Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A Few Little Thoughts On New Year's Eve

Image by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto from Pixabay

"I don't know what lies around the bend (in the road)
but I'm going to believe the best does."
L.M. MONTGOMERY


We've been enjoying some quiet days between Christmas and New Year's. The weather has been mild with a few sunny and a few grey days. It's been perfect for winter walks in the neighbourhood, an activity I must admit I have not taken part in, but I did think about it a few times. With busy days of preparation over, I've been doing due diligence of 'couch-potatoing' not to mention beavering through some of the Christmas leftovers of which there were aplenty. As much as I love stuffing, we tucked the last of it (our family makes huge batches) into the freezer for another day's enjoyment. And the turkey carcass, also in the freezer, awaits its turn for a day of broth and soup-making.

This afternoon we're heading out with friends to see the movie Little Women. I found an interesting online article in The Oprah Magazine by DeAnna Janes in which she does a bit of cast comparison between the 1994 and 2019 versions. You can find the link HERE (there may be spoilers so be aware). I remember watching the old black and white 1949 version with June Allyson as Jo and Elizabeth Taylor as Amy. I loved Elizabeth as Amy. And I have loved and watched the 1994 version so many times over the years. Winona Ryder, she was Jo to me. Now we will see who shall steal our hearts in this newest unwinding of Louisa May Alcott's timeless story. From the reviews I've read, we are in for a treat! 

Santa brought this good girl a couple of bookstore gift cards this Christmas, which means I'm in for a lovely browse for new reading material. I shall hold off a few more days and go when the happy post-Christmas shoppers have dwindled in number. I don't mind being in the hubbub, but it does make browsing easier, less fraughtful to go at a more quiet time. Right now I'm reading a book from the library, a memoir by Abigail Thomas, What Comes Next and How to Like It. I'm just starting it but so far, so good. In my estimation, the advanced praise on the back cover from Elizabeth Gilbert, Anne Lamott, and Stephen King seemed good enough recommendation to bring it home. King says, "Small speaks for large here...Abigail is the Emily Dickinson of memoirists, and so much of this book's wisdom is between the lines and in the white spaces." 

What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days
of our lives haven't even happened yet.
ANNE FRANK


From the Family Archives, circa mid-1960's

This morning I woke up thinking about it being the last day of the year and that we embark on a journey of not only a new year but a brand new decade. Some folks look ahead and think it's all falling apart, yet so many others are filled with hope and great optimism for our future. Me? Maybe I'm feeling a bit of both today. An old song my mother taught me when I was a little girl of maybe five or six came to mind. I sang it all those years ago at someone's wedding with my mom playing the piano. To this day, I still remember those first lines and on occasion they pop up out of nowhere to lend their comfort and cheer to broody thoughts.

I think they are good words with which to start the new year/decade, and so I offer them for anyone who might also find them hopeful as we consider our days and months ahead. If you are interested, you can hear it sung by Alison Krauss on Youtube -- you'll find the link HERE


I KNOW WHO HOLDS TOMORROW
(Words by Ira Stanphill, 1950)

I don't know about tomorrow
I just live from day to day
I don't borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to gray
I don't worry o'er the future
For I know what Jesus said
And today I'll walk beside Him
For He knows what is ahead

Chorus:

Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand


* * *

And now we welcome the new year.
Full of things that have never been.
RAINER MARIA RILKE

* * *

On the front step of this new year, I feel honoured to share the journey with you here in blogland. I remind myself, and you if you need it, to keep watching for those glimpses of heaven that glimmer with hope that 'beyond the pain, life continues to be sweet' (Rosamund Pilcher). On so many levels, we take 'courage, dear hearts', we take courage (C.S. Lewis). For we know who holds tomorrow and we know who holds our hand.


Happy New Year, Beautiful Friends!

With love and hugs,
Brenda
xox



Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas Eve


Image by Eliška Křížová from Pixabay

"The time draws near the birth of Christ:
The moon is hid; the night is still;
The Christmas bells from hill to hill
answer each other in the mist."
ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON, In Memoriam


It was late one Christmas Eve and I had just opened the front door to take a peek outside. Many houses along the street were still lit up. The night sky, afloat with frosted glitter, was hazy and muted. So quiet and peaceful, it was a proper silent night. A holy night.

The neighbour two doors down stood out in front of his house all bundled up. Maybe he was letting the dog out, or having a quiet smoke. Maybe he was watching for Christmas. We waved and called out Merry Christmas to one another. I could see my breath.

Even though I was weary after a full and busy day of preparations, in a twinkling I suddenly felt alive and well in my soul. I went to bed with a smile on my face and Christmas in my heart, for the 'feeling' had just whooshed in on the frosty air. I hoped my neighbour felt it too.

And so I wish you all a Merry Christmas! God bless us every one and to all a good night.

With love and hugs,
Brenda
xox


Friday, December 20, 2019

Holiday Five on Friday

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

"Once a year wonder mists our eyes,
and we see the world through
the wide eyes of a child at Christmas."
VICTORIA MAGAZINE


My Jacquie Lawson advent calendar reminds me it's December 20th today. Already? That means there's only four more sleeps till Christmas Eve, my most favourite day of the whole year when I was a little girl. When you're six or seven, the slow build up becomes excruciating as you wait for the Big Day ... what with the prospect of wearing the new Christmas dress Mom sewed especially for the Christmas Eve service at church, not to mention being so aware of the mound of presents under the tree waiting for us when we got home, candy bags spilling peanuts and candies as we raced to get to the door. At last, the moment arrives for opening presents and eating special snacks together with family in our little farm house all snug and warm on a frosty Christmas Eve. Those memories still sparkle with the wonder of it all.

Reverie ... ah, let me return to this post. As you will have already figured out, I never did do a daily Christmas Countdown here this year. I ended up doing a tiny post on Facebook each day for those who follow me there. So, today let's celebrate here by sharing a Holiday Five on Friday.

With family arriving in a few short days and preparations underway I might not be back until after the festivities. So in case I'm not, I want to wish those of you who celebrate a very Happy Christmas!


...ONE...


Glorious view outside my front door this morning

The weather outside is not frightful
In fact it's quite delightful
The weather's been mild and we've had lots of snow
Travel will be good for those on the go



 ...TWO...


Old Country Roses at Christmas


It's been a quite a few years now since Mom hosted Christmas for the family. It's usually now held at one of her girls' homes which means the beautiful Old Country Roses china that had been such an important part of our family gatherings over the years has not been part of the festivities. So when Mom asked if we could use her china for our family dinner this Christmas, I knew what a beautiful gift that would be for her...and for all of us.

With a couple of china packing boxes in hand, I visited Mom. We carefully packed up the fragile plates and I brought them to my house where they now to await their big day.


...THREE...

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay
A few of my seasonal favourites

fairy lights
family being together for Christmas
wrapping presents

nice surprises that arrive in the mail
almond nougat and snicker-doodles
sitting in a darkened room with only the tree lights turned on

carols and Handel's Messiah
the chance of snow
turkey, stuffing and gravy

the colour of cranberries
early evening twilights and pale morning sunrises
a winter storm, if everyone is home safe and the larder is full

snow laying in dormant fields
music from a Charlie Brown Christmas
smells of Christmas baking filling the air



...FOUR...

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay
Looking for moments of joy

"December can be a hard time for many people,
who keenly feel their life losses at a time when
they expect to feel nothing but joy and celebration.
Instead of expecting holiday times to be a perpetual
infusion of happiness, we should learn to identify
small, fleeting moments of joy in everyday things."
MERI'S MUSINGS

Every day things like...

-A stranger's smile at the post office
-An out of the blue call from a friend
-A gorgeous red winter coat someone is wearing out shopping
-Brilliant blue jays wondering where the peanuts are
-Clinking spoons in saucers mingling with happy chatter
-Festive sparkly pins on a jacket collar
- Songs that remind you God really, really cares about you

The key to recognizing some of these is learning to pay close attention, to watch, look and listen to the world right around us. Sometimes these little joys are hidden in the ordinary, sometimes we don't hear them for stormy howls of world woes and personal problems, sometimes we're so busy thinking of what we are missing or don't have we entirely miss the good gifts staring us in the face. For as Meri also said in her post at Meri's Musings, if we wait for the ruffles and flourishes to tell us it's time to take notice, we will have missed a thousand little episodes of joy.


...FIVE...


My skinny tree in the front window

“...inhale deeply and fill your soul with wintry night.”
UNKNOWN

The tall skinny frosted tree is making merry in my front bay window these days. My heart makes merry to see it decked out with its white lights and red glitter balls. Just like when I was a little girl, I will often plunk myself on the couch for a few minutes to watch the tiny lights grow brighter as the daylight fades into night. It’s a moment to relax and let a little magic happen.

* * *

My writing friend Joy recently sent a wish and prayer for me as a new week began: 'Christmas blessings on your week ahead: peace, joy, love, with sprinkles.' Yes, I'll take that, especially with sprinkles. That's my wish for you today as this last weekend before Christmas begins.


With love and hugs,
Brenda
xx


Friday, December 13, 2019

Light Up Your World

Image from Pixabay

"It is better to light one small candle
than to curse the darkness."
ELEANOR ROOSEVELT


With the shortest day of the year nearly upon us here in the northern hemisphere, the early darkness can certainly weigh heavy on people's spirits. Sometimes, even those of us who love the winter months and take pleasure in these short, grey days and early dusk can also feel the darkness pressing in. 

On such days, many of us push against it by lighting up our homes and yards. I dig out the twinkle lights early in the fall, and as soon as it grows dim in the afternoons -- which gets earlier and earlier -- we switch on a lamp perched on the sofa table in our bay window. Suddenly it all feels cozy. I always hope it creates a moment of gladness in the hearts of anyone out walking their dog or driving past. I love it when I come home of an evening and find that Rick has turned it on for me. Adorable man -- he certainly adds light to my world.

