Evergreen Post: Thinking Out Loud

This is a post of mine from a previous September. I hope you enjoy it!

What is the essence of a life?

A deep thought indeed, but putting aside the belief in the existence of a supreme being for a moment, what is the first notion that question conjures for you?

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Is it the wail of a newborn when she is pushed from the womb, wet and shivering, into a cold world of bright light and jarring noise?

Is it a living being’s will and drive to survive?

Is it the slow and arduous process of becoming what your potential keeps whispering you can be, or the serendipitous ease of slipping into a role you were born to fill?

Is it what we cling to as we grow old, try to recapture, strive to enjoy in every waking moment, as the end draws ever nearer?

Could it simply be the state of being, dreaming, pondering and loving?

Or hating and enduring what the universe has given you?

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Maybe, life is the constant of the everyday.

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It’s the laughter of a stranger on a crowded subway, the silly song that got stuck in your head and you sang in the shower this morning, a face that suddenly smiles in your direction, a warm hug, a lover’s kiss, or a soft place to fall after a long day.

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Perhaps it is the enduring memory of a giant harvest moon, the languid ripple of a pond you sat beside last summer, the smell of warm cinnamon in an apple pie, the taste of licorice, or the sweet sip of ice-cold raspberry Koolaid you loved as a child.

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Some of life is lived between the lines of our subconscious, in the many subtleties of our private, innermost selves.

Life is all of this and much more. It is joy and disappointment, connection and camaraderie, isolation and despair, exquisite pleasure, and acute suffering.

Life is the endurance of the human experience and the divining of purpose.

Life is the continuity of unconditional love.

What do you think  life is all about?
What is your answer to this enduring question?

Original post along with your lovely comments here.

Which Way: Thoughts on a Nature Trail

When you get the chance to enjoy a walk outside, which way* do you go? Do you prefer a stroll through the streets of your community or neighbourhood? Or would you rather a natural, more secluded setting?

If possible, I will always choose a walk in nature. Luckily, there are several trails, as well as plenty of beaches, in my area. I’m an introvert through and through, so my preference makes sense. An extrovert would probably choose a more peopled path so they could enjoy a few chats along the way. And there’s nothing wrong with that either.

Nature walks, where I can take the time to reflect and recharge, are like meditation for me. I don’t need a lot of external (people-y) stimulation to be happy. In fact, too much can feel overwhelming.

With all that is happening in our external world over the last couple of years—the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the political and racial unrest in our own countries—I believe I’ve retreated into introversion even more, as a way to preserve and care for my mental health.

I realize not everyone can choose to do so, depending on their jobs, etc., but if you are an introvert, don’t ever feel guilty for needing and allowing time for yourself. It’s a part of who you are.

“I’m an introvert… I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky.” ~ Audrey Hepburn

“Asking an introvert to open up is as rude as asking an extrovert to shut up.” ~ Unknown

Where do you like to take your walks?

Which way are you leaning on the
Introversion/Extroversion scale?

Do tell!

*Photos taken on May 8, 2022 @ Business Pond Walking Trail, Valleyfield, NL

*Which Way Photo Challenge – Alive and Trekking

A Love Affair with Words*

All around the world, people are playing Wordle. The popular daily word game has become a must for me (at least until a paywall presents itself), as it has for many of my friends, relatives and acquaintances.

Thinking about word games reminded me of a post I wrote ten years ago this month, not long after I started this blog. I spruced it up a little and added a couple of photos:

As far back as I can remember, I have had a penchant for words, especially the written word.  Whether that love was instilled in me by a father who himself had a strong interest in language and books, or because I genetically inherited from him, I do believe he deserves most of the credit.

A familiar scene from my childhood was seeing Dad enjoy a little “light reading” before bed—devouring such tomes as War and Peace and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. On more than one occasion he was known to take an atlas to bed, to study up on the world geographically in relation to the news of the day.

Remembering my father that way always makes me smile. If only I could talk to him more about the books we’ve read. If only we could watch one more episode of Jeopardy together or play one more game of Trivial Pursuit as a family. He would have been eight-eight years old tomorrow (March 21), but we lost him nearly twenty years ago at sixty-nine. I’ve missed him every day of my life since.

I usually read about a book a week, but my passion for words doesn’t stop there. When I think of games, word games have always been my favourite.  Give me a competitive game of Scrabble any day over other board games.  I also delight in solving a difficult crossword puzzle, anagram, cryptogram, or jumble.  And if playing Jeopardy, what is my favourite category?  You guessed it:  Word Origins!

