A Good Home, Amaryllis in Bloom, An Honest House, Blessings, Cycling, Family, Family Moments, Friendship, Pets, Re-blooming Amaryllis Bulbs

Great Moments

I’m big on the small things in life.

Blog Photo - Amaryllis in full bloom~The amaryllis that flowered again – two years after it first bloomed at Christmas, a  gift from my friend Jean. How lovely to have an amaryllis reblooming in May!

~My husband cycling again.  For my birthday gift, I asked him to “go cycling with Bill”. Bill is his former coach and dear friend. So off they went, and that started him cycling again.

Blog Photo - Cyclists B and H

Our wet winter meant he hadn’t gone cross-country skiing and missed the activity.

Blog Photo - H cross country skiing~Our older daughter and son-in-law live in the USA, and I miss them a lot. I look forward to hearing from them, including their weekly call together on a Sunday. I also miss their cats, Simon and Jerome.

So it made my day when they sent new photos of the cats. Below, Jerome is practicing the art of camouflage. Can you even see him?

Blog Photo - Jerry camouflaged on carpet

Simon, meanwhile, has come out of the closet. (Yes, for years  – until very recently — his favourite place was inside a closet.)

Blog Photo - Simon 2

Blog Photo - Dawson runs

~Dawson, whom our younger daughter rescued four years ago, was looking weak the other day, especially when compared to Julius, who has energy to spare.

Blog Photo - Two Small Dogs

Mr. D. is old now, and he’s mostly blind and part-deaf. But he must have heard me fretting about whether “we’ve arrived at that time”, because, just hours later, he was running around. One day a decision will have to be made, but not yet.

~And finally, the daily phone call from our younger daughter. She calls after work each day and when the phone rings, I’m delighted, eager to hear how her day went, glad to hear her voice.

Such blessings.

Here’s to life!

 

 

 

 

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A Good Home, Clematis, Courage, Friendship

Life Changes

Blog Photo - Blue-Pink clems

I’m praying for two women I’ve never met in person.

They are in my blogging community. One in Southern Africa, one in the United States. Each was bereaved recently.  

I’m also praying for a blogger and his beloved wife in England. She has been undergoing cancer treatments.

Some people may be surprised that we care so much when another blogger hurts. But we do, especially when someone has a health scare or experiences a loss. 

 

Blog Photo - Garden rain cu of lavender blue clematis

Through blogging, we get to know each other’s stories. We read about each other’s lives, families, dreams, disappointments, and triumphs.

We rejoice over the good times: a daughter passes her exams; a parent’s health improves; a husband gets a better job.

So why wouldn’t we also hope and/or pray that a blogger – or a spouse – will triumph over a serious illness? 

Blog Photo - BLue clems and Salvia

Why wouldn’t we feel a terrible sadness when the husband of a blogger-friend dies suddenly?

Bloggers know that life changes when we least expect it. That the challenge is to learn, accept, adapt. Which is so easy to say, and so hard to do. 

Blog Photo - Blue clematis2

 

There is such pain in the world.

But also, such hope. Such kindness.

And such courage.

We see that every day in each other’s blog posts.

And we know that, sometimes, just taking the next step is an act of courage.

Dedicated to the persons mentioned in this post, and to all who currently feel buffeted by life’s strong winds. All these flowers are for you.

Blog Photo - Pink Clematis

Photos by Hamlin Grange

A Good Home, Afternoon Tea, Friendship, Gardens

Wisdom, Foolishness and Joy

Once in a while, I do something wise.

Such was the case when I invited some friends from church to our home.

“Come to afternoon tea”, I said.  “On the verandah and in the garden.”

Blog Photo - Garden - Red Wiegela

Of course, the plan was immediately followed by a piece of brash foolishness.

“I’m doing it all myself,” I proudly told my husband.

Silence.

By myself, I had rarely entertained more than one person at a time, afraid that I wouldn’t be able to handle it.

“Okay,” he finally said.

Blog Photo - Garden - Begonias and Muskoka Chairs 23 006

~~

Carefully, I made a menu, a shopping list and a detailed schedule.

Checked them a million times.

Tidied up the verandah.

And prayed for good weather.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea Verandah 1

~~

Daughter and son-in-law kindly took the list and went shopping.

My good man left me alone to get everything ready.

Then he phoned: “Shall I pick up a couple quiches?”

“No,” I said. “I have enough food.”

“Hmmm…” he said.

