Smoke Bushes – Reflect the Softness of a Summer Afternoon

My mom spoke of a smoke bush she knew of as a child. I never saw one till I was well into adulthood. Now there are a few I look for every summer, on lawns of my home town.

I discovered a collection of them this year at a horticultural research facility. It was a lovely day and I was in need of a walk to stretch my muscles and de-stress my mind.

I was grateful for the refreshing summer breezes on the moderately hot day and the billowy blooms of these unique shrubs. The rounded pink, puffy clumps seemed appropriate to the spirit of the weather and of my mood as I strolled the paths of the well planned, nature focused gardens.

My brief scan of information about them tells me they are related to the sumacs. Now that I know, I can recognize the relationship, but I likely wouldn’t have guessed.

Another shade of whimsical, wispy smoke bush blooms delights those who stroll the paths of a lovely, naturalized garden.

Robins On the Lawn Trigger Memories of Secure Times

Watching robins hop across the lawn seems mundane to some, but for me it conjures the peace I experienced when I was a child, with nothing more pressing to do than study the details of nature playing out in the front yard.

Wherever I am, when I see the robins, a timeless species which doesn’t unnecessarily change its habits, in my mind I observe them from the window of a home that hasn’t been mine for some time.

My parents are there, my pets from that era. Cares were few back then, except for the responsibilities I invented so I would have something to attend to over summer vacation.

Some days life seems exceedingly difficult. But moments with the robins refresh my spirit. I take a deep breath of the summer scented air, and go on living, with a bit more optimism

Of Postponed Elections and Sixties Sitcoms

My post on Monday March 16 turned out to be a bit premature. Our Ohio election was canceled due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The other states with elections scheduled that day went ahead and opened the polls. Too bad the governors didn’t convene and decide whether or not to allow elections to take place or not in all of the states. Add another unfair feature to our primary election process.

I’ve always maintained all 50 states should hold primaries simultaneously. It’ the only way to give each candidate an equal chance.

Now we are left in limbo, unsure when ballots may be cast.

Toilet paper, bread, eggs, and other essentials are still in short supply in grocery stores. Why must customers take more than their share? Certainly there wouldn’t be a shortage if everyone just did their regular shopping.

None of us can predict the extent to which this virus will spread, or the impact all of the closings will have on the lives of displaced workers.

But the situation certainly points out the need to set up a healthcare system that’s fair and affordable to all, better pay for basic jobs, appropriate tax rates for the very wealthiest among us.

When elections resume, we must vote for candidates who sincerely support measures to lift up the lives of low and middle income workers, and very small businesses.

Once again, I apologize for this break from the usual upbeat posts, but times like these seem to require serious commentary.

Hopefully all readers are doing as well as possible during these difficult days. We must focus on the good deeds we hear of, and take time for mental and physical self-care.

I’ve been watching the 1960s sitcom, Green Acres.

Its absurdity is good for a great many laughs, yet the plight of idealist Oliver Douglas against the government, the utilities, and Mr. Haney, the local huckster, rings true for many of us.

Peace, health, and goodwill to all followers of The Penny Mason Post and to everyone else as well!

Note: We will try to edit posts prior to their appearance on the blog, but some posts have been pre-scheduled, thus comments may occasionally not fit the current unprecedented conditions. Please excuse anything we miss that seems out of place.

Book Review: The Art of Mindful Reading – Embracing the Wisdom of Words By Ella Berthoud

The Art of Mindful Reading is a book for those of us enamored with the way words make us feel; who see reading as a pastime that touches each of our senses. And for those who have yet to discover these pleasures.

The lovely cover’s printed pattern hints at inlayed designs of days gone by. Nature lovers will take solace in its two shades of green and the third color, a maroonish brown.

Care has been taken with the paper selection. A cut above most of today’s choices, it’s smooth as silk, yet sturdy, not easily creased or torn.

Fittingly, the author, Ella Berthoud, is a bibliotherapist; a profession at which some may scoff. Frankly, it’s a role of which I hadn’t previously heard, but to which I now aspire. What fulfillment it would bring to prescribe appropriate titles to heal the ills afflicting individuals from various walks and at various stages of life.

Reading with mindful intent is the book’s stated theme. Its chapters address such topics as:

  • Where and when we might find stolen moments of reading time within our busy lives.
  • The importance of periodically making arrangements for two or three hours of private, uninterrupted literary indulgence, and how to accomplish this challenging goal.
  • How to incorporate reading into a yoga session.
  • Making use of audiobooks when time is extremely scarce.
  • The fun of sharing books or quotations from them with others.
  • Just to name a few . . .

Veteran readers and those who have yet to discover the pleasures of losing oneself in the world of words on a wintry afternoon, cuddled near a hearth, or sprawled in a hammock beneath a shade tree, on a hot summer day, will achieve equal enlightenment from the innovative concepts within this book’s pages.

 A great gift book at the Holidays, for a birthday, or just because . . .


It’ll Grow Back – Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book – post 2

I seem to panic at so many simple things these days. Slippery roads, lost objects I know I’ll find later, the time (it creeps up so quickly) . . .

We all need a reminder that panic never solved anything. By going into “brain freeze” mode, we are so much less likely to spot simple solutions that so often save the day, or a project we thought we’d accidentally deleted but only saved under a different name.

A deep breath and a moment’s rest goes so much further in solving a problem. Try it next time you feel out of control of a situation.

Is Your Life Starting to Feel Like a Circus? Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book -post 1

Here is my first page share from this wonderful book mentioned in an earlier post. I won’t be sharing all of them, as I hope you’ll purchase one of these great little guides to life, but we all need to see some of these encouraging thoughts . . .

I think most of our lives resemble circuses these days as we tumble from work to home, one activity to another, laundry to meal prep, errands, clubs, school activities  . . . the list goes on.

Let’s remember we must seek some fun among the chaos. Happiness isn’t completely a choice, but it helps to have a little fun, rest, and relaxation as our goal.

Chores can be less like drudgery if we take a mindful approach. Notice the pattern of your dishes as you set the table.

Take a whiff of newly washed towels, feel their softness as you fold them.

Appreciate the patterns in the wood grain of the furniture as you dust . . . if you’re of an age to remember, perhaps even sing that Pledge song while you wipe the furniture down. . .