

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