When I think of word origins, one particular book comes fondly to mind, recommended and owned by our father, and now in my possession.  Our Marvelous Native Tongue – The Life and Times of the English Language by Robert Claiborne, is probably the best book ever written about the origins of our language.  Thorough in its examination and encompassing the first intonations of our caveman ancestors to the many dialects of today, I found it hard to put down, even on a second reading.  Particularly notable are the many words we ‘borrowed’, and then kept from other languages, making English a true amalgam, and the rich, colourful and ever-evolving tapestry of words and speech we know today.

“To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the music the words make.”  ~ Truman Capote

Readers and writers:
Do you play Wordle?

What—or who—instilled in you your love of words?
Do tell!

*Most of the above is from an Evergreen Post written in March 2012.

A Seasonal Love Note and an Update*

Happy September, all!

I’m sharing one of my Evergreen Posts today, because much of its content still applies to my life right now. Between berry-picking, bread-making, and gearing up for more writing this fall with a plan to take part in November’s NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month—I expect to be busy. If all goes well, I will complete the first rough draft of my fifth novel (I have two published, two un-published) by November’s end. Thanks for reading!

I know our Atlantic Canadian summers are short and I treasure the warmer days while they’re here, but there is something about this season of change I truly love as well.

Late summer and early fall has a uniquely different quality, where on a sunny day the air lends a crisper, more metallic edge to the natural world. (This love affair hinges on one important caveat: that the northeast wind doesn’t blow too much and turn our world chilly and wet for days on end.)

The outlines of clouds against the steel-blue sky look sharper, heralding the approach of what is to come. Most foliage and grasses are still summery green. I relish them all the more, knowing the colours will soon transition into vibrant shades of red and gold before finally fading to the cool grey and white hues of late autumn and winter.

It is a season of harvest and renewal, a time of new beginnings and the dawning of fresh ideas. The kiddies are back in their classes. Though my own school days and child rearing years are well behind me, I still feel that push of motivation into new plans and goals, to make the transition into a stricter work schedule, to get back to writing more in the coming months. November and NaNoWriMo are still a ways off, but I strive to clear up all loose ends in preparation for – dare I say it without jinxing myself – a 50 thousand-word first draft of a brand-spanking new novel. But hey, I did it before, so why not?

Then there are the berries. Where would this season be without the berries?

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fruits of the first trip

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…and fruits of the second

In two afternoon jaunts, the blueberries are now picked, and it won’t be long before we are in on the barrens again to pick partridgeberries. (In other parts of the world, these lovely bitter, relatives of the cranberry are called lingonberries or cowberries.) I make plenty of the jam for my other half since he likes it on his morning toast all year round, not to mention in the occasional pastry tart with a generous dollop of thick cream.

Especially anticipated, besides an excursion on the barrens, is picking the plump, juicy partridgeberries that grow right here on our land. I checked all around the Point last week and it looks like a bumper crop this year, probably a sign of how plentiful their growth is everywhere else.

My boy and me back in the day

Coinciding with the cool-down in temperature is a return to more bread-baking. There’s nothing like the smell of a fresh batch from the oven to take the chill out of your day.

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

What do you like the most about this time of year?
Relief from the heat? A return to a more orderly schedule?
Getting the children out from underfoot and back in school?
Or are you sad because the summer is nearly spent?
Do tell!

This post was inspired by Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Seasonal.*

A Cat Pic, Southpaws, and an Abundance of Jennifers

Vivian in her “Summer Happy Place”

Happy Sunday, all!

The above photo was taken by my son’s significant other, Jennifer (yes, another Jennifer, but I’ll return to that topic in a bit).

Vivian was enjoying a catnap in our back garden that day. Some days during summer, she crawls into the wild rosebushes in our garden for naps that can last for hours! She hasn’t got the life, I know. Thinking of the photographer reminded me of something I wanted to share.

Photo by Pexels.com

First, about the southpaws: I am a lefthanded person. I was one of those little girls whose grandmother tried to switch her over to righthandedness, whether I was holding a spoon, fork, crayon or pencil. But I was having none of that. No siree bob. Mom finally convinced my Nanny Lambert that it was useless for her to keep trying.

I was the only lefty in my immediate family. My parents, sister, and brother were all righthanded. But then something interesting happened.

I had: 1 GIRL and 1 BOY

My brother had: 1 BOY

My sister had: 1 BOY and 1 GIRL

Three of those boys, our only sons, were born lefthanded! What are the odds on that?

Now, back to the “Jennifers.”

There are three other Jennifers in my extended family. No, none of them were named after me (shucks).

These other Jennifers are the wives/significant others of mine and my siblings’ three sons! All three couples have been together for years. ❤

Funny how life in all its randomness created such a happenstance. Do you have any strange coincidences in your family? Many southpaws? While thinking on that, have another, more closeup look at our Vivian. Thanks again for the great capture, Jenny!

