First...the meditation of the day in the Magnificat for maybe February 28 (full disclosure: that's probably the most recent day I've read) said something interesting. Unfortunately I don't have it with me; I'd prefer to quote it. But I'll paraphrase. Catholics (and likely other Christians) will be familiar with the teaching that God the Father has existed eternally; God the Son is begotten from the Father, but also eternally, so they're co-eternal; and the love of two divine Persons for one another, perfect and infinite as They are, actually bears fruit in a third Person, the Holy Spirit, who is the love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father. So far so good - and to that is attached the Christian understanding that virtuous love is selfless and fruitful. (Not necessarily literally, in babies; but pure love will necessarily bring about a good beyond itself.)
So this meditation said something else, that may not be official enough to make it into the Catechism or whatever, but strikes me as doctrinally straight. Namely: the love of the Father for the Son (and vice versa) bore fruit in all creation - the plants and the animals and the land and the sea and the people. (There's a tie-in with the Holy Spirit in creation, too, since the "Spirit of God breathed upon the waters," or something, per Genesis.)
Why do I consider this significant? If the Father's and Son's love bears fruit in a third divine Person, their fecundity gives rise to another of their own kind - analogous, if not identical, to human procreation. (At least, this makes sense to me.) But human beings, and animals, and plants, and rocks, are not their own kind. Man is created in the image and likeness of God, but we're clearly inferior creatures. So perfect love could actually generate not only another of the same, but lesser things, as a direct expression of its generosity.
(At this point my train of thought is either totally obvious to you or will never make sense at all; either way you can move to the next point - it's got a heading in bold - while I keep typing.)
I think of my love for my husband - which is far from perfect, but which I try to make holy and selfless - as needing to bear fruit in children, or basically be frustrated in its essential nature. Our marriage would thus be robbed of one of the qualities that make it whole (yes, I know, Familiaris Consortio, the family is the spouses and children if any. But tell me you don't know just how I feel. If you're Catholic; otherwise, clearly, you think I'm insane). It had never occurred to me that subordinate objects - just to pick a few random examples that strike me, pets and furniture - could legitimately be a product of spousal love, rather than just the focus of my frustrated and displaced ambitions to motherhood.
Still with me? My I-can't-have-a-dog-because-nobody-will-ever-accuse-me-of-"parenting"-an-animal aversion may be in error. Treating a dog as if it were a baby is still a problem (I think), and would be a product of my unmet need to have a human child; God doesn't treat humans (or plants) as if they were other gods (because He's not lonely). But an appropriately measured, benevolent, and disinterested (i.e., directed toward its well-being rather than mine) love for an animal would be totally appropriate - and even a legitimate expression of my love for my husband, which should result in a superfluity of love, which wants to pour itself out into other directions.
And if the intra-trinitarian love can also result in mountains and lakes (and it's hard to look at mountains and lakes and not see that it must have been goodness that made them. You feel love just looking at them yourself), then - provided that it doesn't result in undue attachment or covetousness or vanity, and that I temper it to the ends that really justify it - my fondness for the idea of putting together a nice home, with a kitchen in which I can feed people, and chairs I can put them in so they're comfortable, and space in which they can enjoy one another's company, and even a place for a few to sleep so they can visit more freely - is a legitimate expression of marital love as well. It's not just vanity or materialism. It's a legitimate activity, and (if done right) is not a matter of selfish acquisitiveness, but of an unselfish desire to share the love that we have for one another.
In my defense, in addition to being distracted by pretty things (aren't women supposed to be? And can I tell you how excited I am to be wearing sundresses again soon?), every one of my home decor projects (mental projects, at this point) is undertaken with an unwavering focus on the desire to have people in my house. I want things to have an aesthetic I like, but I think, when they come in the door, where will they put their coats and boots? Will they be able to walk easily into the next room to get a cup of hot tea and then straight to a comfortable place to sit? Can I sit enough of them? Will they be able to talk to each other? Will anyone be isolated? Is there a place they can have peace and quiet? Where is the bathroom - will it be too awkward to use it if there are other guests? What if my mother or sister visits - will the kitchen have space for them to help cook if they want to? What about the bedrooms - is there somewhere people could sleep without feeling like intruders? Can they take showers easily if they stay? Will this work for every day or is it too big? Will it work for Christmas, or is it too small?
Just found an interesting blog on kitchens, cooking, and all sorts of things that warm my heart. One regular feature asks readers what they're looking forward to cooking/baking this weekend. Yes! Yes! I attend and/or throw too many parties (and stay up too late. I'm going to work on all of this) to fulfill my ambitions of cooking for the week on weekends, but this Saturday I did make my beloved streusel-cheesecake-apple pie.
