Friday, August 12, 2022

Breath and Lightness Moments This Week





"A good day is when, despite the problem,
you can give breath and lightness to your life."
OLIVIA GOBETTI


It's been a wonderful week. Idyllic summer weather with plenty of pleasures and little moments that have stamped themselves on my heart. We breathe in these moments and let them settle.... let them take the edge off what isn't perfect in our own world, or the world at large.

A few moments that filled my joy reservoir this week included watching Miss Peace Rose (top) blooming her heart out; visiting the University of Alberta Botanic Gardens with dear friends; having lunch with my mom and sisters at the Italian Centre where we enjoyed conversation and delicious Affogatos (more below); smiling in happiness as our yard filled with a cacophonic chorus of adolescent birds practicing their whistles and calls—chickadees and blue jays and crows all trying to imitate their parents but not quite getting the whistles in the right key. So sweet.

What a thrill to be present to it all.

For this Five on Friday post, I've cobbled together a few thoughts about what else has filled my tank this week.... all with the hope there is something here that will now give lightness and breath to your own day.



πŸ™š one πŸ™˜



Should you be longing to visit a wonderful garden this summer but cannot for whatever reason, here is a gorgeous one I enjoyed vicariously on YouTube. I was inspired by tour guide Alexandra as she shared her enthusiasm for her favourite garden at Gravetye Manor Hotel in Sussex, England. Alexandra tells her viewers that she first visited the gardens during her December honeymoon and vowed one day to return when all the flowers were in bloom. Thirty years later, she and her husband came to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. The gardens were originally created in 1885 by William Robinson, an Irish gardener who popularized the English garden style. Video is about 7 minutes.

 

πŸ™š two πŸ™˜



A serendipitous discovery of this video on William Morris: Useful Beauty in the Home gave me a lovely glimpse into William Morris's life and dream to bring back traditional craft techniques during the 19th century industrial age. It includes a little of how the Arts and Craft movement came to be. And if that has you thirsty for more, check out this 5-minute piece about Kelmscott House, home to William and his wife, Jane Morris. A nice peek at his own creative work and his love of the beautiful.

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." From the first moment I bumped into these words by William Morris years ago, I embraced them. His advice dovetailed with my own heart's desire to live my life more beautifully. They became a kind of guideline on how I could more selectively choose what I wanted to surround myself with in my home and life.   

The image above is from Amazon where they advertise a lovely notebook with the William Morris design 'Strawberry Thief' on its covers. I'm happy to report that a couple of these notebooks are now tucked into my shopping cart.



πŸ™š three πŸ™˜



I felt that delicious, familiar thrill this week when I opened the covers of this new to me novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. I came across the title in a social media list where people had been invited to recommend their top favourite book. From the enthusiastic responses by readers, I felt drawn to find it. According to the blurb on Amazon, it's considered one of the most important books of the twentieth century. A Southern love story with a strong black female protagonist who knows what she desires in life.

Here is one excerpt that had me saying I must get this book for myself - I've currently got the library copy at home:
"In the circular narration of Their Eyes Were Watching God, at the end of the book, a whole new life lies ahead, uncharted for a still relatively young Janie Crawford. She has told her story and has satisfied 'that oldest human longing—self revelation'. And now she must go on."
That oldest human longing of self revelation. Oh yes, I recognize that! Isn't that why we blog and write letters and share our little (and big) stories with one another, revealing our personal histories through words? Don't we all long for someone to know who we are, what we think and believe, what matters to us, what gives us joy and pain? And to have the thrill one day come when someone out there responds with a resounding, 'Yes, I hear you. Me too!'



πŸ™š four πŸ™˜



J.S. Bach is one of my favourite composers. I can never decide who is my top favourite—Bach or Mozart—so they both sit first place in my heart. Chopin also nudges in there with some of his pieces that capture my heart. Listening to Bach's Air is pure bliss. Not only am I smitten by Bach's creative beauty in music, but I admit that fine looking musician, David Garrett, is pretty easy on the eyes too. Hope these three minutes gives you a lift of the soul.



