Saturday, January 16, 2021

What Does Your Saturday Look Like?

" What can be better than to get out a book on Saturday afternoon
and thrust all mundane considerations away till next week. "

Good Morning, Saturday! Oh yes, what could be better than delving into a good book to while away a Saturday afternoon in the middle of January. Especially when our activities are still curtailed with Covid restrictions these days. As soon as this post goes up, I shall plant myself in our sun-filled living room with John Grisham's new novel A Time for Mercy. I like the title of this book, and my friend tells me it's a page turner. Looking forward to it. 

With just a few lines today, I'm sharing a peek into what my Saturday looks like—by simply using the letters that make up the word 'Saturday' as my prompt. Hope you enjoy. 

Skies are cloudless and blue this morning as the sun creeps over the horizon. Temperatures have been mild, but they are forecasting colder days ahead, so we have taken joy in this one. As I took my walk, the sun was already well over the hill by the community garden and the finches were singing their little hearts out. Passed one fellow walking with his sweet, friendly poodle. It all made me feel so glad to be alive!  

Appreciating my hubby for making us coffee and toast first thing. It's how we start our mornings—he brings the tray with our steaming cups back to bed, and we ease into our day. We are rarely in a rush to anywhere during these please-stay-at-home-as-much-as-possible Covid days. I certainly don't mind.  

Trying to start on my desired goal to detail clean my house before spring. It’s off to a slow start, I must admit. I finally got the Christmas decorations down. Now there's a pile of items to sort in the spare room and a pile of other 'this and that' on the table downstairs. Turning off the light, I come back upstairs. Haha. Maybe next week it will feel less overwhelming and I'll know just where to begin.

Undertaking a reading challenge for the new year based on a partial list by a local bookstore. I plan to do a post soon with that reading list. One of my long term reading goals is to read some works by or biographies of Nobel Prize winners. So many interesting people who have changed the world and influenced it for good. I really need to learn more about these amazing people.   

Reading Gloria Steinem's memoir My Life on the Road. I found these words on page 177 and am inspired to hold them close during 2021: "...In truth, we don't know which of our acts in the present will shape the future. But we have to behave as if everything we do matters. Because it might."

Delicious! This breakfast sandwich whets my appetite. I found the photo on Pixabay. Let's see: A crusty bun filled with crispy bacon, thinly sliced cheddar cheese and tomato, scrabbled eggs, and avocado slices. Do you see anything else? It really is too bad that I have neither buns nor avocados in the house; otherwise I'd be making these for brunch today. The ingredients are going on the shopping list for we must try this soon.  

Admiring and so grateful for Mozart's gift to the world. His music never fails to cheer my heart. I woke the other morning hearing something hum-ably Mozart in my mind—a familiar phrase from a piano concerto, I think. It made me smile. 
Yardsticks, yesterday, yearbook. Yachting, yearning, youthful. What good words to tuck away for our daily Scrabble games for two. We're pretty evenly matched, so one day I win, the next time he does. Since neither of us are by nature competitive, we might end up helping each other when our tiles really suck, casually dropping hints of possibilities we see on the board without actually knowing what the other holds for letters, although from the groans we assume they can't be good.

* * *

That's our Saturday—I hope you're having a pleasant one.
Stay well and safe.

Heart hugs,

(Top) Image by Terri Cnudde from Pixabay
(Bunwich) Image by Aline Ponce from Pixabay

Friday, January 08, 2021

The New Year: Comfort Food for the Soul

" If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don't hesitate. Give in to it . . .
whatever it is, don't be afraid of its plenty.
Joy is not made to be a crumb. "
MARY OLIVER, Devotions, "Don't Hesitate"

I woke from a cozy sleep the other morning to find complete sentences for a new blog post forming in my head. Knowing how skittish these first thoughts can be, I flew to my desk—it was still pitch black outside, sunrise still an hour away—to catch the drift before it disappeared. They were thoughts about what's been giving me joy these past weeks, and the phrase 'comfort food for the soul' came to mind—those little things that fill my heart with joy.....watching the birds at the feeders, hearing their lusty songs on a winter's afternoon, feeling the comfort of wise words as they drop into my heart, disappearing into books with gentle stories or riveting tales. Not to forget my walks in the neighbourhood, tea and treats with Rick in the afternoon, Mozart on the radio, scrabble games, candles and twinkle lights at dusk, the smell of yummy things wafting from the oven, being amused by creative folks on social media, to name a few more.