~~

The garden looked lovely.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea garden with hosta and tree

Flowers bloomed.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea Pink Poppies

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea  Clematis Burgundy

Birds sang their welcome.

Blog Photo - Afternoon tea cardinal

~~

I took a deep breath.

Our guests were arriving.

My husband smoothly took over the greetings, drinks and garden tours.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea Rev Claire and HG

In the kitchen, I smelled something delicious.

Quiches warming in the oven.

~~

I started out very well.

But before long,  our friends ordered me to rest. I wisely obeyed and everyone helped everyone else.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea Group on Verandah1

Everything unfolded according to plan, prayer and an abundance of good sense (not mine).

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea guest in garden

Perfect weather for garden-touring.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea Poppy deep pink

Happy and helpful guests and one very thoughtful husband.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea Miss G and Me

There was also this frequent visitor.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea Cardinal 2

And yes:  the quiches were a hit.

~~

It’s such a great blessing: having a caring church family to call our own.

For years we’d kept telling Claire, our priest: “We’d like to invite you and others to visit.”

But I simply hadn’t felt up to the task. So Claire wisely nudged us and last week, it finally happened.

~~

Blog Photo - afternoon Tea Group shot 1

Watching their happy faces made my husband and me happy.

We ended the party by saying ‘the grace’.

As we held hands and prayed, my cup ran over with joy.

~~

Great thanks to photographer Gundy Schloen.

A Good Home, Friendship, South Africa

South Africa Comes to Visit

South Africa. One of my most favourite countries in the world.

Having worked there, repeatedly, I’d planned to return as a tourist one day.

It hasn’t happened.

But every so often, South Africa comes to me.

~~

Late April, 2015.

I come across a small book in our home library.

“South Africa Stories” is the simple title.

Memories fill my mind.

Blog Photo - South Africa Stories 001

~~

Early 1991.

My CBC boss, Les Lawrence, heeds the call from South African Bishop Tutu and Canadian Archbishop Ted Scott –– eminent persons in the fight against apartheid — and agrees to an important project: to help South African broadcast journalists prepare for the end of apartheid. He and I are the project leaders.

Eleven journalists are in the first group, carefully selected by our partner, the Southern Africa Education Trust Fund. They’re here in Toronto at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to strengthen their skills in radio and television journalism.

Of various races, some are exiles.

~~

Their intelligence, educational achievements and resourcefulness impress us. Their stories alternately shock and inspire us.

Blog Photo - South Africa Stories The Women

~~

We cry when they leave.

But mostly, we rejoice, knowing they are going back stronger than they’d arrived, knowing they have also made us stronger. We have bound some of their written stories into a simple book. Something for them to take home, along with their new-found skills.

They write thank-you notes in my copy. I rediscover it in April 2015.

South Africa Stories.

Blog Photo - South Africa Stories Note from Libby

~~

Late April, 2015

Sylvia Vollenhoven, one of Nelson Mandela’s favourite journalists, arrives at our old farmhouse north of Toronto with our mutual friend Dale. It’s been years since Sylvia was here and we hug her warmly. A woman of stunning achievement and deep commitment to South Africa,  journalism and freedom, she’s in Toronto for the Hot Docs festival.

Blog Photo - Three Wimmen

She tells us about her current project, The Keeper of the Kumm, which will be produced as a play, a book and a documentary. We listen in fascinated silence. She’s one of the most eloquent people we know and Hamlin, Dale and I devour her words like manna from heaven.

~~

And we laugh.

Sylvia is very witty, but her mistake appears to be an honest one.

Blog Photo - Sylvia and Willows

“What are these things called again?” she asks in that beautiful accent of hers. She points to stalks of pussy willows in a container. “Willy’s Pussies, right?”

Blog Photo - Pussy willows

Willy’s pussies. Oh, dear. 

I gasp for air between bouts of loud laughter.

~~

We tell Sylvia we hope she will come back a year from now – with her book and her documentary. She tells us she hopes we can come to South Africa to see the play. We eagerly say Yes.

Blog Photo - Sylvia and Keeper of the Kum 002

Of course, it’s most unlikely that I will be able to travel that far. But as I sit on the verandah with three dear friends who love South Africa, it is such a warm thought.

I  remember.

And imagine.

And am happy.

Blog Photo - Sylvia here at lunch

 ~~

Dedicated to Sylvia and the journalists of South Africa… especially “the first eleven”.

 Photos by Hamlin Grange