31 December 2011

ringing out the old...

ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
the flying cloud, the frosty light;
the year is dying in the night;
ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

ring out the old, ring in the new,
ring, happy bells, across the snow:
the year is going, let him go;
ring out the false, ring in the true.

ring out the grief that saps the mind,
for those that here we see no more,
ring out the feud of rich and poor,
ring in redress to all mankind.

ring out a slowly dying cause,
and ancient forms of party strife;
ring in the nobler modes of life,
with sweeter manners, purer laws.

ring out the want, the care, the sin,
the faithless coldness of the times;
ring out, ring out thy mournful rhymes,
but ring the fuller minstrel in.

ring out false pride in place and blood,
the civic slander and the spite;
ring in the love of truth and right,
ring in the common love of good.

ring out old shapes of foul disease,
ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
ring out the thousand wars of old,
ring in the thousand years of peace.

ring in the valiant man and free,
the larger heart the kindlier hand;
ring out the darkness of the land,
ring in the Christ that is to be.

alfred, lord tennyson, 1850.

29 December 2011

the winter sun

this post is more for my reference than for your viewing pleasure, and i hope no one is too disappointed. this is a picture of the sun, taken a few minutes after noontime, when it's at its highest point in the sky. i'm so surprised it's that low and i've never noticed in winters past.

27 December 2011

down time

feeling a bit lazy and nonproductive these post-christmas days. pajamas or sweats and no makeup, taking the time to sleep, sit, watch, read, discover, ponder, dream. and i don't yet feel guilty.

25 December 2011

22 December 2011

solstice 2011

sleepless on the longest night of the year. in the sky no stars, no moon, just adding to the darkness. i light a candle to acknowledge the brief moment when earth begins its journey back towards light, and when i go back to sleep, i leave a single window candle lit to shine on through the rest of the dark night.

21 December 2011

ice storm

the second best place to be during a surprise ice storm is behind a sander. the first best place to be during such a storm is home, which is where i now am and am happy to be.

20 December 2011


time is flying and christmas is nigh. i envy those who are all decorated and wrapped, and the folks who are christmas baking this week. if i bake at all, it will be in a furry on christmas eve day. i still have movies to watch, music to listen to, presents to wrap, and stockings to stuff. but in the meantime, i'm having fun with small people, watching their eyes light up and their voices raise as they talk about christmas with excitement and wonder. even if everything's not all done, it's still all good. hope it is the same for you.

16 December 2011

all that glitter

an impromptu craft session this evening led to a veritable explosion of glitter all over the dining area and kitchen. with great abandon, we glittered gold and silver, the little girl and i, and then tried to clean it up. truly, i had forgotten how persistently clingy glitter can be. to clean our hands, we wiped, we soaked, and we scrubbed, finally resorting to the sticky side of tape to remove the last offending speckles. later tonight, cleaning the table and vacuuming the floor, i chase bright specks, trying to capture them with my cleaning cloths. finally i give up. just for tonight. in the morning, i will try again. but i am pretty sure we're still going to be finding glitter around here well into the new year.

13 December 2011

small visitor

although she lives not far from here, normally i do not see the little girl during the week. my schedule, hers, her parents - all make a weekday visit difficult to arrange. but suddenly this evening she is at the door with her father, a quick stop to put the finishing touches on a carpentry project. in she marches, sheds her coat and hat, and fetches her slippers. she examines everything new since her last visit of four days ago, she gives a detailed update of the goings-on at school, she borrows a few christmas books, and then, she is gone, just as quickly as she came. back to her own home for supper and bedtime, with a promise of a return visit this weekend to help me finish decorating the tree. like a meteor on a dark night, a brief flash of exuberance on an otherwise ordinary weekday evening.

