Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Hate To Leave You Hanging

 Sigmund Brouwer, Conference Keynote Speaker

Many of you are waiting for a recap of the INSCRIBE writing conference I attended this past weekend.  And I'm itching to tell you all about it...except this week I HAVE TO focus on the upcoming nuptials of my nephew and his intended. As one of the Master of Ceremonies, this week we're sewing up the final details not to mention helping to get the last minute things in place.

Let me say quickly I really enjoyed the conference. Sigmund Brouwer, our keynote speaker, is not only a great story teller in his bestselling books -- he had us on the edge of our seats as he shared stories that made us laugh, weep, and rejoice.  He made sure all of our emotions were fully engaged all weekend (which is what he says matters when it comes to telling STORY). If we can feel it, our audience will feel it.  If we can touch emotional buttons, people will connect.

About my blogging workshop, I really enjoyed presenting the workshop (I also learned a lot about what I'd do next time). My audience was very gracious; I saw a few of them writing furiously at certain points, and it was fun to see a few faces light up when they caught the vision for blogging or had their own AHA moment. And then, of course, what an honour to speak encouraging words into the hearts of people who share a love for God and for writing messages of hope in our troubled world.

A fellow writer who attended the conference shares her thoughts in a post on her own blog. She also makes mention of the blogging workshop, so you might want to read it for yourself here.

On that note, I best get back to wedding thoughts!

Till next time,

Friday, September 24, 2010

Autumn Leaves and Berries

Every leaf speaks bliss to me,
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
~ Emily Bronte

A perfect autumn day.
Warm with a wispy touch of cool,
sparrows chattering in the treetops,
Kitty's snoozing in a sunbeam
and I'm off to my writers' conference.

Wishing you a WONDERFUL weekend!

 © Photo: Brenda Leyland


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Catching Up...

The writer's conference looms straight ahead and I'm finalizing my speaking notes for Saturday. I had gathered so much information,  I had the job of paring down to essentials. It's been a good exercise as now everything is fresh in my mind again. Getting excited now!

I just enjoyed reading a posting by Kim de Young at the Get It Done Girl. She shares about how women tend not to truly value the gifts they have because they come so easily to them. I know I've done that in the past, so it was good to be reminded to value the gifts that have been given to us to share. Kim says,
"What I’ve noticed for myself and what I want to share with you is the importance of noticing that which comes easily to you, and placing value on it. What’s easy for you probably isn’t what comes easily to others. And, if you’re like most women, you’re probably taking your gift for granted. We do that to ourselves very often. We don’t often value that which comes easily.  For me, stepping into my gift, opened up so many opportunities that I could never have imagined a year ago."  Click here for the complete post.

For instance, some people ask if I'm nervous about speaking this weekend, but I'm not. Because I know from past experience that when I get in front of a classroom of people, my teaching gift slips on as easily as comfy slippers and I feel quite at home.

Have you ever experienced that? Where you just know this is where you're supposed to be and what you're supposed to be doing?

With that I'm off now...


Saturday, September 18, 2010

I Miss You... And Other Stuff

Artist Unknown

This week was filled with lots of good things that needed my attention, but it meant little time at my computer, visiting friends, blogging or otherwise.  Hopefully I'll be back soon on a more regular basis to share news from this part of the world.

An Easy Four...

One. Frost hit the pumpkins the other night. The cosmos droops, the roses look freeze-dried, and  my  pretty purple petunias are 'toast to the max'.

Two. It feels like autumn when the chickadees return to our yard. In the summertime, there is so much other feathered activity, the chickadees tend to shy away. But one fellow was being quite cheeky with me when I was filling the feeders yesterday morning.

Three. My blogging workshop handout has been 'handed off' to the writers' conference coordinator for printing. So that means I can't fuss and make any more changes to it. I know they say 70% perfect and done is better than 100% perfect undone --- but my proofing and editing skills from workdays at the office kick in no matter what I'm reading or working on, so it gets the eagle eye until I can't find any more to 'jot and tittle' with! (The Conference is next weekend.)

Four. Stopped in at a lovely used bookstore last weekend and found an armful of books without blinking an eye. It must have been the ambience -- sunlight streaming through big front windows and music caressing the air almost like silk. It was so easy to be drawn in.

One book I found there and am currently enjoying is Our Lady of the Lost and Found by Diane Schoemperlen, a Canadian author.

I wasn't sure what to expect, and even though I am not Catholic, I was intrigued when I read the back cover, "On a Monday morning in April, a middle-aged writer goes into her living room to water the plants and finds a woman standing in front of the fig tree.  The woman is wearing a navy blue trench coat and white Nikes and carries a small black suitcase on wheels.  She is the  Virgin Mary.  Invited to stay for lunch, Mary explains that after two thousand years of petition, adoration, and travelling, she is tired and need some R&R."

