So glad

No matter our moods or circumstances, October brings treasures to warm the heart. Decorations in our neighborhood, October 2012

No matter our moods or circumstances, October brings treasures to warm the heart.
Our Alexandria neighborhood, October 2012

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”L. M. Montgomery

As I write this, I’m feeling sad and very tired.  I’ve not been sleeping well lately, and it feels as if everything in my life is currently a source of some sort of worry.  This evening, despite having many other things I needed to do, I went out for a walk for the first time in days.

The air was deliciously cool with that first taste of autumn.  I didn’t experience the euphoric joy that often hits me at this season, but I did feel a sense of healing.  Just being outside for a short time gave me a chance to step away, however briefly, from the many cares that have been weighing me down in recent weeks.

I’m still sad, tired and disappointed about a lot of things.  But I still believe that happier times lie ahead, and October brings me a bit of enchantment to remind me that “this too shall pass.”

I hope you are enjoying lovely weather, whether it’s spring or fall in your neighborhood.  I wish you the dazzling delights of flaming foliage and pumpkins and cider and all the excitement of the season.  And if you, like me, are feeling a bit low right now, I hope October will fall gently over your sadness, giving you the comfort of peace, and joys that go deeper than sorrow.


  1. Lani

    I’ll be thinking of you, Julia, as you journey on with sadness and begin to heal. Life can be tough, but God is good. Thinking of you today.

    • Thank you, Lani. I know you understand. I appreciate your visits here.

  2. Amy

    I am sorry to hear your heart is heavy right now. I have thought of you so often in the past few days. I wondered if you went to York county during this rainy weekend. We must plan a day to get together. I will be praying that your burdens will be lighter, that something will happen to ease your heart in whatever is making you sad and causing you to sleep badly. What a lovely decoration someone has in your neighborhood. I love that you have a quote by L.M. Montgomery. She is one of my favorite authors. Please give my love to Jeff and Matt and let them know I have been praying for them. I miss you and hate that as close as we are in miles we never have a way to get together. We need to fix that. Take care my friend. I love you.

    • Hey there Ms. Lady, I just tried to call you earlier today — check your cell phone messages. We are so fortunate that we are surrounded by neighbors (near both our homes) who love to decorate for the various seasons. I tell myself I’ll join in one day, but most of the time all I manage is Christmas, and sometimes not too much then. When I’m out walking and see my neighbors outdoors I thank them for the joy I get out of seeing their yards and porches so pretty. I know it’s a lot of work but everyone who drives or strolls by gets the benefit. I knew you loved Montgomery; I thought of you when I chose that quote. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers; we’ll talk soon. Love you too. ❤

  3. blseibel

    Peace and comfort to you sister. And yes October is a balm to my soul too. I could have written this if I could write!

    • Thank you so much — I am happy you share the affinity for autumn that I wrote about. Of all the comments that people can make about one’s writing, I think one of the nicest is when someone says “I feel the same way!” It lets me know I’m not alone. 😀

  4. Julia, I read this with a heavy heart. You’ve been on my mind and in my heart and as I visit with Kelly, your name has come up many times. I’m happy to hear that you took yourself for a walk on a cool, fall day. That crackle of fall air is restorative and a comfort in its own unique way.

    I wish I could help ease your pain, your sadness and your overwhelmed life. I hope October will fall gently over *your* sadness, giving you the comfort of peace and joy. xox

    • Thank you, Alys. I have thought of you often since the calendar page turned to October. Are your pumpkins growing again this year? Walking is wonderful in each season, but never more so than this time of year. Sunshine and snappy breezes and spice in the air are a fabulous combination. I am doing OK. Some days (and hours and moments) are harder than others, but on the whole, we have much for which to give thanks this year. YOU are among those blessings! ❤

      • So nice of you to say, Julia. It is a wonderful time of year, though we’ve yet to experience to cool, crisp weather. We’re nearly breaking records with temps in the low ninties still. Can you believe it?

        I’m about to post today about my lone pumpkin. I didn’t plant this year for a few reasons, partly the drought and also to try to stave off the squash bug infestation that I’ve struggled with for the past two years. I’ll share the link when it’s done.

