Today was the first Monday of first grade, starting of our third week at Emerson Waldorf School. Here are some things I'm loving so far:
~Prayer flags over the archway that greet us as we come and go~
~Showing me her blackboard, adorned with an image of the little prince that is the main character of many of the stories her teacher tells~
~Her friend's little sister wanted to get in on the photo shoot~
~Beauty and order~
~Saying "goodbye" to Ms. Rogers at the end of the day. I love how her face is shining!
~The "hallway" of the school is outside under a protective roof. This boggles my New England mind~
~There's a jump rope in there somewhere~
~Oh, but the LIGHT is so magical~
~At an all-school picnic on Saturday evening. It's such a wonderful group of families~
Because my heart aches with homesickness today, I thought I'd come to this space and share some images of the home we're creating here in Durham.
The little house under the big trees... There's that mailbox that Little C checks multiple times a day!
Little C has been such a trooper and actually been a huge help too.
This is what my kitchen looked like this morning. There's still lots to get organized, but we're getting there.
My beautiful bright backdoor looking out on my sunny, tree-filled backyard. And, ah yes, the pile of boxes that is all my craft supplies and "pretty things."
Sheets on the line that starts at that backdoor. (Thank you Dave!)
Throughout the chaos, we've tried to maintain some family sanity.
I love the color of my bedroom walls.
My new table cloth that was a house-warming gift to myself.
Our amazing coffee shop just 2 blocks over from our house!
Though I miss home desperately, "eye" do love Durham too.
An iconic Durham shot, downtown at the American Tabacco Campus.
I read this post last night about the art of capturing a self portrait. (Check out her blog--she's just getting started but I think it's going to be good!) Why are WE always the ones that are the hardest to get a picture of? I know in our family, I'm the photographer, and if you went through our photo albums iphoto files you would see an entire portrait of our life, season in and season out, and hardly know that i was part of the family. I don't want to be invisible, not even in my own lens. So today I picked up the camera and turned it on myself. I took a bunch. As in, 63 shots. Most of them are junk. I feel so AWKWARD looking into the lens! But I did get a couple that I like. And so I'm going to share them with you.
What is your favorite picture of yourself, either a self portrait or captured by someone else?
One of the new shapes our life is taking as Dave prepares to start grad school in a few weeks in an increase in reading and writing in these parts. I wanted to share a review Dave wrote of a book that may be of interest to those of you who have come from a religious background. As we live today in a world more polarized than ever by religious fundamentalism of all stripes, it becomes increasingly important to sort out fact from fiction and what the true history of religious extremeism is. To that end, I bring you this short review by Dave; enjoy!
The Sword of the Lord:
The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family
by Andrew Himes
Review by Dave
In naming his book after the fundamentalist weekly that his grandfather published in the mid-twentieth century, Andrew Himes is asking a question. What would it take to get someone to title his life’s work “The Sword of the Lord?” The answer is long and complicated.
The Sword of the Lord is partly memoir, partly a history of the development of southern fundamentalist culture, and partly a biography of John R. Rice. Himes set himself a daunting task in bringing all of these threads together in almost every chapter. Each chapter begins with a vignette from Himes’ life, following his journey away from his fundamentalist family and culture into an empty Maoism he identifies as another fundamentalism, and eventually back to a more peaceable spirituality that seems to be Christian, though a very different Christianity than the one he grew up with.
In the first half of the book, the chapters then connect to some aspect of the development of American Christian fundamentalism and his family’s journey within it. He starts with the evolution of Scots-Irish cultural ethos in England, Scotland and Ireland, explaining the movement toward a militant protestantism forged in the heat of political and religious marginalization there. He follows the Scots-Irish migration to the US, noting how they brought their religious fervor with them, and outlines the emergence of a religion who’s primary task was the defense of certain cultural myths and values that were under attack.
Southern Christianity and the Rice family itself was deeply impacted by the Civil War and the notion that fundamentalism could preserve the values and way of life that the military war and then the culture war threatened. Himes follows his family‘s journey from poor, abolitionist, Appalachian subsistence farmers, to wealthy, slaveholding, hemp plantation owners in Missouri. The family’s way of life was then totally destroyed by the war between the states.
The narrative moves to post-Civil War north Texas explaining it’s role as a bastion of ante-bellum culture that provided the seedbed for what became American fundamentalism. It was this preservationist myth that laid the foundation for the puritanical separatism that marked fundamentalism throughout the twentieth century. The badge of fundamentalist credibility became the degree to which you disassociated oneself from the liberals who were attacking the bible and good old fashioned “American” morals.