The book has lots of humour, interesting historical information, as well as a story about the area of faith that unfolds around the narrator and Mary. The author says "Perhaps in literature, as well as in life, a little comic relief is always in order.  In this book, I was extremely careful to make sure that the humour was not likely to be offensive to anyone."

Here's one quote I marked for further pondering. I've felt that way sometimes...
"Having found in my own writing that thinking or talking about an idea too much or too soon can cause it to evaporate altogether, it occurs to me now that the same paradox applies to faith. Searching too hard for God can get in the way of finding him. Sometimes you just have to stop looking and let yourself be taken by surprise. Sometimes God is as plain as the nose on your face. And sometimes you just can't see the forest for the trees." 

Although the day is sunny and it would be a great day to wash windows and pull dead things from the garden, I set my face as a flint towards getting some needful work done. I wish you a grace-filled autumn-y day.

Till next time,

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Have Been...

Enjoying the book Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt. I was drawn to the title - wouldn't you be?  Roger Rosenblatt's daughter, who is a gifted doctor and married with 3 children, suddenly dies. Rosenblatt and his wife, Ginny, leave their home in Long Island to move in with their son-in-law, Harris, and their three young grandchildren. Although Rosenblatt shares the intense grief and pain, he does it in such a way that doesn't  pull you into sadness. In fact, there are some pretty humorous stories as they remember, adjust, and move into the rhythms of this new normal, which includes preparing the morning toast perfectly to each child's liking.

Taking Cold FX capsules to ward off a cold (which in the end didn't totally ward off') so we still sound a bit husky and deep in the throat. But we're on the mend.

Washing some of my pretty  china teacups and saucers from my collection, in preparation for a Ladies Tea my church is hosting tomorrow afternoon. It's been a while since I used so many at one time.  I forgot how pretty they were -- don't use them as much as I used to.

Watching the trees move into their autumn colours these past few days. Our Virginia Creeper, which climbs up a good part of our fence, is turning beautiful shades of red.

Thinking about what to make for supper tonight.  I think homemade pasta sauce, spaghetti, and Italian sausages will fit the bill on this overcast day.

That's all for now,

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Grey is Beautiful

Who needs Christmas baubles when you've got black grackles?

Woke up to another grey-filled dawn with not even a hint of sunshine lurking behind clouds. At first I felt a slight groan -- what, no sun again today?

In keeping with grateful thoughts I realized, however, grey is beautiful compared to waking up to floods, hurricanes, or fires. Which makes my thoughts rush to the folks in California who just experienced that horrific gas line fire. I'm sure they'd be wishing for something as predictable and ordinary as a cloudy September morning in shades of grey. We pray for grace and more grace for all the families and community.

In the midst of this busy week, I have the chance to read a delightful book. If you like the ambience of the English countryside, you won't want to miss the 1939 classic Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther. Set just before the Second World War, the author takes ordinary, little events and shares the 'facts, feelings and ideas' that make up her life as an English wife and mother.    

If you follow the above link, you'll find some interesting tidbits written about the author's family, on which the stories are based, as well as an authorized internet version of the whole book. So if you can't find a paper copy, thanks to modern technology, you can still have the pleasure of reading it.

I liked the book so well, I went in search of the 1942 wartime movie at the library. Hubby and I had the pleasure of watching it the other evening. As charmingly as Greer Garson plays Mrs. Miniver, I must admit I am still more smitten with the book version of Mrs. Miniver.

Below I've shared an excerpt from the A Celebration of Women's Writers
"Readers may remember that in the film's opening scene, Mrs. Miniver gets off a bus and rushes back to a shop, having had second thoughts about buying an expensive and rather ridiculous hat. This is loosely based on an incident in the book."

"Mrs. Miniver does dither over buying something. She does get off the bus and scurry through crowded streets to see if it is still for sale. But it isn't a hat, it is an engagement diary in green lizard at 7s.6d. This is much more characteristic of the real Mrs. Miniver, who rightly feels that a diary has to give pleasure throughout the year. It is one of those trivial objects made momentous by its "terrible intimacy", and the dull brown calf one she had first chosen for 3s.9d. would not do. There you have the difference between the character Greer Garson played and the one created by Jan Struther."
Mrs. Miniver seemed to know how to keep the beauty alive in spite of the uglies of looming war. Perhaps that's what speaks to me. Every age has its troubled times, and in the midst of it all, we can remember that a rose is still as beautiful even if the surroundings are a pigpen. I think that's what helps us to keep on keepin' on when the days are grey, don't you?

I just realized what date it is today..... and so I add my prayers and thoughts for our American friends as we remember together 9/11.

Wishing you glimpses of heaven
in unexpected places to brighten your day.


Monday, September 06, 2010

Ambly Day

Since it is an ambly kind of day around here, I'm offering a few rambley thoughts to go along with it.