        Thank you for the happy mail times two that arrived in my box yesterday. Your notes are such a gift. xox

        • Hi Alys, I was afraid those two notes might arrive on the same day, though they were sent on different days. I well remember the hot Octobers from when we lived in CA, though they were not as hot as the ones you are having now. I used to love to escape across the bridge into San Francisco on those days; it’s so beautiful and less chilly at this time of year. I’m glad you have at least one pumpkin! I just recently read an older post of yours about pumpkins, that you were not going to plant this year. Hope you get those squash bugs moving in the opposite direction soon. I’m sending you wishes for some magically cool autumnal days!

          • I didn’t plant any pumpkins this year but got one volunteer that grew without benefit of watering and produced one, 12-inch pumpkin. Isn’t that awesome?

            • Don’t you just love those volunteers? The ONLY tomatoes I’ve been able to grow AND eat in this land of raiding squirrels, were some cherry tomatoes that grew in abundance on a volunteer vine that sprung up from the edge of our driveway in 2005. I have no idea why the squirrels weren’t interested in them — or perhaps there were so many that they decided to leave some for us. Whatever, it was wonderful. We also have a nice big crape myrtle that started out as a volunteer sprig at our mailbox. I’m so happy you were “gifted” with a pumpkin this year — it’s like you are being rewarded for allowing the land to rest. You were not meant to have a totally pumpkin-free year!

              • Nature is full of surprises, Julia. I love that you had a prolific tomato vine after years of pilfering squirrels. I watched a young squirrel eat a tomato earlier this season, and was amazed at how long it took to devour just one (three to five minutes). I wonder if you also had “help” from larger creatures as well?

                Thank you for cheering me on!

                • Alys, until we came to Virginia, I didn’t even know that squirrels ate tomatoes at all. At our York home they almost certainly have helpers, but no squirrels ever attacked tomatoes as ferociously as did the squirrels here in Alexandria going after my lovely container tomatoes that grew so well on our deck. I read in the local paper that the only sure way to get any tomatoes to eat was to call a truce and leave food out for the squirrels. I feared to do that because I could just imagine hoards of toothy varmints descending en masse to our tiny deck. I love cheering on underdogs, and when it comes to gardening, we are definitely the underdogs…as someone has said, “nature always bats last.” 😀

                  • This is the first year the squirrels ate the garden tomatoes (and we have squirrels galore in our garden). My neighbor feeds them shelled peanuts, however, so that may be why the leave the tomatoes alone. This year I wondered if they weren’t after them for moisture since it’s been so dry and water is scarce. Hard to say.

                    What idea is to spritz the fruit with soapy water like ivory. It’s non-toxic and can easily be washed off, but would perhaps be enough to deter them.

                    You are right: we’re the underdogs. I like that quote, too.

                    • Alys, the soapy water solution is a great favorite of mine for many uses, but I never tried it against the tomato-eating pests. It just might work to ward off some of the critters. It’s quite effective against aphids, which is how I got hooked on keeping a bottle of 10:1 solution in a spray bottle on the counter; I found that it came in handy for so many things, and was a great replacement for almost all the heavier, chemical-laden cleaners I was using. Nothing like a little soap and elbow grease! I think you may be right about the squirrels going for the moisture in tomatoes. Even though I was disappointed not to taste a single one, I would not want to be without the squirrels. They are so delightful to watch, and sometimes they will come quite close to me when I am on the other side of the glass door on the patio. That’s when I get a close-up view. It surprises me that they seem to understand that glass is a barrier.

                    • It’s great when we can find mild solutions to problems, isn’t it? Vinegar is another one of those things that has 101 uses, yet is non-toxic and affordable.

                      I’m with you on the squirrels. You long for those fresh tomatoes, but love their antics just as much.

                      Our squirrels are quite busy this time of year, even though I don’t think the California Gray’s fully hibernate like the squirrels in the east. I wish I had one-tenth of that energy.

