31 December 2008

top ten reasons why 2008 wasn't so bad after all:

#10: didn't lose money in the stock market because we didn't have much invested anyway
#9: mpg for new car began to rise in may, right around the time gas prices started to climb
#8: a bad case of shingles left no noticeable scars or side effects and the headache just comes and goes now
#7: the red sox did okay without manny 
#6: even though i lost my good friend pat i still see remembrances of her every time i turn around
#5: the baby girl learned to walk and talk, and to dance and sing
#4: last year's jeans still fit this year
#3: surpassed 500 blog posts, despite the fact that i don't have all that much to say
#2: family and friends are healthy and happy and safe
and the #1 reason 2008 wasn't so bad after all...hope for change!

a happy, serendipitous new year to you all.

in bloom and on time

yes, reader, i know you've seen these paperwhites blooming in my kitchen every christmastime. but this year's blooms are so stunningly perfect and fragrant and they give me such joy that they bear blogging again. please forgive me.

30 December 2008

bird ball

a chickadee feasting at the bird ball that santa put in my christmas stocking! a good present for the birds. and for me, too!

27 December 2008

the sampler

fifteen years ago, i painstakingly designed a personalized cross stitch sampler. after years of stitching other people's designs, this piece was to be my magnum opus. but soon after i began the needlework, i gave up in frustration when the task proved to be too much for these aging eyes. for years, the canvas sat, untouched. then at some point, the girl took it and, following my plan, finished it with eyes younger than mine. on christmas eve, she presented it back to me, wrapped in a box with a bow. and aging eyes wept with joy and gratitude.

22 December 2008

the view from the car

sunset taken from the speeding car as i barreled down the highway to finish the christmas shopping that didn't get done over the weekend. only two more shopping days 'til christmas. yikes.

21 December 2008

baking day

day two of a snowstorm, a foot of the white stuff, and the perfect day to bake. date nut bread and pound cake and a candy recipe from a friend. maybe some cookies. white stuff all over the kitchen.

19 December 2008


Out of the bosom of the Air
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow
Descends the snow.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

18 December 2008

simple celebrations

today i attended a school lunch and sing along and mingled with excited children and beaming parents to the strains of "rudolph the red nosed reindeer." tonight i went with friends to a community concert, with adolescent singing, high school musicians, elves as emcees, and the hallelujah chorus for a finale. both were simple yet meaningful affairs that brought out the joy and magic of the holiday. they slowed my pace and were just the respite i needed during this final rush to christmas.

17 December 2008

big town small trees

the evergreen trees lining the parking lot of the biggest market in our area. and after today's snow, they're all decked out for christmas.

16 December 2008

small town big tree

the tree on the town's postage stamp-sized common. it's probably the biggest evergreen in the whole town, and it's all decked out for christmas.

13 December 2008

full cold moon

i awake early. much, much too early. but brightness streams in the windows and spills onto the floor. i arise, look out, and gasp at the scene - a wonderland of ice encrusted trees all reaching for the source of the illumination. in nightclothes and boots i venture out to try to capture it. who can sleep on such a wondrous night?

12 December 2008

ice storm

many parts of northern new england have experienced a pre-christmas ice storm, complete with downed trees, power outages, and states-of-emergencies. here we had flickering lights and ice covered limbs. but we also had quiet carols, cocoa chai, candles in the windows, and woodstove warmth. a quiet pause before a weekend of christmas hustle and bustle.

08 December 2008


can't decide whether these belong in the leave-well-enough-alone category with the poinsettia and the eggnog, or whether sugar-free candy canes sweetened with splenda may be a good christmas innovation.

07 December 2008

the honor system

during yesterday's serendipitous shopping trip, a remarkable thing happened to me. as i approached a shopkeeper with my arms full of purchases and my credit card extended, she pointed to the sign by the register. cash or check only, it read. or honor system.
"just send me a check later," the shopkeeper says.
"are you kidding?" i question.
"nah, i do it all the time," she says.
"you don't even know me!" i exclaim in disbelief. "how do you know you'll get paid back?"
she replies, "hey - it's your karma..."
so i charged $61.19 in amazing items to a person i've never met and perhaps will never see again. and her check will go out in tomorrow's mail along with my sincere gratitude for her kindness and her trust. but the striking thing about the experience is the feeling of awe i am left with, even a day later. i am eagerly anticipating paying that kindness forward. maybe even two or three times.

06 December 2008

village shopping

this afternoon, a friend and i meandered into a charming but unfamiliar community, a remote village filled with old new england houses and old country stores yet bustling with holiday merriment and christmas cheer. we shopped craft fair booths set up in small spaces and bought homemade soaps and jellies, handmade beaded items, unusual toys and books, and christmas paperwhites and amarylis from local garden club members who offered their methods to force them into christmas bloom. in the basement of the methodist church, at long tables set in red and green, we had a lunch of seafood corn chowder, a warm roll, and spicy gingerbread, all made by the women's club for a price of under five dollars. there were smiles and greetings as folks passed us on the road and there was just enough snow on the ground to make it feel festive. it was the perfect pre-christmas experience - and it was way better than the mall.

04 December 2008

countdown to christmas

for almost a year, i've been planning a little christmas surprise for the girl. finally, this was the week to reveal it. it's coming to you a few days late since i wanted to check with the girl about sharing it. 25 ornaments that may look ordinary to the casual reader, but that hold a special significance here at christmas time. happy advent.

03 December 2008

you get what you paid for

when i go away, i'm pretty meticulous about packing. this trip i remembered the electric toothbrush but forgot the toothpaste. so i made a cheap purchase last night at a nearby dollar store. only as i was readying for bed did i realize i left the tube in the car. so i brushed with plain water and went to sleep. this morning i retrieved the toothpaste from the car to find that i had purchased vanilla mint colgate with my dollar. vanilla mint. doesn't that sound like a scented candle - or aerosol room freshener? i had to drink numerous cups of coffee to get the wretched taste out of my mouth. not looking forward to brushing tonight...

01 December 2008

gilding the poinsettia

well, apparently nothing is sacred!  tell me, why would anyone do this to a living thing, especially one so naturally beautiful??