Friday, November 11, 2016

November. The Simple Woman's Daybook

Photo by Mikael Kvistenso /

I hardly know when October slipped by, and now here we are already well into November.

Since we last shared, Mom has been recovering nicely from her knee surgery. I stayed with her ten days at first and then a couple of days here and there later on. One day she looked at me and said, "It's time for you to go home -- I can take care of myself now". So I packed my little bag and came home where dear hubby was waiting for me.

The time I spent with my mom was precious; it was a real pleasure to wait on her hand and foot in those early days, trying to make things as cheerful and comfortable as possible. We'd fix tasty treats in the kitchen to tempt a waning appetite; we'd celebrate the smallest successes; we'd laugh heartily at the slightest provocation to ward off encroaching discouragements. It was wonderful to see her slowly gain confidence as she began returning to her normal routines.

And, when I wrote last month, we were experiencing real winter weather -- it came so suddenly with snow and wind and cool temperatures we were all in shock. Then, just as quickly, it all melted and autumn returned with warm, sunny days, and a few rainy ones too. It's still quite lovely these days.

So now, I'm happy to share the November edition of my Simple Woman's Daybook.

For Today ...

"As long as I have a window, life is exciting."
~ Gladys Taber

Looking out my window… It's early in the morning and the sun rises without fanfare. I stare through the branches of a leafless mountain ash. Which gives me a clearer view of the neighbour's backyard where last month I told you the kids were jumping so gleefully on the big trampoline. All is deserted this morning.


I am thinking… about Remembrance Day, that special day when we remember those who fought in wars and especially those who never came back from war. We remember. We pause. We are grateful. Here is the link to a post I shared last November 11th; it was written by my mother and it's entitled A Little Sister Remembers. And the poppy above? It was painted by my sister, Kathy, as her way of commemorating this Remembrance Day. She said I could share.

I am thankful… that every morning we have an opportunity to start fresh.

One of my favorite things… are brown paper packages tied up in string. Don't you feel the urge to pull the bit of yarn to see what's inside that interesting pile of old papers? Maybe they are old letters or photos or childhood school report cards.

Joanna Kasinska /

I am wearing… blue jeans and a blue-green mottled sleeveless top, dangling earrings, and brown loafer slippers.

I am going… to my aunt's funeral tomorrow. A sad time for family. As I thought about what I could write in the cards for my cousins, my aunt's grown children, I was reminded of the times over the years when I'd look up at my face in a mirror, and I'd catch a glimpse of my aunt's smile in my own face. We're family on my dad's side and families tend to resemble one another. Of that I'm proud, for my aunty was a lovely lady, inside and out.

I am creating… list of ingredients for making homemade Christmas cake. And, hubby asked about homemade mincemeat as he reminisced of his childhood when his mom not only made mincemeat pies but the mincemeat itself. I might have to surprise him and make a small batch rather than buying it ready made. Found modern versions of this old fashioned recipe online at BBC Good Food and Canadian Living. Apparently you can replace suet with butter and still get a similar result, and you don't actually have to mince meat anymore either. Good thing!

Photo from

I am reading… Howards End by E.M. Forster. Written in 1910, it's the beautifully written novel of two very different families brought together by an unusual event: the elder Mrs. Wilcox dies and her family discovers she has left their country home (Howards End) to one of the Schlegel sisters. This creates a crisis that takes years, and a whole book, to resolve.

I like to watch the movie version of this book with favourite actors Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins playing Margaret Schlegel and Henry Wilcox, respectively. But I chose to read the story rather than watch it this time, as I wanted to soak in the details and nuances of the story that are never quite conveyed through the screen.
"Like many others who have lived long in a great capital, she had strong feelings about the various railway termini. They are our gates to the glorious and the unknown. Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine, to them, alas! we return."  ~ from chapter 2

"The present flowed by them like a stream. The tree rustled. It had made music before they were born, and would continue after their deaths, but its song was of the moment. The moment had passed. The tree rustled again. Their senses were sharpened, and they seemed to apprehend life. Life passed. The tree rustled again."~ from chapter 41

I am watching... what I eat these days. Ever since I came home from our holiday in England, I've been more aware (in a positive way) of what I eat and how much. I noticed that there are many more women in England who are slenderer than we who live here in Canada.

