A Family Christmas, A Good Home, Christmas, Christmas in Canada

A PERFECTLY IMPERFECT CHRISTMAS

Tiny Perfect Christmas Tree

The tree’s too small and tends to fall

The angel’s tattered most of all

The lights don’t work, the garlands drop

But in this home it’s Christmas.

 **

Photo by H. Grange

The Christmas gifts aren’t quite wrapped yet

The puppy peed, the floor got wet

(That smell we sniffed was a sure bet)

But in this home, it’s Christmas.

 **

Blog Photo - Winter Garden

The snow outside is fluffy and bright

The turkey’s cooked and it’s done right

The baked ham glistens in candlelight

And in this home, it’s Christmas.

 **

Blog Photo - Christmas Table

This house has seen a hundred years

Of laughter, hopes and even tears

Of festive times and warmth and grace

And joy and peace at Christmas.

 **

We wish you warmth, we wish you love

Peace landing gently as a dove

We wish you rest, we wish you joy

In your good home, this Christmas.

Selfie Ornament
Ornament Selfie

Poem Written by Cynthia Reyes, December 2013.

All photos by Hamlin Grange.

A Good Home, Book Interviews, Book lovers, Book Reviews, Christmas Decorations, Good wishes, Gratitude, Kindness, Laughter, Life Challenges

Incredible You

Readers of this blog and A Good Home have encouraged my family and me through some crazy times this year. 

Blog photo - Winter arrsangement cu 3

You’ve consoled and encouraged me in the domestic arts, including the two times I tried making outdoor Christmas arrangements!  Several readers offered compliments, tips, commiseration, inspiration.

And Arna sent me this photo. 

Blog Photo - Reader Arna's Planter

“I told you I have a planter like yours!” she said.

Yes, Arna, but yours is far more assured. 

**

From last fall to this spring, I had to abandon virtually all my book-related activities and take to my bed.

Some of you decided to help.  You bought my book, and wrote wonderful reviews.

Phil reviewed A Good Home for an American book website last year, then created computer-assisted images promoting the book. 

Book - Philip Young's photo

Blog Photo - Reader Philip's Owl Photo

John G. took my book with him on his annual canoe trip, then wrote a review too.

Book - with bagel and gloves in Johns canoe

**

In Avery, Texas, 90 year old Lou Mathis and his wife Aggie were themselves struggling this September.  Their farm business was suffering because of its name, “Isis”.  (Isis was the ancient Egyptian goddess, but in today’s climate, not a popular name.)

Lou asked on their blog: “WHAT DO YOU THINK? For some reason I refuse to give up the… ISIS FARMS. But would painting the sign OVER IN GREEN……”

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I asked you to reply to Lou and Aggie and many of you did.  Wonderful, caring replies that helped them make their decision. It’s now  called “Aggie’s Farm”.

Photo by Aggie's Farm
Photos by Aggie’s Farm

**

In October, Canada’s national radio network, CBC,  aired my interview with celebrated host Shelagh Rogers.

Blog Photo - Shelagh Rogers and The Next chapter

I’d been nervous about it. But people like John V. wrote to my blog afterwards:

“I heard you speak on the radio about healing and it gave me perspective and hope for my own circumstances. Sincere thanks for sharing.”

Such validation for a book completed in dire times!

**

On crazily painful days, I often forced myself to write poems, making fun of myself and my home life.  Some (like Stiletto Heels) became blog posts, which made you laugh, uplifting me in return.

Image via shopflyjane.com
Image via shopflyjane.com

Andra wrote: “I absolutely howled with laughter reading this. Thanks, Cynthia! Have had similar thoughts watching the young ladies strutting about in high heels and skimpy dresses in inclement weather. And like you, I recall being just as foolish back in the day. Great poem.”

**

Then, without warning this fall, life changed perilously. My husband nearly died.

Titled No Words, my poem expressed the raw agony our family experienced.

In reply, you warmly supported us with prayers, consolation and good wishes.

Incredible kindness, especially because I’ve never met most of you in person.

**

“Thank you” hardly seems enough. But thank you, anyway.

For your kindness.

And for being part of my world.

My best,

Cynthia.

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, Animals, Birds, Country Living, Ducks, Gardens, Gardens and Wildlife, Garlic

Wonders Never Cease

Every so often, I wish I had a well-behaved garden.

The kind where everything does what I want, when I want.

Where flowers don’t stray into lawns and lawns don’t stray into flowerbeds, and the strong wind didn’t break one of the arches on the arbour my dear husband so carefully built.

Blog Photo - Garden Circle

But this I know:

Real gardens offer up surprises each week, each day and sometimes, each hour.

Blog Photo - Hollyhock Mutant

Like flowers blooming in unexpected colours.

Blog Photo - Peony Rust

And interesting visitors.

Like this large bird in the apple tree.

Blog Photo - Bird in tree

And wild rabbits.

Blog Photo - Rabbit cleans self

Cleaning themselves without a care in the world.

Blog Photo - Bird Scratches self

Like this mother duck, with her ducklings.

Blog Photo - Duck Family

She must have squeezed herself under the fence.

Blog Photo - Ant and Moth

This ant, dragging a dead moth many times its size. It took the moth way across the verandah.

Blog Photo - Farmhouse Doorway

This beet, expected to be dark red, is somehow orange.

Blog Photo - Orange Beets

A single squash. It’s from a vine that strayed from our neighbours’ squash plantation.

Blog Photo - Squash on our side of fence

“It’s yours”, he says. The thing will grow to almost half my height. No kidding.

Blog Photo - Squash 2

These onions, because they delight and surprise me each late summer.

Blog Photo - Onions

And the garlic, just because the sight of them when newly harvested always surprises me.

Blog Photo - Garlic 2

The sight of our daughter’s little doggie, coming around the corner at full speed. Well, sort of.

Blog Photo - Doggie Runs

And this shadow “selfie”, which I didn’t know was there till I downloaded it and nearly jumped in surprise.

Blog Photo - Shadow takes photo

Gardens: places of surprise and discovery.

**

Dedicated to all gardeners, everywhere.