Because we had SUCH an adventuresome and occupied October, I’m just a skosh behind- a tish even. So, I will be using my formidable magical powers to put two weeks of this project into one. [Insert Harry Potter spell here. Unfortunately, there is no combining spell used in the HP series. We could just say something like Combinus Homogenous! or something… Look at us being inventive. Oh, the cleverness of us!]
SO. On to Week 10: The issue of naming our home has long been a desire of my heart, because for one thing, I always loved how people named their homes in England- from estates down to a snug little cottage. Which of course makes me think of this quote from Sense & Sensibility:
“I am excessively fond of a cottage; there is always so much comfort, so much elegance about them. And I protest, if I had any money to spare, I should buy a little land and build one myself… where I might drive myself down at any time, and collect a few friends about me and be happy. I advise everybody who is going to build, to build a cottage.”
It should really be noted that it is Robert Ferrars who utters this quote to Elinor Dashwood; and, in spite of sounding like something people make into a graphic and pin on Pinterest, it is actually insultingly condescending of him- but if you don’t know about that go read the book and/or watch the movie. In the book (which I admittedly have not read in its entirety… *hangs head in shame*) it does say soon after that,
“Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition.”
Isn’t that amazing?! I realize this is not news that Austen is amazing, but I am simultaneously filled with utter gratification at her description of how you feel when people patronize you, and also feeling ashamed that I even refer to what I do here as “writing”. My “writing” should probably just be called something else altogether. It’s more like vaguely-coherent-sentence-formation-with-semi-correct-punctuation. Anyway, on to the first point of this post… which will quickly snowball into 3 weeks instead of 2 if I keep adding asides about Jane Austen novels.
It seems like all the best things happen in cottages. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say all the most genius and imaginative people live in cottages. They just seem prone to magic. ((Both the people and the cottages.)) And all the best cottages have names. Like C.S. Lewis living at The Kilns in Oxford, or the singer/songwriter/author Andrew Peterson ((aka the male version of what I want to be when I grow up)) living at The Warren, the Weasleys living at The Burrow, or any given fictitious home found in Tolkien’s Middle-earth… Like Rivendell, or Bag End, etc. ((I recognize, Rivendell is certainly not a cottage. It’s just part of the naming-a-place thing.))
My dear friend, Heather, and I even named our dorm room in our second year of living together at college. See, we’d been living in room 306, which was a wonderful room, with which we were exceptionally pleased. But because Heather had agreed to be back-up R.A. and because there arose a need for the back-up to become not-the-back-up anymore, because the 2nd floor needed a new R.A. we had to move to the opposite end of the building on the second floor. 218? 219? I don’t remember the exact room number. Namely, because I dubbed it “2-0-crap” at some point soon after moving there. This was because it was situated, to our singular displeasure, above the cafeteria. Which seemed to perpetually be preparing ((or reheating, more like)) some mysterious potato dish at any given time of day. The fumes of this repulsive, toxic, odious desecration of potatoes could be seen pouring through the screen of our window. ((Oh, and there was no AC in this building, so the windows almost always had to stay open.)) Thus, the name 2-0-crap.
However, in an effort to feel more cheerful about the whole thing, we decided to sort of call it Barton Cottage, like the forlorn little place the Dashwood girls are forced to move to. ((…yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition. I also tend towards over-use of the ellipsis, which I technically don’t even use correctly. So that bit about correct punctuation earlier was a lie.)) Somehow, this act of naming our grubby little room redeemed the place a little, made it slightly more endearing. And we still made it as beautiful as was within our power. Which is, really, a good thing to do no matter where you live. How rare is it to actually live in the sort of place you dream about? Clearly, the success of HGTV alone reveals a desire in humanity to live in a place of beauty. ((Yet another way I see evidence that we are created with an innate thirst for beauty- even in things like our faucets and soap dispensers.)) Let alone Pinterest… Beauty feels intentional; it gives a place purpose. Or, maybe it’s better to say it reminds us that we are purposeful, especially in dry seasons or dark ones that feel like wandering endlessly through the desert.
So, the act of naming our home is to me another way of staking a claim in this beauty, this abundance, that I believe is available to be found in any season. ((Seriously, click right here to read The Nester’s thoughts on this… She puts into words what I never have.)) This is a lovely thought, however the challenge of naming things always tends to plague me because I’m a perfectionist and want a name to be at once meaningful and appealing.
I wasn’t sure what to name our home ((it’s an apartment right now, but it’s really a pretty one, and I’ve decided it’s a cottage that just happens to be elevated to the 3rd floor of a building)), but I knew I wanted the word “cottage” to be included, because our last name actually means “the old cottage.” That’s just cute, people. But, “The Old Cottage” lacked color. So, I decided to borrow Ryan’s name as inspiration. The name “Ryan” actually means “little king.” I LOVE this, for so many reasons, but especially because of the spiritual parallels to us being children of God- little kings and queens. Royalty whose job is to serve, whose garb isn’t glamorous, but whose lives are made beautiful.
Like Rivendell is an elven outpost, our little cottage is an outpost of the kingdom of God. He reigns here, and everywhere, no matter how far from heaven we are. So, all that to say, I made up my mind- miraculously- to call our home “King’s Cottage.” Now. Since I haven’t been able to figure out how to do the thing I want most, which is to find a piece of wood and somehow paint it and make it into a rustic sign that says “King’s Cottage” on it, I’m settling for these 3 framed lovelies that were a gift (one of my absolute favorite gifts) we received at our wedding. They ironically contain a quote about Rivendell- one of my favorites:
A perfect house, whether you like food or sleep or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness.” ~ Bilbo, on The Last Homely House
That’s another name for “Rivendell.” If we had a tag line for our home, this would be it. Now, I know this isn’t a verse, but it reminds me of verses about hospitality, which isn’t about having fancy napkins or a perfectly clean house, but who we are supposed to be in the world, and what happens to a place when we bring the kingdom of God into it. Jami Balmet says some pretty great stuff about hospitality. Anyway, here they are:
They were, most fittingly, made and given by Heather as a matter of fact, who is at the very least a kindred spirit. From one cottage to another. Wanna closeup?
So, some day when I figure out this signage thing, I’ll totally post pictures of it ((because undoubtedly, I will be so proud of my barely-considered-DIY project, I will force it upon the internet like a child showing off a macaroni necklace)).
That’s week 10. And now- week 11!!
Patience. It’s not my greatest virtue. When Hulu freezes 20 times in the middle of an episode, I find myself snarling and preparing to throw heavy objects. I’m like the Hulk, but considerably more shrill. And not scary at all. Though I do turn green, oddly enough… I should probably get that checked out. And I realize that I’m reacting with the same vehemence as someone who is about to go to war and burn, pillage, and plunder their way through peasants and countryside… ((Like Trogdor the Burninator. Click on that link and prepared to be cultured. And to lose a few IQ points. Go on. I dare you… Did you do it?? How bout those consummate V’s?))
If I react this way to an inanimate object ((I didn’t even tell you about my eternal feud with hangers of all kinds…)), you can imagine that I need some work on patience. Especially when it comes to teaching preschoolers and taking care of multiple children all day at the preschool where I work part-time. Don’t get me wrong- I totally love those kids!!! They are so cute, and they just want to hug you all the time and show you their creations, and all that good stuff. However. That doesn’t mean they don’t have their own turning-into-little-grumpy-Hulk moments too. And when those moments come, it is sometimes all you can do to maintain your already thin grip on sanity.
I don’t think anyone wants to be whiny, impatient, or snotty to their friends- me, the preschoolers, or anyone else for that matter. I want so badly to be the best version of myself possible. Not in the striving-and-trying-hard-to-be-some-impossible-standard-of-perfection kind of way, but in the desiring-to-be-who-God-made-me-to-be kind of way. To grow in my relationship with God, who gives the abundant life I’m always so thirsty for. But it’s so much easier to just be a grouchy pants than it is to choose to let yourself find God’s presence in a frustrating moment. This quote about being irritable and overwhelmed says it all:
It’s one of those quotes I heard and don’t feel like I need to explain. I know what it’s like to act like an ungracious and un-generous person when I neglect intentional focus on the Lord. It’s unpleasant for people around me, sure. But it’s almost worse for me… I think. Not just because I feel ashamed of acting that way, but because it’s just not me. Not who I’m made to be, anyway. And I’ve been thinking I needed to doodle the verse I chose for this week since I first got that amazingly sweet Thank-You card from my boss and the kids at the preschool after my first full week of being there. The verse is this:
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:26 ESV
It’s probably a shocker to you, but when my mouth opens, wisdom is not generally the first thing that comes out. ((The whole thinking-before-you-speak thing is SO hard; what about those of us that think with our mouths???)) So, because I like this so much, and because we finally broke down and bought more ink for the printer ((which might as well be the Elixir of Life of office supplies for how much the stuff costs)), I decided to put it in a couple places. Here, on my bedside table:
And a bigger print of it on the fridge:
Either way, I’ll be sure to see this every morning… especially because I like this girl’s outfit. Especially because of the yellow pants.
Incidentally, Internet- you may rejoice with me over my great victory, because as of two weeks ago ((remember, I’ve been busy))– I CAN FIT INTO MY FAVORITE PANTS!!!! Which are mustard yellow. $10 at Old Navy, baby! Anyway, following close behind coffee on the list of things that insure my happiness are those pants… On that profound note, that’s it from here at King’s Cottage! ((Isn’t it just fun to say??? Is it cheesy?? No. Don’t tell me. I’ve decided I don’t care.))
Anyone else name their home? Derive particular joy from colorful pants? Both?