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Late November

The rusty gold of leaves and rushing winds

Majestic clouds race in the brilliant blue.

Late November. Still sparkling, but

The winter will erase the colors.

The human nature –

It wants to hold, to keep, stick tight,

To grab, to hug and have it safe

And never say good-bye or part.

Yet, by design it all is

Loosing, letting go, releasing,

Forgetting, giving up and separating,

And making space.

Late November. I’m picking up one leaf.

All glory of the fading colors in just one maple leaf.

I place it in a book. I am so human.

I know I can’t, but I am trying to preserve the beauty.

My Life School blog was never only about gardening, green living and growing our own food. I actually started it to publish my writing, life philosophy and stories about surviving aging in a great way, for instance, never gaining extra weight, maintaining bright and good memory and doing things in spite of some health conditions which crawl upon us after 60.

I paint beautiful and light-filled art because my life has been very difficult and painful at some stages back in Europe. That’s to keep everything in balance.

I write thought-provoking and visually-perceivable poems and reminiscent stories since I’ve spent almost 50 years in Europe and the recent 17 years in Canada. Life was very different back in Europe from what it is here in Canada. My articles frequently compare many sensitive areas of both lifestyles.

I dealt with medical research for 4 decades, and these discoveries, too, find their way into this blog. Finally, my strength is visual art and I’m trying to always publish great photos. You can find all of these specific areas if you look at the menu and choose one particular item.

Thanks for reading and I hope you’re having a good transition into late fall and winter.

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Life in grey scale with fall colors on mind

Most days of our lives do not have the lovely sparkle of happiness, and, luckily, they are not spent in the dark gloom of troubles and desperation either. Most of us go on, catching up with the ever-changing world and local developments. Neutral is good because it spares you stresses and saves from extremes. However, we sort of do not want to admit it and do not want to be there, yet, we are. It says, no news is fine, as long as there is no bad news.

The daily duties, the daily chores: it would be so much easier not to do the same over and over again. Last year around this time, it felt even more upsetting because we have some resolution of the pandemic coming our way now. Hopefully.

Red maple leaves

My motivation is low these days when it comes to blogging. I noticed how my old blogger friends post also not that frequently. The article we post gets some attention one or two days, and then nobody cares any longer. It feels like if it isn’t posted straight this moment, it’s not interesting, it’s lost importance or any actuality. That’s not true at all since good articles are meaningful and worth re-reading any time.

I have run in big website issues with people trying to harm it. Therefore, after getting in huge trouble two times when I thought I’d just follow back somebody who followed my sites, I don’t do that now. Especially, that refers to sites which want to post links and as if invite you to check out their site. The addresses looked ok, and, yes, they were on WordPress platform. For how long? Who knows, maybe just long enough to catch more trusting people.

So, I’m sticking with these bloggers who I have known for more than a decade since I started blogging. I’ve never had any great success with this or the other blog because I could never push publishing to the point of posting every second day. As you know, I have two blogs to attend, and the art blog definitely takes priority. It’s not that I have made much money off it, but it still gives me visibility in the broad and extensive art scene, especially the local one. To create new content for art blog takes me about two weeks, sometimes longer since I’m trying to always post new images and updated content.

Last fall blooms

Life is very fast moving ahead. We have fewer and fewer moments to just sit back and enjoy the day’s accomplishments. I still get done a lot because I’m not hooked on scrolling through the internet for hours or checking the very boring social media sites. Ever since they started adjusted the content to what one liked before and what gets most attention, it became almost intolerably one-sided story. There are by any means better ways to stay in touch with people who are physically far away.

This brings me to masses and public engagement. I’ve never been the one to like what some million of others have already liked. I will rather leave my comment under something good which hasn’t got any attention. I do that because good content slips through cracks thanks to engagement-based display of everything on any site. It makes me upset to no end sometimes.

The only print-on-demand site where I have my art is Fine Art America. I joined about a decade or so ago. The first art I posted certainly has gotten more views, but the sad part is that because of engagement rating, no new paintings and art get seen, only the old ones.

Autumn trees

I also do not know why there are viral posts or images, I’ve never seen one. It’s probably because I intentionally skip whatever is thrown at me and definitely don’t join the massive numbers of followers.

I’d love everything to be unique. Unique as our finger prints, DNA and iris of the eye. Unique as pattern of veins on a leaf or every single bloom. I’d love that individual and one-of-a-kind remain the most important. I’d love that we can stay who we are without being flown down the pipe with numerous others who is called “everybody”. It’s never true that everybody does this or that, watches the same, consumes and wears the same and enjoys it, too. But it is the main approach.

Late autumn leaves

Well, we have a choice. Always.

Good weather, bad weather, great outcome or none at all, it really matters very little if we have our own life assessment system and our self-worth doesn’t depend on the opinion of others. In case of things we cannot change, – we are able to change the way we view them. We are in the driver’s seat when deciding what’s of great importance to us.

The images show late fall colors in Ontario. Bright beauty before it all becomes the past. Enjoy while you can! Thanks for reading.

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Under the blue September sky

What does your world look like today?

Is it bright and sunny, real nice end of September day or nothing good to talk about?

We cannot choose the weather, unfortunately, if we must stay where we are, live in a place which we might not even prefer, but that’s the reality: all doors are open, but not everyone of them takes us to a place we want to be.

Did you wake up in a hopeful mood and the day kept its promises?

Good things sometimes happen when we don’t expect them, too, as if out of nowhere. However, it’s the combination of all elements which has worked out in our favor whether we knew about that or not. The bigger success we expect, the more upsetting might be the disappointment.

Does that mean we don’t strive for more, don’t try achieving more and reaching for higher goals? We always do attempt to succeed in something currently out of reach, we should at least. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Until we experience tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, volcano eruptions and other nature disasters, we might say that every weather nature throws at us is a blessing. That’s changing now, and we might wonder how bad it is going to get? Thankfully, the area I live has been spared from nature’ s anger.

September was a very beautiful month in Ontario where I live. The simple pleasures are readily available for everybody, we just need to set aside a moment for these experiences. The sky is so transparent today, no wind, bees still work in blooms, and there’s almost overwhelming beauty of the late fall flowers. It’s a good moment to be in.