πŸ™š five πŸ™˜



My absolute favourite summer treat this season is the Italian Affogato (pronounced AH-FOH-GAH-TOE). Simple yet so delicious, it's a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream with a hot spritz of espresso poured over top, served in a small glass cup or mug. It can be sipped as a drink or savoured as a dessert with a spoon. Our local Italian shop serves it with the tiniest coffee spoon - I think to make the experience last longer. Alas, I didn't take pictures—I was too busy oohing and aahing and savouring—so here is one from Pixabay to give you an idea. 

The word gelato is Italian for ice cream. Italian gelato is a little different to our ice cream in North America. The Italian version uses less cream and is whipped slower, it's denser with a creamier texture. Heaven in a mug.



πŸ™š bonus πŸ™˜


View in the Japanese Garden
 
I couldn't not show you a few photos from our visit to the University of Alberta Botanic Gardens near Devon, Alberta. It was a lovely outing. Above is a view in the Japanese Garden, one of my favourite spots to come and contemplate life or even fall in love (there's a story in there from many years ago).

And below is the neatest plant. It's called Euphorbia obesa and we found it in the desert pavilion. It's charming and amazing to think that it's a plant. Doesn't it look like a fancy pin cushion or a Scottish Christmas ball in soft Tartan plaid?




Me in the Butterfly Pavilion


Hope you enjoyed your visit.
On that note, I'm wishing you a beautiful weekend,
Brenda


Photos:
Top-Miss Peace Rose, August 2022
One-Photo from Gravetye Manor website
Two-Photo from Amazon website
Three-My photo of book cover
Four-Video from YouTube
Five-Affogato photo by Sharon Ang from Pixabay
Bonus: My photos from Botanic Garden




Friday, August 05, 2022

Rainy Day Pursuits





"Nana always said the rain was nature's
way of adding sparkle to the outdoors."
MEHMET MURAT ILDAN


It's rainy and cool as I write. It's a day suited for indoor pursuits like working on this blog post, baking blueberry lemon oat muffins, even imagining a supper meal to roast in the oven rather than grilling on the BBQ. I've got just the thing: turkey thighs from the freezer, along with cabbage rolls, and a turnip puff (a favourite dish we often serve at with turkey dinner).

On my agenda, I'm nudging myself to find a new way for readers here to subscribe to my blog posts if they desire. Since Blogger phased out the gadget for email subscriptions many months ago, I have never had the mental energy to chase down a new platform. On this rainy day, with a few leads in mind, I hope to find a suitable replacement. If any of you have suggestions, my mind is an open book to hear them.

Oh, and the photo collection sitting at well over 2000 images on my iPhone has nearly reached the limit of my free iCloud 5 GB storage. Of course, my notice from iCloud suggests I could purchase 50 GB of storage for a mere $1.29 a month. I think I'll skip that, even if it's a bargain; to me this is a very good time to cull, sort, and then download what I want to keep. I prefer to store my photos on my own external hard-drives. Young folks would probably roll their eyes at the idea, but it works for old-fashioned me.

Also on my to-do list, there's the self-care item—my daily reminder to be good to myself too. Today it has three parts: read something good, walk-exercise for 30 minutes (indoor), and laugh out loud.


"I think rain is as necessary to
the mind as to vegetation. My very thoughts
become thirsty and crave moisture."
JOHN BURROUGHS


From the library I'm currently reading the insightful memoir by Eliza Reid, Canadian born and now First Lady of Iceland, Secrets of the Sprakkar, Iceland's Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World. If you are interested in gender issues and equality, you might enjoy this book. Eliza Reid interviews women, young and old, from across the spectrum, and shares their many stories in a way that's warm and inspiring.

Yesterday I also watched the delightful Miss Potter for the zillionth time on Prime. The film is based on the true story about Beatrix Potter. I love RenΓ©e Zellweger in the role of this world-renowned children's artist and storyteller. And I also love Emily Watson playing Beatrix's dear friend, Millie Warne.

All good stuff for a rainy day on which I woke refreshed from a good sleep, making me feel on top of the world. I don't always feel that way first thing. More often than not there is some ache or pain scratching for attention but not today. So I revel in my feeling well while refreshing rain streams down the window pane as I watch from my perch in the study.

That's me and my life on a wet August morning. We're heading out later to meet friends for coffee at one of our favourite cafes. Can't wait.


 "I like people who smile
when it's raining."
UNKNOWN


Wishing you a beautiful weekend,
Brenda


Top Image by Anrita1705 from Pixabay



Saturday, July 30, 2022

Summer Evenings in the Garden




"The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth."
DOROTHY FRANCES GURNEY


Here where I live, I wait all year for July summer evenings, the kind we've had this past week. Where hot and sultry days melt into calm and balmy evenings. Where the air feels like silk on my skin. Where leaves rustle in the breeze like old-fashioned petticoats, and I hear the fluttering of birds settling in the shrubs for the night. As evening quietude settles over the neighbourhood, my own mind grows peaceful. Even my breath slows to match the mood. The sticky notes in my head loosen and I feel the frets of the day fall away. 

Perfect summer evenings are precious for their rarity. Maybe you have more of them than we do, but idyllic summer evenings depends so much on weather, timing, plus our personal energy and frame of mind. All coming together to turn a few hours into rare jewels when that sense of peace and utter contentment fills us and rests around us. Surely this is a foretaste of paradise.

With the evening coolness, plants and trees begin to release their earthy, spicy scents. In the midst of it, I wait....nose in the air....to catch the elusive aroma of the Evening Scented Stock. Of all the lovely plants in our garden—roses, peonies, mock orange—this is the one I truly do wait for with eager anticipation. They're nothing much to look at during the day, tiny flowers tightly furled until evening when they open to hues of pale pink, lavender, and rose. It's their evening scent that's the real attraction. But that fragrance is elusive, and one cannot bend to sniff a flower as you would a rose or sweet pea. It doesn't release the fragrance that way. One must wait until the perfume wafts to you on the cool evening breeze. Patience is required. One whiff of it though makes it all worthwhile. It's described as resembling vanilla with rose and spice mixed in. Hmm, I don't know if that expresses it accurately, but my words are elusive too.

The other evening I caught the season's first hints of it. Such a treat. Not only had the night stock finally opened, blossoms all over the garden had burst out on this deep summer day. Surely it was a night perfect for flowers to dance (as Daniel Blajan once noted in his lovely book of essays Foxgloves & Hedgehogs).  My stroll through the garden was magical. And in that state of bliss I came into the house and started my post for this weekend. Here are a few of my garden photos taken over the past few days. Hope you enjoy. Happy day!


evening scented stock


"Breathe in fragrant flower.
Let worries cease.
Embrace this garden hour."
CHRISTINE SWANBERG



sea holly


High noon as I'm taking this photo.
 

purple salvia (annual)


"Half the interest of a garden is the
constant exercise of the imagination."
ALICE MORSE EARLE (1851 - 1911)




pink hydrangea




"Almost any garden, if you see it at just
the right moment, can be confused with paradise."
HENRY MITCHELL








"Everything that slows us down and forces
patience, everything that sets us back into
the slow circles of nature, is a help.
Gardening is an instrument of grace."
MAY SARTON


Celosia


Calibrachoa (trailing petunia)


Sweet Peas


"The scents of plants are like unseen ghosts.
They sneak upon you as you round a turn in the garden,
before you see the plants from which they come."
BARBARA DANROSCH


Yellow Ligularia just starting to bloom with the spent
mock orange shrub behind it and a creamy Astilbe in front.


Little beauties that have self-seeded
all over the garden this summer.


Love these purple grasses mixing with the yellow Thunbergia
(black-eyed Susan vine).
 

Spirea


"A flower blossoms for its own joy."
OSCAR WILDE



Wishing you a beautiful weekend,
Brenda



Photos: courtesy of me and my iPhone camera