It was out of this context that John R. Rice started his ministry, which is explored in depth in the second half of the book. Himes follows his grandfather’s fascination with the revivalist preachers of the early 20th century and how he embarked on his own revivalist path. But his career really took shape when he focused on “The Sword of the Lord” which peaked in the fifties with a readership of over 300,000. Rice had a hand in starting the careers of Billy Graham (with whom he eventually had a very public separation) and, later, Jerry Falwell. But by the end of the seventies, his influence had waned.
Himes’ portrayal of his grandfather is fascinating in that his tone is neither dismissive nor caustic, yet, mostly through the use of direct quotes from Rice’s vast array of publications, contains an obvious critique of the fundamentalist mindset and project, particularly it’s racism toward black Americans and its defense of segregation. Intriguingly, Himes also argues that, despite his general promulgation of a judgmental, perhaps even violent faith, Rice had another movement in his life that bent toward grace and tolerance. The final scene of Rice’s ministry is a sad one in which he preaches his his last sermon to the Sword of the Lord crowd. He is old and sick. He preaches a message about being less militant in their unwillingness to work with other kinds of Christians. Rice’s successor at the ministry confiscates the notes Rice had intended to hand out so no one can have a record of it.
Himes’ book is a success. The story holds together in the end. There were times, however, when it was very difficult to read. There are whole segments that could have been shortened, there are annoying repetitive phrases and oversimplifications. To the extent that it is a history, there should have been more source referencing. As someone who loves good story telling, the book’s main weakness comes as a result of its self-publication. If Himes had had a good editor to challenge some decisions and tighten things up over-all, the book’s form could have been brought up to the level of its content.
Nevertheless, I was riveted to the pages of this book. As a reader who grew up in evangelicalism, learning more of its fundamentalist roots and seeing how and where the fundamentalist impulse still lives on within it and where it has moved beyond it was absolutely engrossing. I recommend it to anyone interested in the development of American culture, religious or not.
Well, since I last blogged we've driven 3,187 miles...
. : had a blast camping as a family : .
. : seen a lot of the country that is NOT New Hampshire : .
. : participated in the wedding of dear friends and cousins : .
(photo by Little C)
. : came home to cookouts with family : .
. : and cookouts with friends : .
. : had a family reunion : .
. : survived heat of nearly 100 degrees with lots of swimming : .
. : and done circus tricks : .
And now we're getting ready to move. More on that later. For now I bring you a guest post...
"Feelings are very real things, and they change and change and change..."
Ah, the complex emotional life of a (newly) six year old! Our little girl is certainly one of strong and varied emotions. I know that for me, at age 31, I still struggle sometimes to not be overpowered by my feelings. I have always been a strong "feeler," highly sensitive, (for your enneagram people out there, I'm a 4!) and part of my growth into maturity has been along the lines of trying to have a right perspective on my emotions. Yes, my feelings tell me a truth about my life, but they are not the whole truth. As a person living with depression it is vital that I recognize that even if I feel depressed on a given day, it does not mean that my life is a mess, or that I will never feel okay again. If these lessons are hard for me, as an adult, to learn, how can I hope to teach them to my child? Marlo Thomas to the rescue again!
One of the things we've been trying to communicate to Little C with this move is that its okay to be sad about leaving, but we can also feel excited about the new adventure that we're going to have. Both things can be true at the same time, and both FEELINGS can be true too.
Today in the car we were looking at the Free To Be You and Me book that we got out of the library and listening to the EP that came in the back of the book. As a child of the seventies, I grew up on this glorious tribute to gender equality and "a land where the children are free!" We don't have the CD ourselves, so Little C doesn't know each word to every song the way I did, but I think we need to go out and buy it. Check out these lyrics (are they perfect or what???):
It's All Right to Cry - Free to Be You and Me by Carol Hall
It's all right to cry
Crying gets the sad out of you
It's all right to cry
It might make you feel better
Raindrops from your eyes
Washing all the mad out of you
Raindrops from your eyes
It's gonna make you feel better
It's all right to feel things
Though the feelings may be strange
Feelings are such real things
And they change and change and change
Sad 'n' grumpy, down in the dumpy
Snuggly, hugly, mean 'n' ugly
Sloppy, slappy, hoppy, happy
Change and change and change
It's all right to know
Feelings come and feelings go
It's all right to cry
It might make you feel better
It's all right to cry, little boy
I know some big boys that cry too
I hope that I can continue to model for her the wisdom that our feelings change, and all of them are okay. There's room for all of these different emotions in her, but as they evolve, they don't alter her core self. Underneath the shifting sands of her feelings, there is a strong, whole, healthy little girl who is growing in confidence and wisdom with each passing year. I need this reminder too.
