Monday, September 28, 2020

Monday Morning: Autumn Reading

"It is fall now. And life goes past in the wind."

This early morning has me wanting to wrap my fingers around a steamy cup of coffee. The air is nippy as I sit here at my desk, the olive green fleece blanket around my shoulders. I look down at my feet shod in the sandals I flapped around in all summer and figure it's time to trade them in for the cozy sheep fleeced slippers waiting in the closet. I could turn the heat on, but then I'd have to close my window which is open a crack to allow the morning in. It's nearly six o'clock, and there is no sign of dawn yet. The desk lamp creates a circle of light, everything else in shadows. I sit quiet, happily musing what to write about today.

I think about the weekend. It was such a beautiful day yesterday. Sunshine and cloud-studded blue skies, the air an autumnal mix of warmth and crispness that is as delightful a sensation to my face as a still warm, crisp-around-the-edges chocolate chip cookie is inside my mouth. It was so good to be outside, to crunch in the leaves gathered in the gullies along the street, and to catch sight of dogs happy on their walks. 


" For as long as she could remember, she had thought that autumn air
went well with books, that the two both somehow belonged with blankets,
comfortable armchairs, and big cups of coffee or tea. "
KATARINA BIVALD, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

I had a couple of books due at the library, and while I was out doing that errand, I had such a hankering to visit Indigo Books in person (a place I haven't seen the inside of since March). It didn't take long to gather an armful of books. Haven't read Jane Austen's Emma in years, and I never did read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Except for Big Magic, which I'd just finished the library's copy and I desired my own to mark up, and the lovely autumn issue of Bella Grace magazine, the rest were at bargain prices at 3/$10, plus my plum card which had a 20% discount on top of that—well, as you can imagine, I came out a happy girl.

* * *

Just found a lovely new-to-me author J.F. Riordan the other day on Twitter. Someone had retweeted her blog post Pandemic Idyll. In it she beautifully explores her thoughts and feelings about these past few months, and it so resonated with me I had to share it with you; here's an excerpt....
"It was the most beautiful summer I can remember here. Day after golden day unfolded in rich, scented glory. The sun, the heat, the lushness of the woods and garden, the perfect refreshment of the lake were everything anyone could wish for. But it was an odd summer too: no picnics with friends, no Memorial Day, no parties at the lake, no baseball in May and June . . . no farmers market, no family reunion, no Labor Day end of summer celebrations. There were no markers, no points in time. Just the silent turning of the earth, the move toward the sun and then away from it, the days turning, too, from morning to afternoon to evening. The light lengthening, the light retreating, The restless sleep. Then morning again.

It's difficult to explain the dreamy quality of life these days. I tell myself it should be a time of joy and productivity, but somehow it isn't. It's not a happy dreaminess—I don't know how it could be—but it's not unhappy, either. It's a sense of unreality; as if time is over." 

After reading Ms Riordan's blog, I went in search of her books. She has written several novels (award-winning), but for this time of year when we draw close to the heart of our homes, I was drawn to her essays Reflections on a Life in Exile so I ordered it from Amazon (on sale for $5.00); two days later I had the paper book in my hand. She writes about her beloved dogs, walks in the woods, grieving her mom's death, writing, and all manner of other poignant or entertaining musings of life. She's thoughtful and gently humoured, and I really like the way she expresses herself. 

A neighbour's front garden as seen on my walk yesterday

" It was one of those perfect fall days when the air is cool
enough to wake you up but the sun is also kissing your face. "
ANITA DAIMANT, The Boston Girl

* * *

Wishing you a beautiful week.

Heart Hugs,

Friday, September 25, 2020

Five On Friday: Autumn Thoughts And Flowers

"There truly is something magically enjoyable and inspiring
that happens when one season ends, and another begins.
I think it’s because the start
of each season also provides us with a new beginning.
With each new season, our environment changes around us,
and we are all brought along for the ride. A renewed energy
comes alive within us when this happens."
AMANDA, Tulip & Sage blog

I had been hanging onto Summer's coattails all month, but now that Autumn is officially here, my soul settles into this most favourite season. Lamps get turned on earlier as days grow shorter; for me that's a cozy feeling. It's time, then, for twinkle lights, candles, BC McIntosh apples, pumpkin spice lattes, and woolly sweaters, to name a few. 

