Monday, March 13, 2017

March Assortment: The Simple Woman's Daybook

Alisa Anton /

While it's cold and snowy outside, and so many are happily talking of their own glimpses of Spring already unfolding in their neighbourhoods and gardens, I look for ways to add splashes of colour to my world on the inside. Though my garden lies dormant under layers upon layers of newly fallen white stuff, I buy bunches of tulips and daffodils to set in vases on my desk and tabletops, and I surround myself with artwork and pictures that sing Spring to me. The newest issues of favourite magazines with their bright seasonal covers do help as well. 

This week, I'm spending a couple of days with my mom. Between appointments and errands, I'm certain we'll find opportunities for some fun and laughter. Probably talk about family memories since we're both going through old photos these days, this time trying to peg down elusive dates for those pics that we keeping asking, "when was that again?"

Today I offer my March edition of The Simple Woman's Daybook -- don't forget to bring a cup of tea.

Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places,

For Today

Looking out my window...  O Spring, Spring! Wherefore art thou Spring? Yesterday on Facebook I saw a cute picture of a red cardinal dressed in woolly hat and quilted vest holding a takeaway java in his outstretched wing. The caption: "Spring forward? How bleeping far did you move it?" Some of us around here could be asking the same question.

I am thinking... about Emily Dickinson and how she lived most of her life in self-imposed 'reclusive isolation'. I have often wondered how she could live in such confinement and yet still be so 'infused with a creative energy that produced almost 1800 poems and a profusion of vibrant letters'. A simple life lived mostly within the boundary of her family home and garden, her small social network of family and close friends. She wrote from her small world, but what she shares touches so many of us, because her themes are often universal. I take courage from that in my own writings as a quiet, simple woman in my own corner of the world. Even the smallest details -- what may seem mere crumbs of a life -- can be used as fodder to enhance our lives, change them for good, and then bless as we offer them to others.

I am thankful... for the wise old book of Proverbs. It's a favourite place where I find gentle, sometimes prodding, thoughts about how to live my life more beautifully. This morning I gravitate towards lines talking about the words we choose to speak: how good news nourishes the bones, and pleasant words are sweet to the mind and healing to the body, and how a gentle tongue with its healing power is a tree of life. Such good thoughts to mull a while. Lord, let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable; let me offer good news and pleasant words and gentle responses today, so that even a listener's bones will benefit. 

One of my favourite things... is to watch kitty cats all curled up sleeping in a sunbeam. Alas, nowadays we don't have kitties, but I'm grateful for the many cat photos friends and followers share on social media; it's the next best thing to having my own sweet fur-balls. I completely relate to one woman who recently said on Twitter, on those days when she's feeling low, she only has to look at her sleeping kitties on the bed beside her to feel a quickening of joy leap within her. Even the thought of it makes me feel happy.

I am creating... a '60 years in 60 photos' project (first mentioned here) and I am happy to report all the photos have been selected, edited, and resized, everything now ready for the next step of turning the montage into a video. Through this all, there has been quite a stirring up of memories and old stories, all wanting to be heard and this time written down -- so a another new-old project in the works.

Following in the very large shoes of Dame Agatha Christie, I decided to write my own little autobiography -- to gather the bits and pieces of my life story thus far and set it down on digital paper. It's for myself first, as I sort out memories and their meaning as I ponder backwards, record lessons learned and maybe ones never quite figured out. And, if anyone else wants to read it, well, we'll see how that all unfolds down the road.

I'm taking a hint from Ms. Christie when she said as she began her autobiography at age sixty, "So what I plan to do is to enjoy the pleasures of memory -- not hurrying myself -- writing a few pages from time to time." It took her fifteen years, but since I'm not writing mysteries in between, I do hope it won't take that long. Plus, I'm also considering what the King very gravely said to Alice in Alice in Wonderland, "Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end; then stop." 

As seen on Facebook at Mid Century Fashion
I am wearing... In my imagination, a pair of slippers from this Glamour page of the 1957 Sears catalogue. Let me see, if I was feeling especially soft and feminine, I'd choose those pink mules with the pink bow, but I don't think they'd go with my slouchy pants, do you? So, I'll save those for later.

