Nov 2, 2013

Fall Back...Spring Forward

Since we all gain an hour tonight, I thought I would use that extra hour to visit with you all. The air turned very cold this evening and while snuggled on the sofa, I started to go through some old image files and clean them out. I discovered that I never shared with you  our visit to Abe Lincoln's home in Springfield, IL.

It has been a few years since that visit, and as I started to look through the images, I discovered something kind of funny. I began to notice how familiar Mr.Lincoln's home began to look to me. While it is wildly decorated (and you will understand the term "wildly" in a moment once you take a gander at the wallpaper), there is a vague sense of familiarity to it as well. I also find it ironic that I made this discovery on the night we all turn our clocks back an hour. It might be only an hour we turn back, but as I look around my room, here, I think my clock has turned waaaay back, so far so, that I am finding quite a few things in my home that are also a part of the Lincoln's home. 

I thought you might like to visit Abe's home, and maybe you might find yourself feeling a little familiar with some of the objects you see as well.

Here is Abe Lincoln's home. And while it isn't as grand or stately as many brand new homes today, it does have a feeling of purpose...shutters that actually work and close off the windows. Not like the new ones today which are just ornamental. Windows galore, as there wasn't electricity back then. A strong fence to keep IN the kids, rather than to keep out strangers. Two chimneys to house the several wood stoves...the only source of heat. Yes, a very pretty house, with lots of purpose.

Upon entering, there are two main rooms. One on the left and one on the right. This is obviously the room for visitors who came calling. For a man who is always shown wearing black, his house is very colorful. Mary Todd Lincoln, I am sure had something to do with the decor, as she was determined to be fashionable.

This is the other main room, on the other side of the house, where little light was getting. I apologize ahead of time for some of the dark or fuzzy photos. We were on a tour and had to "keep moving" along. But this room is more of the family room as you can see much plainer furniture...

The wallpaper is different in every room. And the rugs all seemed to have some sort of red pattern as well. 

The bedroom were very cozy and all had wood stoves...

But as I began to zero in on the items in the room, and not the room as a whole...that is when that feeling of familiarity started to creep in. (Who is that in the mirror? :-)

I zeroed in on the ironstone, of course. And the linens? I have some just like these right next to me almost within arm's reach.

And being married to a barber, yes, we really do have a razor strop hanging in our bathroom (and he uses it), along with a straight razor as well.

Of course, I spied the soap and the ironstone soap many times have we all spied those dishes at antique stores...and while we might like them, it is neat to think that Abe's dish is as common as those we find, collect, and even use.

And I thought how funny to see his old books on the table, and how many of us LOVE old books and stack them on the table for decoration? I really wish I had brought my big purse that day...never can have too many old books...I'm just say'n...

More old books. I tried to get a better pic of his items in the cubby holes, but the desk was too far away and I'm stuck behind the rope...but I really relate to the cubby I have cubby hole shelf on my desk, and it is filled with goodies too.

Heading towards the kitchen now, I stop in my tracks as I eye the beautiful ironstone and even smile as I realize I have very similar plates and soup tureens as well. Now I REALLY wish I had my giant purse with me...

Now the kitchen is where I really felt at home! I cook with cast iron all the time...Have a French towel hanging on my wall just like the one in the back. Jars, jugs, and crocks...yes, those too. And the cutting board, well, I love very old cutting boards.

And the mortar and pestle? Have several and I do use them. I have no doubt that many of you have these items as well. And I even have an oil lamp hung on the wall, over my stove, with mercury glass behind it that I do light in the winter. Suddenly my "stuff" seems a little bit more regal, and not so ordinary.

After my visit with "the Lincolns," and revisiting these old images, it is apparent how much we, as a culture, have changed. And yet, how many of us grasp for a bit of the past? Why? Do we want things simpler, even though harder to do and inconvenient? In my very limited knowledge of history, culture, and anthropology, it is in my humble opinion that while life may be "easier" now than back then, we do more. Period. 

With a quick flick of our finger, we have light. Back then, the lamp must be filled with oil, the wick trimmed, and the flame adjusted periodically, as well as the glass cleaned after it cools down. All for a less-than-perfect light. But the thing is, lighting an oil lamp took time. And while we can just flick a switch in seconds...what exactly do we do with all that time we just saved from not having to light an oil lamp?

