Sunday, April 23, 2006


Yesterday as I walked down our beautiful trails I took some pictures of the blooming wild flowers. The pictures cannot even hope to portray the actual gorgeousness!

Salmonberry blossoms

Wild Bleeding Heart

Wood Sorrel (aka Sour Grass)


Thursday, April 20, 2006

GUEST ARTICLE-Rebuilding The Culture Of Home

The Victorian-era wife was often called "The Angel in the House". Glorification of home life and the belief that "little things in life" matter as much as "the great things" were typical for that epoch. Home was seen as an emotional refuge from the world of work and work itself was not elevated to the level of "career" and the most important thing in life. Far from it - work was viewed as a means to an end, something which enabled men to make enough money in order to enjoy the good things in life.

In fact, this attitude was not restricted to Victorian era only. The same glorification of little things in life is portrayed in the novels of Jane Austen. There are no heated political arguments in her novels, neither any romantic adventures, no crimes or scenes of violence. Her novels are not of a kind which could be described as thrillers. And yet they are amazingly popular nowadays. Can the reason be that we as a society have lost something precious during the last 40 years of radical feminism and now we are desperately longing for its return?

Yes, we did lose indeed, we lost or nearly lost the culture of home. It is the description of this culture which makes her novels and their adaptations so irresistible to modern audience. In fact, we can learn a lot from her novels. Take, for instance the novel "Emma". There is the character of Mr Weston, which is a perfect illustration to my first point. He went into trade to make money and when he earned enough, he retired, though he was quite young and healthy.

There is no mention in the novel that he ever regretted giving up his "career" or that he felt "unfulfilled", is there? Clearly, he saw his market activity as a means to an end, and not an objective in itself. Then we have the character of Jane Fairfax. This young lady, as you remember, was poor and everybody knew she would have to work to support herself. What was the reaction of those around her to this fact? Were other young ladies envious and dreaming they could change places with her so that they could pursue some glorious career?

Strange enough, everybody was feeling pity for her. All her friends were glad to know in the end that she had been engaged to Frank Churchill and would marry and become a homemaker. And then we have Emma herself. Emma was an unmarried daughter who stayed home with her father. Now, if it is difficult for wives and even mothers to explain what exactly they are doing home every day, it is twice as difficult for unmarried daughters who choose to stay home.

I must admit, when I was reading Emma for the first 4-5 times, I hardly could understand myself what Miss Woodhouse was doing at home. Surely there was little for her to do? She had no husband, no children, and plenty of servants. Then I actually started understanding the situation much better. Not only was Emma the mistress of the house and had to control the servants and arrange things, her presence was vital to the well-being of her father.

She gave him what nobody else could give, her attention and her love. She was determined to stay single if necessary so that she could take a better care of him.An unmarried daughter at home can bless her family in a lot of ways. While I don't believe it's a sin for an unmarried lady to work outside home, provided she has a feminine job (not a soldier or a prison guard in male prison or some such thing), I also don't think she must be under pressure to leave. As seen clearly by the example of Jane Fairfax, though young unmarried women used to work in the past, it was done out of economic necessity and not because work was seen as something glamorous.

I once mentioned a situation in one of my articles where an unmarried woman was keeping the house of her brother and how this brother was "caught" by a scheming young woman. We got a very scornful comment by one of our anonymous friends which stated that if the lady in question had some brains she would find a job instead of "wasting" her life. What this person didn't seem to understand is the fact that such a situation was not at all uncommon in the past. An unmarried woman would often stay with her parents and take care of them when they grew older or she would go and live by some relatives.

Those women did not think their life was wasted by the very reason that home life was seen as something superior to the world of work. They saw themselves saved from this world, liberated if you wish to use this word. Jane Austen herself, as you know, never married. Her brothers made what would be called nowadays good careers and after the death of her father they supported Jane, her sister Cassandra and their mother. It was perfectly normal in those times.

The truth is that our life in the recent years has become public-centered instead of home-centered. Making Powerpoint presentations in the office is seen as infinitely superior to baking cookies or reading to one's child. The only achievement that counts is when one makes more money than one's neighbour. Money-making is seen as a goal in itself. An average family in my country can buy or rent a house on one income, have a car, sometimes 2 and go once a year on vacation. And still many a woman chooses to work, not because they lack something, but because they want to have more.

Yet the home is the foundation of every society. When home life fails, the society fails, too. Homemakers should not be ashamed to stay home. Vice versa, they should get a broader perspective on things. We are not just cooking dinner or scrubbing the floors, we are rebuilding that essential what is lost in our society, but which is vital to any society's survival - the culture of home.

picture from the Miramax version of "Emma"
posted by Cinderella at

Tuesday, April 11, 2006