Saturday, August 11, 2018

Those Were The Days: Childhood Summers on the Farm

Priscilla du Preez |

As a kid, I never thought we lived in an interesting place. To me, it was just so ordinary. Plunked on a small farm in the middle of rural Alberta, there were no lost pirate treasures to be found, no abandoned spooky cabins or fairy tale cottages to be discovered, no caves or forests to explore. The adventures the kids had in my storybooks were way more exciting and exotic than what was going on in my small regular life. How I used to long for some of those adventures.

Little did I realize, when I look back now, we had everything we needed to stoke our imaginations. Warm summer mornings would call to us as breezes blew on our faces. Our little chores done, we would be free to play the rest of the day. The entire farm was our oyster. There was nothing much that we could really get into trouble with either, which is probably why Mom had no problem with us playing anywhere. We just had to tell her where we were heading.

Half the fun was deciding where we'd explore on a given day. We could go down past the chicken barn to the woodsy area. Tall willows and poplars created a shady spot where weeds grew tall. There we'd make tracks in the nettles for games of Fox and Goose, or we'd play on an old swing left over from my dad's youth. When we tired of that, we'd move down towards the creek, always a fascinating draw for us. We would hear the warning Mom would give on our way out the door, not to get too close to the creek. We were mindful of her words and we did tread carefully, but mostly because we didn't want the water tipping into our boots as we hunted pussy willows. 

The creek ran through the southeast corner of the farm, and the only time it amounted to anything would be the few days during spring thaw. From the back meadow, the deep drifts of melted snow would rush and roar their way through the worn gully down to the creek bed, at which point the water would carry on through the culvert into the neighbour's land. I used to love that roar as it gushed past the barns. It was that sound that I imagined when I read about the wind soughing through the fir trees Heidi used to listen to as she fell asleep in Grandfather's chalet loft.

Out behind the barns there were rock piles and the family's collection of refuse -- old tin cans mostly-- that provided many happy hours of exploration. We didn't put our garbage there, so I always thought it was from my dad's time as a boy. That felt funny to think about. Sometimes we found little pieces of coloured glass or odd shaped bottles. Climbing around on the rock piles and past the low tree branches was always an exercise in agility. Who needed a playground? The rusted out body of an old car (1940's?), hauled out there long before our time, created hours of playtime, driving and braking and signaling as we turned corners on imaginary roads. 

Sometimes we'd decide to walk along the fence line where shrubs and bushes and wildflowers grew. We'd watch the butterflies and hear the bees buzz past as we'd tromp through the fields. Mom would say one sunny day that the berries were getting ripe, and we'd be sent out with pails tied to our waists--to keep the spillage to a minimum. A happy trek to the outer edges of the property line where we'd find the tall Saskatoon bushes-cum-trees. Some years they would be loaded with fat, purple berries. The best bunches always seemed to be on the top branches and we'd have to fan-dangle ways to bend them down low enough to pick from -- usually that required team effort. Other years when there had been less rain the berries were small and harder. Still tasty. It was always a sad little moment to hear the lonely plunk of that first berry as it hit the bottom of the pail. Such an echo merely echoed our own secret thoughts at how very long it would take to fill our pails. We'd sing all the songs we knew to help while away the time as we picked. 

A walk past the barn to the west would bring us to the gully where the spring waters had run. In the deep of summer it was completely dry, so it created a lovely dip and hill for our bike riding and hiking. Up and down we went, the dog always happy to have company as he explored his trek of gopher holes and smelly rotting piles.

Amelia Bartlett |
We took for granted all the wildflowers and grasses that grew on our farm and ditches along the roadside. How freely they grew: nettles, alfalfa, clover, purple vetch, wild sweet-peas, yarrow, cowslip, yellow sow thistles, fox tails, goldenrod, chamomile, to name a few. We'd go out and gather bouquets and then play wedding in the front yard. The cement steps always made for good seating for the wedding guests. There would be dress-up clothes and much planning of the big event. We usually played this when we had playmates for the afternoon. 

Some days our explorations took us to the barnyard and the big barn. Ours was not painted the usual red colour. Dad decided on silver when the new barn was built. And we always loved that it was silver. We'd slide the big door open and walk into the cool darkness. Sometimes there'd be sows and their piglets to see. We were always told to stay out of their pens as sows could be nasty. Stanchions stood ready for milking time, when fresh hay would be put down for the cows. I never learned to milk as the cattle were sold and we never kept cows after that. But I still remember what it felt like to have the calves suck milk from my finger tips. Or, watch the cats slurp milk still warm from the cow. 

The hayloft was a fun spot. Climbing the ladder on the side of the wall and then playing in the hay. Looking for kittens. I remember it being hot and steamy up there and how poky the hay felt if it got down our shirts. Sunbeams would stream in through the loft door, showing the air was alive with dust and bits of hay. Birds would flit in and out. Definitely pigeons, maybe barn swallows too.

There were other days we'd opt to stay near the house...especially if it was too hot to stump over hill and dale. So, we'd play house under blanket tents we'd become expert at pegging to the step railing. We'd don our bathing suits and use the water hose to make a tiny spray park. We'd sit with our snacks in the shade of the big poplars and read our books, or sit on the back step slurping Popsicle's and eating watermelon, the dog panting at our feet.

Some afternoons we'd tromp half a mile across the fields to meet our friends on the next farm. It never seemed far, and what a happy sight when we caught sight of them waiting for us at the property line. We'd while the afternoon away learning to whistle blades of grass, or watch cloud formations in the blue sky, or trek through their swamp to stay cool.

Funny, for such a small ordinary life lived on a small ordinary farm, we never ran out of things to do or places to explore and re-explore. Our days were full of everything and nothing. How happy these memories of summers on the farm make me feel today. I hope they stir your own happy memories. Truly, those were the days, my friends, those were the days.

Hugs and blisses,

Friday, August 03, 2018

Where You Tend A Rose

"Much more surprising things can happen to anyone who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable, determinedly courageous one. ... Two things cannot be in one place. Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow.” ― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

It's been a while since I wrote my first post in my new series, How I Found My Beautiful Life.  CLICK TO READ  I'm not sure why it's taking so long for the second post to get writtenI have been giving it a lot of thought, dreaming about what to share next, but so far nothing's been gelling. As I wait, I begin work on this new post about that lovely old movie, The Secret Garden.

