Sunday, November 20, 2022

Musings: A Dreamy Library

"The contents of someone's bookcase are part
of his history, like an ancestral portrait."

Now that is a library I could settle into. I like the photo so well I put it on my desktop, adding virtual warmth to my study every time I turn on my computer. I love the lamps and candles that create a sense of conviviality and welcome. The room is grander and more elegant than I am used to—me being more of a country cottage girl than a stately lady of the manor. Despite its grandness, I am drawn to this library. And I sigh over its warm beauty.

Firstly, I love the spaciousness. This room has a generosity of heart. There is space for many books and a few kindred companions. It could house my little library several times over. I think of the titles I've given away through the years that I could have kept if I'd had such a room; once in a while I still miss them. You will note that there aren't any book piles on the floor—there's no need for anyone to vacuum around the stacks.

Secondly, I love all the gracious seating arrangements: the couch for lounging upon and the wing-back chair with foot stool for nestling next to the fireplace. Chairs to gather round for congenial conversation. Even though we cannot be certain from this photo, I assume by the way the light shines from the right side, there are windows along that wall. I'd have easy chairs by the window for staring out into the world. And, if this were my library, I'd have a baby grand piano in one corner by the window. Where I'd practice some Chopin and a little Bach. And maybe a little pop and jazz, although I never did quite get the hang of jazz, as much as I tried. I grew up on classical piano lessons and that rhythm thrums in my bones.

Thirdly, I love all the warm, dark wood and the polished parquet floors. The room beckons with its cheery red upholstery and muted carpets. I'm sure family and friends could enjoy congenial gatherings here for afternoon tea and visits and, of course, companionable solitude as each finds a book to amuse during a rainy or snowy afternoon.

Lastly, I am drawn with longing heart to that wonderfully expansive table set to the one side. I have always longed for such a table. Not the dining room table, mind you, which must be cleared off when company comes, and a person just doesn't want all the mess and piles in that space. But a roomy table in my library/study... oh yes. It's where this modern girl would set up a corner for my work space. And where I'd freely spread out all my notes and research materials while toiling away on a project.
I would love to browse in this room. To sit at the table and pore over an art book. Or flip through an old favourite and revisit a few paragraphs. Ever since I was young and besotted with books, one of the things I loved when we visited other peoples' homes was to browse their bookshelves. My heart would do that little leap for joy as I imagined what I might find browsing other people's selections.

"When you stand inside somebody's library, you get a powerful
sense of who they are, and not just who they are now but who
they've been. . . . It's a wonderful thing to have in a house. It's
something I worry is endangered by the rise of the e-book.
When you turn off an e-book, there's no map. All that's left
behind is a chunk of gray plastic.
Leah Price, Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books (source)

On a different note entirely, I'm taking a couple of weeks away from my blog. There are some needful projects here at home I want to focus on as we start preparing for the holiday season. I'll be back the first or second of December as Christmas gets into full swing.

Soon it's time to bring out the seasonal reading favourites. Are you making your choices? My friend, Lauren, reminded me that Miranda Mills has begun her Cozy Christmas Reading Vlog for 2022. You can find her lovely YouTube channel HERE.
Let me close with warmest wishes to all my American friends for a Happy Thanksgiving this coming week. And to everyone, I wish you joy and good health. Stay warm, stay safe.

With loving thoughts,

(Top) Photo Credit:
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Saturday: Daybook Notes

"Fear not November's challenge bold. We've books and friends,
and hearths that never can grow cold. These make amends."
    attributed to ALEXANDER L. FRASER

Outside my window: This morning we have overcast, moody grey skies, and snow is in the forecast. Blue jays fly in looking for breakfast, recognizable shrieks announce their arrival. Which makes me smile; it's as if they're saying, we're here, be sure the peanuts are out.

Inside my head: At the moment, I feel a similarly moody grey. Perhaps it's not quite enough sleep, or maybe I was hoping for winter sunshine to perk up the weekend.

What I'm wearing: Black jeans, patterned cotton t-shirt, grey cardigan, scent.   

