Friday, May 29, 2020

Five On Friday: In The Garden

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

" Gardens are not made by singing 'Oh,
how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade. "

The perennials are up and we're hovering, watching, waiting for the first blooms of the season. Most spring bulbs have come and gone—tulips are nearing their end. The peonies are setting buds and the Peace Rose has one bud about to burst open. Two shrubs did not make it. And, like anxious parents, we've been especially hovering around our newest tree, the lovely Linden, hoping its still barren branches are only a sign of deep delay, not demise. After all it's been a cold spring. Surely that tiny bud looks a wee bit bigger today, and isn't there the hintiest of hints of green on that branch? But I begin to think I'm imagining it. And we feel sad; we were so looking forward to the Linden giving us some lovely shade from the west sun as we sat on our deck this summer.

For a moment I rail against the harshness of life, of our harsh winters, and dream of a living in a warmer clime. I think of Sandra who is already cutting baskets of peonies from her garden in West Virginia; of Barbara in Cornwall, UK, whose roses are blooming, and of Lorrie on Vancouver Island, whose garden is already in full bloom. I yearn.   

Then I shake my head, put on my lipstick, and head for the garden centre. Because our gardening season is short in comparison, we always know we have to make the most of it. And we all do. So I popped out to get my flowers. Well, popped out isn't quite the phrase to use these days. With line-ups to get in and self-distancing still part of the current Covid-19 protocol, one never just pops in anywhere. I was on the hunt for vines to run alongside our garage wall. Having found well established pots of sweet peas and lophospermum vine (happy discovery of a plant new to me), I now dream of sweet peas on one trellis, becoming a daring tangle of tendrils and pastel sweetness, with the lophospermum, with its pink tubular blossoms, spiraling up the other trellises.

We came home happy. We found not only the sweet peas and lophospermum, but big pots of Spanish lavender, verbena, dahlias, hydrangeas, scented stocks, alyssums, geraniums, pansies, and zinnias. Herbs and baskets in riotous colours to set in my two indigo ceramic pots. Many more people seem to be gardening this year, and so there's been a rush at many garden centres. I learned quickly to leave favourite lists at home; because there was the good chance that we wouldn't find all we wanted, why not let a congenial profusion of spontaneity prevail? Which then made me think of what Robin Williams once said, 'Spring is nature's way of saying, let's party!' Yes, let's....

"Lophospermum Vine"
Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life


" Each garden has its own surprise. "

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life


" Everything that slows us down and forces patience,
everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature,
is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. "

"Scented Stocks"
Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life


" The greatest gift of the garden is the
restoration of the five senses. "

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life


" I think this is what hooks one to gardening:
it is the closest one can come to being present at creation. "

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life


" My extravagance is my garden -- it's the first
thing I look at every morning when I wake up.
It gives me so much pleasure. "

* * *

Wishing you a beautiful weekend.

Heart Hugs,

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Fragrance, The Invisible Sweetness

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

"They blossomed, they did not talk about blossoming."
DEJAN STOJANOVIC, The Sun Watches the Sun

The Mayday trees burst into bloom this week, and their inexplicable fragrance wafts everywhere in our community. Come to think of it, the week the Maydays bloom has to be one of my favourite weeks of the year—the trees with masses of creamy white blossoms emitting their sweet scent on a sun-warmed spring day. The first whiff on the breeze always catches me by surprise—it's not there and then suddenly it is. And as quickly it's gone again. The moment awakens such a state of happiness in me.

It makes me think of something I read by Helen Keller many years ago. As I recall, she described traveling by train from her home in the South up to Boston in the North. With her acutely sharpened sense of smell, Helen could tell when the train had moved out of the southern state; the further north they went the less fragrant the air. I'm not sure why that bit of knowledge stayed with me all these years. Perhaps it was one of those moments in my young life where I marveled that there could be such spot in this world. To imagine living in a place where the whole countryside would be so saturated with the scent of flowers and trees you could smell it for miles.

Having only lived to that point in the northern hemisphere where summers were short and it took a lot of courage for a rose and other tender fragrant flowers to grow, we thought we were lucky if we got a handful of such fragrant blooms in a season. Certainly not enough to create a fragrance frenzy in the air for any length of time. Fresh-mown hay fields would waft but only a short while. We had lilac bushes on the farm where I grew up, but I don't ever remember noticing their scent wafting on the wind quite like the Maydays do; it was more like you had to bury your nose in a branch to really catch a whiff. And, of course, you smelled them once you cut and brought some into the house.