Turns out when you let the Muse take the lead, she'll often bring you to the spot where you wanted to be in the first place. She likes going the round-about way, which is a lot like me, as it turns out. Something started bubbling up that I never, ever thought I'd share with anyone. One doesn't usually advertise one's foibles and imperfections, especially online, but my little story seems to have found its place of belonging when I started writing this post about The Secret Garden. Here goes...

Many years ago when my really kindred bosom friend, Jean, and I were housemateslong before either of us were marriedwe used to watch the 1987 Hallmark version of The Secret Garden. We loved it and were both drawn to a line the crusty old gardener said in the movie: "Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow." We loved that line and would often quote it to each other with an English accent. It fit so well with our growing desire to think good thoughts and to pull up any that were weedy and noxious in nature.

Although you can hardly imagine it (wink), I used to be a bit of a whiner-grumbler if things weren't quite to my taste or satisfaction. I'd feel a keen sense of loss and disappointment when things didn't turn out right or if I felt hard done by. I would most often whine inside my head about these things, but sometimes folks around me heard about it too. One thing I really disliked was getting up early in the mornings. I was a night owl and it was a real chore to get ready for work. It was always the hurry, hurrying to get out the door on time which made me feel owly. It was so stressing.

I shall never forget one particular morning, I was in the kitchen ready to leave for work, when I very clearly heard a Voice inside me speak, 'Would you quit your whining!'

You can be sure I stood up straight and took notice. Shocked was I to hear the Lord's voice so clearly. He was not amused that day. Not sure why he took exception that particular morning, deciding to say something that would get my attention. Although I can hardly blame him for piping up, having to listen to me muttering away every single morning. Someone might ask how I knew it was God speaking. You see, I have always believed there is God and, at that time, Jean and I had been practicing to listen for the still, small voice, so we would grow to recognize it. I wanted to be able to hear him speak when I asked for direction, when I wanted to learn something about his ways, or when I needed encouragement, that sort of thing. But, until that moment, I'd never heard the Voice so definite, so clear ... yet I knew it was him. And, I knew I deserved the reprimand.

Never shall I forget that moment. It was a life changer for me. I became very aware of my attitude and how I was processing my inward thoughts about all kinds of things. I didn't realize just how negative I was inside. I did a decent job of covering it up most of the time, but my heart was a bed of weeds and thistles. I eventually told Jean about my encounter and she very nicely created a sign which we posted on the refrigerator door. WHINING, in bold letters, inside a big circle with a diagonal line drawn through it. You get the idea. The reminder was ever present and I sorely needed it.

I was so glad. I wanted my thought life to change. I wanted to think beautiful thoughts. For, not only could I hear the wilderness of thoughts in my own head, but Someone else could hear them too. I wanted him to hear thoughts that were lovely and worthy, honourable and seemly, winsome and gracious. I wanted those kind of thoughts for myself for we've heard it said, as a woman thinks in her heart, so is she. That's who she becomes. As I worked to change this icky habit, eventually my thoughts grew less negative and, thankfully, less grumbly. The other lovely thing that happened was that my whole life brightened because my inner world had taken a turn for the better. I started to see things differently, and I began to look for the beauty in the middle of whatever was happening in my life, pleasant or unpleasant. As I say, it became a life changer.

To this day, when I catch myself starting to grumble, I remember the divine encounter I had that morning so long ago. I also remind myself of Miss Burnett's lovely thought about where we tend roses, thistles cannot grow.

And that, dear readers, is an important step in how I  came to find my beautiful life.

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed
and every morning revealed new miracles.”
 ― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

On to what I wanted to tell you about The Secret Garden. As I said, Jean and I both enjoyed watching the 1987 movie, which included a very young Colin Firth, who played the adult Colin Craven when he came to meet Mary Lennox in their secret garden as young adults. They say it's a movie for children, but really, it's for anyone young at heart. And any lessons we can glean from it are worthy at any age.

Did you know that there is a remake of The Secret Garden in the works? And, Colin Firth is to once again have a role in this story. Thirty years later, he'll be playing Mary's benevolent, yet neglectful guardian Archibald Craven (formerly played by Sir Derek Jacobi). Do you think he'll make a good Archibald Craven? I certainly think so.

From all accounts, the story, which was being filmed earlier this year, is to be tweaked from the original, with the latest film to be reset in a slightly later time period, removing it from the Edwardian era to shortly after World Word II in 1947. It will be on the eve of Partition in India and in the aftermath of the war in Britain.
"When Mary Lennox (Dixie Egerickx), a prickly and unloved 10-year-old girl, born in India to wealthy parents, is sent to England to live with her guardian Archibald Craven (Firth) on his remote country estate, she begins to uncover several family secrets, particularly when she meets her sickly cousin Colin (Edan Hayhurst). These two damaged, slightly misfit, children begin to heal each other, partly through their exposure to a wondrous secret garden, lost in the grounds of the manor. Julie Walters plays the head housekeeper" (Indian Summers on Masterpiece Theatre). excerpt from The Hollywood Reporter
I'm always a little nervous with remakes of old favourite films. We get attached to what we knew first, don't we? So, to the fans of The Secret Garden, will you be okay with the story shifting to a later time in history? I think it can still work. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds. I could not find a release date yet, but it's something new to watch out for.

As a final wrap up, here are a few other lovely lines from this classic well-loved story:

“Sometimes since I've been in the garden I've looked up
through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy
as if something was pushing and drawing in my chest
and making me breathe fast." 

“And they both began to laugh over nothing as children will
when they are happy together. And they laughed so that in the end
they were making as much noise as if they had been
two ordinary healthy natural ten-year-old creatures—
instead of a hard, little, unloving girl and a sickly boy
who believed that he was going to die.” 

“But the calm had brought a sort of courage and hope with it.
Instead of giving way to thoughts of the worst,
he actually found he was trying to believe in better things.” 

* * *

Here's wishing you a beautiful day!


Friday, July 20, 2018

Five on Friday: Filling the Well

“...and then, I have nature and art and poetry,
and if that is not enough, what is enough?”
~ Vincent van Gogh 

The Van Gogh Museum recently posted that, in the many letters he wrote over the years, Vincent van Gogh mentioned over 1,100 works by different artists and at least 800 books and magazine articles. To be so well-read and aware of such a variety of artists and books in his line of work, and then to pass along that knowledge to others, well, I find that truly fascinating. And, he didn't even have access to the Internet or Google. 

