When Change Pours Forth

[Previous Suburban Farmgirl, October 2009 – October 2010]
It’s said that there are years that ask questions and years that give answers. I’m not sure which was 2009 for me. More like a year that kept the ground shifting with transition. (Details in a second.)
I’m writing this looking at a lovely teapot on my desk. I own an inordinate number of pots and pitchers. I’ve always been drawn to them. I never understood why. After all, you can only use so many pitchers in an everyday kitchen. It’s not like I have to haul water or keep one handy at every washbasin, for example.
Partly, pitchers and teapots are farmgirly icons: Utilitarian, comforting in their roundness, often pretty, too. But I now think I’m also drawn to the concept of a pitcher: You fill it up, pour it out, and repeat as needed. It’s versatile: Tea, water, juice, syrup, cinnamon sticks, bread sticks, a cheering bunch of flowers, a thought-provoking spray of branches. Pitchers brim with the potential of what might come next.

That’s my interpretation, anyway, and I’m sticking with it. And I know something of both pitchers and transitions. Here’s what’s happened, oh, just this past year, for instance:

  • My husband and I separated and began living apart in March.
  • My “baby” (firstborn) left home (for a special state-run arts boarding school).
  • My dad died. (And less than two years after my mom.)
  • I sold my beloved beach shack — a.k.a. escape, family vacation zone, and writing retreat
  • My regular house is on the market.
  • And a column I’ve written for 9 whole years for another magazine has been axed in a regime change.
Well, these things happen. I know you know that.
Does anyone else ever console herself in times of stress by bringing out and using favorite comfort objects? (And I don’t just mean chocolate!) For example, I’ll make a point of curling up on the sofa with a favorite old quilt I usually reserve for display. Or I’ll eat off “good” dishes and pour a glass of wine into a Hungarian cut crystal glass I inherited from my mom, instead of an everyday Target one.
I tend to drink more tea, too – the kind you have to steep in a nice pot. (I’m partial to Republic of Tea’s vanilla almond black tea in the morning, and its honey ginseng green or chamomile lemon herbal by afternoon and evening.) And I gravitate to my collection of pots ‘n pitchers in other everyday ways. Here are a few of them and how I use ’em. This one, for example, was my great-grandmother’s. Sometimes I find myself talking to her, the lady in the teapot, as if she personifies my late Gram, who also once owned it.

These old blue-and-whites kicked off my fascination. I like to rotate one on my desk with a few sprigs of flowers or pencils — there’s one for every size I might need! The one on the front right doubles as a napkin holder.

This big Polish milk pitcher (bottom shelf) is hand-decorated. Perfect for iced tea — pour a pot in, add ice cubes, and set it in the fridge. The cheerful folk-art girl (top shelf) smiles over the kitchen table but gets pulled out for bouquets, too.

These green McCoy pitchers get lined up in my office (next to a comforting teddy made from old quilts) in my direct line of vision. I bought them one at a time years ago, gravitating to their shape and color. If I found a fourth or fifth I’d gobble it up. Some things you just know you love, and who knows why?

Finally here’s a friendly pitcher my daughter made. It pours out smiles every time I look at it (which is often!).

I’ll hold details on my many transitions for another day, except for this: Ironically, the subject of the last Woman’s Day magazine column I’d mentioned earlier is… trying new things! I didn’t plan it that way. But I do plan on trying new things this year. Pour and refill, pour and refill….

  1. Janice K. says:

    Only time will tell…I lost my mom in December. Toward the end I likened us to layers of an onion. Any problems, distractions, issues, had been peeled away and we were down to our most basic selves. Mother and daughter and hearts full of love..In other times of my life I would not have been able to devote this gift of time. Now I find that I am gravitating to certain items of mom’s that remind me of all of the moments that we shared as a family. Anything that gives us comfort is deserved!
    I love your collection and the ability to appreciate and seak out that which gives you pleasure. You deserve it, as do I! This is a year for refilling!

  2. Marie says:

    Bless your heart! What a year for you. It appears you have things well in hand – at least in the forefront. I will be praying for you and your family, and I’m sure you will experience many happy, pleasureful events this year. Onward!!

