Friday, December 31, 2021

In the Deep Winter Quiet

'Winter landscape view from a window, 1919'
Harald Moltke (1871-1960, Danish)

" She opened her curtains, and looked out
towards the bit of road that lay in view, with fields
beyond outside the entrance-gates. "
GEORGE ELIOT, Middlemarch

Someone on Twitter recently posted this painting by Danish artist Harald Moltke. I love it! I was so drawn into its gentle winter scene, for it matches the soft mood of our own winter wrapped home. How often these quiet days I am perched on the couch in the front window, ready to glance from my book out into my snowy world. I am comforted to see its beauty even as I'm nestled within my warm walls.

With our Christmas quieter than usual, there was no real holiday hustle and bustle to get over—the contrast in our days was barely noticeable. Still, I have appreciated soaking in the quietude of these past few days between the holidays. I am entertained by the birds busy at the feeders, who sing in spite of the bitter cold. I immerse myself in books, listen to music, play Scrabble with Rick in the afternoons, and dream up tiny treats to enjoy with tea or decaf coffee.  

While we've been hibernating, I feel as if it's been a gathering time for my soul. Everywhere I read, I find lines that draw me in, succor me. I write them down so as not to forget. Today I share a few of these words that ring true in my heart, hoping there will be something that resonates for you as well.

* * *

" For me the silent winter landscape of this wild place holds
a special magic, echoing powerfully with feelings deep
inside me. Like strong winds and storms Hickling's winter silence
puts me in touch with an inner wildness... It's funny how
silence is sometimes so much louder, or deeper, than words. "
DAVID NORTH, Winter Anthology

* * *

" We were made to enjoy music, to enjoy beautiful sunsets,
to enjoy looking at the billows of the sea
and to be thrilled with a rose that is bedecked with dew...
Human beings are actually created for the transcendent,
for the sublime, for the beautiful, for the truthful...
and all of us are given the task of trying to make this world
a little more hospitable to these beautiful things. "
DESMOND TUTU (1931 - 2021)

* * *

" I’m not telling you to make the world better, because
I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package,
I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it,
not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it.
To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly.
To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it.
To seize the moment… "
JOAN DIDION (1934 - 2021)
(from a 1975 Commencement Speech at University of California Riverside) 

As seen on Literary Ladies Guide in a tribute
to American author Joan Didion by Nancy Snyder.

* * *

" I would rather sit in silence
for days than let my hurtful words echo
on in someone's heart forever. "
BODMIN HERMIT, @TheCarceri on Twitter

* * *

" If you think you're burned out, you're burned out, 
and if you don't think you're burned out you're burned out.
Everyone sits under the shade of that juniper tree,
weeping, and whispering, 'Enough.' "
JILL LEPORE, American Historian

* * *

" Have patience
with everything that
remains unsolved in your heart. "

* * *

" Lord, grant me peace above all else
no matter the circumstances
I may face this year. "

* * *

We stand ready to knock at the front door of 2022, and I am most grateful for your company as we share this new year together. I remind myself and you, should you need it, to keep watch for those glimpses of heaven with hope that 'beyond the pain, life continues to be sweet' (ROSAMUNDE PILCHER). Facing another New Year with still so much uncertainty and upheaval, we remind ourselves to take 'courage, dear hearts' (C.S. LEWIS).

"Go. Be. Love. The world needs you" (SUSAN BRANCH). Happy New Year!

Heart hugs,

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

'Christmas On'

"I get up very early in the morning.
I enjoy the quietness, the stillness,
the rawness in the winter . . . It's a special time."

Well here it is, the first official day of winter, and it's just four more sleeps until Christmas. I woke early to find moonbeams streaming into our bedroom. The ghostly globe hung high in the western sky. Ohhh, it's too splendid for words. Peering out, it looked cold and crisp and clear. I love when the moon is full around Christmastime. That's a magical moment all by itself. I mean, it's so much easier to spot a sleigh, don't you think? Or the glimmer of a Christmas Star that hung in a certain place so very long ago.

