Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Memory Mid-Week

Looking back on the good things that have happened to me is a joyful experience.  One month ago today I returned to Canada from my trip abroad and arrived in one of my favourite places...




the prairie.  Husband and I went for a drive south of the city and the day was glorious.  Lovely memory. 


Now you may ask, if you love it so much why don't you folks live there?  Aha!!  Next day when we were ready to fly home we were reminded why we live on our little island.




Good reminder, right?  


Have you ever tried to return to where you have been and it just isn't the same?  Does it ever work?  Hmmm...




  

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What a Difference a Day Makes...



Never before have we hired a 'tree faller' but we had a couple tricky trees here that we did not feel comfortable tackling...so, enter Dr. Daylight.



Within 5 hours Ian laid down at least 9 trees...5 of them of substantial girth and height.
  


What a confused jumble of trees, limbs, debris all over the hill behind the greenhouse!


  
Now Sherwin is left with the clean-up, sorting through all the mess.  




What would we do without our little tractor...




Sherwin is happy if he has something to do with his chain saw and his tractor.


So it was another day, another project underway...
Have a great week.

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Day of Common Miracles, No. 2

"The miracles in fact are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see."             -C S Lewis


Every day in so many ways I see small common miracles that lighten and brighten my journey.  Since I joined "Common Miracles" (click there) I have thought about this more and and without a doubt am seeing them more all the time.




My knee pads are common things.  They have been to Mexico and back where they were used for tile washing.  Needless to say I cherish them.  They are like small miracles all on their own.  In years gone by I would kneel and work away without any padding but now they are a must.  I don't know what all is inside them but these are no ordinary knee pads...they save my crickety old knees a bundle of pain.




The loveliest part of this little miracle is that my knee pads, like many other small items necessary to my day, get placed somewhere for safe keeping.  I am sure, at the time, that I will not forget where I have laid them and go about doing other chores.  


Then, next morning I need those knee pads to work out in the garden but where are they? Now this doesn't happen just for my knee pads but when I am lost I will say out loud that I do not want to waste my time looking for something so important.  And time after time I feel that maybe my angel gives my head a turn, maybe a nudge from Someone Else but I turn my head right then and there are the lost pads (or whatever).


This is common and small but in just that way I find that when I need a reminder on weightier matters that soft, gentle nudge comes and I turn my eyes and they are opened once again.  


Great thankfulness comes from acknowledging that I am being watched, helped, and prompted by a small still voice in matters both small and large.


Have you felt a nudge lately?  God bless and be well.



Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Word

Now, tell me, did you really think I could let this day, May 21, 2011 go by without a word?  The talk of the late night news is 'The Rapture' or 'The End of the World' or 'The Apocalypse' and since this topic is very dear to my heart, I do feel I have to say something.  Actually I would love to hear it talked about more.


Truthfully though, I am at a loss for words regarding this important theme.  I long, truly long for it to happen.  But I am one of those folks who is leaving it in the hands of God.  He knows when He should come and how it will really all shake down.  


So in my quandary for words I fished around in my brain and my hand just happened upon a wonderful quote book from my friend, CS Lewis.  Clive has a few things to say about this in his straight forward, inimitable style.


"The doctrine of the Second Coming is deeply uncongenial to the whole evolutionary or developmental character of modern thought.  We have been taught to think of the world as something that grows slowly towards perfection, something that 'progresses' or 'evolves'.  Christian Apocalyptic offers us no such hope.  It does not even foretell (which would be more tolerable to our habits of thought) a gradual decay.  It foretells a sudden, violent end imposed from without;
an extinguisher popped onto the candle,  a brick flung at the gramophone, a curtain rung down on the play...'Halt'!"


"Precisely because we cannot predict the moment, we must be ready at all moments."


"For my own part I hate and distrust reactions not only in religion but in everything. Luther surely spoke very good sense when he compared humanity to a drunkard who, after falling off his horse on the right, falls off it the next time on the left...If it (the doctrine of the second coming) has recently been exaggerated, we must now take special care not to overlook it; for that is the side on which the drunk man is now most likely to fall off."


