Monday, December 29, 2014

Time In A Tea Cup

TIME STANDS STILL and tea tastes sweeter when sipping from a ceramic cup (handmade by an unknown artist) that was a Christmas gift from my daughter.

The clock still ticks, however, and the journey continues into 2015 with my shiny mug and clean calendar not yet scribbled with new or unfinished business from 2014. The calendar is also a day planner that reiterates the well-worn phrase, "Life is a journey, not a destination." With that in mind, I plan to grab life by the handle, although what life will actually hand me is a mystery.

I am gladly turning the page on the previous year. The good things, always quietly there despite the challenges, were overshadowed by several tragic newsworthy events on a global scale. It is impossible not to anticipate a brighter year and hope that we are transitioning into a kinder, safer world.

Life can seem less fragmented when relaxing with a steaming hot drink. Conflict fills with calm and sometimes we experience the "oceanic existence" Deepak Chopra spoke about in Ageless Body, Timeless Mind when he said, “Reality is an ocean but we take it away in teacups.”

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Song In My HeART

WHO COULD IT BE at this hour, we wondered, as the doorbell frantically rang through the house? Tucked in for the evening, my husband and I cautiously peered out the window to see some ten children of varying ages gathered on our doorstep. When we opened the door, they shyly giggled and asked if we would like to hear a Christmas carol. When we told them we most certainly would, they burst out singing Feliz Navidad (Merry Christmas in Spanish) TWICE to our delight.

I cannot recall carollers coming to our door before. It was a sweet and memorable moment that put a song in our hearts. Since I have no picture of the event, I am posting a saved Christmas card of carollers (above) that a family member handpainted and sent us decades ago.

Whether through voice or other artistic expression, gifts of time and talent are often the most touching and perhaps why "art" is part of the word "heart".

It took a little courage for the children to visit with a musical calling card when they saw our lights on. If I were not in my housecoat and pajamas, I would love to have joined the brave choir as they disappeared into the night.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hooked On "Ethical Addiction"

WHAT IS an antique meat hook doing in a clothing store? It is just one of the eclectic artifacts mingling with the t-shirts in a new apparel store that has just opened up in the neighborhood.

Curious about the huge stuffed teddy bear sitting on an electric motorcycle and ancient Viking helmet showcased on a shelf, I learned that the local owner is not only a collector of unusual things but also incorporated a significant green theme to the family run business.

You can learn more about the company on their facebook page HERE.

Amid a reminder that electric run vehicles are viable, I found home decor, sports accessories and racks of clothing made from bamboo organic cotton. A film about bamboo The Wise Man's Timber shows its many usages HERE.



I like the idea of getting addicted to things that are positive for the planet and consequently ourselves and hope that this business flourishes.

Local businesses need community support and face great challenges with mammoth chain stores around every corner.

Ethical Addiction, with its passion for the natural, I suspect will be left standing years from now.

I thought of the store later when photographing evergreens at nearby Kwomais Point Park that survived a recent wild windstorm. Somewhere in the midst of the towering trees is smaller growth no less worthy of our attention.


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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Glimmers Of Kindness Along The Way

A ONE DAY snowfall last week melted slowly thanks to the chilly weather and lack of rain.

The slush we normally get in southwest BC after flakes fall did not appear, giving nature a chance to form glittery gems with its icy palette.

When the sun peeked through the clouds, pinpoints of light sparkled everywhere.

Sadly, I did not capture the effervescent qualities with my camera ... but I think we are all familiar with that special glow.

"Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own," said Charles Dickens who perhaps found crystallized snow as fascinating as the vibrant petals of summer.

When days get bleak and there is no sparkle, we cheer up the environment by bringing traditionally indoor decorations into the outdoors. Pretty baubles give passersby a lift on gray winter days, even though they are hollow.

