Friday, June 23, 2023

Five on Friday: Catch Up & Summer Thoughts

" Hold summer in your hand, pour summer in a glass,
a tiny glass of course, the smallest tingling sip
for children; change the season in your veins
by raising glass to lip and tilting summer in. "

A few days ago when I started this blog post a most welcome rain was watering our parched corner of the earth. It rained for several days, and we were glad. This morning the sun is back. And summer has officially arrived. The air is cool and fresh, and the trees create a lush green leafy canopy over the neighbourhood. I can just see the tops of our new mock orange bushes—the bridal white blossoms giving pleasure as I look out my study window. The poor peonies got knocked about during the rains, so they have a disheveled wet hen look about them. Rick is deadheading the bedraggled blossoms as we speak. To be clear, I do not begrudge the rains for one tiny instant—it was so desperately needed. Other flowers will soon add the colour my eyes are longing for.

It's been a while since I've written a proper post - it's good to be back. I'm eager to visit your own blogs soon. I have enjoyed this break away from writing and being on social media. I admit being too addicted to my social media to take a complete break, but, I spent a lot less time than usual so it was good. Refreshing. Today's Five on Friday post is a little of this and that. I hope you enjoy the catch up with a few summer thoughts mixed in.

One - Miss Peace Rose

Sad news here. . .Miss Peace Rose died. As was usual, she began setting new leaf buds in the very early spring from her perch in the garage. As the days warmed, Rick would put the rose outside in the sun through the daytime, putting her back in the garage at night when it went below freezing. But our weather was so crazy mixed up this spring; first it was scorching hot (it felt like late summer) and then it got cold again. When the new buds died, we thought new ones would eventually form. But no, Peace Rose had caught the winter frost. It was a very sad day when we realized she really didn't make it.

Above you see Peace in her glory days - I'm grateful for the many photos we have of her. If you're interested, you'll find a few other poses HERE.

Two - Advice from Sophie Blackall

"If you are in a rut, if you feel overwhelmed by gloom,
if you are exhausted and uninspired and out of sorts,
you can make a list of Things to Look Forward To."
SOPHIE BLACKALL, Things To Look Forward To

my summer list
- iced coffees
- summer storms
- dawn's early light
- long, lazy twilights
- lace curtains wafting in the breeze
- chocolate dipped ice cream cones
- cheeping baby birds, mouths wide open
- reading a children's novel on a sunny afternoon
- dark clouds, rainbows, and sunshine together after a storm
- glasses of cold water after long walks
- happy dogs out for strolls
- children screeching and laughing at the water park
- hotdogs sizzling on the BBQ
- spontaneous picnics in the park
- wind whistling through the screen
- strolls through the Botanic Garden
- peaches and cream
-corn on the cob

Three - Prompts from a friend

Joy, a fellow writer and dear friend, sent me some mixer prompts she created for a recent family reunion. Memories started floating up as soon as I read them, I jotted them down.

Name your favourite place(s) on earth. Beside a cool mountain stream on a hot summer day; sitting on a verandah at dusk on a swing or rocking chair shooting the breeze with someone congenial; inside the covers of a storybook that takes me on a nice adventure; meandering through an English country garden; the library; a bookstore; a convivial cafĂ©; my little cozy study with the big windows; home—wherever Rick is and where my books are. 

Tell me about something you have built, designed, or made. Years ago, I joined the local calligraphy society and learned not only beautiful lettering but the basics on how to make handmade books. For my mom and dad's fortieth wedding anniversary, I created a little keepsake book, hand lettering every page and stitching them together with jet black beads in the spine. It conveyed our congratulations,  memories, and messages from all the family, even the pets. A labour of love, I enjoyed working on it from start to finish. Mom still has the book among her treasures.

Tell me about a teacher you disliked. I can't say I actually disliked this teacher, but I did hold a negative picture of my Grade Two teacher for a long time. At that tender age, I already had an inkling that math would be the bane of my school years. After the lesson one day, we were given a sheet of problems to solve - adding and subtracting sums. It was the pesky number 9 in any problem that usually slowed me down. Most kids were done and could go for recess, everyone except me—who had to stay and finish my assignment. Mrs. P-- sat at her desk taking her little break, while I continued to struggle ON MY OWN. Trying to hurry, I surreptitiously used my fingers to figure things out. Teacher never asked what I found difficult, if there was something she could explain. Seven-year-old me was not impressed.... Just so you know, I don't hold it against her anymore.

Four - Quotes I like 

"No person who can read is ever
successful at cleaning out an attic."

"There must be a silk purse
in here somewhere."
JULIA CAMERON, The Sound of Paper

"It is worthwhile to remember that space is the most
precious and also the most pleasing thing in a
house or room; and that even a small room becomes
spacious if it is not crowded with useless objects."

"May you have eyes livened to wonder each day
at the countless tiny ways that Beauty breaks into
the broken world, and may you walk in their starlit joy." 

Five - Current reading pile

Sometimes all it needs is a quick five minutes at the library to find a handful of appealing new books for my reading pile. At press time, I have already finished a couple, started another, the rest await their turn. Here's a wee peek for you: 

by AJ Pearce

"Find out what you're good at, Miss Lake,
and then get even better."

