Primitive purity

Here’s the post that was published seven years ago today. I noticed immediately how much shorter my entries were in those early days. Maybe that’s why I was able to post every single day for those first two years. I have re-posted entries a few times in the past (which Raynard humorously and accurately referred to as “re-runs”) but with a total of 1116 posts over 7 years, I can’t begin to remember all of them. I’m guessing if I can’t, nobody else can either. Should I continue to re-post entries from seven years ago, now that I’m not writing any new ones?

Defeat Despair

Cabin room A cozy cabin room at a northern California bed and breakfast inn, 2003

“How has it come about that we use the highly emotive word ‘stagnation,’ with all its malodorous and malarial overtones, for what other ages would have called ‘permanence?’ Why does the word ‘primitive’ at once suggest to us clumsiness, inefficiency, barbarity? When our ancestors talked of the primitive church or the primitive purity of our constitution they meant nothing of that sort…”C. S. Lewis

It’s  mistake to romanticize the past, but it is equally erroneous to assume that new is always better.  Although the word “primitive” has taken on the negative connotations Lewis mentions, it also implies simplicity and freedom from complexity.  In today’s world, perhaps these are traits we would do well to reclaim whenever possible.  What areas of life have grown too complicated?  How can we untangle ourselves from needless involvement with too many details?

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35 Comments

  1. Dorothy

    Hi Julia,
    So good to have you back. Kept praying you were ok as no posts since early December? Yes, I think you should post earlier ones. We’ve had a very unsettling few months with all the unprecedented fires in Australia. Everything so dry as been in drought for many years now. My garden is looking very sad as water restrictions in place and many shrubs have died. My daughter lives in an area that was devastated by fire a week before Christmas but miraculously their house still stands having lost storage shed and garage. Only one other house near them still standing. They live on six acres of bush land which has all gone. We’ve had fires in the mountains too but owing to the extraordinary work of our firies it’s been contained further up. I think news of the fires has been all over the world as we’ve never had so many mega fires at once. So sad as lives have been lost and so much wildlife gone. Anyway, enough of this sadness and hope you and Matt are doing well and Christmas was a time to rejoice. Love, Dorothy

    • Dorothy, I am so relieved to hear from you. I had been intending to look up your email address to write and see if you are OK. I had been following the news and it sounded as if the worst of the fires were south of where you live, but I thought that you might have relatives in the fire zones, so I am happy to learn that your daughter’s house was spared. The garage and shed will be a big loss even with the house still standing. But how sad to think of the six acres so devastated, and all the lives lost. I think it would be so disorienting and traumatic to lose one’s home to a fire.

      When we used to live in California people from the east would ask if I was afraid of earthquakes and my answer was always no, I was much more afraid of the fires. Our friend who was a firefighter was constantly traveling all over the state to fight wildfires. I once had a terrible fright when there were wildfires on either side of the interstate as I was driving home from Sacramento. I was so afraid they would cross into the roadway. When we first moved to California in January 1990 the homeless animals who survived the Painted Cave fire in Santa Barbara were heading north to find new homes. We loved seeing the wildlife but it was so sad to think of the fire’s destruction.

      My sister and I had been trying to hatch a dream plan to visit Australia this year but when all the fires started we thought maybe that was best to postpone. I sometimes get annoyed at how wet it becomes here in Virginia, and having to run dehumidifiers 8 months of the year, but I think I have learned to prefer that to a dry climate. In Texas and California we had to live with restrictions on when we could water and it was one more thing to keep up with because we could get into big trouble if we watered on the wrong day.

      Is there anything we can do to help? I wish I could send you some seedlings and plants to fill in but with the water restrictions that wouldn’t help much. I will keep you and your country in my prayers but I wish there was more we could do. Please know that we think of you and I’m so grateful you wrote here to let me know you are OK!