The generous snowfall we got the other day has made our neighbourhood picture postcard ready for the holidays. I love these last few days leading up to Christmas, when preparations for the main part are done. The whisper of wonderment seems to float from the air straight into our souls. And one doesn't have to be a child to feel it either. I never quite know what will trigger the wonderful, cozy feeling but I know the moment it arrives - from the tingles in my fingertips or along the back of my neck; a warmth spreads over me like a comforting blanket. It could come on the breathy high note of a favourite carol; it could be the peacefulness that settles as I watch tree lights reflecting in the window.

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." Yes, Norman Vincent Peale, you capture that feeling perfectly.

I used to try and create the Christmas feeling by following certain routines and traditions, and although it helped, sometimes it didn't work at all. The harder I tried, the more it hid. I eventually learned not to mess with trying to invoke the 'Christmas spirit'—it comes and goes at will, and who am I to mess with it. But, in all my years, I've never not known it to show up, even during a year that was 'horribilus' for my family when illness and death filled our December. Yes, even that year in the midst of pain and loss, the wonder and awe of Christmas and the Christ Child came to comfort. For it's bigger than we are.

I think of something I saw on Facebook—I don't know who created the graphic or the lovely artwork but the words are attributed to Auschwitz survivor Corrie ten Boom: "I promise you that joy runs deeper than despair." Thank heavens her testimonial remains to this day—she of all people would know!

* * *

At our house everything is now done—the decorating, the shopping, the wrapping. Just a few final preparations, such as drying the bread for stuffing, and maybe attempting one last recipe I found online a few days ago. It's a version of cinnamon buns Cranberry Orange Poinsettia Coffee Cake. Don't these look lovely for Christmas Morning? Note: the photo is from ChinDeep and you'll find the recipe there as well.

Our Christmas will be small this year. Well laid plans to have Mom stay with us a few days and have a larger family gathering were put paid to when I started coughing a few days ago. In normal years, we'd say it's 'just a cold', but as sore throat and coughing are symptoms on 'The List' we have taken precautions and are doing the 10-day required isolation. Which means Christmas will be over by the time I'm free to mingle in public again or invite guests to visit. It's okay. Really. Our house is festive and cozy, the music is playing all day now, and baking is tucked in the freezer for afternoon tea. We'll anticipate celebrating with family and friends another time. Oh, and yes, I am recovering, feeling better every day. I didn't really think it was you-know-what but fingers crossed and all that...

* * *

And, now for a small parade of festive pictures from our house....

1. Tree Top Glistens

"...freshly cut Christmas trees smelling of stars and snow and pine resin - 
inhale deeply and fill your soul with wintry night..."
JOHN GEDDES, A Familiar Rain

And even when my tree isn't freshly cut but sprung from a box, I still feel the joy of our Christmas tree sparkling with lights and pretty ornaments and mysterious presents laid beneath its branches. Guess what, after everything was done, I found another set of lights hidden behind something else. I was wondering why it seemed less glimmery this year... oh well, next year.

* * *

2. The Kitchen Smells of Treats

Almond Cherry Balls

Mincemeat Tarts

Cranberry Shortbread Stars

* * *

3. Snow and Shadows

Using the blue 'Arctic' filter

Same scene in the waning afternoon sunlight

* * *

4. Hope in Winter

Freeze-dried geranium blossom in the garden

I think for those of us who celebrate Christmas, we tend to have a longing for the season, the actual day, to be a time filled with the good things in life and nothing of what causes pain or sorrow. I don't know about you, but I know I do feel sadder when I hear something sad or disastrous has happened to someone somewhere at this time of year. And we lament, And at Christmas too! as if Christmas should be the one day of the year free from sadness and only filled with mirth and merriment. If only!

In our upside-down world life doesn't unfold like that right now. I am grateful and never want to take for granted that things are sweetly quiet around here in our cozy nest - family is well and many friends are well, and daily cares can be set aside for the moment. I came across these words from John Blase, a fellow I follow on Twitter. They rang true for me, and so I offer them to you as my closing thought today. I especially love his last line.

* * *

In the face of seasoned waves of evil
That we would sing that old noel
That we would hang lights on branches
That we would give gifts to others
Even if that gift is ourselves -
This, this is a defiance seemingly impotent
Against the principalities and powers who
Daily conspire to convince us that
We are alone and love is a lie.
But do not be deceived for the demons themselves
Tremble at such quaintness.
Sisters and brothers, Christmas on.

