Friday, February 24, 2017

They Flew Out Like Butterflies

Photo: Pinterest | Uploaded by skinnydreaming

I am snooping through old photo albums this week. Memories that have lain dormant, some for decades, floated up from yellowed pages like butterflies on the move. Some pictures I remember the moments well. Others, not so much -- it's a little like looking at a stranger in a magazine, except she feels familiar.

The reason I'm poking in these old photos is to collect images that represent the seasons and times of this little life of mine. You see, I'm turning the big 6-0 later this spring and, after watching two lovely photo videos created in honour of Queen Elizabeth's 90th birthday, I thought I would like to try that same idea. It should be easier as I only need to gather sixty instead of ninety pics, and I won't have quite as many crowns or fancy ball gowns to capture, so I should be able to pull it off. For the Queen's 90 Years in 90 Photos, click here and here.

It's not so easy to choose just one picture to represent a year from dozens. And, yet, some years are scantily represented with not much more than the obligatory Christmas and birthday poses. Surely lives were fuller than that, but we didn't take pictures of everything in those years, the way we do now. We may think, too bad, but any childhood remnants that remain can tell us enough of the story to jog our own memory and be taken to places photos alone could not fully encapsulate.

After all, these old pics brim with details of tales clamouring to be revisited. The air charges with emotion as suddenly a dozen connecting stories are ignited from the glimpses of former hairdos and eyeglasses and dresses, not to mention thoughts of 'do you remember when...'. You laugh out loud at silly photos where you are caught red-handed in a big pillow fight with old dorm college chums, the teddy bears we girls collected at the time as watchful souvenirs of fading childhoods. Oh yes, there arises the occasional wail of 'what was I thinking' when you catch sight of your grade seven class photo where you are wearing a pastel green top with light blue pants shored up by geranium red socks. You can read all about that tale here.

When such memories are triggered, you feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole -- you could be gone a long time before you emerge back into the sunlight of day. Which is exactly what has been happening to me this week.

Since I'm linking to Five on Friday today, I'm sharing only five of those sweet, old photos... you'll have to wait for my birthday to catch sight of the finished project '60 Years in 60 Photos'.


Here I am almost three years old staying with my dad's mother while my mom is in hospital having my little sister. My aunty, still a young lady herself at home with her parents, lets me play with her bead necklaces and I get to sleep in her bed at night. Alas, I repay that kindness by peeing in her bed one night; the memory of that is considerably faded, thankfully.

My grandma apparently was a good cook and baker. I have no recollection of anything she baked, although I do remember that her kitchen was often fragrant with the warm spicy aroma of cloves. And, decades later, I only have to catch a whiff of the spice to remember Grandma's nice city kitchen. 

My dad, Grandma, and me


As you can see, I was quite taken with my aunty's beads -- I wore them with everything. My dad would stop to see me when he'd come into the city to visit my mom and my new little sister at the hospital. I had no idea what a little sister was, but I was soon to find out.

In the meantime, Grandma's house was an interesting place to visit. There was tall, narrow door off the kitchen porch, which opened to the outside to the clothesline. And, I just now remember the little nook at the backdoor where the milkman dropped off the bottles of milk every morning. What fun to open and peer in and close that little door, it being the right size for me. This would have been all new to me, living out on the farm and getting milk straight from the cows. Oh, and there was the little girl I could play with sometimes; she lived across the street and I was allowed to walk across the quiet residential street by myself ... of which I felt very proud.

I loved my Grandpa as he would set me on his knee and ask me to show him my teeth. I'd smile widely and he'd admire immensely. He wore wire sleeve garters which totally intrigued me and I was allowed to play with them. According to Wikipedia, sleeve garters came into wide use in the late 19th century "when men's ready made shirts came in a single (extra long) sleeve length. Sleeve garters allowed men to customize sleeve lengths and keep their cuffs from becoming soiled while working or at the correct length when worn under a jacket".

Mom, little sister, and me (with teddy)


Here we are with our beautiful mom. Funny, my recollections of this little sister are vague at this early age. I would have watched my mom bath her and gently run water over her hair. I would have watched her being changed and maybe running to fetch the needed flannel cloth diaper. I must have loved this little sister dearly for I love her dearly still.

I still have vague impressions of our cozy farm living room. I certainly remember that green bouclĂ© couch with crocheted doilies everywhere. I loved doilies and as I grew I loved to watch my mom work the cotton threads into pretty patterns. Notice the orange pillow and zinnias? I could put those into my own living room and be right in fashion.

Dad, little sis, and me


My dad, handsome fellow that he was, has a grandson now who tries to get his hair cut to emulate his grandpa's jaunty look. Apparently that 1950's look is quite chic these days with young men.

After my dad passed away a number of years ago, it was looking at these wonderful old photos that gave me so much comfort. A part of me wanted to go back there where we were all so happy and he was still my daddy, here with us, strong and good.

Me and Little Sister testing out the new tricycle


Sis and I think we're all dressed up in our pretty dresses because it's her birthday. Somewhere in the family there is a cake photo where she's having great fun picking at the icing. But here we share a little pose on my new trike ... it was my own new birthday present ... for we two sisters have the happy fortune to share the same birthday month.

* * * * *

"Golden threads of imagination will always be found woven into the fabric of a human life, and it affords one of the sweetest pastimes to old(er) age to sit down and slowly unravel them, recalling the hours when first they were spun." ~ James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

"Back on its golden hinges The gate of Memory swings, And my heart goes into the garden And walks with the olden things." ~ Unknown

"A happy memory is a hiding place for 'unforgotten treasures.' " ~ Paul L. Powers

* * * * *

On that note, I wish you a most pleasant weekend. And, if you go in search of your own old photo albums, I recommend bringing a bag lunch and tea, you might be down the rabbit hole in a jiffy, enjoying yourself all afternoon.

Hugs and blisses,
x x

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Five: On Beauty


People are like stained-glass windows.
They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in,
their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.
 ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross



Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,
Then beauty is its own excuse for being.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Beauty is an ecstasy; it is as simple as hunger.
There is really nothing to be said about it.
It is like the perfume of a rose: you can smell it and that is all.
~ W. Somerset Maugham

Maria Victoria Heredia Reyes /


Inner beauty, too, needs occasionally to be told it is beautiful.
~ Robert Brault

Sergee bee /


 Beauty is a form of Genius -- is higher, indeed, than Genius, as it needs no explanation.
It is one of the great facts of the world, like sunlight, or springtime, 
or the reflection in dark water of that silver shell we call the moon.
~ Oscar Wilde


Smile Bonus

 Always remember that true beauty comes from within
 -- from within bottles, jars, compacts, and tubes.
~ Peter's Almanac

* * * * *

Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places!

Happy Weekend,

Linking with Five on Friday

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Heart Edition: The Simple Woman's Daybook

Bonnie Kittle /

This bouquet of pink peonies really touches my soul for beauty today. Seems to fit perfectly for Valentine's Day thoughts which many people celebrate tomorrow. I just read on someone's Facebook page something which F. Scott Fitzgerald penned; I'm passing it along as my little Valentine's present:
"You are the finest, loveliest, tenderest, and most beautiful person I have ever known -- and even that is an understatement."
If there is no one to say this to you, say it to yourself. Believe it when you speak it. We speak our destiny into existence with our words. And, if someone doesn't think she is that person right now, begin in this moment to become her ... one tiny choice at a time.

On that note, I offer you my February Edition of The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places

For Today

Looking out my window... There is a softness to winter today. I feel a surge of elation as I peer out into sky-blue-pink skies this morning. A creative energy swirls in the air -- much like the flurry of sparrows swooping from the neighbour's shrubbery to our mock orange bush, past the kitchen window to find the bird feeders. The backyard is a-flutter and I wonder how they fly in such unison without bumping into each other or getting tangled up in wings. I know there are scientific reasons, but it's mesmerising to watch.

I am thinking... If you live long enough, whatever fashions, home decor styles, or music you experienced when you were a child or young adult, what has gone out of vogue eventually comes round to be presented as the latest and trendiest for the now generation. And we feel a tiny bit smug because we know better. Some fashions or trends I don't care if I ever see again, but there are some things that actually make me feel like I'm catching up with an old friend, completely happy to see her after all this time.

Such was the first moment I caught sight of these photo boxes. Yesterday I was in Michael's looking for some Valentine's Day miscellany and what did I see but stacks of these shoe size photo boxes. They were even in some of the old patterns and designs that were popular when they first appeared in the 1980's. In this day when everything is digital, there wouldn't be much use for them as photograph storage.

I don't keep or store as much 'stuff" as I once did -- although my husband might disagree with that assessment -- so I held myself to buying only two boxes yesterday. Not to store photos, but I'm such a magpie when it comes to collecting the odd bits and bobs of paper treasures, buttons, ribbons, paper cutouts from magazines, rocks from the seaside, pretty cancelled postage stamps, old greeting cards from friends... the list goes on.

I am thankful... there is no place I need to be on a Monday morning. Except in my own house, sipping my coffee without haste, watching the sun light up the sky, writing in my journal to capture first thoughts, and eventually throwing in the first load of laundry when the day begins in earnest.

One of my favorite things... thinking up something nice, something new, something borrowed maybe too ... to write about here on It's A Beautiful Life.  

As seen on Facebook @ Slice of Life

I am (not) creating... crafty things these days but after seeing these hearts I wish I were ... aren't they adorable? My fingers itch to pick up a needle and thread, and begin.

I am wearing... black jeans, sleeveless sea green top and seashell earrings that tinkle when I move my head.

I read... The Journal Keeper by Phyllis Theroux. It's a book from the library that has found its way home more than once. She writes about her writing life and the life that's going on around her. In the front of my journal, I jotted two passages from her book because they resonate:
"Your journal should be a wise friend who helps you create your own enlightenment. Choose what you think has some merit or lasting value, so that when you reread your journal in years to come it will continue to nourish you."
"Some days I can think of nothing worth writing down. Fortunately, I am not alone. By my chair, I keep a small, revolving collection of essays, spiritual autobiographies, poetry, and other writers' journals to inspire me ... We are different, on the lookout for different things. But if you want your journal to have any lasting value for yourself or others, I can only think of one rule to follow: Lean toward the light."

I learned... travelling around Great Britain last summer, that we were the ones who have the accents. Not them. Or so we were told. Ha ha.

As seen on Facebook @ Tea Time Magazine

In my kitchen... I'm going to make a Chocolate Biscuit Cake today for Valentine's Day. I first saw this recipe via Tea Time Magazine's Facebook page. I think it looks completely scrumptious. My Aunty Marlies, on seeing the photo, remembered when, in her youth, she and her girlfriends would make this for parties; on Sundays they would stay at each other's houses until evening (church) service. I asked if she and her girlfriends would talk about all the cute boys while eating this 'creamy and delicious' cake. "Yes, and our exciting futures!!"

You might be interested to also learn, according to Tea Time, this happens to be one of Queen Elizabeth's favourite desserts. I'd imagine, upon savouring a slice, we'd all feel a little Royal ourselves. Should you wish the recipe, you'll find it here.

In the school room... These were popular in school a long time ago. Did you have one? As you see, my autograph book had a pretty floral cover; it was a Christmas present in 1968. Looking through it the other day for the first time in years, I had such a good laugh at the silly lines we used to think were so coy and witty. Some were poignant, like the poems from my parents and my grandma. And, I found it most interesting just how much 11-year-old girls thought about beaus, getting married, and having kids:

Dear Brenda,
When you get married and have twins
Don't come to me for safety pins.

Dear Brenda,
When you get married and live in a shack,
Don't teach your children to spit through the cracks.

Dear Brenda,
I'll write on white and be polite
And save the yellow for your fellow.

* * * * *
In my garden... There really isn't much going on in my garden. Except for the birds and our visiting bunny, everything else is covered in snow. So, today I feel inclined to share a garden tale of another kind. As you will recall, Rick and I spent last July visiting England and Scotland.

One of the things we included in our plans was a six-day Garden Tour with Flora Garden Tours. Which turned out to be a wonderful week. So many times I felt that I was living in my daydreams as we walked through these beautiful places. Although sometimes, too, I wondered why I hadn't put on my serious walking shoes until I finally realized comfort really is more important than looking stylish. Even in an English country garden. We visited a number of famous English stately homes and gardens and some lesser known lovely ones. It was all so heartrendingly beautiful.

In case you're thinking of travelling across the pond one year, maybe even this summer, I can truly recommend these tours. Dr. Barbara Sommerville, a woman keenly interested in the history of gardening, landscape and architecture, is a delightful and knowledgeable tour director. Take a peek at her 2017 itinerary -- warning, it will make your heart ping when you see her pics.

Here are just a sampling of photos I took from our tour ... to whet your appetite. And, yes, I do want to post more from our trip over the coming weeks -- so many pretty places and interesting views to show you.

 Secret Garden / Hever Castle

Penshurst Place

Pashley Manor Garden

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Post Script... Yesterday I had the privilege to Guest Post at InScribe where I explore what makes writing a joyful experience for me. I'd love to have you stop over -- click here for the post.

Shared Quote ... "What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while. ~ Gretchen Rubin, Best-selling Author

A moment from my day...

Closing Notes... Happy Valentine's Day -- let's spread the love and kindness today and every day.