Monday, August 8, 2016


My dining room is also my laundry room extension.  I was folding linens this morning, thinking about all the things for which I am truly thankful.  I can sit down in my own dining room using my own washer and dryer instead of using a laundromat...or a washboard, or a rock along a river.

I was thankful that I could see the tops of the crepe myrtle trees through the window; one pink and one pure white.  They are messy in the yard, as they shed both flowers and bark which ends up in the house...but so beautiful.  They remind me of a high maintenance girlfriend, so gorgeous and beguiling that her beau puts up with anything.

Naturally, I won't show you my dining room table with its alternative function, all rolled up socks and tidy whities and towels.  No, this is Blogland, so I show  you the view after I put all in the laundry basket and leave it near the stairs.  At first, I thought having the small laundry in that spot off the dining room was odd, but now I am thankful that it gives me such a nice sorting and folding space.

I used to find the laundry room depressing with its hodgepodge of ugly Rubbermaid buckets and laundry products all over the place.  About a year ago, I decided to do better than that.  I was going for a 1920's - 1930's look and didn't want to spend much.

I went back to how our great grandmothers did things and replaced the ugly plastic buckets with metal ones, found traditional laundry baskets, and put two old-fashioned irons (called "sad irons" probably because it was pretty sad to use them on a hot summer day) I already had in there.  I love the result, so much improved, and now I like to look in there!

I disliked the sink cabinet, so I bought a vintage sheet for 99 cents at Goodwill and made a skirt for it using a skinny tension rod.
Then I found a really sweet wall hanging, I'm note quite sure what to call it, for half price at Michaels.
The laundry room is long, narrow, and hard to photograph, particularly on a cloudy, soggy day like today.  We can just barely fit a stack-able washer and dryer in the space which used to be a shower. This was a 2/3 of bathroom:  a sink and a shower stall.  But, I'm so thankful that it DOES fit, because otherwise, I'd have to give up the eat-in part of my kitchen for a laundry room.

The Bible says that godliness with contentment is great gain.  I probably could spend the rest of my life trying to figure out the exact way to apply this to my life, but I know this:  the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years spent with much ingratitude, grumbling, and complaining.  I don't want to wander through my "deserts" for years longer than needed for the same reason.

The most uncomplaining person I've ever known was my dear grandmother, Helen.  I called her Helen because I was the first grandchild and everyone forgot to tell me to call her Grandma or Nanny or Gram.  Not Meemaw, though.  We don't do Meemaw up north.  I called my grandfather Bobby - hilarious in retrospect.   He was a skinny, grumbly ( I think I just made up that word) man, a lawyer with spectator shoes and a bow tie who looked nothing like a "Bobby."  

He should have been a "Norman" or an "Edward," but there I was at age 2 playing with a blue toy phone. There was a party that night.  I looked up at him, phone in hand, and said, "Bobby, you better behave yourself tonight."   Bobby drank a lot and I had overhead my mother worrying aloud about it.

Anyway, back to Helen.  She had what seemed to be hard life with a difficult man who drank.  She had two sons in Vietnam at the same time.  She had ulcers, problems with her feet, and towards the end of her life, heart trouble. She felt tremendous grief when my parents divorced.

Sometimes I'd call her "working grandmother."  I was the only kid I knew whose grandmother worked  She was a school secretary and retired after many year's service.  Then she worked at my uncle's dental office, confirming appointments, pulling files for the next day, and picking up everyone's lunch...making it.

Here's the key to her life lived in Jesus. I never heard her complain.  She thought the best of everyone.  I never, ever heard her say a bad thing about anyone.  Even when Bobby was at his worst moments, she would say, "I know he loves me." She went to church services every day, not because she felt that she had to, but because she wanted to worship as often as she could.

Helen worked (without complaint) when women often didn't. Bobby's income often was affected by his alcoholism. She blessed hundreds of children at Norris School and many of the teachers.

Helen changed what she could and accepted what she could not, all with gratitude. She was a thrift-store, auction, and curbside girl when no one else did that.  My grandmother created an elegant, but comfortable home filled with plants, light, and treasures she had brought home.  The collections she created are quite valuable now, but what I value is her uncomplaining example.

I still dream of her there at 23 Wind Road coming up from her laundry room, basket in hand, ready to hang clothes.  I see her pulling a roast out of the oven and mashing potatoes for a family dinner.  In my mind, she is still knitting amazing Irish pullovers, needles clicking as her fingers fly.  My grandmother was industrious and when we encouraged her to nap, she would say, "I'll have plenty of time to nap when I'm six feet under," which would crack me up.

That silver service in the top picture is a precious possession.  It was hers, lovingly passed down to me.  We would polish it together when I was small enough to need to stand on a chair to reach the sink.  Grape leaves and vines twist around it, "I am the Vine and you are the branches." A life lived in God.

Below is a beautiful newspaper photograph from Ireland, an engagement announcement.  It is from a scrapbook belonging to a relative who did not come to America.  Some kind Beausang (Helen's maiden name) relative put this picture on line.  God bless him or her.  I cannot tell you what it meant to find this treasure last month.

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