Friday, June 07, 2024

Friday Five: Unexpected Gifts

"I love how the unexpected things come to us,
such 'insignificant' things in the grand
scheme, yet such a pure-in-spirit gift."

Happy Friday! We're well into June and summer is burgeoning around us. The winds are still strong and sharp, where a person isn't sure if she should leave her jacket in the closet. But we've had delightful rains, and as Kermit the Frog might say, we're feeling the green. It's so beautiful.

For today's post, I've gathered a few things that were unexpected gifts in my life, including the quote above that I just found written in my journal, and I'm pleased to say it belongs to my sister. No gift feels insignificant today even in the grand scheme of things, for they each have been pure-in-spirit gifts this week.

One. Outside my window

A single tulip blooming in our front garden this spring. Rick planted these bulbs a couple of years ago (I'd totally forgotten they were there), and this spring it came into full bloom. It stands like a queen in the garden, and I go out and gaze at it with a flutter of joy. It's like looking at brush strokes of paint with all the waves of colour from the deepest to the palest shades. There is no way my photo has done it any justice.

And to think, it has such an ordinary name on the package: "Blue Parrot". If that's blue, I'll eat my hat. Okay, if you peer closely, maybe, there's a hint of blue right in the heart of it.

Two. Reading pile from the library

I'm often late to the party when it comes to reading books that come hot off the presses. So too with Carol Shields's novel The Stone Diaries, which received awards and nominations more than thirty years ago. I finally reserved a copy at the library, after I found Penelope Lively discussing it in her wonderful book Life in the Garden. I found other books that caught my eye, and this past week I've been working my way through the pile. I've now read Carol's novel and enjoyed it, a good story with good things to ponder, which I always love when the characters have things to work out and think about - makes me ponder them too.

The Radcliffe Ladies' Reading Club by Julia Bryan Thomas is a kind of coming of age historical novel set in 1955 as young ladies come together to attend Radcliffe College, while one older woman, Alice Campbell, turns a derelict building into a bookshop of her dreams, "knowing firsthand the power of books to comfort the brokenhearted." A book club is formed and students from the college join in. I enjoyed reading this - it's not too complex a story; there are a couple of troublesome heartrending spots, but there's a hopeful ending which helps keep it in the 'comfort' reading zone.

Still waiting to be read is Dylan Thomas: portrait of the artist as a young dog  which is a volume of autobiographical stories by the modern poet, who died at age 39. Also on the not read pile is The Postman's Fiancée by award-winning author Denis Theriault sounds lovely from the description: "Twenty-two year old Tania has moved to Montreal to study, fine-tune her French and fall in love...she meets Bilodo, a shy postman who spends his days perfecting his calligraphy and writing haiku." 

Neither have I read Colm Tóibín's slim fictional volume The Testament of Mary. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is living in exile, years after her son's crucifixion. I look forward to seeing how the author writes his story about Mary.

Three. A companionable encounter at the greenhouse

I decided to visit the greenhouse today. It's high time to get the annuals in, despite the sharp winds blowing. I was looking especially for sweet pea plants. Up and down the plant-bulging aisles, I finally found them. Another woman was already hunting through the 6-paks looking for specimens that didn't look past their prime. She showed me one poor plant and seemed discouraged at its peakedness. One could see these poor things were longing to be in the ground. I found one that look promising, with fresh sprouts, and handed it to her. We then found another one for me. It was such a sweet moment, two women who both love sweet peas, heads bent, chatting even though we've never met.

We ended up being in the line up so she showed me some other beauties she found. And then on my way out of the greenhouse, I noticed a plant laying on its side in the parking lot. It was the beautiful two-tone geranium my new friend had been showing me. I caught sight of her and hurried to catch up - she hadn't noticed it falling off her cart. I said, well, this is the third time we have chatted now, I told her my name, she was Denise. Goodbyes were said, I wish I'd also asked if we could have exchanged texts.

Four. A peek at flowers I bought

I don't know if you recall the sweet old song called English Country Garden: "How many kinds of sweet flowers grow / In an English country garden." It opens by listing the many flowers that one might find in a garden. You'll find a lovely rendition of the song HERE.

Here is my list of flowers that you will soon see growing in my Canadian city garden: Sweet peas and Euphorbia, Gazanias and Zinnias, Alyssum and Beeblossom, Stocks and Evening scented stocks, Lemon Marigolds, Purple salvia and Osteospermum, Verbena - pink and purple, Bacopa - pink and white. The colour scheme was not especially forethought but it turns out it's in purples, pinks, whites, with a splash of oranges and yellow.