Sunday Snaps: Perspectives on Creativity

Do you agree with this quote?

“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.”
~ Osho

But then, what of the following quote? Can a person who is low in spirit also be in love with life and create anything worthwhile?

“Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Many have theorized that there may be a correlation between sadness and creativity. Great talents such as Van Gogh and Virginia Woolf come to mind. The romantic poets described suffering as a precondition to writing anything of literary merit.

Angst has a creative upside! That said, I believe joy, heartache, or any strong emotion can stimulate creativity, just as one’s mindset can influence the mood of an artistic piece.

To look through the lens of a somber, troubled mind, one may imbue his or her own state of melancholy onto the subject. . .

Black and white image of Anglican church in Newtown, Newfoundland

. . . whereas, if the emotional perspective and attitude is lighthearted or happy, one might frame it in an entirely different light.

Anglican church in Newtown, Newfoundland framed by an outdoor bench in winter

Sadness and happiness are simply two sides of the creative coin.

Sunday Snaps*: Waiting

No matter what may be going on in my life, this time of year has often prevailed as an inherent waiting period and a turning inward. Loving summer and early fall on this beautiful island as much as I do, a huge part of me goes into a hibernation of sorts during the winter months. I look at it as a time to research and gather data, outline or finish new work, read (a lot), and reflect on life while enjoying home and hearth.

Enter 2020! When I wrote this post back in April, we had no idea the coronavirus would still be such a dire issue all these months later. The number of cases continue to rise, even here, in its second wave. Introversion aside—which can make social-distancing more tolerable—just like you, I’m getting tired of the rules, the separations, the lack of normalcy, and yes, the masks. That said, I will continue to toe the line as long as necessary and do my part to try and keep the numbers under control.

This fall has brought something new: my completion of an online course called Indigenous Canada through Coursera, an online education provider. This in turn has inspired a photography course in January. Lifelong learning is turning out to be a blessing in these uncertain times.

And as I wait out the virus—or wait for the expected vaccine to become available—here’s a more recent bright spot: there has been interest shown in my latest manuscript, which you may remember I’ve submitted to a number of publishers. Yay! Hoping for a positive outcome, but of course, that requires even more waiting.

How are you riding out the pandemic? Is it business as usual for you as you work from home, or in health care, or in other essential employment? Are you a retiree, a homemaker, or a homeschooler? Have you taken up any new activities or hobbies to keep you sane? Or has your work, social and/or family life been upended since this began? What do you miss the most?

What are you waiting for?

*Photos taken this past summer on Cape Island beach

Sunday Snaps: Buoys of Summer

In a fishing village like Newtown, you will often see brightly-painted buoys adorning fences, rails and walls, particularly in summer.

While buoys of all types are still used for fishing. . .

. . . many are adapted solely for decoration.

As fall approaches, most of the buoys will be put away until next summer, but some embellish the landscape all year round.

buoysWhen creating the title for this post, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Don Henley song, The Boys of Summer.

“I can tell you my love for you will still be strong
after the boys of summer have gone.”

Of course, if you are from anywhere besides the U.S., my play on words makes sense.
All other English-speaking countries pronounce buoy like “boy”, whereas most Americans pronounce it “boo-ee”. I wonder why.

And if that’s the case, how do Americans pronounce “buoyant” and “buoyancy”?

How do you pronounce buoy?
Do tell!

(And can you tell I’m not
ready for summer to end?)

Sunday Snap: Puzzling

Wolves in Spring

I finished my pandemic puzzle this morning. Now I’m sad because I don’t have another one to start. Although puzzles may be considered a huge time-suck, I love them as a way to unwind. Jigsaw and crossword are my favourites, but like good books, I hate when I reach the end.

Speaking of puzzles, I learned two new words today:

  • Enigmatology: the science of puzzles
  • Cruciverbalist: a person skillful in creating or solving crossword puzzles

“It is one of man’s curious idiosyncrasies to create difficulties for the pleasure of resolving them.” – Joseph de Maistre

My Girl*

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my girl and me
mother’s day weekend 2013

Today, June 14th,

is my girl’s birthday.

Since the first moment I held her

and gazed into her eyes

when I was just eighteen,

she’s been as constant in my life as the stars.

I wonder if she realizes

how much she has enriched my life,

how proud I am of her and

how happy I am to be her mom, because

she is more than a daughter to me.

She is my friend.

  Happy Birthday,

 **  Denise  **

“A daughter is one of the most beautiful gifts this world has to give.” ~ Laurel Atherton

 

*This is one of my evergreen posts, first published here in 2013.