Today I share four small graces that have soothed my days...with the hope they will add a moment of rest for you too as we wind up this first tumultuous week of 2021.

Dee Nickerson, British Artist
'Seed Catalogue'

Someone I follow on Twitter—@HWarlow—searches out beautiful art photos to share with her followers. Over the past months, I've been introduced to many delightful new-to-me artists and their works. When she posted this particular painting by British artist Dee Nickerson, I had such a longing to share it with you. According to a short bio I found, Ms Nickerson "explores themes of living in the countryside and activities she enjoys such as sewing, hanging out the washing . . . pondering life." I love that, while the garden outside is under snow, the woman inside dreams about her garden over seed catalogues. She sounds like a kindred spirit, don't you think?

" I said to the chickadee,
singing his heart out in the
green pine tree:
little dazzler,
little song,
little mouthful. "
MARY OLIVER, "October"

The chickadees are often at the feeders in our garden. I love to hear their cheeky whistles drift in the air. They always make me smile. Recently, Rick attached a feeder to our kitchen window. So far, only one fellow has braved his way over to snatch sunflower seeds. He pays no mind to eyes prying on the other side of the glass.

On Walking...
" If persisted in a remarkable change will result – a notable
clearness of mental power, keenness of appetite
and a zest for life's work. "
CLAUDE POWELL FORDYCE, Touring Afoot, 1916

Daily walks are an entrenched part of my life now. I usually go first thing and at this time of year, I'll often catch the sun skimming over the hill to the east. Nuthatches and finches sing, magpies chortle in the treetops as I pass beneath. I've learned to keep my eyes open on my now familiar route—watching for glimpses of heaven in unexpected places—one never knows what'll catch my eye, something I never noticed 'quite that way before': watching where the sun is situated in the sky each morning, how the shadows and light play together in tree tops, and of course, seeing dogs happy to be out for their walks too, with everyone keeping their social distance, although doggies aren't too particular about that protocol.

I find myself musing about a phrase I am wont to use. I tell Rick I'm off for my 'constitutional'. Apparently the old-fashioned phrase 'constitutional walk' was used in the early 1900s when referring to a person's constitution or physical makeup, so when a person went out especially to get fresh air and exercise, people termed it 'taking a constitutional walk'. Who knows where I picked up the phrase—probably some book I read—I like the old-fashioned sound of it.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: "Give me a
light that I may tread safely into the unknown."
And he replied:
"Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way."
So I went forth,
and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day . . . "
MINNIE L. HASKINS, The Gate of the Year, God Knows

I came across these lines from the poem The Gate of the Year years ago and often refer to them at the start of a new year—they help me to square my shoulders, reach out my hand for His, feel braced knowing I don't face any of it alone. 

Written by British poet Minnie L. Haskins (1875-1957) more than a century ago, the poem was originally titled God Knows. In 1939, King George VI included these lines in his Christmas speech to the British Empire. I can well imagine how their hopeful words caught the public's attention as they faced another world war. Today the poem is more widely known as The Gate of the Year.  I am grateful for it as we stare into the dark unknown of 2021.

Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you
shall form an invincible host against difficulties.

* * *

Wishing you gentle moments. Stay safe.

Heart Hugs,

(Top) Image by congerdesign from Pixabay
(Dickerson Painting) Image found on Twitter
(Chickadee) Image by JL G from Pixabay
(Couple Walking) Image by Tookapic from Pixabay
(Walking Bridge) Image by Tante Tati from Pixabay

Thursday, December 31, 2020

A New Year's Eve Thought and Wish

" What a wonderful thought it is that some of the
best days of our lives haven't even happened yet. "

I had full intentions to write a post during the Christmas week. I meant to chat about the holidays and share from the stack of books I've been reading, but here it is already New Year's Eve with post unwritten. Christmas, though different, was lovely. The days following have passed quietly and pleasantly in our household. We ate Christmas leftovers, nibbled on delicious cookies and other treats, had Scrabble tournaments for two, went for walks, read our books, watched movies.... 


"When fog invades the plains,
everything disappears; everything but fog!
When loves invades the minds,
everything disappears; everything but love!"
MEHMET MURAT ILDAN, Turkish Author and Playwright

We even took a drive one foggy morning to the nearby Elk Island National Park. Families were out with their kids, suited in ski pants and Covid masks. 'Twas delightful to watch them sledding down the hill, hurrying back up to soar down again. I felt a gush of nostalgia as I watched and remembered my own happy childhood tobogganing in the deep winter till we were frozen like popsicles yet not wanting to quit. The memory was so fresh in my mind, I felt in want of hot cocoa when we got home, even though my toes weren't the frozen ones.

We thought we might spot some bison out there, but they and every other wild creature were absent in full force. Rick figured they'd booked off Christmas and 'to heck with the tourists'. Perhaps they hunkered down somewhere because of the fog. I loved being in the midst of the foggy foggy dew—I was enchanted by the feeling of other-worldliness. As soon as I saw that lone tree (above), I knew I had to capture it against the muted shroud of grey—its bent trunk speaking of endurance through seasons of wild storms, wind battered but still standing. To me, it's a perfect picture for the storm our world has endured in 2020. As a child, I would have found such a picture utterly bleak, stark, and lonely, one that was to be avoided for something brighter and cozier. But I have since come to recognize there is a wild beauty in starkness. And rather than shun it, I embrace it in the moment. I'm sure Mary Oliver would have said that more poetically.

* * *

As we breathe the last few hours of this horrid virus-tossed year, I think of something Alfred Lord Tennyson once wrote: "Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering 'it will be happier'... ."

Oh yes, we hope it will indeed be a happier year. For so many though, all the wishing won't make the intense pain go away, and I am so sorry it is so. I just read something Canadian singer Jann Arden wrote on her Facebook page about grieving her mom. The day she posted, it was two years since her beloved mom passed away after years of suffering with Alzheimer's. Jann shared how she missed her, but said....
"I don't mind the grief. It's like an aftershock of love. I don't mind missing her and dad. I don't mind the pangs or the jabs or the throbbing aches that stretch across the muscles in my chest. I just don't mind it. It's lovely in its own way. Makes me keep trying to live."
Those lines speak to me....that she doesn't mind the grief, that it's like an aftershock of love, that it reminds her to keep trying to live. I am not sure why that gives me comfort, but it does. I'm not grieving personally for anyone at the moment, and I'm not in a sad place for myself—life is sweet and good for me these days—but I do find myself carrying in my heart the pain of others, for the folks who have lost their lives and those who lost loved ones and remain in their now-shattered world. I so hope and pray they will one day find a measure of peace and comfort and eventually discover new reasons to face their futures less bleakly. A little bit happier.

"Lord, grant me peace above all else no matter
the circumstances I may face this year."

As we stand on the front porch of this brand new year, I am grateful for your company as we share this journey together. I remind myself and you, should you need it, to keep watching for those glimpses of heaven glimmering with hope that 'beyond the pain, life continues to be sweet' (Rosamunde Pilcher). Facing the New Year with still so much uncertainty and trepidation, we must take 'courage, dear hearts' (C.S. Lewis).

Happy New Year! And in the words of a dear old neighbour who was wont to say when the world felt decidedly upside down, "Here's to better days ahead." That's my heart wish for you in 2021!

With love,

Photo credits:
(Top) Image by Mary Gorobchenko from Pixabay
(Middle) Tree in Fog by Brenda C Leyland 
(Bottom) Image by Hans Benn from Pixabay