Sunday, February 11, 2024

Daybook: February Edition



"All you need is love. But a little
chocolate now and then doesn't hurt."
CHARLES M. SCHULZ


The last few weeks I have been in the middle of an editing project for an anthology my writing fellowship plans to publish later this year. The day I finished my assignment, I looked up and realized January had melted into the past, and here we were in February—with it being nearly Valentine's Day. I weary myself to lament yet again 'where has the time flown?" so I'm trying not to say it aloud this time. I'd much rather note from my window perch staring into the snow-covered garden that the daylight hours have l-e-n-g-t-h-e-n-e-d and the sunsets are pushing themselves further into late afternoon. The chickadees have begun their spring singing, and Madam Downy Woodpecker pecks busily for supper. I feel the joy of it splashing over my heart.   

During this season, with a few bumps along the way and still dealing with some health issues, the Daybook edition I used to post monthly slid right off the radar—which means it's more than high time to dust it off for a meandering muse here on the blog. Without further ado, let's begin...


FOR TODAY

Outside my window... What a difference a day makes. Yesterday our corner of the world was settled in thick grey stillness with no sign of sunshine. This morning the heavy clouds are gone, the sky is awash in that February pale blue, and the sun makes the snow sparkle.

In the garden... Everything is covered in fluffy fresh piles of snow. Birds flutter in the branches looking for spots to sit and soak in the sunshine. No sign of anything else in the garden - far too early for snowdrops or anything springlike.

I am wearing... black jeans, a black and white floral blouse, with a spritz of Christian Dior's JOY Eau De Parfum, which I received as a Christmas present from a certain someone. Every morning I give myself a wee spritz to start the day. The scent instantly lifts my spirits.

I am thankful... that when I experience a technical difficulty, I can count on there being someone else 'out there' who is likely experiencing the same issue. For several days I had problems with my email—new messages wouldn't load, and outgoing emails had an error code saying the message couldn't be saved to the 'sent' file. I finally realized the problem was not going away; a quick Google search, with a tiny prayer for help, brought me a simple solution. Those other more tech-savvy people with the same issue offered solutions that worked for them. It was a simple change in the settings, and all was rectified. Only the Shadow knows for sure what made it go off the rails in the first place.



Women Holding Things
by Maira Kalman

One of my favourite things... this past week was the arrival of a book I've had in my shopping cart a long while. I finally ordered myself a copy of Women Holding Things. What a lovely collection—her artwork is whimsical and charming, her tiny essays poetic. As one reviewer noted, Ms. Kalman is "an extraordinary observer of people". Through her art and simple text she explores what women tend to hold: from the ordinary and mundane through to the hurt feelings and heartbreak in relationships to the joy and delight of holding vases filled with flowers.

A favourite quote... from Maira Kalman's book:

"What do women hold?
The home and the family.
And the children and the food.
The friendships. The work.
The work of the world.
The work of being human.
The memories
And the troubles
and the sorrows
and the triumphs.
And the love."

I am watching... an Agatha Christie film found on YouTube The Case of the Middle-Aged Wife. This is one I have enjoyed several times. Maria Packington notices her husband is taking a too-active interest in the pretty young typist in his office. Maria becomes so unhappy about it she responds to an ad in the newspaper to ask Parker Pyne for help. I love his advice to Mrs. Packington, and I love how the story plays out. This was the first episode in the 1982 TV series The Agatha Christie Hour. Gwen Watford plays Maria Packington - you'll probably recognize her as Dolly Bantry, alongside Joan Hickson, in the Miss Marple films from that era.

My favourite vlogger is... Miranda Mills who vlogs about country living in Yorkshire, UK. She is a passionate reader and creates 'content that fosters connection between literature, art and the natural world'. Not only does she chat about books, but she shares recipes of yummy things she bakes. And she takes her followers on vlogging outings to interesting bookshops, lovely teahouses, museums, and literary places like Jane Austen's home. She is the charming and insightful hostess, along with her mom, Donna, of the monthly Comfort Book Club. You can find the current book she is reading for the monthly discussion HERE. Miranda is all about living a beautiful life - a girl after my own heart. For more, check out her YouTube channel HERE. She is also in Instagram, if that's where you like to hang out.

I am listening to... Classic FM which streams my favourite classical music all the way from England. Loving all things English, this gives me a little heart connection to my favourite place in the world.