      • Dorothy

        Thank you Julia. Even though the mega fires are still burning some are now contained and rain is expected from Thursday which will help although not enough to end drought or put fires out. I believe a satellite map that went viral looked as if all Australia was on fire which is not true, it showed up hot spots which were taken for fire. Except that Sydney and other cites have had bad days from smoke haze these places are fine. If you do make it to Australia some time and stay in Sydney some of the time I’d love to meet you face to face. Where I live in the mountains only takes me less than an hour and a half by train to the City. By the way my eldest daughter’s name is Julie. She’s the one who lives in the area the fire swept through.

        • Thanks for the reassurance, Dorothy. I do think that the 24/7 news broadcasts tend to exaggerate the bad news while ignoring much of the good. Rest assured, if we do make it to NSW we will be sure to let you know as soon as we draw up the plans! I’d love to meet you in person. Best wishes and prayers to you and your family, especially to Julie.

  2. gloriafarmstrong48

    I hope you will. I miss reading them every day. Even if I remember one it will be good to read it again.

    • Thank you Gloria, I will try to keep posting them. That will be much easier than writing new ones. But I can’t figure out yet how to schedule them in advance. Hopefully I can figure that out soon.

  3. Chris

    Hi Julia,
    Wow, what a pleasant surprise!! Raynard does have a sense of humor. I vote yes on the re-runs!
    Regarding Lewis’ comments, I don’t think that “stagnation” or “primitive” have negative connotations. Sometimes routine, or ‘permanence’, and ‘simplicity’ are good bedfellows that can result in efficiency and enhanced production. Just a thought! 😊

    • Hi Chris, yes, I think of Raynard as a combination of James Joyce and Robin Williams. He really brightens up the world, which explains why the post that featured him, Mary and Ms. Ella was the all time most popular post ever (going by number of views). I agree that permanence and simplicity– to the extent that we can achieve them– are real assets to a sane life. It would be hard to achieve anything new and promising without the foundation of stability from which to launch new projects. Besides, I have positive notions when I hear the world “primitive” because it makes me remember my beloved Daddy who hunted deer with his primitive bow– quite a skill, and certainly gave the deer a better chance of escaping, which may have been the whole point. 🙂

  4. Your photograph looks very much like a doll house scene. I’ve always loved the rustic, simple style of life when we more in touch with the natural world. The only time I don’t care for the word primitive is when it’s applied to quilting, I’m not fond of the dreary tones of color in the fabric. I’m with you in that primitive doesn’t mean not as good. Though I do like my creature comforts like indoor plumbing. 😉 Hope you are well.

    • Yes, I don’t even want to think about life without my nice hot water and bathroom facilities. And I do love the colors we have now in fabrics as well as books and other printed things. But when it comes to so-called progress, I think we have too often thrown the baby out with the bath water. Part of the reason why I quit blogging is that I was determined to spend less time on the computer. So far that’s turning out to be a good decision for me. I’m doing well, maybe better than I have been in a long time actually. Hope you are too.

      • I agree that we have thrown out the baby with the bathwater. I need more time away from the computer as well. I don’t blog often anymore like so many others I followed at one time. In spite of expectations, I’m doing fairly well.

        • You know how I’ve always said we were twins separated at birth. 🙂 I’ll try to send you a snail-mail message soon. I’ve been using more good old fashioned postal mail lately. Sending giant hugs!

          • Looking forward to hearing from you again. Did you get the Christmas card I sent or did it go to the wrong address. I did get yours. Thank you.

            • Yes, I did get your card and loved hearing from you and reading your handwritten news. Nothing can replace good old-fashioned snail mail in my book. As I’m cleaning out and clearing away I’m learning to part with many things, but the cards and letters I’ve saved for many years (decades really) are mostly still with me. I can only bear to part with a few of them, probably less than 5% of the ones I go through. I’m sure they’ll be the last of my possessions to go. As long as I have space to store them, I’ll keep them.

              • I feel much the same way about keeping cards and letters. Love sending them too. Till later. Hugs.

  5. Susan Vossler

    I would enjoy your reposting from years back. Hope all is well with you.

    • Thank you, Sue! I’m doing well and hope you are too. Happy 2020!