My theory is that people do a lot of walking over there. Here we drive everywhere; at least I do. Our cities and towns are spread out, so we have to go a ways to get to the shops. When we stayed in Royal Tunbridge Wells for 12 days, we walked everywhere. At first, I found it taxing not to just hop in a car and zoom off, but then I found it easier and easier as the days passed.

I don't walk as much here as I did there, but I thought I could work on eating a little less each meal by making my portions smaller. I went in search of smaller plates to use as our dinner plates. Mentally that helps a lot. My dish looks full but it's considerably less than when I used to fill up a larger one. And, I tend not to take seconds, once I've filled my smaller plate.

The other thing I'm keeping an eye on is the amount of bread I eat -- I include pasta, rice, and potatoes in that tabulation. If I'm making toast, I'll have one slice instead of two. And if we make a baked potato for supper, I'll have a half of a small potato, not the whole thing.

I'm happy to report it's made a difference (6 pounds less so far). Mentally or emotionally I don't feel stressed about this because I'm not depriving myself, just eating less (the smaller plate is key), and I'm in no hurry to reach a goal. I just have to think of those slender women walking to and from work, morning and evening, doing errands, carrying sacks of groceries, walking the dogs, taking their kids to school on foot. And I'm re-inspired.

I'm listening to... the rustle of supper being prepared in the kitchen. Hubby is making pork chops covered in sauerkraut and applesauce. Yum! And, I must admit, it's such a nice sound to hear lids chattering with pots and forks clinking against plates, while I sit here pondering what to serve in this latest post to you. Although it's not a formal thing, we tend to take turns at kitchen duty. We sort out the day's meals as we drink our early morning coffee and who does what sort of unfolds as the day's events play out.

In my garden… Leaves are gone, birds have flown south.  Hoes, shovels and watering cans are stored away. A pair of bluejays come and squawk their breakfast order for a handful of peanuts in the shell. A little squirrel will scurry along the top of the fence and eventually settle into the bottom tray of a bird feeder to stuff his cheeks with sunflower seeds and peanuts.

From my journal... I pulled out my journal from a year ago to see what I was thinking about then. What I found was a little poem by Warsan Shire; I'd originally found it on Facebook right after the terrorist attack in Paris (Nov 13) where so many were killed and injured:

later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the
whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered

Maybe your own mom used to ask her little girl that same question, where does it hurt, little one? And then she'd bend down and give the wounded area a little kiss. Off you'd go, comforted and feeling much better; she'd heard you cry and made it better.

Today we probably all know someone who is hurting, mourning, weeping for something -- it might be a small hurt or a bigger one. Maybe a kiss won't make it better, but perhaps taking a moment to listen with an open heart will let her know she's not alone. And then again, maybe a gentle kiss nestled on her forehead might help too.

From the Pinterest Board... The calm after the storm and the fragrance after the rain. The repose of this kitty lets me feel it too.

Pinterest photo from a quieter storm

A moment from my day... Writing out sympathy cards for my uncle and cousins. This little gesture that is meant to bring some measure of comfort to loved ones turns out to also have rewards for the writer. You see, it gives us a moment to stop and really think about our loved one and what made her special to us.

While this person still lives here amongst us, we tend not to think of the qualities or traits that makes her unique, so when we must write something comforting and meaningful in our notes we need to stop to ponder exactly what it is we want to say. And, in our wrestling to find the right words, we often find the peace we need for our own hearts and minds. Somehow, we are comforted too.

Quote...  Seek first to understand, then to be understood. ~ Stephen Covey

Closing Notes... It took me most of the day to work on this post. I started early in the morning, took a break while I went for a walk and then out for errands, came back to sit at my desk while the sun still shone. I look up -- oh my -- the sun is gone and it's grown dark. It's no longer tea time, but supper time. Which definitely means I must wrap this up...

I'm wishing you a pleasant evening,
Hugs with love,


  1. What a fine autumn day you had! I love all the pictures (including the poppy, hehe).

  2. What a lovely, chatty post. I feel like I've had a good visit with you over a cup of tea. The poppy picture painted by your sister is beautiful. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  3. I loved this post took me back to our coffee meeting in Cornwall!
    I have made my own mincemeat, once, but the varieties we can buy here are so good I choose the easy way out now.
    Beautiful poppy.