When you have gone through millions of small disappointments, tiny and big accidents, betrayal, losses and some calmer periods of life, it feels there’s nothing that can surprise one any longer. I’ve been sticking to my principles of honesty, truth and generosity for many decades. They get tested, too, these old-fashioned principles and morals. Competition is a normal way of existence now with any means being justified. It’s not enough to know, be able and have experience, you have to prove your self-worth and value of your skills every day from new. Every single day it’s some kind of competition, feeling of being pushed and rushed. If you do not post anything on social media or website, people forget you, forget who you are, what you do and so forth.

For how long am I supposed to be competing for the social media attention?

There is nothing stable in the universe of public opinion. I noticed that blog reading is down, too. The number of views goes up, but the actual interaction is down. Shorter attention span? Sure. The amount of information avalanching over the viewers head is also remarkably larger. While I love creating art, sewing, designing new outfits and other items, gardening, nature and its mystic ways, I’m not huge about throwing this into everybody’s face: look what I have! Nevertheless, I must do just that if I ever want to have more students in my art classes or sell my art.

Early fall for dreamers? Definitely.

September calm might be ending soon, in a few weeks or so. It’s a good time to regroup, recharge, put in vegetable preserves, take a short walk, collect new colorful leaves for the next nature-painted projects. The calm before the storm or maybe just time to think about what’s ahead, to dream a bit about things unfolding my way and according to my plans. The path, however, was created a long time ago. The ripples in the universal interaction ocean cause situations which we are living in now, at this moment. We have created our today as it is together with other people, nature, universe and our actions or inactivity, with our features and our thoughts.

I hope your day is as good as you expected it to be!

Stay in touch and thanks for reading!

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It’s a brilliant day

Today, it is. The heat has decreased and the humidity torture is less depressing, as well. My blog posting gaps have increased, though, thanks to all kinds of unexpected issues. It is a time when I am aware of all things I still have to tackle and bring to some conclusion, yet, I don’t do anything here and there. The privilege of older age is that you can mentally sort through the urgent things and make a reasonable decision: there’s hardly anything that cannot wait for a bit longer. For instance, posting a new article which won’t be seen by that many anyway.

It’s a wrong decision from the point of being present on the internet, but a very beneficial from the view of general feeling-and being-well-aspect. Ever since we became billions on every social media site and every blogging platform, the importance of one single post lost its meaning. Life is not long enough whatever way you look at it. I’d prefer much longer stretch of feeling like in 35-50 period. I find that around 50 it was when I had still huge energy and motivation to fight every internet battle and to squeeze myself out like a lemon to grab attention. Over time, the need to be present everywhere has really lost its attraction.

Being present in moments which matter for me personally has become more important. Sooner or later, we all realize that there will be things which we aren’t destined to do, learn or pursue. Time limits our ability to perform everything at the same level of devotion and achieve the same level of success in all areas which appeal to us. It takes huge time to achieve adequate skills in any area nowadays. However, the abundant numbers of experts and people who do counselling means there’s too much advise about everything. 

Let’s talk about how-to posts. Mainly, there are 2 groups. The first group, usually, in technical aspects of using software, app, social media or blogging platforms, writing or drawing and painting tools are helpful. The second group is where the heading says “how-to”, but the article lists reasons why and immediately takes you to the button to purchase something. We already know why, if we are looking for the practical application of this new whatever it is. I’m really interested in finding examples of using a tool, a strategy, I want to see how it looks in reality, but that’s not possible. There are immediately ads and all kinds of offers to buy. Food takes very much space on the internet, as well, too much for me personally. I stick to the old and extra simple recipes, better yet, the ones which consist of a few ingredients. That’s also very beneficial for our digestive system.

Then there are the numbers articles: 10 things what to eat and 10 what not to, 7 ways to wear an outfit, 6 ways to relax, 5 ways to prepare a particular food and to exercise. Very often it is “how to be happy” in numerous ways. It’s usually a list of things which we all know, have or do not intend to have, do or do mind doing. It’s something which we are aware about, but we have a reason not to engage in it, or we are already mastering that aspect. This type of list provides with no discoveries. One advice can never suit all. The most interesting articles for me are about personal experiences, the diverse ways we live.

Today, it is a really brilliant day. Just with the right amount of heat and sunshine. With well-formed attractive clouds sailing the bright blue sky. With bees still working blooms and butterflies hurrying from one flower to another. With tomato branches almost touching the ground because of the heavy fruit. With fantastically orange and perfectly round pumpkins. I also saw hummingbird 2 times this year. That’s so cute for my location!

The summer has been too short as always. It was too hot, we had too much rain, it was too dry sometimes, too stormy here and there. And it will be definitely too cold in the winter. No perfect weather for us, and here I laugh a little. Our feeling of entitlement has spoiled us. I personally do not complain, I take summer over winter any time. The virus has had big impact on our life here in Ontario, as I suppose, in the place where you are at. We thought it will be a fairly swift battle and we would be done with it. Maybe you have lived as you wanted, but I here couldn’t. Restrictions are still all in place, except, there is no lockdown.

I have such insanely huge amounts of produce, I’m not sure what to do with it. We are giving away part of it to husband’s colleagues, sometimes to anybody who will take it. I am seeing all benefits of growing vegetables and flowers from my own seeds. These plants are very strong, they practically do not suffer from the regular plant diseases. It makes a lot of sense to take care of your own seeding material. Since I haven’t been anywhere, only at home (almost 2 years already!!!), I am attaching a few pictures of my garden. It can be enough, but dreams and memories take me to other places; where I have been, which I will visit and what I’m not going to see. Well, the Earth is small and big at the same time, just like this life: so uncomplicated and manageable one day, but absolutely stunning or overwhelming the next.

Have a good September which is just around the corner! Thanks for reading!

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The soothing Sunday thoughts: October

If you walk in your thoughts far away enough, you could end up in a place called your past many years ago. You do not always want to be there, but as the years pile up, the memories swirl around like the falling leaves. The soft whispers have some secrets to reveal and things which you want to be always with you, are also around.

October light is sparklingly bright and untamed as it brakes through the unmoving, dense foliage and takes a spot on the backyard table next to my coffee cup. Things we want to let go and things we desperately would love to keep, yet, cannot. I always loved to paint October, but never enjoyed its arrival too much.