"It (the second coming of Christ) is the medicine our condition especially needs."


So, God bless you all and be well.  



Friday, May 20, 2011

'Insignificance' of Little Things



There are many little 'happenings' throughout my day that I could tend to take for granted but I don't want to get in that habit.  They may seem insignificant to others but I treasure them all.


Today I have been in town by myself, running errands and doing things that my husband thinks I may prefer to do on my own.  (I had grand plans of stopping off for a little piece of Pandora jewelry and finding a 'posh frock' to soothe my gardener's soul but the day whooshed by and all I got done were the real things.)


There is a tendency for me to feel a marvellous rush of gratitude whenever I am out on the ocean on a ferry with the air, the scene, the loveliness of the day all around.  It speaks to my heart.  It is like I could put my hands out and touch the greatness of the day.  For that I am most grateful.


Secondly, I have to say I was grateful for the little loaner car the windshield-replacement people gave me to zip around town.  It was just a bit of a thing but it was new and it was wheels.  


Now, for this third thankfulness item I have to ask you to please use your imagination.  I got such a Big Smile out of this.  OK, picture me if you will, as most of you have seen me.  I am wearing black short EF pants, a black t-shirt, my sweet little black flats and my grey and black striped longish sweater.  I look like someone who truly wants to look OK but not so OK that I draw a lot of attention.  


Now picture this, a young woman draws up beside me, both of us waiting for the light to change so we can cross the street.  She is about as opposite me in appearance as you could possibly achieve.  This young girl is tall...maybe 5'10" or more.  She has black hair...not black by birth but by bottle and to set off the black hair she has florescent pink bangs with a few pink streaks running through her jet black tresses.  This hair is divided up into 3 parts; two ponytails and one long section flowing down the back.  


Stay with me..we are only getting started.  She was wearing a black lace mesh top (covering very respectable undergarments) with a shortish black kilted skirt with a black leather belt that was about 6 inches high with lots of metal studs, stars and such, all around it.  Her hose were, of course black,with black shoes of magnificent weight and heavy in appearance.  I am sure I am missing something here. 


Her face was a work of art.  There were numerous piercings, eyeliner drawn out to extend the length of her eye by half again and the pinkest cheeks available from the blush pot.  


Please do not think I am mocking this girl...she was a total piece of art.  She was so well put together in her own style. Very ready to be a statement.  And here I was beside her...about as conservative and 'of-a-certain-age' looking as was possible and still looking as well put together as I thought I should be.  


I promise I did not giggle out loud but I do wish someone had been there to take a snap of us making our way down Douglas Street.  It was a hoot!  We walked quite a way together and I did so want to turn to her and ask if she saw the moment as I did.  


It is a marvel, all the different packages that we come in; this was truly an example of diversity.


So I am thankful for the ability to smile at the little truly insignificant happenings through the day.  


What a day!  Now I am heading home with my load of gravel and happy to see sail boats out on the water and people in campers on the ferry...all pointing to our long weekend.  There is something else to be grateful for: I do have to be thankful for Queen Victoria too so we can have, yet again, another long weekend.


What do you have planned for your long weekend?  Where are you going?  What small things happened in your day as you prepared for the weekend for which you are thankful?  


God bless and be well.



Monday, May 16, 2011

One Year Anniversary

What a fitting way to celebrate a year of blogging...I have joined others in a new website called...Common Miracles.  It is wonderful that there are others out there in cyberspace who also love the wonders around them and do not take them for granted.

Today I am looking about me as I sit on the ferry heading into town and I am particularly thankful for:


1. My refrigerator, which is fixed and we can bring it home today.


2. My husband, who appreciates my enjoyment of life.


3. All my dear friends who read my blog and give me encouragement and joy in their feedback.


4. All the dear little birds who have returned to feed at their stations here on the hill.


5. My camera, which is beginning to respond to my desire for better photos.  Of course it never was the cameras fault but I do love working with it.


