Friday, February 03, 2023

Five on Friday: Musings on a February Morning

One - Outside my window

"A sharp, sugaring frost"
ROGER DEAKIN, Winter Anthology with Melissa Harrison

Our January was mild for the most part, and we enjoyed many days of this sharp, sugaring frost, aka as rime frost. I didn't realize it's different than hoar frost—rime frost isn't something we often see in our dry northerly climes. We enjoyed the winter wonderland it created for many days. The days are noticeably lengthening, and I feel a lift in my spirits to see these earliest hints of seasonal shift. Weather forecasters told us to brace ourselves for some nastier weather in February and, yes, the last few days were feisty, with cold temperatures, snow-rain, and roaring winds. But this morning, we woke to a calm, blue-skied, sunny day—the winds had blown away the cold and brought warmer weather for the weekend. Happy face here!

~ ~ ~

Two - A new cube shelf

In December I said I'd show you pics of Christmas decorating, my new Christmas pencil tree, the new IKEA shelf in my study. I'm sorry it didn't happen. At this stage, we'll give the Christmas things a miss, but above, finally, are a few poses of the new cube shelf in my study. I'm so pleased - it was an early Christmas present from Santa. It's set against the wall behind me when I'm sitting at my computer (a great backdrop if I ever want to zoom-video where I write. I always love to look at what people have on those backdrop shelves in videos, don't you? It didn't take long to fill; the books you see here are mostly new purchases made with Christmas money. I'm having great fun reading them one by one. Although I haven't got everything set up as I might want, it's a start. 

~ ~ ~

Three - Surprise email

Out of the blue, back in November I received an email from the author of the lovely book Foxgloves and Hedgehog Days, Secrets in a Country Garden by Daniel Blajan. You may recall, it was a book I highlighted during my Pressing My Books Into Service series during Covid lockdowns in 2020.

Surprised was I when he reached out to me, all the way from the Netherlands, to say he'd happened upon my post about his book during a google search and wondered if I'd be interested in an autograph. Oh my goodness, would I like an autograph, oh yes please! We enjoyed a couple of lovely email exchanges. And then one day before Christmas, a lovely note in a seasonal greeting card arrived in the post with his autograph. Daniel mentioned the prickly fellow on the card was one of the hedgehogs he wrote about in his book back in 1997.

His autographed note is now safely tucked inside the book. And my secret hope is that one day, when I'm no longer here, and perhaps many years hence, there will be someone who discovers the book with enclosure on a dusty bookshelf somewhere. And she will be as delighted to find such a treasure.

I was so pleased for this little flurry of excitement that came out of the blue and made my day.

~ ~ ~

Four - Something from Jan 2020

I came across something I jotted in January 2020 about housekeeping:
I undertook a major cleaning of every square inch of my house. It took me weeks to go through every nook and cranny, but when I was done, there wasn't anything in my house that I didn't love or need. And more importantly—for smooth household running—everything had a home and like items were stored with like. It stayed tidy and in order for a long time, because for the most part I'm good at putting things back. But time eventually unraveled the pristine orderliness and things needed taking in hand again. . . .

(In my notes, I say): So, if I do a thorough job this January (2020), and if all goes well, and if I work at putting things back when I'm finished using them, I shouldn't need to do this major deep cleaning again until, say, January 2023. Wish me luck?"
Well now here it is 2023. And you know what, that major deep clean held its own for a long time. I'm much better disciplined than I used to be at tossing, sorting, giving away, and putting things back. So this January, yes, I spent several days putting away Christmas, cleaning, sorting, and packing things for the thrift store. But it was a much simpler job than it had been several years ago. I hope to carry on and be able to say that in future Januaries. 

~ ~ ~

Five - A few lines from Twitter

I found these lines back in 2020. It's from author, podcaster, and joie de vivre dispenser Joy Clarkson who wrote them on Twitter one day. Her words sparked courage and joy that day—they did the same as I reread them this week.
"The world has always been on the cusp of disaster, the globe shall eventually be consumed by the sun, and all men do die in their time. Don't let this knowledge paralyze you. Live a valiant life, love deeply, create beauty, seek the things that outlast death. Don't be afraid.

This is what I remind myself of when the news makes me anxious. We're all going to die eventually. You weren't promised an easy life. You can't control the times you live in, but you can live well in your complicated times. And I have a sneaking suspicion love outlasts death.

And then I eat fish and chips because life is short and little pleasures must not be eschewed."
JOY CLARKSON, Twitter, 2020

 ~ ~ ~

Bonus - My commonplace book

You may recall that last January I started a pint-size five-year diary, in which I planned to write short, pithy quotes that I came across each day. As I mentioned then, we are often bombarded with information coming from every direction. And as the old saying goes, it tends to go in one ear and out the other—with hardly a tracery of its message left on our minds.