  6. Yay! Glad to get an email this morning saying that there was a Defeat Despair post! Keep re-posting as you see fit. Hugs. Pat

    • Hi Pat, how are you? I hope everyone is doing well. Did you get my Christmas card? So nice to see your greeting this morning. I’m still trying to hatch plans to come to Ohio soon. My friend in Springfield and I have been debating various scenarios, but I finally realized I’m going to wait until the worst of the winter has passed. Maybe we can get together sometime this year. Of course you know you are always welcome here, n’est-ce pas?

  7. Ann

    So go to see your blog again! I applaud your decision to spend less time on the computer but have missed you so reposting, when you have time, is a great solution.

    Life has gotten very complicated with so many electronic do-dads. My tv has 3 remotes! My new car has so many features that I had to go to a class to understand how to use them…and these were standard features! But I digress😊

    Glad you are back.

    • Thank you, Ann. My thoughts exactly on the electronics. It sounds silly but when Jeff died, among the countless things I had to learn was how to work all the electronic things he used to manage (mostly car and television related, as I was the computer person). Every time I watch a movie on DVD I get frustrated with the remotes and how no two of them work alike. I don’t even want to THINK about getting a new car! My much-loved Hyundai is about to turn over 100K miles but I want to keep driving it until it falls apart, simply because I’m used to it. Having said that, I took a HUGE (and I do mean huge) rock in the windshield on the driver’s side yesterday. It left a middle hole the size of a half dollar, with rings around it like Saturn, and the bang was so loud I thought something under my hood had exploded until I saw the windshield. But I digress… (I once told Raynard that those three words were the real theme of this blog.) Have a great day Ann, thanks for being here.

  8. mike c.

    Sure you can repost what ever you want. The pict, I sent you I discovered is actually not a pansy per-se .but a cornus cornata- horned violet, which are in the same family. Little did I know, when i got them at Home Deport-they are much tougher than pansies and are actually hardy down to 5 degrees. They may actually survive on our porch and like I said they are the only container planting on our block. They are from northern Spain and are sometimes called Pyrennes pansies, As a bonus they have a lovely scent. And they reseed them selves.
    Raynard has been posting some baking tips on line and I got a bundt pan for Xmas so hope to get a few cakes out.

    • Mike, I’m very happy to learn from you about yet another plant. A few years ago you told me about the Dipladenia and now I have three large ones that are thriving (two of which are currently spending the winter in our community greenhouse). They bloom like crazy and get the most comments from visitors of any plant I have. So now I know about the horned violet and will try to find some to plant outside since they are hardy down to 5 degrees and it almost never gets that cold here. If they reseed themselves I may have found myself another low maintenance bedding plant. I am hoping that my profusely-blooming Vinca plants will have dropped a few seeds that will give me some new flowers in the spring. So you are going to join Raynard in the cake baking hobby! I would think about joining you if I could manage to avoid eating half the batter and then all the cake. Maybe you guys can be the new Cake Bosses. Raynard holds the distinction of being the only person who ever baked me a cake for his own birthday (with the possible exception of Jeff, who had the same birthday as I did, but I can’t remember his ever baking a cake for us).

  9. Connie W Reed

    Awww Julia, so glad to see your post from today! So glad whether it is a first time post or a rerun. I love reruns. Quite often they are so much more enjoyable the second or even the third time around. What came to my mind immediately as far as reruns is The Andy Griffith Show. Not at all to compare your writings to the writings of that show, however, the sheer fact that I appreciate that show much more now than I did 55 years ago. The message is much more meaningful the second, third and even the 4th time around. The same with your writings; some I have never read and now I can now enjoy them over and over. I love your writings Julia. You are so very talented and God has truly blessed you with a great talent!