See where I am going with this? Easy to flick a switch and it saves loads of time, but what exactly do we do with all that extra time we just saved? Want a hot bath? Turn on the faucet. Back then? Chop some wood,start the wood stove, heat up water, and fill and refill the tub over and over again. After our quick bath...what do we do with all that extra time we saved? 

I think since we get to have an extra hour tomorrow (Sunday), I am going to suggest we all use that time to really think about how exactly do we spend all these extra hours that we have in our day that Abe and Mary just didn't have? (Or rather, their servants, really.)

Abe and Mary got 24 hours just like we do. But how those hours were spent in their home were so different than today's homes. Not better. Just different. But if we seem to gravitate towards the past, the antiques, the "old way" of doing some things...then maybe our heartstrings are being plucked for a reason.

Turning the clock back one hour is always a neat treat. But we don't need to turn the clock back to slow down. We can do that at any hour. We just need to decide what we are slowing down for.

May your extra hour be spent well while you enjoy the gift of time.

From my house to your house,



Gail said...

Well you've certainly motivated me! I'm sore from moving furniture and such today, much on my plate.
I'm looking forward to cleaning out my home and getting it ready for the Winter season ahead.
And also using my time more wisely instead of frittering it away and then wondering, "Where has my day gone and what have I accomplished?"

It's so true that these days we have so many more 'things' pulling on us, though not necessarily important or meaningful things....I realize that my days look nothing like my dear Mom's days looked!
And she always accomplished so much and we always had a sparkling clean home!


Jillayne said...

I am so glad you wrote this post, gladder still I happened upon it first thing this morning.
Your thoughts and words have mirrored mine of late - the business of living takes us so much less time than those of us who have gone before, but what we have filled the rest of our hours with makes us feel as though we have no time for the things we really want...or, at least, what we say we want...
We were lucky early in our marriage to have spent 3 1/2 years living in a small house on a lake in the Yukon, with no electricity, running water, central heating or telephone. we moved there because interest rates went so crazy in the early 1980s that we couldn't afford to keep our house in the city - so we sold it and moved to our "cabin". We chopped our wood, hauled the water from the lake in pails, heated it on the cookstove and bathed in a tin tub in the living room, at night - it was wonderful. Everything you wanted to do seemed to involve a chore first, chopping kindling to light the cookstove, fiddling with dampers to get the heat just right, only to bake a cake... all this, while still having full time jobs in town, fourty miles away.
We learned so much about what it takes to "live" in those short years - how the simple act of providing for yourself in some way becomes a treasured part of your day rather than a drudgery...
Regardless of how many time-saving gadgets one might have... space and simplicity are things that seem to come from within.
A beautiful post Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hi Gail!

I am so like you in that my day ends and I wonder, "What did I do today, anyway??" Not a very good feeling.And like you, my mother's day was different...well, not so much different, but rather, she seemed to accomplish so MUCH more than I do. Amazing...that is only ONE generation with so much change.

Thanks for sharing, and you inspired me too!
Big Hugs

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hi Melissa,

No, I haven't visited that museum, but it is now on my winter list of visiting museums in the winter! So glad you wrote to let me know. And when you get the chance, Abe's home and the entire area is a real treat!

Big hugs

Elizabeth Maxson said...


Well, you have just truly stolen my heart! I LOVED reading about your early years in marriage. I have been craving that type of lifestyle for several years now - we are so hooked on Alaska shows - we watch ALL those outdoorsy Alaskan living type shows and we just love it. You are so right in saying how lucky you were to have experienced that. And even more right that simplicity comes from within. When we use our oil lamps, it literally makes us slow down for the evening. So cozy, and I don't know, but it seems to make the house stand still for a bit. We love them. When fishing, we tend to do everything on the fire pit (which I built myself). We cook dutch oven food, and use it as our main source of heat in the winter. And I love watching my beloved chop wood - very manly, and he is very good at it too. And our dinner is whatever we caught that day.

If you have more stories about your early days, would LOVE to hear them - if you post them, could you give me a head's up?

Thanks so much for sharing.
Big hugs

Burlap Luxe said...

Hi Elizabeth, I have been moving a few things around here a bit and back and forth. If my days end and I have not done enough to please, I will like you burn the midnight oil and create something all night long, I know you can relate.

See you and your holiday beauty soon.


Lana Manis said...

Thanks for sharing all the photos, Elizabeth! I've never been to Illinois but I'd love to visit Abe's home someday.

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