Image by Catceeq from Pixabay

Five. Time for lunch and flowers won't cut the mustard

I saw someone online describing a delicious sounding Irish-style sandwich. Which sounds perfect for lunch. Especially if I've been out in the garden all morning. Made with chopped hard-boiled eggs, it includes shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, thinly sliced green onions (scallions), salad cream (or mayo), salt and pepper. Mix it together and serve on your favourite sandwich bread. Cut into halves, thirds or squares.

Not having made them yet, I have no photos, but I found the above on Pixabay and I think it's close to the description. If you Google it, I'm sure recipes will float up, along with photos from every angle and greatly detailed instructions on how to make a sandwich. 😉

Before I sign off, I want to invite you over to InScribe Writers Online where I am Guest Blogging today. Our prompt was the letter "R", and I chose to write about the word 'restoration' exploring how restoration is a beautiful, hopeful thing and matters on so many levels. You'll find the post HERE.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend,

Photo Credits for this post:
Brenda Leyland @ It's A Beautiful Life
(except for the sandwich photo above)


  1. That is absolutely my sort of lunch, Brenda! When I was at school we used to do a Country Dance to the English Country Dance song, I can hear it now! What an unusual colour your Tulip is, more purple than blue I think.

    1. Barbara, I made those sandwiches for lunch. Oh my, yes, they were dee-licious! Enjoyed the salad cream dressing on it - I found a jar at the local grocery store. And I've been humming that little tune to English Country Garden ever since I listened to it on YouTube - it has a catchy tune.

  2. I hope you delete altogether my two deleted comments. I'm trying this again. ☺️

    Brenda, your description of your trip to the greenhouse makes me want to make a visit to one soon. I need some plants for the front of the house. The plants you picked out are gorgeous. Happy planting!

    1. Thanks, Becki, yes the trip to the greenhouse was such a treat. I hope you get to visit one soon, I find the experience soothing, comforting, a real delight to the senses. It's been so blustery here again today that I had no desire to be whipped around trying to get my tender plants into the garden. So I've watered and sheltered them in a cozy nook and we'll hope for better days ahead for planting out.

  3. The flowers are stunningly beautiful, especially the purple tulip! We have tulips here but none of them look as beautiful as that purple one! I have never heard of the English Country Garden song. It sounds inspiring. Thank you!

    1. I was so pleased with that tulip - it's still blooming but I see from the petal edges, its days are numbered. Thanks for stopping by, lovely to hear from you.

  4. Unexpected gifts are often the best kind! Your sandwich sounds yummy (is salad cream the same thing as mayo or are they simply interchangeable in a recipe?) and your garden must be beautiful! I remember a past post in which you shared some photos of your beautiful gardens. I hope that you will give us a few peeks sometime this summer!

    1. Hi Cheryl, thanks for your note. Salad Cream is different than mayo. I read online that mayo can be used in exchange for the Salad Cream dressing. I found a jar of English Salad Cream at the grocery store - it's a creamy style vinaigrette. It was a nice dressing.

      Our garden is growing, perennials are up. We had a lovely spring bulbs display and now the peonies are forming lots of buds. The bleeding heart is in her glory. It's still coolish here even though it's June - we had frost warnings just the other night - we set the plants in the garage overnight. We are setting them out regardless (marigolds, alyssums, evening scented stocks, sweet peas, etc.) in the ground this week. And we'll hope for the best. Will probably post photos as they grow :). Happy Day, Cheryl!

  5. As soon as I read the words English Country Garden, the tune skipped its way through my memory. There was a radio program my mother listened to years ago to that began with that song. And I think it was in one of my early piano books, too. Cheerful and simple.
    Your tulip is such a beauty! That sandwich looks delicious and filling. Egg salad is one of my favourite fillings and I like the description you included. The wild wind around here has made being out in the garden not so pleasant, too. We did have a few days of lovely calm sunshine over the weekend.
    Love your posts!

    1. Lorrie, would you happen to recall the radio show your mom listened to? I thought I heard that tune on CBC TV at my grandma's when I was little, but perhaps it was on the radio - my mom always had the radio on while doing housework. The sandwich was delicious when I made it later that day. Grey and overcast here this morning. Still have annuals to plant out, so we're heading out after breakfast to get those in the ground.

  6. The Irish-style sandwich is making my mouth water!


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