31 December 2006

auld lang syne

new years eve i stay home. always. its a quiet reflective night for me, recalling events of the past year, anticipating the wonders of the year to come. heres a photo i just took, out in the yard a few minutes before midnight, walking around in the snow under the almost full moon. someone is snug and cozy, happily sleeping in the woodpile this cold moonlit new years eve. hope you are snug and cozy where you are, too. happy new year.

30 December 2006

bring 'em on

finally our first sustained snowfall. tiny little flakes that last and its been snowing all day. enough so that the roads are being plowed. enough to delay my moms flight to florida. enough to keep me in jammies all day. the feeder is filled and ready, you chickadees and titmice and blue jays. so come on down.

28 December 2006

slow motion

snow this morning as i awoke. big fat lazy flakes floating down all so slow. i sat in the kitchen rocker for much of the early morning, reading my book and drinking my coffee, stopping often to look out and marvel at the beauty of the snow. a lovely, peaceful way to begin my day.

27 December 2006


ever wonder what happens to wreaths and christmas trees after the holidays are over? oh i dont mean the kind of greens in lobbies and living rooms, on front doors or in windows. we know they land in compost piles or in a heap at the dump - but only after serving some poor purpose in illuminating someones holiday or dressing up a dwelling. what of the unsold wreaths, the cut-but-never-even-purchased trees? have they given of themselves for naught? i asked all this of a young man who was loading still bundled trees into the back of his white pickup truck. we burn them he said - and then theyre just gone.

26 December 2006

paperwhite narcissus

in mid-december i try to remember to plant these bulbs. if i time it right they bloom for christmas. fragile white flowers clustered atop long thin stems filling the room with a most heavenly scent. it seems i am the only one who enjoys it, though. some cannot even smell it. and the girl insists they smell like feet.

25 December 2006

what child is this?

its my grandchild!

today was the day s&s announced to the family that they are pregnant. what an amazing christmas present it was for everyone!

24 December 2006

silent night

finally its still after a night of family and gifts, food and music and merriment. tonight i wait in the quiet to see christmas come in. tomorrow night i stay up to see it out. i can sleep on the 26th. the kid in me wants to experience as much of christmas day as i can.

an offering from the aformentioned kid: a recipe for a decadant chocolate sauce that i serve only at christmas. here we are full of christmas tradition - and christmas joy. may your days be merry and bright...

23 December 2006

the night before christmases

these four copies of the night before christmas are all iilustrated by different artists. same story, different drawings. the girl and i have at least fifty maybe sixty more copies of the same story, each with drawings and paintings and photos unique to the illustrator. every christmas for years and years weve given each other another new version. i have my favorites - the one by tasha tudor, another by mary englebrieght, another by anita lobel - and the one illustrated by the girl herself when she was seven. we have versions old and new, large and small, flat and pop-up. versions with reindeer and mice as reindeer and dogs as reindeer. some with donner, others with donder, and still others with dunder. each one so different from the other yet they all convey the same familiar story. im hoping santa brings me the will moses version this christmas. hint, hint.

22 December 2006

chasing the moon

now i anticipate the waxing of the moon each month. it began again just last night and was only 1% illuminated. how thin that must be! armed with binoculars and a free hour i set out to find it. this moon sets in the evening soon after the sun. but even with a clear and cloudless view of the west, even with infinite patience and perseverance, i could not find it. another chance tonight with 8% illumination - but this sunset was lost in grey overcast skies. tomorrow nights moon will be at 10%. at this point ill even settle for that.

21 December 2006

winter solstice

this night is the longest of the year. outside in the darkness silent stars sing with orion high in the sky. as we burn bayberry candles for luck in the year that follows, time sets about to reverse itself, changing course and beginning the slow forward movement back toward the days of light.

christmas wrapper

this is about as far along as i am with wrapping presents. i hauled the rolls of paper out last night then ended up distracted here. i think ill get it done though. the plan is to sit for the next two nights and wrap and watch all the christmas videos i havent watched yet either. this post may explain why every year i hang onto all things christmas until well into january.

19 December 2006


there are probably two dozen or more santas around the house at christmastime. some old and some new some wood or plastic or quilted or stuffed. two i made myself, several years ago. the others are gifts or purchases from craft fairs that id bought to give away and then couldnt part with. this small santas a favorite - made by the girl a few years back with a secret talent she'd been hiding from us all.

18 December 2006

holiday rant

what is this you say? garments fallen from a clothesline? tarp by the side of the road? a statue about to be unveiled? no, its one of those wretched inflatable christmas decorations - in its deflated state. this ones a huge snowman - see the shrunken scarf? ive also seen santas and reindeer and sleighs and presents. many of them laying there lifeless on front lawns and beside doorways. is there something i dont know about these things? is there a reason why so many are flattened by day? is there no protocol, no inflatable etiquette for such displays? in the spirit of the holiday season it would seem the festive thing, nay the responsible thing, would be to keep them upright and distended and waving in the breeze to passers-by like me.

17 December 2006


yet another reason to look up. so much to see on this building. i think the brickwork appeals to me the most especially in the round parts above the windows. and the three colors are wonderful. click to see it in the large version. this photo taken in the midst of a very lengthy christmas shopping expedition in a very busy downtown location. shortly after i snapped it i lost my list. so i had to go home. too bad, huh? i dont think so.

15 December 2006


this is my car. i love this car more than any other vehicle ive ever owned. ive had many subarus before but this ones my hands-down favorite vehicle ever. i like everything about it. the look, the drive, the handling. and its the closest thing to a midlife car im ever going to get. i love this car as much today as i did the day i bought it. now, look carefully: see the white rectangle on the dashboard? thats an envelope containing my final car payment. and we are off to the post office. so any day now, this truly will be my car.

14 December 2006

december snow?

the most snow ive seen this month has been right here on this calendar. temps today close to 50 and folks walking downtown at noontime without coats. driving with the window down past lawns and yards i swear grass is beginning to green up. whats wrong with this picture? everything! and what's wrong with the picture in the picture? absolutely nothing!

13 December 2006

december rain

rainy and grey today. the kind of day when the temperature doesnt fluctuate much from morning to evening. when the fog and mist only accentuate the late autumn pallor. and things all around you look the same when you return home as they did when you left hours earlier. normally the monochrome of a day like today doesnt bother me. but its december. its almost christmas. and i long for snow not rain to be reflected in the warm glow of the window candles.

12 December 2006

new project

next semester im teaching a class at the nearby university. this is my first time teaching alone at that level. ive been working on developing the course for years and im really familiar with the content. but its still such a stretch for me. do i have to do it? no. do i want to do it? i think so. yet the mere thought of it creates real dissonance deep within me. this must be one of those opportunities to learn that i so naively waxed poetic about at thanksgiving.

dawns early light

when i was a kid i used to sit in the window overlooking the backyard and the brook and try to draw the winter sky. bare trees silhouetted against the grey sky. just a bunch of black lines. pen and ink. charcoal. pencil. how hard can it be? quite difficult indeed. not even a photo can capture its simple beauty.

10 December 2006

balsam fir

two more weeks til christmas and time to get a tree. i chose a short one for $35, then had about $15 of it cut from the bottom. its so small it fit in the back seat of my car. the bottom branches will soon adorn buckets and windowboxes. the tiny tree will be perfect on the pine box in front of the living room windows. but the best part of the day was traveling the back roads at twilight with carols on the radio and christmas lights in the little towns. and breathing in the heady scent of the balsam, all the way home.

08 December 2006

christmas bling

people in my line of work get a lot of jewelry as gifts. especially pins. especially at christmastime. i hauled out my collection recently so i wouldnt have to paw through the nonseasonal counterparts to get to the holiday baubles. i think theyre all here. its a decision each morning picking which to wear. so many choices. good thing there are 12 days of christmas.

07 December 2006

the real deal

now this is what i call snow! fat flakes floating down, heavy on branches and benches. since i shot this the wind has picked up and is howling but the snow stays put. thin blanket of white outside and its beginning to look a lot like christmas. and winter. bring on the hot chocolate.

06 December 2006


snapped this shot of a tree on a town common, all embellished for christmas. man-made decorations and natural ones, too!

03 December 2006

looking way up

calm and quiet today with filtered sun. i sense that it may be our last such day for a while. the weeks forecast calls for colder temperatures - and its about time. while i admit to being a weather junkie im certainly no meteorologist. but really, doesnt it look like these clouds rolling in from the west might be ushering in a little snow - perhaps??? i have my snow mocs at the ready, just in case.

02 December 2006

looking up

when you look down you see all manner of interesting objects - small living things, rocks, sometimes a coin. but looking up is infinitely more interesting. there you find weathervanes, all of them different. and steeples of varying height and pitch and ornamentation. lightning rods around the perimeter of rooftops. chimneys short & wide and tall & thin. and wonderful architecture some of it old and some of it new. like this funky fence atop an old brick building in a downtown area.

01 December 2006

25 days

every year i buy the girl an advent calendar. as shes gotten older the size of them has diminished but she still gets one, even in adulthood. this year i found two - this small one first and soon after another one, beautiful but huge, with santa and animals and lots of woods. breaking with tradition, she got the big one. and guess whos going to open all twenty-five windows on this tiny sparkly version?

btw, here's an online advent calendar i do every year.

30 November 2006


i love toys too. heres my most recent aquisition. it took me about an hour to get it to hold in that position. and i havent been able to do it since. but as i continue to fidget, i'll keep trying.

29 November 2006

i heart hotels

i love hotels. i dont often stay in them but when i do i love it. the puffy beds, the luxurious sheets. and five - count 'em - 5 pillows! and thats just on one of the beds... sitting at the desk at the end of a day, doing a little work, ordering a little room service. i wonder if this is at all like being a world traveler - which i am not. tonight is my last night here and ill be glad to be home. but ive had a really good time while i was here.

28 November 2006


i love to drive back country roads with ramshackled houses and rows of mailboxes and deer in the fields. and i do not like to drive highways. no opportunities to look around at scenery and too much watching-out-for-the-other-guy. such was the case this morning when i observed a late model jeep cut across two lanes of traffic to get to the passing lane - in about four seconds. idiot, i thought - as the jeep went screaming off ahead of me. then a few miles down the road, three cars in front of me, the aforementioned idiot screeched to a halt, smoking tires and all. the car behind the jeep swerved. the car in front of me braked. i slammed the brakes and prayed that ABS was real. and it was. when it was over i stopped at the rest area and got sick. give me back roads any day.

27 November 2006


someone emailed and wanted to know what rosehips were. here's a shot of some that i picked the other day. these seeds have certainly seen better days - probably in september or so.

26 November 2006

stuck on you - and on me

another gloriously mild day today. a good day to begin the annual gathering o' the holiday greens. found some wild rosehips, the small wine colored ones, on the side of a hill and managed to cut some despite the steep incline. i thought id done a good job of negotiating the other plant life until i was ready to depart and glanced down at my vest. totally covered with "stick tights." i snapped the picture after i had already pulled off about a million of them. at least.

24 November 2006

black (and red & green) friday

one year i shopped the day after thanksgiving. never again. instead i went downtown at dusk for the community tree lighting. one of those events with kids in mufflers, free hot chocolate, and santa claus on a town fire truck. quite small town. but in truth i felt a slight sense of wonderment as santa rounded the corner into the town square and came into view.

23 November 2006

giving thanks

for family
for friends
for good health, my own and loved ones both
for prosperity
for luck
for meaningful work i love to do
for music
for play
for opportunities to learn
for quiet
for smiles
for serendipitous moments

dud dessert

see those tiny little pans? i drove twenty miles to buy them just for a new recipe for thanksgiving dessert. i followed the directions to a t. i used buttermilk. i timed the baking. and all the while a little voice kept saying, pumpkin and cocoa in the same recipe?? - are you crazy? i should have listened. the final product is wretched. awful. unpalatable. and certainly not fit for thanksgiving dinner.

22 November 2006

ice in

very early this morning on my way to work, i rounded a bend to find this small marshy area, completely ringed with white ice. the first ive seen of the season. it wasnt til i stopped to look that i noticed the fine crackely film of ice sitting atop the water. all the way to the other side. winters coming.

21 November 2006

maybe its cold outside

so its finally getting a little colder. cold enough to wear gloves this morning on my way out. late meeting this evening and when i came out, the roof of the car was all covered with sparkly frost. i could see my breath. and on my way home coming through the flat the stars were close and breathtakingly brilliant. nights like this smack of winter to come. hence the woodstove, warming my back as i write.

19 November 2006

relish the relish

thanksgiving is coming and today was cranberry orange relish day. cranberries, an orange, and a bit of sugar, ground up and left to sit in the fridge for a few days so flavors will meld. i make this every year. my mother made it before me. its thanksgiving tradition. but there are only two of us who like it. and only in small bites and only on t-day itself. so even though i make a little less each year, the leftovers still sit in the refrigerator til new years and my annual resolution to keep the space cleaner and more organized. then it gets thrown out. this happens year after year. its tradition.

17 November 2006

the rogue shrub

previous postings have alluded to the fact that the weathers been unusually warm for november. heres proof positive: a forscythia in bloom. normally this plant flowers in the springtime, in april. seeing it starting its growth five months early makes me wonder how animals must deal with all this odd weather. no wonder chipmunks havent hibernated yet.

16 November 2006

bargain herb

this is a small thyme plant i bought in september. on sale at 75% off. i had hoped to save it for thanksgiving, for the carrots. but look how leggy its getting reaching for sunlight its not going to find around here. it may not make it one more week. perhaps its thyme for the compost pile.

15 November 2006


new knowledge today and i am once again in awe of all things scientific. i heard a presentation on nanotechnology, science and technology on the scale of a nanometer - a unit so small that one million nanometers side by side would extend the diameter of a pinhole. its estimated that a human hair is 50,000 to 80,000 nanometers wide and grows at the approximate rate of 10 nanometers per second. the scale alone confounds me. couple that with the technology thats being developed on that scale: nanotubes lighter than a feather and a thousand times stronger than steel in sports equipment, silver nanoparticles thought to repel bacteria and viruses, nanovelcro that may some day replace welding and nails. odd that i have such big thoughts for so tiny an entity.

14 November 2006

all for naught

my snow tires have been on my car for almost two weeks. tshirts are packed away and turtlenecks are stacked up neatly in the drawer. snow sticks line the driveway at work. mittens fill the box by the back door. but look - its still so warm, we have fog. somewhere up over those trees, there are mountains we havent seen in days and days.

12 November 2006


this is the back of the television at my brothers house. i have no idea what all these wires go to or why you need so many for one tv. of course, its one of those huge screen things, probably HD - the kind you dont have to wear your glasses to see. what i do know is my brothers the tech geek in the family. he knows everything. including, im sure, what all these wires are for.

11 November 2006

last wash

the forecast says rain all week. but i cleaned my car anyway, probably for the last time til spring. traveling around so much for work, the car has turned into my office. the place can get pretty gross with books and files and papers and crumbs. but for now its shiny and clean. i even put potpourri in the ashtray. and i armoralled!

10 November 2006

december in november

at last count, i had 32 cds of christmas music. thats not including pieces ive downloaded from the internet. with great anticipation, i wait for the appropriate seasonal time to play this music, usually beginning at daybreak of the morning after thanksgiving. but the holiday season is short and my list is extensive. so this year im starting early.

08 November 2006

07 November 2006

election day

for the first time ever, today i voted a straight ticket. i sure hope it works.

06 November 2006

the promise of spring

this bulb is the very last one to be planted. it joins others that have been buried over the past few weeks. salome and mount hood narcissus and a variety of daffodils all bedded down in fertile soil at the edge of the woods. i hope they make it and dont become a december snack for some tunneling mole. sleep tight, little seeds. see you in the spring.

05 November 2006


my mom's eyes are failing and she sometimes has a hard time with housework. i thought about paying extra hours to her cleaning lady. but i bought her a roomba instead. you should see that thing scoot around the place with a mind of its own, cleaning the floors, stopping at nothing. pretty amazing - and very efficient! but mom can't sit and chat with a robot like she can with her cleaning lady. the down side of technology...

04 November 2006

weekend trip

on my way to visit my mom, i stopped to buy her some penuche, her favorite. here's the street sign for the appropriately named road the candy shop is on.