A Good Home

Update From Me

Yes – I’m missing in action – again. Sorry.

Here’s an update about a few things.

Huge snowstorm last week! By the time it was over, at least 20 inches of snow. Our side-road wasn’t cleared for 2 days.

The GrandToddler is speaking in sentences and repeating things other family members say. It’s delightful. But it reminded GrandPa and GrandMa of the time, decades earlier, when one of us yelled (forgetting our own toddler was in the room): “Turn off the f—ing light!” That toddler (now a Mama herself) went around saying: “F—ing light, F—-light.” We were horrified at what we’d done. Thank goodness she stopped saying it after a short while.

The amaryllis flowers have bloomed and rebloomed through December and January and now we’re on our last bloom for a while. What a cheery sight.

My friend, late 80’s, lives in a long term care home but her mind is sharper than mine, her will is strong and though she uses a walker, she takes long walks every day. Or did, till the latest COVID wave caused her and the other residents to be locked in. Meaning she couldn’t leave her room.

I was so busy with family matters, it was days before I realized what it was doing to this remarkable woman and by the time we chatted by phone, she was in tears. The isolation and lack of activity had worn her down.

I started to call her every morning, and sometimes, evenings as well, chatting about everything but lockdowns.

I discovered one small aspect of her lockdown life, though, that made us both laugh: early every morning, she defied the lockdown by sneaking downstairs to fetch a newspaper from the empty lobby. She knew she wouldn’t encounter anyone else, but I imagined her in her house robe and slippers, pushing her walker and hoping no-one would catch her breaking the rules. It gave me a smile every day.

When the lockdown ended – after about 23 days – I rejoiced with her. But I told her I also felt slightly cheated that she no longer had to steal out of her room to fetch the paper. That gave us both a chuckle.

I, of course, know what it’s like to be stuck in a room, unable to leave. It happened to me again last fall when I got myself in trouble for doing “normal” things like walking through big department stores searching for a single item – and ignoring the warning signs from my back, leg and foot till it was too late. I never get used to being stuck in bed, and when I have to take painkillers, I feel like a failure. Still.

I hope you’re coping with the pandemic lockdowns. It gets to me some days, but (so far) I’m surfacing. I stay connected to 2 arts organizations. I have friends and relatives who are struggling with much bigger health issues than mine so I keep busy supporting them in different ways.

Despite the abundant snow and cold, I ‘m also feeling better these days – which is another kind of warning. It’s when I feel better that I get into trouble! Wish me luck – or at least some patience and maturity.

A Good Home

Christmas Thanksgiving

Whether you celebrate Christmas, the Solstice, or another special/sacred time this December, I wish you joy, peace and good health.

Entry Hallway Table at Christmas

For our family, this is a sacred season. And fun. And a bit hectic with the cleaning up, the grocery shopping, the card-sending, the present-wrapping, the phone calls. And then comes a time of peace. A time of reflection and thanksgiving.

We give thanks for those who never stop working to make our lives easier and safer – the nurses and other healthcare workers in particular right now. And the supermarket workers, the people who pick up our garbage and recycling, the postal workers, those who deliver packages. The faith leaders, the caring neighbours – people who never seem to stop helping others.

We thank those who work through the holidays to keep homeless people safe, to keep some families and individuals fed and cared for.

For our own family, friends and neighbours who are always there for us, even when they can’t be with us in person.

For my blogger friends – some who have helped bolster us with prayers and good wishes through challenging times.

For readers of my books – whether it’s the Myrtle the Purple Turtle books created by Lauren and me, or more recently, Twigs in My Hair, the gardening & nature memoir created by Hamlin Grange and myself. Thank you.

I wish you peace and joy this season. And good health – always good health.

I give thanks to God for this holy time. For the blessings that surround us.

The world may have seemed even scarier in recent times. But always – always – there is something and someone to be thankful for.

Merry Christmas! Happy holidays!


A Good Home

The Un-Domestic Diva at Christmas

How hard could it be to make your own Christmas arrangement?  Looks easy enough in the magazines, and on the internet, right?

Christmas Arrangement - viaGoogle Images
Photo – via Google Images

It’s almost Christmas and I’m surrounded by women who cook and bake AND do great home decor. My sister, daughters, mother-in-law,  sister-in-law, girlfriends: domestic goddesses, every one.  Some even sew and knit.

I,  meanwhile, am a failed domestic diva.  I baked a cake – once.  I failed knitting – twice.  I try – Lord knows I try – but I’m still an exceptionally underachieving cook.

But it’s Christmastime, after all. A time of great hope.

Angel and Ball
Angel and Ball

So I decided to make Christmas stuff. The kind of stuff that won’t give my family indigestion,  catch fire and burn (as the solitary cake did), or that anyone needs to wear. (That sock I tried to knit is indescribable AND a family joke.)

In the past, I used branches from the trees in my garden,  tied together with a big red ribbon – and called it a Christmas bough. Hanging on the front door, it was only seen from a distance,  or when we had visitors. Very polite visitors.

But this year, I decided to go big or  ….  no, I was already home, so let’s forget the rest of that saying.  I decided to be ambitious.  To arrange greenery in containers. One in the plant-stand outdoors, one in a container indoors. Artfully composed,  of course.

Did I mention that I failed BOTH art and photography in school?  Something to do with composition.

Christmas Greenery
Christmas Greenery – First Muddled Attempt

I collected branches of everything that grew right next to the verandah of our home. I’m under a kind of house arrest, you see  – mandated by my doctor because I overdid it with the book-related activities and also started a new medication with woozy side-effects.  I figured that as long as I went no farther than the verandah, it would still qualify as “resting at home”.

I put a double layer of plastic in the bottom of the containers, and placed the wet florist foam on it. (The foam was wet, not the florist.) Then I stuck branches of stuff into it. Spruce. Juniper. Euonymus.   Boxwood. And pine cones on sticks. I stepped back to admire my handiwork.

It needed something.  Aha! More red dogwood sticks.

Blog Photo - Chirstmas Arrangement Outdoor

It still needed something.  But I was worn out and achy and very woozy.  I wisely took to my bed.

Two days later, I felt brighter. Contrast, I thought! I need contrast!

So I fetched some “brownery” –– brown-leaved branches from last Christmas, forgotten in a tall container in one corner of the verandah.  But when I cleverly tried to add them, the florist foam had frozen hard due to cold weather and the brownery crumbled, leaves falling from brittle stems.

I searched the house and found a little fake bird and some loose pine cones and judiciously placed them among the greenery.

Birdie Bird
Birdie Bird

But it still needed something. I just never  figured out what.

As for the inside container?  There was a coup de grace: garlic. Yes, garlic on stems.  Harvested from our garden this fall, it’s surprisingly decorative,  will deter vampires and spice up my cooking efforts after Christmas.

Garlic Bulb
Garlic Bulb

But that bit of creativity wore me out completely.  So I stuck some shiny red Christmas ornaments on branches in the container and called it a day.

Indoor Arrangement
Indoor Arrangement


Lord, give me strength. Clearly, you withheld the talent.


This post is dedicated to everyone who struggles with domestic arts. And to all domestic goddesses: you give me something to aspire to. Or maybe that’s ‘perspire’. 

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A Good Home

Autumnal Tasks (reblogged)

Autumn is here, rustling all of the leaves

Soon ’twill be time to take care of the eaves

Last time we didn’t, we paid a big price

The eavestroughs were clogged, a magnet for ice


And speaking of leaves, I’ve had cause to wonder

Why don’t they stay near their trees over yonder?

Why does the wind blow them into our place

Why, when around them is so much free space?

Photo by Hamlin Grange

And speaking of wind, there’s a shutter gone loose

Far up near the roof, nearly high as the spruce

And if it should fall, it may land on our heads

Or just fly away as we sleep in our beds


And speaking of beds, there’s the garden to tend

And errors we really must hasten to mend

Those wild strangling vines and the tough creeping Jenny

You put up with one and you end up with many.


And speaking of errors, that tree we bought little

Has outgrown its place — but is fit as a fiddle

Too big to dig up but too nice to chop down

Which leaves us between both a smile and a frown


And speaking of digging, some pesky wild thing

Has me gathering stones, and I’m ready to fling

It’s digging  our daffodil bulbs from the soil

It’s making a mockery of all our hard toil


“You terrible wretch!” all my dignity’s lost

(Those bulbs must be planted before the hard frost)

“You do this once more and I’ll wring your foul neck!”

But Squirrel just smirks and says: “What the heck?”

Cynthia Reyes.