Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Thought For Today's Troubles and Whims

A couple of weeks ago I jotted a few lines from Henri Nouwen's writings into my journal. I needed it then, and upon hearing the news this early morning about the terrorist attack on Brussels, it appears we need its timely reminder again this morning. Our hearts weep for these dear people as we wonder how we are to live our own lives today in light of these horrors.

Not to keep these heartening words just for myself, I share it on my Facebook page and here on my blog for you ... in case you should also need your heart strengthened today.

From Bread for the Journey
A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith
by Henri Nouwen

Our Unique Call

"So many terrible things happen every day that we start wondering whether the few things we do ourselves make any sense. When people are starving only a few thousand miles away, when wars are raging close to our borders, when countless people in our cities have no homes to live in, our own activities look futile. Such considerations, however, can paralyze and depress us.

Here the word 'call' becomes important. We are not called to save the world, solve all problems, and help all people. But each of us has our own unique call, in our families, in our work, in our world. We have to keep asking God to help us see clearly what our call is and to give us the strength to live out that call with trust. Then we will discover that our faithfulness to a small task is the most healing response to the illnesses of our time."

In my own personal life, we are well. Cheerful. Happy with pursuits. One in particular stems from my recent meeting with my piano instructor, the one who is delighted to help me master Chopin's Etude in E Major over the next few weeks and, er, months. I'm excited to get working on it in all earnestness. There is more about this here.

And, someone in this house (we won't mention names) has been making gentle noises about how it sure would be nice to have fresh raisin bran muffins cooling on the kitchen counter. Someone around here already hopped out to buy the buttermilk for the recipe, which means the Other Someone around here could leave her happy little office where she can see from her window the birds fluttering in the freshly fallen snow, and make much happy banging of tins and measuring cups in the kitchen and, thereby, making Everyone around here very happy indeed!

On that note, I'm away ... here's wishing you beauty in your day.
Maybe something warm from your oven.

Up at the corners,


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Daffs In A Jar

It's a wee post I'm offering this morning ... a simple feast of yellow daffs in a jar. Yet more than enough to get the heart pumping with gladness on a grey overcast morning.

I'm away in a few minutes to pick up my mom who is staying with us for a few days, but I did not want you to think I forgot about you -- for I have not. In truth, I had another post started but it got complicated -- sometimes I just try to do too much in too short a time. I'm sure you wouldn't know about such things; I didn't have the time to uncomplicate it, and perhaps it's just as well. Simple is best.

And then my heart with pleasure fills
and dances with the daffodils..."
~ William Wordsworth

On that note, I wish you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places.

Monday, March 07, 2016

March. The Simple Woman's Daybook

 From 'The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady' by Edith Holden 1906

I'm sharing this' month's Daybook Edition, which I post the first Monday of each month. It's a little of this and that, and since Downton is still fresh in my mind, you will find that seems to pop up in more than one of these paragraph prompts. Hope you enjoy...

 For Today...

Outside my window... It hardly seems possible that we are so near to Spring, but with the unusually mild winter we've had, our thoughts do wander more easily for yonder glimpses of pussy willows, catkins, and daffodils tips poking through warming soil. Except ... it snowed last night and outside my window the ground is white with just one shade of grey in the overcast sky, so today it looks nothing like Spring.

I am thinking... I woke up in the middle of the night with two things right there on my mind: Downton Abbey and our upcoming England trip. I can totally understand why Downton was so close to my thoughts, having watched just hours earlier several episodes including The Grand Finale with all its touching and happy moments. Were you glued to the television over the weekend?

But I'm not sure why I was also thinking about luggage ... must have been dreaming about our upcoming trip to England and just how much luggage we'll be able to bring since part of our trip includes a coach tour we've booked. Guess England and Downton are irrevocably intertwined in my conscious and unconscious mind.

I am thankful... for the wondrous gift of smell. For today my house is filled with the fragrance of a single purple hyacinth bulb that's come into bloom. Oh my ... I wish I could bottle it and link the fragrance to you. Seeing a hyacinth blooming on a windowsill on a sullen, grey day must surely provide pleasure for anyone, even the most gloomy of souls. Which thankfully I am not, so you can well imagine my own unbridled delight.

A poet of ancient Persia once wrote:

“If of thy worldly goods thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.”