12 December 2011

december 12 of 12: illumination

since we are days away from the longest night of the year, and since light is such an important part of our holiday celebrations, this month i attempted to focus the 12 of 12 on aspects of light, on illumination in the darkness. 

the moon, though waning, is still bright in the sky all night long and illuminates the landscape in the hours before dawn. here's the moon, still looking full and still hanging in the sky, early in the morning as i head in to work.

and by the time i am coming home, the first-star-tonight is out, shining brightly in a darkly blue sky. i'm pretty sure it's a planet, venus or saturn maybe, but i wish on it anyway. 

the tree on our town common. i can see it from far down the road, towering over the houses in the village. this tree is too big, it's too tacky, and it's just too beautiful.

this is a neighbor's yard, decorated for christmas. a single pine amongst the birches, lit with a million tiny lights. in the distance, a homey cabin complete with chimney smoke. i slow down every time i pass this peaceful scene. to me, it looks just like a christmas card. 

candles on all the windowsills this time of year. i light them all, then turn off the rooms' lamps. even if they are electric lights, their warm glow gladdens me. 

this windowsill candle spreads its dim light over the kitchen and the spicy rosehips in the holder, a miniature redware plate, and a special santa the girl made me many years ago. small things i love go on this tiny windowsill because it's the window i look out the most.

the golden lights of this tiny artificial tree in the kitchen reflect in the windows behind it and spread some light in an otherwise dark corner of the house. the little girl and i decided the animals in the woods up back might like to see a little christmas, too. 

and here's the "big" tree in the living room, still small by most standards. for years we've had a set of glasses, worn only at christmastime, to bend and shape the many light sources, turning them into explosions of color, a psychedelic experience for one's vision. but i've never taken a photo through them until now!

a crystal hanging in the window seems to have absorbed all the light in its proximity and, at night, fairly glows with reflected light.

and candles. everywhere candles. i light a few every night all year long, but at christmastime, i light them all. sometimes i even light one in the morning because it's still dark.

here are my new favorite candles. they're plastic and they run on batteries, yet they flicker and glow, and, to my mind, look real. i have many more of these than i ever imagined i would and it surprises me so that i like them as much as i do. a dimly lit room, a few of these candles flickering, and carols playing softly is heavenly on a dark night like tonight.

one last trip outside before bed to experience the moonlight illuminating the yard and up into the woods. again the moon shines, this night with a faint halo all the way around it. maybe it will snow for christmas.

10 December 2011

billions of buds

just look at the buds on these supermarket christmas cactuses! how can they do that!! my plant is ten times that size and i'm lucky if it gets one blossom every year! i had to fight the urge to buy one of these. i figured the minute i got it into the house, all those buds would fall right off!

09 December 2011

the end of gingerbreadmania

each december, for a few weeks, i go into a bit of a frenzy trying to replicate the recipe for the best gingerbread i have ever tasted. the gingerbread i have every first saturday in december when i go to the same ladies' aid christmas luncheon. the secret recipe gingerbread, made by sweet but closed-mouthed little church ladies in a remote village town.

i have blogged about it in decembers past - the backstory, if you want it, is here and here. today my quest came to an end thanks to elizabeth (whose name, of course, has been changed), a genial and warm member of the ladies' aid, who mailed me the recipe in her own hand after i gave her my name and address at this year's christmas luncheon. i made it today - spicy, warm, delicious. surprisingly simple - and, after all that, there isn't even a secret ingredient.

07 December 2011

inside & out

holly inside.
holly outside.
it's starting to look like christmas!

04 December 2011

someone else's santa

look what i found at a consignment shop, priced at only five dollars. isn't it pretty? when i see a handmade item like this one in a resale shop or antique store, it saddens me a bit and i wonder about its history. i know what goes into cross-stitch and how long it takes. someone spent time making this, probably to give to a loved one or a special friend. so how did it end up here? did no one want it? certainly, i do not need another santa, and my walls are full of cross-stitch pieces. but i turned over my five dollar bill and bought this because i couldn't just leave it in the store, on the shelf. so JR '92, wherever you are, thanks for the cute little santa!