    • Connie, you are so generous and kind. I too love the Andy Griffith show re-runs and I think the world would be a better place if everyone watched them once in awhile and remembered the good things about past decades, instead of focusing only on the bad. Besides, laughter is the best medicine and I think Don Knotts as Barney was the greatest sidekick in history. If you’ve ever been to the little North Carolina town that was the inspiration for Mayberry, you probably noticed all the many shops selling Andy Griffith Show memorabilia. I couldn’t help but notice that at least half of it was focused on one character, Barney. Thanks for being here with us, my lifelong friend (not many people fit that description!). I so appreciate your encouragement! ❤

  10. Judy from Pennsylvania

    I’ve been thinking about you and hoping that everything is ok, and so I was really glad to discover that you’ve put up some posts again. I’ll love reading whatever you put up because each and every post is always something to enjoy and think about. It doesn’t matter if they’re “re-runs”. Just do whatever seems best for you and take a break from all the writing. Your readers will always love your work no matter when it was done!

    • Thank you Judy, you are so kind and generous. I’m so happy you are here with us!

  11. mike c.

    That is cool about the Dipladenias. Also related to the Malvanias? Little early here and brain neurons are not firing yet. I see a bunch of Dipladenias here around Canton area.
    You might also check out the flowering maples -which seem to always about flowering..Flowering Maple–Abutillon. Therre is one in Seattle that blooms into October down at the science center. These are more like a shrub than a vine.The one in Seattle is placed next to a south facing brick wall that soaks up the sun- what little there is.
    I think i mentioned the little Morning Glories are reseeding like crazy. I discovered a new garden here in Kennesaw- Smith-Bagget (sp? Actually have not been there yet.
    Actually I don’t eat the cakes unless it is a holiday -etc. I take them down to Station 56 in Marietta- where my son is to add to their good selection.

    • Mike, I never heard of flowering maples, but I looked up the Abutillon and it reminds me of a Bleeding Heart plant, which I love to see in the springtime (ours used to be one of the first plants to bloom). I have never had any luck with Morning Glories, though I wish I had some. Kudos to you for resisting the urge to eat the cakes you bake. I’m sure the first responders are happy for your gifts.

      • mike c.

        We also have several bleeding hearts in our Seattle landscape “Dicentra?: The a
        Abutillon flowers are actually much larger -like three inches -maybe two and look more like a Rose of sharon or hibiscus flower,.
        Yesterday on our walk I saw some kind of early Azalea this is in semi-bloom.It is pink and have no idea what variety it is.
        You could also try growing tomatoes on a bale of hay. I have seen that a couple ot times. Not sure exactly how it is done- if you pour top soil over the top.??
        I picture the morning glories here in bloom long after our return to Seattle.
        Not sure my body could take the 17 hour flight to Oz. I will never forget the sight of all the red tile roofs near Sydney when we landed.

        • I wonder if the azalea got confused by the warmer-than-usual weather we had off and on so far? I grew some lovely tomato vines on our deck in Alexandria but the squirrels got every last one of them. So I gave up. I’m thinking that the fencing around the community garden (also the location adjacent to the pools, fitness center, community center etc.) will discourage squirrels from eating everything. Return to Seattle? Are you planning to go back? I missed that bulletin if there was one. Yes, the distance to Australia is a big obstacle to actually going there. But I do want to do it sometime. However I’m certainly not getting any younger so perhaps I shouldn’t put it off much longer.

  12. mike c.

    I have been invited to a garden club meeting here. Is there one near you?

    • I’m sure there must be some, but I don’t yet know about them. My neighborhood in northern Virginia has a community garden and greenhouse. Raised beds can be rented for $25 per year and the people who cultivate them do have get-together events, such as an August potluck where everyone brings a dish made with the vegetables grown that summer. I keep telling myself I’ll get a raised bed one day, if only to grow tomatoes and maybe some bell peppers.

  13. mike c. B

    Dorothy is in Australia? We have some dear friends in Wagga Wagga, NSW. He is a pastor there. I told you I lived there a year in 94″ right?? We hope t visit again-someday. Someday?

    • Yes, Dorothy lives in NSW. I didn’t realize you had lived there — lucky you. I’ve never even visited, though I certainly hope to go within a few years. I’ll get some travel suggestions from you before I do.

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