Although it's too late to force hyacinth bulbs this season, here is a link on how to do this for next winter. Now, hopefully it's not too late to find pots already in bloom. As The Earth Lady puts it, "Splurging on blooming hyacinths is permissible. So on your next shopping foray to the grocery, forego junk food and buy hyacinths – as many as you like. Hyacinths are fat-free, sugar-free and gluten-free, and it is time to start your diet."

I am wearing... black slippers, dark jeans, and a black vee-neck cotton shirt. Brass rosette earrings and bangles at my wrists.

I am going... to England this summer, and we just found out this morning we're finally booked for a small group day tour to Highclere Castle and Gardens including nearby villages. Woohoo!

Of course it will be fun to see where various of our favourite episodes have been filmed, but I'm truly more excited about driving through the delightful Oxfordshire Cotswolds countryside and just seeing places I've only ever read about or seen on television. Soon, soon ... I'll be breathing English air. 

I am wondering... If I'll have time to watch another episode or two from Season Three of Downton Abbey this afternoon.

Last week, I started watching the whole series over, but there was no way I could watch the complete series before last night's final episode. I got as far as Mary and Matthew marrying.

What I'm finding interesting is as I'm watching more episodes in a row how I notice the changes with each series and time frame as the story unfolds. Not just fashion, but how the rooms are decorated, how the characters have evolved and developed. What I also notice is that I'm not as traumatized with all the sad things going on in everyone's lives, including the travesty of Sybil's and Matthew's deaths. Thankfully! I never have watched that season since it was first aired. I was too angry at first and then I didn't know if I wanted to see that rip-up of happy life. That happens too much in real life, I truly don't want it in fiction. 

And now that I know the story and how it all ends, there are just so many other wonderful, funny parts to enjoy and focus on. It's been a lot of fun.    

I am reading...Still working my way through the very fat autobiography by Agatha Christie. Thankfully, she writes in a most entertaining way as she shares some interesting stories of her life growing up and living in England through the very late Victorian and Edwardian eras, two world wars, all the way through the post-war 1950's, and modern 1960s and '70s. Although not a comic, she writes in such a way that I find myself often chuckling, even bursting into laughter, especially as she describes her experiences and what she was thinking at the time of those people and the world around her. Neat thing is that I've learned some things about myself as I read Dame Agatha's story.

I am hoping... My laundry is dry when I go down to check the dryer. Do you like folding clothes from the dryer (or the clothesline)? For me, there is something soul satisfying about it ... giving tea towels and pillowslips a hearty snap to smooth them out before folding, not to mention watching the mounting piles of folded socks, undies, t-shirts, and towels as another clean load is done.

I am learning... Some computer tech stuff -- always something new to figure out; and, I'm working on my Chopin piano piece. I'm also learning to let go of being anxious for even the teeniest of reasons as soon as I recognize the symptom of agitation. My soul is much more at peace on a regular basis because I'm learning to cast all my cares upon Him -- the Divine Source of All Love -- Jesus. 

In my garden... Flocks of redpolls, a few chickadees, a downy woodpecker, and one bluejay squawking for peanuts. No sign of Spring here yet.

In my kitchen... An open face tuna sandwich for lunch with a couple of German gerkins on the side, with a steaming cup of Earl Grey tea poured into a Johnson Bros. teacup and saucer that creates a most delicious clink when I set the cup back into the saucer after a sip.

A favorite quote for today...
Countess Violet, upon hearing Lady Edith was learning to drive a car as well as a tractor at the onset of World War One: “Edith, you are a Lady, not Toad of Toad Hall.”

One of my favorite things... Buying a couple of new magazines with gorgeous photos and nice things to read.

Sharing A Favourite Lady Edith Link... I found the most beautiful photograph of Lady Edith on her wedding day. She's standing with her Papa in front of Downton with her veil over her face.

You can see how exquisite is her dress as well as the stunning bouquet of roses. It's just over the top gorgeous! I'd love to post the photo here, but dare not for copyright reasons, so please follow the link to Mirror.Co.UK.

Wishing you a beautiful day with hugs,

Friday, March 04, 2016

Friday Favourites


One. Lilacs, Poppies, and Pansies

There is something so, so satisfying about the richness of the colours in this arrangement. And, of course, I love lilacs and pansies -- they offer such enchanting fragrance in our world. I first spotted this pic on a friend's Facebook page. She found it on Pinterest -- isn't it breath taking?

Two. These two lines of verse by Thomas Blackburn

Especially the wild encouragement in the second last line.


Yes, let's ... let's f-l-i-n-g it off indeed.

Three. The following quotes from well-beloved Dr. Seuss

I found these and other of his interesting quotes, also on Facebook, when someone shared a link to a post she found here.

What a lovely peek into how this brilliant, creative man thought and looked at life. Did you know it would have been his 112th birthday this week?  If you want to learn more about this fascinating artist, you'll find a storehouse of treasure at Dr.SeussArt.com.

"Nonsense wakes up the brain cells. And it helps develop a sense of humour, which is awfully important in this day and age. Humour has a tremendous place in this sordid world. It’s more than just a matter of laughing. If you can see things out of whack, then you can see how things can be in whack."

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple."

"Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities."

Four.  A Beautiful Post

Earlier today, I had an opportunity to read a most exquisite post by a dear fellow writer, Pamela Mytroen. A beautiful woman inside and outside, Pamela has been a personal inspiration and encouragement to me about my own writing on more than one occasion.

Her post A Month Early brought such a sense of light and hope and beauty into the first hours of my morning -- I had to share the link with you. Here are the first lines:
"I burrowed my cold hands deeper into my coat pockets and lowered my head against the icy blast blowing through the outdoor street mall. I just wanted to get home and sit down to warm chowder. Then the cheerful jig of a violin summoned my spirit." Read more

Five. Coffee and Croissants

Facebook is so much fun when you are 'Friends' with all sorts of creative people who also share your love for all things lovely and beautiful, and who are willing to share their treasures with the world.

When I saw this photo from My French Country House, I was instantly reminded of the trip my husband and I took some years ago to Montreal, Quebec, to visit my brother and his wee family -- he was working on his doctorate at McGill University. Their apartment being minuscule we stayed at a wonderful bed and breakfast hotel where they served warm croissants with pots of jam every morning at breakfast. Oh my, my mouth waters at the mere thought.

One other thing that comes to mind as I look at this pretty photo is the delight in knowing I have my own now-tidy drawer of lacy doilies and cloths. Yes, they are still a lovely way to pretty up a tea tray or basket filled with something warm from the oven. You will recall that these past two months I've been decluttering, reorganizing, and cleaning in my home. With all my bits o' lace and do-dads freshly laundered,  ironed, and at the ready, I'm happily reminded of the simple beauty they add to one's every day life.


In a nutshell now ... because if I don't get this post done already, it will be tomorrow ... and then I'll have to change the post title to Yesterday's Favourites.♥ ♥ ♥  Here is what I'm up to this weekend:

One. Making cranberry-orange muffins for breakfast.

Two. Joining in the Downton Abbey fun. Teapot, pretty teacups and the Lavender Earl Grey Tea are set out in anticipation. Hubby and I started watching Season One earlier in the week, as I didn't think our eyes would take the strain of six seasons in three days.

We are glad we don't have to do any nail-biting for we are well acquainted with how the story unfolds, but we're having great fun catching up on our favourite scenes, being reminded of ones we forgot, swooning over the ever-gorgeous parade of clothes, not to mention hearing so many of those now-familiar favourite quotable sayings by our favourite actors.

Three. Doing some fun research on our upcoming Trip to England this summer. Flights, accommodations, and tours are booked. Now to dream about how to create a travel journal of this life-long dream come true, and of course, figuring out how to blog about it from across the pond.

Four. Chatting with my former piano instructor -- I studied with her back in the 1990's -- I'm taking up the piano again after being away from it for a number of years. It's all a part of the upcoming milestone birthday celebration I'm gearing up for next Spring. It includes the Chopin piece I mentioned in an earlier post -- it's a piece I've dreamed of playing ever since I was 20-something. Will tell more as plans unfold.

Five. Meeting friends for lunch on Saturday at a new Italian eatery in town. Looking forward to it. 

On that note, I'm calling this a wrap. I do hope you enjoy your weekend ... fling off any sadness, dear ones, and watch for glimpses of heaven in unexpected places.

With love and happy thoughts,
♥ ♥ ♥

Linking with Amy @ Five on Friday