The question sometimes arises: did it happen for real, or did I only imagine that? The far away places of past can be anything, and it is kind of hard to keep the door to the memory gardens closed. Paging through old greeting cards is painful and sweet at the same time. I’d love to believe the ghosts are still here and silently watching over us, but nobody knows this for sure.

Things live so much longer than we do. So, we cannot throw out an old dress hence its ruffles hide some long-ago evaporated scent, and the lace fabric still remembers a touch from 40 years back. We cannot part with old souvenirs, so meaningless to people, who have no idea where they come from. Sometimes, all what remains is a small card and a dried flower or leaf between book pages.

October is like that for me: taking extended walks in the memory garden and trying to catch up with the current moments rushing by too swiftly. I, too, was convinced that I had answers to anything. That was when I didn’t have any life experience.

One more fall, one more calendar ending soon. It’s amazing how fast the years run away, but it feels like everything is still ahead. The best things which didn’t happen so far. The nicest surprises which didn’t want to come our way yet. The most adorable October which started just yesterday. Or a week ago, or maybe 2 weeks ago.

Some October leaves are meant to be kept so that our wishes could be written on them. Enclosed on a bright maple leaf is a small blessing. Simple, touchy, fading too soon. The satisfaction of this moment, the absolute essence of all things going away.

October leaves

This goes under my “The soothing Sunday thoughts” because it feels like Sunday, yet, it is Thanksgiving Monday in Canada.

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

Featured Beauty of backyard flowers in late fall

Take this moment and blossom in it

The intelligence of plants and trees never stops surprising me. When we are saying: we have time we are cheating ourselves. Time allows us to be and use the moments we are in.

It’s a wonderfully warm and sunny fall morning. Quite rare pleasant warmth and undisturbed sunshine. It’s not interrupted by offensive noises, like loud music or silly human talk. This morning is filled only with birds’ chatter and soft whispers of leaves as they walk down the tree. The garden responds to the gift of the nature: everything that can is in bloom.

We as humans waste our time and do not use it in our favor. Look at the garden plants: they know what time is and they know when to push themselves to the full potential. This morning is magic with all the plants putting out their last blooms before the frost takes them away.

This post is short because words are limiting when it comes to describing beauty. The immense range of great emotions this beauty evokes is to tell us we do not have to go anywhere, but stay in the middle of this breathtaking landscape.

So, take this moment and blossom in it!

Nobody described the fall and our travels in the Universe better than Rainer Maria Rilke:

Herbst

Die Blätter fallen, fallen wie von weit,

als welkten in den Himmeln ferne Gärten;

sie fallen mit verneinender Gebärde.

Und in den Nächten fällt die schwere Erde

Featured Photos of golden leaves

All the gold of the fall

The only fair, honest and true thing that we have left at our disposal is the nature. That is why I am turning to it.

The only place where the true and real justice manifests is also the nature. I highly respect the nature for that. For being natural.

The only true value can be still found in the nature: natural food, natural remedies, natural breathing space … Well, they are taking it away step by step, but it is still available so far.

Everything else is valued nowadays by what it seems and looks or by what it sells for.

It will vanish with natural disasters which we are causing by creating the sale value.

I cannot travel a lot, therefore, I have become more attentive and observant and I notice wonderful and incredible things happening or surprising me straight at my doorstep.

That is not that little.

All the gold of the fall. Almost like all the gold of the world. Right here.

I am sharing it with you since I am a generous person.

The best of the golden fall.

golden fall photos

Maple at my entrance

photos of golden fall trees

They are growing at the end of my yard

squirrel and fall leaves
Fall leaves photography, with squirrel

fall trees photography
Going with the wind, gold of maples

Photos of fall trees
Red gold of maple leaves

and

Photos of golden leaves
The golden energy of the fall

So much of it

golden trees at fall
Lots and lots of fall gold

…. and finally the distant view

Beauty of the fall to dive in

Enjoy!

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Absence of shadows

We are shocked so frequently with extremely bad news.

We cannot be in a steady state of sorrow and grief.

I am focusing on the good things that surround me. These are mainly colors and the sunny backyard.

I used to cry for everything and I was crying a lot even reading books and watching movies. It seems I am in a place now where there are no long shadows.

It is much more peaceful since the entrance gate is locked. It’s not that I have built a wall around me, but I am carefully   selecting the things that get in.

When we allow strange forces and energies to take over, it can be very difficult to get back to oneself. Almost impossible since we are scattered all around like falling leaves.

I have to immerse myself in colors. The stunningly dark red and the blindingly bright yellow.

This is so refreshing.

I let my thoughts go.

I skip the sad pages and get back to colors.

It will be never so that everybody will smile and breathe easily. There is day and night. Light and darkness.

We are energy. We can be pure and clean energy and we can damage us allowing too many dark shadows cover up the light.

So, this is today.

I hope it is a good tomorrow.

I have no idea how the weather will be after that.

I am walking around live colors. I am inhaling them and they become a taste, too. What a relief! Meditation. Simply: I let the time disappear.

For it’s going to be a good tomorrow.

Beautiful picture gallery displaying fall nature, enjoy!

The red

The orange-red

The pink

The nicely pink

The yellow

The deeply red

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Stop and smell the roses

Yes, stop and smell the roses and other flowers.

When was the last time you decided to do so?

Just yesterday? Today? Congratulations. It’s not true that you don’t have time for that. Believe or not, there is time enough for anything: even with long commute (which is most often our choice), even with small kids and no grandparents or nannies, even when studying or being a workaholic.

Having no time is a habit and lack of focus. Having no time for smelling flowers and recharging is a bad habit.

Are you saying: yah, right? I would like to repeat that it is a bad habit and it comes from chaotic and scattered attention management, or rather, attention non-management.

Being and feeling rushed with everything causes nervousness, unplanned actions and loss of time. We have to pretty much stick with our daily routine, and that means: if you can spend just 1 hour in front of TV, do not make it 4 hours at the expense of your sleep, or if it’s responding to an e-mail, we cannot make it scrolling through all Instagram or Facebook feeds and new posts. We have to stay on the path.

We don’t do that always, do we?

I am convinced that we are experiencing a chronic feeling of always lacking time. Realistically, we should have more time because there is so much help with housework, shopping and lots of other daily chores; there is automation and so many devices are replacing manual work.

Where does the time disappear?

