8 Sep 2009

A letter to my friends

Hello there.

It is a while, I realise since I wrote anything very interesting to you all. Sure, I've been popping in to update my blog most days, but it has all been pretty trivial - no real substance, I'm afraid, since my Dali post - and that was weeks ago. There's no particular reason - it has just been busy around here, that's all. Good busy, not crazy busy though. Most nights I've been flopping into bed exhausted. Tired and happy. And lets face it - that's a pretty nice way to flop into bed. Anyhow, today I thought I'd rectify things. I thought I'd write and tell you what's been going on chez nous. That's if you're still around waiting for me to talk to you. I'd understand if you weren't.

My dear mum and dad are here at the moment. Although their visit coincided with Father's Day, that's not the reason they made the 3 ½ hour journey. Actually, it took them a bit longer than the allotted time because they detoured into the marvellous Blue Pyrenees Winery on their way north. After a quick wine tasting, they ate at the excellent Café Bleu, overlooking the winery grounds - lush and green after the recent rains. Lush and green are not the sort of words you usually use to describe our region of Australia, but God has been good to us this winter, and the rains so far have been consistent and heavy - just what the farmers need after 12 years of drought. The hopelessness that some farmers feel, and their complete inability to govern (or even predict) the weather, has led to many of them suffering from significant depression. It would be so exciting if 2009 were a drought breaking year for them. Farmers are a naturally cautious bunch, but we are starting to see signs of optimism amongst many of them.

But I digress. Back to the meal at Café Bleu to tell you about my mother's observation. While eating their antipasto meal of salami, choriso, garlic prawns, locally smoked chicken and salmon, char-grilled vegetables , olives, semi-dried tomatoes and salad washed down with a Sauvignon Blanc chosen earlier, mum noticed that not one person in the whole restaurant - she and my father aside, of course, could hold a knife and fork correctly! She even saw two men licking their knives between mouthfuls. Eew err. There were open mouths, knives held like pens - the infringements ran the whole gamut, but nobody ate in an acceptable fashion. That horrified mum - and it horrifies me. Why is this so? Do parents no longer teach their children how to hold a knife and fork; to chew with their mouths closed; to not speak with their mouths full? Is basic table manners gone completely? Is it that out of fashion? I actually wonder whether this is a symptom of the TV dinner generation. If you always eat off your knee you'll never know how to eat at a table, will you? Jemimah has actual etiquette lessons, but then again, I'm a stickler for this stuff (I got it from my mum) so we spend quite a bit of time on it. What about your kids? Do they know how to eat out? A few pointers from mum and dad wouldn't take too long - would it? It would certainly make my mum feel better when she eats at restaurants. Thank you.

The imminent arrival of grandparents lead to a flurry of tidying on a certain young lady's part late last week. She managed to recruit both of her parents into the process, and we are able to give Jemimah's bedroom a thorough going over. I really should take some photos of it in its pristine condition. It generally looks pretty good, mind you - just lived in. At the moment there is not a book or a game out of place. Just the time to record it on film for posterity, I say.

If that wasn't enough to make me feel virtuous, over the last few days my dad and I have pruned the more than eighty roses that grace our garden. I can't say that they look terrific right now - rather spindly and denuded actually, but imagine them in a few weeks!! My dad is rose pruner extraordinaire. He keeps saying that roses are really forgiving and you can't really go wrong. He's probably right, but I realise that he, in fact, never gets it wrong, so how would he know!! We prune our roses late around here. We get heavy frosts, and if we prune much earlier the nice little green shoots get frost bite. Late August/ Early September works best for us. I'll give them a good feed of Dynamic Lifter rose food next week and we should have a wonderful spring flush of roses in late October - only a few short weeks really.

I get a great deal of pleasure out of my spring garden. I tend to give up on the garden during the scorching hot days of summer, but at the moment it is looking terrific. I am particularly enjoying the drifts of bulbs in the woodland garden. We also have great crops of broccoli, coriander, silverbeet, rocket and lettuce in the Kitchen Garden, and caulis, carrots and peas still to come as well as lots of herbs and a whole bed of strawberries. Well we'll get carrots if a certain young lady can resist pulling them up to see if they're done yet!!

I've planed swathes of kangaroo paw in the Native Garden along side of the paths as if the wind had blown in the seed and there it had landed. They flowered soon after we planted them and gave us sort of an instant garden effect, but the big test is whether they flower again next spring. I've put lots of salvias and penstemons into the English Garden too, so I'm excited to see what becomes of them. We have beautiful white tulips flowering in the white garden currently, in both single and double forms. The doubles and particularly lovely. I'll try to take a pic for you to see later. I'm also loving the scent of old fashioned freesias and daphne.

The reason for my parents' visit - as well as the aforementioned pruning - was to be present at Jemimah's End of Year Dance Concert. They always make an effort to be here for this much anticipated event, and Jemimah once again put on a grand performance in her five dances. We took lots and lots of photos which I might make you suffer through at a later date, but these are a couple of my favourites:

It has been hard doing school with grandparents staying but we've managed to get the essentials done. For us that means the Three R's, devotions, memory verses and our read alouds. She began geometry yesterday in MEP, and I put together a scavenger hunt for her, challenging her to find one each of about twenty geometrical shapes. She had a lot of fun doing this, and my parents were pleased to see her enjoying school so much. I think, mind you, that the highlight was getting her 'cone' filled with icecream as a reward for work well done!!

We've played a lot of French Uno these past few days as well. This is one of our faves, and it gives heaps of vocabulary practice in an enjoyable form. We've also done lots of cooking and gardening, so school's getting done, albeit in a more relaxed form than usual.

Spending time with grandparents is really important. I love to see Jemimah interacting with them one on one. She learns so much from them as well.

We'll be spending a week with them in early October actually. Last night we made reservations for the five of us to travel to Perth to see our good friend Warrick marry his beautiful Fiona. We'll be arriving in Perth on the 1st October, and will have about five days there before travelling south to Margaret River for another four. I am really excited about this trip. None of us has been to Western Australia before, and a holiday with my parents will be fantastic!! It's not far away either - only about three weeks or so!!

I'm reading lots of books, as usual. Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini for book club has got me pretty excited. Hubby and I are reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren for our devotions together before bed. This book has been on the New York Times Best Seller list for advice books for one of the longest periods in history, while also becoming arguably one of the best-selling non-fiction books of all time. There were 30 million copies in print by 2006. We felt like the only two Christians in the world that had never read this book, but we are pretty disappointed in it so far, finding it light weight and a bit peurile. Never mind, we will plough on. Maybe it gets better...does it? Hubby is reading Firepower by Gerard Ryle - subtitled The Most Spectacular Fraud in Australian History; Jemimah has almost finished Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie. We've finally begun enjoying Five Little Peppers and How they Grew by Margaret Stanley. Thanks to those of you who encouraged me to keep going. It was worth it. We're also loving Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

And now I'm going to stop. Have any of you stayed the distance? I hope if you have you now know a little more of what's happening around here in Our Peaceful Home.

We're having a heap of fun. Life is good. We are so grateful to our gracious God who gives us so much. We regard our blessings as gifts from a God who loves us and wishes us to prosper - spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

May He grant you the wisdom to recognise your blessings and to be grateful for them as I am.

Your friend,



  1. Ahhh... that was a nice read! So nice to hear about the goings on at your house. I love the photo of your father, and Jemimah was adorable in her dance outfits.

    The lack of table manners problem must be a world wide one. I am sure that you would see much of the same in the US, and even in Japan -- the land of "proper" -- you will be hard pressed to find young people who even hold their chopsticks properly these days. We are constantly working on those things with our kids. It's a process, but, thankfully, they usually manage to be well-mannered in public at least!

    I do fear that my kids don't really know how to eat properly American style, since everyone in Japan learns to use silverware the European way, and after many years here I also tend to eat that way.

    It is very hard to remember to keep one's free hand in the lap when in Japan it is seen as rude (one must keep the free hand lightly resting near the bowl/plate). As long as they do it nicely, I guess European style will do fine. I have a feeling not that many people in the US would really even notice these days, and it's easier than switching hands all the time, anyway ;-).

  2. Yes Jeanne, I stayed the distance! It's lovely having your parents to stay isn't it! Mine haven't been for a while now. They have engagement parties and weddings to plan at the moment.

    As for table manners, we find training in manners is a constant thing at our house, with four girls aged 3 up to 10. We are dscovering that little boys (at least ours anyway) is a messy eater. He loves his food though and will eat almost anything!

    Jemimah looks great in her outfits!~ Your pictures of her hair inspired Bethany to try it with her own last night! She twisted her hair around numerous hair-ties as she didn't have any rags ?! It came out rather bushy, not really curly. She'll have to try again with the real rags.

    As for the Purpose-Drive Life, we inherited the book from my father in law, but haven't read it yet. My husband started reading the Purpose-Driven Church, but didn't stay the distance with that one. He thought "The Master's Plan for the Church" by John MacArthur was much better!

  3. Oh I've just popped over to say - yay~!! that you are coming to Perth, and I am hoping that we can catch up for a day perhaps. Although, after reading your entry I'm absosultely terrified that I won't have proper ettiquite. Putting my fears aside, it would still be great to meet and have a meal/coffee lunch out somewhere. Here's my email: mrsadept@iinet.net.au

    Purpose driven life:



  4. oh - even more interesting:

  5. Sorry to fill your comments page today - but I just want to show you the trail of where I'm reading:


  6. Busy! Busy! It is lovely for you to have your parents there Jeanne. Also that you can make the Perth trip together. Is your Dad back to health? Great pic of him in the garden.
    One of the good things when there is plenty happening, you have plenty of blog fodder to work with!

  7. Sue, those of us who eat European style find the American way very odd indeed!! All that hand switching...ooh la la!!

    I'm afraid I'm the one who is going to have bad table manners if I ever get back to America!!

  8. Mrs Adept, I'll be in touch re our WA trip. Are you nearer Perth or Margaret River?

  9. Hi Ruby, It is a great pic of my dad, isn't it? Not bad for 81, eh?

    He is not really back to full health yet. We are wondering whether he maybe had a small stroke. Sometimes the symptoms of those improve over several weeks or even months, so we're praying that he will recover completely in time.

    Thanks for caring.

  10. How nice to get a letter! It would take a whole letter to answer properly but a few quick comments:

    I am sure that I have offended someone in every country I have ever visited with my etiquette, which is quite proper in America. I do try to study up on etiquette before International travel but have been scolded everywhere. Do tell your mother I wouldn't lick the knife though.

    PDL would be a whole discussion in itself as the comments show. 1 Cor. 13-14 always comes to me when relating to other believers. I do have Rick Warren on my prayer list specifically, due to the position he is in.

    If/when you come to visit you will find yourself in Nathaniel Hawthorne territory, who lived right here in the Berkshires.

    So wonderful for your family to have so much time with your parents. I do hope he will be in health.

    Off to school...

  11. I like the pic of your dad pruning roses. I have ONE rose bush, that I, (shamefully) ignore.

  12. I also made it to the end! Thanks for the updates! Jemimah looked absolutely gorgeous! Was that an Indian outfit she was wearing?

    As you know I'm Indian and grew up eating with my fingers (and some might say - eeewww!) I dont' anymore (oh except for Indian breads etc which you really need to use your fingers!). I didn't realise there was a European as opposed to American style! Now, I'll have to research that one:)
    Hope I don't disappoint you with my etiquette when we meet in real life!

  13. Dear Jeanne, what a gorgeous letter and really well detailed! How exciting to be heading over to WA! xxx

  14. At the moment I'm closer to Margarate River, but by Oct 1 I may be closer to Perth. We still don't have a settlement date - as finance was pushed back for the buyers. So we are just waiting at the moment. Will let you know my dates when I get them. :)

    Wow - 81, that's quite impressive. He looks very well for his age.

  15. So nice you're having a visit from your parents!
    Love your girls outfit for her dance~she's too cute!


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