If you love kitchen decor and/or cooking, you may want to check it out. They had a feature on yellow kitchens, and while I'm not hugely into retro/mod, I have to admit this pulled at my heartstrings:
This one is nice too. I'm sure I've seen lots of other awesome things recently (and I may have to have another post of craigslist furniture soon; either "things you should buy if you live in the DC area because they're awesome deals that won't fit in my house," or "things I want to buy for the house I don't own but am currently decorating in my head").
By the way, several of you left very sweet compliments of the pretties I've posted, and they warm my heart. You all have a standing antiquing date with me if you're in my area or I in yours, OK? Amusingly, our friend the Asian por.nspammer also left a message, this time appearing to comment (favorably) on the images in my post. But it contained the usual "......................" hyperlinked, no doubt, to some sort of horrendous filth. Does this mean they're reading? If you're reading this, go engage in your unspeakable activities and leave the rest of us out of it.
The Red House
is under contract. You saw this coming, right? OK, I didn't show you the price or the location (and did I mention it's a foreclosure?), but that was really predictable from a market/value standpoint. It went under contract Wednesday, two days after I found it. I'm annoyed I didn't find it when it first listed a week or so before. I went to drive by it yesterday anyway. I have great lingering sadness over the idea of not living downtown in a small historic village (as with the tan house!). That seems ideal to me.
The red house is in a suburban neighborhood full of mainly 1970s-era established homes (and a few McMansions) with tall trees, lots of green space, and nice decks; clearly people who enjoy their homes and their neighborhood. There are lots of conveniences around. I figured out a way I could do my commute. It's further from the city border than I am now, of course, but near a lot of my friends. The yard space is fantastic. There's no expanse of lawn-type area (the current residents don't seem to like grass) but space for a garden; a little bitty artificial pond (could take that or leave it); a back deck; a garden-y space for tea near the corn crib/shed (adorable!); said shed looks like it would be perfect for a chapel (!); the barn (there are two outbuildings) is fantastic and just crying out to have dances in the bottom and makeshift guest quarters in the top; the drive has space for at least half a dozen cars; and the house is really cute in person too.
My queries about the floor plan and internal aspect, which remain, would have to be solved by an in-person showing. Of course, that won't happen unless the current contract folds and it comes back on the market. That happens a lot lately, but the last contingency expires 4/15, I think, which would make getting that tax credit difficult, if not impossible. And putting on an offer fast would be difficult in any case, because my dh wants to undertake extended musings about the likelihood that the market will continue dropping (and by how much). He has visions that there will be another true housing market collapse and significant further decrease in prices. I think he's mistaken, and in any case this house is selling for well below its current value. Deals like this are rare even in this market. I always figure you should look at the price of the individual house against its historic (and likely future) value. And I'd like a tax credit and a good interest rate. (Why is he being so difficult about this?)
I need to continue my St. Joseph novena(s). Note to anyone who is interested in devotions to saints and is praying for help with a house or a job (or both): St. Joseph's feast day is March 19th. That means that the 11th would be a great day to start a novena to him! There's a great one here.
I know full well that one of the burdens of living in an older home is that they can be harder to keep clean. This is exacerbated when you're naturally neglectful, as I am. And I have a ludicrous number of people visiting Saturday for a St. Patrick's Day party, and very little time to get ready. So I need a hand. I have heard rumors of some magic products that will actually dissolve soap scum and hard water stains. But I've never actually gotten my grimy little fingers on one, or at least not used it successfully. My only currently viable solution is to use an unloved credit card to actually shave the buildup off the ceramic surfaces, and this takes forever and is fairly hateful. Can somebody recommend some sort of product that would do a good job at this? How do you keep your shower area clean???
Also, less important questions: any good solutions for getting glue-like dust (i.e., doesn't want to come off) off of miniblinds? Or what a suitable revenge is for people who install miniblinds where I have to live?
What about a good place to buy the swiffer mopper pads for less than an arm and a leg - for me, $6 for 12 pads? (For anyone considering buying the swiffer mop, DON'T. The cost of the pads will bankrupt you. Buy the sweeper for a third the price of the mop, and then boxes of the pre-wetted mop pads for the sweeper, which cost way less than the pads for the mop and don't require you to buy those stupid bottles of mop liquid. Plus you won't need batteries. I'm actually considering doing this, throwing the mopper out, and considering the $28 I paid for it a loss - I think I would make the money back in six months.)
Saturday morning I realized that THERE ARE CROCUSES COMING UP IN MY YARD! Not just the green shoots; you can already see the purple flowers. They weren't open yet, but they will be super-soon. (Maybe today?) I will have to post a picture. I am SO EXCITED.