Yes, Mayday trees make me happy. I never want to take for granted this little bit of scented heaven that comes but once a year and for so short a time.

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

Helen, in her book The World I Live In, wrote a lovely piece about the sense of smell. Here is an excerpt from the chapter entitled 'Smell, The Fallen Angel'.  As I think you'll want to read the whole chapter once you read this short passage, in case you don't have the book, you'll find the link HERE.

"I doubt if there is any sensation arising from sight more delightful than the odors which filter through sun-warmed, wind-tossed branches, or the tide of scents which swells, subsides, rises again wave on wave, filling the wide world with invisible sweetness. A whiff of the universe makes us dream of worlds we have never seen, recalls in a flash entire epochs of our dearest experience. I never smell daisies without living over again the ecstatic mornings that my teacher and I spent wandering in the fields, while I learned new words and the names of things. Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across a thousand miles and all the years we have lived. The odor of fruits wafts me to my Southern home, to my childish frolics in the peach orchard. Other odors, instantaneous and fleeting, cause my heart to dilate joyously or contract with remembered grief. Even as I think of smells, my nose is full of scents that start awake sweet memories of summers gone and ripening grain fields far away."

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

"Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch,
but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same."

* * *

And so, I wish you a beautiful day.
Keep healthy and stay safe.

Heart hugs,

Friday, May 22, 2020

Anne's Bower of Apple Blossoms

Image by TheFunky.pixel from Pixabay

It's Friday afternoon and I'm whiling away the rainy day by revisting my blog archives. I enjoyed finding this excerpt in a post I'd written in 2010. For you ardent fans of L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, I'm sure you remember when Anne caught her first glimpse of the lane of apple trees in full bloom that day Matthew Cuthbert picked her up from the train station and then drove home to Green Gables.

"They had simply rounded a curve in the road and found themselves in the 'Avenue'. The Avenue, so called by the Newbridge people, was a stretch of road four or five hundred yards long, completely arched over with huge, wide-spreading apple-trees, planted years ago by an eccentric old farmer. Overhead was one long canopy of snowy fragrant bloom. Below the boughs the air was full of a purple twilight and far ahead a glimpse of painted sunset sky shone like a great rose window at the end of a cathedral aisle.

Its beauty seemed to strike the child dumb. She leaned back in the buggy, her thin hands clasped before her, her face lifted rapturously to the white splendour above.

. . .It's the first thing I ever saw that couldn't be improved upon by imagination. It just satisfies me here—she put one hand on her breast—it made a queer funny ache and yet it was a pleasant ache."
L.M. MONTGOMERY, Anne of Green Gables

I've never had the personal pleasure of passing under such a vast bower of beauty, but that lovely photo above certainly gives, as Anne herself would say, scope for the imagination. Aren't you glad for the gift of your imagination? Maybe a larger question should be....have you ever witnessed something that so satisfied you in your breast with that queer funny ache, and it was so breathtaking it could not be improved upon by imagination?

I sure hope you have a lovely weekend.
Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places,

Heart hugs,

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

From My Book Shelf: Sharing The Journey

" Every morning just before dawn, I rise, make 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 greet them sooner. "
PHYLLIS THEROUX, excerpt from her essay 'On Keeping a Journal'

As you may know, I have been browsing my book shelves with you in mind—looking at titles I think you might enjoy and then sharing an excerpt or two. Pressing my books into service is my small online contribution to helping create community in isolation.

I'm happy to present this lovely volume of memoir essays Sharing the Journey, Women Reflecting on Life's Passages from the pages of Victoria Magazine. It's so nice to find many of my favourite articles from the magazine in this attractive hardcover collection. Even though I still have all my old Victoria magazines, there are times I want to read a certain essay and can't put my hand on the right issue right away; chances are it's in the book.

Originally published in 1997, it was republished in 2007. In it you will find writings by such distinguished—and probably familiar—authors as Diane Ackerman, Catherine Calvert, Madeleine L'Engle, Susan Minot, Francine Prose, Phyllis Theroux, and others. They have written about the phases of a woman's life and include themes such as childhood, motherhood, sisters, home, rituals, solitude, and remembering the past.

If you are interested in exploring further, you will find an online table of contents along with several essays HERE.

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

Victoria's former editor, Nancy Lindemeyer, wrote the Foreword, and it's her insightful words that I share as the first excerpt. I was especially drawn to her observation that memoir is about discovering the mystery of the commonplace. Thank goodness for that—my life growing up wasn't high drama, but there was life to be lived and lessons to be learned, and in the end, it can all make fodder for sharing.
"Memoirs are the distillation of life's lessons. They are experiences 'recollected in tranquility,' and they needn't be dramatic experiences. Life, after all, consists mainly in our routines, our rituals, commonplace things that everyone shares. But the memoir writer discovers the mystery in the commonplace. She bites down on a tiny seed and—open sesame!—the essential oil bursts forth, more intense than we could have ever imagined. . . .
Collected here is a celebration—a sampling of the best original writing that appeared in Victoria. Many of the writers represented are well known to you; others will be new acquaintances. So take this little book to your chosen snuggery and curl up with friends, old and new. I promise you fresh insights on familiar scenes, a candle in the dark, a friendly word to spur you on home."

* * *

The second excerpt comes from a piece written by Catherine Calvert and is entitled Porch Swings, Old Novels, and Memories of Summers Past.
"Though many a house has sheltered me in the course of summers past, one memory serves to tie them all. It's early afternoon and all is sweet peace. Just a shift of the pillows set the porch swing swaying gently—pillows covered in faded chintz with the slight musty scent that attests to their long winter's nap in the shed. The book lying tented across my chest is slightly musty too, foxed with the brown spots of age, since it was left downstairs in the bookcase thirty or forty years ago. You may be sure there's nothing in it to tax the brain: It's a romance and Cressida and Percy are settling their futures over a game of tennis. But I shall simply revel in the pleasure of the present, listening to the burr of the lawn mower down the road, watching the hornets busy themselves with their nest, biting into the slice of lemon I've fished from my iced tea.
Ah, the joys of a summer place! Unlike year-round houses filled with serious furniture and serious concerns, this is the house that transcends utility, that summons up the joys of summertime when you cross the threshold. Shuffle off your shoes and pad across the cool floors, search out the porch (there has to be a porch with the traditional blue-painted roof). Count the beds, with their white counterpanes and sagging springs—all is as it should be, as it was, and ever shall be. The proper summer house exists out of time and has a sort of parallel life to our own workaday existence." 

* * *

Lucky you, I've pulled a third excerpt today for your reading pleasure from the essay The Romance of Old Books by Patricia O'Toole. This has been a favourite of mine ever since I read it in Victoria years ago.
" A half hour of steady rain is all it takes for the mood to wrap itself around me. Why this should be, I don't know, but when the world's clatter disappears in the thrum of the rain, the tranquility that settles in pulls me toward the pleasures of browsing among old books. Not rare books, and not classics necessarily just books that have been around for awhile.  Books that used to belong to someone else.
Books that look cherished—as if they've been read more than once and passed from friend to friend.  If my longing strikes on a busy day, I settle for a visit to the used-book establishment across the street. There is no way to keep the bell on the front door from waking the cat drowsing on the window, but the cat declines to protest. He either goes back to sleep or commences a browse of his own, in the alcove given over to architecture and opera..."

Wishing you a beautiful day.

Heart Hugs,

Monday, May 18, 2020

Weekend Doings

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

" The earth laughs in flowers. "

It's Monday morning, the start of a new week. It's a holiday here in Canada. I always call this the Victoria Day weekend, but many call it the May Long Weekend. Victoria Day was established as a holiday in the Province of Canada in 1845 and as a national holiday in 1901 to honour Queen Victoria's birthday. It is now informally considered the beginning of summer, also known as  'let's go camping' for many families. Plus, it is high season for garden centers and anyone eager to finally get plants in the ground. I popped over to one of our favourite greenhouses just moments after opening hours, and the parking lot was already full to the brim, with lineups. I decided not to wait but I'll try again soon. I am looking for shrubs and trees, and they don't have online shopping for them.