* * *

From my heart to yours,
here's wishing you a beautiful Merry Christmas.


All photos except the following belong to Brenda:
(1)Top Image (candle) by stefannyffenegger from Pixabay
(2)Graphic with Corrie ten Boom Quote: Artist Unknown
(3)Image(cranberry buns)from 

Friday, December 10, 2021

In Midwinter Silence

Only when the clamor of the outside world is silenced
will you be able to hear the deeper vibration.
Listen carefully.

A longing to escape the city the other day had us heading out to Elk Island National Park—a lovely wilderness area not far from where we live. Traveling along the busy highway, with vehicles often roaring past us in the (wink) over the speed limit lane, there isn't a proper chance to really take in the snow covered fields and farmyards. But the moment we turn off into the parkway, the contrast is sudden: the speed limit drops to a turtle's pace and the traffic roar is left behind as silence falls around us. No other vehicles—it's just us for the moment—the lone officer at the park gate waves us through. 

My mind takes its cue from the lower speed limit and my usual brain chatter hushes. I breathe in the silence and soak in the wintry scene before me. The radio is turned off, and even our quiet chitchat drops as we roll past snow covered ditches and lanky leafless aspens, standing like soldiers on parade. Dogwood thickets cast a reddish hint against the white. The pale sky is empty except for an occasional ink black crow flapping past. We spot a small herd of bison resting on a hillside in the paddock—it's a rare treat as we hadn't spotted them the last few times we visited.

God speaks in the silence of the heart.

In the stillness and silence, I feel my soul tuning in.... and my thoughts turn Godward. I am aware of Him as I feel the expanse of the natural world around me. The heavens declare the glory of God, so says the Psalmist. And in the centuries old Christmas carol Joy to the World, I am reminded that "heaven and nature sing" and "rocks hills and plains repeat the sounding joy."

Rachel Carson in her book Silent Spring says, "There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature...". I would agree. In these moments, my heart is at peace. I breathe deeply as the cares on my mind melt away like snow on a sunny branch.

My iPhone stays in my pocket—I do not take pictures on this trip. I just need to let the silence fill my space without any fuss. So the snowy image you see above, I have borrowed from Pixabay—happily it almost mirrors what we see this lovely day.

I hope you are keeping well. Wishing you a beautiful weekend.

Heart hugs,

Image by Nowaja from Pixabay

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Shades of Blue

Lilac Bouquet by Paul Gauguin, 1885, public domain,

"If you have been afraid that your love of beautiful flowers
and the flickering flame of the candle is somehow less
spiritual than living in starkness and ugliness, remember
that He who created you to be creative gave you the
things with which to make beauty and the sensitivity
to appreciate and respond to His creation."

As you know, I rarely mention heartache topics here on my blog. From the beginning It's A Beautiful Life was meant to be a place of rest—a sanctuary where both writer and reader can escape the cares of the world, if only for a moment. Alas, my mind has been bombarded of late with things not so beautiful, not so peaceful: the devastating floods and mudslide disasters in British Columbia with their loss of life, homes, and livestock; chaos, crisis, and hatred leaving its ugly mark in so many places; health issues of people I love mixed with a few of my own health niggles.... well, you get the idea. 

I think that's why I haven't been able to write. Ideas were stuck. Words were scarce. I needed time to clear the path so light and goodness could once again bring clarity and hope. I whispered my prayers and plunked my cares into the lap of the Lord, the way a hurt child turns to her mother for comfort—asking the Good Lord to keep an eye over the things I have no control, asking Him to extend mercy to folks I don't know but their faces haunt me. Eventually an inward peace begins to settle.

I remind myself to write about the little things that bring me joy in the midst and to quit trying to be eloquent about it. Well, okay then.... I feel a freedom in that.  

Giving me great joy of late is that superb painting above by Paul Gauguin: Lilac Bouquet. I absolutely love it with that striking sprig of white against those gorgeous shades of blues. And wouldn't you look at that pretty shawl set beside the vase, as if the lady of the house has just walked in and lain it down to smell the fragrant bouquet. 

Speaking of lilacs, our lilac bush was laden with snow bouquets a week or so ago when the mild autumn turned overnight into snowy, blustery winter. I was quite happy about it—a winter wonderland that got many folks, including myself, into the coziness of the season. Kids were out making snowmen and, with evenings turning pitch dark by 4:30 in the afternoon, folks everywhere were switching on their Christmas lights. Tiny blazes of merry.

We haven't turned on our outdoor Christmas lights yet. Rick isn't the eager Christmas Elf that I am—although I do believe it's a façade 😉when he mutters bah humbug. But my feeling is that once the first snow falls, it's open season on decorating for the holidays. I start small, adding a little touch here, a few twinkle lights there, and then around December 15th or so, depending if we use live or artificial, I'll decorate the tree. I've gathered my boxes of Christmas cards—yes, Virginia, I still like to write out paper cards alongside e-cards and e-mails. The tradition began years ago when my mom invited me one December to write out the envelopes for her Christmas cards, cautioning to do it carefully and neatly in my schoolgirl script. I was about nine or ten, I felt so grown up, so proud, and I have loved writing Christmas cards ever since.

On the home front, our own life thankfully remains pleasant and gently rhythmic, filled with quiet pursuits and routine activities. One day I got busy in the kitchen to make a large pot of Moroccan Chicken Vegetable Soup and a ham and scalloped potato dish to share with our dear friends (she's recovering from surgery). There was something enlivening about the act of cooking, imagining the comfort and joy it would bring to their supper table later that evening.

Life often mingles joy and sorrow, making it bittersweet sometimes. I'm keeping my heart in wonder at the daily miracles of my life (a line borrowed from Kahlil Gibran)—it offers much consolation in these troubling times. 

* * *

Wishing you a beautiful weekend.
Heart hugs,

Friday, November 12, 2021

Restorative Lines from Leonard Woolf

"Field with irises near Arles"
Vincent van Gogh

As we all know, the pandemic has turned the world upside down, impacting society, impacting us as families and individuals. With these and other strange and ofttimes disturbing events going on around us, it is so easy to focus on these circumstances. I came across a little story Austin Kleon mentions in his book Keep Going that shifted something for me. It was from a passage in Leonard Woolf's memoir Downhill All the Way in which he described a scene that took place just months before the start of World War II. Just so you know, Leonard was husband to Virginia Woolf, well known author of books like A Room of One's Own. He edited literary journals and wrote books on history. Together they ran a printing press.

For me, Leonard's words had such a restorative element—I could feel my chin lift and my shoulders straighten. Having just commemorated Remembrance Day, it feels appropriate to share today:
"I will end . . . with a little scene that took place in the last months of peace. They were the most terrible months of my life, for, helplessly and hopelessly, one watched the inevitable approach of war. One of the most horrible things at that time was to listen on the wireless to the speeches of Hitler—the savage and insane ravings of a vindictive underdog who suddenly saw himself to be all-powerful. We were in Rodmell during the late summer of 1939, and I used to listen to those ranting, raving speeches. One afternoon I was planting in the orchard under an apple-tree iris reticulata, those lovely violet flowers. . . . Suddenly I heard Virginia's voice calling to me from the sitting room window: "Hitler is making a speech." I shouted back, "I shan't come. I'm planting iris and they will be flowering long after he is dead." Last March, twenty-one years after Hitler committed suicide in the bunker, a few of those violet flowers still flowered under the apple-tree in the orchard." —Leonard Woolf

Woolf's defiant comment about his irises reminds me of what Martin Luther is quoted as saying: "Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree."

And, as Austin Kleon points out in his book after he read the passage above: "I don't know for sure what kinds of flowers I'm planting with my days on this planet, but I intend to find out, and so should you. // Every day is a potential seed that we can grow into something beautiful. There's no time for despair."

* * *

On this grey and blustery Friday,
here's wishing you a lighter load for your weekend.

With love and heart hugs,


(Top)Imagine found on Pixabay 

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Start With Favourite Lines From L.M. Montgomery

 —Lines from Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery
❝ It had always seemed to Emily, ever since she could remember, that she was very, very near to a world of wonderful beauty. Between it and herself hung only a thin curtain; she could never draw the curtain aside—but sometimes, just for a moment, a wind fluttered it and then it was as if she caught a glimpse of the enchanting realm beyond—only a glimpse—and heard a note of unearthly music.
This moment came rarely—went swiftly, leaving her breathless with the inexpressible delight of it. She could never recall it—never summon it—never pretend it; but the wonder of it stayed with her for days. It never came twice with the same thing. Tonight the dark boughs against that far-off sky had given it. It had come with a high, wild note of wind in the night, with a shadow wave over a ripe field, with a grey bird lighting on her windowsill in a storm, with the singing of "Holy, holy, holy" in church, with a glimpse of the kitchen fire when she had come home on a dark autumn night, with the spirit-like blue of ice palms on a twilit pane, with a felicitous new word when she was writing down a 'description' of something. And always when the flash came to her Emily felt that life was a wonderful, mysterious thing of persistent beauty. ❞ p. 7 - 8
* * *'s one of my favourite passages from a delightful novel I read in my youth. For me, lines like these stand out as markers—transformative, defining moments when I came to recognize and could admit to myself that Beauty was, and remains, the most inspirational and motivating force in the world. If I could find the 'beauty', however tiny, in the midst of any given situation, I knew I would be okay. Up until that point in my youthful life, I think I had the notion that life was hard, and happy moments were just that...fleeting glimpses in a sea of hard knocks, life to be endured, with a small faith and joy where it could be snatched for companionship, at the whim of moods and emotions—my own and those of others. I longed for a glimpse of the Divine in my life.

It was Lucy Maud Montgomery who gave me the courage to see something different. Her storybooks and published journals gave me something to hope for, that people could find a path that had beauty and joy sitting right in the middle of the hard or sad - much the way we see the proverbial dandelion living large as life from a fracture in a sidewalk. I don't know about you, but I always smile to see such a picture—where Beauty has found a way to peek through and to survive—oh, let me take hold when it does. 

I'll never forget that summer evening long ago when I sat on the back step entranced as twilight fell on our neighbourhood after a beautiful day. A notebook in my lap and pen in my hand, my heart dearly wishing I could emulate Lucy Maud's splendid way of writing as I yearned to describe the marvel of that evening.

How did Miss Montgomery find the right words? How did she make them float like bubbles on the breeze? How did she choose the perfect words that allowed me, her reader, to see what she saw and experienced? How can I write like that?

I started bumping into advice that became an answer. For example, C.S. Lewis sent this advice to aspiring young writers who wrote to him: 'read all the good books you can' . . . Ray Bradbury who in his early career said he used to 'live in the library' . . . Annie Proulx who wrote, 'writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write' . . . and Steven King who advises, 'If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.'

It's true, I have since discovered for myself it is the greatest advice. Through reading I have opened the door to discovering not only new ideas and historical contexts, but the art of language, expanding my vocabulary and becoming familiar with the fine nuances of words as I learn the art of cherry picking the one phrase that conveys it with (kissed) perfection. 

I'm so grateful for writers like Lucy Maud Montgomery who continue to lift up my heart through their beautiful writing. Nothing invigorates me like reading someone else's well chosen words. I am inspired to get on with living life as beautifully as I can. I become energized to create work that expresses my own wonderment at all that is still lovely in a broken world. And when I get to share it here with you, I am flooded with a joy that leaves me content.

NB. In case you're interested, here is an article I enjoyed and hope you might as well, entitled Writers on Reading.

* * *

My wish for you this week....Mercies new every morning, grace that's sufficient for whatever you face, joy to strengthen in the midst, and peace that keeps your heart steady in the eye of the storm. Oh, and a generous dollop of plain old fun to make you laugh out loud.

With love and heart hugs,


(Top)Photo by Alicja from Pixabay

PS. I have since written a Guest Post elsewhere that companions
this post; if interested, you'll find the post HERE.


Sunday, October 31, 2021

Autumn Remnants

"Everything is not gone yet."
RICHARD JEFFERIES, 'Just Before Winter', 1889

It's rather unspectacular as sentences go, I know, but my attention was caught as if in a spidery web when I read the line—it wouldn't let me go. I've been slow reading through an Autumn anthology these past weeks, a collection of seasonal essays and poems from authors old and current. I like dipping into the writings of nature enthusiasts; they help fill my thoughts with sensory imagery when I can't get out to explore the natural world for myself. So there I was enjoying Mr. Jefferies' observations as the Autumn of 1889 drew to a close on his English countryside. I was drawn into his notes that the chill winds crept along harvested fields and whistled through bare branches, when he suddenly noted that 'everything is not gone yet'. He'd discovered singular plants in sheltered spaces tenaciously hanging onto summer in spite of the brittle autumn air.

I, too, am surprised.... and elated to see what still blooms in our own garden even though it's the end of October. We've had no killing frosts or snow so far, which is somewhat unusual for northerly Alberta. Instead we've had two glorious months of autumn's changing beauty with gradually cooling temperatures and none of the kind we're more used to—where one day it feels like late summer only to wake the next morning to the biting teeth of winter, yes, sometimes as early as September. But not this year.

A quick stroll through the garden gave me these simple pleasures: the clematis opening new blooms on her trellis, Peace Rose setting fresh rosebuds, our potted strawberry plant with ripening berries alongside new blossoms, bright pink geraniums along the walkway, and a tiny fistful of fragrant carnations, all nestled against the backdrop of burnished leaves, fallen berries, and leafless limbs. 

" There's a whole world out there, right outside your window.
Don't be a fool and miss it. "

I won't tell you what the weatherman forecasts as we begin a new month. As for today, I'm taking my delight in these remnants . . . everything is not gone yet.

* * *

I'm wishing you a beautiful week ahead,

Photos in this post are mine

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Tuesday Telegram

" I consider it a good rule for letter-writing to leave
unmentioned what the recipient already knows,
and instead tell him something new. "

* * *



Friday, October 15, 2021

One Ordinary Moment

" There is something very sensual about a letter. The physical
contact of pen to paper, the time set aside to focus thoughts, the folding
of the paper into the envelop, licking it closed, addressing it, 
a chosen stamp, and then the release of the letter to the mailbox 
- are all acts of tenderness. "

It started last evening. I sat down in the light of my cozy desk lamp after supper feeling a little out of sorts in my soul. It was only eight o'clock and twilight had melted into the dark—I certainly didn't want my thoughts dissolving into that inky blackness. I've been thinking of my good friend who is running for council in our upcoming municipal elections and have been meaning to jot her a note. With pen in hand and her bold, beautiful personality in mind, I searched my stationery collection for a card to match that vibrancy. The bold golden sunflower set against a dark blue background was perfect.

Note written, addressed, stamped, I slipped out the front door into the cool evening to drop it into the mailbox across the street... where the half moon, accompanied by one lone star, glimmered over the neighbour's roof top.

The out of sorts feeling disappeared. I saw so clearly again what makes me happy, what continues to offer beauty and reason in this weird world: the simple ritual of writing a card to encourage a friend and the short jaunt from front door to mailbox...'in the misty moonlight'. It brought me back to my senses. That is what my world is mostly made up of these days. Simple and quite ordinary but sometimes utterly stunning. In the words of an unknown someone, it's the power of the ordinary.

On that tiny note, I'm away to get on with the rest of my day. A picnic and drive out into countryside are in the offing. Perhaps another note or two will be written, now that this blog post is finished; I look forward to walking them to the mailbox in the warm autumn sunshine.

PS. If you're wondering why I didn't show a photo of the card I sent, it was safely in the mailbox before realizing I was living in my next blog post, so a photo didn't happen. 🥰 

Wishing you a heart happy weekend,

Top Photo: Image by Tookapic from Pixabay

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Friday Five on Saturday


" Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when
everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been
saving up all year for the grand finale. "

It's Saturday morning and the sunrise washes tree tops in golden light. When I think about it, it's the slant of the light this time of year that I love the most.

I love all the seasons, but the truth is I love Autumn most of all. Reasons why include: the wondrous beauty of nature in its stunning glory; the garden really looks its best—it takes all season to come into its fulsomeness; that comforting feeling of finding favourites recipes for homemade soups and stews; the sense of wrapping your fingers around a warm mug; brisk air against my face in the mornings; stomping through crunchy leaves; sipping a pumpkin latte.


Just for fun. Beth Moore shared the list below on her Twitter page the other morning. I used to love these kinds of lists found in the old-fashioned ladies magazines of my youth. So I joined in. Share your choices in the comments, if you like....
1. Cashews or almonds? Almonds, but not almond milk. 
2. Driver or passenger? Passenger - it's hard to take in what's interesting or beautiful when one has to keep her eyes on the road.
3. Reading or listening? I prefer reading, unless it's an audio book on a road trip.
4. Dramas or comedies? Upon reflection, I tend to pick dramas more often, even though I love a good comedy. 
5. Sports event or theater? Definitely theater. Thankfully, I married someone who also likes music concerts and art galleries better than sports events. Lucky me.
6. Cake or pie? Pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving; otherwise a slice of cake never goes amiss.
7. Chips or popcorn? Cheetos crunchy cheezies are first, then potato chips, then popcorn.
8. Music or silence? Will not choose - both are necessary to my soul's survival.
9. Mountains or beaches? As a girl, it was beaches. As a young adult, it was mountains. Now it's gardens and parks.
10. Dogs or cats? I love cats, I like dogs.



A pot of these pansies has been breaking my heart this week with those deep-seated purple petals. If possible, they are even more intense now than in the summertime, and I cannot get enough of their exquisiteness. I keep going outside to drink in yet another moment.

The garden wanes and these stalwart beauties will soon succumb to the frost. As is my autumn ritual for some years now, I have taken a farewell walkabout in the garden, touching the petals of this flower and that one, thanking them for bringing us so much joy this past summer.



" Is this not the perfect autumn day?
Just the still melancholy that I love—
that makes nature and life harmonize. "

The brilliance of autumn colours has peaked in the last week or so. Many trees are now muted in tones of brown sugar and dove grey, the intensity faded. Leaves that once fluttered above my head line the streets in crinkly troughs. Blue jays, spread further afield over the summer, begin to gather nearer to the peanut dishes set in the garden, shrieking their disgust when they are empty. Definitely a sound of autumn - haha.


" Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever. "

It's Thanksgiving this weekend here in Canada. No big family gatherings for us as restrictions are in place to help with high active Covid cases. But a little turkey and fresh cranberry sauce, a scoop of mashed potato and a generous helping of stuffing with gravy will certainly go a long way to filling this heart with gratitude and gladness.

* * *

Wishing you a beautiful weekend,

Photos in this post are mine,
except the last two:
Pumpkin image by hudsoncrafted from Pixabay
Plate image by Matthias Cooper from Pixabay

Friday, October 01, 2021

Hello October: Seasonal Musings and Books

" The end of the summer is not the end
of the world. Here's to October . . . "

There are times when I lament the passing of another month. September was lovely this year, and I am loathe to let it go though I have no choice in the matter. But this morning, I was reminded of why I could look forward to this first day of October. Not only do I get a ripple of pleasure from the small ritual of flipping the calendar page, wondering what shows up next, I also anticipate the arrival of the latest monthly newsletters from two of my favourite authors: Louise Penny and Alexandra Stoddard.

No matter what I'm feeling when I begin, I know that Louise, in the midst of informing readers about her latest writing ventures, often makes me laugh at some witty remark. And while she's reminding herself, she invites her readers to take courage, like Gamache, because life is still full of goodness in the midst of sorrows, tragedies, and pain. And as for dear Alexandra, she remains my long-time inspiration to choose to live life as beautifully as one can, no matter the circumstances. And even as we age, she reminds her readers to 'Be here now' in the moments when they unfold.

These lovely women invariably set the tone for the coming weeks. I didn't realize until this morning how much I look forward to their offerings every month. Their newsletters are posted on their respective websites so you can read them there: click for Louise's and Alexandra's. Or, you can sign up, if you want their missives popping into your inbox each month.

I wrote something from Louise's newsletter into my journal this morning, and I share it with you, for it speaks to me: 'Who knows the blessing of the sun except those who've emerged from the shadows? Who recognizes goodness, longs for goodness? Who is attracted to kindness, except those who have known the other? . . . Life isn't about being fearless, is it? It's about digging deep and finding courage. Finding we are braver than we ever thought possible.'

Virginia Creeper on the side fence

Our autumn kaleidoscope continues to play out scenes of colourful displays. Drives into the countryside have filled our joy tanks to the brim. As I mentioned before, we've had a perfectly lovely September. Oh sure, there have been some blustery, rainy days - and news on the Covid front nearly swamps us with sorrow for the pain of so many. But even as we take time to bear witness to the suffering of others, right dab in the middle of it all, there have been so many sweet moments of exquisite beauty to help lift our shoulders and brighten the path.

Deep drifts of leaves pile up in corners, under trees, in the garden beds, and along driveways and fence lines. Our young six-year-old neighbour was out gathering the colourful leaves one afternoon after school. He was quite ambitious in his quest and created quite the pile for the compost bin. I had to smile in chagrin, though, when I woke the next morning to find his hard work, along with his mom's and toddler sister's, had all been in vain. For there was another dump of leaves overnight from their big tree. As for myself, I am not a raker of leaves—I love the confetti of leaves laying about everywhere. If anyone feels the need to rake, be my guest; as for me, I'm enjoying the variegated bedspread of nature's handiwork.

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On other news, I'm working on a current family photo album for my mom. She says digital photos are fine, but she can only look at them on her computer. 'Tis true for many amongst us—there is nothing like holding an old-fashioned photo album in our hands while looking at the faces of those we love. Maybe even pressing those pages to our bosom, when getting together in person is still a thing to carefully consider for so many of us.

One novel I'm reading at the moment is an old time favourite: Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery. Set in the autumn and nature's richness described in ways that only LMM can do, Anne writes letters to Gilbert about her experiences as the new Principal of the girls high school in Summerside. Autumn scenes in the book mingle delightfully with the real life setting outside my window and creates a mood that makes me happy.

I am also working my way through the seasonal anthology Autumn with Editor Melissa Harrison. Already a good friend, the pages are penciled and starred with favourite lines. One line from contributor Nick Acheson caught my eye this morning: 'Yet even as winter's dark and cold and damp are presaged by the yellowing, dying vegetation all around, you spot a fresh little violet flower on a chalky bank. An autumn gentian, peeking bravely into bloom as all else fades.'

Made me think of my self-seeded Johnny-jump-ups who create tiny surprises around the garden this late in the season. They are still blooming, if you can believe it!

On that note, it's time to wrap up. I hope you have a beautiful weekend, and I wish you grace and heart's ease as we begin our travels through this new month.

Heart hugs,

Today's photos are mine

Friday, September 24, 2021

Five on Friday: Autumn Quotes

"There is something in the nature of tea that leads
us into a world of quiet contemplation of life. "

Nights close in and Autumn's mood edges nearer. Front yards are littered in leaves, and when the wind blows, they skate down the street in sprightly dance. I dig out recipes for hearty soups and stews. I trade my summer reading for literary feasts rich with autumnal scenes and themes, turning my thoughts towards home and hearth, quiet contemplation, and cozy indoor pursuits.  

I searched out photos and quotes that lend themselves to the season and now offer this simple spread of Five on Friday. Hope you enjoy!


"I was drinking in the surroundings:
air so crisp you could snap it with your fingers and
greens in every lush shade imaginable offset
by autumnal flashes of red and yellow."


"Two sounds of autumn are unmistakable...the hurrying 
rustle of crisp leaves blown along the a gusty wind,
and the gabble of a flock of migrating geese."


"The tints of autumn...a mighty flower garden blossoming
under the spell of the enchanter, frost."


"We all grow tired eventually;
it happens to everyone.
Even the sun, at the close of the year,
is no longer a morning person."


"...I cannot endure to waste anything so precious
as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house. So I have
spent almost all the daylight hours in the open air."


"Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead
has never watched them dancing on a windy day."

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

Today's photos: from Pixabay