It evaporates with unexpected, unplanned and also forgotten things. There are so many distractions with anything we just were about to start doing. Time over-consumption is also caused by unreliable and chaotic people who we have to be in touch with. Therefore, I am very convinced that it makes a lot of sense not to deal with people who never have time: either for you, for responding to you or for anything in their life; who cancel things because they never intended to do something in the first place, who are always late, who love talking too much or texting too much, or who do not even listen to what you are saying.

Having time for stopping and smelling roses eventually comes down to discipline. First of all: that is self-discipline. It’s not the case that we are always perfect and we never get lost in our good intentions. No human is 100% perfect, and life is never perfect. So, whether we have time for ourselves and whether we can make it for smelling flowers also requires some flexibility in executing our daily tasks, even small ones, and it requires so much more flexibility in tackling the big ones.

Late autumn, but everything in full bloom

Gentle, delicate, beautiful

When my daughter was just 8 months old, her father passed away. So, I was alone. I got German language teaching job at a countryside school because they provided with a free apartment. However, the free apartment had absolutely no conveniences. I needed wood for heating the stove on which I had to cook and also the heating oven in the other room. I had to take to a high second floor every bucket of water and afterwards I had to take it out. We didn’t have easy to use diapers or formulas these times yet, therefore, I had to manually wash everything since I did not have a laundry machine and I had to cook for daughter something she could consume, which was liquid porridge type of thing most often. There was no heating, so every time when I needed to warm up her food I had to get stove going.

My teaching job was full-time. That happened in the ancient soviet times, so, we didn’t have any nannies. There was no free spot in the kindergarten either if somebody would take such a small kid. I took my daughter to classroom which wasn’t far away, but just in another building. The school principal didn’t mind because they really needed a German language teacher. My daughter was either sitting or sleeping between students. She actually started to speak in full sentences extremely early and she also started to walk just at nine month.

My biggest problem was getting the wood: they showed me large logs which I was allowed to use, and before I could utilize them for heating, I had to split these large logs. I had seen my dad splitting wood, and it looked quite easy. I borrowed a huge axe and got to splitting. That was really tough, especially until I grasped how one tries to hit the right spot on the log. Next thing was to get that wood to the second floor storage. I decided to organize a help team from anybody who was around, and I was very lucky that some older teens and a few other teachers assisted in taking the wood to the second floor.

Salaries were miserably small, I mean, really small. I was doing sewing for people who wanted some outfit. After daily lessons I gave at school, I was sewing wedding dresses, suits, jackets, skirts, dresses, blouses, you name it. Some people offered produce and products instead of money. Well, I didn’t refuse.

I was in the fourth year at the University; I studied foreign languages at that time. Later at night I was preparing my test works, research works, etc. It was a lot of work for one person, however, I managed to read books, go to concerts or dancing to a local club whenever there was something on, too.

I have been thinking a lot: how did I manage to get this done? Practically on my own: full-time job, studying at University, small kid, home chores: wood, water, laundry, cleaning; sewing to make some additional money? People quite frequently don’t have to do even half of that and they are saying there is no time for anything.

The answer is extremely simple: I did not have a TV. Internet wasn’t invented yet. I didn’t have any phone. Nobody was dreaming about something we call smart phone now. I mean, there were practically zero distractions.

It’s impossible to avoid from all distractions with everything going on at once nowadays, however, there is a line which we can draw. We also learn how to say “No”. We sort out priorities and start with the most difficult mandatory tasks, then we move to easier things, and then we enjoy the time we have saved. It shouldn’t be at the expense of sleep, definitely not.

So, we are now free to go and smell and enjoy flowers.

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Worth writing a novel about

Please make sure you check out the gallery pictures closer to the end!

Latvia is a place I come from. Most of my family and relatives still reside in Latvia, but I went for a chance to change my life dramatically a bit more than 13 years ago and relocated to Canada. Everything was different, I had to adjust myself, learn a lot and, basically, I can say I’m fine by now. It feels like I started fresh almost at 50 again.

Time passes so fast, but there are things which I miss a lot while in Canada. I definitely miss my mom, my daughter, grandchildren, my sister and also friends. The other thing which is quite important and which I miss every time I go to the grocery store is Latvian food. I miss the huge variety, the very natural produce, wild mushrooms, wild berries, endless salads, soups and deserts. I miss dairy products and the huge selection of fresh-water and salt-water fish which we do not have in Canada, and it is hard to live without their cakes, pastries, pies and all the stuff that comes on the table just rarely, but makes all the difference. For instance, black or rather grey peas with crunchy bites of Latvian bacon and kefir, or thousands of dishes made of Latvian cottage cheese which is always excellent quality compared to what I have when I can find it in Canada. I mean the raw, nothing added, nothing removed cottage cheese. Their daily bread selection is worth writing a novel about: from dark rye and carrot bread baked using ancient Latvian recipes to all kinds of white, dark bread made with or without seeds and from all kinds of grains. The freshness is breathtaking, and so is the taste. I have always hard times finding a good quality bread at home, it goes bad and stale next morning, and it usually falls apart. My guess is: it consists of hardly anything, but costs a lot.

Therefore, I try everything Latvia can offer, and that is plenty. Neither I want, nor I intend to avoid such a delicious pleasure: it is a feast from the day 1 of my stay here until the dinner before my flight back home.

As I walk along the Central Market (I came here with just one intention: to take a few pictures because this is sort of very large farmer’s market, the largest in Europe), my eyes run all around and it’s great I’m not hungry because otherwise I’d end up buying too much stuff. Most people, however, prefer the ecologically clean product stores. Prices are quite high in stores which offer organic, biologically and ecologically clean produce and all kinds of other foods, and frequently above the affordable level, but still: Latvians take food seriously and they can certainly choose something great even when the wallet is not that full.

There is something else: traditionally Latvians do gardening, even these who live in the downtown of Riga, usually have some out-of-town place where they can grow something. Latvia did a lot of farming in the soviet times, and it was actually quite agricultural outside the biggest cities. The first Latvian Republic before the World War II was famous for its fantastic dairy products, bacon, butter, meats and produce. Although, agriculturally used land and the number, as well as size of farms have decreased, the need for good quality food is the same. People know what is good, Latvians know what delicious and fresh means, and therefore, the food quality standards remain high.

If you are wondering what I mean with all this praising, I do suggest you stop by in Latvia for the greatest and cleanest foods one can try. It’s worth it. I did not notice where their fast food places were, I know there are some, but people who think about their health won’t eat in such places. I personally never learned loving fast food, I don’t think they are popular here because everything is geared towards healthier, fresher, cleaner and less processed.

I have taken pictures also of smoked fish and meats, and these are certainly not for daily consumption, they are not part of a healthy diet, however, small bit here and there cannot harm. They taste incredibly good. If you have never tried, you won’t know how delicious these things are: smoked fish and chicken especially, and I miss such treats a lot. Some fishing villages still smoke fish like Latvian fishermen did 200, 300 and more hundred years ago.

Caraway seed cheese is my favorite, it always has been. When I was 12 or so I worked at a dairy plant during the summer (all kids worked). I had to help by preparation of caraway seed cheese. It was warm and so yummy that I never forgot this taste. The only place I get it as I like is Latvia. I tried to make my own in Canada, but milk and cottage cheese were totally unsuitable: they are too processed and do not have the same properties, so, I did not get very good caraway seed cheese. Dairy products are definitely bad and low quality in Canada. I sometimes wonder: why wouldn’t they go to Latvia, for example, and learn how to achieve greatness in dairy products. It’ s not going to happen because their profits come always first.

Well, wild mushrooms and wild berries are something Ontarians do not get to see or taste. Some might, but it’ s not everybody by far. Mushrooms are still in season, but there are less and less berries in the forest because fall sets in sooner in Latvia than in Canada.

mouth-watering Latvian dairy products

Meats and smoked meats

Fresh, live and smoked fish

A few veggies (because they looked so nice) and some wild berries and mushrooms

I actually wanted to publish separate posts about separate food groups, but time is really short, so I will leave you with these pictures and I am going back home soon.

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The soothing Sunday thoughts: absolute calm

The sun is quite low

No wind swirls a leaf

Clouds have flown away and taken

Storms somewhere else

Thoughtfulness in each stem of the grass

Everything is at rest

Including my usually racing thoughts

Rabbit in the evening sun

Lazy and satisfied with the green grass meal

Chipmunk runs along the fence

And disappears in the soft shadows

Squirrel sneaks up on my plants

Bird on the fence, staring onto the sky

Sparrows chatting about a piece of bread

And otherwise it is silence

Too deep to realize

This is also a life

Life at rest

Such absolute undisturbed calm

Soft purple

Dreamy pink and

The happy rabbit

To illustrate the absolute calm, I took a few pictures. Rabbit was the most patient model, and obviously plants were not moving. Chipmunk disappeared before I got my camera, squirrels usually run somewhere and the bird took off.

The rainy July, uncertainty and assumptions

Summer never disappoints, even when there’s more rain than in the fall or more heat than in Mexico. Just knowing, that the days are long, and light stays on longer is so satisfying. Recurring certainty gives a feeling of stability, but we are not yet 100% there in Ontario. We are fairly uncertain also about the length of vaccine efficiency and what happens next and so forth. Questions which will clarify themselves as time passes by.

The last 2 years have been a huge test: they have tested our patience, endurance, tolerance and self-efficiency. I am usually aiming for predictability and certain order of upcoming events, just like in nature: summer comes after spring, and then there’s fall, and winter. Clarity, simple sequence of events. During this period, it’s been knowing nothing about what to expect, misinformation, lies, doubts and promises which often didn’t turn into actions.

Time doesn’t take into account whether we like being in this mess created by virus or not: it just runs away and, in some cases, – out. This time period will stay in our memory for quite a while. Is the pandemic over yet? In some places and countries, it seems we are winning, and then, a new variant occurs, and we start losing. It looks like this is not the end of pandemic yet. I wish it were, though.

Are you also so much used to wearing a mask that it will seem strange leaving house without it? Or disinfecting surfaces and washing hands for hundred times? I’ve heard that people are having more anxiety attacks, more upsetting days, spending more time doubting themselves and the future. I’d say that is normal taking into account the circumstances. We feel very much entitled to many things and we often take them for granted.

Maybe this is a time when we simply allow the flow to take us? I’ve been always against the flow, against the rules, against demands, commands and external control. However, I find that most current requirements make sense and I comply with them. There is a lot of scientific evidence on how we survive. I’m happy that after spending more than a full month on a computer and on the phone, we finally got both vaccine doses. It’s three weeks now. It is a relief. Some feeling of order? I’m not saying that I feel very safe now, but it’s somewhat reassuring that, most likely, nothing bad is going to happen.

We are not back to any normal yet, although, we’re trying to pretend everything is ok. It will never be the same as it was pre-pandemic. Globalization has its plusses and minuses. One of the biggest troubles: any disaster affecting health becomes global in no time. Unfortunately, global trade is fine, global pandemic – not at all because it is handled inefficiently and as bad as only possible. Do two doses of vaccine ensure you’re done with the virus? Probably not. We’ve already heard Pfizer saying they detected the immunity was weaker after 6 months.

Depending on where you are, you might be fine or not at all. We in Ontario are trying to return to life without virus. I hoped people would love to attend the outdoor art classes now, after almost two years of everything online. It doesn’t seem so. Not much response because there’s also no place where to get attention, not even one specific place. Facebook just wants me to spend more money so that they would show to somebody what I publish. Well, Facebook, it’s been two very tough years, so nothing goes to you. I won’t even mention other media sites. If you’re not an influencer, post whatever you want, hardly anybody will see it. The problem is also that everybody is selling something, and buying happens mostly from the huge global outlets, go outcompete those.

I was reading how a marketing expert said she just made a million giving advice. Have you also noticed that teaching somebody to make money always results in high profits? Everybody is attracted to read about “make-money-quick”, or watch it, or listen to it. Unfortunately, it will always depend on your location, digitalization level, type of thing you do, demand for what you do and the basic mindset of your potential customers. However, it will mostly depend on how much you can invest in what you do, how much you can spend on advertising, help and specialists and creation of your product. Do you think I’d had any problem if I could run my ads every hour on numerous TV channels or have them everywhere sneak up on you on the internet?

The presence and visibility are the biggest problem.

When I started writing this blog and created the other blog and art website, I thought it would result in some extra attention. I’ve got blog friends, nice people to talk to online, that’s true. I spend a lot of time posting, returning likes and answering to comments. For art blog, a post usually takes about 2 weeks in making because I usually have to paint what I’d like to show, then take photos (what a hassle!) and then, putting it up is easy, but, altogether – very, very time-consuming. Basically, I’ve spent abnormal hours dealing with both blogs, and return is great when it comes to online following and friendships, but financially, it’s practically nothing to show for. It still makes sense compared to spending many hours on social media and not getting any traction. Well, it is like this: whatever you do, be influencer and famous, and then even dumb things you say or publish will get lots of publicity.

Global pandemic, global competition, global trade, global profits or losses, – but the effects of all that are very personal, very individual, very painful frequently. I do sometimes long for the time when somebody just drops in, they are happy with what I have to offer, they do not run around to 100 other places before making decision, and life is so simple because everything is in balance, everything happens. I am just wondering how could life become so complex? Getting a simple “yes” or “no” is practically impossible. It takes numerous emails, text messages, back and forth, numerous explanations and waste of time, and then you still don’t know whether you achieved what you wanted.

As always, I will post this very delayed article with a few pictures from my garden. Just like summer, garden never disappoints. Even when I don’t have time, plants just do their thing: they bloom, grow and bring fruit. Compared to everything else, it’s such a winning and rewarding effort. I do take great care of my pictures, but I suppose since I’m not emphasizing the photography aspect, they go unnoticed. As you know, I used to post more frequently, but cannot right now: life is too complex. I am re-opening the studio, moving art classes outdoors, preparing materials, and that takes about 10 hours a day or more.

Wishing you to recharge and rest during the summer! Thanks for reading if you did!

June, the Midsummer thoughts

Nothing can stop flowers from blooming! Not pandemic, not wars, fights, struggles and bad economic times; not even people who are not fine with where they are and what they are. The symphony of colors flows over the backyard making the adorable petal shapes the best artful creation there ever was. To hold one’s breath and to simply adore something which is way better, more complete than humans. The nature.

Midsummer and June: the fantastic time of the year. Although, flowers were rushing, the rich and lush green is embroidered with bright colors of scattered blooms under the pure and clean sky where white and happy clouds sail towards the sun. Standing in the middle of it, my heart says to just stop doing whatever I am busy with, and look around.

So many summers have blossomed away! Latvia is always in my memories when June comes around. It would be great to spend this time over there, more than 8 thousand miles away, across the ocean.

We went a few times to the Canadian Latvian community place called Sidrabene which translated would be like “silver lined spot” on this earth. We wanted to see what Midsummer celebration looked like there, and it was interesting, but not the same what people can experience in Latvia. Singing, dancing, beer and the special caraway seed cheese were included. Singing in the second part was mostly in English, and the Latvian accents of those who at least tried to say something in Latvian had a strong English note, too. Well, obviously, many of these Latvians have lived in Canada since early childhood or are even born here.

Latvians have numerous folksongs which have travelled to nowadays mostly verbally without writing them down. In the 18th century, enthusiasts started to categorize and collect them and eventually compile in enormous volumes. It is said that every Latvian has his or her own folksong. As I have explained in previous years, Midsummer celebration in Latvia is probably the most fantastic event with traditions going back for many thousands of years, so are the folksongs. We can sometimes wonder what does one or another thing actually mean, so unusual it sounds.

Wherever I would live, whatever I would do, I remain in my heart a Latvian. Part of this tiny (all Latvians, scattered around on the globe, would not fill even a third of city of Toronto), tough, hard-working, wise nation which stays very close to nature, opening its ancient soul to song, dance, arts and everything that is beautiful.

Our roots go deep, and in this technologically advanced century we still are admirers of ancient traditions, handmade outfits, jewelry, herbal medicine and help of the Universe as we walk through the life. The knowledge which comes to us from people who lived many thousands of years ago and whose names remain unknown, makes Latvians very specific, very charismatic and talented people. If one comes from a tiny nation, they simply have to master many languages, many skills, and to stay determined, or otherwise the big global forces will smash us.

I will attach a few links from the most unique event which will celebrate 150 years in 2023: the Latvian Song and Dance Festival where tens of thousands of people from kids to very old ladies and senior citizens join in songs and dance. Every region has its own colors, costumes and they all shine during this festival.

The famous Latvian song and dance festival, a few glimpses
To my native land, watch at piano, the best Latvian composer Raimonds Pauls, lyrics by Janis Peters, a very much loved Latvian poet

Enjoy the midsummer and stay close to nature!

The waiting game

Expectations

Real life, unlike virtual displays of it, frequently requires waiting. Waiting for something or looking forward to it, takes time which can be considerable. If you have been around for many decades, you already know that the period of expectations can turn out to be more pleasurable and more amazing than the event or occasion itself. The wonderful thrills of expectations and the anticipation of whatever you desire can be illusive and lead one to disappointment. That is when we overvalue the potential result or our role in it. We frequently do just that.

Patience

I believe patience is a virtue, and in times like right now when waiting is inevitable and it lasts for extremely long period, patience and understanding that some things cannot be rushed, makes life easier if you are used to wait for something and if you have acquired, learned along the way or simply got naturally the ability to be patient. You won’t go mad, get frustrated, angry, upset and depressed because you have to wait. Wait in line for vaccine, wait to book a vaccination appointment, wait to meet your relatives and friends, wait for normalcy to return.

Protesting

Nobody gives us back the time we have wasted. Protesting lockdowns, closures, vaccines, masks and stay-at-home orders is pretty much wasted efforts and time. The reality has shown that the best way to avoid any troubles is not being around anybody else. That’s the worst part of airborne respiratory viruses: they are everywhere where there is air, and as humans we cannot stop inhaling air or exist without it. We’ve been in lockdown in Ontario for a very long time, we still are. I read somewhere, it’s the longest lockdown among the developed countries. I noticed, however, that people are taking this fairly lightly. It is spring finally here, as well, the second warm week is happening, it’s 18-23 Celsius, and this warmth feels excellent compared to what it was just a while ago. So, people have visitors, no masks obviously, there’s partying, too.

The blooming

Once the gates are open, we are flooded with waves of blooming. Almost all trees and spring flowers are in bloom. They, too, have waited impatiently when the weather will turn mild and allow them to come up with their beauty. I don’t think there can be anything more relaxing and enjoyable than quietly watching a garden or trees. For my Angel’s day, lilac is always in bloom. I’m not sure how that can happen, but it does, year after year. Birds are busy, their shadows shoot across the lawn and their voices make one listen in awe how the nature beats it all. If you ask me, that’s the best party ever. Everybody is invited, no preparations required. This time I’m sharing pictures of my giant tulips.

