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I don’t recall how long ago I found these dishes – probably at least six. They’ve stayed tucked away in my private picture folders, awaiting their chance to be really loved. And I do love them.

Ah…what it would be like to sit down of an afternoon and enjoy tea in the company of this striking pattern. I can only think it would make mundane tasks more enjoyable, and, perhaps, make writing even more fun. Someday…

The morning’s coffee would not be amiss in these mugs:

The strawberries on a black ground have given me several useful ideas about how to integrate various decorating ideas I have for my kitchen, which I haven’t been able to pull together. More on that, later.

Note: I do not know what the name of this pattern is. If you do, won’t you please tell me?

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In the mansion I built in my mind when I was a child, these were the dishes I used at my long dining table:

And for a snack or small meal, enough variety for everyone to choose which scene he liked best:

The whole house had a somewhat genteel, fox-hunty feel, designed to be at once comforting and stimulating, with here and there a satirical twist in a painting or child’s toy or the arrangement of some small corner. I am thinking of a painting I clipped from a magazine while in grade school, depicting an elegant dinner, peopled by foxes. On the wall behind a very proper-looking fox couple, absorbed in conversation, hung a mounted hound’s head. I laughed until I choked.

Then, when as a teen I met my husband, and it quickly became apparent that he was a hunting enthusiast, not limited to a particular species, this china pattern seemed like the only obvious choice. Now, of course, I have broadened my horizons a bit, but I still admire these dishes, and find they satisfy my sense of beauty. Acquiring a set is on my Someday-When-I’m-Prosperous list. Not sure where I’m going to put them, since the mansion isn’t built yet. A glass-fronted case for dust-free storage of said dishes is on that same list.

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Master Bedroom, Messy, House Blueprints Visible - Farm House - August 2009In this room (chosen for the master bedroom), we discovered the original blueprints of the house, and had fun calculating the changes that had been made. It seems the wood which was intended for the attic floor was put into walls in the “extra” basement (“extra” means the basement didn’t exist in the original plans). It was peculiar to me that such a large part of the house had been ignored, except to fill it with Christmas decorations, empty cardboard boxes, and old jeans [smile], but I suppose there was a good reason behind the omissions. (Perhaps new fences were more needful than a floor upstairs?)

On the walls there appeared to be nothing – bare plaster – but on closer inspection, I saw that there was one thin coat of white calcimine….a chalk-like substance, intended to be painted on once a spring, to freshen up a house dimmed by smoke from wood or coal. The ceiling revealed that the attic had sometimes leaked during vicious rains, and there were stains in which one could make out animals or beings or parts of words, similar to the shapes in clouds. Also – and most mysterious – when the sun shone just so, I could see paw-prints on the ceiling. Dog type paw-prints – large, as from a German Shepherd or larger. How they got there, I don’t know. Plaster, of course, is applied in place – and has no opportunity to get tracked up, as might drywall. I cannot think of one logical explanation for this phenomena. Just to be sure I was seeing things right, I showed the prints to my husband. He agreed they are there, and plain in the afternoon sun.

Here’s an idea of how this west room looked in spring 2013:

The clothing arrangements are haphazard, as the closet is small and Will and I wear a lot of jeans and long-sleeved shirts. (The snow lasts for most of the year, and my friend from Florida says our insects out here are vicious.) So Will gets the dresser, and I keep half my stuff in a Rubbermaid tub in the closet. I’ve lived out of this tub since college, and am more careful about how I keep my things than Will is. So it makes sense to save myself work and let him have the more convenient area.

We planned gun racks for both Will and the kids (though theirs is pretty empty, seeing as they were out playing when this photo was taken). A good place for bows, hula hoops, and the like, too.

Wedding and Family Camp 011

Will installed an ugly fan (seen on the wall at the side of the bed) for air transfer, prior to installing a large stove upstairs. (The cookstove in the kitchen turned out to be inadequate for heating the main house on a windy day, though it worked alright in the previous, smaller house. It’s not too efficient, though I like it:

July-September 2013 365He had gotten me an itty bitty heating stove for the bedroom and back of the house in 2011:
Wedding and Family Camp 008

I want to make some other chimney arrangement, but am glad simply to have the stove. The brick heat shield needs installed correctly, but is serving its purpose as-is. Other than this, the bedroom is pretty plain. I don’t intend to do tons with it until I get the walls painted or papered (still deciding what to do), and don’t want a lot of pictures and knick knacks to dust. Still, here is a puzzle from my childhood which is quite significant, as it inspired me to write a fantasy story which kept my brain in overdrive for quite some time. It is a picture which seems more like a window into Somewhere Else. It is called “Sad Puppy”.

Wedding and Family Camp 014

Other decorations include a romantically-lighted painting entitled, “The Bluebird of Happiness”:

May9 -June6 2015 426  May9 -June6 2015 427

This was given to my daughter, but it goes better in my room. It is a picture of perpetual spring in this land of no real springs, and the bluebirds that visit us hold a special place in my soul. (It’s all about a role bluebirds play in one of my favorite stories, “The Harvester”, by Gene Stratton Porter.)

Lastly, September 25, I did find some curtains I liked, and which cheer me up. (I hope you can make them out alright; all I have for a camera is an iphone without flash capabilities, and the bedroom is frequently either too dark or too back-lit for a decent photo.) Still, this window provides a lovely view of the lilac-fortified backyard, and much wildlife.

Yellow Bedroom Curtains - Sep. 25, 2013

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There are four parts to this series, “Do It Yourself”, on You Tube:

One…

…Two.

These next two sections aren’t exactly relevant to New Year’s, but they’re funny. I hope I never actually meet anybody like Mr. Bean.

Part Three…

…and Four.

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I was listening to this version of Good King Wenceslaus last year…

… and began to wonder, “What does the Feast of Stephen involve?” I must admit, I am naturally attracted to superstitions and traditions, and, while I know who St. Stephen is and what he is famous for, I was not so clear on how his day was and is celebrated. I therefore googled “Feast of Stephen”, and found some general articles dealing with a long list of saints, feasts, holidays, and traditions.

At the time, this turned out to be one of the better pages.

However, this one (from Hubpages) gives a different picture of the holiday, and explains about the tradition involving a wren. “Strange,” I thought to myself – but who am I to say? After all, I’ve never tried it.”

If you do celebrate this day, or have other traditions or aspects you think I should know about, please comment. I look forward to learning about this holiday.

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“King Wenceslaus” was actually a duke named Vaclav. Duke Vaclav ruled Bohemia (the Czech Republic) with Christian justice until his pagan brother Boleslav assassinated him. The duke was a devout Christian whose short life was riddled with political intrigue, murder and pagan influences.

Vaclav’s Christian grandparents ruled Bohemia at a time when the Slavic nations were being introduced to the gospel. Vaclav’s grandfather built the first Christian church in the Czech Republic, north of Prague. Vaclav’s father, Duke Vratislav I, followed  in his parents’ footsteps, becoming a passionate Christian and teaching his son Christian values.

Vaclav’s life was thrown into turmoil after his father died leaving his mother, Drahomira to rule. Drahomira, a former pagan, ruled Bohemia with greed and cruelty. After his father’s death, Vaclav sought sanctuary with his grandmother, Ludmila. A gentle and popular Christian, Ludmila was passionate about helping her grandson become a good Christian leader.

Ludmila encouraged Vaclav to overthrow his mother’s reign. Drahomira responded by having Ludmila strangled. While still in his teen years, Vaclav wrested the throne from his mother and turned Bohemia back to Christian ways.

During his reign, Duke Vaclav was generous towards orphans, widows and the poor. He frequently carried wood to the needy, visited those in prison and ransomed captives. He welcomed German missionaries and built churches.

Vaclav’s reign was ended when his pagan brother convinced a group of anti-Christian nobles to kill him. Boleslav invited his brother to a feast. On his way to the dinner, the Duke was stabbed on the church doorsteps. While dying, Vaclav’s last words were, “Brother, may God forgive you!” The Bohemians were greatly dismayed  and immediately honored Vaclav as a martyr.

In 1853, John Neale, wrote the carol “Good King Wenceslaus” (You Tube) after hearing the story of duke Vaclav from British soldiers returning from Eastern Europe. The British minister specifically wrote the song for children, extolling the virtues of generosity. “Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing; ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.”

– from October 2008 “Voice of the Martyrs” magazine

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