Sunday, February 17, 2019

It's Been A While: Sunday Evening Chat


The day I started this new post a couple of weeks ago, it was a day reminiscent of childhood winters: bitterly cold, treacherous roads, and 'no school today' broadcasts on the radio. I remember the thrill of those long ago days, when for a day or two (or even more), we'd nestle inside the four walls of our little farmhouse. Sheltered from the elements it became our whole world. Books and games and crafts called our names. The coal furnace would burp out hot air, and we'd jostle for a chance to stand by the kitchen register to feel the warmth blowing on our cold toes. Window panes frozen with layers of ice barely allowed a glimpse outside. Unless of course you breathed a patch so small you could only peer out with one eye, like a sea captain looking through a telescope. Oh yes, it was a sea out there ... waves of snowdrifts and snowflakes tossing wildly in a blizzard.

Between our recent snow days, there were days that burst from the gloom into bright, sunny ones. With skies all cloudless and blue and snow glistening and gleaming like diamonds. And if you look with an artist's eye, you notice the sky fading into smoky blue-grey along the horizon. The bright sunshine belied the fact that it was frigid out there. We woke several mornings to -30 C with a windchill of nearly -40 C (the temperature at this point reads the same in Celsius and Fahrenheit).  

Surely they were days for staying indoors where, cozy and warm, one could enjoy winter's beauty peering through a frost-free window. All the while taking time to sip cups of hot tea with nibbles at the ready to comfort, cheer, and make one glad to be alive.

* * *

As I say, I started this new post a couple of weeks ago, but I got sidetracked by a sudden wave of inspiration to seriously delve into cupboards, closets and shelves to root out the excess and clutter that had once again accumulated over the last few years without my knowledge ... or permission (wink). When such an inspiration shows up out of the blue like that, I have lived long enough to know the error of ignoring such a gift. For I also know from experience that it may well be months before the Housecleaning Muse shows up again. And, I have learned that it's far better to undertake this kind of deep cleaning when one feels graced and inspired than to drag through when one is not in the mood for it.

So, now I can happily report that we have been through the house, we have given away several car loads of books, glassware, and other material possessions that we no longer need or desire -- and we still have plenty of nice and useful items to enjoy. Not being caretaker of all this stuff gives me room to breathe, to think new thoughts and imagine new possibilities. Without the clutter, I feel lighter. And freer ... freer to write ... I've got a memoir to finish and stories about how I found my beautiful life.

* * *

Since we last chatted, I finally started the big project of sorting through a couple thousand photos from our trip to Britain in 2016. Believe me, it's no small task trying to select a few hundred from that great pile, but it seems enough time has passed to give me the distance I need to choose those photos that will become a permanent record (album) of the wonderful days we spent traveling through the English countryside and taking in some of the beautiful country homes and gardens in England.

I often wish I could return and take the same trip and do it in slow motion -- because those days just flew and it all seemed to go by in a blur. Makes me so grateful for photos. And memories.

Here's a tiny glimpse of what we enjoyed...

"How many kinds of sweet flowers grow
In an English country garden?
I'll tell you now of some that I know
And those I miss you'll surely pardon
Daffodils, heart's ease and phlox
Meadowsweet and lady smocks
Gentian, lupine and tall hollyhocks
Roses, foxgloves, snowdrops, forget-me-nots
In an English country garden
In an English country garden"

Songwriters: Phillip Guyler / Johnny Griggs
English Country Garden lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

* * *

"Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful;
they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul."


* * *

Here's wishing you a beautiful week ahead.



  1. Oh my, your glimpse of the beautiful English gardens makes me yearn for spring! It feels like these last few weeks have been an eternity of snow and cold. How lovely to have the Housekeeping Muse visit! She has positively left me in the lurch and to my own sorry devices. So you can imagine, no house-keeping to speak of has occurred beyond the barest minimum! I look forward to the possibility of more glimpses of country gardens in days to come. Meanwhile, keep warm:)

  2. Yes, those cold, no school days have been a pleasure this winter. AS for the desire to clean out the excess in my house, well that desire has not reached me yet. I know it needs to be done, but.......

  3. It was cold! What a good time to sort and clean and decide what you want and what you're ready to give away.

    I love your English Garden photos, and your garden quotes!

  4. interesting this monday we have our first snow and probably only one in our high desert home. it's amusing to see palm trees covered by snow...will post some photos later on my blog.

  5. I enjoyed your memory of the snow days of long ago, and on those days listening to the radio for "no buses going to school today" I also remember the buses coming home from school early because a blizzard was fast approaching our area. Lovely pictures of your trip to England!

  6. Your English garden photos are glorious, especially on a wet and gray morning. I also enjoyed your memories of childhood winters. One would never believe it now that the weather has changed so much in our area, but your memories are most similar to mine. Roads frozen and packed with snow, windows iced over. We also had a coal furnace and our kitchen had a big register which made the kitchen extra cozy. Of course there was plenty of coal here in West Virginia and our living room had a fireplace, which also burned coal. We no longer see those winters and I miss them actually. A lovely post, Brenda - thanks for the memories.

  7. Oh Brenda, the photos you showed are of such beauty. Why don't you do a photo book? Susan Branch went to England and wrote a book and is now on her second travel book, right? You could do one with just photos, if you wanted. So lovely! Always love to see your sweet posts, dear Brenda. Sincerely, Susan

  8. Thank you Brenda for another lovely post. I was in England last April,and saw millions of daffodils, along the hedgerows, in the gardens,and in the flower beds; as well as primroses & then as the daffodils bowed out, up popped the bluebells. So many poems came to my mind as my friends and I traversed that Island, set in a silver sea!
    "...and then my heart with pleasures fills, and dances with the daffodils."Wordsworth. Love your photos. I have done a photo book of my travels. Your post bring joy and peace to my soul.
    Sincerely Mary

    1. Isn't England gorgeous in the Spring time? I'm busy working on my photo book of our England travels.

  9. I also need to do some decluttering so please send the Housecleaning Muse my way!

  10. That Housecleaning Muse is a fickle creature and it's best to heed her when she appears. It's such a wonderful feeling to clean out and sort and give away. My, what bitter cold you've had! We've had our snow days recently, but the temperatures have been not much below freezing. Snow still covers most of the garden, but the streets are widening every day.
    Isn't it lovely to re-live a wonderful trip through photos? Your English Country Garden images have me longing for summer once again. And that song is going through my head!
    Have a most satisfying week, Brenda.

  11. I'm with you...started a post, got sidetracked (no cupboard cleaning)and tried to start another, but no time.
    So here I am visiting and leaving comments.

  12. At the time of year when the weather keeps a woman indoors quite a bit, it's the season for Winter Cleaning! Congratulations on all you accomplished working with your Muse. :-) Now you are free to respond to spring weather whenever it comes, and not be held back by those weights. I'm in this mode, too, and it's so satisfying to have what seems like a whole new closet or similar space, once I rethink how to organize it and what to let remain there.

  13. Dear Brenda - I have also been cleaning up clutter in the cupboards and drawers. You are the second blog I have visited today that this type of work is going on. Certainly a wonderful way to prepare for the coming spring and hopefully nice weather that is on its way. I will be very happy to see some spring flowers blooming. In the meantime I enjoyed your lovely photos of the English gardens from your trip. Have a super weekend. Hugs!

  14. I'm wondering if that song is the same In An English Country Garden that my sisters and I always had for first recital pieces?

    February is perfect for housekeeping! I haven't done very much giving away of things except for a bag of clothes to Goodwill because I got rid of huge amounts when we moved in 2016 and then once more in 2017. And each Christmas I end up finding more Christmas decor I'm ready to share with family. I should get rid of more because our house is now so small but I'm left with everything that I truly love, books included. But when I read about so many of my blog friends enjoying this winter activity I remember how freeing it is.

    For me, working when the muse visits is always a great idea, whatever muse it is that appears, writing or housekeeping or gardening, etc. I think when you go to bed at night tired but happy, it is because you've done exactly those things that you are passionate about.

    I cannot believe the weather you describe! It makes me realize that you are very far north of Nashville! Here we are in flood warning emergency tonight. We sit on a hill and don't worry but other family and friends are in lower land. If we all get through tonight it is supposed to be sunny and dry tomorrow. But reading your childhood memories brought back very fond memories of winters here in Nashville that were so much more like your own and the comfort there was in being snowed in with my little sisters and parents. Lovely to think about!

  15. I read once that to accomplish anything in this life we must grab the notion on its way through. I have not had much of a notion to do a whole lot since Christmas. I have sunk into my home and tried to withdraw as much as possible in order to heal and to protect society from the scourge. 🙂 I’m still watching snow swirl and hearing the winds howl. Though winter weary, it still has me fast. So thank you for thoughts of warmth and flowers in addition to the lovely descriptions of your childhood winters.

  16. Snowy winter days always seem so romantic to me. I'm sure the practicalities would be a challenge. I'd need new shoes for start :-)

  17. How beautiful are your photos, Brenda! I have always dreamed of going to England. Some day my youngest son will go and scour the countryside for his ancestors. I will have to be content living the experience through his eyes.
    We have had a very cold and snowy winter but I'm happy to say we haven't had a -30C day. It's been a long winter but the calendar tells us Spring will arrive on the 20th of March. Even though we will most likely not see any sign of it until well into April, we know winter is coming to an end.
    I have been working on a box/boxes of items to send into our Missions store. It really does feel good to pare down and with warmer weather just around the corner, some winter wear will be going too. It's amazing to find items in one's closet that haven't seen the light of day in years. Tomorrow is the last day of February. Hello March!!

  18. I've been rereading the wonderful comments you left on this post. Such lovely things you say. Thank you SO much!


To My Beautiful Readers,

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

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

Brenda xo