There was a time years ago now, not being well in body or soul, when I found it hard to arrive home to a house shrouded in shadows. I really felt the darkness pressing in during that season, so I used to leave a lamp on, or set a timer to turn on just before I arrived home. I always found walking into an already lit house such a solace. I even uploaded a photo on my computer desk top -- an online pic I found of Jan Karon's writing studio aglow from a lamp on her desk. Of course, it didn't actually add light to my room, but it surely did so to my soul.




My string of golden pine cone lights, bought several years ago now, light up my world at this time of year. Sometimes they nestle in greenery atop a bookshelf or the mantelpiece. This year I set them in a ceramic dish that sits in the middle of the dining table. Every evening, I press the On button and create a bowl of gold. And, then there is my LED pillar candle in the kitchen which basically glows day and night now. I admit to getting a little thrill whenever I see it shimmer as I come down the stairs, especially when I wander in on a sleepless night.




The last couple of days I've been reading The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Oh my, what a thrilling story she tells of her family surviving -- barely -- one bitterly cold winter with blizzard after intense blizzard following one on the other for months on end. What I found so amazing in this tale was how the little Ingalls family found the grace and grit, not to mention gratitude in the midst of their most trying times wrestling with the elements to keep from starving or freezing to death. I tried to imagine how it must have felt for them the day the kerosene for the lantern ran out and there wasn't a snowball's chance in you-know-where for a train with supplies to get through those prairie snowstorms until spring. So they lived by the light of the fire in the stove, and often went to bed when it grew dark to save the firewood or hay bundles they used as fuel for the next morning.

As I say, I came away from the story amazed ... first that it wasn't blizzarding in my world when I 'came to'. Haha. And second, because I became ever so grateful for my basically easy, cozier world where I can turn on the lights any time to chase away the shadow bears.

I'm pretty certain there are dozens of ways that people keep their own hearts burning with cheer on these dark nights. I'd love to hear what you do during this time of year to add light to your world.


* * *

"A smile is the light in your window that tells
others that there is a caring, sharing person inside."
DENIS WAITLEY

* * *

Wishing you a beautiful day and a wonderful weekend.

Hugs,
Brenda
xox



Monday, December 02, 2019

Music For A Festive Season

Image from Pixabay

Then the singing enveloped me. It was furry and
resonant, coming from everyone's very heart. There
was no sense of performance or judgement, only
that the music was breath and food.
ANNE LAMOTT


It's the time of year when my heart grows hungry for the singing of Christmas carols. Not just to hear them being played on the radio, CD player, or live streaming, but to sing them with real flesh and blood people lifting our voices as one, breathing new life into the old lyrics that offer a weary world consolation, hope, and joy.

Music was a central part of my childhood. My mother was the pianist in our church and I always loved to hear her play. She'd often play at home and I'd sit next to her on the piano bench as I attempted the melody line in the higher register. Maybe that's when I first learned to love Christmas carols. For it was my mom who taught me, as a four or five-year-old, to sing the beloved children's carol Away In A Manger. I was to sing this little song at our church Christmas Eve service that year. Except as I still vividly remember I had a case of stage fright, and there wasn't anything Mom could whisper as she knelt in front of me that encouraged me to open my mouth and sing those lines I knew so perfectly. Mom finally led me off the platform. No longer standing there with everyone watching, relief flooded my little soul. And, then suddenly I was ready to climb back on the stage to sing, but it was too late. My moment to shine had passed. Fifty-five odd years later and I still remember that moment as clear as ever.



Yesterday, we attended our first Christmas concert of the season. The musicians played with joy and confidence and the choral singers sang like angels -- the harmonies and descant in certain spots were positively spine tingling. When the audience was invited to join for a short carol sing, oh my, I felt a catch at the back of my throat. With a rousing intro on the pipe organ, the rafters rang as we sang The First Noel, It Came Upon A Midnight Clear, and Hark the Herald Angels Sang. Everyone together. For me, it was bliss!

I wait for it every year ... that moment when I can join in the sweet refrains of an old, old story that's once again sung by people around the world. 

Let heaven and nature sing,
Let heaven and nature sing...

* * *

Wishing you a heart full of song this week.

Hugs,
Brenda
xx


Sunday, December 01, 2019

Hello December


Mahatma Gandhi once said, “There is more to life than merely increasing its speed.”
May our slowing down this Advent be our gentle protest against the violence of
our rushing world. May our slowing down give quiet, steady witness to the values
of attentiveness, carefulness, patience, receptivity, stillness. May our slowing down
enable us to make real and meaningful connections with people, nature, work, art,
and (most importantly) with God.
MELANNIE SVOBODA, SND


It's December 1st and I'm awake in the wee hours. I ponder what to write here on my blog as the Advent season begins, as we wait for Christmas. Thoughts swirl around. I think about a friend and her daughter who is in hospital and whisper a prayer. I read a little to focus my thoughts -- this early morning I dip into Frederick Buechner's The Remarkable Ordinary, and I'm drawn to these words he's written:

"There is none like God . . .
who rides through the heavens to your help,
and in his majesty through the skies.
The eternal God is your dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms."
Deut. 33:26-27 RSV
"Joy is knowing that that is true from your stomach. Knowing that even though you see only through a glass darkly, even though lots of things happen--wars and peacemaking, hunger and homelessness--joy is knowing, even for a moment, that underneath everything are the everlasting arms." p. 120

I am comforted by these words as I think of my friend and her situation. I feel a joy bubble rising unbidden on the inside of me as I think those words in light of my own little concerns. It's been said that joy comes in the morning, how grateful I am that sometimes it comes while it is yet dark.

* * *

This morning the child in me happily opened the first window on my Jacquie Lawson Advent calendar. On it, I decorated some cookies and played a card game. Later this afternoon, we shall attend our first concert of the season, Music for a Festive Season with the Alberta Baroque Ensemble. Not Handel’s Messiah but lovely seasonal pieces by other old composers, including Christmas Concerto by Sammartini, Christmas Sinfonia by Torelli, and Magnificat by Vivaldi. And at the end, the conductor will invite the audience to join in and sing a couple of old familiar carols with the organ in full blast. In truth, it always turns out to be my favourite moment in the whole concert.

And so Advent begins. My friend Lorrie noted earlier on her FB page it's a season of longing, of hope, of waiting in expectation. Yes. I hope to be here every morning to offer a little something as together we wait, and count down to Christmas -- won't promise though.  

Wishing you a beautiful first day of December.

Hugs,
Brenda
xox


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Advent Calendar Winners...


"It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us
memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope."
POPE BENEDICT XVI


Well, I'm truly getting in the mood for the holiday season now. I've been putting the brakes on myself to wait until December 1st at least before going full steam ahead. It snowed again yesterday -- light, fluffy stuff so everything sparkles this morning. And it's wintry cold out too. The birds were ready for peanuts when I took them out.

Over the past couple of days, I've been writing out envelopes for Christmas cards while watching the enthralling series The Crown on Netfix. I'm on Season One, so I have some catching up to do and certainly have no trouble watching two or three episodes in a sitting. The actors in my opinion are excellent and so I'm completely drawn into the Royal circle as I sit with my tea in front of the fireplace with my card list and stack of empty envelopes.

Only a few more days now and it will be the first of December, which makes me hap-haPpy to announce the WINNERS of my Giveaway for the Jacquie Lawson Advent e-calendars...





***

Congratulations to you both, Lin and Cheryl! I'm so pleased for you. I hope that you along with any kids or grandkids around will have great fun with these interactive calendars. (I'll need an email from you so we can get them sent to you, my email link is in the sidebar.) A big thank you to everyone who joined in the Giveaway fun this week. I assume everyone knows Jacquie's beautiful card and calendar online company, but in case you don't, here is the LINK.


* * *


What else can I chat about today? My, the nights are dark these days. Because I sometimes wake in the wee hours unable to get back to sleep, I've taken to leaving on a pretty LED candle all night. How comforting to come down to the kitchen and catch sight of the golden glow in the darkness. I'm always amazed at just how much light these LED lights give off in the dead of night. Add to that, I catch sight of our next door neighbour's coloured lights, also on all night, glimmering through the dining room window. These are such little things, yet they provide such tiny hugs of comfort. 

I went out after supper last evening because I needed another box of Christmas cards -- my list was a little longer than my stash on hand. It was snowy out and many folks had their holidays lights turned on. Oh what joy, making my spirits bright. It can be said it's too early, but the lights aren't just for Christmas anymore -- we all know they create a spot of light in the darkest months of our year, so why not start early.


* * *

In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is a sound so
faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sounds of the
silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. You are aware
of the beating of your heart. The extraordinary thing that is about
to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just
before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.
FREDERICK BUECHNER


* * *

Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends!
Wishing you a beautiful day as we anticipate December's Advent season.

Hugs,
Brenda
xox




Saturday, November 23, 2019

Belated Five on Friday: Twinkle Light Season & A Giveaway

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

I open the door. The gorgeous guest
from afar sweeps in. In her hands are
her gifts--the gifts of hours and far-seeing
moments, the gift of mornings and evenings,
the gift of spring and summer, the gift
of autumn and winter. She must have searched
the heavens for boons so rare.
ABBIE GRAHAM


Dear Beautiful You,

Another day, another week gone in a flash -- I hope that for all its swiftness it has been a good one for you. Let's see, since the last time I posted, we've had cold snow days. We've had sunny, melting days and a plethora of grey overcast days ... all typical November weather here in northerly Alberta.

If you were to ask what kinds of things have been keeping me busy of late, I'd be hard-pressed to give you any answer that would whelm you over. There are no big projects, but lots of little things filling my days: visits with family and friends; meals, laundry, dishes, errands and shopping. A wee bit of dusting in those too obvious sunny spots. I'm reading from my pile of books from the library and from my own bookshelves, which includes re-reading the ever comfort-rending novel Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon and the ever-charming epistolary memoir 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. I also re-watched for the dozen-th time the delightful movie by the same title starring Ann Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins. Oh, and I'm taking some French lessons on Duolingo.com (bonjour!), watching movies in the evenings on Netflix, and making lists for the upcoming holiday season. Just to name a few things...

Last weekend we met with friends and took in the local art society's Christmas Market, where we bought a wee stash of Christmas cookies like gingersnaps and shortbread. With the stash eaten over tea through the week, this morning we are off to another friend's church Christmas market, hoping to stock up on a few other seasonal treats. AND, we're making Christmas cake later today, using our favourite Light Christmas Cake, recipe found in this POST. It's always a joint effort, someone chopping and and stirring, someone getting the pans ready with flour dusting and wax paper forming. Taste testing done by one of us... can you guess who?

At our house, the weekend when mountain daylight time goes back to mountain standard time signals Twinkle Light Season! So I've been slowly gathering my LED candles and twinkle lights aiming to make the season bright and cheerful. Hubby frowns on candles with real flames, a carry over from when we had curious kitties with long furry tails and whiskers. 

To add to the building commotion of cheer, I'm excited to offer my seasonal ***GIVEAWAY*** for two copies of this year's Cotswold Advent e-Calendar created by Jacquie Lawson. Scroll down for details.

Wondering what else I could share with you today, I opted to show a small gathering of items I purchased over the last while. It's only November, but you'll see a theme unfolding. It's not hard to get in the mood when the weather has been so helpful in providing some cool temperatures, a few snowy days, and lots of grey skies. 



~ONE~
A new box of sparkly Christmas cards made by Papyrus
It's always been one of my favourite traditions to write out
and send Christmas cards and letters. These days I find
myself doing a mix of both snail mail and e-cards.
How about you? Do you still write Christmas cards?



~TWO~
Glass globe with candle and berry wreath
This little light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.



~THREE~
A new decoration for our tree
Found this cute stained glass tree ornament at
the Christmas Market last weekend.




~FOUR~
'Awww, aren't these cute' Seasonal Napkins
We found these at the local wildbird general store. I know
who's gonna find them in their Christmas stocking this year.




~FIVE~
Cotswold E-Advent Calendar
 jacquielawson.com

The 2019 Advent calendar arrived in my inbox a few days ago -- a
surprise gift from my lovely friend, Barbara, who knows
I love all things English and how much I enjoyed our visit to England
a few summers ago. The best treat of that trip was sharing a couple
of hours over tea with Barbara while we were in Cornwall.

To pay forward the joy, I'm having a GIVEAWAY for two of these
e-calendars just in time to begin opening
the daily treats on December 1st.

The draw will be held on
Wednesday, November 27th.

To enter the draw, leave a comment
in the comment box.  
  

* * *


"One kind word can warm three winter months."
JAPANESE PROVERB


* * *

On that note, I'm wishing you a beautiful weekend
and don't forget to leave a comment for the draw.

Hugs,
Brenda
xox



Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Simple Woman's Daybook: November Edition

imagine by congerdesign from pixabay

"The smell of that buttered toast simply spoke to Toad,
and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts
on bright frosty mornings, of cozy parlour firesides on winter evenings,
when one's ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the
fender; of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries."
KENNETH GRAHAME


November arrived with nary a bump -- it was calm and warmish these past few days. Suddenly I knew the post I'd been working on wasn't gonna cut it this week, so here I am musing my way through the prompts for November's edition of the Simple Woman's Daybook. Although I'm ever in awe of how quickly the days and months slip by, I'm not gonna mention it today (wink).

Without further ado...  


FOR TODAY

Outside my window... grey and overcast. Flowers are done, trees are barren, and the only real colour left in the garden are the bunches of red berries on the Mountain Ash and the deep carpet of orange-bronze leaves beneath it. Blue jays are busy burying peanuts under those leaves.

"November comes and November goes,
with the last red berries and the first white snows..."
ELIZABETH COATSWORTH

(Insert) I wrote the above yesterday ... this morning as I sit down to finish this post, the vista has changed -- the leaf carpet is under a layer of snow and the red berry clusters are sporting snowy white toques. With a smudge of pale blue sky beneath billowy grey-white clouds, in this moment it's postcard-perfect. Alas, my iPhone camera did not capture its perfection, but here's a go:




I am thinking... of a Twitter friend's post from the other day. Carrie and her husband Stuart were our hosts when Rick and I visited Oxford a couple of years ago. No longer BnB proprietors, they and their two beautiful dogs (Jack and Tex) now make their home in the lovely Cotswolds. Carrie posted a video of their daily routine of driving Stuart to the train station. The video shows a gorgeous vista as they drive through English countryside on narrow, winding roads, hugging hedgerows on the left side of the road. I made the comment that she's truly living the dream -- you could see how beautiful it all was. She said it feels amazing to be living the life she knows she was meant to live -- better than she even dreamt. If you are on Twitter, her handle is @CarrieHerself.

That makes me happy. To know there are folks like Carrie who are truly living out their heart's dreams. So I think to myself, if life were different, would I actually pick up sticks and move to England, for my soul doth long to do so. Ah, but there are so many factors to consider, some which definitely include family -- would I really want to live that far away from my dear ones? No, not really, not right now. Besides, I do have a very good life here in Canada. Still, I let myself dream about the possibility to live there, even for a while some day. Because we all know what Carl Sandburg once said, "Nothing happens unless first a dream."

