Monday, January 06, 2020

The Simple Woman's Daybook: January Edition

Gabriele Münter, Breakfast of the Birds, 1934, National Museum of Women in the Arts
(permission granted for personal and non-commercial use)

"As long as I have a window,
life is exciting."

Hello Beautiful Friends! I hope your New Year is off to a good start. The past few days have been quiet and restful for us. On this first Monday of the new year, I'm pleased to join up with Peggy for The Simple Woman's Daybook. I hope today's post will be worth your visit.   

* * *

For Today

Looking out my window...

I see skies of grey, red berries too,
magpies at the peanuts and jays so blue.
And I think to myself, my, those berries are bright today.
Temperatures are mild, the wind is not wild.
It's calm in these parts, but don't take it in stride.
For soon it will shift and you will feel that cold d-r-i-f-t.

(Quickly hum Louis Armstrong's What A Wonderful World
and you'll have the rhythm for the lines above )

I am thinking...

About how I enjoy that painting by Gabriele Münter and how well it goes with Gladys's lovely quote. I first came across it (the painting) in the January 1995 issue of Victoria magazine. I remember editor Nancy Lindemeyer musing how she was never more content than when she was safely tucked inside on a winter afternoon, gazing out on snowy branches from her windowed perch.

Oh yes, I completely relate! Every morning I love to sit down at my desk which overlooks our backyard and watch the birds, the sky, maybe the squirrel. It's the same view from day to day, season to season, year to year. And yet, for all its sameness, there's something new and beautiful every single day if my eyes are open to see. For instance, when I noticed not that long ago (a couple of years maybe) how the immature spruce trees I encountered on the street over when we first moved here had somehow matured into towering specimens fit for a forest. And, how delightful they have become to watch on these dark mornings when street lamps shimmer like stars amidst their tree tops as winds toss their green boughs back and forth. Twinkle, twinkle! For a moment I imagine that I'm looking out over the countryside, and even when the neighbours' chimneys come back into focus, the magical feeling remains.  

I am so thankful...

For those fellow travelers and bloggers who come alongside us, offering fine words of encouragement and hopefulness. Today I want to share one such writer: Joy Clarkson, a young woman who hails from the USA but lives in Scotland now. At the start of this new year Joy (@joynessthebrave) wrote some thoughts on her Twitter page. I wrote them into my journal because she put into words what I often feel myself. Such a courage-stirring reminder that we're not alone, every generation will have its terrible times, this is our turn to carry the torch, and we can choose to face our futures, whatever they are, with a stoutness of heart and mind. Because we're all in this together. And together we can make a difference. Make it beautiful for ourselves and for others.

I'm taking the liberty of sharing Joy's words here with the hope it buoys your heart as it did mine:
"The world has always been on the cusp of disaster, the globe shall eventually be consumed by the sun, and all men do die in their time. Don't let this knowledge paralyse you. Live a valiant life, love deeply, create beauty, seek the things that outlast death. Don't be afraid.
This is what I remind myself of when the news makes me anxious. We're all going to die eventually. You weren't promised an easy life. You can't control the times you live in, but you can live well in your complicated times. And I have a sneaking suspicion love outlasts death.
And then I eat fish and chips because life is short and little pleasures must not be eschewed."

I am creating...

Order out of chaos, again. I love the process of taming jumbles and unruly messes. I actually get a little lurch of pleasure in my stomach as I think of digging in and sorting things out.

Several Januaries ago I undertook a major cleaning of every square inch of my house. It took me weeks to go through everything, but when I was done, there wasn't anything in my house that I didn't love or need, and more importantly (for smooth household running), like items were stored with like and everything had a home. It stayed tidy and in order for a long time, because for the most part I'm good at putting things back. But time does eventually unravel things: a person gets lazy, buys new things and old items aren't discarded or recycled, papers and odd bits you don't know what to do start to pile up. So it all needs taking in hand and sorting out again.

It's gonna feel so good. And, if I do a thorough job, if all goes well, and if I work at putting things back when I'm finishing using them, I shouldn't need to do this major deep cleaning again until, say, January 2023. Wish me luck?

I am wearing...

Black leggings, red cotton tee shirt, flat soft-soled shoes, silver bracelets, lipstick, fragrance.

I watched... 

And loved, loved the new Little Women movie (2019 drama film directed by Greta Gerwig) over the Christmas holidays. Miss Alcott's story has lived in my heart for decades, the 1994 version with Winona Ryder as Jo March was a favourite for years. Now I have another top favourite. I sat mesmerised from the first scene to the last, it was just so engaging, with so many wonderful lines and scenes. A friend asked which character was my favourite in this movie ... I couldn't pick one, truly, I thought each one was incredible. I loved how the creators made the old story fresh and alive and so beautiful.  

I read...

What Comes Next and How to Like It by Abigail Thomas. As noted in my previous post, I was just starting it and I was asked for feedback when I finished. In spite of the great reviews by well-known authors, I have to say it was not a favourite for me. I liked the read well enough about friendship and aging and getting on with it. But all the anecdotes between about the author's beloved dogs kept interrupting that narrative. It's not the dog stories themselves, I like dogs, but I couldn't stop imagining and feeling the mess and dishevelment of her home after reading how often her dogs shredded her quilts, peed in the house, chewed the last good pair of shoes, ripped up cherished books, keepsakes, and expensive first editions, not to mention hauling the phone off into some pile in the yard. I came away kind of grossed out, to be honest, and it's basically what I'll remember from reading this book. Sorry, Abigail.

In my kitchen...

Santa gave Hubby a copy of the cookbook Yum & Yummer by Canadian author Greta Podleski. He likes exploring new recipes and trying them out in the kitchen. More than I do these days. The truth, for me, is that I'm basically done with cooking. Haha, don't tell anyone that. I could quite happily live on scrambled eggs, sandwiches, Skip the Dishes (local restaurant take-out and delivery business). I used to enjoy cooking and trying new recipes but not so much anymore. I'd sooner hang out in my study, writing and working on my various projects. So, I am grateful for my live-in chef who never minds playing around with the pots and pans and scaring up beautiful suppers for us to try out. He's very modest when I praise him, he says he's just following the recipe. But that he's willing to follow one with such happy results, I just love him to pieces for that!

Shared quote...

"Every morning just before dawn, I rise, making myself a cup
of coffee, and sit quietly in a wing chair in the living room for
about an hour. Waking early without effort is one of the genuine
pleasures of getting older. Life has fewer days in it, but nature
compensates by allowing you to to greet them sooner."

* * *
"He wakens me morning by morning,
He wakens my ear to hear as one who is taught."
ISAIAH 50:4 

One of my favourite things...

For me, is waking early without effort, without any pressure to have to be somewhere long before I'm ready to stir from my quiet reverie. It's one of the very best and good gifts of this season of my life. I like my day to start slowly and quietly with no need for speed or urgent. I never know if I should call myself retired, I mean, yes I am retired from any outside full-time or part-time work, but I'm not retired from life or from working on my own projects, which includes writing. I'm just no longer trying to squeeze my own work around working for someone else, whether professionally or voluntarily. My time is quite my own right now, and no, I never grow tired of my quieter, simpler life. Where I can do things in my own time, my own way, and without pressure from anyone. It was the lifestyle my soul longed for since I was a young woman. Yes, it's one of my favourite things and I'm most grateful for it. 

I am hoping...

January will continue in a quiet and peaceful way for this household. I'm hoping the rains will come to Australia and that many lives and homes will be preserved. I'm hoping that the new books I ordered from Indigo with my gift cards will turn out to be my next favourite reads. And I sure hope there's a little treat to go with tea this afternoon. 

I am learning...

A bit of French from and a bit of history from Bill Bryson's interesting biography about William Shakespeare, Shakespeare, The World as Stage.

A moment from my day...

I made Dutch Apple Skillet Pancake for brunch yesterday. It's such a simple recipe with just a few ingredients, yet it tastes like you fussed. It's a perfect dish for company brunch or for just the two of you on a quiet weekend morning. Add a rasher or two of bacon or a couple of breakfast sausages and the meal rounds off perfectly. You'll find the recipe HERE.

Closing notes...

If you are looking for some other interesting reads, may I recommend the following:

(good even if you're nowhere near that age, unless maybe if you're only 20)

* * *

Before I close, I want to stop to remember and say a wee pray for the dear folks, wildlife, and land of Australia. Let the gentle but thorough rains come and bring with it renewed hope for better days ahead.

Happy New Year to you!

With love and hugs,


  1. Yes, let us pray for Australia and those gentle rains to put out the raging fires. Awful situation.

    My favorite paragraph, laugh out loud so, is the one that begins “Santa gave hubby...”

    That said, all your thoughts are interesting and I love to read what you write. I will be interested to know if it takes as long to set things right ss it did a few years ago.

    1. Haha, Vee. That Santa is pretty smart, don't you think? I'll try to remember and keep you posted on that declobbering project.

  2. You had me with the first picture and quote! That is exactly how I feel about windows constantly framing fresh old-new scenes and seasons! Also, you make me want to winter-clean my whole house. I'm slowly starting...SO many interruptions still, in the stage of life I am enjoying! Did you get the book Shape of a Year yet? I had to think of either the January or February chapter as you talked about cleaning and sorting. some of your posts remind me of Jean Hersey's writing! thank-you for this Monday morning beauty! I just finished reading Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. I'm wearing leggings and a blue and white striped hoodie, bare feet;-) (also prayed for those in Australia and for rain!)

    1. Thank you Janet!

      About the cleaning out, I'm starting with my dresser drawer of earrings. I'm not sure exactly when, but some months ago, I just quit wearing earrings. They were part of my costume every day for decades and then one morning I got up, looked at myself in the mirror -- earrings would always hide in my longer haircut -- and said, I'm done with earrings. No more. I have a set of silversmithed bangles that hubby gave me for Christmas one year and that's the one accessory addition to every outfit I wear now. So I'm packing up the earrings.

