A Good Home, Beautiful writing, Nature Writing

Simply Beautiful Writing

Blogger Jeni Rankin wrote: “Now is a time of re-discovering the wonder of  the natural world, remembering all that I had forgotten and seeing things I have never noticed before.”

Some bloggers blow me away with their nature writing. Mind you, it’s writing that would never use terms like ‘blow me away’ — and that’s a good thing! 

Lavinia Ross and Andrea Stephenson write about the seasons — the seasons of the year, of place and life.


Take, for example, this post about August on Andrea’s blog, Harvesting Hecate:

“August is a month of waiting.   Not the desperate waiting of winter, when you can no longer stand the darkness, but the sweet longing for something anticipated to come.  I look at the calendar and am always surprised that the month isn’t yet over. 

“There are days in August that seem poised on the edge of time.  Perfect days, like this one, when the sun is hazy and still low in the sky, giving a blurred luminosity to the light.  A day when the earth seems to be holding its breath.  When I feel myself expand out into the silence and every step is like a sigh.”

A continent away, at Salmon Brook Farms in the US, Lavinia Ross observes each month’s visitors and blessings, even a creature some people fear — the garden spider:

Blog Photo - Lavinia Photo Newsletter August - Spider

“With luck, someday this autumn I may catch her tending her web, freshly festooned with the night’s dew. It has been too hot and dry lately to see these arachnid silk Brigadoons.  Damp, sunlit mornings can sometimes reveal an entire dazzling city of webs, which fades into invisibility in the heat of the day.”

Their writing is multi-layered. In her August post, Andrea writes:

“Lately I have been feeling the speed of the world.  I’m young enough to have used computers for two thirds of my life; old enough to remember when shops closed on Sundays, when letters were written by hand to far-flung penfriends, when, if you needed information, you had no choice but to visit a library.  Lately, the world often seems ‘too much’ and I long to return to what I remember as a slower time.”

And Lavinia says:

“As occurs with most things in life, beauty and goodness come packaged along with assorted trials and tribulations; August was no exception….”

“August brings day after day of heat and drought; temperatures in the 90s and 100s are common, with few interludes of coolness… Dust devils, heat-spawned vortices known by different names around the world and thought to be the spirits of the dead in some cultures, spin lazily across the broad, barren farmlands, carrying the fertile soil of Oregon skyward until the bright blue above is stained with a tan haze.”

Congrats, Lavinia and Andrea. And thank you.


This post is dedicated to the memory of Jeni Rankin, aka The Hopeful Herbalist, who also lifted my days with lyrical poetry, prose and pictures of life at her seaside cottage in Scotland. 


A Good Home, Canadian Women, Wonderful Women

Wonderful Women

I know some wonderful women whose names you’ve likely never heard.

They aren’t famous.  But each has done something special to help others in her community.

Blog Photo -- Mr and Mrs. Claus - Eddie Grant Photo
Photo thanks to Eddie Grant

Raphaelita Walker was the wonderful Mrs. Claus, a role she performed at the Jamaican Canadian Association in Toronto every Christmas for more than 40 years. (Her husband Gifford was Santa Claus.)

The children loved her. Adults loved her. Being Mrs. Claus was just one of Raph’s contributions to her community.

Raph celebrated her 90th birthday in December. She died on Valentine’s Day. 

Thank you, dear Raph, for all you’ve done, for so many.


The other women are members of my church community.

Book Photo At Launch with Jane

Jane Carson, a retired teacher, musician and painter, has attended St. Thomas’ church for decades. She’s done much to help families here and abroad – particularly families with small children. But Jane’s most quiet ongoing ‘ministry’ is sending cards and letters to people who she thinks need to be cheered up. Thank you, Jane.

Blog Photo - Olive Ormiston who knits prayer shawls

Olive Ormiston makes prayer shawls. She’s one of the main knitters at St. Thomas’ Anglican. They create the shawls for those going through a tough time: personal or family illness, bereavement, and other times that test one’s soul. 

Every shawl is blessed by St. Thomas’ Anglican’s priest, Canon Claire Wade. Claire herself is a woman of wisdom and great strength.

Blog Photo - Canon Claire blesses prayer Shawl
Photo by Hamlin Grange

Joanne Schuetzl helps to distribute the shawls. Having survived some scary health challenges herself, Joanne keeps an eye out for others in the community who may need a prayer shawl, and gently approaches them.

Blog Photo - Cynthia and Joanne
Joanne and Cynthia at Wedding

Hooray for these women and other stars in our communities!

A Good Home, Blessings, Memoir-Writing, Writers, Writing, Writing workshops


It’s November, the month when many writers write.

Not me.

I’m not working on the next book, not writing my blog, not even journal-ing every day.


In typical Cynthia fashion, I had a good stretch of days some weeks ago and was so thankful for it, I tried to do too much.

Ignored the warning signs. Committed other rampant acts of mindless-ness.

The bad pain came, then the flu. And throughout it all, the bloody nightmares whenever I slept long enough.

But pushing myself, as my therapist and journals remind me, is how I’ve come this far.

And I’m pushing again.


Twice a week now, I lead very small groups of individuals who are writing their memoirs.

None is a professional or even an experienced writer. But they are bright, interesting, mature people.

Some of their stories are painful to write, I know. But what a joy for me to help them develop as writers.

They’re changing in front of my eyes — and theirs. Blooming.  


At first, I wondered how they’d see me.

It’s obvious I have difficulty walking – sometimes it’s very bad. But I decided to reveal — on the very first day — some of the stuff others don’t immediately see. That I sometimes stutter or speak strangely. That I might struggle to cross-reference or absorb new information and that if voices/sounds come at me from more than one source, it affects me.

Just as well I did.

I’ve come up against my limits repeatedly – and so markedly, twice, that I later went to the washroom and cried.

Then there’s the tiny paycheque.  I earned more money in my early 20’s!

So why am I smiling?

This activity has given me a purpose outside the home. I spend 2 hours, twice a week, with a group of individuals whom I like, respect and marvel at. I can see their progress each week and it delights me. The stories they tell — even the painful ones –are a balm to my soul. 


Blessed am I to have such students.

And blessed am I to have readers who notice when my blogging patterns are ‘off’, and ask why.

Thank you.


A Good Home, Bloggers, Book lovers, Book Reviews, Canadian Authors

Oh… Thank you!

Of course I’m anxious. Wouldn’t you be?

The book I ran away from, repeatedly, is finally published.  And now I wait.

Except, several bloggers have done a lot to make the waiting easier. Some sent me wonderful email reviews as they read An Honest House:  “I’ve reached (this) part now and I’m loving it!” Or: “I stayed awake till 2 in the morning, reading!” And so on.

That’s a new experience for me, and I appreciate it.

Blog Photo - Sally Cronin2

Then,  Sally Cronin, a European blogger who has done much to help authors and other bloggers around the world, kindly highlighted An Honest House.  


And, from Gibraltar, Katherine, the sharp-eyed editor and tough book reviewer  who previewed the book before it went to print, published her review last weekend. Finally, I found out what she thought of the finished product. (I was anxious.)


Am I thankful?

You bet.