No wonder his art is so wonderful. Just think of the wealth of information that enriched and deepened his knowledge, understanding, and development of his artistic abilities. Talk about filling the inner well to overflowing. With such a springboard for inspiration surely he never ran out of ideas to explore or experiment with. It all would have helped him to stretch and grow both as an artist and as an individual.

"A mind that is stretched by a new experience
can never go back to its old dimensions."
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

It makes me stop to consider what I'm doing to create a fresh and flowing well of inspiration for myself. I think about what I'm reading that enriches my own life, personally and as a writer. Curiosity plays such a big role in searching out new things. Thankfully, there's a great big world out there for us to be curious about. Someone recently said that Her Majesty the Queen, at age 92, has never lost her sense of curiosity and that is why she still enjoys life. Having more access to Royal photos these days, I would agree -- there are so many photos where the joy radiates from her face.

“It is looking at things for a long time that ripens you
and gives you a deeper meaning.”
~ Vincent van Gogh 

So, yes, I want to stay royally curious. I do have an insatiable desire to continually deepen my understanding about myself and the world around me. I want to keep the wonder fresh in me -- I admit sometimes it gets jaded -- but I do work to keep growing and learning and exploring things I never thought much about before. Our brains are wired that way, we're told they get excited when we ruffle their ridges and waves with new things. 

Even so, I am inspired by Mr. van Gogh's noteworthy example and plan to take myself in hand to read wider and deeper. To fill the inner well of my soul with good, sweet water.

"Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart;
a wise person draws from the well within."
~ The ancient book of wisdom, Proverbs 20:5

On a slightly different note, many of us have read Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way at some point in our lives. We don't have to be writers or painters to find value in her book for we are all creative artists in one way or another. You may recall how she uses the image of the inner well as an artistic reservoir. She says,
"Art is an image-using system. In order to create, we draw from our inner well. This inner well, an artistic reservoir, is ideally like a well-stocked trout pond. We've got big fish, little fish, fat fish, skinny fish -- an abundance of artistic fish to fry. As artists, we must realize that we have to maintain this artistic ecosystem.
If we don't give some attention to upkeep, our well is apt to become depleted, stagnant, or blocked. ... As artists we must learn to be self-nourishing. We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them -- to restock the trout pond, so to speak. I call this process filling the well."

Today's post is all about filling the inner well. As you scroll down, you will see some of the little gifts that came to nourish me this week, to top up my own depleting well. I offer them now to you with the hope there is something here that will stir and refresh and inspire your own soul.

Photo: Danielle Dolson |
It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once;
a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising.
Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming,
on sea and continents and islands,
each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.
~ John Muir

Such a lovely breeze came into my study window early one gray, drizzly morning. Disregarding the rain, birds chattered in the backyard, vying for spots at the feeders. I found it all most companionable as I sat at my desk looking out. I felt the solitude, the solace, the peacefulness. The way I like to start any day.

Photo: David Vig |
tree-ward eyes do gaze
fragrant breezes caress a face
as music from the leaves begins
shhh, be hushed!
may day's agitations now release
~ bcl ~

I went for my walk the other evening. I headed up the street towards the west, and as I came to the bend in the road, I caught a whiff of something on the breeze. In that moment, the trees along the street were releasing their lovely earthy, woody fragrance after a long, hot day. I can never quite find words for that smell -- can you? A mix of earth and green, maybe a hint of berry or herb. Whatever it is, in that brief second I felt as if I were strolling along some lush woodsy path.

Then... a truck blew by and left diesel in its wake. The moment evaporated. And, with that the city street was back. In spite of the rude interruption, I cherished my tiny bit of heaven, and now still remember it two days later. That's why I must tell you about it.


"Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful;
they are sunshine, food and medicine to the mind."
~ Luther Burbank

It was just after 5:00 am when I slipped out the front door to snip a couple of pink cosmos for the little green vase on my desk. I love their pinkness. So rich and vibrant. Sometimes when the sun is just right and the light lands on the petals, I'm reminded of that delightful treat of yesteryear and have a mind to dub them "Popsicle Pinks".


"Open afresh your rounds of starry folds,
Ye ardent Marigolds.
~ John Keats

Then I walk past the patch of marigolds to run my fingertips along their scented petals. Snipped off the spent blossoms. Their very marigold-ish scent lingers on my fingers -- pungent like tomato leaves.

The day's begun and I bring my little gifts inside where they give me joy all the day long.


Libraries change lives. They are the soul of a people.
~ Diane Ackerman

Here is what I've got on the table for my 'digging deeper' summer reading. One or two I've read before (like Austen's), others I'm in the middle of, and the rest I am looking forward to getting into. I'm quite certain more will be added as the weeks go by.

by Jane Austen

“I come here with no expectations, only to profess, now that I am at liberty to do so, that my heart is and always will be...yours.” My favourite line in the book -- and especially thrilling when Mr. Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant) speaks it so sublimely in the movie.

compiled by George Davidson

An anthology of poems to be read, enjoyed, and learned. Poets include Blake, Burns, Dickinson, Keats, Shakespeare, Yeats, Whitman, and many others.

"We should learn a poem because we like it, because we have enjoyed reading it, because it speaks to us, because it makes us laugh or cry, because it brings us solace or reassurance, because it gives us a better understanding of ourselves or of other people, because it brings back memories of childhood, or for any of a dozen other personal reasons. We should learn a poem because...we want to have it with us as a readily available companion in all that life brings us or throws at us." ~ excerpt from the Introduction by George Davidson

by Diane Ackerman (author of The Zookeeper's Wife)

"All dawns delight me. No two people experience the same dawn, psychologically or literally. On the equator, dawn unfolds in minutes; at the poles it can stretch for hours. Only as dawn's final drama does the sun actually rise. ... Being in nature at dawn always comforts me."