I am thinking... about the books I have currently lined up to read. Just a little stack (😉) out of the couple of hundred shelved and also awaiting their turn in my lap. Books truly beguile me. Can one ever have too many books? I don't think so. Although I can hardly be tempted to the usual human vices, just mention books and reading, and I'm instantly in the line up. Of all the interests and passions I have enjoyed over my lifetime—many have come and gone—books remain the constant. I hope my home in the next life has a comfy, cozy, library with nooks and crannies stuffed to the rafters with all the books I never had a chance to read in this life. Plus, all the favourite volumes of which I never grow tired. That would be paradise for me. And to make it perfectly perfect, all my loved ones would be nearby, each one following pursuits for which their own hearts beat rapturously.

PS... I just love the photo above. The afternoon sunshine was streaming in on my bedroom floor. I gathered up the books I wanted to share and set up the scene. I am quite pleased with how it turned out. 

A list of the titles and authors in the photo above (in case it's hard to read):
The Country Child by Alison Uttley (children's);
The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr (novel - Scotiabank Giller Prize winner);
Pictures at an Exhibition by Sara Houghteling (novel);
Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (novel);
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (novel - Winner of The Booker Prize);
Women Holding Things by Maira Kalman (art/essays);
The Bird in the Tree by Elizabeth Goudge (novel);
Snow Road Station by Elizabeth Hay (novel - coming of age middle-age story);
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard (biography/autobiography/literature);
Apples on the Windowsill by Shawna Lemay (meditations on still life, photography, beauty, marriage);
To Hear the Forest Sing, Some Musings on the Divine by Margaret Dulaney (memoirs);
A Rhythm of Prayer, A Collection of Meditations for Renewal edited by Sarah Bessey (prayer);
Square Haunting, Five Writers in London Between the Wars by Francesca Wade (biography/literature); Thin Places, a natural history of healing and home by Kerri Ní Dochartaigh (memoir/nature);
Windswept, Life Nature and Deep Time in the Scottish Highlands by Annie Worsley (nature/memoir);
Mrs. Van Gogh by Caroline Cauchi (novel).

I am hoping this week for... some nice weather, a continuous supply of small treats, joy in my work, and good things to laugh about with friends and family.

I am learning... it is best to take things one day at a time. As a Facebook friend, Colleen, often mentions: "Stay in the day. Just do the next right thing with love."

In the kitchen... Saw this little menu on social media attributed to Whitney Gaskell and her book Table for Seven. My mouth waters at what sounds like a delicious dinner to make and share with special people. It would be perfect for Valentine's Day. No recipes were given but I'm sure a Google search could come up with something similar:

"WARM GOAT CHEESE SALAD WITH PEARS AND WALNUTS

INDIVIDUAL FILETS EN CROÛTE

PARSLEY LEAF POTATOES

ASPARAGUS

CHOCOLATE POTS DE CREME"

- Whitney Gaskell, Table for Seven


Closing notes... I was Guest Blogging over on InScribe last week. I wanted to give you a chance to read my little post titled We Nourish Others in case you haven't seen it. I'd love to hear from you if you enjoyed the piece.

 

Too much of a good thing can be wonderful."
SUSAN BRANCH




Wishing you a heart-happy week,
Brenda


Photo credits:
- Top Image by boaphotostudio from Pixabay
- Tulip Image by TheGraphicsFairy.com
- Valentine Image by The GraphicsFairy.com
- The book photos are mine

Acknowledgement with thanks to Peggy at
The Simple Woman's Daybook for some of the prompts used in this post.



18 comments:

  1. Dear Brenda,
    Another nourishing post from your corner of the world. I love the image of the stack of books you have in your reading line-up. Equally delightful are the book titles, an eclectic mix that is so appealing for a variety of moods. As the week begins, I hope the continuous small treats, and time with family and friends fill your days.

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    1. Thank you, Lorrie. And I'm always glad for your comments - they always nourish my soul. Happy day to you. xo

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  2. I love The Country Child, so very evocative of all things childhood, and much of mine too. You have a very interesting and varied collection of books waiting for the right moment. Somehow books tell me when they are ready to be read, I dont start at the top of a pile and work down. The recipe sounds delicious and there is nothing too difficult. Happy week to you dear Brenda.

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    1. Like you, Barbara, I am a firm believer of reading books in their right moment. Reaching for whatever catches my eye (or heart) when I browse my shelves. I look forward to reading The Country Child. I understand the author has authored many more books. Some are out of print, but I'm happy this one was available.