One of my favorite things about living in the town where I grew up is that my little girl goes to the same elementary school that I went to. Of course, when I was a kid they didn't have public kindergarten, and they have added a whole new wing for the middle school since then, but still. It's pretty cool that the same little village school that I attended is her first experience of school too.
Today was a blustery day.
Another exciting thing that happened today is that my first poppy bloomed.
This house is the first place I've lived as an adult for more than one year. It has been such a joyful experience to be able to plant and nurture gardens that come back year after year. I didn't actually plant these poppies. There were very few perennials thriving here when I came, and I've planted a bunch of things, but I am grateful for these gracious papery blooms while they last, even though they're in the most inconvenient of spots.
What is growing in your garden today?
So, today is June 1st. I guess the most important thing about that date is that in 6 more days my little girl turns 6 years old. Crazy. But to be honest, what I've been thinking about even more is that in exactly two months from today, the lease on our farm begins. We still don't know who will be renting it, but we have a lot of interest and at least 2 people coming this weekend to check it out. So I'm making a lot of wishes these days. I'm wishing for a good renter who will love this property and experience the beauty of living here. I'm wishing for a good 7th year for my little girl. I'm wishing for a smooth transition to North Carolina for our whole family. Most of all, I'm wishing for the grace to make my home wherever I find myself.
I've been thinking a lot about the concept of home. It's complicated for me by the fact that where I live now is where my family is, where I grew up, where my DAD grew up! How can I ever feel at home anywhere else? And yet, I know that I have experienced home in a whole new way since marrying my dear Dave and since becoming a mother. As much as I adore my extended family, I know that I will be at home wherever I go with Little C and Dave. We're a family who likes adventures, I keep telling myself. So I will venture out, in a southerly direction, and find myself at home in a new place. And at the end of that road, this home will still be here, ready to welcome me when I return.
To prepare my heart to leave (how can I possibly do that?) I am taking myself on a little photographic challenge. For the next 60 days, I will use my camera to capture something that speaks to me of home. I will end up with a collection of images that tell me something about who I am in this place, and just maybe, when it's time to go, I will be able to step out in faith, with a bit more confidence in who I am and becoming.
Today's pictures tell the story of my big, almost-6 girl, and her delight in an impromptu, before-dinner swim in the lake at the base of our little road. Living 1.8 miles from the lake has it's definite advantages, especially on such a muggy, thunder-stormy day. We had our first swim on Monday, and so far we're 3 for 3, swimming each day! This WILL be the summer of swimming, surely!
After the storm rolled through it left behind it a cool breeze and a pink-purple sky. I will miss my trees and the sky. (In case you can't tell, this is the line of trees just above our house. I have almost as many pictures of the sky above these trees as I do of my barn!)
What are you wishing for on this June night? Where are you making and finding home?
There are two special people in my life that I am especially proud of on this rainy morning. The first is my husband, who has his first published article in last Friday's edition of the Englewood Review of Books. He wrote about a book that has been inspiring a lot of people lately--Ben Hewitt's The Town that Food Saved. In a time when people are often overwhelmed with other people's opinions about "sustainability," Hewitt tells the story of a small town in Vermont that "went local" and lived to tell the tale. From Dave's review:
The problem with reading books about sustainability, ecology, and responsible agriculture, is that the authors seem irresistibly drawn to recitation of “the litany”: that long, horrible, tragic list of ways that we humans are destroying things on our world. It’s as if reading this litany one more time will push readers over the edge to finally admit that, “Yes, western industry and the lifestyles that make it necessary are doing so much harm in the world that I am NOW determined to make a change (trumpets please)!" I fear the litany has become a dirge, inspiring nobody.
Thankfully, Ben Hewitt has resisted the list! In his book The Town that Food Saved about the burgeoning food economy in Hardwick, Vermont, Hewitt gives us a story both timely and laden with import for our food crisis. I say story because that is what it is. The book, instead of introducing readers to issues, introduces us to people. The cast of characters involved with the food economy in Hardwick and the narrative outlining the evolution of the dynamics between them captured my attention and created a human context in which Hewitt could explore the questions about the food economy. Of course, some of the statistics and issues frequently appearing in the litany do appear in his book but it is as a contextual aside to the primary task he pursues: Finding out if the changes in the food economy in Hardwick are as beneficial to that community as those driving the movement claim.
You can read his full review here.
The other person I'm especially proud of is my dear friend Kelcey. She is an artist, mother, blogger and homesteader extraordinare in NC, and she and her husband recently launched a line of jewelry made from her art. The earings are unique and lovely, and I hope you all go check out her new etsy shop. She's having a giveaway on her blog to celebrate the new shop, which you can find here. Also, check out her main etsy shop for all the beautiful art she sells under the name Sweet Mess. Yay for artists and the beauty they bring to our world!