A Journal about a Journey to England

a fine romance

This time next week I will be on my way from California to London. I’ll be on a three week vacation, traveling with a tour group around England, Scotland, and Wales. To say I am excited about this trip is an understatement!!

Ever since I was a young girl, I have dreamed about visiting the English countryside. I have always been an avid reader, and it seems that a good percentage of the novels I’ve read over my lifetime have taken place somewhere in the UK. Some of the descriptions were so vivid, I really felt I was there. Of course, I have seen pictures and plenty of momentos from there too. After all, isn’t Great Britain the mother country?  😉

In preparation for the upcoming trip, one of the books I have been reading is by Susan Branch called “A Fine Romance…Falling in Love with the English Countryside.” And wow….this is a book that makes me feel as though I am on her own journey to England right beside her.

Susan is a popular watercolorist, author, and designer. She has a way with words that makes you feel as if you are her best friend and she is writing directly to you. “A Fine Romance” is Susan’s love letter to England. She and her long-time partner Joe, traveled the English countryside, staying in B&B’s, and visiting the most beautiful and romantic places you can imagine.

The book is her journal and is filled with quotes, photographs, and illustrations. It is also hand-written in her own script…no it is not type-faced. She includes some background material on the places she visited and describes what she sees in a very endearing way.

Even if you never had a desire to visit England, I think you would after reading this book. Page after page is filled with delights, including her own love story about Joe.

If you will be traveling to England, I highly recommend this book. Even if you are not planning a trip there, you will enjoy this book if you are partial to cottages, gardens, quaint settings and cooking.

So go get a cup of tea, put your feet up, grab the book and start reading.

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The Hummingbird

Humingbird

The next door neighbors have a dead tree in their backyard. When I look out the bedroom window, there is that dead tree right there, so close I could almost touch it.

When we first moved here several months ago, I would see that tree and hope that the day would come when they would remove it. What an eyesore.

But now that we have lived here for awhile, I’m glad for the tree. It is a roosting place for birds. There are often birds perched there and I enjoy watching them when I am in the bedroom and glancing out the window.

We get a variety of birds sitting there. Mostly I see house finches. I had to look in my bird book to identify the phoebe. I’ve seen pine siskins and of course, sparrows.

But my favorite is the hummingbird. The first time I saw it land there, I was thrilled! I had never seen a hummingbird that wasn’t in flight, and they fly so quickly that you can’t really get a good look at them.

The dead tree seems to be a favorite place for this particular hummingbird. He (or she) never stays for too long at a time, but it is fascinating to me that it always lands on the very same little dead branch, facing the same direction. So I figure it must be the same bird coming back over and over.

I’m glad it has a place to rest and perhaps view the area before deciding where to fly to next to search for some sweet nectar.

Ink and Paper

 

 

Ink and Paper

One of the most delightful discoveries I have made in recent years is journaling. I am not talking about electronic writing, but actually sitting down with a notebook and a special pen and writing. For some reason, the task is so much more pleasant when you have a writing instrument that you just love to hold. For me that has been a fountain pen.

I never had a fountain pen before. I never had an interest in one either. Why would I want to be bothered with a pen that would dry up or leak ink on my fingers and paper? Nope, not for me.

A couple of years ago we decided to take a European river cruise. And I decided I wanted to journal along the trip And I wanted to write in a leisurely manner in keeping with the idea sailing down a river. I bought a very nice leather bound, gilded edge notebook. And then I decided I wanted a special pen. For some reason, I decided to look at fountain pens.

I did some research and found that nowadays you can get cartridges for those pens. No more messy ink bottles and trying to suck that ink up into the pen. I was encouraged and ordered a fairly inexpensive one from Amazon that was highly rated.

What a different experience from writing with a ballpoint or gel pen! There is something so unique about actually seeing the ink flow from the pen onto the paper. And the slightly scratchy sound that the pen makes as you write is just so satisfying.

Ever since that trip, I have been journaling. Sometimes I will go for a few weeks without writing, other times I write every day. I’ve recently been writing quite a bit and find it is a good way to sort out thoughts and think about some of the bigger questions in life.

My everyday notebook is a Moleskine and my pen is made by Lamy. I wonder how many others still find satisfaction in writing in this manner.

I would love to know what your notebook and pen of choice are.

Happy journaling!

The perfect house guest

HouseGuestImage1-4in

Last month we had some out-of-state relatives come for a 10 day visit. We live in a high tourist area, so it is understandable that people would want to come here for vacation.

We enjoy having company. And we enjoy showing off our beautiful area. But being retired now, we live in a smaller home and are on a fixed income. The smaller home doesn’t have a guest bedroom, so our company had to sleep on an air mattress.  They didn’t complain and I was thankful for that.

We tried to think of interesting places to take them. But because they didn’t have much money to spend and we couldn’t afford to pay for their expenses at the normal tourist places…it somewhat limited our ability to show them around. They didn’t have a rental car so we had to take them everywhere. They didn’t have a list of things they wanted to do, so we had to come up with economical ideas.

It was all rather awkward and I longed for a bit of privacy at times. But there they were…always ready for us to come up with the day’s activities.

While they were here, I was thinking about what would be the perfect house guest. I guess it would be someone who has an easy-going, upbeat personality. It would be nice if they had an itinerary of places they would like to go and even make arrangements to go to some of those places on their own. If they had a rental car, they could go out and explore on their own. Wouldn’t it be nice to have them come back in the evening and share their adventures? We could sit and talk about what they saw.

I’m not complaining. Our house guests were far from perfect. But it was still nice to have the visit.

But next time I’m a house guest, I’m going to try to remember what a perfect house guest would look like.

In the meantime, I probably should be considering what a perfect host/hostess looks like too!

Fighting fair

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Ephesians 4:29

I’ve never encountered conflict and anger such as I have over the past few days. And I realize that I have no idea how to fight or spar. I find myself lashing out and using whatever words come to mind. Hurtful, spiteful words that I don’t even mean.

It never occurred to me that there are such things as ground rules in conflicts and arguments. But of course it makes sense. There should be. I’ve just never considered that before until this morning.

Fighting fair is the only way to handle conflict in a relationship. Otherwise, that relationship or friendship or business partnership is going to suffer irreparable damage.

Flinging words that hurt does not accomplish anything toward resolution. If you value the relationship and want to preserve it, it is important to keep words in check. Once spoken, they cannot be taken back.

Face the issues. Talk about how you feel. Don’t bring up a litany of past mistakes. Wear a mouth guard.

You’ll never reconcile differences if you are both on the defensive. Learn to attack issues and not each other. Placing blame will just push you away from each other.

Instead, try to own your feelings and express them without letting them take over. Your feelings are valid. They are yours and no one can dispute them.

The focus is to fight fair so as to come to a quick resolution while keeping the relationship strong.

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”  Carl W. Buechner

It takes courage to love

I am reading a book called “One Month to Live” by Kerry and Chris Shook. The idea is to read a chapter a day in a life-changing month. I’m on day 11 and so far some of the chapters have been good, others just so-so.

Chapter 11 was one of the good ones. It is about overcoming obstacles in relationships. Because this topic is close to my heart at this particular time, I found this chapter had some very profound sentences and it made me REALLY stop and think.

It takes courage to love. Normally, I would read over that without giving it much thought. Today I read it slowly and the words really sank in.

Courage to love? Yes! Courage? Yes!!!

I looked up the word courage. The dictionary says courage is the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous. Why would love be difficult or dangerous? Because you don’t know what the other person is really thinking or feeling. So you have to be willing to take a risk. You have to let yourself be vulnerable. You cannot hold back, for if you do, the love will be lost.

You have to love passionately, without abandon. There’s another powerful term…without abandon. It means that you are going to go for something no matter what the cost and regardless of the obstacles.

Yes, it takes courage to love. Relationships are not for wimps.

Relationships are full of miscommunications and misinterpretations, and misconceptions. No matter how well you communicate with each other, these things are bound to happen. We are all human and these are things that happen to humans. All of us, every one. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. The best relationships are built on forgiveness, because all relationships involve imperfect people who make mistakes.

We have to learn how to compromise and discover creative solutions that meet the needs of both people in the relationship. We have to value the other person enough to seek to really understand them. If we don’t, the relationship could be forever abandoned on a mountain of mistakes and misunderstandings.

The essential for a strong relationship is found in those small loving actions, all the seemingly insignificant things that can mean so much to someone else. When you are inconsistent, telling others how important they are but never following through with loving actions, then the relationship will falter. The clarity and security your loving actions bring to the people around you can’t be underestimated.

How do you communicate your commitment to those you love? Psychologists say that most of us tend to favor one method over the other – we say how we feel but may not show it as much, or we show it consistently, and assume our actions speak for us. I think it is important to discover which way we communicate, understand how our partner communicates, and then practice the other style for a time for extra measure and to show the commitment is strong.

Yes, it takes courage to love. Not to mention hard work.

Living in a 55+ Community

When we decided to downsize and return to California, we had hoped to purchase a single family home when the housing market took a brief dip. But the dip didn’t last long enough and by time we were ready to make the move prices had already begun to escalate.

We searched out some of the houses on the multiple listing sheet we acquired from a broker. We drove around and looked at the exterior of numerous houses. And we quickly discovered that the houses we could (barely) afford, were not houses we wanted to live in.

So….on to Plan B. Plan B was to look at manufactured housing options in 55+ mobile home communities. In my mind there has always been some kind of negative stigma about living in this kind of community, but in the city where we wanted to live, the mobile home parks were quite nice…clean, quiet, and well maintained.

We settled on a nice park that had an empty lot and only 3 miles from the beach. Perfect! We took a tour of the plant where they manufacture the homes and we were sold. These homes are built better than stick built homes and we could even get home that resembled a Craftsman-style house. What could be better?

It took much longer than expected to work out all the details on the home and for it to be built. But the day finally came when our new home arrived to our lot. It came in two parts and had to be put together. It caused quite a stir in the community here, with lots of onlookers watching as it was delivered and set into place. I guess there’s not a lot of excitement around here, so watching the home being delivered was cause for celebration!

Now that we are finally living in our new home, I have to say that for the most part I love it. Our previous home in Pennsylvania was a 4 bedroom colonial with a full basement on .75 acres. We now have a three bedroom home that is all on one floor. There is no yard to speak of. The main regret for me is that there is no garage, but only a driveway wide enough for a single car. So we have to park the cars one behind the other and that means a lot of juggling the cars back and forth.

Overall, yes its nice here and its very quiet. I think some of the more elderly folks who live here are very set in their ways. We haven’t met too many of them yet. They have a tendency to stay inside their homes.

We went to a couple of holiday dinners in the clubhouse. We discovered that most of the folks are rather cliquish and don’t seem to be too welcoming to new faces. So we may forgo any more of those social events unless we know some of our more friendly neighbors are going to be attending too.

Overall, I would recommend living in this type of community if you want to downsize and simplify. But unlike living in a single family home, there are lots of rules to follow and it is very high density. There are plenty of friendly folks around, but you have to be assertive to find them and get involved. Otherwise, it could be a lonely place.