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mandala

Crocheted Mandala

Back before the pandemic struck, when I was still able to go into stores, I came across some beautifully coloured cotton yarn in our neighbourhood yarn shop. Around the same time, I borrowed this crochet pattern book from our local library:

***Mandalas to Crochet, 30 Great Patterns, by Haafner Linssen***

Having been an inveterate crocheter for over fifty years (!), I always have a project on the go. During the current very unsettling and rapidly changing times, I find that creating something can be calming and centering. I chose the “Granny Circle” mandala pattern, based on the good old Granny Square which I love so much.

Here’s a link to my four previous posts on the craft of “Crochet”:

https://joiedusoleil.wordpress.com/?s=crochet

As I’ve written before, crocheting can be quite meditative for me. Gardening comes a close second:)

Mandala: The Sanskrit word for circle.

mandalas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.

—Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)

white anemone

Anemone, rescued from a long-since demolished neighbourhood garden.

Anemone nemorosa–Wood Anemone? OR Anemone blanda–Windflower?

Simply beautiful, whatever you choose to name it!

Joie du Soleil’s blog is focussing on three main themes: Beauty, Positivity, and Simplicity.

***PLEASE NOTE!! These blog posts are not meant to be preachy “sermons”, but are merely my own “musings” about life in general. Whatever works!

The two previous posts were about Beauty and Positivity. With today’s post, I will attempt to write a little about the subject of Simplicity. The times we are all living through during the current worldwide pandemic have made me think about what is really important for people, and for Mother Earth. During our social distancing, and with most of our usual daily activities curtailed, I’ve begun to ask myself, “What is most meaningful to me? What is absolutely necessary?” The answers are simple. The bare basics, for me, are ideally as follows:

***AIR (un-polluted)

***WATER (clean and pure)

***FOOD (mostly plant-based)

***PEOPLE (who care for and about each other)

***SHELTER (small, simple, clean, dry, warm, or cool, as needed)

***A HEALTHY BODY (goes without saying!)

***THE MEANS TO AFFORD FOOD, SHELTER & NECESSITIES (just enough, without greed)

And for an “ideal world“, I would add the following:

***A HEALTHY EARTH AND ITS BIOSPHERE

***RESPECT FOR AND CARE OF ALL LIFE ON EARTH

***MEANINGFUL ACTIVITY WHICH HELPS OTHERS & DOES NOT HARM THE EARTH

***HARM NO LIVING THING (at least harm as little as possible)

***LOVE OF NATURE

***CREATIVITY

***SHARING

***COMPASSION

***AND FINALLY, LOVE!

Maybe I’m an idealistic dreamer, but I’m also realistic, and I think that humans have the ability to adapt to new conditions, and to make some much needed, simple, and positive changes in the way we live with the Earth, and with each other. It looks as though we’ll have to! We “Earthlings” are all in this together! It’s taking a pandemic to show us that.

There is a destiny that makes us brothers; none goes his way alone.

All that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own.

—Edwin Markham, (1852-1940) (from the poem, A Creed–to Mr. David Lubin)

Of course, I would add the word “sisters” to the first line of the above poem.

Here’s one more quotation from Thoreau which might help us all to slow down, and to simplify our lives:

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail.

—Henry David Thoreau (“Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”, in Walden, 1854)

I can’t resist one more:

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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bread

YEAST-FREE BREAD, BAKED YESTERDAY!! Yes, baked by my husband. And does it ever taste great! He even “kneaded” it a little. No bread-making machine for this baker;)

Continuing on with the three themes of this blog: Beauty, Positivity, and Simplicity, this post is focussing on the positive. (The previous post, last month, was on “Beauty”.) World-wide, everyone is facing challenging times right now, to say the least. I’m not even going to name what we’re all going through. There’s more than enough about it in the news, online, and in our day to day lives. I’ve discovered that, for me, it helps to actually focus on the positive, rather than dwelling on the negative. It’s not easy, but it’s worth the effort.

Baking bread is such a positive, creative endeavor, and since we had run out of bread, and our yeast was outdated, the baker had to get inventive. He used beer and baking powder to get the loaf to rise. It worked! This loaf tastes wonderful toasted, with a bit of honey spread on top. Or, you may prefer it with hummus, or avocado!

Being confined to our homes, except for the occasional out-trip for essentials, seems to promote creativity. I’m also noticing a whole lot of spring cleaning that needs to be done! But, that can wait, because the garden is calling, and the sun is shining today.

Here’s a quotation from one of my favourites, Albert Einstein:

I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.

—Albert Einstein

To help fortify us during the current situation, here are a few more positive quotations:

Every sunset brings the promise of a new dawn.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wherefore thou be wise, Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt.

—Alfred, Lord Tennyson

And finally, the following statement from one of the world’s great artists is meaningful to those of us who are not afraid to admit that we are feeling somewhat afraid at present. That’s OK! It actually takes courage to admit to feeling fear in warranted circumstances! That doesn’t stop us from keeping on with our gardening, painting, baking, knitting, writing, offering help to others, and whatever else we may choose to do:

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.

—Georgia O’Keefe

Here’s where our daughter found the “BEER BREAD” recipe:

http://www.shaneandsimple.com

Easy 5-Ingredient Whole Wheat Beer Bread

Shane and Simple offers all plant-based recipes. Delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All works of healing are works of beauty, and all beauty heals.

—Matthew Fox

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CROCUSES, a little patch of them bravely appearing in a pot out by the garage, in the back lane. Aren’t they amazing? Tiny “works of beauty”, in amongst the Sedums and last Autumn’s fallen leaves and twigs. And I didn’t do a thing to make them bloom. Some mysterious energy within these old bulbs just knew it was time to send the flowers out into the world again. Spotting them brought a smile to my face.

With our world in such a state these days, we beleaguered humans need to stop and see whatever beauty still exists all around us. This blog aims to focus on “Beauty, Positivity & Simplicity”. And these crocuses seem to be offering all three of those attributes, don’t you agree? I think we could all use some healing! “All beauty heals”.

 

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SL White Horse 2

White horse being walked at Southlands, in South Vancouver, on a sunny late winter day.

Today’s quotation: “When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.”

—Minnie Aumonier

And, there is always walking outdoors, in the fresh air! Nature heals. These photographs were taken during a walk in Southlands, a neighbourhood in South Vancouver, bordering on the Fraser River’s North Arm.

boathouse

Rhodos

Early-blooming Rhododendrons, (or are they Azaleas?) and Poplar trees.

sign 1

How gratifying that there are still some wild birds and fish left in Vancouver. Amazing, in such a hugely populated city! We all need to protect whatever life remains on this fragile, (but hopefully resilient) Earth.

water in ditch

Water is precious, even in a ditch!

river trail

I grew up by this river, many moons ago! We rode horses here, and played on the banks of the mighty Fraser River, back in the days when children were allowed to roam more freely than they are today. Little did we realize how lucky we were!

Paul walkingMy favourite walking companion. He knows how to saunter along, while I take photographs (I mean, while I “point & shoot”)!

poplars&bluesky

My Mom always told me to “Look up!” while I was walking. She was right. Can you believe the beauty of this incredibly blue sky?

old bridge

Remnants of an old bridge.

Even after walking in certain areas over and over again, I always discover something new, something never before noticed on these walks. Everything changes, while at the same time the place seems familiar in many ways.

Two of my favourite quotations come to mind:

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

—Marcel Proust

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower…

—William Blake

And finally, here’s a great little video about two men who live in New York City, and who both walk every block in that metropolis, discovering new people and new places along the way:

https://video.newyorker.com/watch/why-two-men-are-walking-every-block-in-new-york-city

In case the above link for the Two Men Walking in New York City video doesn’t work for you, here’s the film:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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studio boat

“The Studio Boat”, by Claude Monet, 1876

While sailing on this uncharted sea of “elderhood”, I’ve been gaining a few insights.

Instead of fighting the inevitability of the “aging process”, I’ve decided to accept it. Certainly, there are things we can do to be fit and healthy. However! The fountain of youth has not yet been discovered. I’m learning to admit that time does march on, and takes me with it! Everything changes, including our bodies.

Recently I bumped into an old high school acquaintance whom I hadn’t seen for years, and was saddened to see that she has fallen into the trap of having botox injections on her face. Why is it that, in our youth-oriented society, some elders feel the need to desperately try to look younger, even at the risk of harming themselves? Not only the media, but also the pharmaceutical firms and some doctors are to blame, in my opinion.

On a more positive note, the other day I was gently reminded by a friend of my daughter’s that there is no need to try to turn back the clock. Better to accept the changes, and live in each precious moment, she suggested! Wise young woman.

Being a collector of quotations, I’d like to include a few favourites:

The secret to living well and longer is: eat half, walk double, laugh triple and love without measure.

—Tibetan Proverb

The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.

—Alan Watts

He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the Universe.

—Marcus Aurelius

My life is my message.

Mahatma Gandhi

If you’d like to check out Parts 1, 2 & 3 of “Beautiful Elders: Sailing on an Uncharted Sea”, here are the links:

Beautiful Elders: Sailing on an Uncharted Sea–Part 1

Beautiful Elders: Sailing on an Uncharted Sea–Part 2: “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.”