  3. emily says:

    Change is often difficult and sometimes we are in such pain we don’t realize until much later what we have accomplished, much like childbirth. I have often said that things happen for a reason and even if we don’t understand it at the time, be patient and the end results are often better than we imagined they could be! I love the idea of pouring out the old and refilling with the new. It may leave an empty spot for awhile but anyone who has ever cleared off a shelf or a cupboard drawer, knows they don’t stay empty long and soon your life will fill up as well. It’s up to you what you refill with! :o)

  4. Sally says:

    Hi Paula,

    God bless you for opening up to us. I know a little bit about change too. 2005 was the year for me. It started off with me losing my dad, and then my aunt, followed by my nephew and finally my cousin all within a couple months of each other. We come through not knowing how to react sometimes. But with Gods help and family, what would we do without family, we get through it.
    I also have a passion for things. Mine is birdhouses. I have them everywhere. But like you I also enjoy using nice things that I have in my china cabinets. I figure there is no sense in just having them to look at, use them. Especially if it makes you feel good when you do.

    Thanks for you post. God Bless.

  5. Blessings to you in this time of change. Wishing you peace until you can look backwards and see how all was meant to be.


  6. Jamie says:

    When life hands me lemons I too pull at things that bring me the most comfort. Like moms home cookin’ preparing a gourmet meal just for me and then serving it on the "special" dishes helps me remember my value. Sometimes I’ll get myself all dressed up looking prettier than I have in months and take myself out window shopping and then for lunch in a restaurant. At times like these it is important to remember we do not base our worth on anyone other than ourself, even our children who have shaped and molded our lives so effortlessly can’t and shouldn’t give us value.
    Bravo to you for taking the steps to remember who you are and what you love. Jamie

  7. TJ says:

    What a crummy, hard bunch of things to live through! I’m so sorry for your losses and your changes. It must be hard to breath deeply some mornings…

    I think that when life throws us so many curveballs and changes in one year, we tend to gravitate toward the things that have lasted, especially those crafted and touched by our beloveds. They remind us of the relationships (daughters and great grandmothers) that mean so much to us, and even the things that weren’t originally FROM our family remind us of the women who have likely been through things like those challenging us now, before. A way to tap in to the Sisterhood, focusing on beauty and function instead of loss and change. There is a verse in the bible about focusing our minds on what is good and pure and peaceful… I used to think that advice to be "pollyanna" but the older I get, the more I see the value in the instruction. And pitchers and teapots (I have a collection too!) are items that fit those criteria!

    I hope that 2010 brings dawn…

  8. jodi says:

    I always heard my mother say, when one door closes another one opens. I know many doors have closed for you, but now you have a clean slate, with a chance to refill the room left with what you want, not what circumstances made you do. You go girl! Love and hope sent your way. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Robin says:

    I am so sorry to read of your difficult year. I can relate somewhat. The past 15 months have been very difficult for our family. Betrayals, psycologists, sky high bills, social workers, job lose, adult children problems, heartache, missing granchildren, the list goes on and on….

    I collect teapots and you have just inspired me to reach into the hutch and pull out a couple and use them and enjoy them.

    Praying 2009 is a better year for you and your family.

  10. carol branum says:

    Dearest Paula,I am so sorry,you have gone through a lot,it is a wonder that your able to carry on,I had a bad year in 2005,I thought it was the end of the world,one thing bad after another just kept happening.But,things do get better,even if you don,t think they ever will again.The ladies that comment on this blog have left wonderful comments,make sure to read them over and over when your feeling low.Love the tea pots,I am also a collector,I have a bear just like yours.I try to concentrate on bueatiful things also,and your gona laugh,but I sing a couple of songs that help.One is from the sound of music,favorite things,and one is from church,sing and be happy,anyway it helps.Or put on some cherry music.Things will get better in time.Blessed be,Carol Branum ,lamar Mo.themofarmersdaughter@blogspot.com

  11. Jenny says:

    ..thankyou for your insite and wisdom. My prayer is for God to fill your teapot with much more to pour out to new readers everywhere. I’m going to copy this for my friend Joan who is retiring this year from being the librarian at a local elementary school. She’s poured out alot of fun and love for books to her students throughout the years, and I pray that her teapot would be filled with a wonderful and exciting life ahead of her, filled to the brim..love ya Joan, from your library helper, Jen

  12. Meme says:

    I have a close friend who’s husband left her with 6 children. She is doing well, and I asked her how. Her words to me are my words to you and all farmgirls who are being tried by fire! She said that when a door closes another door won’t open, but a window, that moves us forward. Plus you have to have faith to jump out of a window!

  13. Reba says:

    A few years ago (1999 to be exact, does that tell you I remember the pain?)when I thought "What am I going to do now?" and circumstances were so tough in my life that I thought I would grieve myself to death, I received a new revelation of how to view my life and situation. This may be not-so-big to some but it was to me. I didn’t choose my circumstances, but I could choose to enjoy different aspects of what was happening, and looking for an adventure in solving some part of it. It was either grieve myself to death or learn to see how to enjoy life in this. It was a light bulb moment and I literally said out loud, "I’m going to enjoy it," this special time given to me. And now I can say—I have. Many times other situations have come and I still refer back to that time in my thought life and remember, "Enjoy life today" and "what good is in this situation now" or "what is possible to change or solve," then do like Carol said in her comments, sing. Have a blessed uplifting thought life and day today!!

  14. SuburbanFarmgirl says:

    What a great, uplifting flock of chickens you are! I agree, transitions aren’t by definition negative…anyway every single day is rife with them, when you think about it…

  15. Tammy says:

    Bless your heart. You have certainly had many transitions of change. I am a tea drinker..the kind you steep…daily. It is where I can shut out the chaos of the world and just be still. I have a collection of teapots and teacups and so I use a different one each day and some are part of the decoration of my house. I will certainly be praying for you. May this year bring you many blessings.

  16. Marilyn says:

    Hi Paula,
    Sorry to hear about your awful year. 2010 can only get better. You must be so proud of your son. He must be a talented young man to get in a special school. It is too bad about you and your husband’s separation. I hope you can find a nice new place to call home. You will be in my prayers and thoughts. I know how you miss your father, I still miss my dad and he is gone almost 20 years. Peace and Love,

  17. Candy says:

    Hi! Until reading your blog and everyone’s comments I thought I was the only one who started steeping pots of tea for comfort (Usually I’m a coffee drinker!) You know, when you get an icky diagnosis or some other bad situation that just leaves you kind of "shell shocked", what is it about a hot "cuppa" and a warm puppy that somehow helps…..

  18. SuburbanFarmgirl says:

    Agreed! So, fellow tea lovers, what are your favorite kinds? Or like me do you steep favorite kinds for different circumstances??

  19. Bonnie Russell says:

    Hi, Paula and fellow would-be farm girls:

    I share your love of the simpler things of life that soothe
    us and provide therapy, especially when life gets complicated and we seek to retreat and console or renew our minds and hearts. I cook and bake, I write, I paint and crochet, I putter in the garden and always have plants at my windows and fresh flowers in a vase in my kitchen, a way I treat myself.

    I share your sorrow about the loss of your parents. I lost my dad 12 years ago and my mother just a year and a half ago and I find myself doing many of the things they loved doing, remembering them as I continue traditions they instilled in me. I wrap myself in Mom’s afghan often, imagining her little arms around me as I cuddled next to her just two years ago telling her, "I’m still your little girl, Mom."

    As this Christmas without her was especially hard for me, she was often on my mind, and then I started finding dimes in odd places like friends of mine claimed they found shiney pennies. I guess the one that really got my attention was one I found inside one of my socks as I pulled it out of the drier! That’s just one little way she’s let me know she is still with me.

    One of the things Mom loved to do is drink coffee or tea from a bone china cup, so I got in a habit of it, and I just began a collection of them…ones with lovely rose patterns on them. As yet, I’ve only found one pitcher, but no teapots as yet, but I will add one to my small collection soon. It is indeed a treat and a comfort to sip from china and remember the good times.

    Now, along with sipping my morning tea or coffee, I browse through my new subscription of Farm Girl Magazine, and it renews the farm girl in me, reminding me of simpler times when I was little, and looking forward, hopefully to more of those when I am able to retire.

    Blessings and warm hugs to you and yours,


  20. Jo says:

    Sorry to hear about all the situations that you are going through and will be going through. But God will give you peace in the most unexpected ways! In 2006, my beloved dad passed away while I was with him, our son got a divorce from his wife and left behind 5 children, and our daughter and her family, whom we were so close to, moved to another state. This all happened in the span of 1 month and I didn’t think I would make it. But her I am, 4 years later, and I have learned a lot through all this pain, and so will you. Thank you for sharing your life with us and causing us all to meditate on events in our life that caused us to grow and change.

  21. Jo says:

    Oh Paula, I forgot to tell you in my earlier email that I have a "lady teapot" too! I inherited it from my mother in law after she passed away. We had a very difficult relationship, but when I see this pot I try to remember the good things about her. This pot is pretty expensive in the antique store, which makes it all the more precious to me. I haven’t used her for tea yet, she just adorns my cottage home, but she reminds me that life is not always a bed of roses, it has many thorns too, but what a beautiful fragrance we receive when we take time to smell those beautiful petals!

  22. Denise says:

    Wow Paula what a year. I bet you glad to see the end of 2009. I’m so sorry about your separation. I’m excited for your son and the opportunities that will come his way. I take my hat off to you for having the guts to let him follow his dream even when you were living in a bad one. Remember to hold onto your faith and the love that you can give to others and yourself. Jesus is right beside you through this time and will give you strength to carry on. Your faith will grow through these tough times, sometimes this is the only way for it to grow – – when all we hold dear is taken from us and we are left floundering. All the previous loving and supportive comments ring true from my heart to yours and I thank you dearly for being true to yourself and being real for us. Nothing in life is guaranteed. But having our faith our family and friends to love and support us through these difficult times keeps us going. I know that I’ve had the rug pulled from beneath my feet and I ended up with depression. But the upside of it is that 1. I came to know who I could really count on; 2. my faith greatly increased. and I became a stronger person, not worrying so much on what others thought of my since I’m not put on this earth to meet everyone elses expectation. I also have a building confidence to do what I’ve dreamt of doing in my own time. I love to cook and bake and this is what I do when I need comfort.
    Your slate is clean, remember that we all support you in whatever window you jump through and God will give you strength to do anything, just like the Bible says.
    Your writing is a gift to all of us who are priviliged to read your columns and books. Keep up your wonderful work and I too will pray for you Love Denise

  23. carol branum says:

    Hi paula,thinking of you today also,Monday,Jan.18,2010,Remember the words to the song…rain drops on roses,and snow covered kisses,snowflakes that fall on my nose and eyelashes,silver white winters that turn into spring,these are a few of my favorite things,when the bow breaks,when the birds sing,when I am feeling low,I simply remember my favorite things,and then I don,t feel so sad….In 1965 my great aunt Florance thought we were too country and took me to to Springfield mo.in her bright yellow caddy, to stay with her in her victorian mansion,she was very ritch,I felt just like "Pollyanna’ in the movie by "Walt Disney",all of the crystal prizims in her home,She took me to a fancy store in Springfield named "Herrs" and purchased me all new clothes,I remember beiing thrilled at "storebought" clothing,Aunt was determined to teach me manners and culture,and I helped her polish her real,not plated silverware,I was totally fasinated,We went to see the movie "The Sound of Music"with Julie Andrews.It was so neat to see at the movie theater,because the mountians were as large as life.We sat in the balcony of the large antique theater located in old down town Springfield, and it felt just like I was actually on top of the mountian….When I returned home,our farm is on a hill,so I spent many hours rideing my bike down the gravel road and down the big hill,singing songs from the "Sound of Music"…She is confident…ect.He is 16 going on 17 ect…Rent the movie today,even if you have seen it a hundred times before,it is always refreshing…blessed be,Carol branum,lamar Mo.themofarmersdaughter@blogspot.com

  24. Brenda says:

    Oh Paula you have had quit a year. I’m so sad that you had to go through all of it. But time does help. Fifteen years ago I got a divorce after 25 years of marrage to my childrens father. Always believing that we would live to see old age together. But it just so happens that one of my good friends and my husband thought it would be great if they were a couple. Long story short, I was miserable and I felt that life had just stopped. Very angry and couldn’t get my mind focused on anything else. Until one day while visiting with a couple of my special girlfriends, it hit me that I need to forgive them or I would never find happiness again. So the good Lord helped me through that journey and my heart is at peace. Since then, I have remarried to a wonderful man! He loves, accepts me as I am and we can always come up with something to laugh at together. So today I start out every morning grateful for all I’ve been blessed with. We have 5 beautiful grandchildren from the ages of 20 to 10. And they are such a joy! And I agree with all you girls, a nice cup of tea can help with just about anything. And to have it in a pretty china cup makes it more rewarding. Let’s all try to remember that if you Believe in yourself today, Tomorrow will bring happiness! Blessing, Brenda


  25. "The wildflowers bloom in the valleys," was a comfort to me several years ago when I was experiencing a "year". Well, here I am at AARP-age 66, having another year, except that with age comes the joy of recognizing angels among us. Friends deliver homemade soup, call to see if I am still kicking, make and have blessed a prayer shawl, gift me with a pretty box for my new little nest, after "himself" had divorce papers served the day before our anniversary. (My sister thinks it’s the best gift I’ve ever received!) No more tip-toeing around in the dark so that "himself" won’t be disturbed as I dress to go out to work while he sleeps in the crack of …Yes, I’m still a little mad, but soon get glad as I turn my new little nest into a feminine girly place all my own. Thanks for letting me share, and blessings to you. Judith

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *