One - Outside my window
"A sharp, sugaring frost"
ROGER DEAKIN, Winter Anthology with Melissa Harrison
Our January was mild for the most part, and we enjoyed many days of this sharp, sugaring frost, aka as rime frost. I didn't realize it's different than hoar frost—rime frost isn't something we often see in our dry northerly climes. We enjoyed the winter wonderland it created for many days. The days are noticeably lengthening, and I feel a lift in my spirits to see these earliest hints of seasonal shift. Weather forecasters told us to brace ourselves for some nastier weather in February and, yes, the last few days were feisty, with cold temperatures, snow-rain, and roaring winds. But this morning, we woke to a calm, blue-skied, sunny day—the winds had blown away the cold and brought warmer weather for the weekend. Happy face here!
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Two - A new cube shelf
In December I said I'd show you pics of Christmas decorating, my new Christmas pencil tree, the new IKEA shelf in my study. I'm sorry it didn't happen. At this stage, we'll give the Christmas things a miss, but above, finally, are a few poses of the new cube shelf in my study. I'm so pleased - it was an early Christmas present from Santa. It's set against the wall behind me when I'm sitting at my computer (a great backdrop if I ever want to zoom-video where I write. I always love to look at what people have on those backdrop shelves in videos, don't you? It didn't take long to fill; the books you see here are mostly new purchases made with Christmas money. I'm having great fun reading them one by one. Although I haven't got everything set up as I might want, it's a start.
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Three - Surprise email
Out of the blue, back in November I received an email from the author of the lovely book Foxgloves and Hedgehog Days, Secrets in a Country Garden by Daniel Blajan. You may recall, it was a book I highlighted during my Pressing My Books Into Service series during Covid lockdowns in 2020.
Surprised was I when he reached out to me, all the way from the Netherlands, to say he'd happened upon my post about his book during a google search and wondered if I'd be interested in an autograph. Oh my goodness, would I like an autograph, oh yes please! We enjoyed a couple of lovely email exchanges. And then one day before Christmas, a lovely note in a seasonal greeting card arrived in the post with his autograph. Daniel mentioned the prickly fellow on the card was one of the hedgehogs he wrote about in his book back in 1997.
His autographed note is now safely tucked inside the book. And my secret hope is that one day, when I'm no longer here, and perhaps many years hence, there will be someone who discovers the book with enclosure on a dusty bookshelf somewhere. And she will be as delighted to find such a treasure.
I was so pleased for this little flurry of excitement that came out of the blue and made my day.
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Four - Something from Jan 2020
I came across something I jotted in January 2020 about housekeeping:
I undertook a major cleaning of every square inch of my house. It took me weeks to go through every nook and cranny, but when I was done, there wasn't anything in my house that I didn't love or need. And more importantly—for smooth household running—everything had a home and like items were stored with like. It stayed tidy and in order for a long time, because for the most part I'm good at putting things back. But time eventually unraveled the pristine orderliness and things needed taking in hand again. . . .(In my notes, I say): So, if I do a thorough job this January (2020), and if all goes well, and if I work at putting things back when I'm finished using them, I shouldn't need to do this major deep cleaning again until, say, January 2023. Wish me luck?"
Well now here it is 2023. And you know what, that major deep clean held its own for a long time. I'm much better disciplined than I used to be at tossing, sorting, giving away, and putting things back. So this January, yes, I spent several days putting away Christmas, cleaning, sorting, and packing things for the thrift store. But it was a much simpler job than it had been several years ago. I hope to carry on and be able to say that in future Januaries.
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Five - A few lines from Twitter
I found these lines back in 2020. It's from author, podcaster, and joie de vivre dispenser Joy Clarkson who wrote them on Twitter one day. Her words sparked courage and joy that day—they did the same as I reread them this week.
"The world has always been on the cusp of disaster, the globe shall eventually be consumed by the sun, and all men do die in their time. Don't let this knowledge paralyze you. Live a valiant life, love deeply, create beauty, seek the things that outlast death. Don't be afraid.
This is what I remind myself of when the news makes me anxious. We're all going to die eventually. You weren't promised an easy life. You can't control the times you live in, but you can live well in your complicated times. And I have a sneaking suspicion love outlasts death.
And then I eat fish and chips because life is short and little pleasures must not be eschewed."
JOY CLARKSON, Twitter, 2020
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Bonus - My commonplace book
You may recall that last January I started a pint-size five-year diary, in which I planned to write short, pithy quotes that I came across each day. As I mentioned then, we are often bombarded with information coming from every direction. And as the old saying goes, it tends to go in one ear and out the other—with hardly a tracery of its message left on our minds.
So, this venture continues and I've now started Year 2. My aim remains: to watch for the special 'word' and write down at least one notable thing each day. Sometimes it's a quote, a line of poetry, a phrase from a song, a comment seen on social media, a sacred passage. It could be a comment that expands my mind, thrills my soul, makes me LOL, cheers me up, reminds me to take care of myself. For the most part I have been faithful to this little ritual. Here are my January 1st entries:
Jan 1, 2022
"Every good poem fulfills a longing
and puts life back together."
attributed to Lawrence Ferlinghetti, American poet
Jan 1, 2023
"i don't have to explain why i need a break,
not even to myself.
I do not have to earn rest."
Yasmine Cheyenne, as seen on social media
Thank you for stopping by. Wishing you a beautiful day.
(Top) Photo by Dr. Georg Wietschorke from Pixabay
All other photos are mine