Thursday, January 28, 2016

Snapshot


"Sometimes it's the same moments that take your breathe away
that breathe purpose and love back into your life." ~ Steve Maraboli


I found this beauty in a digital photo file the other day. Photographed in my garden almost seven summers ago, I realized it was one of the very first I uploaded to my then-brand-new Facebook page.

It seemed a shame not to show it off again -- this rosy glimpse of summer bliss. I can almost catch a whiff of her fragrant petals. Although I'm not weary with winter yet, as I love this season too, I must admit its beauty adds a certain light and grace to this grayish, dimmish January morning.



By the way, although I do not have a public Facebook page -- where you can follow without asking to be Friends -- you are cordially invited to send a friend request, if you so desire, by clicking here. I'd be delighted to share the journey with you over there.

  
Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places,
Hugs,
Brenda
xox




Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Snippets...

"Where shall I begin? Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you first?"
~ As Jane Austen once wrote to her sister Cassandra


The last week in January and we're still in the throes of clearing out the clobber around here. This week we're pulling out all the stops, as we really do want to make an end of it before the month is done.

Before I get to it today, I wanted to offer snippets of other things in my thoughts while hands continue the task of rounding up dust bunnies and detritus.



Downton Abbey.  Watching the final season, we probably all have hopes for certain endings. So far, so good! Now, if you want a real discussion on the matters of great national importance to many viewers this side of the pond, I highly recommend reading Susan Branch's latest Abbey post. Please note she has spoiler alerts.

What I will say is that when Lady Mary said, "Tom, you're my brother", I knew it was The Clue for the direction this relationship was not going. Oh yes, she has great warmth and affection for this very dear man, but obviously no romantic inclinations. I don't think I ever believed they'd get together that way, but for me now it's clearly a no-go.
  
Penshurst Place, Flora Garden Tour website

Dreaming about English Gardens. As I mentioned before, Rick and I are planning a trip to England this summer. A along awaited dream about to come true. As the coming weeks unfold, I hope to share more about our trip and I do hope it will work to blog about it while we're there 'breathing English air'.

Not all details are sorted out yet, but one activity for sure is a much anticipated six-day Flora Garden Tour. During this intimate (four to ten people) guided tour, our host Dr. Barbara Sommerville will be taking us to visit small and large gardens in Kent, Sussex, and Surrey, which includes Anne Boleyn's girlhood home Hever Castle, Sissinghurst Garden, and the Hampton Court Flower Show ... for which she already warns will be an arduous event with much walking, so please wear sturdy walking shoes --  guess I'll have to leave my princess slippers at home that day.




Agatha Christie. While we're in England, one place I would love, love to visit is Greenway House, now part of the National Trust, but it once belonged to world renowned mystery writer Agatha Christie. Apparently she described the house in her autobiography which I'm going to pick up from the library this very afternoon as "...the ideal house, a dream house."

Mrs. Christie is one of my all-time favourite mystery authors. I don't remember when I was first introduced to her mystery writing -- probably in my early teens -- but I've never stopped enjoying her writings. Or seeing some of her works in film, especially with David Suchet as Poirot, and Joan Hickson as Miss Marple.

I recently started reading a book Agatha Christie wrote in 1934, not a mystery but a 'crime of the heart' novel under her pen name, Mary Westmacott. It's entitled Unfinished Portrait and is about a woman named Celia. Her second husband Max Mallowan said, "In Celia, we have more nearly than anywhere else a portrait of Agatha."





For inquiring minds, no, we're not sure yet if we can fit in Highclere Castle on this trip. It certainly would be lovely -- I imagine the place would be extremely busy during the summer months. I understand that booking a tour ahead of time is crucial for getting in. Amy, was that you who mentioned this tip?  Thanks.

And, now I must be off. Duties call and I see from my glimpse through the window, it's a bright and sunny morning which means going out this afternoon will be a delight. The birds certainly are enjoying the warmish temperatures. Are you folks on the Eastern coast now digging out from your big snow event?