We had a lovely weekend—great weather and a chance to parking lot and front yard visit with family and friends. It was so sweet to see faces in person. The weather was perfect. We sat outside and felt the warmth of the sun on our cheeks and the breeze in our hair. We each brought our own drinks and snacks. The no hugging policy made it feel more than a little odd, especially when we waved each other off without so much as a nod, only air kisses. Still, it was wonderful.

" Don't cry because it's over,
smile because it happened. "

" Life's a pudding full of plums."

After a recent dig through the freezer, I discovered a bag of frozen plums that needed using up. I made a Plum Cake for tea yesterday afternoon. Needless to say, we consumed our piece with great delight. It seems I bake a lot more these days. Maybe that's why flour and yeast are hard to come by in the stores—everyone else seems to be doing that as well. Here's the recipe:

Quick Plum Cake

8 x 8 inch greased pan
Preheat oven to 350 F

1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups pitted fresh plums, or if frozen, thawed

Beat sugar and eggs.
Add dry ingredients.
Add butter, vanilla, water.
Mix thoroughly.

Pour batter into prepared pan.
Layer plums over top.

 Crumb Topping:
1 Tbsp flour
6 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup finely chopped nuts (opt)

Blend flour, sugar, cinnamon in small bowl.
Cut in butter with fork until crumbly.
Add nuts.
Sprinkle over batter and fruit.
Bake 30 minutes or until done.  

Note: The recipe is easily doubled
for a 9 x 12" pan, baking for 45 to 60 minutes.

* * *

We had a sad moment in our garden this morning as Rick had to chop down one of our small spruces. One always waits as long as possible in the springtime to ensure something is truly dead before doing the chop-chop. In this particular case, the sad little tree was yellow-brown and getting browner by the day, with piles of needles at her feet in mourning. Thankfully, the two spruces next to her seem healthy and are busy setting their new buds.

Another truly sad moment came yesterday afternoon when the news broke that one of the Canadian Snowbird jets crashed shortly after takeoff in BC. They were on the #OperationInspiration mission to do flypasts over communities across the country. What was meant to cheer people up turned into tragedy. One pilot, Captain Jennifer Casey, died as a result. I felt sick at heart. Condolences to all involved.

As often happens in life, there's a mix of bitter and sweet—life and death—going on. Sometimes we find ourselves having to live with happy-sad in our hearts at the same time. I've learned to do that over the years, celebrating good things even as sad things are being mourned. If we let it, joy seems able to mingle with comfort.

" When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate.
And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow. "

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

Good news following sad, our orchid burst into bloom this weekend. We were so thrilled. We had repotted her about a year ago, and there had been no sign of growth over the months. It took this long to re-establish herself. Then, one day buds began to form, and now this. ↑

* * *

As I'm wrapping this up, I heard one of the song sparrows, they must be just arriving. Not sure which one, but it sounded as if he was out of practice—he was a bit wobbly in the warble. Made me chuckle. He'll have to do better if he wants to attract a nice female.

On that note, I'll be here on Wednesday with a book post. Wishing you a beautiful week ahead. Keep safe especially now as things open up more.

Heart Hugs,

Friday, May 15, 2020

Five On Friday: A Prayer And Five Lovely Book Quotes

Image by TProud from Pixabay

" Lord, give me an open heart to find You everywhere,
to glimpse the heaven enfolded in a bud, and experience
eternity in the smallest act of love. "

Before I share those lovely book quotes I gathered for today's post, there's something else I feel the need to say. The other morning, I was reading a passage from Common Prayer, A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. Centuries earlier, Catherine of Siena, a 14th century mystic, had written down the words she felt God had spoken to her. And now these very words, preserved through the ages, speak to me (I've written them in my own journal):
"Beloved daughter, everything I give to you comes from the love and care I have for (you). I desire to show my mercy to the whole world and my protective love to those who want it. My care is constant. I did this so that they will know me and rejoice to see me forever."
That italicized phrase really grabbed my heart. It's exactly what we need in these times—His protective love. Yes please, I want it and need it. I want it not only for myself, but for every single person I care about. That, dear friends, is my heart prayer for you as well these days.

So now back to our regularly scheduled programming....

While we go about our days doing what we need to, possibly caring for those who need care, coping with unusual routines, I believe it is so needful for us to always come back to a place where our own souls can be refreshed and renewed. I find I have sweeter sleeps on those days when I take a deliberate few moments to fill my mind with beautiful images and lovely, hopeful thoughts. Refreshing words from the Psalms. Comforting words from familiar stories. Delicious, evocative words from books and blog posts that make my heart leap for joy or cheer.

That is why I am so grateful for the poetic language of certain books, for the beautiful imagery, photography and artwork found in magazines and online, for the familiar handwriting of a loved one in an old cherished note of encouragement. Sometimes we just don't have the words we need, but aren't we glad when we find someone else who says it perfectly for us. Perhaps the words from Catherine of Siena do fit into this blog post after all, for they have given me life and light this week.

In difficult times you should always carry something beautiful in your mind. So said 17th century French mathematician, philosopher and theologian, Blaise Pascal. How often these days I have taken this now familiar line to heart. And so, it's with those words in mind that I offer Five on Friday: five lovely book quotes I take delight in, paired with photos I took when we were in Oxford (UK) a few years ago. I hope you enjoy....  

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life


" Maybe this is why we read, and why in
moments of darkness we return to books:
to find words for what we already know. "

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life


" She reads books as one would breathe
air, to fill up and live. "

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life


" You know you've read a good book
when you turn the last page and feel a
little as if you have lost a friend. "

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life


"Poetic language is a way of giving the sense
of an answer, just a sense of one,
that the story itself is unable to provide. "

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life


"Reading gives us someplace to go
when we have to stay where we are. "

* * *

Wishing you a beautiful weekend. Stay safe.

Heart Hugs,

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

This And That Tuesday

Image by Gudrun Becker from Pixabay

"Spring grew on (...) and a greenness grew over those brown beds, 
which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed
them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps."

When I was a working girl, I used to long for the days when I wouldn't have to rush every morning to get to work. I was fine once I got to the office, because I liked my desk and the office environment, but I really disliked the early morning rush to get there. There was always a kind of angst to it. So now that I can live my dream of slower, more peaceful mornings, I never take them for granted. There's time to wake up without an alarm clock; time for quiet thoughts before breakfast, write in my journal, listen to the birds. Time for little morning chats with my sweetheart over coffee. I wouldn't trade all this for anything!

I started this post yesterday morning. It was the kind of morning that didn't seem sure if it should rain, snow, or break out into sunshine more grey. But when I woke this morning, it had decided—the sun was shining brightly and the skies were clear blue. I felt a little grin forming on the inside as I thought about the possibilities for the day. It would all still be in isolation, but it would be in sunny isolation. A big difference, wouldn't you agree?

I've gathered a few moments from the last couple of days and a few pics....I hope it all pieces together into a post that gives you a moment of pleasure and gladness that you stopped in. I also hope things are safe and well for you and your loved ones.

Out in my world...

Rick and I went for a drive in the countryside on Saturday. Brilliant spring greens were bursting in treetops everywhere--I wanted to fly into them. We found a pond filled with waterfowl and parked by the side of the road for an in-car picnic, all the while serenaded by frogs, red-wings, the odd coot, geese, and mallards.

Not to forget the young fellow on the hills nearby brrrrmmming on his dirt bike. I used to get irritated when that kind of intrusion happened on a quiet scene I was trying to enjoy. But feeling far more gracious these days, I thought good for that young man; he's out enjoying a spring morning and, no doubt, feeling a bit of freedom from his own Covid-19 isolation.

In my kitchen...

Wanted to make blueberry muffins with lemon zest. Having finished off the eggs a couple of days earlier for breakfast, there weren't any in the house (we only shop for essentials once a week these days). Turning to my baker expert sister for advice, she suggested using 1/4 cup heavy cream in place of the egg, which I had, fortunately. She warned the batter texture would be different but should work fine. Yes, it worked fine—the muffins were delicious. We had one with coffee early this morning.

On my night table...

I am slow reading two lovely non-fiction books right now: House Lessons: Renovating a Life (memoir) by Erica Bauermeister and Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace by Christie Purifoy.

I ordered these two books on separate occasions, not realizing that when they'd end up on my bedside table together, they would be perfect 'soul' mates. Both are similar in beauty of language, and each author shares in her own unique style thoughts about the importance of home and place, and the ways our spaces affect us as people. Does your soul ever long for a place where you know this is home for you? Here are two authors who recognize that amazing feeling too. Both are gentle reads, thoughtful, and soul-searching—perfect for this upside down season when so many of us are sheltering physically and emotionally in our homes.

For online excerpts, you can find Erica's book HERE and Christie's book HERE

In my journal...

I picked up my fat pencil yesterday to spruce up my journal entry with a wee sketch. Even though I'm not an artist, perhaps with a bit of regular practice I could learn how to sketch some simple images. So every morning, at least this week while the shiny idea sparkles, I'm going to sharpen my pencil and see what comes forth. The above is Day #1.

Image from Amazon Prime

I watched (and loved) the movie...

Love At First Dance with actors Becca Tobin and Niall Matter (Canadian). We saw it on Prime but it's available on other channels, including Hallmark.

With so many movies out there that are violent, sad, filled with broken, messed up characters, here's a movie with likable characters working through complications and struggles without screaming fits, swearing, or someone dying. There's a nice, gentle chemistry between the main characters. And, it has a proper ending, that is to say, it works out right. If you liked You've Got Mail, I'm pretty sure you'll like this one.

An interesting tidbit, although the story takes place in New York, some scenes were filmed in Victoria, British Columbia. The story line: "Hope is tasked with teaching Manhattan's former most eligible bachelor how to dance for his extravagant wedding. As the dance lessons progress, complications ensue when feelings begin to develop between the student and the instructor."

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Memory about Strawberry Tea

The other day, my sister mentioned she was making a homemade strawberry cake for Mother's Day. Oh yum! The very mention of strawberries on a spring morning made me think about the annual Strawberry Tea the ladies of the United Church would host every spring. It was a big event in our village. During high school, I worked at the local grocery store on weekends. Eddy, our lovely boss, would tell the clerks that we were to take turns going to the Tea. I still remember walking down the street with my co-worker Dora, laughing as we enjoyed the sunshine, happy for this break from work, not to mention the delicious anticipation of what we were about to enjoy. I never thought of it as a 'special' memory until this very moment, but it really was. A lovely interlude on a Saturday afternoon.

My mom just told me that, when she'd worked at the store as a clerk years earlier, Eddy gave her the very same opportunity. Now it's even more special.

* * *

" Although the world is full of suffering
it is also full of the overcoming of it. "

* *  *

Wishing you a beautiful day. Keep safe.

Heart Hugs,

Sunday, May 10, 2020

My Mother's Day Thought

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

" sure that I will never let you go, though
the whole world should turn from you. "

I always knew that my mom loved her kids, but I never felt it so clearly for myself until that day, many years ago now, when my little trembling heart and I got a call at work to please come down to the boss's office. Yikes! I had an immediate knot in my stomach. I could not even fathom what I might have done wrong that would warrant a call to the 'principal's office', but it must be something, who gets a call for something good?

To be honest, I was a little in awe of my boss. Even though she had always been good to me, I had lurking fears that started during school days—the fear of being caught out a dummy and not measuring up to the teacher's standards—and it created a similar angst that my bosses would find out I was not as smart or knowledgeable as they had been led to believe when they hired me, and now that they'd found out, they'd have to let me go. Sounds quirky, but there it is....

So on that day, down the staircase, from the fifth floor to the third, I went slowly so as to compose myself. Wracking my brain and whispering a prayer for help, the thought came to me: If I have done something terrible to warrant reprimand, what's the worst thing they could do to me? In my mind, the worst thing was to be fired. In acknowledging that, strangely enough, I felt a sense of peacefulness wash over me. For in that split second, I knew even if I got fired my mom still loved me, and she'd be right there to help me pick up the pieces.  

Bolstered in my heart, I arrived at my boss's door. I was invited to come in and sit down. I waited. My boss was writing something on a slip of paper. She pushed it across the desk towards me, smiling as she did so. There was no word of reprimand. No, no. The slip of paper held the figure of my adjusted salary—I was getting a raise.

I left the office a relieved and happy young woman. Not just for the good news but, more importantly, because I saw so clearly that day no matter what, MY MOM would always be there for me. I never worried about getting fired ever again -- the fear of it was gone, gone, gone. And in its place was the rock solid knowledge of my mom's unconditional fierce 'mother bear' love for me....for all her kids.

