Monday, March 30, 2020

Packing For A Woman's Journey

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

"You don`t study here;
you graze on words and images.
VICTORIA MAGAZINE


We're into our second week of the 'pressing my books into service' series. This is my little contribution here in blog-land as a way to help create community in isolation. If you are arriving in this series mid-stream, you can find the earlier posts by clicking HERE or on the Tab above: Press My Books Into Service.


In this book you will find a lovely collection of essays that were first published in Victoria magazine—Nancy Lindemeyer was Editor-in-Chief at the time. Fans will remember the delightful Jenny Walton stories that appeared from time to time in the Chimes column on the last page of the magazine. What a pleasant surprise to learn some years later that Nancy was the author; Jenny Walton had been a carefully chosen pen name. I was glad when the essays were assembled into a book. So much easier to pick up a single volume and bring it to your armchair with tea than to leaf through an unwieldy armload of issues in hopes of finding the Jenny stories in them.

In the intro, Nancy says that she used this series as a way, not to write her life's story exactly, but to write from what she termed as 'reflected memory', to share the best she had to remember and pass it along. She wanted Jenny's articles to inspire women "to live with pride in a woman's journey, and to take with (them) all that is good, kind, graceful, generous, and beautiful, despite the vagaries of time and place."

During this season of isolation, I've been sorting through a box of old scrapbooks see earlier post which is why today's excerpt resonates so particularly. It's very easy to say one must deal with this old stuff; it's quite another to actually toss away the touchstones that remind us of another life time.

Hope you'll enjoy it.

An aside: if you don't have the book, or the old magazine issues anymore, take heart: the book is available in various used book places, including Amazon's used bookseller page. I saw one copy advertised for as low as $2.89 Cdn. Even with shipping, it'd still be a bargain.


March 30th

from Jenny Walton's Packing for a Woman's Journey
by Nancy Lindemeyer


" We have a room that is an archive, a treasure trove of objects we cannot seem to part with. Once this room was a garage, but someone with an automobile too big for its slender proportions made it part of the house, and for the nearly twenty years since, we have filled it to capacity . . . Every now and then I venture into this annex, thinking that at last the moment has arrived to make use of our reserve possessions. Recently, I decided to open a cedar chest I hadn't looked in for years, since getting near it requires an adventurer's temperament. My husband, legendary for his car-packing ability, also has a talent for ingeniously stacking mountains of things on top of idle surfaces.

This is the chest that holds forgotten mementos, long buried at the bottom—the fabric bunny with ribbons given to me the night I was voted best student in my high-school class. As I pick it up, I ask myself why in the world I would keep such a thing; but then I tell myself it doesn't take up much room, so why should this be the day I part with it?

Further down, I discover a cotton dress with a full skirt in a very soft shade of green. I used to starch this dress so stiffly it almost danced by itself when I wore it to the Pleasure Beach Ballroom so many years ago.  . . . I see my seventeen-year-old feet moving along the wooden floor, as close to the open doors as possible. Images of sea and sky and moon and cool night air are what come to mind with this simple dress in my hands. And while I don't think there were Chinese lanterns in that long-ago darkness, I make them part of my thoughts now, turning the ballroom into a brilliant memory.  . . .

I danced those last dances of adolescence on a stage that was nearly perfect in a dress with a full skirt and tiny puff sleeves and a slip of a peplum, which I still have stored in this chest.

I am glad my husband keeps this vault so cumbersomely guarded. It is meant for infrequent musings, for a hot afternoon like this, when at summer's end I am comfortable with this reverie. I do not think I will take the green dress (out) from the cedar chest after all—it really doesn't take up much space, and I cannot imagine what I would ever do without it. "  ~ excerpt from p 90-91, originally in August 1991 issue


 * * *

Wishing you a beautiful day, dear friends.

