Tag Archives: Comfort

June Days

There is a freshness in the air today. Glowing greens and beautiful bloom where yesterday there were only buds.

Tradescantia

In the early mornings, This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies, we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”

Lamentations 3:21-24 NKJV

Visits with an old friend

My writing here has been to try to share bits of life where comfort and joy touch me deeply. It’s a brief recording of my journey through life aware of beauty and the possibilities of peace.

In some ways I think my earliest readings fostered this search. The beautiful language and illustration of the Childcraft: Poems of Early Childhood, was precious to me. Then came the library with wonderful series describing more of life than my small world held. Eventually, I found Mrs. Tabor’s “Butternut Wisdom” in the Family Circle Magazine.

In a way, I suppose she became an example of wonderfully adapting to country living – if perhaps a bit romanticized.

book

I poured over my 1984 reissue of The Book of Stillmeadow, wishing for her connections and knowledge in my own country living. Perhaps it was she who encouraged my bread making efforts, the gardening, and the canning, preserving, and freezing seasons of life even without all the “amenities” of her old country farmhouse. And certainly without the bevy of Cocker Spaniels who so enriched her life!

My copy is worn from use, the edges stained grey by fire soot. Many years it was only dusted but for the last several, I have walked with Gladys through the months. It is a bit like revisiting old family letters. In February, I again came upon the “Comfort Powders”:

“My great-great-grandfather was a minister in Boston, and among the relics in his little haircloth, brass studded trunk I found this week something which pleases me very, much. I had forgotten about it during the terrible war years, and now it seems a new discovery. It is a small, yellowed box labelled “Comfort Powders.” The fading, flowing script says, “Take one every morning with a generous draught of cheerfulness and thanksgiving. Good for the mind and heart, will promote love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.” Inside are thirty folded papers such as were used for powders by the old family doctors, folded at each end to keep the medicine from spilling. On each folded paper is a message, to be read for the day.

This is a lovely idea, I think, and bears repeating. For starting a new day with a beautiful thought might help us all. Grandfather’s comfort powders were Biblical, naturally.”

Gladys Tabor, The Book of Stillmeadow ©1948, reissued 1984

Gladys goes on to quote “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” From the Gospel of John 14:27

While she penned this book in 1948 reflecting back to WWII, her thoughts so apply today:

“In a world still uneasy, these are good words to hear. And as we hear the daily news, we might feel a world of peace was a most vain illusion. But under the snow, violets sleep, and in the world there is still love, gentleness and goodness.”

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In our world, there is still great war going on and peace seems very far away. Today, I take a few verses to savor and to calm my heart and soul. May I offer you a few good and soothing words?

  • Psalm 94:19: In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.

  • Isaiah 41:10: Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. RS

  • Lamentations 3:22-23:  Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. NKJV

  • Psalm 118:24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

And David’s words, so full of hope and promise:

  • Psalm 23: The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Peace be with you, friend.

If not noted, passages of Scripture are  from the King James Version of the Bible.

Cabin Cozy Time

The long quiet of Christmas spilled over into the New Year. While I normally find January rather invigorating, this year has been different – a long slow cozy. I had a long slow re-reading of last year’s discovery, The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge. One of the features of the country house is the conservatory. I have a small unintended collection of house plants, they could use such luxury!  What they get is some light from the dining room windows. Being real here.

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The pinky stem violet blooms magenta, the pale one, white. The Christmas cactus dropped all its bloom this year – I was using the dining room at night – too much light for bloom. The aloe was beautiful and now is suffering through winter. The amaryllis — who knows! And then there is the pot in the corner of ‘things’ that are ancient and love me in spite of my neglect.

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Yes, I’m a very accidental window gardener. The thing that drives me is Winter. Drab, long, usually cold, winter. So, when I was offered a bulb vase, I said yes. How difficult could it be to buy a bulb and sit it over some water?

At the garden center, I couldn’t decide on color or bulb from the few remaining offerings. Hyacinths are more popular than I knew. I was reluctant to invest in another vase, and surely I could create something useful… so I bought two. I did some research and set my expectations on a shelf in the garage and promptly forgot them. Out of sight… and the fact that in my research I missed some key instructions, something about changing the water…

In spite of my ignorance of their needs, the great desire locked in their heart was to grow ‘at the scent of water’, and so they did. When I saw some foliage, I moved them to my “window garden” which proved a happy place for them to bloom.

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Whether bulb or container, I cannot know, but the growth in the bulb vase was much better than my jar creation.  The leaves remained short  and the blooms rather stem-less but these are minor defects. See for yourself!  IMG_7242

How I wish you could inhale the heady fragrance! Lush and full of the promise of spring, it became my favorite place to linger with tea.

