July 2006

Summer Holiday


Aren’t those lovely words? They mean alot to me at this moment. I don’t know about you, but for me and most of the women I know, this summer has been rather un-summery thus far. I hope that you have been more successful. I have been wonderfully, but hectic-ly busy with orders (my goodness! another order has come in just since I began this post) and book-keeping and so many other little details of business. Our sons have been away at camp and visiting friends-at different periods, of course, so it will have been many weeks since we have all been together when we are reunited this weekend. And I find that summer is more than half-gone already. It is really quite startling.

Enough so that I am going to be bold and “close up shop” for a month or so beginning next week. This is what I wrote on my website:

“The play months of the year are here, so let us take our jobs as lightly as we can…” these words are from a vintage ladies magazine and I have been sending out the entire little essay with orders for the past month or so. What I haven’t been doing is following its wisdom. All that will change come August 1st, which is the last day I will accept orders before I take a needed summer holiday. Your bountiful patronage has kept me so very busy this summer! I will trust that you will come back with your paper wishes in early September when I return. In the meantime, I do hope to be able to post a bit at The Bower and hope to see you there!

I always know I have made the correct decision if I feel relieved afterwards and I felt pure relief after putting my notice up on the front page. It is gratifying and humbling to make things that other people find lovely and will spend their often not abundant money upon. And I shall fill the orders so gladly that are waiting on my desk right now, and the ones that come in before the 1st……but then I will devote myself to making this a truly-summery-rest-of-summer

We will set-up the pool, and get lots of different organic juices and make popsicles, and play games some evenings on the softly-lit porch, and start a new read-aloud. I shall feel the time open up and use more of the sweet vegetables from our garden and our friend’s garden. I will putter around my home, making satisfying arrangements of seashells and wildflowers and making my studio just so……perhaps even making some collages. And I will share some of it here.

I am going to think of this as a European approach to business. You know how they seem to take weeks off in the summer for family holidays, and whole villages close down for much of August in some places? I think they know something we don’t about how much time and space and unhurriedness it takes to really get nourished and refreshed. That is what I am aiming for.
Wish me well!


The play months of the year are here, so let us
take our jobs as lightly as possible, keep house as little
as we can, experiment not at all with doubtful things
to eat, measure our conduct against the safeguarding
rule of common sense, put ourselves in touch with the
healing hands of the out-of-doors, get acquainted with
the hills and skies and stars, and hope for an autumn
that shall usher in the best year of our lives, putting
us on an upward slope where there is the zest of
struggle and accomplishment – and a hilltop
worth taking.

At least, rest.

A Circle of Days

It began sometime after my second child was born. Until then, life flowed along pretty sweetly and simply. But the first attempt at ordering my day appeared sometime after Caleb was born…

That was so fun to make, and fairly easy to follow. A short time later I must have felt the need for a little more detail and made this very satisfying page for my notebook….

I loved using the thick watercolor paper and my hand-carved stamps and thoughtfully detailing what makes for a good day. I think I probably got more satisfaction from creating it than from trying to follow it! Isn’t the planning of a day so much easier than the accomplishing of it?

When my sons were older and we had more to fit into our day, I thought of yet another neat, little way to try to make sure everything was tended to. A set of cards, a different color for each child, with the tasks for a certain part of the day upon each card. I seem to remember that I would give them the card and they would give it to me when they were finished.

They also had cards for “breakfast” “table-time” “family together-time” and “evening routine”. I think there were others, as well, but cannot find them. Perhaps they were especially dreaded tasks and the cards were mysteriously “lost”? All during this time, I tried many a different system for myself. Some were purchased after much research and then anticipated with much joy. Some were improvised from journals and notebooks. The common thread running through all of these is that they didn’t last very long. Sometimes it was because they were too cumbersome or inappropriate, but more often, I think it was just that life changed.

Tho’ I have always longed for the fairly consistent rhythm of days portrayed in my books…..the Anne books, the Laura and Mary books, the Miss Read books….I have found that ideal impossible to achieve in my very real life. A dear friend and I have a good chuckle now during a phone conversation when we bring up the term “The New Life”. That is what we talked about and wrote letters about and made plans for over and over during our children’s younger years. “The New Life” was what our families would have when we found just the right schedule that covered all our dear hopes for their health and education and character. And this New Life would unfold in our shiny, cosy homes where everything was tended with loving attention.

Before I began Small Meadow Press, I often didn’t achieve that shining ideal, but I certainly had an engrossing time trying to figure out how I might. Now that I have a business, and older children with wider interests than pushing little tractors in the grass while I hang out the wash, and a husband whose schedule is as unpredictable as a work schedule can probably be….I achieve it even less. But I am also more at peace about it. I can see now that I and my family have acquired certain good habits and rhythms over the years. And it is my hope that we will continue. And the quest for tools to help me also continues…..and isn’t that a pleasure?

This is the last system I tried before I settled on my current approach.

It was just a little diary in which I wrote the categories of my day, as well as I could discern them….and then filled in the details. But after a few months, I tired of writing down all those categories and they also kept changing! The small, square, soft-green planner from Target is hardly worth mentioning as I used it so little (but still have it and toy with the idea of using it for something someday). I finally came up with a notebook and post-it note system that worked really well, for more than a few months! It is flexible and ecological (it can be used over and over again, even when life changes, and you only throw away-make that recycle-tiny post-it notes). Since it passed its test-drive with me, I designed a prettier version with lots more illustrations and bound with ribbon.

You may find it in the “All in Order” section of The Shop at my website. There is a whole description there and many more photos and I encourage to look….but only if you are ready to begin The New Life.(Smiling broadly here, and very close to chuckling.)