A Good Home, Canadian life, Canadiana, Gratitude, Heritage Homes, Home, Home Decor, Homes, Inspiration, Joy, Joyful Moments, Life in canada, Living sustainably, Love, Wood, Wool Blankets

EVERYDAY GLORY – Part 2

*PHOTOS BY HAMLIN GRANGE*

Before the car accident, I was busy leading the big projects, travelling here and there.  Running around trying to change the world can make a person miss the beauty of “ordinary” things.

Injuries and pain are indescribably worse.   You finally have time to see, but barely have the energy to look.

But – oh – it’s worth the effort!

Blog Photo - Verandah Path

To  see one’s surroundings with new and grateful eyes.  

To take joy in the small moments.

To be open to small patches of everyday glory. 

"Snow Cones" on Spruce Branch - Photo by Hamlin Grange
“Snow Cones” on Spruce Branch

Snow on evergreens. The first snow makes the garden beautiful, day and night.

The late sun. Late afternoon sunlight shining on wood floors is magical. And when the late sun hits the wavy glass sidelights in the front door of our old farmhouse, it’s wondrous.

Sunshine on Hardwood

My husband’s truant socks. He has tons of single socks and we spend time searching for their matches.I used to get irritated by this.  Or by newspapers strewn across the breakfast table. (Or his overlooking my small attempts to ‘cheer up’ our house.)

Now, I call them “signs of life”.  And I give thanks for having someone kind, funny and loving to share my everyday life with. (And I try to assemble the newspapers without muttering.)

Freshly washed sheets.  There’s luxury in the smell and feel of freshly washed cotton sheets although they’ve been used and washed many times.

Canadian Wool Blanket

The old wool blanket. “Canadiana”, for sure, it would be worth something, unstained. Do I care about the stain? No.  I love this blanket for its brilliant stripes – and for having survived decades of use.

Blooming Amaryllis. Bought for 6 bucks,  it re-blooms (big red blooms) on long stalks each winter. ‘Nuff said.

Our family’s big mixing bowl.  Many apple pies have been mixed up in that beautiful old bowl.

Blog Photo - Kitchen Pies on Table

My daughter’s dogs.  Sometimes, just the sight of them gladdens my heart. One brownish-black, one white, they’re both tiny dogs with personalities of their own. As I write, they’re stretched out beside me,  fast asleep.

Julius and Dawson Fast Asleep
The Pooches

Slowing down  by choice is great. Being forced to do so is awful.

But in the spirit of lighting a candle and finding my way out of darkness, I’ve been focusing on positives.

And keeping both eyes open for the everyday kind of glory.

**

This post is dedicated to the caring staff at the pain management centre of Toronto Rehabilitation Hospital. One of the techniques they teach their patients is mindfulness.

A Good Home, Family, Family birthdays, Family Moments, Flowers, Gratitude, Relationships, Sisters

FLOWERS FOR MY SISTER

Today is my younger sister’s birthday, and these flowers are for her.

 **

Blog Photo - Flowers for Sister Yellow Lily

I was the older sister, and for most of our lives, the more accomplished. She looked up to me, as I looked up to our older sisters.

Blog Photo - Garden lace 6

But for some time now, I’ve been the one who’s looked up to her.

My little sister has quietly become one of my heroes.

Blog Photo - Flowers for Sister White Daisy

She’s overcome many painful challenges.

Her marriage dissolved.

She went back to school while the children were still young. Went back to earn new qualifications that would pay the bills.

She raised her three sons, mostly on her own. Three beautiful young men.

Today she’s also a loving grandmother of two.

Blog Photo - flowers for Sister Yellows 1My sister’s faith and optimism are a joy to behold.

I’ve leaned on that strong faith in recent years. Hers and my other siblings’.

Through frequent phone calls from the U. S., where she lives, my younger sister has helped keep me afloat during tough times.

Blog Photo - Flowers for Sister - Single MG

She talked to me at times when I couldn’t even hold a conversation.

Over and over, she called. Encouraging. Assuring me that there would be brighter tomorrows.

Blog Photo - Flowers for Sister Yellow primroses

But it’s what she’s done for others that’s moved me most profoundly over these several years. 

She established scholarships — in our parents’ names — for children from poor families in the Jamaican countryside where we once lived. She started with two – twin girls – providing money for their high school fees and other expenses.

Blog Photo - Flowers for Sister Red Bee Balm

Then she asked the rest of us to contribute if and when we could.

Today, those scholarships have helped 8 young people. All of them are bright children from poor families – much poorer than we were.

My sister delights in their progress.

Blog Photo - Last Orange Lily

And she never lets the rest of us forget that through these scholarships, we are changing lives.

Helping others to get an opportunity that changed our own lives.

An education.

Painting by Muriel Mason
Painting by Muriel Mason

Happy birthday, Jackie.

And thank you. 

God bless.

A Good Home, Faith, Family, Family Moments, Farm house, Flowering shrubs, Flowers, Gardening, Gardens, Gratitude, Home, Homes, Inspiration

Flowers, Memories, Diaries

Memory is the diary we all carry about with us, wrote Oscar Wilde.

But for me, diary is memory. Years of memories.

Family, home, garden, daily life.

Diaries played a small role in my overall life, but became a huge part of my post-accident experience. With little sense of time, and often no memory of events just minutes after they happened, I started writing in my journal again.

Little things. Big things. Write it down quickly. 

Blog Photo - Journals

A doctor played a key role.  She told me to record events as they happened, figuring I could share these entries with the  medical professionals I visited.  My memory and speech problems were so bad, she noted, that “No other specialist will take two hours to try to figure out what you are saying. Write.”

Of course, that’s not word-for-word. But I scribbled down her order.

I returned to keeping journals. Some of the entries were so painful, I vowed to never re-read them.

The best? Entries about time with family.

Blog Photo - Rainy Garden with Flowering shrubs

Next best: time in the garden.

I used to keep a journal to track my gardens’ progress. The major triumphs and minor tragedies, the plans carried out and those forgotten.

Now, no longer able to garden, I was reduced to observing.  But observing led to writing and writing led to “remembering”.

The first spring bulbs to bloom.

Blog Photo - Crocus in Spring

The first night-bloomer of the season.

Blog Photo - Nightbloomer1

The first time the fern-leaf peonies – presents from friends Les and Sandra – bloomed.

Blog Photo - Fernleaf Peonies

The hollyhock that bloomed in two colours.

Blog Photo - Daylily yellow

The mysterious flower that showed up one summer.

Blog Photo - Blue forget me not -- closer

Red currants, seeds planted by birds or breeze.

Blog - Red Currants

When your brain doesn’t work efficiently, you misplace things. When you’re in too much pain to move, you can’t go looking for things somewhere else.  So I learned to keep the garden journal on the verandah, and other journals in every room of the house.

Blog Photo - Verandah chairsAn onlooker, seeing me writing on that lovely verandah, might have thought: “What a charmed life.”

But as my mother always said : “Never envy others. No-one knows what troubles they have.” I was – quite literally — writing to save my life.

Looking back, I’m astonished at some of the lovely things that happened. Things to be grateful for. People to be grateful to.

I’m shocked at the development of this garden, as captured in my journals.

Grateful to my husband, for building arbours, dividing plants, maintaining the garden — in addition to everything else that landed on his plate.

Blog Photo - Garden Bridal wreath

Some of what I read evokes real memories. They bring tears, laughter, delight, wonder.

Some of it is not at all familiar. It’s like reading about someone else’s life, but knowing it’s yours.

Interesting, that.

Photos by Hamlin Grange

5 Star Review, A Good Home, Author Cynthia Reyes, Authors, Book Clubs, Book Clubs' Picks, Book lovers, Book Reviews, Books, Family Stories, Gratitude, Great books, Home, Words

WOW! 5 Stars for A Good Home

A Good Home is 5*****Star Rated!

Rave Reviews President's Seal of Approval
A Wonderful Honour for A Good Home

I’m very thankful for this review.

“Cynthia Reyes is one of the most talented writers of our time!  I opened this book and instantly fell in love with her writing.  If you are a V.C. Andrews or Louisa May Alcott die hard fan as I am, you would have thought you were reading from “FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC” or “LITTLE WOMEN.” Vivid all the way through.

I loved EVERYTHING about this book!  So much so, that I had to personally reach out to the author to let her know how GREAT I found her book to be.

So much so, that I immediately sent out an email to my board members letting them know that they needed to run out to get this book right away.

So much so, that I made it my PRESIDENT’S PICK in our Newsletter, dated May 11, 2014 edition.

So much so, that I hope ONE DAY IT IS A BOOK OF THE MONTH selection because good writing such as this, deserves to be read by all.  I sometimes don’t even bother to get into the detail of a book, especially if the writing is AWESOME because I feel letting you know that it is such a great read should be all that really matters.

Kudos, Cynthia, and thank you for one magnificent, extremely enjoyable book read!”

agoodhome_cynthiareyes

Here’s what Nonnie, president of Rave Reviews Book Club, said about why A Good Home is the President’s Pick:

I have personally just finished reading this book and let me tell you…all I can say is “Dear Author, please NEVER stop writing!” Aside from being such a well-written book, I cannot put my finger on the one thing that made it ABSOLUTELY GREAT for me.

No, there were many things about this book that literally caused me to “feel” and want to sit down and just discuss anything with the author.

Everyone knows how much I love and appreciate well-written works of art, this one…should be in a gallery!  That’s how GREAT it was.  I say to EVERYONE who is in hearing range of my words right now, you want to read this book.  Get your copy NOW!!!  I promise you a GREAT READ! Check out my full review of “A GOOD HOME” on Monday, 5/12/14 at NONNIE’S REVIEWS!

~~~~~~~~~

Thank you, Nonnie Jules, for this wonderful review, and for everything you and the Rave Reviews Book Club do. 

N.B. In addition to being president of Rave Reviews Book Club,  Nonnie is an author of books such as Daydream’s Daughter, Nightmare’s Friend, and The Good Mommies Guide to Raising (Almost) Perfect Daughters.  She spends a great deal of time reviewing and supporting other writers through RRBC, a volunteer-led organization consisting of book-lovers: readers, writers, publishers and many others.

Most authors will tell you that what they really want to do is write. The fact that Nonnie and the RRBC board take the time to also review new books and support authors across the globe is a huge gift.

Thank you, Nonnie, and the board of RRBC, for what you do.

Blog Photo - Red Poppy