6. I have to say how thankful I am for opportunities that come my way that I have actually taken.  You know what I am talking about...opportunities come and opportunities go if you don't grab them and make them yours.


7. So thankful for the gifts each of my seven children bring to our lives.  There are rousing discussions on music, sports, politics and computers always swirling around the house when we are together.  And someone is sure to bring up something controversial just to get the juices really flowing.  What more could a mother ask for?


8. And I am thankful for my art table where I can play, play, play.


9. Thought yesterday about the view that we enjoy at our house and decided I need to take some photos of that again.  


10.  Probably the most important part of my life that I could not live without and I am most thankful for is the assurance that God is there and He is not silent.


Thankfulness IS good for the soul!


You all have a great day, be well and happy anniversary.



Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thankful Heart





This past week I was more than twice blessed by lovely quotes and encouragements sent my way.  The following quote was particularly appropriate to my week.  


“. . . the head is not a very good place for prayer. It is not a bad place for starting your prayer. But if your prayer stays there too long and doesn’t move into the heart, it will gradually dry up and prove tiresome and frustrating. You must learn to move out of the area of thinking and talking and move into the area of feeling, sensing, loving, and intuiting. That is the area where contemplation is born and prayer becomes a transforming power and a source of never-ending delight and peace.” ~Anthony de Mello


Active, not passive...like the plants in my garden.  




O, for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame,
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb.


                     -William Cowper


Friend, CS Lewis, says:  "The petition, then, is not merely that I may patiently suffer God's will but also that I may vigorously do it...'Thy will be done - by me - now' brings one back to brass tacks."









Food for Thought

Beignet, Clafouti, Flan de Coco...that kind of food.




Beef Bourguignon, Chicken Tagine, Mushroom Crepes...yes, that kind of food. 

Since I have returned I have been asked if I liked the food, what was my favourite food and did I try 'thus-and-so'?  

Well, we had one enjoyable meal after another with scarcely a misstep.  Now if you wonder where I am going to get 'food for thought' out of all this excellent Parisian food just stay with me here...



(Some of the food photos will be from sister Marilyn's camera; I am sorry but I do not remember the names of all the dishes we had.)  




That is the chicken tagine that I enjoyed more than once...


When we first arrived I suggested to Marilyn that we should find some famous cafe, sit down, order coffee and philosophize the afternoon away.  




Marilyn and I were so busy playing tourist that we didn't take the time to sit and philosophize.  One of the most famous haunts of French philosophers from the last century was Le Deux Magots...yes, it says Two Maggots.  


But it wasn't until the end of the second week, when I was with Gail, that I found this cafe.  Gail's guide book warned us away from Les Deux Magots if we were looking for food of quality.




Famous folks like Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir sat at these tables and talked the days and nights away.




One of my regrets is that I don't have photos of either Gail or me eating a baguette.  They make wonderful sandwiches and every day Gail and I got into the habit of stopping at the local patisserie for our baguette and pastry for our evening meal.  




The best food Marilyn and I had was at Chez Fernand.  They did not open their doors for dinner until 7 in the evening and we were among their first guests.  The ideal meal, for us, was an entree (which we would call an appetizer here), main plat (which is just what those words imply...main plate) and of course we would end with a delightful dessert.  Marilyn thought their food was not necessarily Parisian but had more of a southern French flavour, more rustic and earthy.  When we both ordered the same main plat they brought one small casserole pot for the two of us to share.




Mmmmmm....in the remembering.




This baked egg dish was so rich I could not finish it...




We lived on a street that had at least 9 restaurants within shouting distance which meant we had to close our windows at night if we thought we needed to sleep.  




(notice the copper pots used as exterior decoration)


At 11 or midnight, or later on the weekends, the people were still eating, drinking and enjoying one another's company.  It was a delight to hear and watch.  We did wonder what time they all had to be at work the next day.  We had the serious work of touristing so we had to be in bed before midnight!




The very interesting thing about the food/health aspect was that I noticed the servings were never super-size and you would see people of all ages walking, walking, walking.  Their food is delicious but it is savoured, not devoured.  They are able to take the meal experience to a whole new level in social networking. They take their time to eat, to live, to enjoy.  


