Friday, December 31, 2010

Into 2011

I grew up in a mostly Scandinavian neighborhood. Well OK the grew up part is a stretch.
And New year Eve day was spent in furious house cleaning by the homemaker.
So as my homage to that I went to the dump to dispose of my pitiful bag of garbage, and to recycle my bounty of stuff.
Thought in my mind and in my heart the year rounds on the 31st of October.
I want ot wish my readers and abundant New Year,
filled with every blessing and peace of mind.
May only good things come your way.
Though we may never meet each other, we are all together under the
same sun and moon, entwined in this magical communication that is "the web",
and our lives are the richer for it.

postcard by MissGaylee

And Yes, I still sweep the thresholds at sundown.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

cold sun and a few flurries

I don't know how many times I have said that in the last few days, but alot. Look closely and you will see them, there aren't many, but one can still hope to see a snowbow.

I spent much of yesterday dashing outdoors and looking out windows hoping to see
a snowbow, sadly this time I didn't
Once, about 25 years ago as I crested the hill I saw an ice-bow....nearly wrecked my trucktrying to get a better look. I have seen snowbows, 2 actually. I can never get enough of the fragile beauty of 'sky lights'.

Still I am in awe of the beauty and rarity of cold sun and a few flurries.

Friday, December 24, 2010

a few words

I am about as ready as I can get for Christmas, and will soon settle down to watch 24 hours of A Christmas Story.
Christmas is something I will try to keep and nurture in my heart every day of the year.
The wide eyes of a child seeing the tree on Christmas morn.
The sweet and bittersweet memories of childhood's Christmas.
The anticipation of openting that perfect gift, or may-be not.
The passing on of traditons and the creating of new ones.
The calm of a snowy winters night light by colorful lights.
The hustle and bustle, and excitement.
But most of all the candle flame of hope that lights the corners of your soul.

Joy, peace and all good things!

Monday, December 20, 2010


It has been a long time since the I last saw a full Lunar eclipse, and because of the weather, I am not sure if I will see this one.
I think back to the warm summer night when the moon slowly turned the color of rootbeer, hung there immense in the night sky and then slowly glided back to it's silvery color.

This December full moon is often called the Moon before Yule, or the Cold Moon. And as usual I have my own name for it. as it is truly the Moon of Wonderment.
A special time indeed because there has not been a eclipse, full moon and solstice together like this since 1554 or 1638 depending on how you recon it. The next won't be until2094, pretty sure I will miss that one. It feels very auspicious, very majical to me.
I had planned on posting a number of facts for my readers, but instead I will just post a photo of a lunar eclipse, and the solstice sun at New Grange., and a few facts.
I will be thinking of you all as I stand under the eclipsing moon tonight, even if I can't see it through the clouds, I will know it is there.

"On Tuesday, Dec. 21, we will hit the celestial trifecta with three red-letter events on the same date. It begins with the first total lunar eclipse since 2008, and the last visible here (weather permitting) until 2014. The period of totality begins at 2:40 a.m. EST and ends at 3:54 a.m.

In mid-eclipse, at 3:14 a.m., the moon will be full – a moon known to some as the Long Night Moon. And about 15 hours later, at 6:42 p.m., we’ll mark the winter solstice, and the official start of winter." -Frank Roylance

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"flare of faith"

"Lighting a light at the darkest time of the year is a pledge somehow.
A promise. A sacred vow. Such a small, symbolic gesture. So elegantly
simple. So significant. Each tentative flicker of each flame is a
reminder of the fragility and pulsating persistence of the life force. Each
spark, a signal flare of faith".-Donna Henes
author of Celestially Auspicious Occasions

Saturday, December 18, 2010

spreading a smile

"There! Look there! its a snowman!"
And sure enough there he was by the side of the road, but still pretty much in the
middle of nowhere.
Thank you to whoever made him.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I can see you from my house

There was a rocking chair by the attic window, and every year as the weather got colder she would bring a blanket or two up the creaky wooden steps with her and and wrap herself in the them as she watched the brilliant colors of Autumn bloom and fade and the sunsets get earlier and earlier. Soon she would need to wear her warmest slippers and bring a mug of tea with her.
About Thanksgiving, she would bring a small battery lantern with her, and begin watching for the bright Christmas lights to appear. One night she saw some one, another woman she thought sitting by her window and she waved, the woman waved back.
The next night she sat in her chair and saw the woman again, she waved and the woman waved back, this went on for several nights, when she notice someone else by their window and she waved and they waved back. As she sat there watching the beautiful lights and listening to carols on her radio, she saw still another person come to their window, and again she waved, and they waved back. One night she noticed someone waving to her.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