Sending hugs and wishes to you all for a wonderful day,
Brenda
xox



Linking today with Kara @ Tuesday Afternoon


Friday, January 22, 2016

It's Not All Cleaning Around Here, You Know



Hubby suggested an outing to the nearby conservatory  --  oh yes, dear sir, that's a wonderful idea. Suddenly messy drawers, overflowing bookshelves, and grey winter skies seem far, far away. And, when we walked into the feature pavilion yesterday afternoon, we were indeed transported to a far away garden somewhere in the exotic Orient.

For we were surrounded by bright pots of yellow chrysanthemums alongside red and deep pink cyclamen, displays of flamboyant orchids, and to our delightful surprise, a life size ancient Chinese clay warrior with his trusty steed -- as you see in the photo above.



First, I noticed the sweet fragrance on the air as we walked in. I thought it was the flowers, but in actuality it came from light floral-scented incense. This pot of incense sticks. Quite often I find incense too intense, but this was really lovely. It was just there, if you know what I mean, evoking that sense of something special.




Then, we spotted this gorgeous red lacquer garden bridge. Also surrounded by masses of flowers, it sat over a little pond replete with koi and other fish. As we stood to take it all in,  the fish caught sight of us by the bridge and they all swarmed towards us -- must have been hoping we were the lunch wagon.

Now for a few glimpses of the orchids -- all so breathtaking in beauty, colour and shape -- it was hard to decide which few to include. These were some of my favourites...












It was a wonderful outing! Nothing better than sharing it with someone special, then stopping at the cafe afterwards for a refreshing pot of tea, and rounding it all off with a wee bit of shopping in the too-lovely gift store (can't show you because it's a gift and someone might see). It was perfect!



Now, here's wishing you a beautiful weekend
with glimpses of beauty in unexpected places,

Hugs
Brenda
xox



Linking this post to



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Little Every Day Is Still The Motto

 Artist: Honor C. Appleton | Source: I Am A Child

There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. ~Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory


When I was a little girl, even before I had siblings old enough to play with me, I loved to play in my south-facing farmhouse bedroom. Oh, I liked to play in the kitchen and the living room too, but the tiny room that seemed perpetually filled with light and sunshine was a favourite spot. My little iron frame bed sat in one corner and a little table I think my dad made sat under the window where pretty curtains must have fluttered on summery days.

A tallish dresser sat against the wall by the doorway; I still remember the pretty floral decals my mom put on after she painted it. Funny, I don't really remember the drawers that must have housed my socks and shirties, white cotton undies, tops and bottoms, but I can tell you about the two bottom drawers. That's where I could keep my play things -- I loved opening and closing those drawers and finding my treasures.

From the beginnings of my very young life, I was already turning into a dyed-in-the-wool, bonafide collector and saver of all manner of treasures -- paper and otherwise -- which I stored in those two deep drawers. Scraps of paper, coloring books and story books, pencils, crayons, cherished old creamery cheque stubs and handbills with all that lovely empty space on the backs for drawing and practicing my letters ... not to mention assorted knickknacks like empty spice tins and buttons and bits of ribbon. Wooden thread spools. Ohhhh, I loved all that clobber. It was my stuff.

Alas, I wasn't very good at keeping it all tidy. And things got messy in my room. So there would come that blessed day when dear Mommy would clean it all up for me. I helped. Although a little nervous about what she might discard, there would come that moment when the job was done, and it was all neat and tidy again.

How I loved my little room in that moment. Something happy would well up on the inside of me. A feeling of contentment and blissfulness. I loved the tidiness ... I loved that the clutter was gone. And, most interesting was that I now wanted to be in that space. I wanted to play there. And create. I'd look in my tidy drawers to find the crayons were back in their box and discover some 'lost' toy.





Some things never change. As you know from our last post we've been cleaning, decluttering, sorting through every drawer, cupboard, closet and shelf. Lots done, more to do. Today we tackled the laundry cupboard -- funny how you have to clean out the closet that holds all the 'cleaning' supplies. The flower vase shelf was ungainly and I don't remember the last time I wiped off little drip blobs from the fabric softener bottle. But when it was all straightened out, I have to admit when I came by later, I had to open the door just so I could stand there and feel the bliss of my tidy space.

As we've been checking off the tasks day by by, I admit to feeling a shift ... a sense of liberty, even a feeling of clearance (like when an airplane gets clearance for take-off). I'm enjoying my home again. And, I have renewed urge to make something ... like the old cartoon Herman when he felt so inspired, he said to his wife, 'Quick, give me something to invent.'

Clearing out the old makes room for the new. Having things in order is like balm to my mind. And like candy to my creativity. Our brains like order, I'm certain of it. They work for us more efficiently when there is some sense of order in our physical space. I feel like I can relax into other creative work now because I don't have all this stuff hanging around, cluttering my space and my thoughts. I told my sister the other day that I even had the urge to start up a writing project I'd buried a while ago. And we're not even done this 'clearing the clobber' project yet ... just you wait, Henry Higgins, just you wait!

A little every day is still the motto. In the words of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, "Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began".

Here's wishing you a beautiful day!

Hugs,
Brenda
xox





Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Clearing Out the Clobber



If you're wondering where I've been these past few days, my hubby and I are busy clearing out the clobber in our house.

I just love that word 'clobber'. It's British and slang for personal belongings, effects, property, chattels, or paraphernalia.  I fell in love with this fun-sounding word when Oscar Blundell in Winter Solstice tells Elfrieda he'd need to clear out the Billicliffe clobber when he learned he'd inherited the old Major's house and effects, which included one old dog and a rusted out vehicle. In light of that revelation, the word 'clobber' seemed to fit perfectly.

Closer to home, it seems when we weren't looking, we've collected quite a lot of our own clobber over the past few years. I never figure out where it all comes from. I mean, where does it all come from -- do you know? I'm not a big shopper these days, but while we were busy and much too tired from working at our part-time night cleaning job these past few years, our own house grew into a somewhat disheveled, sadly neglected old lady. The basics were done and that was about all.

But, now with the night cleaning job behind us, and us having lots more energy, certainly more time, and even pockets-full of enthusiasm, we've undertaken to tackling the mess in our own lives this month. We're culling. And cleaning -- sorting, shredding, chucking, giving away, and re-organizing -- going through every cupboard, drawer, shelf, and closet. In every room. No stone shall be left unturned. Cough, cough ... not to mention a few dust bunnies.




It may seem an overwhelming job, and it jolly well could feel that way, but we're doing it the smart way. Drawer by drawer, shelf by shelf, closet by closet, something every day as much as we feel inclined to tackle. So far, it's been quite manageable. Plus, we get coffee and tea breaks. With treats.

Hubby and I each have our own clobber to sort, and we leave each other to it. No sticking our noses in the other's clobber -- oh no. But, for those things we need to decide on together, well, we do that over morning coffee. With team spirit and a feeling of 'we are in this together.'

Little by little, by month's end, we should see sparkling decluttered corners, all remaining clobber shining and fit for use as we enjoy that lovely, beautiful feeling once again ... order has been brought from chaos, not to mention that really nice feeling of knowing everything is back in place and we'll know just where to find it when we need it.

"Do other people, I wonder, find the same keen pleasure that I do in periodically undertaking a pilgrimage all over the house to wage a war of extermination upon its accumulations of rubbish?" ~ Chiffon, "The Woman of To‑Day," To‑Day, 1898, from quotegarden.com

And so, on that note, I'm wishing you all a beautiful day. Glimpses of heaven in unexpected places, even in dwindling shredding piles ... or whatever you are up to on this wintry day.

Sending you hugs,
Brenda
xox


Today I'm linking with a spirit of simplicity






Monday, January 04, 2016

January. The Simple Woman's Daybook

 Annie Spratt/unsplash.com

When I started blogging back in 2008, I came across a lovely meme that I would link to occasionally. The Simple Woman's Daybook was a lot of fun. The hostess provided a static list of sentence openers for participating bloggers to answer in any way they chose whenever they joined up. It was a great way to meet new bloggers and an easy way to create a new post for those 'not sure what to write about' days.

As the years passed, I lost track of it, but recently I found it again and the amazing thing is that it's still active after all these years ... obviously a blog event people enjoy participating in.

The Daybook Edition is posted on the first Monday of every month and, over the coming year, I plan to make it a regular post for my own 2016 blogging journey.  So, without further ado, I'm delighted to offer my January edition.

Here's wishing you a beautiful first week of the new year.


Hugs,
Brenda
xox








For Today...

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Outside my window... it's been cold and sunny with clear, pale skies. Calm and quiet. Lots of birds.

I am thinking... about supper and that it seemed to creep up to this time of day awfully fast today. Where did the day go?

I am thankful... for a home that keeps me warm; a pantry full of food that nourishes me; a husband who makes me laugh even though he keeps telling me he doesn't know any funny stories; for fingers that can hold a nice pen to write notes to special people, play the piano, and touch the face of a loved one.

I am wearing... a sea green patterned blouse with black pants and black suede fleece-lined slippers.

I am creating... order out of chaos. With all the lovely holidays over, I'm beginning the process of putting away Christmas ornaments and holiday dishes. I'm also straightening the pantry and sorting through craft materials I no longer use, gathering them into plastic baggies for the reuse store.

I am going... on a month's holiday to England with my husband later this year. A long-awaited dream about to come true. Some garden tours and antique browsing and grand house snooping will be included on the itinerary. Tea at Claridges and maybe taking a day cooking or baking class in their kitchen also on the wish list. Can hardly wait. PS. Oh yes, we've got A Fine Romance nearby for reference. We're hoping to catch a few of the same places, and keeping fingers crossed to meet up with a blogging friend or two while we're there ... that would be the icing on the cake!

I am wondering... if you watched Downton Abbey last night and if you enjoyed it as much as I did. There were a few hilarious bits with Mrs. Patmore as the world's best friend, a nail-biter or two concerning Lady Mary, not to mention Lady Violet at her wittiest and Daisy in her boldest, best moment. All told, an overall most satisfying first episode of this final season. As well, I sure enjoyed the lovely mosaic of bits and pieces from all the seasons with interviews and behind the scene peeks in the prior show Countdown to Downton.  
I am reading... a novel called The Third Grace by Deb Elkink. I got a copy for Christmas. It's the author's debut novel and it's turning out to be a most interesting story about a young woman who once fell in love with a French exchange student visiting her family's Nebraska farm. Her name is Mary Grace but Francois (the young student) renames her Aglaia -- after the beautiful Third Grace of Greek mythology. It sets 17-year-old Mary Grace longing for something more than her parents' simple life and faith. As the story unfolds, now fifteen years later, Aglaia finds out that the past casts long shadows. ...

I am learning... a Chopin piece on the piano -- Etude in E Major. I started learning it years ago but never completed it. (I think life got in the way.) This past fall, I dug out the music and started all over. It took a while to wrap my mind and my fingers around all the notes on the keyboard, but slowly, slowly, slowly, the music puzzle has been unraveling. It's my desire to work away at it -- bar by bar by bar-- over the coming months. Maybe it will take me a whole year. Will I ever master it? Probably never in a professional concert pianist's style, but I'd love to be able to play it enough for my own pleasure and enjoyment.

For inspiration I listen to the gorgeous pianist Lang Lang ... his artistry always deeply touches me when I hear and watch him play. Funny thing, I never feel discouraged by his brilliance, for there is something about the beauty of his gift that stirs me to find my own place in learning this favourite piece.




In my garden... the snow looks like worn laundry piles along the back fence. The downy woodpecker is feasting at the peanut/sunflower suet bag. The sun has set so low in the sky the garden is dark with evening shadows.

In my kitchen... we're making scalloped potatoes and ham for supper. And, earlier today we brought order out of chaos in our freezers. After all the routing around in them over recent weeks for meal ingredients and Christmas baking, it needed organizing. Now I know what's in there again.

A favourite quote for today...
here's one my sister shared with me from a fellow named John McPhee: "If you put a drop in a bucket every day, after 365 days, the bucket is going to have some water in it." It doesn't take much, does it, to make some progress over a period of time. I'm keeping that in mind for this coming year. Small beginnings count too.

One of my favourite things... Finding beautiful cards and notepaper for writing encouraging notes when the spirit moves. Letter writing has been a favourite activity for decades now. I don't do it as much as I once did, but it's still a lovely pursuit that gives joy to the sender and little glimpses of fun and beauty in a mailbox to the receiver.

From Pinterest board room... Let's you and me have tea and talk of a hundred things. Shall I pour?



Artist: Susan Branch / Pinned from here



Linking today with The Simple Woman's Daybook



Friday, January 01, 2016

January First. Journal Jotting

Amanda Kerr/unsplash.com


Happy New Year, Beautiful Friends!

The first day of this new year is almost done. It was spent relaxing and being quiet. Reading. Journaling. Writing. Nibbling leftovers.

Not to mention jotting down a few of my own thoughts as I anticipate the possibilities of the next 365 brand new days waiting for me to live. I also wrote down some lines I found by Neil Gaiman -- words he once penned as a new year's wish to his readers -- as they caught my own imagination. Decided to share as you might enjoy them too.



"Be kind to yourself in the year ahead.

Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It's too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand.

Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.

Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them.

Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love."  ~ Neil Gaiman




I especially noted that line about it being too easy to be outraged these days by the actions and attitudes of others. Oh yes, I catch myself doing that, but that's not how I want to live out my wild, precious life in 2016. Do you? Walking around being outraged at people -- where's the kindness or love in that? How does that does help me or anyone else?

And I recognize myself in that line where he says how we can spend time not quite ever doing things. Been there too. Waiting for a better time, or permission, or always preparing or organizing but never quite getting to the real job at hand. There are times when I'm better at it, but I'd like to be less diddly with my time and more aware of what I'm doing with it. ... Not to be militant about it, but to do the things I need to when I need to, so that I can then enjoy doing those things I want to when I want to.

The other beautiful line that I love is Mr. Gaiman's encouragement for us to make new things and then show them to someone who might enjoy them. I love that! Which of course reminds me of Susan Branch who tells her readers she is always on the lookout for treats she thinks will tickle her 'girlfriends'. No wonder we love her. Something I like to remember for myself when I come to post here on my blog. Asking myself what I might share that would be like a little present ... a little treat you might enjoy. For sure, it's something I'd like to pay more attention to this coming year.

So, there it is ... a little of my first day musings. Now I ask you:  have you been musing anything interesting about your own new year desires?

Here's wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places,
With hugs,
Brenda
xox



  
Be kind to yourself in the year ahead.

Be kind to yourself in the year ahead. 

Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It's too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand.

Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.

Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them. 

Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.
- See more at: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2014/12/new-years-wishes-and-gifts.html#sthash.5ZGyt8Tl.dpuf

Be kind to yourself in the year ahead. 

Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It's too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand.

Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.

Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them. 

Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.
- See more at: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2014/12/new-years-wishes-and-gifts.html#sthash.5ZGyt8Tl.dpuf

Be kind to yourself in the year ahead. 

Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It's too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand.

Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.

Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them. 

Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.
- See more at: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2014/12/new-years-wishes-and-gifts.html#sthash.5ZGyt8Tl.dpuf