      I don't think I ever read Nicholas Nickleby. I'm going to have to check it out. I've been looking for Shape of a Year -- do you recall the author -- I can't find it on Amazon or indigo.

  3. Happy New Year, Brenda. That was a most beautiful post. Just loved it. Thanks for the book recommendations, too. Wonderful! Your words are always balm for the soul. Susan

  4. January is off to a good start! Love that painting and the Gladys Taber quote, sums things up nicely:)

  5. Yes dear Brenda - my prayers for rain and safety for the folks in Australia join yours. I get you when you say cooking is not what you enjoy doing as much. So glad hubby is interested - hmmm - maybe I can get my retired husband cooking!! That sounds like a great goal for 2020 :)!! Have a wonderful week friend. Hugs!

    1. Let me know how that 'goal' pans out over the year (wink)! Thanks so much for stopping by, Debbie. Happy New Year.

  6. I would love to live next door to you and glean from your words and thoughts. But reading your blogs are wonderful. I can go back are reread them.
    But if we did live close, I'm sure our lights would be glowing at the same time. Love me mornings, with my coffee and Bible in hand.
    Gabriele Münter, Breakfast of the Birds, is soooooo YOU! In fact, I thought it was you. Great picture!

    1. Christine, I do love that painting, and I love that you think that's me sitting there looking out.

  7. “I don’t know if I should call myself retired, I mean, yes I am retired from any outside full-time or part-time work, but I'm not retired from life or from working on my own projects, which includes writing. I'm just no longer trying to squeeze my own work around working for someone else, whether professionally or voluntarily. My time is quite my own right now, and no, I never grow tired of my quieter, simpler life. Where I can do things in my own time, my own way, and without pressure from anyone.” You have said a mouthful there, my friend. A beautiful post!

  8. Tabler's quote is my experience, too! Especially if it's the window with the bird feeders in view.

    I noticed something interesting: In the middle of your post, you say you are done with cooking, but the last thing you share is a recipe quite a bit above scrambled eggs :-)

    Enjoy all the treats of 2020 edible and otherwise!

    1. Haha Gretchen... Mentally I'm done with cooking but however I feel about it I'm still very much involved in the kitchen. I'm very grateful for the many meals that hubby contributes as well. It's become a joint effort for mutual benefit.

  9. Another lovely post, filled with the beauty of gentle living. It seems that January is a good time for cleaning out closets and cupboards for I have done some of that this past week. I'm looking forward to the day when I can schedule my days as I like, although I did take quite a number of years of not working before returning to teaching. It was hard to go out today in the dark and chilly rain.
    Love the quote and the painting at the top. Taber's words resonate here, too.

    Enjoy 2020.

  10. Happy New Year Brenda! Lovely thoughts, especially "And yet, for all its sameness, there's something new and beautiful every single day if my eyes are open to see." Yes indeed, this is the day the Lord has made...

  11. Thanks for all your wonderful posts, Brenda! I get so refreshed when I reflect on beauty you articulate so creatively. Love your quotes, too! Thanks for your view out your window, and the metaphor for us to look out the windows of our lives. I loved the prompts in your headings, and have written them for my own reflection.

    Keep up your great blogs!! Happy New Year to you!

  12. I love how you've organized your blog posts--very helpful to this reader--and the quotes and recipes in addition to your thoughts on various subjects--so well-written! I am an early-riser, too. To greet the morning light is a real treat! My husband shares in the cooking now that he is retired. Like you, I am very glad for it. If I work it out, I have leftovers so I don't have to cook more than twice a week!

  13. I was already humming that song as I was Because I am in my 70's I will be shopping for The Joy of Being A Woman in Her Seventies! Enjoyed visiting with you today!

  14. What a lovely blog! Thank you for being here!

    It's interesting.... I don't care for prompts, for blogging. I prefer my blog entries to be spontaneous. But!!!! You take the "Old Chestnut" The Simple Woman's Day Book, and make it your own. You flesh out those not-very-inspired prompts, and make a full and joyous Feast, out of them!

    And by so doing, you have completely tipped my former dislike of 'TSWDB' on its head!!! Hooray! I want to embrace this happening. I am still, at this late age, able to be changed in my thinking, by brilliant writing. -smile-

    You have me as a Dear Reader!!!!

    Gentle hugs...


  15. Seems I have a memory, of you not allowing comments.... Mmmmmm...

    And I see, under this comment spot, your message to your Beautiful Readers... "That you do not always comment here, but do look forward to coming and visiting you."

    This is my blogging way!!!! I do not reply to comments, on my blog. I visit and comment on the blogs, of the Dear Readers, who comment on my blog. -clapping hands- A Kindred Spirit! -smile-

    Gentle hugs...


  16. Another wonderfully enjoyable post, dear Brenda. Being a morning person as well, I am reading it with my morning coffee when the sun is just rising and the world is quiet. People constantly tell me that beginning the day in front of the computer is not the way, but I like it :-)

  17. I'm sipping tea from my RA February teacup while I catch up on your posts!

    Thanks for sharing Joy's words. I'll have to look for her on Twitter.

    I also appreciated your honest review of What Comes was on my reading list, but I think I'll pass!


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