DIY....Martha would be proud

I love Christmas
everything about it
Ok. except for the weather
get carried away
deck the halls
make tooooooo many cookies
listen to carols all day

But one of the projects I take on that gives me the most trouble, and the most pleasure, is home made cards.
Now I know that people slave over addressing them, so making them is something that must have it's own reward. And sometimes I just run out of steam, and so the last folks added to my list get store bought, 'cause Martha Stewart I ain't.

My list is not a short one, and when it is filled I look at it and think, sometimes out loud.
"job well done!".
I believe if you want intelligent conversation, you gotta talk to yourself.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

the wind is my sculptor

After 3 or 4 days of fluffy lake effect snows the landscape fades to a big heap of .......cotton.....marshmallows.....dust bunnies, well something.And the winds that accompany these snows sculpts them into amazing swirls and curls.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


One of my favorite Christmas traditions is to watch A Christmas Story, the best thing about this tradition is that all I need to do is to sit back, with a big mug of coffee and enjoy, be entertained and do a little time traveling back to the days, before my youth.

It reminds me of some of the good and bad and just plain kid things. How dull the long winters wereand how on those long winter nights, I would visit my neighbors, they had no children, but their cozy kitchen, the walls lined with a fabulous array of roster and chiken figurines, and illuminated by a wall lamp decorated with rosters, it cast it's soft golden glow across the room,. there were always wonderful sugar cookies and other home baked treats, and wonderful stories about far away places, or thier growing up in the early 1900's. And I can't help but think of how
the family or brothers and sisters, none of whom had ever traveled very far from home, had instilled in me, and every other kid in the neighborhood, a sense of wonder at the wide wide world.

Oh. and the snowsuit!!!!! the most cumbersome piece of clothing ever invented. Now it is rare to see children out playing in the snow, but then, we would zip and button and tie and hitch until we all felt like" a tick ready to pop". and out we went to build snowmen and igloos and play cowboys and Indians in the snow. sledding and building snowforts, pelting and getting pelted with snowballs.
And those who were a bit more daring knew that a good snowsuit was much faster than any sled on even the gentlest slope.

And didn't everyone have a teacher like Miss Shields, a sinisterly woman, who's life was her job.
And her only joys good penmanship and punctuation.
Fortunately I also had some teachers who weren't like her. But that is at least 2 or 3 other posts.

Every time I see Ralphie and his brother standing in line to see Santa, I remember how it felt to
this kid at Christmas, going down to the 5 and 10, yes we had a store called the "5 and 10 cent store" to see Santa, who was really this guy that worked with my Dad. The lights and the
decorations filled me with wonder, and I always had on special toy picked out. Sadly, unlike Ralphie, didn't get what I wanted.
Those were "tough times" much like now.

That anticipation, so strong when I was a kid, still overtakes me at times. So thank you Jean Shepard, for .....everything.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Belsnickle Day, December 6th

Belsnickle day, formidable and and gruff, and certainly not a Jolly old Elf, he would arrive to the ringing of sleigh bells, and if your homework was done, you were a good child, and knew all your prayers, you might get an orange and some chocolate. Otherwise it was coal and switches, and if you were really bad, you could be carried off in Belsnickles huge burlap sack.

Belsnickle can be more like St. Nicholas, the kindly bishop, who provided dowries for the 3 daughters of a poor man, by placing bags of coins in their stockings that had been hung by the fire to dry. This Belsnickle delivers shoes or socks filled with goodies, to all the goold children,
Naughty children were simply ignored.

Near Philadelphia Penn, Belsnickle might appear of Christmas Eve or any or all evenings between then and Twelfth Night. Belsnicle would be dressed in old sacks , rags or even Paperbags, faces blackened with coal or mud, they would start shortly after sunset and go from house to house, brandishing a bundle of switches. Wherever they were welcomed in they would toss candies and other goodies onto the floor, but woe to any child who grabbed for these goodies before the Belsnickle left, as they would feel the sting of those switches. many families would treat the Belsnickle to food and drink, even alcohol. this stort of Christmas time "trick or treating " went on until midnight. Often Belsnickles traveled in groups from farm to farm making merriment

-photo by Sunflowers and Dragonflies

There is also the uniquely American Belsnickle, covered in furs and looking like and old fur trapper. He often traveled with a side kick who told jokes and sang, When Belsnickle arrived at the home he would announce his presence by rapping on the window or ring a cow bell. Once inside the children would gather around and recite their prayers, ABCs or addition and subtraction tables. The children who recited would be given goodies and gifts from Belsnickles mysterious burlap sack.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

wondering as I often do

I always find something mysterious about the very early sunsets at this time of year. And equally I finding it mysterious that as the winter deepens it frigid grasp the days start getting longer,
Wondering about his as often do I feel sure that our ancient ancestors did as well, and perhaps they even began their celestial observations because of it, perhaps.

So here is some information from photos by Peter Bowers.

The 2010 solstice comes on December 21, but the earliest sunsets for the northern hemisphere are around now.

It seems paradoxical. At middle latitudes in the U.S. – and throughout the northern hemisphere – the earliest sunsets of the year come about two weeks before the solstice and the shortest day of the year.

Why isn’t the earliest sunset on the year’s shortest day? It’s because of the discrepancy between the clock and the sun. A clock ticks off exactly 24 hours from one noon to the next. But the actual days – as measured by the spin of the Earth, from what is called one “solar noon” to the next – rarely equals 24 hours exactly.

Solar noon is also called simply “midday.” It refers to that instant when the sun reaches its highest point for the day. At this time of year, the time period from one solar noon to the next is actually half a minute longer than 24 hours. Today, the sun reaches its noontime position at 11:52 a.m. local standard time. Two weeks from now – on the winter solstice – the sun will reach its noontime position at 11:59 a.m. That’s 7 minutes later than today.

The later clock time for solar noon also means a later clock time for sunrise and sunset. The table below helps to explain.

For Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Date Sunrise Solar Noon (Midday) Sunset Daylight Hours
December 7 7:09 a.m. 11:52 a.m. 4:35 p.m. 9 hours 26 minutes
December 21 7:19 a.m. 11:59 a.m. 4:39 p.m. 9 hours 20 minutes


The exact date for the earliest sunset or earliest sunrise varies by latitude. At present, mid-temperate latitudes in the northern hemisphere have their earliest sunsets, while the southern hemisphere’s mid-temperate latitudes are waking up to their earliest sunrises. At latitudes closer to the equator, the earliest sunset or earliest sunrise has already come and gone. Closer to the Arctic and Antarctic Circles, the earliest sunset and earliest sunrise have yet to come.

As you might have guessed, the latest sunrises and sunsets aren’t on the day of the solstice either.

So there’s variation in the exact dates, but the sequence is always the same for both hemispheres. First: earliest sunset before the winter solstice, the winter solstice itself, latest sunrise after the winter solstice. Half a year later: earliest sunrise before the summer solstice, the summer solstice itself, latest sunset.

The earliest and latest sunsets and sunrises are lovely phenomena that happen around every solstice. People around the world notice them and often ask about them

The winter solstice is the shortest day, but the earliest sunsets come a couple of weeks before the solstice, in early to mid-December, depending on your latitude. What’s more, the latest sunrises come after the winter solstice, in January.

Why isn’t the earliest sunset on the year’s shortest day? It’s because a clock ticks off exactly 24 hours from one noon to the next, while the actual days – as measured by the spin of the Earth – are rarely exactly 24 hours long.

One Earth spin can be measured from what is called one “solar noon” or “midday” to the next. Solar noon refers to that instant when the sun reaches its highest point for the day. At this time of year, the time period from one solar noon to the next is actually half a minute longer than 24 hours. So – two weeks before the solstice, for example – the sun reaches its noontime position at 11:52 a.m. local standard time. Two weeks later – on the winter solstice – the sun reaches its noontime position at 11:59 a.m. That’s 7 minutes later.

The later clock time for solar noon also means a later clock time for sunrise and sunset. The result: earlier sunsets before the solstice and increasingly later sunrises for a few weeks after the solstice.

By the way, the exact date of earliest sunset varies with latitude. But the sequence is always the same: earliest sunset in early December, winter solstice, latest sunrise in early January

Thursday, December 2, 2010

meanwhile on the hilltop

It seemed as though Winter would never get started, but yesterday I woke up to the first real snow of the season. The day before brought a wild all day rain and windstorm. However here on the hilltop only the the hints of what was happening down in the valleys was to be found.

Water was flowing in a ditch that is dry, unless it is the spring thaw.
And low hanging braches skimmed the surface of large lawn puddles!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

decorate your dinosaur

Once upon a time a long, long time ago, Natural History Magazine thought it would sell more subscriptions if the decorated a Dinosaur for Christmas, I don't know if it sold more gift subscriptions, but it makes a great subject for a holiday potholder.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I think it was a Friday

I think it was a Friday, about 2:30 PM, I was sitting in the school Library, just looking out the window. There were several other people around the table, some were studying, some reading. Their faces at the moment that the Principal's voice came over the loudspeaker and announced that the President had been shot during a motorcade in Dallas, Texas; will forever be etched in my mind.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Blue Moon????

November's full moon has many names, Long Night Moon, Fallen Leaves Moon, Hunter's Moon, first Snows Moon, Frosty Moon, even Beaver Moon or the Bare Trees Moon, wonderful names, all with a Pioneer times poetry to them. I might call this the Pumpkin pie Moon, Venison Sausage Moon, the Denning of Bears Moon or the Smoking Chimney Moon, however this has turned in to the Controversial Moon.
Why? because it is a Blue moon, no it's not physically blue, it is sort of an extra moon.
Trivial Pursuit, yes the game Trivial Pursuit, popularized the Blue Moon being defined as the second full moon in a month. But this time the older definition, the Almanac definition of the fourth full moon between the Equinox and Solstice or between the Solstice and Equinox, is called the Blue Moon. The third full moon is usually the one designated the Blue Moon, this does not mess up the order of the Full moon names as the Almanac lists them.

One thing is sure, that it will be beautiful. Worth putting on your heavy coat, the one with the faintest scent of mothballs still clinging to it and going out under the night sky. Remember also, the we are all under that same beautiful moon.

If you would like to read more about this here is another point of view.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

With a song in my head

May-be it is a song in my heart, or my head, but more likely my subconscious.
I know some songs, think they are called jingles, are meant to stick in your head, meant to influence you, but why do other songs do that? Sometimes, I astound myself with the things I think about, but this has bothered me for a very long time.

I read once that these songs are can tell you about your true mood, my true mood therefor is silliness it was also suggested that these tunes could reveal hidden motives and meanings.
Well, may-be I agree with that one. So now I listen to that tune that keeps running through my head.

"gimme a break, gimme a break Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar"
And all of it's mysterious, delicious and sad possible meanings.

Monday, November 15, 2010

November thoughts


Autumn is now half over. By the looks of it, all of
nature has died. But looks are deceiving. Though
they appear spindly and bare, trees are very much
alive and vibrant with growth. It is in the dark cold,
in fact, that trees do their most growing. This
expansion is mainly in their roots, which spread out
and expand their reach and capability to provide
nourishment from and for the earth.

Perhaps we should take our cue from our giant plant
brethren. This is a good time for us, too, to dig in for
the duration of the chilly dark season. Time to send
our roots deep down into the soil of our spirit to
steady us and help us draw sustenance from the inner
reaches of our own souls. - Donna Hennes

Yep, that sounds like me but I didn't write it. It was written by Donna Hennes, who wrote "Celestially auspicious Occasions", another one of the books that had deeply impacted my life.

Said so much better than I ever have.
So indeed it is the time to tend the garden of my soul. And it is also the time of year to do, and or finish all off those projects I started or wanted to start. The books I have set aside to read and ponder.
To think and to daydream about other times, live and places, and most imortant to sink my roots into some new ground.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Can't say it enough!!!!

It is often that we enjoy a several days and clear skys and warm days in the usually dreary month of November, and as this will shortly , all to shortly be over I am trying to make the most of it. I am actully trying to think up things to do outdoors.
Raking leaves, well actually raking them out of the woods and using them as compost was on yeaterday's list.
Tempered of course , by savoring the warmth of the day, and the magisterial pattern of bare trees against the sky.

Some days work just isn't work it is more like a prayer, and the lightness of being that comes with it.

I have worked hard, preparing for the dormancy of winter, every muscle aches with the joy of accomplishment and every joint sings of the serenity of being at one with the land. I am giddy with hope and filled with anticipation of Spring. This year for a change, I will be welcoming the dormant weeks ahead, at least for now.

I am " lucky mud" and that is a very good feeling.

Silent Sunday~~~Hedgehog Picnic

thanks Coleman