                    • Don’t you just love those wonderful, inexpensive, mild and natural household helpers? Vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, talc…on and on it goes. When I was a teenager I used to use chamomile tea to rinse my hair with after shampooing. I didn’t like the oily feel of other conditioners. Chamomile really brought out the highlights and was very good for my hair. Did you know chalk (lines drawn around windowsills and doors) is very good at keeping ants and other tiny insects away? I learned this in Chinatown, and later read an explanation for it: their legs stir up the powder, which they can’t breathe, so they avoid it. We have used it for that purpose for years, and it really works. I just love finding out this stuff. I can read household hints with as much interest as I read a novel, maybe more.

                      Not only do I envy the energy of squirrels; their agility and grace amaze me. When they run it seems that their feet barely touch the ground. Watching them is better than watching Olympic gymnasts.

                    • Julia, thank you for sharing that chalk line tip. I’ve just read the article you linked as well. I’ve never heard this one! Like you, I’ve always enjoyed reading household tips. Remember Eloise?

                      My boys spent hours with sidewalk chalk when they were younger. I never once thought to use it to prevent ants, but wander if they naturally stayed away in those days, only to appear when the chalk days were gone? That’s an interesting thought?

                      I’m picking up a box on my next shopping trip. The ants tend to arrive with the first rains. Rain! Yes, please.

                    • Alys, I do hope your rainy season begins soon. While we lived in CA I used to get irritated that we could never keep outside lights on at Christmas because it was always too rainy and it would trip the breakers, but then I’d picture those lovely green hills and be happy for it.

                      Let me know how the chalk works out for you. When I used to go to Chinatown in San Francisco, I would buy “miraculous insecticide chalk” that billed itself as safe for children and pets, and nontoxic. We were amazed at how well it worked. Come to find out, I should have known better than to believe everything I read, as that chalk is not only toxic, but possibly illegal. Later I read that regular chalk such as that used by children and formerly used in schools, can accomplish the same thing.

                      Oh how I envy those lucky children who are able to make chalk drawings on sidewalks! We have them here too and I love the way they decorate things. As a child, I was envious of sidewalks PERIOD because we never had any. Sometimes I think I love walking so much because I’m making up for all the years I wasn’t allowed to walk places because the road adjacent to ours was heavily traveled by fast cars, and it was really too dangerous. But even our neighborhood did not have sidewalks. We don’t have them at our York home, either, but we do have bike lanes, so that’s almost as good.

                    • I wonder if you had a faulty electrical panel, Julia. We’ve hung lights on our house for 19 years without a problem. Of course outdoor lights have also improved considerably and now that we’ve gone to LED lights, they’re cool, economical and they last more than a year. Hurray for that. I grew up in Canada so I don’t remember lights on our house since it was so cold. But then again, Kelly says she puts out lights so my memory could be faulty.

                      I saw that the Chinese chalk was toxic in the article you provided. I’m glad to hear good ‘ole sidewalk chalk will do.

                      I’m intrigued by your lack of sidewalks and sorry you lived on a street so busy that it wasn’t safe. Our Canadian home was the last on a cul de sac so we always felt quite safe. I have a handful of good memories of our time there and often wish I could recall even more. It was a happy time in our life, when dad was still alive, we didn’t live in poverty and all seemed right with the world.

                    • Alys, it’s quite possible that we had faulty wiring; at the very least, it seemed to us cheap or inadequate, but it was a rental, so we couldn’t do anything about it. The thing I remember as being most irritating was that I couldn’t run the space heater and have the Christmas tree on at the same time! 😀 Since I tend to keep the thermostat low and heat only the room I’m in when I’m the only one at home, that was annoying. But it might have had something to do with my having 3000-5000 lights on my tree, hee-hee.

                      Since Daddy died, I have thought many times about how you lost your own father far too early, and how pervasive the effect of that loss must have been. Some say that the loss of a child is the most unendurable thing there is, but I always felt that the loss of a devoted spouse, or a childhood loss of a beloved parent, must be far worse, if only because of the seismic changes it makes in our sense of security, to say nothing of the practical consequences in terms of such things as finances, care giving and so forth. Our culture tells us the answer to that loss is to provide money via insurance and Social Security, and of course, these things help. But they don’t address the deeper chasm in our hearts. I’m reminded of a favorite quote from Barbara Gill in her book Changed by a Child: “We feel this kind of loss deep within ourselves. It does heal, but it heals around the edges, leaving an open space in our heart. We grow around the scar and the hole in our heart and they become part of our architecture, part of who we are. But when the wind blows a certain way, we always hear it and feel it. It makes a sad sound. It makes our heart ache.” May your happy memories of your father continue to light up the sadness that will always be there.

                      Love and best wishes to you, my dear friend, along with hopes for a speedy recovery from surgery!

                    • Julia, what priceless words. You’ve gathered the essence of that loss completely. Not only did I miss my beloved dad, but all the things a dad provides for your: security, a sense of self, the gift of adoration that only a father can provide, along with the financial fallout and the burden that suddenly falls to the remaining parent. My parents entire savings were depleted after his nine-month illness, and because we were only living in the States for three years before he died, he had paid very little into his social security. My mother drew $65 per daughter, just enough to cover rent on a rundown apartment. Four of us lived in a two-bedroom apartment and Mom went back to work, but really scraped by. It was a rough, rough time. Losing Daddy left a seemingly bottomless pit.

                      I know how much you loved your Daddy. I’m glad you had him for so many years, and I mourn his loss with you. He was a special man.

                      As for your tree with all those lights, that makes me smile. And like you, when home alone I don’t bother to run the heater. The newer space heaters are safer and less of a power hog and the same is true for tree lights. We’ve improved on electrical panels, safer, cooler lights and so many other things. Edison would be proud. xox

                    • Thank you, Alys. I loved reading your comment tonight. It felt a bit like we were sitting here talking together. Yes, Edison would be proud…and so would our Daddies. 🙂 ❤

                    • That’s nice, Julia. And yes, agreed.

                    • ❤ 🙂 ❤

  5. Linda Blackford

    I’m thinking of you today and praying for you. Even though I don’t know exactly what’s weighing on your heart, God does! I hope you feel God’s presence in a very powerful way, and that his gift of a beautiful October continues to restore your peace and happiness!

    • Thank you, Linda. A lot of what I feel is a sense of sadness for Mama, and worry about how her life will go from here on in. We are focusing on building the supports that will enable her to keep living in her home, as long as possible. Daddy was her caregiver in so many ways, more than any of us realized. But Mama has survived so much. Each day brings new hope that time will heal and life will adjust to a “new normal” for all of us. I so appreciate your being here, and especially your prayers and kind thoughts and caring. They are a balm and a comfort.

  6. Oh sweet Julia, I’d like to wrap you in hugs and say it will all be ok. But sadness has a place in life. You have to feel it fully, examine it and reach an understanding of it. The walk was the best thing you could do. I’d like to take one too. The only time we can be outdoors right now is very early in the morning. We still have warm weather and an infestation of stink bugs that makes outdoors next to impossible. They are everywhere, thick and getting in or out of the door makes it impossible to enjoy the autumn days. We need a good cold snap. The photo of your autumn decor is lovely and I yearn to set mine up. It will have to wait. When there is a lot to worry about, I hand it over to the one that takes care of big stuff and look for small places of joy. I keep focusing on those small places until they grow larger than the worries. There are always things to worry about. I have a good sized list but then I have to make the joys match it. Put them in perspective. In one weeks time, my car needs a new engine, the television quit and the ice maker and filtered water dispenser on a very old fridge quit. The house must be painted and the bugs are covering the entire thing. The photos would gross you out. On the flip side, there is a solution for everything. That old phrase “let go and let God” always comes to mind. So here is my virtual hug. (((( )))). I don’t know any other way to send one. Hugs.

    • Marlene, your virtual hug was just perfect! Exactly what I needed. Isn’t it funny how these maintenance issues seem to happen in rapid-fire succession or all at once? Repairs are tough because we spend so much time and effort just to get things back to where they were before, or nearly so. I love your idea about focusing on the small things and leaving the big ones to God (especially since so many of the big things are beyond our control anyway). I hope there is a change in the air where you live (literally and figuratively, what with the stink bugs and all) so that you are soon able to get outside for work, play, and playful work. You’re right, though, that sadness has a place in life. Years ago I read a book called Dark Nights of the Soul by Thomas Moore, and it helped me tremendously. Here’s a quote from it: “During the dark night there is no choice but to surrender control, give in to unknowing, and stop and listen to whatever signals of wisdom might come along. It’s a time of enforced retreat and perhaps unwilling withdrawal. The dark night is more than a learning experience; it’s a profound initiation into a realm that nothing in the culture, so preoccupied with external concerns and material success, prepares you for.”

