A Good Home, Christmas Dinner

White-Out

Thank goodness for Christmas plates. 

They’re not all to my taste, but they seem to be the most colourful thing anyone uses at the dinner table these days. 

Blog Photo - China coloured patterned Christmas 2

It’s a white-out, I tell you. 

Even here in my own household, we tend to use plain white cups, saucers and plates, saving “the good stuff” for when the governor-general comes for dinner. But she still hasn’t visited, so you get the picture….

Whatever happened to dishes with patterns?

Blog Photo - Anne's dishes2

This gorgeous dish set – service for 8, along with completer items — was valued at nearly two thousand dollars (Canadian) in earlier years. Anne, an acquaintance of mine here in Ontario, is the owner and she is now downsizing.

For this beautiful Old Staffordshire Ningpo set, she is asking only $325. Will someone buy it? 

Blog Photo - Anne's dish set completer items 1

Many North Americans considered themselves lucky if they inherited such prestigious dishes or got them as a wedding gift; some spent years scrimping and saving to complete the set. 

Blog Photo - Anne's dish set cup and saucer

So when did we lose our taste for the patterned Royal Doultons, the Limoges, the Royal Graftons and Alberts, the Villeroy and Bochs? 

Blog Photo - China patterned white and blue 800 Vieux Luxembourg

The floral patterns, the pastel colours, the much-valued blue-and whites?

Blog Photo - china coloured patterned 1a

When did white plates become de rigueur? When did we become such boring young and old farts? 

One big problem now, it seems — as older generations downsize their homes — is that fewer people seem to want their treasures.

Blog Photo - China patterned vintage limoge for 8

Tastes have changed. Become bland. Not only do most young adults I know want only plain white dish sets, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything with a pattern on their wedding registries.

Mind you, I do wonder why the earlier generations were so stuck on patterned plates. Was it for the art? Or was it because the meals they cooked were so boring, they needed a bit of cheering up? Did they find the roast chicken and the over-boiled vegetables, simply too depressing?

~~

If you want to buck the tide, visit Facebook Marketplace, ebay, Etsy or other online sites. You will find an abundance of beautiful patterned china, many at great prices.  The pictures above came from Facebook Marketplace.

And if you’re interested in Anne’s gorgeous dinner set, contact me, please, and I’ll connect you with her.

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A Good Home, Acts of Friendship, Children's Books, Children's Illustrated Book, Children's Story, Friendship, Myrtle The Purple Turtle, New Book - Myrtle's Game, New Children's Books

Turtles Rule!

I’m seeing turtles everywhere these days!

Blog Photo - Turtle Crossing

Myrtle’s Game, book 2 in the Myrtle the Purple Turtle series, is complete and now the Kindle version has just been released on Amazon.

In Canada, it hit the #1 spot in its category on the first day.

Blog Photo - Myrtle's Game #1 on Kindle

The US ebook is available here, with more links and updates to come.

The print version will be released everywhere on Amazon in another day or two. Stay tuned, please.

Jo Robinson again has created gorgeous full-colour images of Myrtle and friends and we are once again bowled over by her great talent.

Blog Photo - Myrtle's Game Book Cover

Daughter Lauren Reyes-Grange is my co-author on this book, and it’s been a joy to collaborate with her. You may recall that the first Myrtle book was written for her when she was a child. Please help me congratulate her on her first book!

While we anxiously waited for the book to be ready, Karen Pickering’s art class in Wisconsin, USA, made us pictures of turtles. This delighted us no end.

Blog Photo - Turtle pictures by children 2 - Karen P

So did the wonderful messages from many Myrtle-fans — among them the great champions of Indie authors, Chris Graham and Sally Cronin. Take a bow, please! We authors thrive on such support.

On Facebook, I noticed today that friend Mandy, while waiting for the new book, has re-read Book #1 and painted her nails purple. She beat me to it, and I have never been so happy to be bested!

Blog Photo - Mandy's purple fingernails

Finally, late last night, I belatedly came across this review of Myrtle the Purple Turtle from Canadian Living, one of Canada’s top-rated magazines. I was “over the moon”, as they say!

https://www.canadianliving.com/life-and-relationships/canadian-living-books/article/myrtle-the-purple-turtle-is-a-delightful-children-s-book-about-acceptance-and-friendship

Book reviews and stories, from magazines, newspapers, bloggers, broadcasters — and many others sharing by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email and elsewhere — made Myrtle the Purple Turtle a repeat bestseller.

You proved that a little book, written 28 years earlier and produced independently, could be a success. 

Are we grateful? You bet.

THANK YOU.

 

A Good Home, Poetry

The One and Only Cynthia Jobin

Ever lost a blogger friend?

Someone you never met in person but whose posts touched your heart and mind?

Or perhaps that person’s writing made you sit up and say: “Wow. I wish I could write like that!”

Such a  person was Cynthia Jobin.  Her unique voice came through in her marvellous poetry and her responses to comments on her blog. I “heard” it in the email notes she sent me, the reviews of my books that she wrote.

But mostly, in her poems.

Blog Photo - Cynthia Jobin Photo

Modern poets usually intimidate me because half the time I don’t know what they’re trying to say — making me suspect that I must be deeply superficial. 

But Cynthia wrote poetry like no-one else I’d ever read.  Deep and moving, yes. But witty, surprising, and funny at times too. You felt you were sharing the joke, not on the outside looking in.

CONVERSATION WITH A CREEK

I will slap your face
I said
and the water said
go right ahead.

I’ll beat you with a stick
I said
and the water said
go right ahead.

I will stomp on you
I said
and the water said
go right ahead.

I’ll cut you with my knife
I said
and the water said
go right ahead.

I will nail you in a box
I said
and the water said
go right ahead

as it glittered
in a zillion squints
of dancing glints
along its pebbly bed.

I may be daft
but that was when
I think I heard
the water laugh.

 

Cynthia died from cancer days after posting one final poem on December 6, 2016. 

An American, Cynthia had entrusted her poems to UK poet John Looker. A new book of her poetry has been published by Bennison Books. 

Blog Photo - Book cover of cynthia Jobin book Song of Paper

Amazon.com(https://amzn.to/2A8Pq3d)

Amazon UK(https://amzn.to/2NFTF9M)

In the introduction, John Looker writes about Cynthia’s “unobtrusive intellect at work”. It was one of her special gifts:  she was undeniably brilliant, but not show-offy about it. Her poetry is accessible, even to me.

“The poems in this collection show that variety of theme and equally her range of tone; she would write just for fun as well as with serious intent.

“When reading a new poem from Cynthia Jobin I have always had that comfortable feeling of being in good hands: we know that the verses are going to be impeccably crafted but we can’t predict what path they will take.”

Thank you, John and Bennison Books.

Brava, Cynthia.

 

A Good Home

A “Pourem”

The thing below is NOT a poem.

I’ve decided to call it a ‘pourem’. 

Words that poured from my heart and onto the page, without invitation.  

What Remains

Blog Photo - Japanese Maple 2 in early November

The colours have come and gone

You know the ones

Revered in poems and short stories

In blog posts and books

The reds, the golds, the crimsons

Deep pinks and oranges and apricots

Dazzling us with their glamour

Then falling in the cold winds of November

Turning brown and dry on the earth below

Blog Photo - Birds on Branches

 

And what remains?

 

What remains is what was here before:

The sturdy trunks of oaks and maples

Rooted in the hillsides of our little valley

With grey-brown bark their only cover 

The birches, beeches, cedars

The dogwood, spruce and willows

Branches giving rest to birds

In flight

The robins in their dozens

The doves in their pairs

A jay, flashing its blue, white, black and grey

An avian caravan on its way

The annual trip to somewhere warm

 Blog Photo - Cardinal in Snow

And what remains?

 

A few brave ones remain with us:

Some chickadees, some doves

The cardinals, scarlet coat glowing

In the lace of the evergreen tree

The squirrels, in grey or black fur 

Thickened for winter

The memories, of salmon by the dozen

The hundreds, perhaps thousands

Struggling their way upstream

To spawn

Of crows gathering in tall trees, watching

For fish killed in the effort

And the thought that someone saw a bear here once

And heard the coyote howl

 Blog Photo - Stream 1

 

What remains was ever thus:

The iron-grey water of the stream

Gliding between its banks

Or rushing

Breaking barriers with ease

A glint of silver where water surpasses rocks

In a never-ending journey toward the lake

And the first snow on trees and grass

And white on white, un-peopled chairs left out

To overwinter

And the knowledge that in this valley

Autumn is always followed by winter

And winter by spring

And if we’re lucky, we too remain

To see another summer

And perhaps another autumn

When the colours return

In glory.

Blog Photo - Snow on Chairs

Dedicated to friends Carol and Amanda.

Photos by Hamlin Grange.