I am thankful... for another quote, this particular one is from Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance book. I  was reminded of it when I saw it on a friend's Facebook page: "You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you."

That line I put in italics really jumped at me ... to become so aware of the abundance that exists in my life. Oh my, there are so many 'abundances' of all sorts filling and overflowing my life: I'm thankful that I am loved abundantly, that I've got access to an abundance of clean drinking water and fresh provender, fresh posies of flowers, and good coffee beans. That I have the freedoms granted to me as a Canadian citizen, to come and go as I please... really, the list is endless. So, I'm going to focus a while on the idea of all I enjoy in abundance, and give thanks.

One of my favourite things today... is that there is nothing pressing on my schedule, and so I am at ease knowing I don't need to be somewhere else, doing something else. What a treat not to feel that over-the-shoulder presence of Should. I can truly relax into writing this post and think about you and look for things that I hope will make you glad you stopped by.

I am wearing... black slippers, black leggings, teal coloured t-shirt (which I'm happy to report is getting awfully loose on me, and that nasty muffin top/spare tire around the middle is paring down). The scale gives me good reports too. All by doing tiny gradual changes in my lifestyle, one being choosing to eat less carbs and sugar.  I didn't cut out, but I gradually cut down. As the weeks go by, I feel able to let go of other things I know aren't good for me. A much better way for me. I've learned over the years that trying to make big changes do not work for me. I need to come at it gradually and as easily as possible so as to make the journey enjoyable, and sustainable. It's about being kind to oneself. 

I am creating... lists in my head for cleaning and preparing for when it's time to full out decorate for the holiday season. I've got twinkle lights out and as the days unfold, there will be more on display. And no, I am not in a hurry to start Christmas. I'm quite content in this between time of November's grey dullness. 

I am watching... the sky these days. Around these parts, the brilliant colours of early autumn are over and now the world is cocooned in shades of grey, including the skies on many days. Have you ever noticed just how many shades of grey there are? Cool greys, warm greys, blue greys, cadet greys, dove grey, slate grey, green-grey, metal-grey, heather-grey, charcoal-grey, steel-grey ... could there actually be 50 shades of grey? 

Just finished... reading the last chapter of an old favourite: Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery. It's been years since I read it, so I'd forgotten how delightful and entertaining it is. I used to love pulling it out at this time of year because it's autumn: Anne is writing her first letter to Gilbert one dusky September evening in her new home at Windy Poplar on Spook's Lane. You just know there are going to be those cozy, shadowy descriptions of her life in Summerside, PEI.

Looking forward to tomorrow... That's how Anne lived her life in the book. She was always looking with anticipation of what little adventures and things of interest might come her way each new day. The people around her loved her spark of life and often took their own comfort and joy in her presence. Like Davy when Anne came home to Green Gables for Christmas: "When you come home, Anne, everything seems to come alive."

That's what I have aimed for in my own life -- both Anne and her creator were always such an inspiration to me from way back. So it was lovely to feel that lively energy surging as I immersed myself in this old novel once again.

Image by annca from Pixabay

I am listening to... classical music on CBC Radio 2 FM, the good old-fashioned radio with buttons to tune into the radio stations. One day we'll come into the 21st century and live stream. 

I am hoping... can't say I have anything I'm particularly hoping for today. Except, yes, I do hope your day is unfolding pleasantly. And if not, that you have the grace and ability to carry on till it gets better.

I am learning... French on Duolingo.com. These lessons are short and snappy. Fun. And there is no fear of getting it wrong, for they set you up to work on it until you get it all right. Win/win. There are spots for listening to the pronunciations, places where you pick up the grammar and spelling. I took French one semester in Junior High, but I never did anything more with it. It's one of my wishes to learn the language well enough to one day visit Quebec and Paris. If French isn't your cup of tea, they offer all sorts of other languages: Spanish, German, Portuguese, Norwegian, to name a few.     

In the kitchen... about to enjoy a warm slice of Cobb's apricot fruit loaf with a cup of freshly brewed Lavender Earl Grey tea.

Around the house... Laundry done. Fresh linens on the bed. Typing away on a blog post. Friends shortly arriving for tea and a visit.

A moment from my day... the weather has changed again. As I finish up this post, the skies are cloudless in that wispy pale blue, the sun shines through the tree tops over snow-laden rooftops, and the temperature is frosty at -11C. There is a decided nip in the air, so dress warm if you're going out.

* * *
I believe in kindness
Also in mischief
Also in singing.
Especially when singing is not
necessarily prescribed.
MARY OLIVER

* * *

On that note, I'm wishing you a beautiful day.
I hope your November will be filled with an abundance
of heavenly glimpses in unexpected places.

Hugs,
Brenda
xox


Linking with The Simple Woman's Daybook



Monday, October 14, 2019

Simple Woman's Daybook: October Edition

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

“I suppose I will die never knowing
what pumpkin pie tastes like
when you have room for it.”
ROBERT BRAULT


Today is Thanksgiving Monday here in Canada. Although Monday is the 'official' day, Canadians tend to celebrate the holiday any day over the long weekend. We had our family get together on Saturday so today is quiet in our household. Turkey, gravy and stuffing, not to mention pumpkin pie with whipped cream, are just savoury memories now. And yes, we have wondered what pumpkin pie tastes like when we have room for it. We beg off saying, Oh I couldn't eat another bite, and then we polish off that slice the hostess sets in front of us. hehe

Since it's still a holiday around here, rather than chatter on forever as is my usual wont, I'm taking to heart the 'simple' in the title and aim to keep this October edition sweet and simple. Hope you enjoy. 



FOR TODAY

Looking out my window... a mix of snow and rain, grey on grey,
dripping leaves in weepy masses.

I am thinking... thoughts of gratitude as I count my many blessings
on this Thanksgiving Day.

I am thankful... for a day to sit, read a book,
watch a movie, think quiet thoughts.

One of my favorite things... being cozy inside when the weather is inclement.
Especially knowing a special treat awaits for teatime later on.

I am wearing... black leggings, black sleeveless top, silver bracelets, Body Shoppe's
'British Rose' eau de toilette, Revlon's 'Softsilver Rose' lipstick.

"Hand me my purse, darling. A girl can't
read that sort of thing without her lipstick." 
HOLLY GOLIGHTLY, BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S

I am creating... a temporary mess in my study as I tackle, sort, and tidy
some unruly shelves and drawers. 

I watched, and loved... the very moving 2015 biographical drama film
Woman in Gold about Maria Altmann, the elderly Jewish woman
(portrayed by actress Helen Mirren) who tried to reclaim family possessions
seized by the Nazis during WWII, including the famous portrait
of Maria's Aunt Adele: Gustave Klimt's "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I". 

by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
Love, love, LOVED this book. Gentle, wistful, humorous.
One review said it's a book for firesides or long train rides. Oh yes!
Or, sitting in the autumn sunshine in a sunny spot in one's living room.


Slow reading... Autumn, An anthology for the changing seasons,
edited by Melissa Harrison. A delightful collection of poetry and essays
old and new filled with evocative word pictures that takes this reader
through the season of rich scents and colourful patterns.

I am hoping... to get my house in order over the next couple of weeks
so that I can enter the Christmas season without
any unfinished business hanging over my head.

I found... a lovely article about Susan Branch from the MV Times by Alison Armstrong.
It's entitled "From Scratch: The Way of Susan Branch". If you are a fan
of Susan's, you will enjoy reading this recently published piece.

“That’s the whole point of creativity —
you have to make it up.”
SUSAN BRANCH

In the garden... our resident bluejays are busy. Peanuts mound up in tiny piles around
the yard as these industrious birds stash their cache under autumn leaves.

In the kitchen... onions, celery, dried bread cubes, and seasoning sit
on the counter waiting to be transformed into a savoury batch
of stuffing for two -- our way of extending the festive celebration.

Shared Quote... from somewhere on my Facebook page, author unknown:

"There are three months
left in this decade.
I think you should go for it." 

That really jumps out at me. It never even crossed my mind
until I read those lines that we're shortly closing out
the 2010s and opening the 2020s. Oh my! Is there something
we need to get done before then? I think we should go for it, don't you?

A moment from my day...

* * *

Wishing you a glimpses of heaven in unexpected places.

Hugs,
Brenda
xox


PS.
I've linked to the October Edition of Simple Woman's Daybook here.



Monday, October 07, 2019

Monday Medley: September Events, Autumn, Garden Finale


"Autumn is
an adventure, a season of transformation, and a time
to prepare for the long winter ahead. It is a
thousand leaves falling and nourishing the soil beneath,
it is heavy rainfalls that catch you off guard and drive you to shelter;
it is the refreshing winds that sweep the haze of summer away...
It is the changing of landscape, the subtle anticipation of winter.
Autumn is to be enjoyed."
LOUISE BAKER, AUTUMN: AN ANTHOLOGY FOR THE CHANGING SEASONS


It hardly seems possible that we're finished with Summer and September. Being away in Hawaii for a few days last month really messed with my autumnal sensors this year. I could never quite get a proper feeling of the season shifting. It was still very much like summer when we left but a week later when we got back, trees had turned and dried leaves were scampering down roadways, heaping in corners and under shrubs. And then last weekend, it got really cold and in parts of the province, people were digging themselves out from under snow. Although we missed the snow (thankfully), we felt the drop in temperature. Summer was now definitely over, even my skewed season sensors picked that one up.

But then, after that initial blast of pre-winter things settled down, and we've been enjoying some proper autumn days. Those crisp and sunny days with rainy patches and wind tearing leaves from bending trees. Flock after flock of migrating birds on the fly. Combines creating dust storms as grain fields are harvested. The neighbourhood was filled with robins the other morning. It sounded so much like Spring, but with my autumn sensors now in working order I didn't pretend -- I reminded myself that, no, the birds were heading south now. 

Still, September was a good month. No, no, it was a most excellent month ... let me give you a little recap.




Of course, you already know that we spent a lovely week in beautiful Hawaii with our dear friends. If you didn't catch it earlier, here's the link to the previous post for details and photos.




Then came the long-anticipated Downton Abbey movie. I know friends who got all dolled up and made it a very Downton-y event with high tea and everything (what a splendid way to celebrate). Hubby and I didn't take it to that level, but we did go out for supper first which was lovely.

Did you see the movie? Wasn't it wonderful? We love, loved it. If you were fans of the series, I can't imagine you not loving the movie. If you haven't seen it yet, I hope you get to. So many wonderful  scenes. And Lady Violet was her witty self through it all, although I think Moseley stole the show during the Royal Supper scene. When discussing the movie with my sis-in-law the next day, we were howling at how that moment unfolded. Poor Moseley, we felt his anguish and we weren't laughing 'at' him, but it was just too comical to keep from chuckling. Of course I can't say more as not to let out spoilers. So if you haven't gone, go go go. And if you need to know what happened, I can private message you.




Several days later after that, we spent a delightful afternoon at the book event with our very own Canadian best-selling author Louise Penny when she came out west to Alberta. The sold-out event was hosted by one of Edmonton's awesome independent stores, Audrey's Books. I ordered tickets as soon as I knew she was coming. On the day, we made sure we got there in plenty of time; though we had tickets, it was general seating. We got wonderful seats near the front. Louise came out on stage to a standing ovation. We sat enrapt as she shared stories about her writing and how she got started. It was over all too soon.

Louise is an amazing speaker ... articulate, very funny, and so, so humble. She said she never ceases to marvel at all the amazing people who come to see her and buy her books. And never takes it for granted. She remembers how it was in the beginning, at the publication of her first novel, Still Life. She humorously relayed how she used to dream about her books being published while soaking in the tub. When her first book came out, she didn't hear from her publisher so she called him and mentioned she was ready for the book tour. He replied, you're not scheduled for a book tour, nobody knows who you are at this stage, nobody cares. What? Acutely disappointed, she says one day to her husband, we should take all the advance money and (deliberate pause). We assumed she was going to say and put it into doing our own book tour then. What she actually said, we should take all the advance money and use it to go out for a very nice lunch at ... (pause) ... MacDonalds. Well, she had us eating out of her hand after that.

It's hard to remember it all. I did find an interview written some years ago when her third novel came out (she's working on her sixteenth) that shares some of the stories she told us that day. If you are interested, here's the LINK.

Ah yes, thanks to my sister, I do have an autographed copy of Louise's newest book A Better Man. Louise didn't do personal book signings that day, they were all pre-autographed. My sister bought one of those (I had ordered my copy online months earlier and I brought it along). She suggested we trade copies and so now I'm now the possessor of the autographed one. Louise was in Edmonton that weekend for a family wedding, so we were grateful she shared those few hours with us, and we hardly begrudge (wink) that she had to fly off afterwards. It would have taken her hours to meet up with several hundred other fans. Anyways, she's a beautiful lady and I can see why her books are so full of kindness and goodness even in the midst of hard, terrible events like murders happening in Three Pines. I'm so glad I got to see her in person.




We went for a walk in one of our natural areas a couple of Sunday afternoons ago. Made sandwiches and a thermos of tea. It was pleasant and warm that day. Sunny, but still with autumnal crispness. The woods was quiet that day. Hardly a breeze. Sometimes we'd hear the grass rustle, but we never spotted any little critters. The birds were still too. Families were out with kids and dogs on leashes. One woman with youngsters in tow, heading back, asked if we were anywhere near the entrance. We could confirm to her relief, that, yes, it wasn't too far away. Maybe her feet were hurting, or her kids were ready for their video games and snacks. The dogs were all happy to be out.




The tail end of the month saw us celebrating family birthdays, where I brought the tea sandwiches (egg salad with lemon zest; rosemary ham, cheese, and fancy mustard; cucumber on white), with Sister bringing the most delicious red velvet cake. It was one of those days where we didn't fuss too much yet it was a lovely afternoon in the fine company of loved ones. The egg sammies went down nicely. So did the cake. 


Bringing in the last bouquets of cosmos

As you can see, the whole month was a feast for heart and soul -- treat after treat after treat. My heart overflows with gratefulness.

And through it all, the garden continued to give us just a few more photo ops before the frost hit. Now, every morning that we wake up without heavy frost on the said pumpkins is a bonus day. I've gone through the garden and said my thank you's and my goodbyes. It's a little sad. They say it's coming this week. So we're ready. I think.

Below is one last hurrah of the front garden.




"...the blaze of summer flowers slowly fades"
SUE CROXFORD, AUTUMN ANTHOLOGY 

* * *


I hope you've enjoyed your visit.
On that note, I'm wishing you a beautiful day.

Hugs,
Brenda
xox

PS. I forgot to mention earlier, I did an little review of
Sarah Clarkson's delightful and beautifully written 'Book Girl'.
Here's the link if you are interested.