Lesson

We sleep away and spend in waiting big part of our life. Unfortunately, there isn’t a chance avoiding that. Waiting might drive somebody crazy and angry, but the truth is we have probably learned something during the last one and a half years. If we haven’t, then we are failing to manage the biggest challenge the globe is currently facing. The other interesting aspect of the global pandemic is that every single person is involved. The outcome is the sum of collective human actions, inactivity and reactions. It makes one also wonder how greed and wars never stop.

Whatever your personal situation, I hope you are in the driver’s seat. More than ever, one needs to be in charge of their own life and their own decisions. Enjoy the blooming and thanks for reading!

Doing nothing or nothing much

Here is what our family does this Easter: Nothing!

It’s such a cool thing to do nothing for a change. We are just two of us here at the moment, no kids, no other relatives coming over. It wouldn’t be advisable anyway even if my relatives were not across the Atlantic Ocean. Therefore, we can take our time and just stretch it out over the long and lazy weekend. I used to cook all kinds of food just for the sake of cooking some years. The question I later asked myself was: how much can actually two people eat? We are not big eaters; we do not bother often with 3-course meals. If I go for big cooking, the largest part has to be discarded before we get around to consuming it all.

My purple Easter lily

How about eggs?

I boil a few eggs, they contain good nutrients, and when you have organic eggs, it’s really food which makes us feel better. Eggs are one of those products which cannot be too much modified or enhanced with extra chemicals, I mean shouldn’t be via feed. Somehow any advice on diets misses the part that everything close to its most natural state is good, not chemically improved, at lab fortified or grown through tubes under artificial light. Organic eggs fit excellent nutritional value demands. I’ve never experienced any raises in cholesterol levels or any weight increase due to eating eggs with butter and salt. We eat eggs a few times a week, not only at Easter.

They are not real and don’t go bad, ever

Keeping decorations at minimum

I don’t bother with that because for decorations I can use the artificial colored eggs which I bout maybe some 7 or more years ago. I have numerous room plants all year round. They create nice background and add a bright touch of green to our settings.

Our Easter menu is very simple: oats for breakfast (I have them every morning), eggs for lunch and pancakes with strawberries for dinner, that’s all we can handle, I might add something more as the day gets older.

I can use some of my own illustrations as decorations

Doing nothing

Doing nothing does not really mean one sleeps for 24 hours. For me, that means doing nothing important, urgent, mandatory or otherwise demanding. My husband plays guitar and sings when he has free time, he just went for a long bike ride, too. I usually spend a few hours outdoors or read. Sometimes, I look at old photos, the real ones, not on computer. Doing nothing means relaxing and lazy sitting in the backyard, listening to silence or birds and watching spring walk around and take over. In the overachievers’ society doing nothing is a sin, but who cares? I’m past that. Hopefully, our weather gets warmer soon, that would be much appreciated by everybody in Ontario.

All comes together nicely: we do love simplicity

If you have kids and big family

If you have kids and a big family, you have your hands full. I’ve been through that, too, just many years ago. You also have more fun, more tiredness in the evening and plenty more to think about. However, you still have to make some time for doing nothing. Depending on the area you’re located, it might be warm, cold, sunny, stormy, who knows, but doing nothing with and in the nature is the best. The most inspirationally killed time. We should always add something rewarding to the day, so it might be a relaxed walk or just staring out there.

I hope you have nice start of April and happy Easter to those who celebrate!

Silence heals

Listen to the silence

Stop the noise

We are almost always surrounded by background noise. If it were only bird voices and wind in the trees, that would be still fine. However, more and more often I want to stop the noise of devices and TV and pollution of mind which leaves a permanent residue. I turn off the news and TV, and I don’t scroll that much through social media sites if at all. How social are they? I just looked at Facebook, it is like this: ads, ads, ads, a hundred times repeated quote, a nice picture, ads, ads, more ads. Quite frequently, it seems there’s noise everywhere and for no good reason. Thankfully, we can tun the sound off. We can leave all angry discussions alone and head out to the park, or garden, or simply get out and turn devices off, too. Which is what most people won’t do. There are always good reasons, business call or request, kids needing something, or friend wants to talk and so forth. However, we deserve a moment of silent relaxation, and not only in sleep.

Silence as a healing factor

Listening to silence should be big priority in our life which is attacked by numerous influences every single moment, every time we look at a screen. Many people admit they meditate. Nowadays, meditation is understood very broadly as simply devoting time for going deep inside oneself and removing noise of disturbing thoughts and our internal reactions to external events. Lots of people don’t even know how to meditate or do it in a way which is not the mainstream concept of this activity. I personally think we can only benefit from detaching ourselves for a moment from active external attacks and whatever way we do that. Therefore, being in a silent environment becomes a healing experience which allows recharging.

The silent environment

Take a breath of freshness

The one advantage of COVID pandemic is being able to listen to the silence. I sit outdoors or on my veranda late at night watching stars and sky. Eternity seems so close, and the universe is straight before my eyes. I take a breath of the sky, and stars sparkle in the huge dark dome of extended purple-blue infinity. It’s very easy to get lost in this silence and forget about all troubling matters. Not a sound. In the morning, nature sounds wake me: birds, wind or rain. For a moment, there was hardly any traffic, and I thought that was terrific. What a relief! Air is so clean, the sky so pure that one cannot help but assume: we do produce and manufacture too much, and many of them are useless things. This all deepens imbalance and causes disturbance of the natural equilibrium.

Uninterrupted break from noise

We need silence from time to time, complete silence which is not interrupted by shriek alarms, screams, rude language, car and heavy machinery noises and sounds of never-ending rush. Switching from loud environment to soft and mild sound environment makes one breathe much easier. Freeing the body from chains of all-surrounding noise gives the brain the much-needed break. Remember how walking in a park or forest put you in elevated mood? That refers to moments when the only sounds are nature-related. Just like our eyes require diversion from screens, our ears need the same. We should leave specific time for music and specific time for listening to podcasts and other audio material.

Dreamy infinity

Keeping sensory organs in balance

This life is loud already; we might say, much too loud. Living life in headphones contributes to anxiety, nervousness, insomnia and restlessness. If we use some sensory body parts too much and abuse them in a violent way, the balance is destroyed. No human is supposed to listen to something 24 hours a day, that’s why we need sleep. We need it in order to recharge and heal. During sleep, our immune system fortifies our defense mechanisms, the brain clears out pollution and resets its processing ability. Sleep is the time which we absolutely need, and, especially, because the sounds and visible disturbances are turned off.

Mental problems Internet can facilitate our exposure to foreign influences so much that people start suffering from chronic confusion, lack of focus, forgetfulness, anxiety, insomnia, chronic fatigue, fear, dreadful nightmares and misinterpretation of reality. The latter is especially dangerous because we lose touch with reality and blunder into misconceptions. Turning off sounds allows us to think, make conclusions and look into ourselves. Not everybody is the same, but when I have to do a complex work which requires strong focus and maximum concentration, I have silence or just the nature sounds from backyard around me.

Recharge in silence

Noise interference

Lots of people or big part of global population live high above the ground and are surrounded by never-ending noise. If it’s only a distant background noise, the interference won’t be too harsh, but for those who intentionally live in a loud environment or have no other choice for the lack of better living or work conditions, it has a big impact. Yet, we often don’t pay any attention to that and we should.

Life is loud

This life is loud, but we have tools to preserve ourselves. Mind pollution is one of the important aspects which requires solution. It might be something different for different people, but, like all types of pollution, mind pollution accumulates and becomes an issue. Turning off destructive noises is one of ways we help ourselves. In always present noise, we won’t be able to hear the things that matter. Whenever possible, we have to choose natural environment, and that includes the level of noise.

Thanks for reading, take care

Red color of flowers

The price of joy

What are the things you enjoy a lot?

Is it food, fresh air, freedom, a hobby or are these things that cost a lot of money which will make you happy or so you think? Such as, new dress, shoes, boots, designer purse, perfume, new car, great vacation, superb house?

Maybe, you get most excited when you have managed something which seemed impossible before? For instance, speaking or understanding a new language, being able to play a new music instrument, or a successfully written poem or story, creation of new artwork?

Joy is the most direct way to happiness. We should save happiness for the very special moments and have plenty of joy at other times.

Do you still recall how little you had to spend when you were kid 30, 40, 50, 60 or more years ago? And, imagine how much one needs to spend nowadays to make a kid happy.
Lots of questions with all kinds of possible answers.

The truth is, however, that the price of joy has gone up a lot and keeps doing so. That is what we have come to believe in: if we cannot buy everything that somebody else has, we are somewhat less and worse.

Let us reword the question:

what is the one thing that would make you happy for the rest of your life?
Do you know the answer?

I guess it could be many different pleasant things and experiences.

You are only allowed to give one answer, however. Tough, right?

Majority most likely will choose “love”, “health”, “wealth”, “staying young” and any of these choices are great, but being rich is simply the best. The joy costs a lot nowadays.

Who says you cannot experience the joy for free?

You sure can, for example, watching sunsets and sunrises, blossoming trees and rainbows and so on; yet, you still need to satisfy the basic necessities to feel happy, to have peace of mind and to experience the joy. Nobody will be too joyfully watching all the most beautiful things on Earth if they are hungry, sick, in pain, lonely or depressed. I dare saying, that having the basic things are probably a good base for having a joyful life.

Being alive is already great

Many of us are very happy to be simply alive and that is a joy to start a day with, realizing that you still have this day and you woke up ok. I’m at such age that it is definitely a great experience.

People like me feel perfect if they can have their morning coffee. Try not to give it to me!

Lots of people do not care what the place is or where the place is, they live at, as long as there is a place.

Lots of people don’t give anything about how the food looks and how healthy it is as long as there is some food.

Ultimate joy

So, what’s the deal with tiny portions of extra special food served on golden plates at a crazy cost? The deal is that this is supposed to make somebody really happy, give them the ultimate joy.

Lots of people go out of their way to make their totally boring life somewhat exciting.

We need some joy regardless of its price, and there are these advertising guys who tell you to just buy and buy more, and maybe you will have a flash of joy for a tiny moment, too.

Joy from recreational stuff

People in Canada are able to turn themselves into cannabis lovers also. So, to speak, add a little healing joy to the boring day.

It is supposed to be recreational marihuana that one can eat, drink, vape or smoke, and all of a sudden smoking is presented as something good when you listen to people advertising it. The truth is: everything that burns and is inhaled has the same effect. Medical marihuana is supposed to cure and treat numerous conditions which nobody has ever proven for a few reasons: there is no point to prove something using a substance or its products that are available everywhere, and there is no long term research data available also because using cannabis was a crime before. Just like with everything, cannabis use has many aspects and not all of them will be beneficial.

The price of joy became the price of addiction at some point.

When the kid has fallen on the floor in the store and screams from the bottom of his or her lungs, that is an attempt to violently achieve the feeling of joy. Well, mom buys that stuff kid wanted and kid’s smile stretches all over the face now.

When we get what we want, what we believe we want or need, or what we are addicted to, we are experiencing the ultimate joy which almost equals to happiness. So, the price of joy will vary. If you can buy it because some joyful things are not for sale.

As it appears, the price of joy has a huge range: from no cost to any money imaginable and unimaginable.

Our experience shows that most things we can buy, and their price will be the cost of our joy: new face, new body shape, excellent outfits, excellent living conditions, new devices, extraordinary cars, outstanding vacations and so forth.

Our experience also shows that one cannot buy true love, respect, trust, passion, talent, skills, knowledge, memories and experience. I think this is more than we need to be happy because we can have that all if we are willing to put in some effort.

Thankfully, nobody can buy talent so far. With genetic engineering developing at a fast pace, it is probably a near future, too.

Red color of flowers

True joy and purchased joy

We need them both. We need lots of things to simply live, but when it comes to true and long-lasting joy, let’s look for it in ourselves. We should find there plenty, and especially love, respect, trust, passion, talent, skills, knowledge, memories and experience as I mentioned before.

I’m using for illustrations the bouquet my husband just gave me. Excellent source of joy!

Wishing you plentiful joys regardless of what the day (or night) has served you so far!

Thanks for reading!