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Archive for the ‘Simplicity’ Category

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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Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum) in a container in our back garden. Canary Island Ivy (Hedera Canariensis) leaf peeking through the fern fronds.

I’m more relaxed about gardening than I used to be, and am enjoying letting Mother Nature have her way. She creates beauty at every turn, with little interference from me! Green is her colour of preference, which is obvious to anyone who walks through a forest.

These days, green is my favourite colour in the garden, and elsewhere. Being a cool colour, it provides a sense of calm and peacefulness, similar to the effect of blue. Because green plants appear to be in the background, they add a feeling of spaciousness to garden beds. For me, green represents Nature at its best, and is the colour of life and hopefulness. The following photographs were taken while we were on a walk in Pacific Spirit Park, in July, 2019, on one of the many beautiful trails there. Each photograph shows only native plants, which have grown here on the southwest coast of Canada for many centuries.

IMG_0692salal

Salal (Gaultheria shallon)

***Green is the prime colour of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.

                                                               —Pedro Calderon de la Barca

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Red Huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium)

No white nor red was ever seen

So amorous as this lovely green.

—Andrew Marvell

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Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) trees among the Douglas Firs ((Pseudotsuga menziesii)

This is second-growth forest, re-planted in the early 1900’s, following intensive logging. The original evergreen trees were massive giants, and a few of their trunks are still visible throughout the park. They were mainly Western Red Cedars and Douglas Firs.

It was with awe

That I beheld

Fresh leaves, green leaves

Bright in the sun.

—Basho

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Moss on Douglas Fir bark

***If there is a future, it will be Green.

—Petra Kelly

By “Green”, I think that Petra Kelly means that humanity will be using renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and other clean methods which do not emit carbon, and will thus help to slow down the rate of global warming and climate change.

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Vine Maples and Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) tree.

***A forest is green for a reason.

—Anthony T. Hincks

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Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum) and Salal

***Green is a soothing colour, isn’t it?

—Jack Thorne

Here’s a little song some of you may remember, from Sesame Street:

It’s Not Easy Being Green (Kermit’s Song). Kermit is a frog, of course! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Now that people world-wide are finally waking up to the reality of the planet’s climate crisis, isn’t it time for all of us to start talking together about what is happening, how we feel about it, and what we can do to help Mother Earth? Our planet and the life upon it have many other names, including “the Biosphere”, “the Earth”, “Nature”, “Mother Nature”, “the Web of Life”, “Gaia”, and “the Living Planet”. Does it really matter what we call this incredibly beautiful, fragile, little fragment of the Universe?

THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS is saving and enhancing what remains of life on Earth. For far too long, humans (not all, but many) have used and abused the planet we live on, forgetting that everything is inter-connected, and that every living thing deserves respect. Gratitude, gentleness and awe seem to have disappeared from the manner in which most people live on this Earth which sustains us all. We humans are an integral part of the web of life, and everything we do to other species will in turn affect us.

Greta Thunberg’s talk, in the above video, gets right down to the most important aspects of this overwhelming challenge, this never-before-experienced crisis facing humankind. And not only humankind, but all of life is being swept up in a huge transition, a massive, unstoppable storm of change. It is no longer a question…the climate crisis is human-caused. We may have time to at least help the Earth to recover in some ways.

When you think about this situation, about the now undeniable fact that humans world-wide must change the ways they live on the planet, a sense of despair may set in. The dilemma seems almost insurmountable, too daunting to even begin to deal with. How will we ever recover from our addiction to the use of fossil fuels, which is one of the main causes of climate change? How will we keep fossil fuels in the ground, rather than continuing to recklessly extract and burn them, creating massive carbon emissions, thus rapidly warming the climate?

Well, we won’t solve anything by mindlessly sailing along, blinkers on, business as usual!

We all have to work together: citizens of ALL ages, students, politicians, law-makers, environmentalists, scientists, people in the “corporate world”, activists, educators, volunteers, health-care providers, workers in every area, farmers, etc.! It seems to me that this time of great transition on Earth is happening at an ever-increasing speed, out of necessity, and we have no way of knowing where the changes are taking us. This is where ACCEPTANCE of what we cannot control becomes necessary. But we can all do something, however small, and be involved in creating positive changes.

This is just a little blog, one among millions of others, and I cannot pretend to know the answers to enormous questions. However, getting back to my original goals for the blog, which are to express and share ideas about Beauty, Positivity, and Simplicity, I can at least focus on what I think might help some of us to face the huge challenges, using those three guidelines.

***BEAUTY: look around you, out in the world, and really notice the beauty of nature. Even in the depths of the city, one can look at a leaf, a bird, an insect, a cloud, a tree, a flower, an animal, a human being (!), the life-giving soil, a plant, water, the ocean, a stream or river, and see how beautiful they are. Put away that smart phone, and re-acquaint yourself with the real world!

***POSITIVITY: please don’t despair! We can begin to face our reality by talking with each other, communicating, sharing our ideas and feelings in a truthful way. Let’s be honest about this: we have a problem, we humans and our wonderful planet! And it’s time to talk about it, about “the elephant in the room”! Expressing our concerns can lead to the beginnings of positive changes. Acceptance of reality is a key step in keeping positive. Grieving the losses which we will inevitably face is better than repressing our grief about (for example) the loss of so many species, losses which are currently happening at an alarming rate. (See links below.)

***SIMPLICITY: keep it simple, and take it easy! One step at a time. We can work together. People of all beliefs, all backgrounds, all political stripes, must learn to listen to and respect each other. This does not have to be complicated, even though the problems which we face are complex. People have gone through crises over and over again through the ages, and have learned how to change and adapt. The time has come, in my opinion, to get active, as Greta Thunberg suggests! Individual actions may not solve the problems, but the process of trying to solve them, and of working with each other and WITH “Mother Earth”, is all important. Perhaps we need to SIMPLIFY some of our SYSTEMS, such as how and where we grow our food, for example. And we can SIMPLIFY our lives by cutting back on consumerism. Use less, re-use as much as we can, travel by air less (much less!), drive less (much less!), eat less meat, (the production of “meat” causes carbon emissions, pollutes land and water, and abuses animals), use fewer animal products, use less precious water, do not use toxic products (read the labels), never use pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers, protect the bees and other pollinators, avoid the use of plastics wherever possible, GROW SOME OF YOUR OWN FOOD (even in pots on a balcony), tear up the lawn and plant vegetables, and on it goes!

Here are the titles of three books which are helping me to “TAKE HEART”:

***Intrinsic Hope–Living Courageously in Troubled Times

by Kate Davies, M.A., D.Phil.

***The World-Ending Fire–The Essential Wendell Berry

essays by Wendell Berry

***The Great Work–Our Way Into the Future

by Thomas Berry

During my neighbourhood walk today, as I basked in the leaf-dappled sunshine, watched a foraging crow, admired the gardens, and breathed the fresh air, I realized that it is next to impossible for some people to believe that the climate crisis is actually happening. For various reasons, they are not yet ready to see the writing on the wall. I’ve talked to people who think that some of us are imagining a disaster where there is none, and that Earth has gone through extinctions and huge climatic changes before. This may be true, but never have the changes happened so quickly, and never before have they been totally human-caused, and so devastating to a high percentage of the planet’s other plant, animal and insect species. I have noticed massive changes in my own lifetime, here in the south-western corner of British Columbia. For decades now, it has been obvious to me that many species have already disappeared, that the climate and weather patterns are changing radically, and that the Earth is in trouble. Now, she is finally reacting. Many people are becoming aware that things are out of balance, and that our “systems” must change if life on the planet is to continue to flourish, or even to survive.

Here is a  link to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report to the United Nations, from October, 2018:

Summary for Policymakers of IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C approved by governments

And a link to the recent United Nations report on species extinctions:

https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/nature-decline-unprecedented-report/

Here are two quotations which I find helpful:

***As long as we are here, we have a responsibility to work for the Earth….I don’t think we have the option for despair.

—Vandana Shiva… is an Indian scholar, environmental activist, food sovereignty advocate, and author. (Wikipedia)

***Do the best you can, in the place that you are, and be kind.

—Scott Nearing…was an American radical economist, educator, writer, political activist, pacifist, and advocate of simple living. (Wikipedia)

Another reason to feel at least somewhat hopeful for the future of life on the planet:

https://globalclimatestrike.net/?cmp=newsletter-What+on+Earth%3F+May+30

Adults have been invited to join the youth in the September 20th to 27th Climate Strike, world-wide. I plan to join our city’s Climate Strike, and I hope that thousands, even millions of others will join their demonstrations as well!

****If you would like to Follow my blog, just click on the “FOLLOW” button in the right hand side-bar, or click on the “FOLLOW” button in the bottom right hand corner of your screen. Include your email address, and WordPress will send you a short email telling you each time I publish a blog post. This is usually once a month, or less.**** Thank You! from Val, at JoieduSoleil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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