Philip Zaleski, Editor

I haven't read this book yet, but I just found it at the library. I have read one or two other editions as a way to catch a glimpse of what writers of various faith traditions talk about.

by Ray Bradbury

“Read poetry every day of your life. Poetry is good because it flexes muscles you don’t use often enough. Poetry expands the senses and keeps them in prime condition. It keeps you aware of your nose, your eye, your ear, your tongue, your hand. And, above all, poetry is compacted metaphor or simile. Such metaphors, like Japanese paper flowers, may expand outward into gigantic shapes. Ideas lie everywhere through the poetry books, yet how rarely have I heard short story teachers recommending them for browsing. // What poetry? Any poetry that makes your hair stand up along your arms. Don’t force yourself too hard. Take it easy. Over the years you may catch up to, move even with, and pass T. S. Eliot on your way to other pastures. ..." ~ excerpt from the book

And, here's an off-the-wall fun quote by Ray Bradbury, which I admit to giggling over: “I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.” I think he'll be fun to read.

by Molly Peacock

A biography/memoir about a woman who lived in the 1700's: Mary Granville Pendarves Delany, daughter of gentry, married at 17 to a drunk, widowed, happily remarried, then widowed again. At age 72 "she rose from her grief, picked up her scissors, and invented a new art form: mixed-media-collage. Over the next decade, she created an astonishing collection of 985 botanically precise, gorgeous flower mosaics." ~ from back cover

See? It's never too late to begin again.

edited by Katherine Ball Ross

This is a collection of essays that were written originally for Victoria magazine. The excerpt below is from one essay by Jane Smiley Jane Austen's Heroines.

"When I first read through my thick Modern Library edition of all six of Jane Austen's novels, I was younger than Elizabeth Bennet. When I reread the novels in graduate school, this time in standard editions plumped out by scholarly matter, I was nearly as old as Anne Elliot (Persuasion). Now I'm older than Mrs. Bennet, and my daughters are nearly Elizabeth and Lydia Bennet's contemporaries. (I am almost as old as Sir Walter Elliot.) I no longer read for the love story, or even, in some ways, for the comedy. I read Austen in order to contemplate her views on the proper behavior of women, and her views are complex. They evolve from novel to novel. They cover a lot of ground, too -- small things like the rudeness of not answering letters quickly fully express larger problems of selfishness ... "

This book brings together excerpts from James Herriot's writings
and photos by Derry Brabbs

"I pulled off the unfenced road on to the grass, switched off the engine and opened the windows wide. The farm back there was like an island of activity in the quiet landscape and now that I was away from the noise and the stuffiness of the buildings the silence and the emptiness enveloped me like a soothing blanket. I leaned my head against the back of the seat and looked out at the chequered greens of the little fields along the flanks of the hills; thrusting upwards between their walls till they gave way to the jutting rocks and the harsh brown of the heather which flooded the wild country above."

* * *

I think that's more than enough for one post. I really should write more often so I don't have to cram everything into one post. But that's in my ideal world -- I hope you will forebear with me until I find that world where inspiration, time, and energy arrive and meld at the same time. 

Without another word, here's wishing you a beautiful day,


Should you be receiving this post via email, please do not reply to it. This email is not generated by me (Brenda) but by my blog host, Blogger -- any replies you might send will go nowhere. // If, however, you want to reply you can leave a comment on my blog directly by clicking on the link 'Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life' located at the bottom left hand side of this email. Thanks!

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Reading on a Summer Afternoon

Photo: Val Vesa |

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon;
to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
~ Henry James

There's nothing like the warmth of a summer afternoon and the drone of bees in the flower garden to bring back equally warm memories of the books I read as a girl during summer holidaysAnne of Green Gables, Little House on the PrairieNancy Drew, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Lassie, Pippi Longstocking, Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, to name but a few.

People tend to remember not only their childhood books but the places where they read them—on the front porch swing, in the attic, in the crook of a huge tree. I don't recall having a special place per se. 'Have new storybook, will read anywhere' was my motto—on my bed, laying on the living room couch, sitting on the back step with the dog nearby, stretched out on a blanket in the shade of the huge poplars. It never really mattered where, for once I cracked open the book, down the rabbit hole I'd disappear and everything else would fade into the background. I could be gone for hours with my eyes glued to the pages.

Recently, I found a copy of Tom Sawyer at our library book sale. I felt the draw of the old Golden Illustrated Classic cover, and so now here I sit in my garden, those bees buzzing in the thyme, with the book in my lap. Mark Twain, in his 1876 Preface, declared that his book was intended mainly for the entertainment of boys and girls. I can attest, this girl was duly entertained. He went on to say, "I hope it will not be shunned by men and women on that account, for part of my plan has been to try to pleasantly remind adults of what they once were themselves, and of how they felt and thought and talked, and what queer enterprises they sometimes engaged in."

How well Mr. Twain knows us. Opening the storybook to read long forgotten but strangely familiar lines, memories gushed like water from a hose on a warm day. Not only about the story itself, but about my own surroundings and who I was at that age when I first read it.

Tom Sawyer lived in a world vastly different from my own—in the Mississippi River town of St. Petersburg, Missouri. It sounded much more interesting, I thought, than growing up on a Canadian prairie farm where playmates were scarce, so I was highly intrigued by his lively escapades with his chums. I giggled at how Tom inveigled his friends to paint the "far-reaching continent of Aunt Polly's unwhitewashed fence". Clever lad. And, who could forget the delicious chill when Tom sneaked out of the house late one night to visit the grave yard with Huck Finn. I allowed myself to imagine sneaking out of our house in the dark of night with little sister in tow to the tree-lined graveyard in town where Grandpa was buried, and I just knew I couldn't do it. In daylight it was a pleasantly amiable spot, but in the dead of night, I was pretty certain I'd be as spooked as Tom and Huck had been. Happy was I to live that adventure vicariously through two braver-than-I fellows.

* * *  

Reading those lines above, I found it hard to shift gears and come back into the present. I wanted to stay there and relive a few more adventures with Tom -- I could feel the girl I once was coming out of the shadows and enjoying her old memories for a few moments.

But, I do want to tell you about three other books I'm dipping into these warm summer afternoons.

Sharing the Journey, Women Reflecting on Life's Passages
edited by Katherine Ball Ross (1997, 2007)

It's a collection of essays originally published in the Victoria magazine back in the day when Nancy Lindemeyer was editor. There's a lovely foreword by Nancy, and it features writers such as Diane Ackerman, Madeleine L'Engle, Susan Minot, Tovah Martin, Reeve Lindbergh (daughter of famous Anne Morrow Lindbergh), among others.

