My Safe Harbour


Trees (Photo credit: @Doug88888)


No longer in the backyard of my childhood home

My tree lives on only in my memory.

In yesteryear

I would climb into my tree everyday

and sit in its generous crook,

my back leaning against the rough bark of the trunk.

The branches formed a canopy

shadowing the sun

A breeze would rustle the leaves ~

and I would settle in with a book

or just observe the world

whiling away an endless summer afternoon.

I was sad to see one day

when I went to visit the place where my beloved tree once reigned

that it was gone.


the vivid memories remain

of sunlit days sitting in my tree

safe and apart, yet one with the realm ~

English: Venerable tree, Breamore Down This be...

Venerable tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I ruled the world from its safe harbour.


Remembered bliss–is there anything better? Do you have a childhood memory of bliss that stands out?

Published in: on April 18, 2013 at 9:49 am  Comments (53)  
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~ Nourishment for the Soul ~


@home (Photo credit: dgthekneelo)

Where is your home? Not necessarily the place you live right now, but the comfortable place you go to in your mind that says “home”. Home is one of my favourite words—it just feels, well, like… home.

Home is the place where you are most comfortable, where you are most yourself, where you are not on guard. It is the place where you can put up your feet, and really relax.

According to Isabel Huggan, in her book “Belonging” there is “no word for home” in her newly adopted country, France. She said that “For a long time this disconcerted me, and I kept running up against the lack of it as if it were a rock in my path, worse than a pothole, worse than nothing.”

But she found a way around it and used some variations in the French language to express “home” such as “notre foyer” which means “our hearth” or “notre maison”, which most of us who have a passing acquaintance with French know means “our house”.  But most often, she says, she uses the concept of “chez” which she says indicates both the “physical location and the place where family resides, or the notion of a comfortable domestic space.”

Home is where the heart is—a warm, if overused cliché, really is an accurate description. Home can be anywhere, as Isabel Huggan discovered. As a writer she can do what she does “anywhere” and has found herself making a “house home” many times. Of her last move to France she said:

“And so it follows that I shall learn, as I have learned in other places to make this house home. Over time, I shall find out how to grow in and be nourished…”

Do you agree with that definition ~ that home, no matter where it is,  is a place we can grow in and be nourished?

~ Y and Z ~ Or End of Another Challenge ~

T2i - Infinity

T2i – Infinity (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I am afraid I have lost heart with this challenge. If you will remember, about 26 days ago I took on the challenge of writing something every day using the letters of the alphabet. The challenge was at times challenging—some days were good, some days were not. As I come to the end of this, I find myself at Y and Z, with little creative resources left.

Yesterday I wrote a haikuish poem about youth (to coincide with the letter Y) that I felt was a bit misunderstood by some of my readers. The point I was trying to get across was that when we are young we have a voice and it is loud and boisterous and clear, but many times as we reach our middle age of youth, we lose our balance and our voice—we need to be listened to more than we need to be talked to. But it came across incorrectly as a kind of criticism of youth and that is not  at all what I was trying to convey. So with the magic of WordPress, I went to the list of posts and deleted my ~ Y ~ for the day. Oh, that we could so easily delete some of the others things in life.

Z—now that has me stumped. Of course the first word I come up with is Zero, which can be thought of in a negative way as nothing, but just think of six zeros after the number 1 and you have a million—and a million of anything is not nothing. Though I understand that the infinity sign is a lazy eight, I find zero represents something that has no beginning and no end—so I consider it the sister of the infinity sign.  I do not think life begins just the day we are born (or conceived—but this is an argument for our Parliamentarians in Canada) or ends the day we die. I do not know, but if I had my druthers, I would rather believe in the infinity of life. How about you?

So, I have come to the end of this challenge, and am hesitant to take on another. While it did stretch my creativity, I need to snap back, so to speak. My next step: Wake up my muse, as she has been on a long vacation. I  am going to attempt the task of putting together some of my newspaper columns to form what is known in these here parts as a book.  So, while this is not a daily challenge per se  — it should be challenge enough for a while.

Every once in a while if you want to bug me and ask how I am coming along, feel free. As I make progress, I will provide you with an occasional update, and ask you if you think I am going in the right direction. I have always wanted to write a book, and have started several, but the task seems so overwhelming that I think if I bite it off in little chunks it may actually come to fruition.

So tell me what you think? Are you embarking on a challenge soon?


Infinity (Photo credit: bellatujewelry)

Published in: on September 27, 2012 at 1:52 pm  Comments (55)  
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P ~ Is for Pants (as in Ms. Bossy-Pants)

Scrooge stars alongside his grandnephews on Du...

Scrooge stars alongside his grandnephews on DuckTales. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, I know I am stretching this alphabet thing a little here using P for Pants when the real title is Ms. Bossy- Pants–but be kind to me–I have brain cells dying as we speak:

Do you ever buy a book thinking that it is the one that will solve all your life problems? That once you read it, you will have all the knowledge you need to get your ducks in a row? Right now my ducks are scattered hither and thither, and no amount of bribing, cajoling, or organizational tips have enticed them into a nice neat row. I am thinking that Huey, Dewey and Louie have minds of their own and getting in line or standing in a row is not something they are ready to be charmed into.

Many times I will justify buying a book because I think I will write about the topic it is so convincingly putting forth. Sometimes I make a mistake and the book does not deserve space in my bookshelf. But we all have to live with bad choices.  Case in point: a book I picked up about a year ago said in its blurb that it would find order in my life. It lured me in hook, line and sinker.  Its cover was orange (my favourite fall colour), the font of the title alluring, and its promise to shed my life of disorder, turmoil, mayhem and madness (okay I am exaggerating slightly here) was more than I could bear. I just had to have this book.

But, I do not like the book—it is just a bit too bossy. And while a lot of what it says is right, I don’t care. I do not want to follow its dictates, as smart and practical as they are. And that is what I think is wrong with the book. It has no sense of humour. If I am going to be convinced to be more organized and to give up my most prized possessions while doing it, I need to do it with a smile on my face, and not by taking my marching orders from someone who knows better. If I am going to listen to someone I want them to convince me that it is my idea to clean out my closet, or throw away those clothes from high school, or give up my collection of Mad magazines. I do not want them to tell me.


Bossy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The magic bullet here is the way that one goes about being bossy. You can be bossy without really being bossy and get your point across. The book (that I am not naming on purpose as I do not want the author and her “people” to find me and make me dust and vacuüm as punishment for not appreciating their book) is just too sensible. Even when it is trying to give you advice on enjoying life—it demands that you enjoy life rather than suggesting it—like it is our duty and obligation to enjoy life, and not a pleasure.

Overall, the book is not a pleasure to read. It reads like a textbook in a subject you had to take at school, rather than something you elected to take. The author did not come across as friendly, but authoritative. Even messages that were not a difficult pill to take, were left wanting as they seemed joyless.

Books that want you to change your behaviour in some way need to be friendly. The author needs to have a rapport with the reader, and tell them that they understand the problem, or that they had the problem too, but found a solution. And the most important thing is to not make your readers feel stupid. This book makes you feel stupid—like you should be ashamed of the fact that you kept artifacts from the lovely times in your life as memories. Purging your life of all things that memories are made of is not a message I take to easily.

I guess I am disappointed that I spent hard-earned cash on something that was not at all what I thought it was going to be. The philosophy on the front cover is one I want to embrace (loosely it touts “less is more”) but not the way the author wants me to embrace it.

Soft sell works best on me, and this book was no soft sell. It was a “my way or the highway” kind of book. So to the highway this book will go.

(And no, there is no prize for the person who finds the most clichés in this blog. Actually there is–you can have my book.)