So, this venture continues and I've now started Year 2. My aim remains: to watch for the special 'word' and write down at least one notable thing each day. Sometimes it's a quote, a line of poetry, a phrase from a song, a comment seen on social media, a sacred passage. It could be a comment that expands my mind, thrills my soul, makes me LOL, cheers me up, reminds me to take care of myself. For the most part I have been faithful to this little ritual. Here are my January 1st entries:

Jan 1, 2022
"Every good poem fulfills a longing
and puts life back together."
attributed to Lawrence Ferlinghetti, American poet

Jan 1, 2023
"i don't have to explain why i need a break,
not even to myself.
I do not have to earn rest."
Yasmine Cheyenne, as seen on social media

Thank you for stopping by. Wishing you a beautiful day.
Heart hugs,

(Top) Photo by Dr. Georg Wietschorke from Pixabay
All other photos are mine


  1. What a sweet surprise to receive a note from an author you admire. Yes, I am imagining his note tucked away on the his book, of course. It's waiting there for you to find from time to time.

    There's a difference between rime frost and hoar frost? Goodness now I'll have to find that out.

    So cold here that the house is snapping and popping. Some are so loud that they make me jump.

    Glad that more temperate temperatures are headed my way.

    Have a good weekend.

    1. I loved your description that your house was so cold it's snapping and popping. Not that I love it to be that cold. But I loved the picture it gave as I read your comment. I hope things warm up soon for you. Take care, Vee!

  2. I find myself tilting my head and peering closely to see the titles of books in blog photos. I'm ever curious to see what people are reading.
    I'm doing some cleaning out and tidying up these days, too. It's a good time of year to do it, as it's still too chilly to spend any time in the garden.
    It's good that things have warmed up a little for you, here is the same, although there is a wind blowing something in off the Pacific.
    Weekend joys to you.

    1. Lorrie, I'll have to create a list of those books so you don't have to tilt your head and squint your eyes. Thanks for the good wishes. B :)

  3. The way you cleaned and sorted *everything* in 2020... I have never done that in my whole life! I hope to do it in some fashion in 2023, but as it will be the first time, I expect it to take all year. I hope, hope, hope that I can actually accomplish it. It seems like it will take every minute, so when will I read and garden and visit with friends?? God knows... I have made only a little dent, and one twelfth of the year is gone.

    Truly it helps to give me vision, to get glimpses of your orderly and beautiful home, so I'm glad to look in here!

    1. Gretchen, thanks for your note...

      I just wanted to mention, that in doing that deep cleaning, going through every single thing, it took me weeks, probably several months. But I didn't do it every single day all day long. I made myself a list (cupboard by cupboard, drawer by drawer, room by room, etc.) and gently worked away at it. I wasn't in a hurry and there wasn't a deadline. The only rule, I guess, was that I wasn't going to quit until every corner had been seen to.

      So, you must still make room for your beloved reading and gardening and visiting friends. My sister tells the little illustration that a few drops of water in a bucket every day will eventually get you a pail of water. Little by little, with ease and grace, is my motto. I hope that encourages you. Brenda xo

  4. Good evening, Brenda . . . for the first time in 2023, I believe! January went by faster than any January ever has and I feel so far behind right out of the gate! So I am taking your response to Gretchen for myself too . . . to "gently work away at it." Such good advice!

    Stay warm! And a happy February to you!

    1. Cheryl, lovely to hear from you. I hope things are okay with you as the month unfolds. Sending heart hugs! xo

  5. I too was curious to see what you would be reading! I was given the Foxgloves book many years ago, and used to read little passages to my husband. It's a very charming book.

  6. I loved that post, Brenda. Just great. The book nooks are awesome, too. You are very blessed to have your home. Hugs. Susan

  7. I love your bookshelves, and can imagine you sitting there smiling at them, with a full heart, like I do with mine. :) The Lawrence Ferlinghetti quote is now in my quotebook, and I've filled my soul with the pink tulips. How lovely.

  8. Such a beautiful rime frost picture! Like the winter gardens you see in UK magazines. In the 6 years we've lived here there was only one heavy rime frost and thankfully my son who is a professional was here with his camera to take pictures of our garden that I treasure. Your new bookshelves are so nice, Santa was so sweet! I'm always nosy about the books on people's bookshelves. They will be fascinating as a zoom background. It was very nice of your author to reach out to you about an autographed book! That brought so much joy to you and to your readers and helps us remember that people can be so nice. I once received a handwritten note in response of my fan letter to Dee Hardie, a longtime columnist in House Beautiful magazine and she wrote it as if she were writing a friend. I taped it in her book so it may someday be read to another Dee fan.

    I'm very impressed that you've kept up your everything in the right place goal. Since downsizing twice I still have much more donating to do, so much that after packing away Christmas this year I actually thought about next year being the time to just put up one tree and give everything else to family and then just put flowering plants and greenery around the house. And candles. And Christmas books. And Christmas china. (See how the list could grow?)

    Clarkson's words are so important, and even biblical, perhaps even the last line! I've kept a quotation book for years and now with my memory not as good as it used to be, I find great comfort in reading over it and adding to it. I wish I had started one when I was a child. Such a lovely and inspirational post, Brenda!


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