I wanted a copy of this book for years, but reason would win out, saying that since I still had the original magazines with these essays in them, I didn't really need the book. Yes, it's true, but you know what they say about such matters: The heart wants what the heart wants. So, when I found an Amazon birthday gift card in my hand in Spring, I splurged, and you know, it really is nice to sit down and find those favourite essays bound together in one volume.

The flower can always be changing
by Shawna Lemay (2018)

This slim volume of tiny essays caught my eye recently while browsing for something nice at the local bookstore. It was the book cover and the title that stopped me in my tracks. Doesn't it look inviting to read on a summer afternoon?

I'm now in the middle of it and am enjoying very much the author's thoughts about life and beauty and flowers. She says, "I've come to understand the soul is a flower with which to bless the world." I think we might be kindred spirits. How lovely to learn that this new-to-me author lives in a city very near me, which means she's a local girl like me. She is also a blogger at Transactions with Beauty which you can find here.

"Inspired by the words of Virginia Woolf, Ms Lemay welcomes you into her home, her art and her life as a poet and photographer of the every day."  ~ from the back cover

Martha's Vineyard, Isle of Dreams
by Susan Branch (2016)

I just finished reading this lovely memoir ... for the third time now. The first time, I really tried not to hurry through it too much but I have to tell you it's a page turner. If I did finish too quickly, I could do a happy dance, turn around, and read it all again. Which I did.

Knowing how the book ends, I was able to relax and just savour each page—enjoying Susan's lovely artwork in detail, pondering the cute and pithy sayings she included for our mirth and pleasure, letting the story wash over me with its poignant moments as well as its delightful laugh out loud ones. All the while nodding in total recognition of a kindred spiritfor even though our life stories are worlds apart, there is so much that resonates and is the same.

As a young woman Susan knew she wanted to change the worldwell, she certainly has made the world a better place with her cheerful, resolute, and generous spirit as well as her endearing books. She has delighted the lives of many 'girlfriends', including this particular one!

* * *

I couldn't close this post without showing you a couple of pictures of our mock orange. It has given us such joy again this summer. As Susan Branch so aptly said once, "I could never in a hundred summers get tired of this." A huge shrub now, it towers over our back deck. Each year it comes thick with delicate blossoms, filling the air with its sweet perfumemaking it a perfect spot to read.

Fragrance, beauty, and a good book. What more could a person ask for? I heard that, someone out there chimed that an iced glass of something cool and a nibble of something fruity and sweet could be it! You are right, that would make it practically perfect in every way.

"All in all, it was a never to be forgotten summer—one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going—one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world." ~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams
* * *

"Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability."
~ Sam Keen

* * *

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day
listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky,
is hardly a waste of time."
~ John Lubbock

And, so I come to the end. I hope you will have lots of those deep summer moments to idle away with a good book in a shady spot. I'd love to hear what you are reading this summer. Here's wishing you a wonderful week ahead.


Friday, June 22, 2018

A Single Peony Blossom

A flowerless room is a soulless room, to my way of thinking;
but even a solitary little vase of a living flower may redeem it.
~ Vita Sackville-West

* * *

I must have flowers, always, and always.” 
~ Claude Monet

* * *

“A flower blossoms for its own joy.”
~ Oscar Wilde

* * *

Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places
and a wonderful weekend ahead!

From my garden to your heart,

Monday, June 18, 2018

A Little Something On Monday

**A little something from the garden**

I had a little lesson about finding treasure in the muddy and broken. A couple of these tiny sprigs were salvaged from their mother plants when they broke off and got muddied during a heavy rainstorm a couple days ago. I plucked them up and rinsed them off. The purple salvia (which looks so much like lavender, doesn't it?) took a hit during transport from the garden centre, so I had to regretfully clip off one of the spiky blossoms.

The tiny green bottle a friend once gave me creates a very nice home for these reclaimed beauties. They now sit on top of a stack of books on my desk, with my copy of Oxford Sketchbook as their backdrop.

**A little something for dessert**

The other day I found six of these tiny glass dessert cups at the thrift store. Just what I didn't know I needed until I saw them. We currently have suitcase size ice cream bowls which really are too big for those of us trying to be a little more careful with the sugars and sweets. They take three scoops to fill. A single scoop looks lost in the bottom, which often means 'we'll just top that up, shall we'?

No, we really don't want to top it up, thank you, so these smaller bowls will do nicely. Although you can't really gauge from the photo, there's just enough room for a single scoop of ice cream or a small fruit salad. The bowl's even too small for an ordinary teaspoon to properly sit on the side--it just tips out. Which means I might need to search out some of those shorter spoons too.

What's in the bowl, you ask? Frozen vanilla yogurt topped with the last-in-the-house tiny morsel of delicious Celebration Lemon Creme cookie on a dark chocolate biscuit base. Breaking it into bits, I sprinkled it over top. A spoonful of frozen yogurt, a lemon zest bit, and a bite of chocolate -- let's just say we were content!

**A little side dish for dinner**

This is a simple summer salad using radishes fresh from the garden, or the grocery store if you don't have a garden. The twist is the delightful mix of radish, caraway, and oregano in a white wine vinaigrette. Not sure where I found this recipe, but I'm glad I did. Yum. 

Radish Salad

10 - 15 radishes, thinly sliced

2 tsp. white wine vinegar
2 tsp. canola or olive oil
1 tsp. caraway seed
2 tsp. fresh Greek oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. sugar
Sprinkle of salt
Dash of pepper

Serves 2

**A little something to ponder with your morning coffee**

"Great opportunities come to all, but many do not know
they have met them. The only preparations to take advantage
of them is simple fidelity to watch what each day brings."
~ Albert E. Dunning

* * *

"Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the
part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it.
Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got."
~ Steven Pressfield

* * *

"For one moment quit being sad.
Hear blessings dropping their blossoms all around you."
~ Rumi

* * *

"Do for one what you wish
you could do for everyone."
~ Andy Stanley

* * *

On that note, I'm wishing you a pleasant week ahead. I truly hope there is something scheduled in it that makes you look forward to it with delight and confidence.


Monday, June 11, 2018

How I Found My Beautiful Life: Somewhere Near the Beginning

Unknown |

"Every life is braided with luminous moments."
~ John O'Donohue, from The Invisible Embrace of Beauty

This post goes back in time to the start of my life's journey. No, not as far back as my birth date--I was thinking a little more recent than that, but still over forty years ago. It was 1977 and I was about to graduate from college. I had just turned twenty, and although turning eighteen two years earlier meant I was legally an adult, for me it was my twentieth birthday and graduation that really marked the end of my youth and childhood and ushered in my life as an adult. It was a monumental moment as I gazed into my future.

Though the future was expectedly misty in detail, I felt alive with youthful hope for all the possibilities spread out before me. Naturally I was curious about what my life would be like, but one thing I had absolutely no doubt about. It was something I'd been dreaming about since I was a little girl -- that my life would definitely include one very nice Prince Charming. And by my estimation he had already run a little late for a very important date. You see, I had secretly hoped to meet this handsome young man during my college years, to be one of the couples who studied together in the library, mooning over their books and secretly holding hands under the table. (Lorrie, was that you?) 

Alas, it was not to be. Slightly disappointed but completely confident he would appear around the next corner, I worried not. There were just so many other interesting things to fill my thoughts--like getting ready for the four-month working trip to Venezuela I would embark on shortly after grad. Life was good.

Memories are like antiques,
the older they are the more valuable they became.
~ Marinela Reka

There is something that I have to tell you about before I go any further. It was just a tiny moment in time, but it ended up playing a key role in my overall life story. It was just before graduation and everyone was clearing out their dorm rooms. My roommate, Darlene, had already moved her things out. I, too, was packed and ready to go hand in the key. The room, empty and bereft of all our college paraphernalia, echoed with memories of laughter and homesick tears, silly and fun hall parties, late night whispered confidences, life-time friendships being forged, remembrances of those crazy all-nighter stints to finish term papers, including my room detention once for skipping breakfast too many times. So many wonderful memories had been created in that room. Now it was time to go.

In that moment before the door closed for the last time, I stopped to whisper a little prayer. It was me marking the threshold moment. God, as I begin my new life, I want You to know I am willing to do whatever You have for me, and when I'm not willing, I'm willing to be made willing ... and please don't let me marry the wrong man.

Little did I know that little cry that I seemingly tacked on at the end in all earnestness was to impact my life for years to come.

* * *

When I think about my twenties and my thirties, I think of them this way: my twenties were all about finding my life as an adult, and my thirties were all about discovering how to have a beautiful life when I found myself a career girl and still single, not the wife, mother, and homemaker I once dreamed of being.

Right after grad, I traveled to Venezuela and lived there for four months. I loved, loved living there but that's a story for another time. When I came back home to Canada, I stayed with my family on the farm until Christmas, after which my mom and I went into the big city to hunt for an apartment, so that I could start looking for a job. What fun I had setting up housekeeping for myself, paying rent each month like a grownup, finding new friends, going shopping, and participating in a new church and young adult group. I was involved in volunteering and loved teaching Sunday School to grade five kids, singing in the choir and the annual Singing Christmas Tree, creating workshops for church education conferences, going on holidays, entertaining friends, taking community courses such as flower arranging and sewing.

In the middle of it all, over the years I kept my eyes peeled for that nice Prince Charming who was sure to be stepping out of the shadows any moment and who would be the one to help make my dreams come true. But, as life would have it, in all those years that nice young man never materialized. There were some possibilities, but promising starts always ended in disappointment. One young man told my roommate he thought I was beautiful, but that he wasn't ready to get married (he was engaged six months later, so much for not being ready to marry, just not to me).

Another one was perfect (in my eyes) but when he found I was older than he was, he figured I wasn't perfect for him and was outta there. So, so disappointed. It's good to learn to trust God in those times, but oh the tears and wails along the way. One time I cried out to Him asking for something from Him that would sustain me in my heartbreak. He replied (to my astonishment). I actually heard His voice somewhere near my ear, and I knew it was Jesus speaking. I told Him that I had so much love to give and nobody wanted it. And He said, yes, he knew how that felt too. Talk about an intersecting of my heart with the Divine One. That was an experience I held dear to my heart for a very long time. I felt cherished and honoured that he would speak to me so clearly. To think that we shared this similar 'rejection'. He knew my heart and now I knew something of His heart. I was truly comforted by it.

* * *

The decade and my twenties flew by and soon I found myself turning thirty. I was established in my job working for the Premier of Alberta--a career girl just like Mary Tyler Moore--something I had not planned for at all. But I liked my job. I loved working at my own desk, and I loved the beautiful Legislature Building in which I worked. I had good friends and enjoyed fun times together. I went to Europe with my best friend-sister-housemate, Jean. I joined the calligraphy guild and took water colour classes, even took a Victorian lampshade making class. I adored our two sweet kitties, Gilbert and Sullivan--they filled my life with so much joy. I was involved with a church I loved. And I was a proud auntie to three little nephews. Did I say that life was good, it was just not what I expected.

I'll have you know I did not have a melt down when I turned thirty upon coming home from yet another wedding still single in a world where everybody else seemed to be finding partners. I had meltdowns in my twenties, but I was growing up. I'd already had some inklings as I neared my new decade that I needed to shift my thinking. I had to think about what I wanted ... and after much heart searching, I knew I wanted to live a beautiful life ... show the world it was more than okay to be single. That there was life and happiness in this state of being. Oh, and though I still hoped for love and marriage, I wasn't going to wait around for it anymore.

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned,
so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
~ E.M. Forster 

For the life of me, I don't know why I didn't ever clue in that I had prayed a prayer years earlier about not marrying the wrong man. Maybe I never thought God would take notice or that He would actually answer it. Yet, all along He was very faithfully closing the door on unsuitable mates, until years later, when meeting the man I would marry, that door never closed. Through it all, I was learning to trust Him.

* * *

And so... you now have a little idea of where I started and how things unfolded in my life as a young woman. I had to learn to embrace the life I had, not the one I yearned for. I also had to learn that a beautiful life doesn't just happen, but it's something that flourishes and grows choice by choice by choice. And, by listening to the One who longed to share His wisdom and His beautiful love with me.

There's so much more to tell. It will come little by little ... I have to go through the memory archives much like going into an old cedar chest. Only instead of storing away treasured items, I'll be taking things out -- kind of like a hope chest in reverse. But that's all for another day. It's time to wrap this up for today. So, on that note...

I'm wishing you glimpses
of heaven in unexpected places,


Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: A Tiny Peek in the Garden

When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy,
there is always the garden.
~ Minnie Aumonier

Earth laughs in flowers.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

We can complain because rose bushes have thorns,
or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.
~ Abraham Lincoln

The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others,
is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.
~ Gertrude Jekyll

The kiss of the sun for pardon. Song of the birds for mirth.
You’re closer to God’s heart in a garden than any place else on earth.
~ Dorothy Frances Gurney

The garden is starting to look lovely. The peonies are in full bud--a few more days and they will burst out (no pics here yet). The patterned pink petunias are happy in a big display pot. Just bought the pink geranium in a hanging basket for our back deck. Hmm...I see there seems to be a pink theme this Spring.

Mom's Peace Rose (the one we take care of for her at our house) has been sharing the love these past few days with several gorgeous blossoms. I never get tired of watching this rose send out her amazing blooms.

Can't wait to plant out the red dahlias--I bought two pots last night. And the lovely purple tulips are done for this year but they gave such a show a week or two ago, I had to show you too. I've been been tucking in annuals to fill in empty spaces around our new perennials--marigolds, alyssums, and snapdragons, to name a few. Once they get started, I'll share pictures.

Here's wishing you a beautiful day,


PS. Busy working on my first 'how I found my beautiful life' post;
hope to get it up this weekend.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Musing On A Monday

Today's post is one that's filled with a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

You will notice the tulips on my dining table are nearing the end of their life. As you see from the photo above, I've taken full advantage of their every stage and am now enjoying their papery translucence just before they completely fade off. Interestingly, I took this photo earlier this morning, but now hours later this yellow beauty has since dried up and called 'er done.

Since it's only Monday, I can't call this my Five on Friday, but you will see I've used a similar format. I hope you enjoy the moments you spend here today! And that your heart finds something peaceful, hopeful, and a little fun.  Bring your tea, it's longer than I figured it would be. 

* * *

ONE: The Garden is Coming Alive

Our region has finally shaken off its winter dullness, and now every morning there's something new to see and marvel at in our garden and neighbourhood. Even though it happens every year, once Spring arrives in earnest, it still surprises me just how quickly--and seriously--the earth begins her process of coming alive, with green shoots and leaves springing up out of nowhere, without notice.

"And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the Spring begins"
~ Algernon Charles Swinburne

Two weeks ago, most things still looked mostly 'dead'. Hardly a sign of life. But, early this morning I went out and there were my tulips in full bloom, as well as the gorgeous new day lily I brought home the other day from the garden centre. I did not plant her yet, but her eagerness to blossom reminded me of a pregnant woman desperate to release that baby inside, even if she's still in the back of the car or riding the elevator up to the maternity ward. This Venetian Fringe, still in her garden centre pot, sitting by the front step, bloomed right then and there, and she has several buds ready to follow suit. Get me in the ground, Girl!

We planted these purple-pink tulips last fall, and we couldn't wait to see them when they opened up this Spring. My, isn't that a gorgeous colour? We're hoping they will spread over the next few seasons. Now, that would be something to see.

The pink flowers in a large dark blue pot make a nice splash of colour near our front step. I thought they were a variety of petunia, but somehow I picked up a pot without a tag, so now I'm not entirely sure. Anyone recognize them? Whatever they are, I love their sassiness and that brilliant combo of deep pink with almost reddish centres.

"By looking at our world through its gardens,
we reaffirm the simple human capacity to
create beauty on this earth..."
~ Audrey Hepburn, Gardens of the World, 1993

* * *

TWO: My Journals

Journals for me are 'pour out' places. They are tools that help assuage my inner need to put pen to paper. A question I have asked myself often, why do I write? I write so that hazy thoughts can come out into the light of day. I write to discover what I'm really thinking. I record a bit of diary to track things like the weather, facts and figures of events, special and ordinary. I journal to track my inner life, what's making me happy, what's unsettling me, what's weighing on my mind about personal matters or the world at large. My notebooks are a catch-all for anything I'm thinking about when I sit to write: goals for better health; inspirational quotes that lift me up; prayers I pray for myself or other people; ideas for new posts, my to-do lists, birthdays I don't want to miss, etc. . My journals are much like this particular post -- a little of this and a little of that.

My journals are work horses, so for me, it's not possible to keep it all pretty and in perfect penmanship and without 'typos' or crossed out words. It is what it is. Still, I do love notebooks with eye catching covers, ones that are nice to hold in my lap and will stay open when I write. The pages must be wide lined. Narrow lines give me a slightly claustrophobic feeling, like maybe the words will squish up to each other and won't be able breathe out their proper meanings.

I love to use stickers -- I like floral, vintage, or whimsical designs. I've tried three-dimensional ones, which are gorgeous, but they do leave funny humps in the pages, making it hard to write on. So when I cannot find what I'm looking for, I clip out pretty magazine pictures and use them to decorate the insides of my journals. With a snip of a scissor and the whisk of a glue stick, they create interest and give me a splash of beauty amongst all those wordy words.

The year or so around my 30th birthday, I was into reading everything I could find by and about L.M. Montgomery. I was drawn to her journals, which were gradually being edited and published for the public at the time. Having read every one of them, I had a firsthand glimpse of how this amazing woman used her journals to create a historical record of her life as a wife, mother, author. She started her first 'official' journal at age 15 and continued until her death. She wrote of her childhood and youth, using a reflective flashback style; she talked about her coming of age, marked her spiritual journey as well as her journey as a writer. She also wrote things about herself she couldn't tell anyone else.

I was inspired deeply to write in a similar fashion and so I began my own first official journal the year I turned thirty, which when I add it up, means I have been keeping ink flowing on my pages for over three decades. Before that, I used a spiral notebook to record a few events I didn't want to forget; it was hardly a diary, and certainly not a journal. And, I used big blue scrapbooks to capture glimpses of my adolescent youth, which housed birthday cards, funny notes from friends, the special corsage from Grad Night, programs of favourite concerts and events like the opera Carmen, pictures of the silly things we used to do at college... that sort of thing.

So I guess all along, I've been the recorder of my own history. What was it Sir Winston Churchill once said ... "For my part, I consider that it will be found much better by all parties to leave the past to history, especially as I propose to write that history myself."  Indeed.

I'd be lost without my journals. Anything and everything I need to remember in the here and now, what I think I might want to remember for posterity, and all the stuff I need to get off my chest ... it all goes in there. Most of my old journals are stored up in the top shelf of one closet where I need a ladder to crawl up there. I've re-read some of them, but never all of them. I'm a little afraid of what I will find in there (haha).

It's a little like digging over old bones. And sometimes it's a revelation to find that I learned something that long ago (it seems only yesterday). And how many times do I read something indicating that I've been going round the same mulberry bush over and over and over. It's disconcerting, though enlightening, to see that familiar territory turn up, again.

Right now they come in handy when I need to reference some detail or date of something for my memoir work. It's all there, well, mostly all there. There are things I fully expect to find, but for some reason, I never recorded that particular event or idea. Truth is, we tend to see more clearly in hindsight. The little idea that didn't seem like much, when we look back, we see it was a life changer, but who was to know that then?

I don't know what I'm going to do with them down the road. Perhaps once I write the stories down that keep stirring inside me, then I will feel the freedom to let them go. Then I won't need them. I certainly don't want them hanging around for anyone else to deal with when I'm gone. Or, heaven forbid, to read them.

You probably won't be surprised when I tell you that over these last thirty years, I've filled over 160 notebooks, large and small. I do my part to keep the notebook industry alive and well.  

* * *

"I have a habit of being an archaeologist of my own past,
a sentimental collector of personal artefacts
which hold a unique significance."
~ Agnes Chew

* * *

THREE: A Startling Moment Holding A Victoria Magazine

I was stopped in my tracks the other evening when I took out the June 1989 issue of the Victoria magazine. Holding it in my hands, I was drawn to the date. June 1989. That's almost thirty years ago. Half my age. Who keeps magazines for that long? Well, I'm pretty certain I'm not the only one to hold onto those cherished magazines, created under the guidance of the truly wonderful Nancy Lindemeyer, Editor in Chief. Many a Victoria reader will be nodding her head that she, too, has held on to her now vintage copies. I have the complete set of the original Victoria magazines, published from 1987 to 2004. They are still loved and still read -- oh, there used to be such lovely articles to sink into with a cup of tea.

I had a pen pal in those days, Cindy C. and we'd write to each other and tell each other which pages were our favourites. Letters and cards were always crossing in the mail. I still have some of them in my memorabilia boxes. We were kindred spirits. We loved writing letters, we shared this love of Victoria magazine, we loved all things Anne and L.M. Montgomery, kitty cats, living beautifully, being single, gardening ... you name it. Floods of splendid old memories come as I write. Oh my!

When I first saw that magazine on the news stand that summer afternoon in 1987, I knew I had an answer to my heart's prayer. Thankfully and gratefully I took that lovely first issue home and read it from cover to cover like an old friend. It gave something to my heart which longed for Beauty. It had lovely articles, gorgeous photography, wonderful ideas for gracious living--it encouraged women to create beauty in their lives and to share it with others. To this day, I'm so grateful for Victoria and the wonderful people who created it and lovingly put together every issue. I'm glad that Phyllis Hoffman has taken up the baton and carried on the tradition as the current editor. It's not the same magazine all these years later, but it's still lovely. 

* * *

FOUR: Countryside or City Dwelling?

Susan from Writing Straight From The Heart, asked the question recently on her blog, "Do you prefer city living or countryside?" I enjoyed thinking about that question for a moment -- here is my reply:

I lived in the countryside growing up on a farm. Loved it. Loved being close to nature, the fresh air, and wide open spaces near cows and wildlife.

I now live in a small city and I like it too. I like being close to the shops when I need something. I like being closer to good quality makeup even if I'm not a big makeup girl (someone left a comment saying that and I realized I liked that too). And, I must admit, after all these years living near neighbours and having street lights, I'm not so keen on being completely isolated and in the dark on a moonless night way out where I can hear the coyotes yowling. I guess I've been away too long. I like knowing my neighbours are around and hearing the laughter when they have friends over in their backyard. I love the sound of lawn mowers off in the distance. And in the night, when I'm wide awake, I look across the way, and see a light on -- sure enough, someone else can't sleep. And that's comforting to me.

When I need some countryside, I go out into it and revel in it. I'll go for drives down quieter country roads and visit the national park nearby, spending the day drinking in the wildness and greenery. But, then I'm happy to come home to my house on a city street with lights.  

* * *

FIVE: Off to Ottawa

Flying off to Ottawa later in the week with my mom and youngest sister. We're off to visit my brother and his family for a few days -- they recently moved to the region. We're looking forward to seeing their new home and spending time together.

I never mind a longish plane ride. There's not much else to do so a person can really get into a book if she wants. Or just sit and think. Or visit, as I will probably do on this trip. We already pre-ordered our in-the-sky lunch (Chopped Leaf caters WestJet's food -- I like Chopped Leaf fare on the ground, so I'm anticipating a lovely grilled chicken salad as we soar through the air.) 

* * *

BONUS: Next Month

I talked in a recent post click here to read about starting a new segment on my blog. You'll recall I still want to write about living a beautiful life, but that I am looking for a new focus, something fresh to write about. There's a story I've been wanting to write out for a long time now. It's the story of how I found my beautiful life. How, when I found myself 30 years old and still single, I realized my long cherished dream of being a wife and mother by age 22 or 23, at the very latest by 25, was long past its due date.

I found myself in a season where I wanted new dreams, even as I still hoped for love and marriage one day. It became a life-enhancing inward journey of discovery. When I look back at it all, I marvel at how God directed my steps and brought me into a place of wholeness, beauty, and joy.

I'm titling this part autobiography/part memoir How I Found My Beautiful Life. There's a glimpse of it in this post -- in the sections on my journal writing and finding the Victoria magazine. I plan the next episode early in June, around the 8th. 

* * *

The day was beautiful and the evening is almost done too. I spent my day writing and working in the garden. The robins sang their evening vespers some time ago. The sun is long set. Let me wish you all a beautiful wonderful week ahead -- may you catch many glimpses of heaven in unexpected places. Grace and Mercy to you all!