💖

Heart Hugs,
Brenda
xox


Friday, March 27, 2020

Five On Friday + Two: Oxford in the Springtime

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life


“The snow has not yet left the earth, but spring is already
asking to enter your heart. If you have ever recovered from
a serious illness, you will be familiar with the blessed state
when you are in a delicious state of anticipation, and are liable
to smile without any obvious reason. Evidently that is what
nature is experiencing just now. The ground is cold, mud and
snow squelches under foot, but how cheerful, gentle and inviting
everything is! ...The trees are bare, but they are already living and breathing.”
ANTON CHEKHOV, The Exclamation Mark


The snow has not yet left the earth around here, but spring is definitely tapping on our heart's door. We woke to snow the other morning. It's not abnormal to get the stuff in late March or even in early April, but I am w-a-i-t-i-n-g for that welcome sound of trickling water as snow piles melt. Hubby's been acclimatizing the Peace Rose by bringing her out into the sunshine on warmer days. It's a hopeful sign.

Have been looking through our photos from our 2017 spring visit to Oxford, England. Can't believe it's been three years already. I so loved our visit then, and I hope you don't mind a revisit of these favourites.


ONE

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life
Oxford Botanic Garden


TWO

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life
Oxford Botanic Garden


THREE

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life
Oxford Botanic Garden


FOUR

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life
In New College Garden


FIVE

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life
Along Addison's Walk  in Magdalen College grounds

How fortuitous is this! A fellow just posted a 20-minute video taking a morning stroll along Addison's Walk. It's the very same walk we took the day we visited. And, I think I see the spot where I took the photo above! How cool is that. Now I feel more than a little homesick catching sight of this familiar view, especially when I hear all the birds singing and the crunch of gravel underfoot. I want to be there.

As I say, it's about 20 minutes long, but if you feel housebound and you've got time to relax, let's go for a virtual walk -- we can enjoy the sights and sounds together.


+ one

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life
The Fellows' Garden in one of the colleges

"To sit in the shade (sun) on a fine day and look upon
verdure is the most perfect refreshment."
JANE AUSTEN



+ two

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life
Holywell B & B


* * *


Wishing you a beautiful day. See you Monday.

Heart Hugs,
Brenda
xox




Thursday, March 26, 2020

Elizabeth and Her German Garden

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

"Oh, I could dance and sing for joy that the spring
is here! What a resurrection of beauty there is in my
garden, and of brightest hope in my heart."
ELIZABETH VON ARNIM


I was so happy to find this little gem written by Elizabeth Von Arnim on one of our visits to a National Trust garden gift shop during our trip to England a few years ago. You think I would taken it and read it right away -- I knew I'd love it -- but I have a peculiar habit of holding onto books until it feels the right time to read it, something about reading in sync with the soul season I am in. So it's been sitting on the shelf these four years, like a gift in waiting.

And now, for whatever reason, this is the Spring I'm ready for it. Today I offer this excerpt from Elizabeth's garden with gratefulness and a heart filled with little prayers that you and all those you hold dear will be lifted up and kept safe during this season.

March 26th
Elizabeth and Her German Garden, p 9-10
by Elizabeth Von Arnim


"May 7th.--I love my garden. I am writing in it now in the late afternoon loveliness, much interrupted by the mosquitoes and the temptation to look at the glories of the new green leaves washed half an hour ago in a cold shower. Two owls are perched near me, and are carrying a long conversation that I enjoy as much as any warbling of nightingales. The gentleman owl says #C-C-E, and she answers from her tree a little way off, #E-#F, beautifully assenting to and completing her lord's remark, as becomes a properly constructed German she-owl. They say the same thing over and over again so emphatically that I think it must be something nasty about me; but I shall not let myself be frightened away by the sarcasm of owls.
This is less a garden than a wilderness. No one has lived in the house, much less in the garden, for twenty-five years, and it is such a pretty old place that the people who might have lived here and did not, deliberately preferring the horrors of a flat in a town, must have belonged to that vast number of eyeless and earless persons of whom the world seems chiefly composed. Noseless too, though it does not sound pretty; but the greater part of my spring happiness is due to the scent of the wet earth and young leaves." ~ Opening chapter, pages 1-2 
* * *
"... but I love the dandelions and daisies even more passionately now than then, and never would endure to see them all mown away if I were not certain that in a day or two they would be pushing up their little faces again as jauntily as ever. During these six weeks I lived in a world of dandelions and delight. The dandelions carpeted the three lawns -- they used to be lawns, but have long since blossomed out into meadows filled with every sort of pretty weed -- and under and among the groups of leafless oaks and beeches were blue hepaticas, white anemones, violets, and celandines in sheets. The celandines in particular delighted me with their clean, happy brightness...
And then, before I had a little got used to the joy of their flowers against the sky, came the lilacs -- masses and masses of them, in clumps on the grass, with other shrubs and trees by the side of walks, and one great continuous bank of them half a mile long right past the west front of the house...I have felt so absolutely happy, and blest, and thankful, and grateful, that I really cannot describe it. My days seemed to melt away in a dream of pink and purple peace." ~ page 9-10 

* * *


I feel alive having read these lines. Indeed, 'tis the season for me and this wee volume. And now, dear friends, I wish you a beautiful day with glimpses of heaven in unexpected places.


Heart Hugs,
Brenda
xox

PS. You'll find the tab for this series 'Pressing My Books Into Service' 
directly under the header at the top



Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Lines and Squares, From The World of Christopher Robin

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

“Pay attention to where you are going because
without meaning you might get nowhere.”
A.A. MILNE

Many good folks are creating a more deliberate online presence and community during this world-wide season of isolation by offering their unique version of pleasant and interesting material to help people feel supported and connected.
For the time being, I want to join in and post more regularly, all in an effort to help boost morale. As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm sharing excerpts from the many books on my shelves, randomly opening pages and selecting a few lines, or sometimes following page numbers with calendar dates. I might comment on the chosen portion or just leave the author say it. Tags: Creating Community In Isolation; Pressing My Books Into Service

Do you remember as a child being very careful not to step on the cracks between the sidewalk blocks on a street? A.A. Milne wrote a delightful poem for his son about the 'dangers' of stepping on the lines and how important it was to stay inside the squares. I giggle to read it aloud. I especially love to hear it performed by Peter Dennis, Pooh's Ambassador Extraordinary, according to Christopher Robin Milne, who also said of Peter, "...if you want to meet the real Pooh, the bear I knew, the bear my father wrote about, listen to Peter. You will not be disappointed".

Alas, as I could not find the poem anywhere online to share it with you, you might have to one day borrow your grandkids and listen to their audio CD set (if they still have such an old-fashioned item nowadays). I was so lucky-blessed when I found a set at a library sale a few years ago. I used to take it with me to listen in the car, especially on a spring day (which I am not doing at the moment for reasons you already know); it always lifted my spirits. 

Today's selection is just a bit of fun as we don't want to take ourselves too seriously. I hope you enjoy.

March 25th
The World of Christopher Robin
by A.A. Milne


Lines and Squares

Whenever I walk in a London street,
I'm ever so careful to watch my feet;
And I keep in the squares,
And the masses of bears,
Who wait at the corners all ready to eat
The sillies who tread on the lines of the street,
Go back to their lairs,
And I say to them, "Bears,
Just look how I'm walking in all of the squares!

And the little bears growl to each other, "He's mine,
As soon as he's silly and steps on a line."
And some of the bigger bears try to pretend
That they came round the corner to look for a friend;
And they try to pretend that nobody cares
Whether you walk on the lines or squares.
But only the sillies believe their talk;
It's ever so portant how you walk.
And it's ever so jolly to call out, "Bears,
Just watch me walking in all the squares!"

💙

Be safe. Be well. Be calm.

Wishing you a beautiful day.

Heart Hugs,
Brenda
xox


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

From Anne Frank's Diary

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life


"It is lovely weather and in spite of everything we
make the most we can of it by lying on a camp bed in
the attic, where the sun shines through an open window."
ANNE FRANK

Many good folks are creating a more deliberate online presence and community during this world-wide season of isolation by offering their unique version of pleasant and interesting material to help people feel supported and connected.
For the time being, I want to join in and post more regularly, all in an effort to help boost morale. As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm sharing excerpts from the many books on my shelves, randomly opening pages and selecting a few lines, or sometimes following page numbers with calendar dates. I might comment on the chosen portion or just leave the author say it. Tags: Creating Community In Isolation; Pressing My Books Into Service

The other day one of our CBC Radio 2 presenters, while introducing the next piece of music,  mentioned our current world situation. She talked about listeners who might want to consider keeping a diary or journal to record how this historic event is affecting them, their families, their jobs, their home life. This brought to mind Anne Frank's diary and how she shared the dailies of what her world looked like and how it felt during those two years of her family's isolation in WWII. Her writings as a twelve-year-old continue to give light and inspiration to readers today, even seventy-plus years later.

Perhaps as a society we count on our journalists and historians to track these things, but ofttimes it's the ordinary people chronicling their own personal experiences in times of hardship and war that show us the human side of these stories. Thankfully some of them, like Anne Frank's, survive and become valuable sources of inspiration down the road. As for me, I have been keeping notes in my journal about what's going on around us, nothing really detailed. I'm curious to know if you are one who likes to track things like this. 

Now, here's today's excerpts. I chose some lines from Eleanor Roosevelt's introductory remarks and a random entry from page 116 of Anne Frank's Diary. If you've never read the book, I hope you are intrigued... 

March 24th
Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
with an introduction by Eleanor Roosevelt


"This is a remarkable book. Written by a young girl--and the young are not afraid of telling the truth--it is one of the wisest and most moving commentaries on war and its impact on human beings that I have ever read. Anne Frank's account of the changes wrought upon eight people hiding out from the Nazis for two years during the occupation of Holland, living in constant fear and isolation, imprisoned not only by the terrible outward circumstances of war but inwardly by themselves, made me intimately and shockingly aware of war's greatest evil--the degradation of the human spirit. At the same time, Anne's diary makes poignantly clear the ultimate shining nobility of that spirit. Despite the horror and the humiliation of their daily lives, these people never gave up. ..." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

* * *

"It was on a Friday afternoon after five o'clock. I had come out of my room and wanted to sit at the table to write, when I was roughly pushed on one side and had to make room for Margot and Daddy, who wanted to practice their 'Latin'. The fountain pen (given to Anne by her grandmother) remained unused while, with a sigh, its owner contented herself with a tiny corner of the table and started rubbing bing beans. 'Bean rubbing' is making moldy beans decent again. I swept the floor at a quarter to six and threw the dirt, together with the bad beans, into a newspaper and into the stove. A terrific flame leaped out and I thought it was great that the fire should burn up so well when it was practically out. All was quiet again, the 'Latinites' had finished, and I went and sat at the table to clear up my writing things, but look as I might, my fountain pen was nowhere to be seen. I looked again, Margot looked, but there was not a trace of the thing. "Perhaps it fell into the stove together with the beans," Margot suggested. ...

And so it was, our unhappy fears were confirmed; when Daddy did the stove the following morning the clip used for fastening was found among the ashes."  ~ Anne Frank


* * *

Be safe. Be well. Be calm.

💙

Wishing you a beautiful day.

Heart Hugs,
Brenda
xox


Monday, March 23, 2020

Excerpts From Gift Of A Letter

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

"A letter is a gift."
ALEXANDRA STODDARD

Many good folks are creating a more focused and deliberate online presence and community during this world-wide season of isolation. They offer their unique version of pleasant and interesting material to help people feel supported and connected.
For the time being, it is my intention to join in this endeavour and post more regularly. I shall share excerpts from the many books on my shelves: to open them either randomly and select a few lines from any page, or to follow page numbers with calendar dates. I might comment on the chosen portion or just leave the author say it. You will find the button under the header to access the whole series. Tags: Creating Community In Isolation; Pressing My Books Into Service

Today I've selected excerpts from Alexandra Stoddard's Gift of A Letter. It's a book I've had for many years now, and every so often I read it to remind myself of her inspiring thoughts about letter writing, something I've enjoyed doing since my late teens. It's an art that I believe is never too old fashioned to be 'pressed into service' at any time, but perhaps especially now (?) as we try to stay connected with those we care about. Just don't lick the stamps or envelopes. It will also provide a creative diversion for ourselves as we adjust to our social distancing in our separate homes.

I hope you enjoy today's offering... 

March 23rd
Gift of a Letter
by Alexandra Stoddard

"Long before I dreamed I'd write for publication, letters were my chief literary outlet for self-expression. Then when I was sixteen and traveling around the world, I also started a journal. I remember being torn between writing to myself in a book I knew no one would ever read, and sharing my experiences with a boyfriend or parent. Eventually I realized that both forms of writing are life-enhancers--they enrich in different ways. I keep a journal for myself--to chart my growth through day-to-day emotions and reactions to people and events. I write letters to share with others my intense passion for life--my loves, my losses, my fantasies, my dreams. Letters fuse my fierce independence with my need for others. Letters make me happy."  ~ excerpt from p. 5
* * *
"When I write a letter to a friend, I bring that person into my day, describing domestic events, my cold, news of my children, the weather, music, smells from the kitchen, are all shared. If I write a letter late at night in the intimacy of one lamp I tend to describe my surroundings and the stillness. If I write a letter from a restaurant I might describe what looks good on the menu. Scenes are painted, stories told that linger as long as the letter, and beyond.
A letter can be written for any number of reasons--joy, pain, neglect, love, lust, desire, loneliness, flight of fancy, disgust ecstasy--but always there is overwhelming need to share, to connect, to feel understood. That's why a letter is a blessing, a great and all-too-rare privilege. ... a letter holds enormous impact. Whenever one needs to feel close to a good friend, all one has to do is write a letter." ~ excerpt from p. 6-7

Wishing you a beautiful day.
Be safe. Be well. Be calm.

💙

Heart Hugs,
Brenda
xox



Sunday, March 22, 2020

More From My Bookshelf: Reveries at Stillmeadow

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

"Perhaps, after all, our best thoughts
come when we are alone." 
GLADYS BAGG TABER


I first heard about author Gladys Taber and her lovely writings through Susan Branch, who happens to be a big fan of hers. Today's selection of 'Pressing My Books into Service' comes from page 22 of a tiny treasure I found at our library sale last year. If you want to know more about Gladys, click HERE. Please read on...

March 22nd
Reveries at Stillmeadow, A Woman's Precious Moments
by Gladys Taber, pg 22

"The heart has its own time. How incredibly fleet are the happy hours, and how leaden-slow the sad ones. The clock cannot hurry the sorrowful minutes a jot, nor clip the wings of the joyous ones!
Sometimes, I think we rush so, and we finish a schedule only to make a newer and busier one. We do not, ever, live deliberately and fully, for we haven't time. I know few people who go outdoors now and sit quietly for a couple of hours just looking at the miracle of spring. Sometimes, as we drive along the country roads, I see occasional figures stretched out in lawn chairs. But they aren't observing May, they are reading the newspaper or a magazine. They are like the people I have seen on the great beach at Nauset on Cape Cod who never hear the music of the tide because they have portable radios playing hot music."

I want to add something that I think goes along with Gladys's thoughts. I read a post last week circulating on Facebook from a woman named Rebecca living in Wuhan, China, during this horrid time they've been in lock-down isolation. She spoke of how she and her family were coping and surviving and, yes, even a bit of thriving in the midst of it all. The thing I especially loved learning was how she could hear the birds outside her window on the 25th floor. She said, 'I used to think there weren't birds in Wuhan because you rarely saw them and never heard them. I now know they are just muted and crowded out by the traffic and people. All day long now I hear birds singing. It stops me in my tracks to hear the sound of their wings'.

Talk about catching glimpses of heaven in unexpected places. It made my heart sing, and I kinda think Gladys would have been pleased to hear such a thing, don't you?


Till tomorrow then for more from my bookshelf.


💙

With love and heart hugs,
Brenda
xox




Saturday, March 21, 2020

Pressing My Books Into Service

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

"When we give cheerfully and accept
gratefully, everyone is blessed."
MAYA ANGELOU


Many good folks are creating a more active online presence and community during this world-wide season of isolation. They offer their unique version of pleasant distractions: interesting facts, sublime photos, pet poses, comforting scenes of home life, helpful facts and hints, encouragement, poetry readings, music and art lessons, funny videos and stories, you name it. In regular life, people were already doing a lot of that, but it's become more focused and more deliberate to help people feel supported and connected.

In her latest post, Vee from A Haven For Vee indicated that it was about time that she showed up more often on her blog "especially now that reading blogs is such a pleasant diversion, and each blogger should do his or her part". I'd begun thinking a similar thing that I, too, ought to get on board to do my part in reaching out more regularly. 

Musing what I could offer, I look at my shelves of books lined up -- they seem eager to be pressed into service. So for the time being, each morning I will take a book from my shelf, randomly open it, and offer a few lines from it. Or, sometimes I might follow page numbers with the dates on the calendar, so today being March 21, I would share a few lines from page 21. And, I might comment on the chosen portion or just leave the author say it.

Anyways, we'll see how it goes. Let us begin...

March 21st
Gift from the Sea

by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, pg 21


"The shell in my hand is deserted. It once housed a whelk, a snail-like creature, and then temporarily, after the death of the first occupant, a little hermit crab, who has run away, leaving his tracks behind him like a delicate vine on the sand. He ran away, and left me his shell. It was once a protection for him. I turn the shell in my hand, gazing into the wide open door from which he made his exit. Had it become an encumbrance? Why did he run away? Did he hope to find a better home, a better mode of living? I too have run away, I realize, I have shed the shell of my life, for these few weeks of vacation."

* * *

For me, that last line seems appropriate for this season, for we too have shed the shells of our regular lives for these few weeks of vacation isolation. Makes me wonder how we'll all emerge on the other side of this. Let's hope we come through stronger and more courageous and kinder. Grace and mercy for us all! 💙


Wishing you a beautiful day.

Hugs,
Brenda
xox



Friday, March 20, 2020

In Isolation With A Box Of Old Scrapbooks


Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life


"When (people) try to throw something away,
they feel like they are losing... personal history,
losing a bit of themselves, losing a little of their identity"
RANDY FROST
Co-author of Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things


In these quiet days when many of us are isolating, I have taken up a project to deal with old scrapbooks. It's partly about spring cleaning and decluttering; it's partly about dealing with old stories that still want to be told.

About three years ago, I brought the scrapbooks into the light of day hoping to deal with them. Although I had a lot of fun chortling my way through the pages, in the end I wasn't ready to discard much of anything. This past week I got a strong urge to try again. As I gazed at the pile of squashed mementos from college days in the late 1970s -- crammed class schedules, letters from home, samples of notes passed in class, crumbling corsage petals, a candle from my 20th birthday cake, quotes and magazine pics that hung on my bulletin board -- it dawned on me why I was having trouble letting this stuff go. An historian at heart, I kept these mementos to remind me of the stories that went with them. And, until I finally do my job as a writer and get them written down, my old scrapbooks with their long 'apron' strings will not release me.

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

A very 1970s sample of what was tucked in my college scrapbook

Not so long ago, I found myself captivated by the sub-title used on Dame Helen Mirren's lovely memoir In the Frame: My Life in Words and Pictures. As a child, I loved illustrated storybooks, and those words 'my life in words and pictures' reminded me that I also love biographies and memoirs when they are offered with photos. E.g., if you're writing about your experience being a wedding cake designer, I'll want to see a photo of the wedding cake you describe so amusingly as your worst disaster. It turns out I like writing stories with pictures to illustrate. Which means, I might finally know what to do with some of those old mementos I've been caretaking all these years.  


“I gather together the dreams, fantasies, experiences
that preoccupied me as a girl, that stay with me and appear
and reappear in different shapes and forms in all my work.
Without telling everything that happened,
they document all that remains most vivid.
BELL HOOKS, American Author


Looking at this pile of mementos, I start to see that in order to know which ones to keep and which ones can at last be discarded without regret depends upon which memories still matter, which still 'shimmer' with life at this stage. According to my former memoir instructor, Lisa Dale Norton, these are the stories to write down. Which means these are the mementos to keep (and/or take photos of). Once that is done, the scrapbooks finally can be decommissioned and discarded, their service complete.

Now, whether I write the stories just for myself or for you here on my blog, or for a future book down the road doesn't really matter at this stage. It's about being true to my inner lifelong need to record the stories and to finally use those mementos for something besides taking up space in a box on a shelf.

That, my beautiful friends, is what I've been up to the last few days.  I have been feverishly opening new files, writing down the stories, and snapping pics of the pertinent mementos. I'm excited to finally have an idea on how to move forward on this business.

 * * *

While I'm working away at that, I've also been keeping abreast of what our local Chief Medical Officer and government leaders are advising citizens in this unsettling time. I'm also whispering prayers for folks trying to find their way through this distressing, troubling season of corona virus disease 2019, abbreviated COVID-19. Hubby and I are staying close to home, staying in touch with family near and far, doing what we can to be part of 'flattening the curve'. And, one of these fine days, I know that I'll find a few rolls of TP to replenish the dwindling stock in my cupboard.


* * *


Wishing you a beautiful weekend.
Stay well. Stay safe. Stay calm.

🙚💙🙘


With love and arms-length but heartfelt hugs,
Brenda
xox



Wednesday, March 11, 2020

A Window On Wednesday: Tulips

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life
Double Early 'Secret Perfume'

ONE

"The spring is coming by a many signs..."
JOHN CLARE

We're glad for smattering signs of Spring around here -- warmer temperatures, longer daylight hours, chickadee songs changing, a few Canada geese flying overhead, and the welcome traces of brown lawns edging out from melting snow mounds. No signs of life as yet in our garden. So we take sweet pleasure in the pots of yellow tulips sitting in the front window and the colourful posies a dear friend brought to me from the Farmers' Market. 


Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

TWO

"No winter lasts forever. No spring skips its turn."
UNKNOWN


Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

THREE

"No gardener would be a
gardener if he did not live in hope."
VITA SACKVILLE-WEST


Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

FOUR

"Spring comes:
the flowers learn their colored shapes."
MARIA KONOPNICKA



Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

FIVE

"I love tulips better than any other spring flower;
they are the embodiment of alert cheerfulness and tidy grace."
ELIZABETH VON ARNIM, Elizabeth and Her German Garden



Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

SIX

"Every spring is the only spring -- a perpetual astonishment."
ELLIS PETERS


* * *

Wishing you a beautiful day.

Hugs,
Brenda
xox



Friday, March 06, 2020

The Simple Woman's Daybook: March Awakenings

Image from Pixabay

"Gazing on beautiful things acts on
my soul, which thirsts for heavenly light."
MICHELANGELO

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Today I'm offering the March Edition of The Simple Woman's Daybook. I'll be glad of your company as I chat about what's occupying my thoughts these days.

Being in a semi-retired mode (that is to say, I am no longer employed in the work force), I have the luxury of following nature's ebb and flow in its seasons. So, in Winter I have the freedom to hibernate and be quiet, but now, with Spring approaching, I join with the rest of nature, newly energized and ready to push out tiny green sprouts in anticipation of the season's wild flurry of activity.



FOR TODAY

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Outside my window...

First, there are blue skies and sunshine, then it turns grey and overcast, oh look, now the sun is shining again. There is a decided bite in the air as the wind blows, and snow showers are forecast, making it a little more Lion than Lamb-like today. Well, at least for the moment.

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I am thinking...

About how refreshing the word 'refreshment' is. I just have to say the word 'refreshment' and I feel brighter and more invigorated. I don't know about you, but when I have to attend a function, say a meeting or event, there's a tiny part of me that always hopes there will be refreshments at the end. If I see a notice, I look for the bottom line "Refreshments served." Oh, goodie! Even the promise of a simple beverage, hot or cold, at the end creates a warmth of anticipation.
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I am thankful...

That I can sit at my desk most days and work away on various writing and photos projects, including this one of dreaming up new things to share with you here on It's A Beautiful Life.

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One of my favourite things...

At this time of year is watching the days grow lighter. It's dark, it's dark, it's dark, and then one evening you notice as you're eating dinner that it's no longer pitch black outside. I don't know why it always comes as a surprise  but it does, every year. It's a real boon for us northerners.

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I am wearing...

Black trousers, black muted floral tee-shirt, silver bracelets, and a dab of pink lipstick. I like how the colour from the lipstick suddenly makes the pink in the floral pattern stand out.

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I've been watching...