In this delightful debut novel, readers are introduced to young Emmeline (Emmy) Lake who aspires to be a lady war correspondent during WWII. Her dream is dashed when she finds herself doing the advice column in a London women's magazine. Warm and poignant, the storyline is about friendship, loyalty, and helping others...oh, and it's about love, too. I bonded with Emmy who, in her determined compassion and desire to help the people writing for advice, sometimes got herself in hot water. I found myself cheering for her as well as her friends and colleagues as they tried hard to keep their chins up during the London Blitz. I loved the sequel Yours Cheerfully and am now waiting for the third book Mrs. Porter Calling to arrive at the library—I'm first in the 'reserved' line, lucky me.

by Carol Shields

This novel by Canadian author Carol Shields is about author, wife, and mother Reta Winters as she struggles to come to terms with her nineteen-year-old daughter living on the streets of Toronto with a sign around her neck that says, Goodness. I'm in the middle of the story and really getting into it. Reta is forty-four, she feels so young to me, but I recognize her as she narrates what's on her mind. Things resonate on some level with me, even though I've never had a daughter, and especially not one who might have lived on the street. But I certainly can imagine her pain and feel empathy.  
Up until now I haven't read much of anything by Ms. Shields, and I wonder! how on earth I've overlooked this amazing writer all these years. One line from National Post on the back cover chides me: "(Carol Shields) is an alchemist who can somehow produce gold from the mundane. Not reading Shields is as much of a literary omission as overlooking Jane Austen". I am discovering that her beautiful writing draws me in the way Jane Austen's beloved novels do. I'm hoping to spend the summer catching up on some of her other works, both fiction and non-fiction.

by Natsu Miyashita

The book was a Staff Picks recommendation. This Japanese tale that feels almost magical is about a school boy who meets the Master piano tuner one day. The experience isn't life-changing, it's life-making. So says the blurb on the cover. Young Tomura hears the hypnotic sound of the piano being tuned, and in his mind's eye is transported to the green, vibrant forests near his mountain village. I am captivated. I want to know the rest of the story.

by Saeed Teebi

Another book also on the recommendations shelf was Toronto author Saeed Teebi's collection of short stories, in which his short story, Her First Palestinian, also the title of the book, was shortlisted in the CBC 2021 Short Story contest. Here's an excerpt from the publisher:  "Saeed Teebi's intense, engrossing stories plunge into the lives of characters grappling with their experiences as Palestinian immigrants to Canada. . . . taut and compelling (these) stories engage the immigrant experience and reflect the Palestinian diaspora with grace and insight." Always interested to hear the stories—and plight—of people of different cultures, I'm pulled into these tales and quickly become engaged with the characters - he's a good storyteller.

Melissa Harrison, Editor

With summer here, I'm eager to delve into the Summer edition of this four-season nature anthology collection. Once again, the editor Melissa Harrison has done a fine job of curating seasonal prose and poetry from a variety of authors spanning centuries to the present day. "Summer is a season of richness...In these long, warm days, languid and sensual, we reconnect with the natural world, revelling in light and scent and colour once more." I wrote about her Autumn anthology HERE.

by DK, Penguin Random House

I was thrilled to find this lovely book while on a short road trip to BC to visit family. In a most unlikely little bookstore in an ordinary little strip mall, hidden therein was this treasure. With over 200 pages, it holds a wonderful assortment of botanical stickers—such as vintage images and drawings of ornamental flowers, tropical ferns and orchids, woodland, desert, and aquatic flora, lettering, book plates, etc.

It's great for scrapbooking and decorating journals, envelopes, and whatever else you think needs jazzing up. The stickers are attached to the lovely green pages (below), and they can be repurposed once the stickers are removed. And the pink flower and daisies pages have page-size stickers—aren't they gorgeous? The book's a bit pricy, it's hardcover, but I think worth it for all the joy it's giving me, and the joy it hopefully gives someone who finds one on a birthday envelope. It was my holiday treat. Better than souvenir spoons or cups, wouldn't you say? 

On that note, beautiful friends, I'm off.
Here's wishing you a pleasant weekend - I'll be back soon!


Photo credits:
(Top) Summer Drink, Image by Nawalescape from Pixabay
(Prompts) Woman with bag, Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay
Other photos are mine - Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Guest Blogging Elsewhere Today

"Far up in the deep blue sky,
Great white clouds are floating by;
All the world is dressed in green;
Many happy birds are seen,
Roses bright and sunshine clear
Show that lovely June is here."

Dear Beautiful Friends,

What a glorious June morning. It's calm, sunny, blue skies with birds filling our world with singing, whistles, and chirps. The air is sweet as there's no smoke—thankfully it's been clear here for a couple of weeks now, even though some fires still burn, alas, elsewhere in the province. 

Today, I am guest blogging over on InScribe. Chatting about Michelangelo the great sculptor and writing—musing about the interesting parallel between these two crafts. Click HERE to find my post Set the Writing Free. Hope you'll stop by.

I'll be back later in the month with a new blog post. In the meantime, I'm wishing you a beautiful day.

❦ Heart hugs,

Photo credit: Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay