water.

“Water is life, and clean water means health.” ~Audrey Hepburn~

We are so rich; we have pure, fresh water. As much as we want, a few steps away. Flowing from the taps in the kitchen and bathroom. Pouring freely into our drinking glasses and bathtubs. We don’t have to choose between laundry and a shower; between cooking and gardening.

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In so many parts of the world, people have to trek long distances, collect dirty surface water, suffer illness and even death because they lack this one simple thing. Any day in which we wake up and drink as much clean water as we want, is a good day.

I found this recent, distressing article published by the World Health Organization:

1/3 of world’s people without safe drinking water…

As a world, we’re facing the COVID-19 pandemic. We know it’s highly infectious, but we can so easily protect ourselves, in large part by simply washing our hands. Ok, no problem. Suddenly we’re all lathering up more times in a day than ever before. So we use a little- or a lot- more soap and hand lotion than we’re used to going through. All righty.

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Photo by mrjn Photography on Unsplash

Do we appreciate what a privilege this is? All we have to do is be more mindful of handwashing. The clean water is there, waiting for us to turn the taps. It’s pure and we can run it warm. Meanwhile, billions of people- people just like us- have to face the threat of COVID-19 with little or no access to safe water.

Here’s an even more recent, and equally distressing news article:

Vulnerable countries could see 1 billion COVID cases…

It’s not just ventilators and face masks. It also comes down to water, or a lack thereof. While we do what we can every day to avoid wasting water, and donate a little of our income to help provide water to those most in need of it, let’s make sure we take a moment to really appreciate our next refreshing drink of water.

So blessed,

Leah 

p.s. I use extra water from the kitchen and dining room to water my houseplants. Every little bit helps a little, right?

wild roses.

“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.”

~J.M.Barrie~

…or, in my case, God gave me a camera phone so I can have roses in April.

In December, I have Christmas to cheer my heart. By late April, my soul is really craving green leaves, rosebuds, and fresh little blossoms.

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The snow is pretty well gone, but the ground is still mainly grey and brown where I live. I remind myself that spring has sprung when the days become longer; I try to focus on and celebrate the increasing daylight. This is necessary for me. I’ve learned by sad experience that March and April can find me feeling more than a little low if I wait for mild, greening weather too early in the year for where I now live.

So last summer I went outside by the river and collected these photos of wild roses, to tide me over until our short but sweet rose season is back.

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How pretty are they? And they not only look delicious, but smell so sweet I could drink the scent. It’s something I look forward to all year. I can just breathe in the rose-scented air and feel so refreshed. And I know I’m not alone in this adoration of roses.

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When we lived In England for a few years, there was a huge rose bush outside my kitchen window, in the back garden. The roses it grew were blush-coloured, and abundant. I’ll never forget the simple pleasure of standing at the kitchen sink and looking past the hideous orange and yellow tiles someone had unwisely decorated the backsplash with… to my bountiful bush of blooming beauties through the open window.

So blessed,

Leah 

bicycles.

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.”

~H.G.Wells~

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Freedom. Like being a kid again, just pedalling, going wherever I wish…

Somehow whenever I push off on a bike ride, I just feel a flood of happiness. That feeling of being able to go anywhere, on my own steam. It’s wonderful to me.

Judging by the number of people out riding bicycles on any given day with even half-decent weather, I think it’s safe to say I’m not the only one who feels this way. I suspect there are more of us cycling this spring because of COVID-19 keeping kids out of school, and lots of adults home from work.

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Honestly, that’s part of the beauty of a bicycle; this sweet  sense of independence. Without interpersonal contact (COVID), without a team, a gym, a schedule, or a ball, I can just get out and go for miles. I can go as fast or as slow as I like, start and stop as often as I want to, and it just feels so good.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” 

~Albert Einstein~

By the way, my bike was a birthday gift from my husband several years ago. It’s got to be one of the best presents of all time. How many happy hours has it given me? And I live in hope that it will help me build some muscles on my thighs one of these days. It’s got to- right?

So blessed,

Leah

sourdough.

I first cultivated my rambunctious ‘starter’ culture years ago, and it’s still going strong. I haven’t named it until now, but I think I’ve just hit on the perfect appellation for this happy and healthy little creature; I’ll call it Baby.

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This is hardly an original thought, now that I think about it. My family and friends have teased me about my ‘bread babies’ for a few years. I can see why; both are soft and squishy, smell delightful, and are ever so satisfying to nurture. Both babies and Baby like to be touched and need to stretch, and grow especially well when tucked up in a cozy warm place for frequent naps. Both have within them innate qualities; given the right conditions and enough tender loving care, both turn out more wonderful than the mama or the baker can really take credit for…

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When my children were in high school and my house was full of my little dayhome children, I baked 2 loaves a day. At lunch hour, the house seemed to fill up with teenagers who obligingly devoured homemade sourdough bread, helped heartily by the half dozen cute little people who populated it all day with me. Those were the days…

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Sourdough baking is an addictive behaviour, as many will attest. I once saw a man’s twitter account introduction in which he described himself as a ‘pathological sourdough baker’. I could write an entire blog on the subject; many enthusiasts do. But I’ll stick to an occasional post here and there on the topic of my wild-yeasty friends and their exploits.

Again, this is another sweet and simple thing that enriches my life every day, including now, during the pandemic. It makes me happy; making it, seeing it grow, baking it, eating it, and sharing it.

So blessed,

Leah

 

the mindful kind.

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Rachael Kable ~medium~

The way I found this adorable blogger and podcaster is a little odd; I was playing around with possible blog titles a couple years ago, and when I typed in this one (the mindful kind), it was already taken. Thank goodness Rachael Kable thought of it first; she’s amazing.

Since then, I’ve been avidly listening to her gentle and friendly podcasts; binge-listening at first until I caught up, and now weekly, as she releases them. She offers practical tips, enhanced by her genuine kindness and honest vulnerability. She’s trained in psychology, and she works professionally in this field with her coaching business, but she never comes across as too technical or in any way removed from what it feels like to be the one struggling.

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“Mindfulness can be an attitude, a way of living life by connecting with the now and being open and curious about what there is to experience.”

~Rachael Kable, The Mindful Kind~

I haven’t read her book yet, but I will. Or I may order the audiobook, as her voice is very calming, and I love her Australian accent; she lived in Melbourne before moving back to the countryside where she grew up. In the meantime, I just keep following her on instagram and enjoying her short and sweet podcast episodes.

COVID-19 has added plenty of extra tension to life in this lovely world, and if ever we could use regular doses of sweet, calming wisdom, it’s now. Maybe listening in will help fill you up with this mental and emotional comfort food. Her advice is easy to take because it’s delivered with such empathy and compassion.

If you, my friends, would like to check out the offerings of this caring and clever woman, here are a few links. I hope some of you enjoy these little blessings as much as I do!

The Mindful Kind Podcast

Rachael Kable’s Mindfulness Blog

The Mindful Kind Book

Rachael Kable Instagram

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So blessed,

Leah 

security.

We’ve got it so good. Do we really know how good we’ve got it?

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Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

When I say security, I’m not talking about a security system or security guards. I’m more talking about the comfort we have knowing we’ll be ok for home and food, etc.

Those of us who are so blessed as to be sure of our homes and not worry about feeding ourselves and our families for the coming days are part of a very small minority of people in the world. In the oft-repeated words of Precious Ramotswe, one of my favourite characters in modern literary fiction, written by the brilliant Alexander McCall Smith, (The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency):

“This is a well-known fact.”

Like many other Canadians, and people in most parts of the world, I’ve been unable to go to my work since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Like so many others, I’m healthy, and would be glad to work if only I could. But since my employment is on hold, so (of course) is my income. This is a first for me, and let me tell you; I’m so grateful to live in a place where there is financial assistance available through the government to help us ride this crazy wave.

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Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash

Because of benefits like this, millions of people who would otherwise suffer loss of homes and food insecurity are able to pull themselves and their families through times of economic instability. We can concentrate our pent-up energies on doing our part to keep ourselves and our communities healthy.

So blessed,

Leah 

 

 

 

dutch blitz.

I’m not really one for card games. But this one is definitely an exception.

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Little did I know what good times I was bringing home to my family when I picked this up randomly, shopping one day several years ago. You may wonder why I haven’t gotten rid of this poor old box, and just wrapped the deck of cards in a rubber band. This is why:

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While I appreciate and admire those talented individuals who can ‘do accents’, I am not one of them. But when I read the little ditty on the back of this box, I think I actually sound a bit Dutch. Maybe not, but it’s fun to try. 

It’s simple, even straightforward to understand how to play. The hilarious intensity is because it’s played all at once! No turn-taking. No dull moments in between turns. No mind-wandering. Nope.

Each player gets one of these sets (from the main deck). If you want to play with more than 4 players at a time, there’s an expansion pack you can buy. Personally, my attention is spread to full capacity with four players. One of our adult daughters has A.D.H.D., and playing Dutch Blitz with her is enough to make my head spin. She’s definitely at an advantage in this game!

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The general idea is to make lots of red, blue, yellow, and green stacks of cards in the centre of the table, each stack beginning with a 1 and ending with a 10. There’s a pattern to how and when to use the cards in each players’ hand, and it’s fun.

Don’t take my word for it, though. I’m pretty sure you can order it on Amazon. During this pandemic, a lot of us have extra time at home with our families (or housemates), and this is just one more way to enjoy it.

Here’s the official Dutch Blitz website, which has a video you can watch to see the game played:

 
The craziest, and best memory I have of playing this is from last summer. My husband and I were out car camping with our two adult daughters. It was cold and pouring rain there in the majestic mountains of Banff National Park, so we all squished into the back of our little Subaru Forester to play a few rounds of Dutch Blitz. In all honesty, we didn’t actually fit. Oddly though, we all cheerfully contorted ourselves into pretzels in order to laugh our way through this silly game together. Good times. 
 
So blessed, 
 

Leah

this man of mine.

I love him. Can’t help it; he’s a lovable guy. His name is Kirby, and I’ve been married to him for almost 24 years…

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This is us out for our first bike ride of the season, yesterday. It was his birthday! After he finished his work (at home, thank you COVID-19) we couldn’t wait to get out and cycle for a while in the warm spring sunshine. It was the warmest day of the year so far; so nice for his special day. I say that with a wee tinge of jealousy; on my birthday, just a couple weeks ago, the temperature ranged between about -4 and +5 degrees celsius. But my jealousy is the nice kind; I wouldn’t have the weather on his birthday be any worse. I just wouldn’t have complained if mine had felt a bit more like spring.

So back to our bike ride. Kirby suggested that I ride ahead of him, since I am not especially athletic, and therefore a slow rider. He was nice enough to not put it quite like that when he offered to keep behind me. Being considerate enough to cycle at my pace is a little thing that says a lot about the kind of guy he is.

He also has a great sense of humour; this is one of the first things that attracted me to him back in the day. He’s a talented and innovative teacher, and has a way of connecting really well with older kids and teens that seems like an inborn superpower to me. (I specialize in babies and very small children.) Kirby also has a knack for technology. This is something else I really appreciate; he just laughs when I say that the printer and the remote controls etc behave better when he comes in to help me with them, but I know in my heart that it’s true.

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Again, it’s my intention to make my blessings blog posts as relatable as possible. I do realize I’m the only person who has this strong and sweet husband, but so many of us have people in our lives who love us and are always there- for better or for worse. It’s sometimes easy to get used to these loved ones; almost a form of hedonic adaptation… I’m writing to remind myself, and my dear readers, how good we really have it.

So blessed,

Leah 

Hayley.

Today I’m feeling especially grateful for my nieces; in particular, this one!

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A couple years ago in an airport, as a complete stranger walked by us, she smilingly commented, “Well, that’s not a mother and daughter, is it!” She meant it as an ironic statement of the obvious, but Hayley and I laughed because it’s not the first time she’s been mistaken for my child.

We have a lot more in common than our colouring though. We’re both avid readers, with a special taste for historical fiction. We both enjoy knitting, and cooking, yoga, and family history research. And we’re both nature lovers, so we like taking walks together when we get the chance.

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So blessed,

Leah 

time to paint.

Here’s a sight for sore eyes! My husband is a teacher on his spring break, and the ski hills are all closed (thank you, COVID-19) so he has time to paint some walls in our apartment!

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Why (you may ask) don’t I just do the painting myself? Well, I asked myself that question last year when our family home was on the market and I had some down time while Kirby was out of town. It looks pretty easy, even fun. So I bought some paint, rolled up my sleeves and set up. I cut in with the primer, and then excitedly started rolling it on.

It was a nice thought, but pushing the roller across the wall caused shooting pain through my wrist. It was an old case of tendonitis, flaring up just in time to grind my wall-painting ambitions to a halt. I was disappointed, and pretty frustrated. So much for my I-can-do-anything independent idea.

Imagine my husband’s delight when he arrived home to find that another bedroom needed to be painted asap, because I’d had some free time a couple days ago. Since then I’ve been content to stick to my original part of redecorating; choosing colours.

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white on white a la Laurel Bern

To see more of her beautiful work check out her blog at LaurelHome.

This week we have our sweet and energetic 13-year old niece, Hayley, staying with us. She enthusiastically offered to help Kirby with the painting, and they’re a great team. I’m grateful for their hard work washing, taping, filling holes, sanding, priming, and painting. I’m sure looking forward to having a brighter, lighter feeling in our dining room after today!

As much as none of us would have willingly signed up for so much of life shutting down over the COVID-19 pandemic, we can use the time it’s giving us to catch up on projects like this one. And yes, Kirby; in this case, when I say “we”, I mean “you”.

So blessed,

Leah