Days Of Summer-Going…Going…Gone

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There is a common theme with many bloggers as summer begins to wind down. For those with children returning to school, the end of summer is not based on changes in weather like a sudden crispness in the morning air or the exchange of summer shorts for warm sweaters, but more likely it’s dictated by the posting of bus schedules and shopping for school supplies. Many schools in America have started classes and the rest are not far behind only waiting to begin classes after the Labor Day weekend. Georgia students have been sitting in classrooms for about two weeks now and I can only imagine how difficult it must be for the teachers to manage the energy. Sun and heat still equals summer time to most children and it doesn’t seem fair to send children back inside while the days outside are still so inviting.

With the recent graduation of my only child from Virginia Tech, I no longer gauge my days of summer on any one else’s timetable. Although many of the flowers are beginning to fade here, there are quite a lot still blooming and everywhere you look there is life and color. In Georgia, the blackberries bushes would have closed up shop and ceased production marking the end of summer in a pointed way with only the thorns left behind. Here in Cornwall the blackberries are still fat and juicy with more waiting to ripen before they go for the season. There’s more than enough to freeze a few gallons for winter and make another pie or two, but pie making aside we seem to have missed what makes it feel most like summer.

After years of living in Georgia and suffering through the oppressive summer heat and seasons of drought for the last few years, Cornwall in contrast has had it’s third rainy summer in a row and waking up to another grey day I feel as if in some ways I am still waiting for days of summer to begin. To be fair, this part of the world is a wonderland in rain or with sunshine but occasionally I must admit, I’d be happy to see a bit more of the sun. I’ll leave you with a few summer pictures as we begin slip into fall here and I’ll head out the door to pick a few more blackberries for a last taste of summer before it’s completely past.

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The last three pictures serve as an example of what we do to blackberries around here. Mmmmmmm!

Don’t forget tomorrow is the day for TMAST so please consider writing a post for tomorrow using one of the topic sentences left behind over at the Tell Me A Story Tuesdays site. Send me a link and I’ll post it tomorrow on mine. So far Judy Harper has been the only one to join me in the story writing piece of this online group. Others have left topic sentences and I do appreciate that. It’s more fun for me to use someone else’s sentence so even if you don’t want to write a story for TMAST, please consider leaving a topic sentence here.  It’s practice writing not perfection so let your imagination run wild and see where it takes you.

A Room Of One’s Own – Week 7 – Update

This week John has managed to get quite a bit accomplished on the renovation, but it’s hard to photograph in a way that is as impressive as walls going up or the roof going on. The bathrooms are framed out and have flooring in place. Additionally, the pipes for the showers, sinks, toilets and tubs are in along with the insulation and sub-flooring. He also did a bit of plastering and finished off the new window in the master bedroom and closed in an opening in the master bedroom wall that will be part of my bathroom medicine/storage cabinet. He’ll be putting up plasterboard tomorrow in the master bath and building the wardrobe/closet back into the master bedroom. He’s decided to focus most of his efforts on the master bed and bath so we can get out of the guest room and back into our room. We’ve picked out a new bed and mattress…well actually, I’ve picked them out, but John is so agreeable that as long as it falls within a few parameters, it is pretty much whatever I want.

I have a bit sad news about Brian who you may remember is one of our builders. Last week he fell off a ladder on another job site and broke his left shoulder in three places. He’s had surgery and will be out of work for a while, but he should be all right.

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If  you look closely you can see some of my paint samples taped to a door in the back. I put them up to see how they look in the different light that comes in from the window throughout the day. I’m undecided somewhere between pale greens and buttermilk yellow for my walls. Any suggestions?

Feeling LandLocked

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Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide.  For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. – Zora Neale Hurston


Karen Walrond from Chookooloonks is sharing some interesting insight and technique for her Love Thursday post. If you are feeling a bit landlocked today you might enjoy seeing what she did to make her dreams come true.

Tell Me A Story Tuesdays – Second Thoughts

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“Hurry inside, he’s having second thoughts!”

” Second thoughts”  thought Ella, “he’s having second thoughts,”  hearing those words she felt flash of something somewhere between fear and anger before realizing the vicar was trying to be funny. ” Good grief, what do they teach these people in divinity school? ” she thought to herself.  Ella tried to muster a smile for the vicar who according to tradition had come out to meet the bride before preceding her down the aisle. Back home in America, the minister always waited down at the front near the altar with the groom, usually stepping out from an inside door a few minutes before the bride came into the church. Here everything was different. Not hugely different, but just different enough to keep her slightly off balance.

Nigel was waiting for her inside now and she thought for a minute about how they’d gotten to this day. Six months ago Ella had been cycling through the village stopping at the only pub she seen for miles when Nigel had walked in with his arms full of loaded egg cartons.  She’d watched him as he spoke hearing him say what sounded to her like, ” Yer aright ? ” which she now knew was the regular greeting for folks in these parts. This Cornish way of saying hello was different from her standard, ” Hi, how are you? ” even though it meant about the same thing.

She’d been tucked out of sight or so she thought, as she sat in a corner of the pub drinking a diet lemonade when Nigel began talking with the men near the bar. Tall and thin with a head full of prematurely silver hair reaching past his shoulders, he was wearing an old leather cowboy hat that seemed so much a part of him even then that it looked as if it might as well been permanently attached. Looking more like a musician than a chicken farmer that first time, he’d had a rock and roll air about him despite holding a handful of egg cartons instead of a bass guitar in his grip.

Ella had eavesdropped on the conversation so openly trying to pick out snatches of phrasing that she might understand from the mix of British accents, that after a few minutes Nigel had turned to her and invited her to join them. Staying longer than she anticipated, it was dark before she realized it and the idea of riding her bike the six miles needed to reach her hotel on the dark and tiny lanes made her more anxious than she normally was when riding her bike around the rural countryside. Nigel had offered to give her a ride back to her hotel over near Lanhydrock. Lifting her bike into the back of his truck before opening the door for her to jump into the red cab, she thought how his truck seemed much larger than the vehicles she normally saw driving the hedge lined lanes in Cornwall. Hedges so tall and thick in many places that she was reminded of the scary maze of hedges in Stephen King’s novel, The Shining.  She found the lanes spooky enough late at night in a car and the idea of riding alone on her bike had made it easy to quiet the voices in her head that reminded her that this man was practically a stranger. Ella had been grateful for the offer and after hanging out with Nigel and his friends at what was clearly his local hangout, she felt more like she was accepting a lift from a friend than someone she’d just met a few hours earlier.

By then she’d found herself terribly attracted to him and when he asked if she minded stopping by his place so he could put his chickens in for the night, she said,  “Sure..no problem ” and meant it thinking she wasn’t ready to say goodnight yet or even worse, possibly goodbye. Ella listened as he told her why he needed to tuck his chickens in before it got too late. He explained that his “girls” would not be safe from prowling animals if they were left on their own and that he’d try to be quick, but he needed to check for eggs before locking them in for the evening.  She fallen in love with him that very night listening to him as he talked to his hens, coaxing them into the henhouse and caressing them with his words in a way she’d decided very quickly that she wanted him to do with her.

Ella had no doubts about marrying the local ” Egg man.”  She couldn’t help but smile thinking how the vicar had responded when she’d said she wanted to enter the church to an instrumental version of the Beatles, ” I Am The Walrus.” Born in the late fifties, the vicar had been old enough to remember the lyric, ” I am the egg man,”  on the Beatles nonsensical hit, ” I Am The Walrus” and she let Ella know very quickly and quite firmly that despite wanting to stay open and progressive, the Church of England was not ready to shift so completely down the ” goo goo g’joob ” path.

“Just as well,”  thought Ella touching the small round bulge of a belly that for now, was hidden behind her flowers. They could save the “goo goo g’joob ” for later, she thought…knowing without a doubt that it was too late now for second thoughts.

Whew!  This one was tough for some reason even for practice writing and it took a bit to finish it properly.  Thanks again to Judy Harper for her suggestion that I used for this week’s TMAST. Judy’s link to TMAST and her story can be found on her blog here.  Please take a look at the pictures for next week’s TMAST and offer up suggestions for topic sentences based on the photographs.

A Room Of One’s Own – Week 6 – Update

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I will begin with a picture because that is what today’s post will contain for the most part. As you can see Brian and Bob moved inside after last week. They finished up the outside with a Tyrolean finish and it looks great. The color is slightly brighter, but that’s okay because John wanted to freshen the paint on the rest of the house anyway.

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You can see here where the ceiling is going up along with the scattered bits waiting to be used or carted off.

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Here’s the truck that carried away the skip.

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Brian is plastering over the Artex ceiling that is sadly in all of the rooms. I like it well enough in a few places, but the overall effect tends to make the rooms look smaller and dated. Although this house was built in the 90’s, Artex, the popular finishing method for ceilings in the 70’s has covered the ceilings in all of the rooms until now.

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Bob is making sure the plaster is mixed and ready as Brian needs it. This part has to be done properly or it doesn’t matter how good the person is applying it to the ceiling. They did a really great job covering the Artex and John is pleased every time he looks at the new ceiling.

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Brian and Bob were gracious enough to give me one more photograph before they wrapped things up here for a while.  When they began this project, the back garden looked like this nestled between the back of the house and the garage.

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Brian and Bob will be away working on another project for bit while John frames out the walls and get all the plumbing and electrical pieces in order. Then B & B will be back to put up the plasterboard (or sheet rock) and finish off the walls and ceiling with plaster.  John will do the tile in the bathrooms and put down the hardwood floors throughout the addition and the master bedroom.

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That’s it for this week. Come back next week to check on us. We’ll still be here shuffling around in the dust.

Asking For What You Need – Comment Support

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You probably have noticed I’ve changed things up here at Gifts Of The Journey and I think I’m happy with this new look, but I need a little help from my friends to finish it up the way I want. I’ve made myself half crazy trying to do it myself which is one of my best and worst traits at times… not knowing when to give up and say,  “Help!”  I’ve had no success so I’m reaching out now saying, “Could somebody please send me a little directional support on how best to change the comment area of this template.”

The message that pops up when one tries to leave a comment is extremely off putting to me and not something I would ever say to anyone gracious enough to take the time to leave a thought behind. I appreciate each comment and value the opinions of others so until I get this worked out please ignore the tone of the comment section and thank you as always for your interest in my world and words.

I’ll Say It Again – Deep And Simple


Fred Rogers & Benjamin Wagner (Photo Courtesy Of Benjamin Wagner)

Fred Rogers & Benjamin Wagner (Photo Courtesy Of Benjamin Wagner)

About a year ago I posted Deep And Simple on my first Gifts Of The Journey website. A few things have changed since then, one being that I can no longer find the direct link to the essay published in the original “2DO Before I Die” book, but you can read about how he met Mister Rogers by going to Benjamin Wagner’s blog. After funding the making of this documentary out of their own pockets with an investment of $30,000 dollars so far, Benjamin and his brother Chris Wagner need a little help to finish this worthy project and get it out to a wider audience. I know everyone is hanging on to their money a good bit tighter in this economy, but if you’ll read his story I think you may decide this film has a message we can all benefit from…especially now. Please consider making a donation to get this film completed.

If you’re a blogger reading this, you might include the ” Please Help Mister Rogers & Me “ link or forward this post on to friends to increase awareness. Thanks for taking time to read this and I’ll leave you with a Mister Rogers quote from, ” The World According to Mister Rogers ”

” I hope you’re proud of yourself for all the times you’ve said ” yes,” when all it meant was extra work for you and was seemingly helpful only to someone else.”


Deep And Simple – July 26, 2008

In bookstores everywhere it only takes about half a minute to glance around and see book titles referencing lists of things to do or see before you die. These types of books have been around for quite some time, but a few of us actually had a list long before Oprah and every one else began promoting them. My list dates back to my college days and at 47, I’m only about a third of the way through it. While I’ve crossed off and enjoyed a goodly few of the important ones, at the pace I’m going I may be the oldest person Running with the Bulls in Pamplona in 2041. Maybe number fifty should be something like walking to the mailbox unassisted instead of dodging livestock when I’m old and wrinkly.

Lists can be important though and while I won’t share the complete contents of mine, I’m glad I had an opportunity to read about just one of the things that Benjamin Wagner accomplished on his list. It has made a tremendous difference in my life and I hope you’ll be as positively affected as I was when I read about it a couple of years ago. Reading about Benjamin’s meeting with Mr. Rogers, the gentle creator of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood made me cry then and it still does each time I read it. It’s sweet in the telling, because Benjamin Wagner knows how to reach into your heart and pull out an emotional memory you thought you’d locked away for safekeeping. Deeply feeling, he is able to convey his own fears and vulnerability in a way that makes it feel safe to share your own. Benjamin is an unusual mix of singer songwriter, MTV Executive, and documentary filmmaker. And while I love his newest CD release, it is his work on the documentary, “ Mr Rogers & Me “ that I want you to know about today.

Take a minute to read ‘Meet Mr. Rogers’ and then see if you can shake the message from your thoughts. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself talking with perfect strangers about it and hearing the words, deep and simple cross your lips over and over until it sounds as natural as telling someone your own name.

Benjamin Wagner and his brother Chris have been working on “Mr. Rogers & Me” on their own time and with their own money for the last four years. Both of them lead mega busy lives already without all that goes into creating this film. Take a look at this site and see some of the people they’ve interviewed for it like this great woman and this good man and then start spreading the word. I believe so strongly in this message, that the best things in our lives really are the ones that are deep and simple. And if I may quote Benjamin Wagner regarding the goal of the documentary, “ to afford the viewer the opportunity to reflect not just on a great man, but also on the values he espoused and embodied every day: compassion, kindness, and reflection.”

Just remember there are five words to put you right when life becomes too shallow and complex.

Five words to bring you back to your best self… compassion, kindness, reflection, and say them with me now….deep and simple.