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  3. How satisfying to catch the perfect 'light' moment, especially when the spotlight is on such a treasure trove of titles!

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    1. It is quite satisfying, Kathy. I liked your comment, thank you. xo

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  4. I did enjoy your guest article, Brenda, and I too realize that my life has been influenced and even rescued by the written words of authors. Your stack of books on the floor is like a painting! I've read the Dillard, Hardy (long ago), and the Goudge that I think is the beginning book in her trilogy. I reread the whole three books back to back every few years and adore Pilgrim's Inn that I think is the second one in it. I saved the link to Miranda Mills' vlog, always looking for UK vloggers. I even watch three who are basically fashion influencers, fast forwarding through most of the hair, makeup, wardrobe part of the vlog simply to get to the trips around London, especially in the Christmas vlogs. Well, and also because they all have dachshunds I must admit. One of them filmed much of the Christmas concert from Royal Albert Hall and I watched thinking it such a treat as well as the drive through the gorgeous lights display in downtown London. All due to the wonderful world wide internet!
    I've written down The Country Child too, always on the lookout for a book my granddaughters might like.

    I love that you enjoy a spritz of perfume in your day, Brenda! In a world that now lists perfume on the danger list, I'll take the small risk they say perfume is, such a feminine pleasure.

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    1. Thank you, Dewena, for your lovely note. I love Pilgrim's Inn so I look forward to reading the first in the series, The Bird in the Tree. As for the third in the set (The Heart of the Family) it's in my online shopping cart. Like you, enjoy those vloggers from the UK who take us with them to all sorts of lovely places in England. The dachshunds are sweet, I admit. I agree that perfume is one of those feminine pleasures. I'm glad for scent. Wishing you a beautiful day. xo

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    2. OH Brenda!!!!!
      Sitting here, looking out the window at a “new morning!” The sun is literally JUST beginning to pop out?
      I haas been thinking of you in the past month; a little concerned that perhaps your health issues were “hovering.” I am so sorry. I don’t like to hear that.
      One day at a time! Yes! Thankful for each new morning and a restful sleep the night before ~ even when the day has delivered a bad blow!
      You , again, by who you are, your thoughts and things that bring YOU joy, sure bring JOY to me. Your postings are like a salve to me when the sun isn’t shining in my soul and a “lift” when you remind me of all the things you mention that do bring me joy also.
      This Valentines Day your thoughts and words are that balm for me that carry me into the joys of my soul with which I will receive the sunshine and a new day.
      A million thank yous. ~ Your friend Ann from Ohio💖🙏👭

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    3. Dear Ann, So lovely to get your note. I'm glad something in these words I share often touches your heart and lifts it. Thank you for your affirming words. How often you lift me up!! Sending heart hugs your way, Brenda xo

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  5. Happy Valentine's Day, Brenda.

    Google is definitely a godsend for tech troubleshooting.

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  6. I haven't thought about The Phantom Tollbooth in a long while. Perhaps it's time for a re-read. I was an adult when I first discovered it and found it delightful! I enjoyed browsing your book list. Women Holding Things sounds wonderful, and I should read Annie Dillard's book. I've enjoyed some of her others, and her quote at the top of my blog is one of my favorites.

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    1. I had to go read the Annie Dillard quote that's at the top of your blog. Oh yes, it's a favourite for me too: "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." And 'Women Holding Things' is a delightful book in which to spend some time. Thanks, Karen, for stopping by.

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  7. That was a lovely post, Brenda. But, then again, all your posts are lovely. I loved reading more details about you, too! You make life quite fascinating! Wishing you a happy weekend!

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  8. I read your post you linked to, and commented there, but I will repeat - it was a beautiful, uplifting and challenging post. Thank you for linking to it above. I want you to know, since reading your post of quotes, and your mention of commonplace books, I've very much had that on my mind. I've gathered a few notebooks I have, and as soon as I get over my fear of messing the whole thing up, I plan to begin a commonplace book for myself. :D

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    1. Becki, thank you so much for your kind comment - it's much appreciated. My very first commonplace book was a simple spiral notebook started in the mid-1980s. Before, I used to write out quotes on single sheets of paper, and pretty soon I had a file of those bits and pieces I couldn't just throw out. I finally clued in that a notebook would be a better way to house these gems. Have fun as you begin your own commonplace book.

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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