Tuesday, January 29, 2013


The past few very cold days have kept me close to the hearth I have had no desire to venture from the it's  warmth, in fact I would like to curl up under my well loved and well worn out quilt and hibernate until the real Spring thaw arrives. the wood pile and the coal bin have been my world.  Beyond my threshold the world was a very inhospitable place, as it often is at this time of year.  I watched the moon rise each night,  and wondered what our ancestors must have thought  when the Moon
after Yule came round and
the water froze in the   bucket, even inside the     house.                                                                        ~~unknown

After a few days of sub zero weather, a chill develops along the walls of  an old house like ours, much befitting the Ice Moon, moon of the Terrible as the Sioux called it, or the very apt Lakota name "The Moon of Frost in the Teepee"
and putting to rest any romantic notions one might have about the winters of old.   
I recall reading about quilts, "Remember Me" was the name.  It talked about "Kivvers" as near as I can recall the spelling which were quilts made of what ever fabric could be found, even worn out fabric was stitched together, to make something totally practical, meant only to shield a person from the cold.
Children were often huddled in the bed under these "kivver's" , and so probably were the adults whenever possible.   Hibernation of sorts, and truly hibernation sounds good about now. 

Outside the world appears dormant, and  perhaps we too are meant become dormant and turn inward.  Gathering the thoughts, images and actions of the past months  and years and like the farmer who, sitting at the kitchen table on a frigid night. sorts through his saved seeds choosing those that will be productive and those that will be composted.    think of the coming spring, knowing that under the snow  and the bitter cold that comes with the lenghtening days the earth is not completely dormant, there are stirrings, if you look closely the buds have begun to swell, and you have to look very closely.  

The Romans  named the month January  after the god Janus who was  god of beginnings and transitions whose two faces, one looking to the future and one to the past  was often depicted on  gates and doorways.   If one goes out  under the the light of a January moon, reflecting brilliantly off the snow cover, into the very still and very cold air, they might be lucky enough to hear the mating calls of owls.   

                                                                                        ~~Amanda Grow

Friday, January 25, 2013

watching the moon grow fuller

~~unknown to me
I have been watching the moon grow fuller and fuller each night as it rises above the treetops, and makes its ascent peeking through clouds and pine trees, illuminating the bare branches.
I watch the moon, it is asomething I  have in common with people who lived millennia ago and with those who will be living millennia in the future.  The same moon that anyone one, anywhere on the earth can look up at, the people who were once a part of my live and those who may-be will be a part o my life in the future. The  many millions of people who also live on this remarkable blue marble, everyone of them are under that same
moon, the same moon I am looking at as I type. 
One of the things that we all share.
"I stretched out my arm to wave to  you,
then I stretched out to other to hug."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"America the Beautiful" and James Taylor

That over 40 years on, that that long lanky guy who sang  his stories, would be singing at the inauguration?
Singing the first  and best known stanza,  like I had never heard it sung before.
I realised that this was more than a patriotic song, it was a love song,
and the troubadour was sing the praises of his Loved one.
Was he reminding us of what a great country we live in?
Was he singing in gratitude?
Was he sharing his vision through the words of another?
Who knows.
I wish  he had been able to sing the whole sing.

America the Beautiful

Words by Katharine Lee Bates,
Melody by Samuel Ward
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stem impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man's avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!
~~~the official Scout version

Monday, January 21, 2013


The January thaw, feels like a bit of magic.  There for a few days  in the coldest part of winter are days of relative warmth that melt away the snow, and bid one come out and play for a precious few days the burden of heavy boots, heavy coats and heavy snow are lifted.  for a few days there is a lightness of being and glimpse of  warmer days to come.  Memory works overtime in a landscape that though more than welcome just doesn't seem real. The bits and pieces of memories that return from our childhood when winter was fun and exciting. 
The thaw. with it's deep and dense snow fog and rains feels so much like early spring, except that the air still has the smell of winter and not spring. And then there is the quiet, very few birds, only the chickadee and bluejay visit my yard.  The rattle of branches in the breeze breaks the silence. "Quiet, quiet the earth is sleeping, it's not time to wake up yet."            The clear skys will soon turn cloudy and the wind will get colder, snow will again cover the hills.  We will sink back into our warm houses. 
And I will stare wistfully out the window.    still dreaming and remembering  those moments that flitted through my brain during the all too brief thaw, when the world was indeed betwixt and between. 

Even on those days when the winds  whistles as it drives the snow sideways  past my window.  Piling it into drifts and turning the world white with it's bitter cold frosting,  the suns rays are getting stronger, and beneath that icy whiteness the earth is waking up.   The late afternoon rainbows travel farther into the house and land in unexpected places. 
I want to wrap my self in my well worn quilt and hibernate until the first sweet breezes of spring.  To dream of those quick glimpses of other times that came flooding back to  me.   A long and peaceful rest....before springtime wakes me.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

"When the clouds are all streaky......"

the sky in winter is a canvas, the wind, clouds, sun, rain, and snow all have a brush and their own colors.  and they all paint the sky in turn during the course of they day.  each time one looks, one sees a different image, a different mood, the work of a different element.  the ever changing  patterns of the winter sky
"When the sky is all streaky/ it'll rain for a week-y"
~~Maurice Moulterd
and it did

Thursday, January 10, 2013

smushing soap

Once upon a time when I was a younger housewipe, living out here in the big woods, baking bread and making quilts and decorating the house for every possible occasion; I was perusing the Miles Kimble catalog and spotted this handy little item that promised to be a real money saver.  for the first time ever and since, that has proved to be truth.
Now what is this device? It Is a soap saver, and it really works!!!!! and it has been saving us money for more than a few years, by transforming all of those errant bits of mostly used up bars of soap into usable bars of soap. 
 And Hey Presto its even messy enough to be fun.   One begins by putting one of the  caps onto the ring and filling it almost to overflowing with the the well used soap broken into small pieces,  empty the bits of soap into another container and cover them with hot tap water.  It will take at least 15 minutes for the bits to soften, but don't leave them too long or they will dissolve completely and be useless.  when the bits start getting mushy they are ready to be drained and placed back into the  soap frame, the other cap placed on it and then  one smushes the caps together and smushes the sticky soap bits into a new bar of soap.  and for extra messyness the excess water and melted soap will smush out  and cover your hands and drip onto the floor.
One then removes the ring and one of the caps.   and there it is a new bar of soap!  Of course it will have to be slid off the cap and  onto a tray or something to dry for a few days, it will shrink and  get somewhat  cracked  by the time it drys.   As i said this is a messy process, but a rewarding one.
No, I don't save string or tinfoil and those nasty plastic grocery bags get recycled ASAP, but i always wanted to make soap because it seem like a Mr. Wizard experiment, but I reckon this is as close as I will ever get.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Christmas leftovers

"Someday, someday I will have a Christmas tree in every room."   "I will have all of my lights put up on the house before the first cold weather."  though I have come awfully close, neither is a goal I have realised...yet. 
It is all part of the Season of Christmas, which by my reckoning runs from roughly December 5th through Epiphany on Jan 6.
I wonder at people who have the tree and all the trimmings put away before they have finished all the leftovers from Christmas dinner. 
The days after December 25th are the ones I enjoy most, a time to savor  a Christmas cookie or three in front of the tree, while listening to  "What if  Mozart wrote  "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas"", or my favorite carols played on hammered dulcimer.  The exuberance, or the ringle jingle as my little one used to  call it, of Renaissance Christmas music.
Lost in the reminiscences of Christmas past, the hope for Christmas futures, and the warmth of Christmas present.  I can sit on the sofa and watch the tree for a very long time.   
For all of the rushing and excitement one day is just not enough time, it is a celebration with more subtle meanings than can be savored in one day.  By the time the Three kings have made their visit, I am ready for the season to end.
The cards are read, the movies watched and rewatched,  the new ornaments hung on the tree with the old favorites. and it is time.  We have honored all of the traditions, filled our sense sand warmed our hearts and hopefully the hearts of those around us.   Before us are the long nights and cold and snowy days remaining  in January and February.  By the time the first crocus of  March blooms Christmas will seem so far behind us, or so far in the future, most of use won't give it a though, and in the summer swelter, we might either wish for  the refreshing chill or rejoice that it  is still well in the future.  As the leaves begin turning and we select that perfect pumpkin to carve into a Jack-O-lantern we might glance at the calender and reassure ourselves we still have plenty of time.  NOT until the first snowflakes???

Then it is time to carefully pack away the tinsel and trappings.   The brightly colored lights that  shine through the early evening darkness on the drive home warm the deepest part of ones heart and soul.  Are all too soon left off and will only be turned on by mistake, then quickly turned out, may-be.   

Saturday, January 5, 2013

La Befana, did meet the Three Kings


On the night of January 5th the 3 Kings aided by their camels always brought us gifts, sometimes the big gifts arrived on Dec 25th and sometimes they were reserved for the 3 Kings, who liked to leave things in your shoes, and if you were bad their camel left something in your shoes.  In Italy it is La Befana, who is brings the gifts that usher out the Christmas season.K
Sometimes we called it "Little Christmas", and sometimes Epiphany, but one thing was sure it was the day before the decorations were taken down and packed away, the leftover cookies, if there were anyway, were put into the freezer...and of course there were presents.
In the years when we followed the tradition of adding to the nativity scene the figurines on the day they were supposed to arrive, this was the day that the magnificently dressed Wise  men and their beautifully adorned camels were placed into the scene. It always seemed a shame to me that these beautiful figurines were only on display for a day or two, they were fascinating.  Then again, that might have been the reason.
The story of La Befana is relatively new to me, and the most complete version I  could find is reposted here for those of you who haven't heard of her, and she has been around for a very long time, certainly longer that Santa Claus.  In some stories, she rides a broom, in some she walks and in some she has a donkey, sometimes called a witch and sometimes a grandmother.  I find her story beautiful.  

The Feast of the Epiphany, celebrated January 6 with a national holiday in Italy, and the tradition of La Befana are a big part of Italian Christmas celebrations. Epiphany commemorates the 12th day of Christmas when the three Wise Men arrived at the manger bearing gifts for Baby Jesus. The traditional Christmas holiday season in Italy lasts through Epiphany.
Italy's traditional celebration includes the tale of a witch known as La Befana who arrives on her broomstick during the night of January 5 and fills the stockings with toys and sweets for the good children and lumps of coal for the bad ones.
According to the legend, the night before the Wise Men arrived at the manger they stopped at the shack of an old woman to ask directions. They invited her to come along but she replied that she was too busy. Then a shepherd asked her to join him but again she refused. Later that night, she saw a great light in the sky and decided to join the Wise Men and the shepherd bearing gifts that had belonged to her child who had died. She got lost and never found the manger.
Now La Befana flies around on her broomstick each year on the 11th night, bringing gifts to children in hopes that she might find the Baby Jesus. Children hang their stockings on the evening of January 5 awaiting the visit of La BefanvTherefore, every year, on the night of January 5th, La Befana will travel on her magic broom to every house in Italy, in search of the baby Jesus to bring him gifts. Climbing down the chimneys, she brings candy or fruit to the children that were good and black coal, onions or garlic to the children that were naughty. The children will leave out their stockings, and even their shoes, hoping to awaken to some candy. Similar to the Santa Claus tradition, many of the children will write notes to La Befana and even leave out food and wine for her.  ~~ about.com

In the city of Urbania, there is a festival in her honor from January 2-6, among other things there is  La casa della Befana, where children can talk to Befana, much as children here go to see Santa. In fact it is not unusual to Santa and Befana together.  Children also write letters and even email Befana at info@mybefana.it

In Venice, theRegatta delle Bafane  is held each Jan 5, men  dress up as Befana and sail down the Grand Canal. 

Befana, who usually enters a home by coming down the chimney, will leave a lump of coal in the stocking or shoes of bad children and in Sicily she sometimes leave switches in the stocking of the unruly children.    It is common for children to receive "carbone", a black rock candy that looks very much like coal. 

I think i would rather get some of Befana's  "carbone" than  what the camel leave.

slightly wordy Slent Sunday on a road

Not every picture is worth a thousand words, but the memory it represents is.