Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rudbeckia Brilliance

When I was a girl living on our family farm in rural Alberta, my mom used to say that she could tell when summer was coming to an end when she'd notice the hollyhocks peering through the kitchen windows.

Nowadays, my home is in the city and I don't have hollyhocks growing by my kitchen window, but I can still tell the time of year -- and that autumn is surely drawing near -- when my yellow rudbeckia flowers tower next to our living room bay window.

As you see below, they tower over me too. They add quite the cheery corner with their tall stems.

I love to watch them bend and blow in the breeze. Free form dance, I call it. And, I love their huge, yellow petals that are like brilliant drops of sunlight against their greenery.

It's with a happy heart I offer you my glimpse of heaven from my little corner of the world today.
Sending you hugs and wishes for a beautiful day,

Monday, August 10, 2015

Memoir Moment: The Piano

Some of my earliest childhood memories revolve around the beautiful 1900's piano that once sat like a grand lady in the corner of our cozy farmhouse living room.

That piano -- now in my own front room -- surely played a key role in our family life, adding a musical lilt, not to mention 'a little culture' to Mom's growing brood.

 Only a year old and I was already taking joy in making 'music'

As a little girl, I loved to sit beside Mom to watch her play in the evenings after the day's work was done. Her fingers would fly across the keys while Dad relaxed in his easy chair listening, eyes sometimes closed. A peaceful, restful calm would settle around us as evening fell. It's a cozy feeling I've never forgotten.

Mom was determined that her kids would get to take piano lessons and I started lessons in Grade 2. My teacher, Miss Norah L. Thompson, a gentle teacher, was a classically trained English woman, who'd come to Canada to live. Taking lessons was exciting for me, and a little nerve-wracking at first. What if I didn't remember what the notes were, but they eventually stuck and I starting going through book after piano book, learning my scales and finding out about famous composers as we studied little pieces based on their works.

 Little blondie still smiling at the thought of one day playing the piano,
 just like her momma

Once I learned to read music, I then loved to tinkle the upper keys when Mom played. Mom had no formal lessons but had a great love for the piano and a natural gift. You see, she could play by heart, something I yearned as a little girl to do. (I used to even dream I could play without notes, but alas I'd wake up to find I still played better reading the notes, although I became a whiz at chopsticks.) 

Although my mom didn't play classical music, she was amazing with the old, beautiful hymns we used to sing in church. I still love to hear her play them to this day. I think it was listening to her, as a little girl, that stirred not only my own love for music and the piano, but maybe a love for God, too. Hearing melodies that stirred my soul then and now, not to mention belting out the faith-stirring words as we played -- what pleasure it gave us!

"Prayer is when you talk to God. Meditation is when you're listening.
Playing the piano allows you to do both at the same time."

It wasn't until I was older that I truly valued the gift Mom and Dad gave us -- their love for beautiful music, and the opportunity to take lessons from Miss Thompson. I owe an incalculable debt to my parents and to my teacher.

Mom, thanks for pushing me to practice those early days when I preferred reading over doing scales. For I always loved playing the piano, it was just the practicing that wasn't as fun. As a child, I certainly never clued in to the fact that it was the practicing, the scales, and the theory that would help create a foundation for a joy of playing that has lasted my whole life. I am grateful for them now.

And, so dear beautiful readers, there's my little story. Did any of you take piano lessons as a child?  Do you still play? 

Sending musical thoughts your way today,

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Quick Without Thinking...

...Seven things for which I am grateful today...

For blue skies this morning that are clear of the hazy, gray smoke from the forest fires burning for weeks in various parts of Western Canada. The air is sweet today.

For the good rain that has watered thirsty, thirsty ground and helped with those forest fires. Not to mention, my own little patch of earth where my flowers and trees are most grateful.

For the cooler temperatures this week as anything over +31C feels too warm for this chickee. Today I feel more energetic and less sloth-like.

For misty goblets of homemade iced lemonade with a dash of anise oil to sip on a hot day. 

For the ability to enjoy the summer as it unfolds moment by moment, knowing that there is no having to get up before dawn to go to work, and there's no need to head off to bed long before the sun gives its amazing twilight summer show in the late evenings.

For spontaneity and the freedom to invite someone spur of the moment for chicken salad on croissants served with iced tea and lemon.

For the gift of this blog and my beautiful blogging friends who still come to visit. Honestly, I didn't mean to be away for so long between posts. (We were on a couple of mini-holidays. And, then I've been working feverishly away on a delightful project these last couple of weeks. Something I cannot reveal just yet, as it's meant as a surprise for someone who reads this blog.)

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” ~ John Lubbock, The Use of Life 

Now, whether you're sitting in the shade of a tree listening to the leaves rustle, or you're off tackling some neglected project with gusto, or you're sitting with friends on a cafe patio, I'm wishing you a happy day and a joy-filled week ahead.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Rice Days of Summer

We're meeting friends for a picnic later this warm summer afternoon so it's a perfect day to make a light, but satisfying rice salad. The recipe I made includes chopped vegetables, minced herbs, and diced mango. The dressing is a lemon garlic vinaigrette.

The beauty of this salad is that you can substitute the vegetables to suit your own taste or based on what you find in your garden or refrigerator. And when you're trying to stay cool on a hot day, there is something quite refreshing about dicing up garden vegetables and herbs. I love the smell.

Once everything was diced and mixed together, we had to sample. A generous spoonful  or two. You want to make sure it's suitable for company, right? Oh y-e-e-e-e-s, this salad bursts with flavour and texture and is SO satisfying to the tastebuds. I might have to stay home because I think I could eat the whole bowl myself, it's so delicious.

I like rice.
Rice is great if you're hungry and
want 2000 of something.
~ Mitch Hedberg

Below I've included the recipe -- you're welcome to 'copy and save as' on your computer. Hopefully it prints out fine for you. Now, dear blogging friends, I'm off to eat rice in the company of some fine people!

Wishing you a lovely day,

Correction to recipe:  I forgot to include the amount of rice -- 2 cups. I've also added the amount in the recipe below. Remember, you can double-click on the recipe (as with any photo) to see a larger version.

The original recipe which I have adapted is found here.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

It's All A-Dangle

Sometimes a funny streak hits me where I just feel like being a little silly. Today is such a day. Not so long ago, I read an article where the author started explaining that big grammar no-no of dangling participles and modifiers.

Don't ask me why, but that started a daydream about other dangling objects. Here are a few things that came to mind:

1. Earrings
2. Catkins in the springtime
3. Projects that didn't get done

4. Unfinished sentences
5. Wilted celery sticks
6. Bird feeders hung from tree branches

7. The brass chain pull on a table lamp
8. Kitty's tail over the side of the couch
9. Legs dangling from the pier at the lake

10. Outstanding promises
11. Toilet paper caught on the bottom of a shoe
12. Carrots on sticks

13. Cuckoo clock weights on chains
14. Charms on bracelets
15. Spiders spinning webs

 16. While you're waiting for an unforthcoming answer
17. Grapes from a vine
 18. Keys on a hook
19. Kisses that miss cheeks

So, what dangling things come to your mind?

Sending hugs,

PS.  Click here to find out the story
of that mismatched pair of earrings in the photo above.