There is a dim side to the approaching festive season that highlights materialism and focuses on unrealistically perfect conditions. The world can look contrastingly grim to the depressed or lonely who might have a hard time reaching out and could do with some kindness. The Dalai Lama said, “There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

Kind volunteers from the Hospice Society set up a booth at the local mall. I made a small donation and was given a bird with lovely peacockish patterns. Although it does not glitter, this handpainted gift brought out the sparkle in me.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Scrapbook Of Imperfect Leaves

SOGGY SPINES and skeletal leaves are everywhere in my world. The rainfall and time are slowly shredding the sopping wet autumn foliage above and beneath my feet.

When I was a child, I put the biggest and brightest leaves I could find in a scapebook ... usually for a school project.

Nowadays, my idea of beauty has broadened and I discover wondrous things in the tattered, torn and crumpled.

We are all changing like the leaves. This was me once (center, middle row with the sweater) in a classroom photo.

Confucius said, "Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it."

Subtle patterns and textures eluded me in my youth when I prized perfect leaves and put them, like pinned butterflies, between pages of books.

On Saturday, the autumn phase was replaced by a light fall of wintry flakes.

In the front yard, snow snuggled into the holly tree that is leafy year-round.

Although some varieties of the leaf are prickly, they are also incredibly festive, long-lasting, glossy and green with clusters of bright red berries. If I were a leaf perhaps that is the one I should be.

Too hardy and needle-sharp to be trapped in a scrapbook, the holly leaf with its cluster of berries inspired decor at the mall for the holiday season.

An authentic looking Santa was at the mall. He gave me a wry smile as he kindly dealt with the children. Some were scared and a bit young to appreciate the bearded man who symbolizes a myth with a meaning that never grows old.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Keeping Spirits Half-Bright At Crescent Beach

"Worrying is like praying for something bad to happen," a woman said to her friend. I overheard this snippet of conversation as the pair walked past me down a Crescent Beach road. Variations on those words have drifted into my consciousness throughout the years. Now and then I am reminded that fretting is not helpful … it stresses the worrier and can lead to negative results. Getting encouragement and a little exercise each day are simple things that keep us on a more hopeful track. It is like the sun breaking through the doom of a gloomy thought ... which ironically did happen (above photo) on that same walk.

With brightened spirits, I used leafless tree stems to partially shield my camera lens from the potentially harmful rays of direct sunlight. There is something to be said about worrying just enough to be reasonably cautious.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Little Flag Waving In My World


WITH HALLOWEEN leftover treats still to eat, I was surprised to find all the goblins and pumpkins at the mall had vanished to be replaced by Christmas decorations and, of course, poppies. Remembrance Day is near and it is time for a little flag waving. I hope you enjoy "O Canada", the national anthem of Canada sung a cappella by my daughter and her friends who were in a barbershop quartet several years ago.

The words “we stand on guard for thee” bring to mind two soldiers recently killed on Canadian soil ... one literally standing on guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. This has resulted in a heightened awareness of the dangers the military face … even at home.



Donations to the Royal Canadian Legion are sure to be sky high this year, especially when poppies are being offered by refreshingly polite and brightly smiling youth in uniform.

Fear and fanaticism have a way of intruding on societies yet to eradicate war.

Although seemingly out of reach, perhaps John Lennon's vision "imagine there's no countries ... nothing to kill or die for" will one day be realized and flags from around the globe will wave peacefully in a harmonious world.



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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Darker The Night, The Brighter The Light

EARLY MORNING Wednesday there was a serious windstorm in my world. I did not get a wink of sleep in the dark predawn hours.

Wind chimes played wildly like a dysfunctional symphony let loose by its conductor.

The noisy rattling, whistling and swooshing sounds outside the bedroom walls were intimidating and made it clear that life is unpredictable. I was relieved when calm came with the morning light.

During my walk I saw a house (pictured above), that adds considerable charm to the area, had been hit by a broken tree.

Sadly, it was not only broken branches and some trees that fell. A different storm was brewing across the country in the heart of Canada. I watched it unfold on the news.

Everyone knows by now that in the capital city of Ottawa a dashing young man with a beautiful big smile was shot to death.

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was a soldier proudly guarding the National War Memorial. His whole bright life lay ahead of him when suddenly he was struck down. A picture truly is worth a thousand words when you see an inspired depiction of the tragedy by a cartoonist HERE.

There was no calm but mass confusion after this storm. It left in its wake broken hearts that likely have yet to comprehend the full significance of what happened. Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, killed a few days earlier in Quebec, inadvertently became the symbols of which monuments are made.

Attacks on the Canadian psyche, for whatever motivation, do not weaken but strengthen resolve. Heroes emerge and reassessment and rebuilding takes place on national as well as personal levels after terrible storms.

We have all heard it said, and hope it is true, that the darker the moment the brighter the light that will shine through.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Wandering Roots In My World

THIS HOME tucked into a quiet street was a family's pride and joy until time and disrepair left their marks. The dislodged picket fence once sat alongside the trees. I have seen people, pets and birds enjoying the big front yard during my walks over the years.

The house added character and coziness to the neighborhood where larger structures are being built and families mingle out of sight in private backyards.

I will miss seeing this little house along my way. It will have been demolished by the time I post this piece.

According to current trends in Canada, the owners of the replacement house will primarily view it as an investment and likely live there for no more than five years. We are becoming a transient society taking our roots with us from place to place, increasing the cost of housing with every move.

I wonder. Does that make us more detached and less committed to our communities or are we simply more flexible and less prone to attachment to material things? Is home made of brick, wood and mortar or a state of mind nowadays where memories are stored in a suitcase called Cloud?

To the people who plant their roots deep, to the homeless, to the displaced refugees throughout the world, home is a concept that conjures up extraordinarily powerful feelings, "Home is a name, a word," wrote Charles Dickens in one of his novels, "it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration."

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Never Too Soon For Thanksgiving

I AM GLAD we designated a day on the calendar for being thankful because it is all too easy to forget the good things that come our way the whole year through.

It sounds cliché to say I am thankful for the mystifying awesomeness that abounds in our world but it is true.

Perhaps that is why I, as well as many of you, take pictures. The very fact of having the ability to capture a moment of existence in its many forms is a luxury we can appreciate.

I know there is nothing spectacular about any of the photos I took this holiday weekend. Yet somehow catching glimpses of something beyond the pale gray of an ordinary day gave me a lift.

Focusing on the good stuff is not easy in the face of perpetual manmade turmoil but it could be worth the effort. I think Oprah hit on something when she said, "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough”








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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Monday, October 6, 2014

Wading Into E-Book Waters

WE ARE ALL busy but do you ever feel you could do something different or more with your days?

A little like this sandpiper wading in familiar puddles instead of distant shores, I put off learning how to make an eBook out of a children's story I am fond of that I wrote years ago.

They say it takes five minutes for authors to put their work on Kindle ... any kid can do it. But minutes stretch into hours and hours stretch into days and months when a learning curve and procrastination are at play. I needed to push through the "ugh" hurtle of doing something new and "technical" and instead welcome the challenge. In the process, I realized the piece needed revisions.

Well, I finally did it! Promotion "double-ugh" is now the key and an even greater challenge for me. It is so much easier to expound on the work of others than my own.

I truly baulk at jumping up and down and saying, "Over here! Look at me! Look at me!" Is that a Canadian thing?

This short story includes only two pictures that have nothing to do with birds. The imagination will take wing, however, in what really is an illustrator's dream.

The allegorical tale shows how confidence can build and solutions emerge during scary situations. I wanted the fantasy to be humorous and interestingly enough told for adult readers as well as children to enjoy.

The idea stems from a real-life green sofa I once had that reminded me of a leafy head of lettuce because of its hue and rounded edges. It had a big gap at the back where loose change and other objects disappeared.

The completion of this project has put me closer to another goal. I expect the Penelope Puddle story with its multiple illustrations will be a more formidable formatting challenge for an eBook.

I do feel a little more prepared now that I have gotten my feet wet with Couch and Company. If you have a second, you can check out the book on Amazon HERE.

Postscript to answer a question in the comment section from non-Kindle users: Amazon gave me a link where Kindle Apps for different products, including iPads, can be downloaded for free by opening an Amazon account. I do not have a Kindle or iPad and it all sounds a bit “techie” but the link is HERE.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms