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 cafΓ©; 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


  1. Oh Brenda! I love this post. So much goodness. Thank you for the book recommendations, and the quotes.
    My youngest daughter is spending her summer in Le Crete. Helping at a summer camp and spending time with a college roommate. At the end of the summer she'll be in this roommates wedding. She's thriving and growing and enjoying her time in your beautiful Alberta.

  2. As always, I have to come back to read your lovely post a second, and maybe a third time. Dear Brenda, you put so much of yourself into such beautiful words, coupled with quotes. How I agree about cleaning the attic! I was sad to lose my Peace rose this year, but it had just got too old and wasnt well. However, my others are all flowering exquisitely.
    I will return to re read soon. Thank you for giving us such a full and delightful post.

  3. Hi Brenda. This is Susan from Writing Straight from the Heart. Welcome back! I missed your beautiful posts. Today's is very wonderful, as always. I am going to do a list of things I look forward to! Good idea! I hope you have a fabulous weekend. Hugs. Susan

  4. She's back! She's back! Let the blog world rejoice. :) I have missed your beautiful posts. This one had me smiling and laughing and generally feeling that all is right with the world. From the first quote to the botanicals book (who's pink flower and daisies pages should be produced as wallpaper!), I enjoyed every part of this post. Welcome home.

  5. Hello and welcome back<3, Brenda, I'm so sorry you lost your rose, Our flower families are very special<3, but I couldn't help laughing over the description of your bedraggled peonies. 'a disheveled wet hen look about them'. there's a light rain falling tonight and more to come. I just walked out to take a long look at the peonies in case after a few days of rain I will smile as I see a bunch of 'disheveled hens'. Your reading pile sounds delightful and I LOVE the botanist's sticker anthology! What a treasure. Don't you love when you discover an author that feels like it was saved for 'just such a time as this?!' Wishing you a wonderful weekend! You make me want to put the kettle on and curl up with a book;-)

  6. Welcome back, Brenda!

    As a sticker collector, I am intrigued by the Boranuxal sticker book. I have seen a similar book for Victorian-themed stickers.

  7. Welcome back, dear Brenda. Once again you've blessed us with a beautiful post highlighting this lovely season. I'm glad summer has arrived in your corner, and I'm so sad about your Peace rose. Will you replace it? I'm going to look for the AJ Pearce books as they sound right up my alley. What a special book of botanical stickers you found and treated yourself to. I know you will extend the treat to those you correspond with. (so many prepositions ending sentences - yikes!) I read several of Carol Shields' books years ago, and you have me thinking of revisiting them.

  8. The Charlotte Mason quote about SPACE could be my theme quote for this calendar year -- I'm working on it!!

    I'm so sorry to hear about your rose death. You have other roses in the garden, no? Did this one catch a disease that weakened it so that it couldn't take the cold as usual? I have no roses in my garden anymore, because I was not a good mother to them, and they did not thrive...

    I love the summery images you put up here. I think our summer just isn't going to come for real until July. At this point I'm just glad that the sun comes out for a few hours in the afternoon -- but the wind comes, too, and keeps the house from warming up.

  9. Hello, Dear Brenda - so nice to read your lovely post. So sorry about the loss of your rose. So much goes into the nurturing and care of gardens, and especially roses. This will give you an opportunity to plant something new in remembrance. I just love the advice from Sophie Blackall and your wonderful list of things to look forward to. Truly all the things to love about summer. The botanical sticker book is so special and a pretty way to decorate many things, even letters. I hope you get to enjoy a few of the things on your list this week. x K

  10. You captured my thoughts with your 5 On Friday. I answer each sentance in my head, after reading your responce.
    So fun!
    Happy to hear that you recieved rain. Nothing like the after smells and sights of a downpour, proceded by sunshine!
    But what I'm most pleased about, is your return to writing and sharing your thoughts about your life.

  11. YAY Brenda!!!!πŸ€—πŸ€ΈπŸ€ΈπŸ€ΈπŸ€ΈπŸ’—
    Sitting outside this morning, needing some “Happy” and looked to see if you had posted!!πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ™
    SO glad that you feel the break you needed was good for your soul and I am just SO HAPPY to be able to receive your MOST fun and beautiful photos and thoughts today ~ on our 4th of July!! Thunderstorms last night and a BEAUTIFUL morning today!☺️πŸŽ†
    Your Mother’s Peace Rose, it was truly BEAUTIFUL! You will miss its loveliness, I’m sure.Seeing it again through you does make me want to try my hand at getting a few. ☺️
    ALL of your topics today were WONDERFUL!!! Nice to see that many of us have “a book pile!” ~ and I will “keep in mind” the wonderful idea of “space” in our homes!! ~ a constant effort!
    Most of all it IS the GIFTS of Summer!!! ~ Being able to sit out here in the early morning, no traffic, only a chorus of birds!!! πŸ€—
    Yay that you are able to “be back!!” I am personally OVERJOYED!!!!!
    Take very good care!!!!
    Ann from Ohio!πŸ’–πŸ™✍️🌷

  12. Brenda, your blog is always beautiful and refreshing. Thank you for taking the time to make the world a better place. Blessings, Marigold


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