I washed windows yesterday. It was a pleasant task; the air was crisp and balmy at the same time—even as the breeze bites, it soothes. Although not many birds out, the bees were busy in the sedums. I'm surprised as days grow shorter to see new blossoms opening on one hydrangea (above), while from another (at the bottom) I snipped the aging but still gorgeous blooms to dry for winter bouquets. 

After supper last night, I went out to drop a birthday card in the mailbox. I love the evening light at this time of year. A quietness creeps over the neighbourhood. Walking back to the house, I saw this stunning bloom on Peace Rose. Oh my! It bloomed beautifully all summer, but this rose seemed the most exquisite of all. If Mom were nearby and there wasn't Covid, I'd be taking this to her for her own bedside table—since it is her rosebush that makes so many of us happy. Instead, I set it on my own table; it was the last thing I saw before switching off the lamp.


“Keep good company, read good books, love good things and
cultivate soul and body as faithfully as you can.”

A Few Autumn Favourites

—the sound of skittering leaves on the sidewalk
—watching the leaves fall from the trees on a windy day
—a warm sweater or scarf on a cool morning
—pumpkin spice lattes
—shadows and cozy lamps in corners
—walking on a pile of crunchy leaves
—comfort food like apple crisp and corn chowder
—Canadian Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks
—bouquets of twigs and leaves

* * *

There is an exquisite hint of peach in the eastern sky—the morning has dawned here.
So I'll sign off and wish you a pleasant weekend.

Heart Hugs,

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

So Long Summer, Hello Autumn

" Every leaf speaks bliss to me, 
falling from the autumn tree. "

The weather of the last few days has closed out summer most graciously. On Sunday we took a drive through the countryside. I always love that sense of moving away from the busyness of city streets and entering a world where straw-coloured fields stubble the view, with tree lines showing off their patchwork of summer greens and autumn golds. We packed sandwiches and a thermos of tea for a picnic in the park. Sometimes we drive until we say, "Here, let's stop here". Other times we have a certain destination in mind. We headed to a nearby park, found an empty table in the sunshine and sat with the sun warm on our backs. Smoke from a campfire filled the air—it was the smell of happy weiner roast and, thankfully, not of forest fire. 

And, yesterday was perfect to meet up with former neighbours who were in the area. We sat in the garden, Covid-style. The sun was warm and Sweet Alyssum filled the air with fragrance. Bees hummed from Alyssum to Rudbeckia to Sedum back to Alyssum, their presence filling us all with delight as we spent a pleasant hour over coffee and conversation.

Today marks Autumnal Equinox, the time when day and night are equal length, and it is the point during the Earth's orbit around the sun at which the sun is closest distance from the equator. So Happy Autumn!

To mark the occasion, I reached for my copy of Autumn, An anthology for the changing seasons, edited by Melissa Harrison. Here is a bit about the book from the inside cover: "In prose and poetry from across the British Isles, Autumn captures both the exhilaration and the melancholy of this turning point in the year." And, here is an excerpt from one of the contributors:
"Autumn is an adventure, a season of transformation, and a time to prepare for the long winter ahead. It is a thousand leaves falling to the ground and nourishing the soil beneath; it is . . . refreshing winds that sweep the haze of summer away; it is the calm before the storm. More than that, though, autumn is a celebration of senses, of new experiences for your eyes, ears, tongue, skin and nose; it rouses your consciousness after the calming effects of summer. Autumn isn't the season of decay or death, but one of wealth and renewal. It is the changing landscape; the subtle anticipation of winter. Autumn is to be enjoyed. Autumn is bold bursts of colour that leap from every corner of the landscape; it is golden yellow, fiery red, bright orange, and rich chocolate brown, and a faded green that reminds us of summer."     
From the essay by Louise Baker, 2016

* * *

Wishing you a beautiful day.

Heart Hugs,

Friday, September 18, 2020

Summer's Fading Charm and a Posy of Sweet Peas

" When summer gathers up her robes of glory,
And, like a dream glides away. "

Autumn was always my favourite season. But in more recent years, I felt less adamant about it, for I found myself truly anticipating and appreciating each season, yes, including winter. With that, I sort of assumed they were each my favourites, by turn. But yesterday, I realized, as an unbidden joy sprung up from within, Autumn was....and still remains my most favourite season of the year. I could feel my senses alert to the moment, for I adore that contrast of crisp, cool air against the sun's warm rays. And, that's exactly how the day felt in late afternoon.

As I drove round the traffic circle, heading down the winding street towards home, happiness welled up as I caught sight of the slanting light hitting the tops of the trees. There was a marked ambiance, heavy with a sense of relief, as if the earth, brilliant and bold and bountiful all spring and summer, could at last let go of her boundless energy, and relax—much like the relief a woman feels after holding in her midriff wearing a fitted dress all afternoon. Oh, the joy of letting go.

The glories in the garden begin to fade, and I feel the peacefulness of that evanescent charm. And as much as I am smitten with the riotous beauty of autumn's raving russets and luminous gold-leaf, still to come in our area, I think what I really have come to appreciate is that sense of being able to come back to oneself, to center one's soul. The old Victoria magazines, in its September issues, used to focus on finding the quiet center of one's life, and writing from that to the use words Sarah Orne Jewett once penned.

I found these various lines below attributed to American author Gladys Taber. She seems to have captured the feeling of summer's fading charm much better than I have. Let me share: 
September wind blows away the fatigue of summer heat, and the listlessness of August weather. It blows away, indeed, the piled up years. It makes the heart young. Going back to school, football games, dancing, falling in love, corn roasts, moonlight rides - so many such things belong to September. . . .

I have always felt that something fine is about to happen. And the fact that winter is on the way is not troubling this early in autumn. Time enough to think of that in October and November, but now it is too soon. First comes the harvest, the last ripening, the splash of zinnia color in the garden, the perfect late golden rose. Yes, a good time to be young, and to relive young days. . . .

"Notice the beauty.
See what lovely things there are for you to do
in your corner of the world."

I snipped the last of the sweet peas from the vine a couple of mornings ago. A handful of seeds tucked into the ground early in spring now towered overhead. The vines outgrew their trellises which seemed tall enough in May. So much joy they've provided over the summer months. Jars on the kitchen counter, fistfuls handed to neighbours and friends who stopped by.

And, on this particular morning, I had a feather thought to give a bouquet to the mail lady who had just pulled up at the cluster of mailboxes across the street. Nearly brushing the thought aside, I hurried inside to find a jar and add water. I crossed the street—carefully, covidly—holding out the bunch of perfumed petals, "Would you like some sweet peas?" With an instant smile and reaching out with an open hand came the exclamation, "I love sweet peas. Oh, I can smell them. Are you sure?" Oh yes!

And so the days unfold in pleasant gentleness and quietude.... on my street, in my home, in my heart.

'Summer's fading charm as seen below...'

'the perfect late golden rose'

* * *

Wishing you a beautiful weekend.
Be well. Be safe.

Heart Hugs,

Monday, September 14, 2020

The Simple Woman's Daybook: September Edition

" ...and all at once, summer collapsed into fall."

It's Monday morning and I'm up in the wee hours. I was still in bed when I heard a weird crash in the kitchen. Flying downstairs, I found nothing more than garden books from the kitchen shelf sprawled on the floor. A few days earlier, I'd taken out a small seasonal floral arrangement I'd been using as a bookend. Without its support, the books must have gradually slid off the shelf, causing the vitamin and pill bottles to add their quirky percussion.

Since I'm up, I'm putting the finishing touches to the September edition of The Simple Woman's Daybook. It will be sweet and simple today. I hope you all keep safe—there are so many things that are in turmoil these days—dear Lord, have mercy on us all.


“To say it was a beautiful day would not begin to explain it.
It was that day when the end of summer intersects perfectly with the start of fall.”

Looking out my window...
it was green, green, green one day, but when I went for my walk the next,
overnight autumn had arrived in the neighbourhood. It's overcast and windy today.

I am thinking...
about how comforting the brewing coffee smells this morning.

I am thankful...
that my sweet husband cheerfully makes coffee every morning and brings us
a cup in bed. We both start the day slowly and easily. It must be a family trait, 
for I hear my brother-in-law does the same for his sweetheart.

One of my favorite things...
the scent of lemon zest baking in blueberry muffins.

I am creating...
not much with my hands these days. I used to love needlework,
scrapbooking, and painting with watercolours. But now, mostly, I love
to play with words, aiming to create lovely sentences to share with you here. 

I am wearing...
a sleeveless turquoise top with black leggings, black flop sandals, silver bracelets.

I am reading...
just starting Ann Patchett's novel State of Wonder, in which research scientist
Dr Marina Singh is sent to the Amazon to find her former mentor,
who seems to have disappeared while working on a new drug. I'm reading it because
Elizabeth Gilbert in her engaging book Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear
tells a tale of how Patchett's novel came to be.

The real state of wonder around here is that I finally bent my pride to start
asking for the Large Print copies when borrowing from the library.
My reading pleasure has increased exponentially.  

I am watching...
and enjoying—for the second time go around—Season one of New Tricks
on Prime. It's the 2003 British police procedural comedy-drama series,
where Superintendent Sandra Pullman and three retired (eccentric) police
officers try to clear up unsolved crime cases. Evenings grow dark early now.

I am hoping...
for the frost to hold off for a while yet. My roses are still budding like crazy.
I think they kinda like the cool mornings?? Or, they realize their season in nearly done.

In my kitchen...
in my thrift store ceramic bowl  
"Food for the soul"

In my garden...
The white Alyssums outdid themselves this summer.
Not only did they spill from the pots in merry abandonment,
they filled the air with sweet scent and attracted many bees. Don't
ask me what the pink flowers are, because I don't recall at the moment.

I'm sharing the LINK again to my recent Guest Blogger post about
shadow case you missed it the first go around.
I'd love for you to visit.

Shared Quote...

"...Each of us needed to find just the right way to take our mind off our problems,
and it did not matter what that was—a drive in the country, an expedition to a shoe shop,
a quiet cup of tea under a cloudless sky; each of us had something that made it easier
to continue in a world that sometimes, just sometimes, was not as we might wish it to be."
ALEXANDER MCCALL SMITH, The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party

* * *

Wishing you a beautiful day. Go.Be.Love. Keep safe.

Heart Hugs,

Joining The Simple Woman's Daybook this week


Saturday, September 12, 2020

September Garden and Guest Blogging Elsewhere

"Autumn, that season of peculiar and inexhaustible
influence on the mind of taste and tenderness, that season
which has drawn from every poet, worthy of being read, some
attempt at description, or some lines of feeling. She occupied her
mind as much as possible in such like musings and quotations..."

I went in search of a quotation suitable for the season we're coming into, and I found this one by Jane Austen. I stopped in my tracks and imagined for a moment how several hundred years ago, the poets and novelists of that generation were marveling much like we are today about the beauty and wonder of the Autumn season—that the same things still take our breath away and that we want to write about them. For a second, I felt this uncanny kinship with Miss Austen of another century.

In my previous post, I mentioned that today I am Guest Blogging over at InScribe Writers Online. This month, we're talking about people we consider 'shadow mentors' to us. I share six authors who have been boon companions over the years on my own journey as a writer. I do hope you'll come over and say'll find the post HERE.

"Autumn shows us how beautiful
it is to let things go."

It was a lovely day out yesterday ... a mix of summer warmth with autumn crispness. I went for a walk in my neighbourhood. There is now evidence that autumn creeps nearer. Many trees are just starting to turn in our area, but I did find a spot of these lovely fallen bits of sunshine. The ash trees around here tend to drop their leaves early and quickly, so I shall assume that's what these are. 

While out, I took some photos of the front yard garden. There is still much that's lovely, as we've not had any frost yet....thankfully. Below, the Rudbeckia dazzles as we step through our front door. And you'll notice Miss Peace further down—she blooms like crazy. I found one hydrangea setting a new green and pink head. Glad they haven't given up on summer yet.

For a moment, let's pretend it's not Covid and that we can sit next to each other on the bench, enjoying the warm sunny day for a few moments. I'll bring out tea and cookies, and we can chat to our heart's content.

"Perhaps there is a language which is not made of words
and everything in the world understands it."

This last photo is a snap of the side yard. I love how I seemed to have caught the secret garden feeling with the garden gate almost hidden at the end. It definitely has an autumnal feeling here.

And so, I wish you a beautiful weekend.

Heart Hugs,

Photo (top): Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

A Bit of Chocolate, A Bit of Gamache

" All you need is love. But a little chocolate
now and then doesn't hurt. "

The morning is cool and blustery. And while tree boughs bend and sway, laundry is swirling in its soapy cycle. I meant to have the September edition of the Woman's Daybook ready for yesterday—first Monday of the month and all—except I completely forgot about it. The blank draft stares at me with doleful eyes. My excuse, I'm in the midst of preparing a guest post on InScribe in which I share authors I consider my writing mentors. It goes up on the weekend and I'll post a link once it's available should you want to read it.

Oh, I finished Louise Penny's newest novel in which we find the Gamache family altogether in Paris, France. I loved it! All the Devils Are Heretitle based on a quote from Shakespeare's The Tempest—is full of twists and turns, with lots of opportunities for growth and consternation as characters must choose who to trust and what to believe when sorting out truth from fiction. The story was most satisfying on all fronts. 

I bought a small bag of dark chocolate covered almonds. They were meant to be tiny treats over several days. Haha -- fat chance. It did say the bag was resealable, but as my niece noted, it was put there optimistically, not realistically. With eyes glued to the book, my hand kept dipping into the bag and soon every last morsel was gone. So much for decorum and discipline. But, oh, they were so smooth and crunchy and delicious.

As I have no almond treats to offer you—I know it's no substitute, but here is an excerpt from the book:
“Life can be cruel, as you know. But it can also be kind. Filled with wonders. You need to remember that. You have your own choice to make, Armand. What’re you going to focus on? What’s unfair, or all the wonderful things that happen? Both are true, both are real. Both need to be accepted. But which carries more weight with you?” Stephen tapped the boy’s chest. “The terrible or the wonderful? The goodness or the cruelty? Your life will be decided by that choice.” ~ Louise Penny, All the Devils Are Here
* * *

" Your hand and your mouth agreed many years ago that,
as far as chocolate is concerned, there is no need to involve your brain. "

* * *

Wishing you a beautiful day.

Heart Hugs,

Photo (top):  Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

September Blusters In: A New Novel and Chowder For Lunch

" It's a serious thing just to be alive
on this fresh morning 
in this broken world."

A mere flip of the calendar page and the season has shifted....noticeably. The wind howls outside my window this morning, and there is a decided nip in the air. Frost warnings have been given in regions nearby, but thankfully not for us yet. I don't hanker to sit out in the garden at present. Rather, it's a day for cozying up inside, doing laundry, writing a post, making a quick and yummy soup for lunch. PLUS, I am eagerly awaiting Louise Penny's newest Inspector Gamache crime novel which is guaranteed delivery at my house any moment now. I'm following the tracking link like it's Christmas (haha).

Just in case you don't know, Louise's latest novel All the Devils Are Here—being released today—is set in Paris, where the First Family of crime fiction, as one reviewer aptly termed the Gamache family, has gathered. From all accounts, it promises to be as evocative in Paris as any of her novels that are set in cozy Three Pines.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch says, "Penny excels at creating a sense of place, and she brings Paris to life with scenes small (a favorite garden at the Rodin museum) and big (the top of the Eiffel Tower). We walk—or, when necessary, run—through the streets of Paris, taste lemon tarts and mourn the fire damage to Notre Dame.”

And, as Wall Street Journal writes, "Penny's novels unravel criminal schemes that have moral consequences... what stays with the reader are the tender passages, the human insights, the reminders of what makes life worth living.” 

Oh yes, that's it exactly! This is the very reason why I became an ardent admirer and fan of Louise's novels. They are wild stories sometimes and are often nail-biters, but in the midst of the terrible things going on, goodness is always present.

To learn more about this new novel, click HERE.

" Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the
violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the
day, and awakens and refines the appetite. "

As I anticipate my book delivery, I gather the ingredients and begin sautéing onions and bacon for a quick and easy corn chowder, based on my sister's yummy recipe. I'm making a potful to serve two, with leftovers, but the recipe is easy to double if you need a larger amount.

Quick Corn Chowder

4 slices thick bacon

1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
1 can niblets corn
1 can creamed corn
1 can mushroom soup
3 - 4 cups of milk

1 - 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Sprinkle of black pepper
Sprinkle of paprika
Chives or green onions, chopped

1. Fry the bacon, chop into bite size pieces, and set aside.
2. In a medium to large pot, saute the onion and celery.
3. Add the corn, mushroom soup, and milk.
4. Heat slowly and simmer for 20 - 25 minutes.
5. Just before serving, add Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and paprika.
6. Sprinkle the green onions and chopped bacon over top.

Serve with hot buttered toast, biscuits, or crusty bread.
* * *

Wishing you a beautiful day. Stay safe.

Heart Hugs,

Top Photo: Image by congerdesign from Pixabay


It arrived!