20160113_124706They have about given their all for my happiness. I’ve fallen in love with them and I’m making plans for next winter:

  1. Obtain more vases.
  2. Shop early for pre-chilled bulbs.
  3. Make a plan – 3 weeks till the blooms appear.
  4. On schedule, Set the bulbs in the vases over lukewarm water and plan to change it out about twice a week.
  5. Put the vases in a cool, dark place (garage shelf for me) and monitor the water levels, root and foliage growth.
  6. When the roots are developed and the foliage is growing, move the vases to the “window garden”.
  7. Prepare the space with a cozy chair, pillow, throw and books.
  8. When the day comes for first fragrance, prepare tea* and settle in for deep breathing. Forget to open the books.
  • Personally, I found Chai to be a good companion.

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Yes, I added water to the top of the neck of the vase just after taking the photo.

Memories of molasses and ginger

I come from a Christmas Cookie baking family – on my mother’s side.

I can never remember a year of Mom’s life when there were not crisp, thin, cut out sugar cookies – “plain” and with variations of flavor: coconut, black walnut or anise. It was her mother’s recipe, passed around that large family.

I do remember my Grandmother Amelia with plates of cookies. Hers were thicker and cut with very old fashioned cutters but the lovely taste was the same. One Christmas, her platter included brown cut out cookies. I expected a treat – perhaps chocolate… Oh my. So bitter. So very nasty.

oak leaves

Whenever I find the leaves of the Chestnut oak with their rounded lobes, so like that cookie cutter, I remember those brown leaf-shaped Ginger cookies! A survey of my siblings revealed we all remember them, and we all thought they were terrible!

My husband’s Aunt Dolly once returned from a visit to a cousin’s and brought this ginger cookie recipe to our home for a baking session. I’ve made this recipe for many years now; these cookies are delicious with fruit and I make them year round.

ginger cookie recipe

When I make them, I use Grandma’s® Original Molasses. Their Gingerbread is another favorite with family and guests. One Christmas, my niece made these cute little houses for dessert. Gingerbread houseWe were inspired by some at  King Arthur Flour, another pantry staple for me.

It is fun to have memories of a distant time and place triggered by something as simple as a pile of leaves from the park! I’m sure you have some small memory triggers too.IMG_7048

Making Connections

For me, one of the wonderful things about this time of internet communication is meeting people around the world. I want to mention two lovely Australian ladies whose blogs share creativity and kindness so generously.

Kerryanne English blogs at Shabby Art Boutique. This month she has started her 6th year of Simply Christmas entries. In the first post she introduced her beautiful 2015 Christmas Planner – free to download, which I was happy to do. In the next post, she wrote her thoughts on planning. Christmas Planner   I’ve been a planner, but somehow in the last couple of years, I forgot how essential this ingredient is for relaxed celebration. I find that planning – anticipating – can really add so much joy.

I used to keep wonderful records of menus and cookie baking marathons and gifting. I’m starting again to keep this record of joy sharing. Kerryanne is posting ideas for gifts and décor as well as continuing her Friday link-up parties full of inspiration.

Then, I would like to introduce Jennifer Reynolds – Jenny of ELEFANTZ. Jenny is always so generous in sharing her lovely talent in stitchery. She has also been gathering creative ideas for gift giving from other bloggers and kindly sharing the links.

While embroidery is an old and mostly abandoned interest of mine, I was inspired by her holiday table runner last year to create one of my own with fabrics available here.

design   And, I almost forgot – food – you will find tempting recipes at both sites! Have a look?

October’s passing

IMG_7000 Morning fog and the plaintive cry of the lone goat down by the pond – he’s the white spot down there. I think he mourns loneliness these days. I haven’t seen his buddy for about a year.

IMG_6998We have leaf lawns like old brown/gold shag carpets in every view.

IMG_7003 The deer are almost invisible now except for white tails as they bound across the yard. This one paused for quite a while before slowly going over the hill and down through the sluggish morning traffic.

IMG_7007  And then, all is glorious!

I found another poem by George Copper that speaks of the season. Here are the first two verses:

“Come, little leaves,”

Said the wind one day,

“Come over the meadows

With me, and play;

Put on your dresses

Of red and gold;

Summer is gone,

And the days grow cold.”

Soon as the leaves

Heard the wind’s loud call,

Down they came fluttering,

One and all;

Over the meadows

They danced and flew,

Singing the soft

Little songs they knew.

Since I first encountered Barbara Mahany’s lyrical writing in Slowing Time , I’ve been a visitor to her table. Her current post on the coming darkness of the long nights of winter ends with this thought: to “… wrap ourselves in the whole of the long night’s offering, the invitation to burrow deep inside our souls. and bring on the night candles, the flame, and the blankets.”  She writes of the long winter cozy that I do love with more candles, more soup and stew, more blankets and comforters, more reading and yes, more time outside. In the dark.

I’m moving a jacket up to the kitchen so I’m more agreeable to respond to the drawing to step outside to watch the dawn create silhouettes of my tree friends. Stars and planets visible without the canopy of leaves.

You’re invited out into the wonder! IMG_6993

September

2015-09-09It was long weeks of hot and dry until today. I set myself to finish some tidying  here and there and was surprised to find a turtle. Neither of us could remember the last time we spied one here.IMG_6594Today was a dark day of waiting till the afternoon hours seemed to finally press open the clouds and the bursting drenched the area with close to 3 inches of rain. And as the hours grew dark everyone needed to be vigilant for high water and flash flooding.

August Rain

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I remember learning how important August rain is for the formation of fruit bud wood for the following year. So, if August is dry, I begin to pray for rain for our region. Yesterday, I was delighted to wake to rain.  We had intermittent showers throughout the entire day which at times were so intense as to prompt flash flood warnings. Last evening there were traffic reports of unusual and serious road flooding in the next county requiring rescue operations.  Blessing and danger. And a caramel colored sky at sunset.

My growing up home sat at the top of our hilly street. I loved to sit on the porch during summer storms and watch the lightening etch the western sky. Swathed in a beach towel against any blowing rain and cushioned on our old chaise lounge, I had a wonderful seat for nighttime sky drama.

2015-08-20More August photo exploration, mostly in my own backyard.

Mid-August Adventures Outside

Our phone/internet was down for four days. A gift of quieting the house. I did, however, have adventuring to do. One event even got a sidetrack to the neighborhood where I grew up.

Everything changes, of course. I’m always interested in the revitalization of the old communities of the city.  My parents moved the family to the home I remember about 1950. That street is about at the horizon point in this photo – 2 long blocks. Times beyond counting, I walked down this street, to school, to church, to shop, to catch the streetcar and then the bus. (New water lines and paving in process)

IMG_6407 The tall hedge ends the block in a funny point and a Catalpa tree grows there – it always has. No doubt age and weather have taken their toll but the tree, while severely pruned, still flourishes. Those are countless seed pods hanging down among the heart shaped leaves.

IMG_6404 We would cross the street and continue the walk   down 4 more long blocks before crossing the main street and then uphill one short block to my favorite place. IMG_6409 No, it doesn’t look like much today in its reconstruction, but then, it was a place of wonders. The Public Library. I read that this branch opened in 1920, a gift from Andrew Carnegie, and by 1950 was already too small for the community it served. But, for me, it opened doors to worlds. It was the place where I met so many new friends! The Five Chinese Brothers, Beany Malone, Cherry Ames and so many other characters and their communities of friends.

Oh what a joy when the new library was located just across the street from the Catalpa tree! Only two blocks away and an easy stop on the way home from most anywhere! Don’t let the ugly façade fool you, even more wonders were waiting inside!

In those long ago days, libraries were closed on Sundays and when nothing else was planned, and all the books were read, we could sometimes persuade Dad to take a Sunday afternoon drive. Frequently, it would be in the country side I now call home, but sometimes, it would be through Loch Raven, which you may recognize as one of my very special places.

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The Drive is closed to motorists on weekends these days and there are not many places to stop. One can no longer walk out on the overlook at the edge of the dam and feed the carp who live in the lake, but, it still is my weekday peaceful adventuring place. I am grateful for the blessing of long connection.

I’m ever mindful of the privilege of living in the country and being able to reflect back on nature’s changes on this piece of land we call home as well as being able to roam the back roads of this beautiful state.

These reflect the last few days of adventuring near and farther:

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Ordinary?

It was an ordinary trip to the store when a casual glance at a porch stirred the faintest of memories – play time on a porch under the peasant false sky of blue ceiling.

And so I’ve been thinking of blue, and sky.

sky

Blue can be calm and comforting wrapped in old denim and chambray or soft baby blue blankets. But then, blue is authority in uniforms and robes of royalty. There’s blue in Antarctic ice and blue in flame; feeling blue sadness and the cheery blue sky of sunny days.

Blue touches earth in blossoms  and takes flight in butterflies and birds that make my heart soar heavenward.

blue

The vast sky is an ever changing palette of shade and hue. How many ways we try to describe it! Powder blue, azure, heavenly blue, sky blue, navy, celestial blue, indigo, cobalt, azure, periwinkle, sapphire… The shades are clear or hazy, murky, stormy, threatening, comforting, cold…

Blue wraps my world in beauty.

blue eye grass