Monday, August 03, 2020

The Simple Woman's Daybook: August Edition

" O the green things growing the green things growing,
The faint sweet smell of the green things growing. "

Happy August! It does not seem possible that we've flipped the calendar to a new month, but here we are. Summer is slipping away. For those of us who have been at home isolating for months now, this whole business has seriously messed with our sense of time—days feel like weeks and months feel like seconds. Maybe it doesn't matter, but on second thought, yes, it does. As humans, we need to know when things happen and what day of the week it is. We need those rituals and signals to help us peg our memories to life events. We certainly recognize the devastation people experience when they lose track of time when dementia sets in. So yes, it matters.

I didn't write a July Edition of The Simple Woman's Daybook, so I didn't want to miss August. I've been joining with Peggy our host off and on for more than a decade now. I'm glad she continues to carry on the tradition she started many years ago. It is one of those old familiar rituals that ground me in these unsettling times. Writing, blogging, and gardening certainly does that for me. Making pancakes on a Saturday morning for brunch does too—it sets the weekend apart from the weekday. It all helps to keep our feet on the ground when the world feels upside down.


'A daybook is where you share snapshots
of what your days look and feel like'

Outside my window...
The morning is bright with blue skies, sunshine, and refreshing winds. With most nesting over, fewer birds are around the feeders these days. A lone American goldfinch has been visiting over the weekend. The chickadees were yukking it up yesterday afternoon, now that raising families are done for another year, they are being their cheery, chatty selves.

I am thinking...
It has been months since I've been in a shop to browse for anything. I've been going out for essentials, that's all. Funny, I thought I'd miss it, but it turns out I've grown used to not going out and about. My needs and certainly my wants have simplified even as my social circle has grown smaller. I do not feel lack but rather I realize just how much I have and am taking greater pleasure in what is near to hand. My garden and the flowers give me especial delight this summer. And we ensure there's a supply of small continuous treats (like books and flower posies and favourite snacks for tea at three), so life is good, sweet, and beautiful. In the midst, my heart pangs to think not everyone has it so good in their own lives, and I whisper a little prayer for them.

I am thankful...
I finally learned to stay in the present in my thoughts as much as possible as I go through my days. Not to cast my thoughts down the road about what needs to be done in upcoming tomorrows (unless there is something specific I need to plan in advance). Looking too far ahead often brings a sense of niggling unease and slight anxiety. I'm not sure why—perhaps I tend to forget that 'sufficient for the day' is our grace. I have been given grace for today's projects. God promises new mercies and strength every morning. So I conclude that even the slightest fretting about tomorrow's business will surely usurp the energy I so need for today's tasks. ~ found this thought in an old blog post

One of my favourite things...
This rich pinkish purple Rugasa Rosa 'Hansa'. I love how this photo turned out when I took it with my iPhone after the rain. It's so fresh and vibrant I can almost smell it.

I am wearing...
A sleeveless summer dress with a swishy skirt in floral leafy pattern
of shades of light to deep blue and chartreuse. My eyes feast on this colour combo.

I am remembering...
Audrey Hepburn's character, Holly Golightly, from the 1960s movie Breakfast at Tiffany's when she says, "Hand me my purse, darling; a girl can't read something like this without her lipstick."

It's true, I too feel much better prepared for whatever and whoever crosses my path when my lipstick's on. Big question, do you wear lipstick when you go out in public and wear a mask? I do, I still put it on even if no one else can see it, because lipstick always makes me feel dressed and ready to face the world. Just like Holly.

Photo from Susan's website

I am watching...
That is to say, I will be watching a Zoom Party with Susan Branch later this month. Susan was scheduled to do a presentation and slide-show with the Duxbury Senior Center about the English Countryside. Due to Covid-19, it became an online event and was opened to the general public to take part. Susan invited her girlfriends to come, so I registered—oh yippee!—my chance to participate in one of Susan's book events, something I've wanted to do for a long time now. She's going to be introducing her brand new book Home for Christmas, which she wrote and illustrated during the Covid lockdown. How is that for making great use of this pandemic business.

I went to get the link for you and found they are not taking any more registrations 😢. I'm sorry if you missed it. However, Susan's new Christmas book can be ordered HERE

I've been reading...
by Sarah McCoy

And thoroughly enjoying this 'prequel' story about Marilla Cuthbert. The author shares how she came to write this story. She recalls a passage from the original Anne of Green Gables, Chapter XXXVII:
"What a nice-looking fellow he is," said Marilla absently. "I saw him in church last Sunday and he seemed so tall and manly. He looks a lot like his father did at the same age. John Blythe was a nice boy. We used to be real good friends, he and I. People called him my beau."

Anne looked up with swift interest. "Oh, Marilla—and what happened?" 
Sarah McCoy said Anne's question echoed in her own heart her whole life, and so this novel is her "invention of Marilla Cuthbert and the foundation of Green Gables before Anne Shirley ever arrived with her whimsical free spirit". If you are an Anne fan, you'll like it. McCoy isn't trying to imitate L.M. Montgomery and yet to me the story is seamless, so when the last chapter is done, you will want to continue the tale and reach for the Anne books. It will be interesting when I read the Anne books again if I will see Marilla differently now that I've read her own story.

I have now finished reading...
by Penelope Lively

A blogging friend asked me some weeks ago how I was enjoying Penelope Lively's memoir. It was a full book with so many lovely garden things to read and think about. I underscored many lines and starred new-to-me people, authors, books that I would like to find. I was especially interested to learn about Czech gardener/writer Karel Čapek and his 1929 book The Gardener's Year. He sounds a most entertaining writer, and I laughed so hard at his account of wrestling with the common garden hose.

Here's what Peggy noted: "The garden, for Čapek, is an adversary, a cherished adversary perhaps, but nevertheless the awkward place where the gardener is forever on the back foot. ... Take the simple matter of watering: '... until it has been tamed a hose is an extraordinarily evasive and dangerous beast, for it contorts itself, it jumps, it wriggles, it makes puddles of water, and dives with delight into the mess (mud) it has made, then it goes for the man who is going to use it and coils itself round his legs.' " Can you relate? I surely can. 

I am listening to...
the wind in the trees—the rustle and swish of leaves aflutter—it is a sound so summery, is it not? 

In the kitchen...
This salad is so delicious on a hot summer day.

Peach and Tomato Salad (Yum!)
Serves 4

1. In a large bowl, combine:
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
4 ripe peaches, pitted, cut into wedges
4 ripe tomatoes, cut into thick wedges
(yellow plums would also work)

2. In a small bowl, whisk ingredients to make a dressing:
1 tablespoon white balsamic or sherry vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons light olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

3. Drizzle the dressing over peach mixture; toss to coat.

4. Sprinkle over salad:
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
4 - 6 fresh basil leaves, torn into smaller pieces

In the garden...
Here's a photo taken in the cool of the evening. Our hydrangeas are doing well this summer. The backyard is a work in progress. There are still things that need reworking and, well, 'tis a project for next year now. Two summers ago, it looked like a war zone, but it's coming along. The lawns keeper seeded our bit of grass last year—we quite like the rectangle. He ordered himself a hand push mower this summer and enjoys using it. Maybe he likes that it's old-fashioned, or maybe it means there is no roaring of a gas motor or the whining of an electric one, only the gentle whirring of blades being pushed by hand.


The garden has been really special this summer. It's special every summer, but the main reason I pay closer attention to the beauty and solace of our garden this summer is because we are in it every single day. It's our work, our entertainment, our solace, our holiday resort, our dining spot al fresco....

A favourite quote...
I felt an energy when I read this short list of advice I found on Twitter from Irish novelist Maeve Binchy. Wondering if you also feel that same motivating energy pulsing through these words.  
Learn to type. Learn to drive. Have fun. Write postcards. (Letters take too long and you won't do it, a postcard takes two minutes.) Be punctual. Don't worry about what other people are thinking. They are not thinking about you. Write quickly. (Taking longer doesn't usually make it better.) Get  up early. See the world. Call everybody by their first name, from doctors to presidents. Have parties. Don't agonize. Don't regret. Don't fuss. Never brood. Move on. Don't wait for permission to be happy. Don't wait for permission to do anything. Make your own life.

A moment from my day... 
For you - a posy of sweet peas picked from the garden.   

Closing thought...
There always seems to be bittersweet in life—the good and beautiful mingling with the hard and painful. My own life is sweet and good these days, and I never want to take for granted the beauty and pleasure I have in this season when the world is upside down and some things twisted past recognition. My heart pangs for those whose lives are so changed due to pandemic related issues. And I whisper a little prayer that folks will have the grace to face their situations, that they will catch sight of something that fills them with courage, comfort, and the hope to push forward to better days ahead.

* * *

On that note,
I'm wishing you a beautiful August.

Heart Hugs,

Photo Credit for Feature Image (Top):
'The Artist's Garden at Eragny', Camille Pissarro,
Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington


  1. I want to read the Marilla book. Right now, I'm reading The Book of Lost Friends for book club. I'm staying at my mum's for a few days because she just got out of hospital. Your garden looks beautiful. I'm glad you enjoyed Penelope. A friend returned my copy and commented that it was "too slow". The beautiful details of the gardens and gardeners provided me with a different way of thinking about gardens. I'm going to make the peach and tomato salad.The Maeve Binchy advice is good. I didn't know that Maeve taught school and was a journalist as well as writing all of those novels and short stories. Her characters were always so interesting.

    1. I hope your mom gets well quickly. I enjoyed Penelope; a slow read for sure, but that's why I enjoyed it. It was so nice to meander along with her as she mused about gardens and gardening and garden writers. What I found very interesting is that after reading Life in the Garden, I got her novel The Photograph from the library. I was so pleasantly surprised to find similar musings in the novel (about gardens and life and memory).

  2. Such a lovely visit today. I could picture you in your swishy-skirted summer dress, and that peach salad makes my mouth water.

    1. There is nothing quite like a swishy skirted dress that wafts in the summer breeze! Well, hopefully not as high as Marilyn Munroe's fashion swishy skirt photo.

  3. Your garden is beautiful Brenda! That statement about the garden hose is entirely true!! I have finally given up and just make umpteen trips with the watering cans. I tell myself I get more exercise that way. I also love the fabric of your dress. Blues and greens together make my heart sing!

    1. Thank you Marie! You've turned those umpteenth trips with the watering can into some exercise - what a great way to look at it. What was that silly old fashioned statement about blue and green should never be seen?! I wonder who made that up -- maybe they were colour blind. Like you, blues and greens together make my heart sing. Thanks for stopping by

  4. Lovely daybook post, Brenda! And I agree, loosing a sense of time, of the natural rhythms of our week does matter. I struggle with that too and try to keep to something of a routine to mark the days, like your pancakes on Sunday tradition.

    I see the extraordinary measures that my youngest son and daughter-in-law go to to make the days interesting and fun as well as educational for my little granddaughters and I hurt for those who aren't as fortunate in their home life. I've written down both of your recent books. I would love to see more of Marilla's story. When I watched Anne with an E on Netflix, I thought the English actress who played her did an excellent job. I thought the young actress who played Anne "looked" more the part than any earlier Anne as they were too pretty for the part. I also loved Matthew but some of the episodes left me shaking my head. I'm so glad you made the zoom meeting with Susan! Now you can tell us all about it. I just got her 2021 calendar in the mail the other day and had to restrain myself from reading any of it, hoping to save it for each month as it comes.

    Your rose photograph is gorgeous! And no, I don't wear lipstick under a mask when out. I was just telling RH that I wondered if the lipstick industry had suffered a huge loss lately. The funny thing is that I do wear it most days at home.

  5. Beautiful post, Brenda. I thank you so much for the sweet peas, I now have them on my desk and am enjoying them so much. Your garden is lovely, but gardeners are always thinking, pondering about another year. That is just what we do. I also thank you for the info about the books. I can always count on you for good reading.

    Wishing you a lovely and happy August. Stay well, my friend.

  6. What a lovely post! Love the dress you are wearing today! Perhaps I’ll see you at Susan’s event! You do an exceptional job with this blog!

  7. Thank ypu Brenda for another lovely drift through your world. Your garden looks so lovely. I find that mine looks at its best just in the twilight, when white flowers gleam and roses smell so beautiful. Your Hansa rose is exceptional.

  8. What a cheery, uplifting post! I love seeing your flowers and the yard looks perfectly manicured.

  9. Loved reading your comments, made me feel part of your blessed life in your garden, with your thoughts and reading...I find I nap lots but it's 108 outside so it's comforting to be inside looking out. We put in a bird bath and I enjoy watching different birds coming. Glad august is here and then fall and maybe less fears from the pandemic?

  10. I barely went out BEFORE the pandemic, so I didn't mind staying home. Online shopping is convenient, but sometimes I miss wandering aimlessly around a store to browse the merchandise!

  11. I feel the same way about time . . . these days of mostly staying at home can seem long, and yet the months are whizzing by nonetheless. How does that happen? Your peach and tomato salad looks delicious and summery! I love the vivid and beautiful print of your dress. And, yes, lipstick for me every day, even under a mask!

  12. That color combination on your shirt is lovely! I love adding peaches to salads in the summer. So tasty. I wear a tinted lip balm most of the time, and yes, I still wear in under my mask. You've made me want to read the book about Marilla now. I'll put it on my birthday list!

  13. I also get stressed out if I think too far ahead. It overwhelms me, thinking of all of the things that need to be done. Sometimes I have to remind myself that they don't all need to be done today. Some don't even "need" to be done at all. Thank you so much for this reminder!

    Your backyard is lovely! Thank you for sharing all of the photos!!

  14. What a totally lovely post, Brenda. Lovely. Thank you so much for your visits and kind words. They lift my sorrowful spirit at this terrible time in my life. And Brenda, for the card! How sweet and thoughtful of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I must get through this dark valley of grief. It is so hard. Blessings to you, my dear Brenda. Susan

  15. Brenda your post was just wonderful. I loved every word. Hope you enjoy being at Susan's review - enjoy sweet friend. Thank you for making my day brighter just because I had a visit with you in your garden. Hugs!

  16. I'm nearly a month late reading this post, but it was so lovely! Your summer looks comfy and delightful; my summer has been HOT and cooped up indoors! I'm noticing the cooler mornings and nice breezes, and I fell autumn is coming! I'm so excited. Thanks for the lovely photos and quotes. Susan Branch's book does look enticing.


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