      Thanks so much for being here with us, and understanding. ❤

      • Loved Thomas Moore. One wise man. Hope you are moving into a better space. You know how things come in three’s. Murphy’s law is alive and well but I put that in the small stuff category. 🙂 I know sadness comes and goes and takes its own sweet time. Always have a hug ready. 🙂

        • Thank you Marlene! I feel as if we are making progress, slowly but surely. Keep those hugs coming. 🙂

  7. My heart hurts for you J. I’m sitting here at Alys’s kitchen table longing to reach out and hold your tired little body, if only to show you how much we care. Thank you for sharing yourself today even while so many other things need your attention and care. Your fall photo gives me hope that you found a little something to smile about along the way. As always, I’m thinking of you all with lots of love xo K.

    • K, I can feel the hugs and love across the miles 🙂 sort of like getting signals over the “coconut wireless” in Hawaii. Thanks so much for the gorgeous card. I just love my neighbors’ cheery decorations — that little scarecrow would be right at home in Boomdeeville. I’m so happy you and Alys were able to get together for her birthday! I was too late to get a card in the postal mail — I sent her one via the JL website, but I doubt she’s had time to get it yet. Just recently I was puttering around in my craft room and enjoying every stress-busting minute of it, thinking of you so many times. I’ll have to find time to dash over to Urban Scrapbook and see what you guys are brewing up for October! Love and hugs to you too!

      • I was so happy to hear your voice today Julia! Just off to sleep as early flight home tomorrow. xoxoxo

        • K, I loved our quick chat, although I felt as if I did 90% of the talking this time 😮 — Oh well, I guess a lot has been going on! It was great to hear from you and Alys too. Thanks to Mike for waiting around while we talked. Have a nice and uneventful trip home!

          • Home again, my what a day that travel day is and I bow to you that you are doing it so often. Always sad to say goodbye to my bestie and always good to be home. Mike is a dear and didn’t wait too long so all was good. I took some great photos of the Rockies since I was in a smaller prop plane from Seattle to Edmonton and you see a lot more from the air. I post a few when I recover…..LOL, I’m terrified of heights.

            • Isn’t it wonderful how we can have a fantastic time on a vacation and yet still be so happy to get home? WOW, I never fly in prop planes anymore at all, and over the Rockies would be terrifying for me — but also astonishingly beautiful, I’m sure. I’ll be watching for the photos! Thanks for checking in here. BTW I had just sent you a thank-you when I got the most amazing package in the mail yesterday… 🙂

              • OH wow, that was fast…..just a little something, something xo!

                • A FABULOUS “little” something, something! How often does one get a live Sequoia in the mail? 😀

                  • I thought Matt would love to help you plant it. If it doesn’t live, it’s guaranteed, they send you another. ox K

                    • WOW, thanks for letting me know that — if this one does not survive, we will get another. We are going to keep it in the sunroom for the winter and move it outdoors as soon as the danger of frost is past. I totally LOVE LOVE LOVE having a tiny reminder of Muir Woods right in our own home. A taste of the West Coast on the East Coast!

                    • I really hope it grows, I’d love to see it on my *next* visit to Washington ❤ x K

                    • I do too! I will try to send you some photos and maybe you’ll be able to come see it in person while it’s still fairly small. Right now it’s small enough to sit up on our mantle, but I’m going to move it into the sunroom soon.

  8. I’m not sure about October, as it heralds rain and darker days here in west Wales. However, I am sure about the benefits of a walk – it always lifts my spirits. In addition, I find that winter is a time for creativity – being stuck indoors is a good excuse to get out new yarn, make a pot of tea (or pour a glass of wine) and settle down with a good audiobook… my idea of bliss.
    I’m sad to hear that your life is currently full of worries and I do hope that you are feeling brighter soon.

    • I wish I could send you some of our October sunshine! Although I must admit I have some rather romantic notions about the rainy days in Wales. Rain makes for some fabulous landscapes in spring. One of Matt’s summer camp counselors was from Wales, and her photos were beautiful. I do agree with you that there are so many wonderful pursuits to enjoy indoors. I am hoping winter brings us many consolations to balance out the gloom. Thanks for being here, and may you have a few rays of sun breaking through the clouds now and then!

  9. Rita

    A few months after my Mother’s passing I saw this Irish saying on a sympathy card in a shop in Chattanooga, Tn. ” Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; Love leaves a memory no one can steal.” That card exactly expressed my feelings. And now, three and one half years later, it still does. I know that you know God and time are the greatest healers, and both will help us all to cope with our sadness. . A bright autumn day doesn’t hurt either.

    • What a sweet verse! The Irish have a way with words. I am sorry for the loss of your Mother, which brings lingering sadness despite the passage of time. There are some people we will simply never stop missing, but it is a comfort to remember that time does heal and God is there for us. Thanks for being here to share with us.

  10. Cherie

    Julia, I will be praying for you to be filled with joy and love. May the Lord lift your spirits to the heavens. I love you!!!! Love and Light. Cherie

    • Thank you, Cherie. Your words are always a comfort to me. ❤ Love and hugs to you too!!

  11. Julia, sorrow is so overwhelming in the first days and weeks that we can’t imagine that this feeling is not permanent. It’s very subtle, but memories start to make us smile, we can laugh again when we least expect it. Time really helps so much, not to forget but instead to remember. I’m so sorry you’re hurting. 🙏 Hi to Jeff and Matt. 💛Sheila

    • Thank you, Sheila. I’m doing OK now, but I feel tired much of the time. Oddly enough, most of the things making me sad right now are only indirectly related to Daddy’s death, or not related to it at all. I’ve been too distracted by various other issues to think about Daddy very much on a conscious level, but perhaps this is a form of denial or postponement of grief. I was going through some recent photos yesterday and there were several that brought mixed feelings of joy and sadness. Thanks for being here with me through good times and bad. ❤

  12. kjyaccino

    Thank you for the lovely, bittersweet post. I appreciate your honesty and realness. Thanks, Julia. And what a beautiful phrase, “I hope October will fall gently over your sadness, giving you the comfort of peace, and joys that go deeper than sorrow.” Your phrases sometimes sing to me.

    • Oh Kathy, what a lovely compliment. I appreciate your encouragement. I think autumn has always had a bittersweet flavor, despite its being my favorite season. There is the excitement of approaching holidays, but also the loss of the summer and the waning of another year in which we still haven’t accomplished all we had hoped. I told Jeff yesterday that I had been worrying how Daddy was going to make it through another winter (the season when his COPD was often worse) — at least we do not have to worry about him struggling to breathe as he sometimes did in those last years and months. Christmas will be hard for us this year, but also filled with unexpected joys. So I choose to hope and believe. Thanks for being here.

  13. Anon E. Moose

    Search, under Defeat Despair, also I am glad

    • I did search those words, and I was surprised at how many posts they turned up. I guess a lot of things make me glad.

  14. Julia,
    I do love this time of the year. The crisp air and beautiful fall foliage.
    Sorry you’re troubled. I’m sure it will pass. All things have their season; the good and the bad.
    I find that what you experience in your walks is also experienced in prayer. Sometimes when we are bearing some trial it is difficult to pray and it seems as though not much is gained from it. Yet like the autumn season we know whether we see it or not the beauty and value is still there.
    So in knowing that is also true of prayer: “Pray anyway!”
    And as well get out there and keep walking.

    • Thanks Alan, I’m about to do just that! (Walk, I mean– although I will also pray at some point along the way, I’m sure). When I find it difficult to pray with words, as I often do, sometimes sitting silently in God’s presence is all that I need. And what better time and place to do that than outdoors in early autumn? For some reason, your comment puts me in mind of one of my favorite Yoda quotes: “Do, or do not. There is no try.” 😀 Thanks for being here.

      • Thank you Julia.
        No greater prayer is there than to be silent with God surrounded by the nature that He created not separate from us but for us. In observing it in its uninhibited many functions, through the gifts of our senses, God brings calm to our unsettled hearts.

        • 🙂 Thank you Alan!

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