Now, as for those turquoise shoes with the smart buckle, they would fit perfectly with my mostly blue/green/turquiose wardrobe. But I must admit, those bold red slip-ons with the bold flower buckle do catch my eye this morning. They would certainly give a girl a reason to step lively -- even when she's working in her little office on a sometimes-dim, sometimes-sunny March morning. So, in your fertile imagination, which shoes would you be wearing today?

I just read... Poirot and Me by David Suchet and enjoyed it very much. In it, Suchet shares his story of how he came to perform the well known role of Hercule Poirot not just for one or two seasons, but for a total of 13 series over a 25-year span. I didn't realize he received the endorsement of Agatha Christie's daughter, Rosamund Hicks, and at that point, he made the commitment to present 'the most authentic Poirot that had ever been filmed.' Here is a favourite excerpt from the book:
“This is one of the great charms of Poirot’s investigations, for they reveal a world where manners and morals are quite different from today. There are no overt and unnecessary sex scenes, no alcoholic, haunted detectives in Poirot’s world. He lives in a simpler, some would say more human, era: a lost England, seen through the admiring eyes of this foreigner, this little Belgian detective. For me, that makes the stories all the more appealing, for although the days he lives in seem far away, they are all the more enchanting because of it."
"In those first days after the series had begun on ITV, I realised for the first time that Poirot touches people’s hearts in a way that I had never anticipated when I started to play him. I cannot put my finger on precisely how he does it, but somehow he makes those who watch him feel secure. People see him and feel better. I don’t know exactly why that is, but there is something about him. My performance had touched that nerve."

Want to read this month... Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber. A beautiful memoir of her life as she studied and lived in Oxford, UK, some years ago. From the note inside the cover, I first read this delightful story in 2011 -- it's certainly time to read again.

I am hoping... the weatherman is right about his prediction that more Spring-like weather begins today! The sun is shining ... that's a good start, isn't it? 

I am recognizing... that sometimes when I ask for someone's opinion or advice, it's not so much to get their input, but it's more to clarify what I am actually thinking or wanting. The juxtaposition of her ideas alongside my own soon makes it clear what I'm really desiring. Same goes for tossing a coin -- heads or tails -- when undecided about two choices. As the tossed coin descends, in that split second I know which way I want it to land. 

Did I happen to mention... We're going to Oxford later this Spring for my birthday? We didn't get to see this lovely city last summer, but I've been dreaming of visiting for years now. I want to see for myself those famous spires and steeples, and to snoop out haunts of old scholars and writers like C.S. Lewis. I want to catch glimpses of sprightly daffodils dancing in fields and alongside headstones in old church yards. I want to take in Choral Evensong at Magdalen College and listen for the church bells pealing on a Sunday morning; maybe go punting on the river in the afternoon. They say Oxford is a walking city, so taking in some walking tours are a must. It's all a birthday treat from handsome husband. Isn't he grand? I'm so grateful and so happy.

In my kitchen... After an afternoon of aromatic simmering, it's finally time for supper. Every spoonful is flavourful and generous with meat and vegetables. So worth the effort. Found this winner recipe here.

Post Script...  Sharing a link to a new-to-me fellow blogger. Accompanied by lovely photos, JES creates a delightful post about Jane Austen and the lovely homemaking hints gleaned from Jane's writings.
Shared Quote... 
"The beautiful spring came;
and when Nature resumes
 her loveliness, the human
soul is apt to revive also."
~ Harriet Ann Jacobs

A moment from my day... Here sits a simple vase of tulips at dusk. The striking pose of yellow petals against the indigo sky has me grabbing for my camera before the moment is blink gone.



  1. Dear Brenda:
    This is a WOW! All I can say is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Absolutely wonderful - so uplifting! Thank you!

  2. Thank you for this beautiful entry. You are so inspiring. I'm heading out to run errands ahead of our expected foot of snow, and I just want you to know I have flowers on my shopping list.:-)

  3. How exciting to hear that you are visiting Oxford later! I lived near there many years ago and it is a city of so many surprises, beautiful college buildings, rivers, wonderful shops and restaurants...... Maybe try to fit in some of the lovely outlying places too. I read Surprised by Oxford a couple of years ago, it was a most interesting book.

  4. Another lovely post, Brenda. I'd be hard-pressed to choose a pair of shoes from the photo. One pair to wear out, another to wear in!
    How delightful to visit Oxford later this year! There's so much to see in the UK and we're planning another trip for a few years out, too.
    Tulips against an indigo sky and snowy world are indeed a thing of beauty.
    Have a wonderful week.

  5. Oh I like the aqua ones with the buckle...timeless and clasic. And I certainly like the look of your soup. It looks perfect for a stormy day!

  6. When I first began blogging many blogs I read posted their day using the format of 'The Simple Woman's Day Book', and I always loved reading the posts. I have never used this format but see it can give many a good insight to the blogger's life.

    I too love Agatha Christie's writings, and also those of C.S. Lewis and Emily Dickinson. Maybe that is why o love your blog too !

    60 Years in 60 Photos sounds like a grand challenge to me as a scrapbooking older lady who is way behind in my scrapbooking and photo albums. The hardest part of this must surely be deciding which of many photos will represent all of one year.

  7. I think I say this every time, but I just love the daybook posts. So many different wonderful things... yes, David Suchet is a favorite. We finished all the Poirots a couple of years ago and watched the PBS special with him being interviewed about playing Poirot. Agatha and stew and Oxford and shoes and yellow tulips on blue background. What a post! :)

  8. Hi Brenda,
    I always love your book recommendations. I'm almost finished with the Patrick Taylor series on Dr. O'Reilly which I have loved. They have made great winter reading.

    I can't wait to try the book on Oxford. I was there a few years ago and loved the city. Wished I had had more time. It is just beautiful---the churches, historical buildings, cozy shops and restaurants. I wish you a wonderful trip.

  9. Enjoy your reading and writing and I hope that spring is soon fully with you!

  10. I always come away feeling like I know you more and optimistic.
    Oxford! That is great!

    "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."
    ~ Helen Keller ~

  11. Brenda, It is so refreshing to visit with you through your posts, which are so delightful. I have read, 'Surprised by Oxford', and actually took a workshop presented by Carol Weber. She is a lovely lady. I can assure everyone you will love reading her book, and enjoy her humour.

  12. Back to England! What joy for you! A friend gave me that book Surprised by Oxford two years ago and I haven't managed to crack it yet - it's kinda big ;-)

  13. Oxford sounds amazing. I would pick the black flats with the whip stitching around the edge. Very on point for now not just for 1957. It's amazing how fashion recycles. Thanks for sharing. I'm a new follower.

  14. A wonderful post, Brenda, with so much food for thought! I can relate to Emily Dickinson - tucked away in quiet reverie - pursuing simple passions with just a few loved ones and special friends for connecting to the outside world. I love the 1957 slippers and could imagine these would make a complete shoe wardrobe even in current times. Your trip to Oxford sounds amazing and something to carry you through these lingering winter days. Your 60 years project is quite an accomplishment and something to cherish. It's so nice that your dear Mother is helping you 'remember'. There are still so many questions I would love to ask my own Mother, but now the time has passed with no answers. I do love that you are writing your autobiography, too. We all have such interesting stories that make us who we are. Autobiography is my favorite reading genre. Fresh tulips and hot stew are the saving grace of cool March days. Thank you for your kindness regarding our little pup, Peanut. Wishing you a lovely weekend ahead. Hugs and blessings xo Karen

  15. I'm so glad I found you! Your writing is just beautiful - it's calming, soothing, thought provoking and interesting!
    Your soup and tulips remind me of myself - how we appreciate these simple things in life.
    Enjoy your trip to Oxford. I'm sure it will be quite an adventure.

  16. I would wear either the black slippers or the blue pair with flowers on the side.

    Hercule Poirot always makes me think of my grandfather who was a huge fan of Agatha Christie.

    I look forward to seeing Oxford through your eyes!

  17. I loved Agatha Christie's autobiography, you couldn't have picked a better role model. And I loved David Suchet's interpretation of Poirot. I'm so happy for you, going to Oxford! So much history in one city. Have you seen the mystery series Lewis? It celebrates the city.


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