* * *

Now, that's my story; not everyone has or had a mom like that. But without belabouring the point, it is my wish and hopeful desire that there is at least one person in your life who loves you like that.

I have lived confidently in that beautiful love for sixty three years now, and for that I. AM. SO. GRATEFUL. My heart is full on this strange Mother's Day of 2020—it's the first time we won't be able to celebrate this special day in person.

Dearest Mom,
The ribbons from your heart of love
have woven a haven around my heart.
Thank you.

Happy Mother's Day!

With all my heart,

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Mary Berry: Recipe For Life

" Cakes are healthy too,
you just eat a small slice. "

Some of you have mentioned you find yourselves, at this time, unable to read anything too deep or heavy. I am finding that myself and have been reaching for books I can wrap around me like a comfy sweater. If you came to my house, you'd be most welcome to browse my bookshelves while the tea brewed. Since that's not possible, especially now, I'm dipping into my book collection with you in mind—looking for books I think you might enjoy and then sharing excerpts with you. Pressing my books into service is my small online contribution to helping create community in isolation.

Mary Berry's autobiography Recipe for Life is a wonderful read. Affectionately known by many as the Queen of Tarts, Mary co-starred the popular Great British Bake-Off series—a show I, and millions others, loved to watch.

From the opening line in the book 'In the words of my father, my birth caused no end of trouble', I was hooked. I read the stories and pored over the photos. The book became my bedtime reading for a season. It was a lovely way to relax, although I often had the urge to get up and bake something yummy after reading Mary's recipes. Her warmth and humour shine through as she gives us a peek into her her life, her family, and her career as a food writer. I especially enjoyed the glimpse of her British life and the landscape of growing up during the Second World War and coming of age in the 1950s and 1960s.

I loved these two little stories....

Mary recalls the time she and a good friend of hers went skiing in Switzerland one winter. They were young, single, and between jobs. One day on the ski lift, they met film star David Niven and ended up skiing with him for the day. According to Mary, 'he was just as handsome and charming as you would expect, a complete gentleman and an excellent skier as well'.

Mary also tells of the time she was invited to luncheon with Her Majesty the Queen. The call came from Buckingham Palace, and Mary thought her brother was playing a joke on her. But soon the invitation arrived in the mail to confirm it was not a joke. Mary, along with ten other guests, were taken into a dining room set with sparkling crystal and beautiful bouquets of flowers. Mary was seated next to Prince Philip, and though the Prince had never watched the Great Bake Off, he entertained her with his own BBQing experiences with game and stuffing it with haggis. The Queen's corgis remained in the dining room during lunch, and whenever they got too rambunctious, the Queen told them to be quiet.

A lovely book about a lovely woman. 

* * *

"I have a pair of Spanx rolled up in a drawer
for the day I eat one biscuit too many."

* * *

Wishing you a beautiful day.

Heart Hugs,

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Singin' in the Rain

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

" It helps beyond words to plant bulbs
in the dark of winter. "

What a gleeful moment to find the tulips sparkling with raindrops after that lovely rain we had yesterday. I ran for my camera. I could not keep something like this to myself—I had to share yet another tulip moment with you. The neighbours must be wondering already why I keep running outside for another look, another photo. But who cares, my eyes are having a feast! 

I think I have a tiny sense of how Vincent Van Gogh must have felt that day he looked out his window, sitting in his cheap little room in London as he wrote to his beloved brother in Holland. Brenda Ueland, in her book If You Want to Write, describes the moment: "He looked out his window at a watery twilight, a thin lamp post, a star, and he said in his letter something like this: It is so beautiful I must show you how it looks. And then on his cheap ruled notepaper, he made the most beautiful, tender, little drawing of it."

Yes, that is exactly how I feel. They are so beautiful I must show you how they look. These tulips we planted in pots last fall have been such a gift this year. Who was to know that we would need them? I have never been so smitten with tulips as I have this Spring. My heart bursts with gratitude to the One who made spring and tulips. These tulips.

Enjoy the feast....

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

" Daffodils blossom and tulips jostle to the front of the

stage in April. I love these early perennials: they may be

more modest but they nearly all have that one special quality

that a plant needs to transform your affections from

admiration to affection — charm. "


* * *

Sending love and heart hugs,