  4. Brenda, this post explains where you ran off to. I wondered. So glad that your mom is recovering well and it made me smile that she booted you out. Loved the description of your time together as it reminded me so much of times spent with my own mother when she was recovering. We never laughed so much as we did then.

    My condolences on the loss of your auntie. Saying goodbye is never easy. In fact, I have said all the goodbyes I wish so, please God, no more.

    Walking more...that's it! I love walking in the cemetery, but with hunting season on...yikes!

    Glad that the warmer autumn has returned. Always a shock when winter shows up without warning and premature.

    Lovely writing, Brenda, you surely have the ahhhhhhh writing down pat. Thank you!

  5. Brenda, I love reading your blog. It is so beautiful in words and in images. I'm sure it's an accurate reflection of your lovely soul. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Brenda: Love your blog and especially loved this post. So happy your Mom is doing well and sorry to hear of your Aunt's passing. Write us again soon and I would love updates on the Christmas cake and mincemeat. When we lived in our other home I made and canned a fruit mincemeat, it was lovely. My mom used to make mincemeat cookies - Yum!

  7. Enjoyed your blog so much and will look forward to the next one!

  8. Such a delightful post Brenda. I think your writing reflects your gentle sweet spirit. Love the poppy picture. I pray God's peace as you mourn the loss of your aunt. Glad your mom is doing well. Blessings

  9. Your post took most of your day, but it was very much appreciated. Your thoughtful words are so comforting!
    Glad your mom is doing better! You are a blessing.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing! I'm trying to get back into the habit of blogging, even if it is just the SWDB for now, and I wish I had sipped my hot cocoa slower or had a cup of tea to enjoy while reading your lovely post. You inspired me to try to be a bit more personal in my posts thank you! I live in the country, and we rent so the walking I get is to my workout videos, the JessicaSmithtv channel on YouTube has some great 10-15 minute walks that help break up the day when you cannot get out, she's great. Anyway, thanks again for such a personal touch!

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  12. Howard's End sounds like an interesting read. I love your image of your cat by the window. We just got a cat and we are loving him and his kooky adventures. How nice that you were able to care for your mum like that. I tie my books with brown twine when I move and I moved quite often for a few years. I probably should have just lightened the book load but I couldn't bear to part with them. My collection of small Shakespear plays is still in twine on the mantle because I like the way it looks.

  13. A lovely post Brenda. You show how a simple, ordinary day is really anything but. It is beautiful and miraculous. Thank you for sharing the loveliness with us. Sorry to hear of the loss of your aunt. xo Deborah

  14. A cozy chat, it felt like, to top by and read your daybook entry. So sorry about your aunt's passing, but it will mean so much to the family to have your handwritten notes. Spending the time with your mother must have been a very special time, and meant so much to her to have you there by her side through the surgery and recovery. I hope that the rest of your November is lovely, and blessed. Enjoyed my visit today with you :)

  15. I love the kitty picture!!!

    Thanks for coming and hanging out with me at ::Meditatio::!

  16. I'm a bit behind with my blog reading but finally arrived to read this beautiful post, Brenda. I'm glad to hear your mother is improving. You have a very special relationship.

  17. All in a day's work... beautiful post. I loved the movie Howard's End, but wanted it to have a happily ever after. Sir Anthony and Emma are so wonderful at their craft, though. But, I think I would find a greater depth to their story if I read the book. I am so happy to hear your mother is doing better. And I loved your thoughts about writing sympathy cards... yes, along with being a needful gesture during these times, it does give us a moment to pause and really pray for those who are grieving.


  18. Hi Brenda,
    Thanks for sharing this post. I especially like the photo of the Kitty. How sweet! :)
    Thanks for stopping blog my blog. Have a terrific Tuesday! :)

  19. I love reading your blog. It feels as if I am reading an old journal from time gone by....maybe with brown paper tied up in string?

  20. Hello Brenda,
    Laura visiting from Harvest Lane Cottage in Missouri USA.
    May God be your comfort as you're missing your aunty. I know what you mean about seeing her smile in your own.
    I've seen my grandmother's eyes in my reflection, too. It's a comfort sometimes.
    Thanks for dropping by Harvest Lane Cottage!

  21. Sincere sympathies on your aunt's passing.
    Your mom is blessed to have had you helping her after her surgery. That is a tough recovery! Hope the procedure helped her tremendously.
    Visiting from SWDB.
    My SW Daybook – December 2016 edition


To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xo