Two lovely books I read this week: First, Elizabeth Berg's 1996 novel The Pull of the Moon which is the story of a 50-plus woman named Nan who, going through the change of life, runs away from home and husband to take a road trip by herself. It becomes a look back as she recalls what she once dreamed when she was young and eager for life. . .before life got tangled in all the should and have-to's. Mostly Nan hopes, as she writes on-the-road letters to her husband of where she is and what she sees, that she can say on paper what she feels stifled to say face to face. She hopes he'll hear her, listen to what she's saying. But even if he doesn't, she's learning to be true to herself again. This gently written story is both poignant and humorous, with LOL moments I found delightful, especially when I recognized myself in them. A lovely read. I came away wonderfully grateful to be a part of the world's great company of women, knowing we can arrive at this season in our lives and know we're not alone in it.

The other book I finished is Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by British author Katherine May. In it she explores those literal and metaphorical dark seasons in our lives, sharing her own journey and how she has struggled to find the way through them. The book is beautifully written and has many nourishing, encouraging lines I've underlined and starred. Here are a few that touched me:
  • "Like the robin, we sometimes sing to show how strong we are, and sometimes sing in hope of better times. We sing either way."
  • "I began to get a feel for my winterings: their length and breadth, their heft. I knew that they didn't last forever. I knew that I had to find the most comfortable way to live through them until spring."
  • "Plants and animals don't fight the winter; they don't pretend it's not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives that they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through."
  • "He told her that they could keep tinkering with her medication, but it would never solve everything. 'This isn't about getting you fixed', he said. 'This is about you living the best life you can with the parameters that you have.' "

I participated in: A writers' retreat via Zoom last weekend. It was called Heal Create Writers Retreat led by a fellow in California named Jacob Nordby. There was a lovely lineup of speakers; I mainly signed up when I heard Julia Cameron and Anne Lamotte were speaking. Both were wonderful to catch live. Below are a handful of nuggets that stuck out for me. Perhaps they'll sparkle for you too, as you get on with your own projects, of whatever nature they might be.
  • Julia Cameron. "Lower the bar" (of expectation). She said she writes two pages per day every day rather than aiming for 20 pages and only accomplishing it sometimes. "Easy" accomplishes it, she says. Probably good advice from someone who's written forty books.
  • Julia Cameron. "Grab time". Don't wait for swaths of time. We all have 10 or 20 minutes here and there. Grab those few minutes to write. Grabbing time also works when I'm procrastinating for whatever reason, or I am overwhelmed by the size of the project. Deciding to focus on one small task for even 10 minutes often releases me from feeling frozen with impossibility. Flow happens from there.  
  • Julia Cameron on perfectionism. "If I didn't have to do it perfectly, I'd try." Doesn't that lift a load off?
  • Anne Lamott: "Stop not writing". This was in response to all the excuses we use for not working on our projects, writing or otherwise.

I am looking forward to: Putting up my new 7-foot pencil evergreen tree festooned with permanent yellow-warm white lights. I loved it as soon as I saw it set up and lit at Michael's the other day. It was even on sale. I find so many of the new LED Christmas white lights are in a cool blue light, which to my view is not cozy at all. I brought the tree home eager to set it up, but.... hubby might look at me and wonder if he should call the 'Christmas police' as this is far too early for Christmas trees, even though it is snowy and dark and cold outside. This year though, I don't think I can wait until December. I'm longing to see twinkle lights now in that dark corner of the living room. So, I'll just set it up one day when he's out shovelling, or something. He'll grin and pretend he's mad and then enjoy it with me. hehe

On that note: Time has past since I started this post. I look up from my computer screen. The day outside brightened and writing today lightened my greyish frame of mind. Some friends stopped in for tea and blueberry almond muffins. We tried out a new box of Twinings Christmas Tea with cinnamon and cloves—it was delicious. As I type these final words, from my window I see the sky is now turning a pale cotton candy pink in the westerly direction. It's just 4:35 in the afternoon and already it grows dusk. I love this time of year. Time to turn on some lights, including the cozy lamp on my desk. 

Wishing you a pleasant evening,

Photo Credits:
Top Image by Melanie from Pixabay

Friday, November 04, 2022

Five on Friday: "Of Little Things"

"Everyone is trying to accomplish something big,
not realizing that life is made up of little things."

And with a flip of the calendar, snow arrived in these parts. Although not with a real vengeance—it fell quietly, without bluster—still there was a concerted effort in a few short hours to wipe out all remaining evidence of autumn's remnants. 'Twas a shock to wake up to. We've been so lucky-blessed to have lovely autumn weather right up until November 1st. As you know, I love winter and I love snow, but this year I've been quite happy to pretend I don't live in northerly Alberta where winter can arrive as early as September or October. With the days so delightfully mild for so long, all thoughts of winter or Christmas have been held at bay, including any thoughts of decorating in that vein. For it seemed inharmonious in my mind, no matter how late in the year the calendar says it is. But with the snow's arrival, I feel a shift in my mind.

The Frank A. Clark quote above resonated when I read it on a Twitter friend's blog post. Especially the phrase... 'that life is made up of little things'. So true. What matters in the end are the little things in life. I think so many of us recognize that to be so. In that light, today on Five on Friday, I happily share little things from my week, nothing earth shattering but each meaningful in some small way. Hope you enjoy.

— one 
I brought out Susan Branch's recipe book Heart of the Home that snowy morning to make a big pot of her Bean Soup (p. 35) which uses smoked ham hocks. While it snowed outside, soup simmered through the afternoon, filling the house with yummy smells. Paired with warm corn muffins, the meal hit the spot on a cold and snowy evening.

— two 
This week my Twitter friend Diane posted a short piece called bucket list on her blog. I thought it worth a read. I especially enjoyed her mention of a woman's bucket list for her beloved dog. It turns out the both of us had been listening to the same CBC radio program the other morning. And we both were touched by that story. What a lovely feeling of connectedness to a fellow Canadian I only know through social media. Anyways, pop over THERE for the rest of the story.

— three 
When the snow fell earlier this week, I could feel the slow shifting of my thoughts as they moved from autumn to winter, to Christmas. Snow and cold is always the trigger. Which made me think about Jacquie Lawson's wonderful e-Advent Calendar, something many of us enjoy each December. Well, suddenly there arrived the announcement in my inbox, as if by some thread of magical synchronicity: the 2022 Sussex Advent Calendar is now available for purchase, and you can find out more HERE. I'm off to place my order. Oh joy, oh bliss!

— four 
Brenda @ Coffee Tea Books and Me noted in her recent post that an author friend of hers often mentions that she needs beautiful, peaceful places in her home where her eyes can stop to rest a moment. Brenda goes on to say, "It helps to understand our need for beautiful spaces in our homes. Of course it is never perfect this side of Heaven but it can be good."

I find this time of year especially conducive to wanting those cozy, intimate spaces that offer our eyes... and hearts a bit of rest, comfort, and a time out. As the weather gets colder and days grow shorter heading to winter solstice, I find myself ready for wintering in place. I take the word wintering from the book title Wintering: The power of rest and retreat in difficult times by Katherine May. I just started reading it last night at the suggestion of an online friend. I went to order it and when I recognized the book cover, I realized I already had it in my 'to be read' pile in the cupboard. Out I pulled it and set it on my bedside table.

I am drawn in by these words, "Wintering brings about some of the most profound and insightful moments of our human experience, and wisdom resides in those who have wintered." I'm eager to learn what the author has to say. As anyone who knows me knows, I love reading books in season, and by season I mean the four seasons in nature (winter, spring, summer, autumn); the season of life (childhood, youth, adulthood, seniorhood); and the mental and emotional season in which our soul resides in any given time. Because of my online friend's comment, I felt nudged to read it now. It sounds like it could be 'in season' for me. I'll try to remember to let you know when I'm finished.

— five 

The following quotation by Albert Einstein came up on my Facebook memories page this morning. It's the second sentence that I continue to find luminous...and true.

"I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves.  . . . The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific endeavors, life would have seemed empty to me. The trite objects of human efforts—possessions, outward success, luxury—have always seemed to me contemptible."
ALBERT EINSTEIN, from his essay, The World As I See It

That's my Five on Friday. On that note,
I'm wishing you a beautiful weekend,

Photo Credits:
Top: Image by Lisa870 from Pixabay  
One: Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life
Two: Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay
Three: Image from Jacquie Lawson website
Four: Image by Marcos Santos from Pixabay
Five: Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay