Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursday Thirteen . . .Reading

"We read to know that we are not alone." 
- William Nicholson

Over the years I have so enjoyed books but I realize that buying the books and reading them are vastly different.

On my bookshelves are hundreds of books, most of which I have read, but there are many I have just shelved.

So this new year I am going to pick my first thirteen books off of my shelves:

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin has been on my shelf for a couple years.  I started it but got distracted and now that the movie about Lincoln is out I want to read the book that it is based on.

Abraham Lincoln by Carl Sandburg is going to be a re-read.  My sister gave it to me, years and years ago, while I was still a teenager.  I treasured it.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt by Conrad Black should be a good read.  I have actually less interest in Roosevelt but am a fan of Mr. Black.  So wish me luck on that one because it is a big one.

Jungleland by Christopher Stewart is a new gift from sister, Sheila.  Looks interesting.  Have not read any reviews on it or read anything by Christopher Stewart so here goes...

The Prospect Before Her by Owen Hufton is a book on the history of women in Western Europe in the early ages.  I appreciate European history so am intrigued by this.

Civilization by Niall Ferguson is already on my table in AZ.  He is a British historian who, I believe, is presently teaching at Harvard.  This is a strong area of interest for me so will be good.

John Adams and Path Between The Seas are two books written by David McCullough.  I have enjoyed his other books so with my interest in early American history and my fondness for the Panama Canal I think they will good reads.

The Red Queen by Phillipa Gregory.  Everything I read is not in the nonfiction department so will give this a try.  Looks intriguing.

What's Bred In The Bone by Robertson Davies is also another re-read.  I do that a couple times a year; re-read a book I have thoroughly enjoyed years before.  My philosophy is that a book that you read and read again is a good book, worth the investment.  This book is no. 2 of Davies' Cornish trilogy and before the year is out I will likely purchase the other two (Rebel Angels and The Lyre of Orpheus) on my Kindle.

Also want to read The Merry Heart by Robertson Davies.  This is a collection of his works and reminiscences  of his work in the last 10-15 years of his life.  Mr. Davies was a Canadian novelist so that is part of the pull to these books.  He writes with a rich imagination that I appreciate.

Twenty Chickens For a Saddle by Robyn Swift has been on my bio shelf for years too but this year I will give it a go.

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham is well written with a little different slant than other books I have written about Tom Jefferson.  Mr. Meacham shows how the two sides of Mr. Jefferson's character/personality both came into play during his political life.  I know a couple men in my life who have this duality.  They are very creative and artistic, yet they both have an inclination for business.  So when I read the reviews on this book I thought it would be a good read for me to understand these men in my own life, better.

There you go:  thirteen books I do not have to go out and buy but will give me so much pleasure in the coming year.

If you have books that you love, send me the titles and I will give them a look-see.

"Do not read, as children do, 
to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, 
for the purpose of instruction. 
No, read in order to live."
- Gustave Flaubert

And if you would like to read other Thursday Thirteen writers click here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Aha, You Thought I Had Forgotten . . .

No, I haven't forgotten about all the lovely words that I plan to implement this year but just now I feel I am returning from the walking dead.  Somewhere on my journey home I picked up a flu bug.

The first week of January I used the word 'tenderness' and received many lovely comments on that word choice.  And here we are in week five of January; I will share my word for this week.

'Silence':  my dictionary says that it could be a period of time without speech or noise . . .

And that is what I needed this week.  When I talk or laugh I start to cough and I am very tired of coughing.

But there is much more to silence than my body comfort. . .

"Somewhere we know 
that without silence words lose their meaning,   without listening speaking no longer heals,
that without distance closeness cannot cure."
-Henri J. M. Nouwen

"Quiet is peace.  Tranquility.  
Quiet is turning down the volume knob of life.  
Silence is pushing the off button.  
Shutting it down.  All of it."
-Khaled Hosseini

Breathing deeply and just smiling.

Be well.  Please!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thursday Thirteening It!

One of my projects for 2013 was identifying what was essential to my life.  This list of 13 essentials is probably not exhaustive but comprises the first ones to come to mind and not dismissed.

1.     freedom to worship God
2.     to love and be loved in return . . . for my darling family and friends
3.     books/learning and the freedom to learn and study those things I think are essential
4.     flowers...a total abundance of flowers
5.     air, water, fire and gardens (earth, if you insist)
6.     a spot in life where I can see forever
7.     hand work
8.     hope

"There is a secret medicine given only 
to those who hurt so hard they can't hope.  
The hopers would feel slighted if they knew."  

9.     colour . . .colour everywhere, even in my dreams
10.   simple food . . .fruits, veggies, nuts and grains with a few desserts for fun!
11.   laughter
12.   music, especially the cello
13.   literal thinking

And finally from the book Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert a quote that I think is very essential to my life.

"Offer it up personally then.  Right now.  
I thought of how many people 
go to their graves unforgiven and unforgiving.  
I thought of how many people 
have had siblings or friends or children or lovers disappear from their lives 
before precious words of clemency or absolution could be passed along.  How do the survivors 
of terminated relationships ever endure 
the pain of unfinished business?  
From that place of meditation I found the answer - you can finish the business yourself, 
from within yourself.  
It's not only possible - it is essential."  

Be well.  And to enjoy other Thursday Thirteen posts, click here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Summer Time . . . And the Livin' is Easy

Partly to cheer myself through this period of drizzle, drizzle, drip I wanted to remind you all of better times to come!!

"One must maintain a little bit of summer, 
even in the middle of winter."
-Henry David Thoreau

"What good is the warmth of summer, 
without the cold of winter to give it sweetness."
-John Steinbeck

Good wishes to you all, God bless and be well.

Oh, by the way, how are you slogging through the midst of January?  What do you turn to for some cheer?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

To All Creative Souls . . .

"If you find yourself asking yourself 
(and your friends), 'Am I really a writer?  
Am I really an artist?', chances are you are.  
The counterfeit innovator 
is wildly self-confident.         
The real one is scared to death."
-Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Are you tackling a new creative project?  Have you been procrastinating getting it off the ground?  Fear can stop us up and paralyze us from forward movement.

Let me encourage you to push ahead on your project...

"Our doubts are traitors, 
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt."
-Wm. Skakespeare, Measure For Measure

And for a little smile to set you on your way...

"The greater the artist, the greater the doubt.  
Perfect confidence is granted 
to the less talented as a consolation prize."
-Robert Hughes

Now, soldier on!!!

Road Trippin' . . .

We knew we had to make a trip home to Canada maintaining the idea that we would fly, bring our little car back and take the pick-up out in April when we head home for the summer. As the time to depart approached we decided we would take the truck out now and then decide what we needed to do in April when the time came.

We do love road trips, probably more in theory than in reality but we had a great time and saw lovely country and friends and family on the way.

Isn't it great that we both love the desert?  We like the peacefulness and yet ruggedness of our surroundings in AZ and enjoyed our first day out through miles and miles of cactus, sagebrush and sand.

We are very partial to the stately saguaro and Sherwin stopped so I could take one more photo before we left them behind.  First night we stayed with friends, Werner and Geri Seidel in Salome, AZ.  We have no shortage of good conversations and good times with these folks.

Day two found us heading out over the high desert trying to avoid the traffic and bustle of I-10 through Southern California.  We only got sort of lost once but I was delighted to find this sign on the road.  We stopped and I asked a local where we were and how we could get back on track.  He laughed and told me I was really in the middle of Nowhere as he took my map and showed me the way out!

We were thrilled with the miles and miles of wind machines/turbines that made such an impressive photo against the sky and hills.  We were in California now and I marvelled at the beauty and resources of that state.  I find it very sad that a state that has such potential should be so poor, struggling to stay afloat financially.

Even in the middle of winter there was so much beauty around in the shapes, patterns and colours all around us.

The abundance was everywhere . . .

Heading north on I-5 we enjoyed the late afternoon sun on the green hills as we drove towards Sacramento.  Night two found us with sister Dolores and her husband, Merritt.  He has been busy building on his decks (familiar subject to us) so we took some time to admire his lovely handiwork next morning in the light of day.

Wednesday morning as we travelled north we passed the lovely Shasta . . .

and spent the evening with sister Sheila May and David in Roseburg that night.  We were happy to be part of the birthday celebration for Mark's 41st with him and his boys.

Thursday morning found us wandering up the road, through the fog, to Seattle and our children Kim, Maizy and Lucy with of course sweet Beatrice and handsome Dante.

Here Bea and Dante wait patiently for Kim to return from taking one of the girls out to school Friday morning.

It felt so good to be there and even though we missed Shelby this time through, the girls showed us a fine time.

In the morning we took a tour down to the chickens to see how they were faring...they are such gorgeous birds...

They completely ignored me simply running to the food poured out for them.  They are a handsome lot, aren't they?

Particularly love the positive reinforcement Kim gives them with signs like this around the pen ..."Now chickens, look up, with such great encouragement and care you get, you better be producing for your mistress of the manor!!!"

The next day was spectacularly sunny once we climbed out of the lower mainland and started over the Coquihalla to see Mother and Bobbi in Kelowna.

We have all been concerned about Mother's health but when we stopped in to see her as we came into town she was bright and cheery and there wasn't a cough to be heard.  Bobbi works diligently with the doctors and nurses to keep Mother humming along!  For which we are all thankful.

We are very thankful for a great week and safe travels.  Thanks be to God for His goodness to us all.

Tell me, what happened in your world this week that makes you grateful?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Books, Books, Books . . .

"A room without books 
is like a body without a soul." 

Last year I read a variety of books I want to share with you:

Candide by Voltaire... these books are showing up in somewhat of an alphabetical order but I read this one after Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie because Catherine had had a running correspondence with Voltaire over the years so thought I should read something of his.  If you have any German or Russian ancestry you will find the book on Catherine particularly captivating and if you are planning a trip to St. Petersburg this book is a must for pre-trip research.

The Hunger Games Trilogy is listed here as one book, including The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.  I am not a huge fan of easy reading movie material but these caught my imagination and I could not quit until I had read all three.  Loved, loved, loved the books.

Over the years I have read a number of books by Adam Nicolson so absolutely enjoyed his book on the writing of the King James version of the Bible.  The book, God's Secretaries, is full of delightful information about these men and the grand task they took upon themselves to give us one of the most enjoyable and long lasting versions of Scripture.

Help, Thanks, Wow...The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott came at the end of the year as a Christmas gift from my daughter.  Anne Lamott takes a rather irreverent view of God and yet you know she is totally devoted to Him.  Does that make sense?  She leads you into a surprising trip into prayer and will make a believer out of you if you are not careful!

Jacqueline Kennedy: Conversations with JFKennedy was the most disappointing book I picked up and read this year.  The introduction written by Caroline Kennedy is the part of the book most worthy of your time.  I have been a great fan of Jacqueline because of her mothering, her style and her bravery shown in times of stress.  After I read the book, which is written from actual tapes, I felt that she lacked a depth of personhood, that it had been very much self-absorbed pretence.  Caroline's intro is beautifully written but I was saddened to find that her mother was not the woman I had thought her to be.

Sometime over the summer I watched the movie, The Jane Austen Fan Club, so of course I had to set out to read some books by Ms. Austen.  I read Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility and yet again, the books are far better than any movie made of them.  Highly recommended to you all.

Looking back I see that I actually read quite a bit of fiction this year.  Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda was fact I am doing a page in my art journal with the colours of India because of this book.  The Darlings: A Novel by Cristina Alger was interesting because of the stock market information in it and the portrayal of a family caught in the craziness of the crash in 2008.

And I did a re-read that I had wanted to do for some time.  Thorn Birds was a mini-series many years ago that my daughter and I loved to watch together.  Sherilee was in 10th grade so just beginning to understand the heat developed over the years between the priest and the ashes-of-rose girl.  Hot stuff!!

The last three books of the year were non-fiction and to be recommended to you as valuable reads.  The Power of Less by Leo Babauta is great for anyone trying to do with less in your life on many different levels.  What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship and Love by Carole Radziwell was another re-read, an honest look at the process of watching a spouse die.  Worth your time.

And finally, a very important book in my year was Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  This is the story of a young man who went through great tragedy in WWII but who survived and turned his life around.  At first I could not get into this book but since my sister, Roberta, had given it to me I felt honour bound to read it.  What a thrilling book.  The best ending ever!!!

Oops!  There are more than 13 books here even though I grouped The Hunger Games books but I offer you these titles with joy and delight.  I would love to hear if any of you have read them and if you have any other recommendations for my list for 2013.

To read other lists of Thirteen on Thursday click here to enjoy.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Is Christmas Truly Over?

Before I get in a hurry to take down my Christmas header I will post the recipe for my all time favourite Christmas Cake.

Thank you, Carole, for digging this recipe out again.  It was like seeing an old friend.

"The Jolliest of Christmas Cakes"

Set oven to 350 degrees

4 eggs
1/8 tsp salt              
1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat these 3 ingredients well.

1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (1/2 cup of this to dust the fruit and nuts)  
2 tsp bkg powder

Stir these next 3 ingredients into egg mix.

1 pound red glace cherries
1 pound green glace cherries
1 pound Brazil nuts
1 pound hazelnuts
1 pound pecan halves
2 pounds whole pitted dates

Dust the nuts and fruit with the 1/2 cup flour set aside for this purpose.  Add to the egg/sugar mix and stir well.  Grease and line 3 8x4 loaf pans with parchment paper.