Therein lies the 'thought' in 'food for thought'.  


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Memory for Wednesday

This morning, friend Carole said, what was your all-time favourite thing about Paris?  Oh my, that is hard.  I will be going through my photos and say...oh, this was my favourite spot of the whole trip...

So, was it the flowers in bloom everywhere we looked?


Yes, but then I will be going through another day's photos and say the same thing, again and again...so you get the picture?

If I were to make a list and pick one item from the list:

architecture
flowers and gardens (green spaces in the city)
bridges on the Seine
churches
food  (heavenly clafouti)
Pere Lechaise (the only cemetery we explored)
The Louvre, Le d'Orsay, L'Orangerie Museums
Eiffel Tower
Versailles
the on-off open air bus tours
etc., etc., etc.

...it would be very difficult.  I groan just to think of it as I look at the pictures.

But when I really get down to the pictures that draw me back I would have to say Versailles pulls my chords the hardest.  It was a lovely day, sunny and warm with my sister by my side for extra cheer.

You know I am a nut about interior architectural detail and that place was full of it, inside and out. 


The details made my day...


The repetition of detail was all around...


At home there are too many times I stop a project before I have put on the final, finishing detail that makes it very good instead of just pretty good...


And the outside was as exquisitely finished as the indoors...


...and of course, this little chapel spoke to me profoundly.  Did the residents of Versailles take some moments here before they were moved into town those final, awful days of their lives?


I think I have it, Carole...my favourite part of Paris was the very fact that everywhere I turned in the whole city, I could see a photo to take.  Just ask the ladies I was with...where is Shirley Ann?....oh, she is back there still working on a photo.

So there is another memory of a lovely trip...pretty soon I will just tuck these memories away and quit blathering on about Paris but it was grand!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Poem for Tuesday





We Wear the Mask 
by Paul Lawrence Dunbar

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes, -
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.


Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.


We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To Thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Daughters=Mothers=Thankfulness

This morning I had a delightful time working on a blog honouring my two grown-up girls and the light they have both brought to us as a family with their motherly examples.  I hit publish too soon and there was an error...had to delete it all and here I am again to do it 'right' now.

I feel very fortunate to have been blessed with all our children...all seven of them.  Each one has brought something of great value to our family table but today I am here to honour especially our girls and their mothering skills.


Both of these girls have a gift of taking life as it comes and making the world a better place for their families.  Both of them have had a number of extraneous obstacles in their lives that they could easily have stubbed their toes on and tripped on but no...they have lifted their heads up and pressed forward.

If you saw their weekly schedules you would see how each of them have found time for others in the world around who need a hand on a committee or encouragement or kindness and teach their children that life consists of much more than the smaller familial universe.

But the greatest joy that I has come my way when I watch these girls with our grandchildren is their ability to drop everything to play with the kids.  It is so good to see them with the world piled up around them, set their cares and their wishes aside and just play, play, play.  They laugh and roar with the kids and it is most beautiful to see.

Dear Seth and Maizy and Lucy, you are most fortunate of children.  You are truly blessed to call Sherilee and Kim your Mother.  Have a happy day, girls.


Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers who read this.  God bless and be well.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Middle of the Week Memory

My sister, Marilyn, told me that when I saw something in Paris that caught my eye I should grab it and run...well, now, in retrospect, I have a couple regrets.

After Marilyn had gone and Gail and I were out badgering about looking for a specific church we came upon a kitchen store.


It was the most amazing kitchen store I have ever been in.  You can see there were huge displays of quality copper cookware.


I was in a daze and thought, at the time, this stuff is all too heavy for my luggage.


Needless to say, all those pretties are still there and I am home again.

We did find the church we were looking for...


So there you go.  Lesson learned.  If you are out and about and something catches your eye...

Now I must be back out to my gardens where the weeds are getting taller by the minute.  I can hear their mocking laughter while I sit here at my computer.

Love to all...