I'm Bossy

I’m Bossy (Photo credit: F.Lady)

Published in: on September 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm  Comments (35)  
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Vacation in the Pages

Time is the greatest and most valuable commodity of our century, yet we have lost the moment to pause and to marvel.”

– Jo  Denbury

I went on a little vacation last night. It involved no packing or planning, budget or travel to any place other than the comfort of a chair in a corner in my own living room.  Yet the moments spent enjoying a number of books harbouring fantasy getaways was time well spent, and as relaxing as any vacation. One could argue it was even more relaxing as it took little effort.
Jo Denbury was the author of one such book called “haven and hideaways”. She, along with photographer Chris Tubbs took me on a journey from sailing barges and  summer houses, to tree houses and the mountains, gardens and a whitewashed beach hut. 
The introduction to the book features a full page with two simple white Adirondack chairs in a setting of green: green lawn, green trees, and green foliage. If you look closely, you see a small cabin set among the trees—a true picture of tranquility. Denbury believes we do not have enough tranquility in our lives. She says that  “it is the very high tech jungle we have created for ourselves that prevents us finding the answers.”  She believes we are “born explorers and questers after the unknown” but we spend a lot of time “pacing the perimeter of life searching for the answers.”

Many of the hideaways featured in the book, are those of people, she says, who need “solitude, escape, contrast, quiet, emptiness; to be closer to the earth, the weather and the sky, and to feel time.” To feel time—such a poetic term, but one that is much needed. Vacation getaways, the best ones, are those where we feel time—and don’t have it regimented and restricted by out of control schedules. My summer this year is based on schedules—it is a busy time of year for the members of my family, who are all working long hours with very few days off. There is no time in our schedules right now for a vacation, so we must reach for little vacations of the mind, until we can take some time for a physical getaway. Denbury believes that in the future we will no longer be subject to what she calls “wage slavery” when we realize “its futility and the importance of balance in our lives and in our homes.” Not all of us are free of “wage slavery” at times in our lives, yet we can still pause and marvel though caught up in the hurly burly of the everyday.
Paging through her book quiets the mind, giving it something to land on that does not entail busyness. Vignettes of canoes docked willy nilly, picnic tables in overgrown groves, faded wood furniture coupled with more modern and architecturally defined cottages expands the possibilities. We can vacation wherever we want—in a rustic and primal way with barely running water and only a tiny corner of a kitchen, or in a more refined way with plush furnishings and all the comforts of home without having to diligently manage time.

And that is really what a vacation is all about. Unmanaged time. Time to realize the rituals of life. Denbury defines her rituals as making fires, growing vegetables, bathing outdoors, and being able to see the stars. We all have our own self-defined rituals—and it is on vacation (whether real or in our mind) that we can realize these rituals, and perhaps incorporate some of them into our workaday lives.

Some of the other books I vacationed with last night (all are from the library) were “Waterside Cottages” by Barbara Jacksier,  photographed by Dan Mayers.  In these books the photographer is as important as the author in making dreams come true. Jacksier talks about what draws us to land’s end—the edge of the water so intrinsically. Humans never tire of the “pleasures of hearing the rhythm of waves or watching the sunset over the water”. In looking through these books and the various forms of housing our vacations, I am always drawn to white palettes—so fresh, so summery, so my idea of a vacation place.
“Coastal Living beach house style”  edited by Katherine Cobbs is a feast for the arm chair vacationer. It is a beautiful “how-to” book of design choices for do-it-yourselfers.  “Getaways” by Chris Casson Madden, offers “retreats for all seasons”. Madden defines retreat as  “a special place that offers a sense of sanctuary”. ( Pages 184 – 191 in this book would be my “died and gone to heaven” retreat—it is called “literary meditations”).

I can think of a no better vacation then one among a myriad of bookshelves, or as I experienced last night, within the pages of the books themselves.

Published in: on September 19, 2011 at 2:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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