Beautiful Elders: Sailing on an Uncharted Sea–Part 3: Take Heart!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Snowdrops symbolize rebirth and hope. What a good message for all of us (Beautiful Elders included) on this eve of a new year and a new decade!

If winter comes, can spring be far behind?

—Percy Bysshe Shelley

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Above photo: January 8th, 2019, downtown Vancouver rally

“An immense increase of scale in endeavors to conserve our biosphere is needed to avoid untold suffering due to the climate crisis.”

—the above quotation is from the BioScience Journal, in a report published on November 5th, 2019. See link below for the report:

https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/biz088/5610806#

—This journal is published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, (AIBS). 11,000 (that’s eleven thousand) world scientists have signed this latest report.

—the word “Biosphere” (in above quotation) means:

The regions of the surface, atmosphere, and hydrosphere of the earth (or analogous parts of other planets) occupied by living organisms.”…from the Oxford Dictionary.

and from Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosphere

I took the following photographs during nine rallies/marches/strikes for the climate/actions which friends, family & I took part in during 2019.  The photographs, showing signs, banners and crowds speak for themselves. I’ve selected twenty photos in all, though there are plenty more in my cell phone and camera!  The worldwide Climate Strike, which took place on September 27th, 2019, drew 100,000 (that’s one hundred thousand) people here in Vancouver alone. It was very energizing and heartening to be marching across the Cambie Bridge with so many like-minded fellow citizens, all of us trying to convey our concerns about the climate emergency to “the powers that be”. Serious changes to the way we all live on our beautiful planet have to be made, as quickly as possible. “Old habits die hard” is a saying from the past which fits our current challenging situation here on Earth. But old habits CAN be changed! Taking part in rallies and demonstrations is one way in which we can all take action, however small our individual actions may seem. There is strength in numbers, and these rallies keep getting larger all the time. The message is clear: millions of humans are now awake to the need for changes in the ways we live, in order to lessen carbon emissions and keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, and in order to lessen our footprint on the planet, for the sake of all living things.

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February 22nd…Climate Convergence…No Pipeline Expansion…Extinction Rebellion sign in the foreground

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April 8th…Convention Centre…Senators’ Meeting

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May 3rd…Strike for the Climate…Vancouver Art Gallery

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May 3rd…Strike for the Climate

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May 3rd…Strike for the Climate

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May 22nd…Coast Protectors…Trudeau at the Opus Hotel…

No Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion

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May 22nd…No TMX

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May 22nd…rallies are usually peaceful, but on this day, one rowdy was arrested.

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June 9th…Science World…Wilderness Committee…No Pipeline Expansion

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June 9th…Science World…No TMX

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July 17th…at the CBC building…350.org & Our Time…asking media to report on the climate crisis and demand that political party leaders speak about it during the upcoming federal election campaign in October, (and they did…some of them).

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September 27th…at Vancouver City Hall…worldwide Climate Strike…100,000 people marched in Vancouver!

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September 27th…at Vancouver City Hall…Climate Strike

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September 27th…heading down Cambie Street, towards the bridge and downtown

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September 27th…100,000 strong, Strike for the Climate

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September 27th…Respect Your Mother (Earth)

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September 27th…Climate Strike…we reach downtown

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October 25th…Strike for the Climate…Vancouver Art Gallery…15,000 people,organized by Sustainabiliteens

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October 25th…back at the VAG after the march…Greta Thunberg on the Gallery steps, just to the left of the flag, preparing to speak. Strike for the Climate.

To sum up, the following four quotations are from people I respect:

Any culture that devastates its air and water and soil, and refuses to admit that it’s behaving in an unreasonable way, is pathological and needs to be reinvented.

—Thomas Berry, in conversation with Nancy Ryley, from: The Forsaken Garden, l998

Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Unless you believe the future can be better, it’s unlikely you’ll step up and take responsibility for making it so.

—Noam Chomsky, political activist and philosopher, as quoted in British Country Living magazine, October 2019

The one process now going on that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us.

—Edward O. Wilson, in Biophilia, 1984

We need to get angry and understand what is at stake. And then we need to transform that anger into action and to stand together united and just never give up. We are striking to disrupt the system, to create attention. And I just hope that it will turn out well.

—Greta Thunberg, climate activist, leader and visionary human being! (age: 16) 2019

If you’d like to read my previous blog post about the climate crisis, here’s the link:

https://joiedusoleil.wordpress.com/2019/05/31/the-only-thing-that-matters/

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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