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!

 

 

 

 

A Good Home, Daughters, Family, Family Moments, Flowers, Following your dreams, Garden, Guitar Playing, Home, Joyful Moments, Learning to play the guitar, Life in canada, Mothers, Pets, play music, Verandahs

A Sweet Sound

Twang, pling. Pling twang.

Pling, twang. Pling, twang.

Pl–ung???

My daughter is learning to play the guitar.

Blog Photo - Playing guitar 1

I knew she was committed when she bought her own guitar less than a week ago.

Next she cut her beautiful fingernails. One by one.

Then she watched a YouTube tutorial and downloaded a guitar chords app.

Pling pling. Twang twang…

Blog Photo - Guitar Playing CU reverse shot

She sings softly, willing her fingers to follow her tune.

Pling, pling, twang twang, twung…. Shi….!

She senses my presence and doesn’t finish that word.

She utters a loud sigh instead, rolls her eyes, shakes her head.

Blog Photo - Guitar playing with sky reflected

I’ve joined her on our farmhouse verandah. The day is crisp, cool, but beautiful. (Can you see the blue sky and evergreen spruce trees reflected on the front of her guitar?)

Birds are singing, her father’s gardening and our daughter’s little dog Mr. J.  stops and listens for a moment to the guitar playing, before running off to bark at yet another squirrel.

Blog Photo - Guitarist plays, Mr J watches

But Daughter is entirely focused on the guitar strings.

Head down, dark hair falling forward and almost covering her face, she returns to a wordless, intense concentration.

Pling, pling… 

She keeps going, singing and strumming, no mistakes this time. Even the flowers in the garden bed nearby seem to be bopping along to the tune.

Blog Photo - Tulips in garden near verandah

I applaud when she finishes.

Blog Photo - Fernleaf Peonies

In her twenties, she’s learning to play a new instrument.

How to hold it.

How to position her left hand, her right hand.

What to do when her fingertips get tender, even sore.

Soak them in cider vinegar,she says.

“Oh!” I’m surprised to learn there’s yet another use for cider vinegar. “The thing’s got as many lives as duct tape.”

“It really works!” she says, smiling. “It helps me to keep going till my fingertips toughen up. Smells awful, but it’s soothing.”

It was the same routine the day before.

Her father, who has his own guitar but hasn’t played it in almost a year, stuck his head out the door, saw her strumming and disappeared inside.

He came back a minute later with his guitar. Soon they were strumming together.

Pling pling, twang twang. Twang twang, pling pling.

Another stray twung (or maybe it was a plung) sneaked in and they started all over again.

Finally, they were playing in tune.

“We’ve got a jam-session happening right here on our verandah,” I thought.

One of life’s sweet moments.

Today, Daughter is practicing again, and — hooray, she plays the song perfectly, again!

Blog Photo - Daughter plays guitar long shot

She’s conquered the tune to this good, simple, 3-chord song for beginners.

Amazing Grace.

And I listen and think, without saying:

How sweet the sound.

A Good Home, Angels, Birds, Books, Chronic pain, Dogs, Garden, Inspiration, Life Challenges, Pets, Photographs, Spiritual, Spring

The Angel

My staircase looked as tall as Mount Everest.  But there was no alternative: I’d have to climb the mountain.

My back and leg were on fire with pain.   As I’d done so many times before, I stood at the bottom of the stairs, summoning the courage.   Then I started climbing —  on hands, feet and knees — and told myself that I was a brave mountaineer.  Sometimes, you just have to lie to yourself and hope yourself believes it.

At the top landing, I sat down. The truth was that I felt exhausted, sorry for myself and not at all brave.   But it was worth the trip upstairs to my office.   An email came from my husband, who’d left for work early that morning.

“Forgot to tell you”,  he wrote.  “I heard a Cardinal singing this morning.  I looked out the kitchen door and saw a female… the male must have been nearby.”

Via vitalxrecognition.wordpress.com/
Via vitalxrecognition.wordpress.com/

I smiled.  I could almost hear the bird singing. Could almost believe that spring had really arrived and winter was really over.

It was mid- afternoon and my daughter’s little dog, Mr. D., woke up and headed downstairs.  It was time for his walk around the garden.

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Hamlin Grange

Together we went  out the door and into the garden, snowflakes swirling around us.

He scampered along and I followed slowly, leaning on my cane.   His fur is white, making him invisible against the snow without his sweater on.  And he’s so small that the low boxwood plants that border the centre garden bed can hide him completely.

At one point I couldn’t see Mr. D. at all, though he was standing just a few feet away, wearing his sweater.  Then I saw a blur of black and white speeding around the boxwood circle.  I smiled.  He slowed down till I caught up.

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Hamlin Grange

When we returned to the front doorway, I saw a small box, with my name on it.

I tore open the cardboard. There was a book inside.

It was Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things.  I’d been wanting to read it.

There was a short note accompanying the book:

“For Cynthia, who notices things ‘close up’ and understands in both visceral and transcendent ways the ‘Signature of All Things’ and can write so beautifully even when she hurts.”

Blog Photo - E Gilbert book

It was from Jacqui, who works at the London Public Library.  How did she know? I wondered.  How did she know that on a day like today, this gift would cheer me up no end?

I smiled. The angel at work again.

Sometimes the angel is a sound: the song of a cardinal on a winter day; the harmony played by the wind chimes on our verandah; the hilariously huge snore that comes from a tiny dog’s body as he snoozes on the floor beside me.

Sometimes she’s a scruffy-looking stranger.  The young man who rushed to open a heavy door for me, his kind smile illuminating his entire face.

Sometimes she’s a friend.  Jacqui, sending me that book.   My husband, telling me that spring is here: the birds are singing.  My sister, showing a keen understanding.

The phone rang.  My sister had asked me – I forget when, exactly – to find out something for her.  I did.  But now she was on the phone, asking for the answer, and I couldn’t remember what it was that I’d found out.  Too much pain, too little sleep, for days and nights on end.  I felt ashamed to tell her that I couldn’t remember.  I tried to speak; instead of words, a disjointed stutter was all I could manage.   For just a moment, I felt as if I might burst into tears.

My sister recognized the warning signs and reacted quickly.

“Don’t worry,” she said. “We’ll talk tomorrow. Just stop everything and rest now.”

Image Via achurchforstarvingartists.wordpress.com/
Via achurchforstarvingartists.wordpress.com/

I imagine that if the angel ever showed up as herself, she’d look like my mother:  soft brown skin, short, silver-grey hair, the picture of serenity.  In the meantime, she takes different forms and sounds, and helps me out when I least expect it.

“How do you manage to project such positive thoughts on your blog when you’re feeling so miserable?” a friend asked me one day.  She’d paid me a surprise visit, and found me struggling to get around.

“When I write on my blog, I try to uplift my readers,” I replied.   “Not sure what it does for them, but it sure makes me feel better!” At that, we’d both shared an understanding laugh and sipped our tea.

Of course, I should also have said:  “Did I ever tell you about the angel?”

Dedicated to Merle, Jane, Joanne — and all the other angels in my life.

 

A Good Home, Daydreams, Dogs, Pets

WHAT ARE THESE DOGS THINKING?

They are two of the sweetest little doggies you ever saw:  Mr. J. on the left and and Mr. D on the right, below. They’re my daughter’s pets and are a joy to be around.

They’re also the best of friends, who do almost everything together. Every so often, they’ll sit at that window for long minutes, staring out at the snow – or so I think.  Whatever they’re looking at, they seem very intent.

Blog Photo - Doggies in windowPhoto by H. Grange

When I go to the same window and look out, I don’t see anything moving. Not squirrels or rabbits or birds or any other creatures. Just trees and shrubs and snow.  Lots of snow.

Unless, of course,  dogs have telescopic vision and are seeing something that I can’t.

So what are our two little doggies staring at so intently?

And what are they thinking?  I know that dogs dream. But do they daydream as well?

And do they have silent conversations?

Mr. J: “Don’t you wish we could go back outside and play in that snow”?

Mr. D: “Not really- will this winter NEVER end?”

Mr. J:  “Isn’t it fun messing with the humans’ minds? Let’s just sit here and keep doing this.”

It’s one of life’s mysteries…..

Here’s to the pets who bring joy to our lives — sometimes when we least expect it.