"The eye seeks refreshment in painting."
GEORGE LESLIE HUNTER, Scottish Colourist, 1877-1931

Art documentaries on YouTube lately, usually in the afternoons when hubby and I sit down for a tea break. A time of refreshment for both body and soul. So very cultured, don't you think (wink)? I share the links for two of my favourites:
Michael Palin on the Colourists. Michael explores the lives and paintings of a group of four Scottish artists known as the post-Impressionist Colourists: Francis Cadell, Samuel Peploe, John Duncan Fergusson, and Leslie Hunter. They each have lovely work, some gorgeous still life paintings and landscapes with bold, bright colours. YouTube breaks this into four 15-minute segments.
Michael Palin on Scottish artist Anne Redpath. I like Michael Palin as a presenter. Never boring, he is articulate, thoughtful, with a lovely sense of humor. From watching his program, I've come to really appreciate and admire this new-to-me artist, Anne Redpath. I especially connected with her interview comment (around 1:30 on the video) about her magpie tendencies -- haha, I recognize that tendency, as I'm very much 'magpie' myself. She loved to collect items that reminded her of certain events or places and eventually used them in her paintings.
I wish I could show you pictures -- don't want to infringe on copyrights -- but any Google search will bring up lovely pieces from any of these artists for you to see.


Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life
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I am enjoying...

The March/April issue of Victoria magazine. Bought a copy to browse while sitting at the hair salon.

Reeve Lindbergh, daughter of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, is this year's Writer-in-Residence. Reeve and her husband are farmers in Vermont, and she tells the sweet tale of how one spring during lambing season, a couple of 'orphan' lambs were brought into the house to keep warm and bottle fed. Their yellow Lab retriever kept a watchful eye over them. The lambs seemed to like his company and started following him around, as if he were their mother. They were eventually old enough to move to the barn with the other lambs; Reeve would still go out to feed them three times a day and the dog would come along. She says, 'Sometimes he would go and visit the lambs without me, often trying to bring them back to the kitchen. ... I would find the trio waiting for me by the back door.'  Awww, I just giggled when I read that!

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For World Book Day yesterday...

I finished reading Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache novel A Better Man. Now I'm about to delve into an old favourite, a book I haven't read in years: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. And, today I'm waiting for the delivery of my early birthday present, Victoria Magazine's new publication Our Hearts Are in England. Not sure if hubby will let me get a peek into it when it arrives or if he'll whisk it away until my actual B-day next month. We may have to arm wrestle.

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I am listening to...

Respighi's sprightly Ancient Airs and Dances. There are many pieces of music that I love, and this is one of them. This music, with its flutes, oboes, harp, and strings, makes me think of a warming Spring day, I always want to hum and tap my toes in time with the playful tunes. Not the original composer, Respighi the Italian violinist and composer, arranged this 'very old music in the modern clothes of the early 20th century'.

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I am hoping...

For an ice cream cone. Soon. Outside on a warmish day. Dairy Queen. Chocolate dipped in a plain cone. Wanna meet me there?

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I am learning...

Something new every day. Today's learning moment hasn't shown up yet, but I'll be sure to let you know when it does.

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In the kitchen...

There's nothing more comforting than the aroma of something baking in oven. New York chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli says it best, 'Winter blues are cured every time with a potato gratin paired with a roast chicken.' Batches of both blueberry and banana-nut muffins have starred in our kitchen this week.

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Around the house...

Dust bunnies have been hopping up everywhere: on window ledges and bookshelves, tops of pictures, around baseboards, behind the couch, along the piano. Obviously, it's been longer than I first thought since my last thorough dusting out. I am reassured however by the, ahem, wise words from American interior decorator Mario Buatta that 'dust is a protective coating for fine furniture'.

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life
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A moment from my day...

The pots of tulips we planted in the fall have been hastening to open. We put them in the garage with the idea of hauling them into the garden in late March/early April. However, at the beginning of February they started sprouting, pushing up green shoots while it was still frigid outside.

They were ready for Spring even when, as you can see from the photos, Mother Nature was not. Several pots now sit in the front window to catch the light of day. We are not sorry for their too-early start.

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

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Thanks so much for stopping by. Sure hope you found something worth your visit. Please know that your comments mean a great deal to me -- they are a windfall of delight and cheer -- and I'm always glad when you have time to share a note.


Here's wishing you a beautiful day.

Hugs,
Brenda
xox


Linking today with Peggy @ The Simple Woman's Daybook