1.  Hopped over to the grocery store for a few things.
2.  Enjoying the beauty of this very autumnal day. Sunny with a twist of crisp. No sign of leaves turning yet -- a good thing as I like to stretch that out to later in the month.  Kitty thinks she wants to go out, but she's not sure. So we wait at the back door.

3. Quickly jotted some more thoughts to the notes for my upcoming blogging workshop. Funny how ideas flows when you're busy doing something else.

4. Preparing for friends to come for afternoon coffee in celebration of the long weekend. These are friends that make seeing the funny side of life an art. They are always a joy to hang out with.  We're having strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert.

5. Have a box of apples from bro-in-law's tree -- they make WONDERFUL pies. Methinks that's what should go in the freezer for some of  those comforting moments on cold wintry nights.

6.  Think my men are looking for lunch (tuna sammies with garlic dills and cut up veggies), so I best be off.

Wishing you a pleasant day!



Sunday, September 05, 2010

Simply Sunday - Our Legacy

I am reading Carol Burnett's latest book This Time Together. I so enjoyed all the funny bits and I laughed heartily through most of it. There are also places that are more poignant.

Something that really touched me in the midst of all the humour were the beautiful quotes Carol shares from her daughter, Carrie Hamilton.  Carrie died of cancer in 2002. One saying Carol shared: "One day one of the nurses asked how come Carrie smiled so much. (Carrie) replied, 'Every day I wake up and decide: today I'm going to love my life.' "
 "Our legacy is really the lives we touch, the inspiration we give, altering someone's plan -- if even for a moment -- and getting them to think, cry, laugh, argue.  More than anything, we are remembered for our smiles; the ones we share with our closest and dearest, and the ones we bestow on a total stranger, who needed it RIGHT THEN, and God put you there to deliver." ~ Carrie Hamilton, December 2001 

Today, may you be in the right place at the right time -- whether it's to deliver that smile or receive it!

Hugs to you all...

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Some of the Best Conversations

Some of the best conversations (or the silliest) that happen are those off-the-cuff kind. Like when my sister and I start google-talking to each other on our respective computers. One nephew pointed out to us once that online chats are meant for short, quick interactions. Oh... well, your mother and I have taken that to a whole new level.

We are also known to switch topics with such nano-second speed it would make a man's eyes spin; yet we somehow manage to stay on track. Anyways, rather than try and think up something new for a post, here's a snippet from a recent conversation.

The Setting:

Sis and I are looking online for local cupcake shops
Sis is making cupcakes for son's upcoming wedding -- today is practice day

The Conversation:

 Me: Check out Hey Cupcake Bakery.

Sis: Cool! And they offer catfish coffee too, that sounds intriguing!

Me: Didn't see that. Look in gallery... they have a pic of a 'wedding cake' set up

Sis: Okay. nice.

Me: I made a quick corn chowder.... poured too much Worcestershire sauce in it....
blah... didn't realise the bottle top was busted and it poured out.

Sis: bummer

Me: Maybe I'll rename it Worcestershire soup and hope for the best.

Sis:  LOL. Did you check your email for the cupcake pictures?

Me: Maybe I'll go get some cupcakes and forget lunch...
except a certain person in this household thinks that 3-squares
are part of the marriage vows... lol

Sis:  LOL, indeed!

Me: Said person also mentioned that a perfect wife
should check the oil in the car once in a while too.

Sis: 3 squares and oil!  Maybe those vows need reworking!

Me: LOLing... We were filling the car at the gas station this morning.
 A woman was checking the tires of their 5th-wheel.
Her hubby was conveniently standing near by reading the instruction book.

Sis: LOL

Me: That's when said husband pipes up and says, 'See, his wife does tires too.'

Sis:  lol and snorting

Me:  Don't pee

Sis: Karen and I were laughing about that...
we want to be independent and so on, but we want the man to check the tires!

Me:  true...
 hold on... I have to go check my Worcestershire soup

Sis:  k

Me:  Actually it's not as strong now that it's been simmering a bit....
maybe it boils off like wine.

Sis: could be...


You'll notice we never did get back to the cupcakes. And, now I need to go and see if my chowder really is ruined or not. I'm still heading out to find that cupcake shop.

Enjoy the rest of your day -- I certainly will!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

September Ruby Harvest

The fruit has been dropping from our September Ruby apple tree the past few days. Now we have the happy pleasure of making applesauce this morning.

With fruit so sweet naturally it is unnecessary to add any sugar while cooking. Peeled and in a large saucepan, in very short order they 'melt' into a warm fragrant puddle, just begging to be topped with a dollop of yogurt (vanilla flavoured for me, plain for him) and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Oh my... heaven right here in our kitchen!  It's life as it ought to be.

 Wishing you a beautiful day,

 Photo:  © Brenda Leyland