Bake for one hour.

(ready for the oven)

Disclaimer:  I know I had more than the 3 pounds of nuts and the 4 pounds of fruit so I used 6 eggs and of course I never add 1/2 tsp vanilla to any recipe.  I tend to pour in vanilla.  

But save for next December and Enjoy!!!

If you have a Christmas recipe that you really love and are willing to share, I would love to hear from you.  

Happy New Year, again, and Be Well.

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Word to Live By . . .

In the past I have chosen at the beginning of each new year a word and a motto and a verse or poem that I wanted to take into my life and make a part of me.

Well, if you read my blog a couple weeks ago you would have seen that I failed miserably last year with my choice of the word, 'patience', so I have thought some and think I have a solution.

Once a week I will share a word that I wish to incorporate into my world and take more seriously.


The word 'tender' first showed up for me this week in Oswald Chambers writings (click here) that I follow on-line.  

"The main characteristic which is the proof 
of the indwelling Spirit 
is an amazing tenderness in personal dealing, 
and a blazing truthfulness 
with regard to God's Word."
                       -O. Chambers, "Disciples Indeed"

After reading that, the word 'tender' kept coming back over and over through the next day or so...I even listened to Michael Buble and his rendition of "Try A Little Tenderness"...

When I was tempted to be snarky or cruel that word kept coming back.  The word was making an impression on my heart.

"You don't blast a heart open," she said.  
"You coax and nurture it open, 
like the sun does to a rose."
-Melodie Beattie "The Lessons of Love"

"Live in the wisdom of accepted tenderness.
Tenderness awakens within
the security of knowing we are thoroughly and
sincerely liked by someone..."
-Brennan Manning

Go try a little tenderness . . .

Thursday, January 3, 2013

To Do List for 2013 . . .

Thirteen Ways To Add Polish To My Life In 2013:

Retirement doesn't mean I can get away without plans.  At one time I did think I would just be so self-disciplined that automatically all these fun projects would just happen.  To my chagrin I have found that I need to make definite plans to accomplish definite projects.

So in 2013 here are 13 of my plans for the fun part of life:

1.   Quilt with the ladies here at our winter community in AZ
2.   Pull out the watercolours again and make at least one picture a week with a daily drawing in my sketch book.
3.   Plan healthy menus, cooking at least one new savoury recipe a month.
4.   Finish off my gardens at our island home.
5.   Hike all the trails at Saguaro National Park East at least once.
6.   Draw my devotions.
7.   Read a minimum of 20 books.  This past year I read 16 and had no trouble doing that.
8.   Perfect one dessert a month.
9.   Take a class in writing (already registered with Alice Bradley).
10. Go back to taking at least one photograph each day.
11. Read books on financial principles and learn the vocabulary.
12. Crochet edgings for blankets and towels.
13. Enlarge blog readership.  Read other's blogs and encourage others to read mine through choice of subjects.

Cannot wait to get started.  Wishing you all well in the new year with your plans.

To read more of Thursday Thirteen click here...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Photo(s) of the Day. . . January 1, 2013

It is part of the 2013 plan to take photos every day.  It seems I am getting near the end of painting walls in both the AZ house and at home on Mayne Island so I will have more time to devote to creative pleasures!

The photo above almost looks like I took it underwater but it was taken on the shady side of my neighbour Betty's house.

We have collected heart shaped rocks for so long that I am seeing hearts it grew in that shape, I do not know.  These plants teach me a thing or two about taking care of personal space.

And because it is a holiday I will give you a third photo dedicated to all 7 of our American children. Happy New Year!!!

God bless and be well.

For 2013 . . .

Lost In Transition . . .

Yesterday I had the biggest laugh at myself, and truly, it probably was not a laughing matter at all.  I read our daughter's blog (click here) where she beautifully told about her 'word-of-the-year' for 2012 and how it had impacted her thinking throughout the whole year.  My heart was touched with her words.

I, on the other hand, had to go back to January of 2012 to see what word I had talked about wanting to incorporate into my life and when I read my post I burst out laughing...and I have been shaking my head since.

My word for 2012 was 'patience'.  Oh my, I do believe 2012 was a very impatient year for me and that must be why I have been slow to pick a new word for this new year.

Hence the feeling of transition.  I am not sorry to see the end of 2012, truly, for a number of reasons, but I need to be more careful about my new choice . . . maybe it should be 'patience' again until I learn my lessons!!!

" . . . The year is going,
let him go . . ."
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson

"For last year's words belong 
to last year's language, 
and next year's words await another voice."
-T S Eliot