naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (winter wonderland)
Solstice Afternoon
by Adele Shakal

The winter sun shines pale and clear
the sky crisp-blue with year's ending,
new-born hopes and dreams
resolved, resolute, resolving.

Craziness and bustle pauses to think,
how many cycles have turned,
how many times the sun closens and leaves us,
how many wheels within wheels the cosmos dances.

The longest night has passed again, and
in its leaving, again
begins its approach, steadily
pacing a year from today.

The wind chases memories across the distances.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (autumn bountiful harvest)
Been meaning to update here more often, but...

...if wishes were horses then beggars would ride, or something like that, right?

Had a lovely holiday weekend. We roasted four whole chickens over the past four days, made five different kinds of stuffing, and had a total of three Thanksgiving dinners that couldn't be beat, not counting the leftovers noshing. I listened to Alice's Restaurant. We had friends over. We boiled the remains of the roasted chickens and made homemade soup stock to stash in the freezer. We took down our autumn, Samhain, Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations, and began putting up our winter, Yule, and Christmas decorations. I saved more holiday music from my CDs into my home 'puter, and moved the subwoofer and one set of speakers from my bedroom to the living room, so now I can pipe playlists there, which is especially good since my stereo out there is on its last legs. The stereo up in the loft still works nicely, of course, but there's something to be said for programming a playlist of many, many hours of custom-mixed music, you know? I love the holiday music I have on CD...

I started getting organized for The Holiday Card-Mailing Adventure of 2004. I'm really glad I keep buying cards in January every year... I have a sizeable stash of them, though it's taken me a few months to figure out where I'd squirreled them all away this time, since 2003 was pretty much utter chaos, the few years before that weren't all that much better, and moving last April just let the disorganization reign a while longer.

Which reminds me... if you suspect that I may have lost your current address, or never had it to begin with, please email me at adele @ shakal.org so I have a chance at keeping my rolodex thing up to date!

I actually went to Fry's early in the morning on Black Friday because one of the friends we had visiting this weekend is very good with computer hardware installation and repair, and I needed a few specific bits for the project I needed her help with. It wasn't bad... well, I had fun, anyway. It was a chill, foggy morning, and Fry's opened at 6am. I got there at 6:30 and spent about 45 minutes waiting in line to get into the store, a half hour finding what I wanted, and another 45 minutes waiting to check out. I thanked every retail worker I bumped into for working that day. In retrospect, I should have worn my santa hat. That would have been even more fun! Then I stopped at Trader Joe's to replenish provisions for one of the feasts, and picked up a lovely and lovely-smelling wreath for which I still need to get an over-door hanger. But it smells really great!

I started working on my wishlist for this year, since Thanksgiving is the time my parents and I always did that when I was younger. I'm almost done with it; I'll probably post it tomorrow.

I spent some time on my projects-and-purchases gift list for others, too. Wow, do I need to do a lot of crocheting this month...

I spent some time going through three boxes of computer-related clutter in my room, though I'm still working on the Great Decluttering and Simplification of 2004. I did a bit of work, too, because I didn't get to all of the items on last week's to-do list for work, and deadlines are looming.

Oh, that's right... I didn't mention my latest effort to get organized at work here! I've been feeling really, really swamped lately, and last week, after being inspired by [livejournal.com profile] yesthattom's time management tutorial at LISA, I took all of the random lists and scraps of paper and random things I've been worrying about for work lately, and made a big list of all of it. Then I shuffled things around according to importance and deadlines and broke it up into weekly lists from last week until the end of December, and monthly lists for all of next year. Yes, I was carrying around an index of some stuff I need to do next year in my head! Yeesh. No wonder I've been feeling miserable.

Anyway, it turns out to be eight pages when I print out the HTML file. But that's OK. At least it's not rattling around in my skull making me miserable. I printed it out and chopped it up into the weekly and monthly lists and stuck it up on my bulletin board at my desk, and kept last week's list on the desk right beneath my monitor. I got almost everything on last week's list done (except for the items I took home this weekend), which was rather shocking, actually. So now I'm just finishing the things I took home and did some of this weekend, and then starting in on this week's list.

I used to do this sort of thing all the time. I don't know when or why I fell out of the habit, but I'm going to do the 21-day habit-forming thing and get back on the wagon.

After all, there's a saying in Dad's family: "Hitch your wagon to a star, bust your butt and there you are!"

I had apple-cranberry pie for breakfast, and now I have hot chai tea, which smells and tastes wonderful, I'm listening to Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and I know exactly what I need to get done at work today.

It's a good morning!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (winter wonderland)
*helpless mirth* I found a .wav and an MP3 file on line. Mom loves this song and we've been sitting here giggling like loons over my little beanie baby hippo. I don't usually collect beanie babies, but this little fellow is completely adorable!

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas
Words and music by John Rox
performed by Gayla Peevey (1953)

The "Hippo Song" FAQ at is at http://soe.hyperchat.com/newchat/u/yummy/~soe/hippoFAQ.htm
and lyrics are at http://soe.hyperchat.com/newchat/u/lisanne/~soe/hippo.htm

It is available on CD on "Dr. Demento's The Greatest Novelty Records of All Time Vol. 6: Christmas"...

lyrics )
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
I had a lovely Thanksgiving, and now I'm remembering similar warm, abundant-feeling Thanksgivings as a child. And that made me remember sitting around the kitchen table, writing out wishlists with my parents.

Yes, I wish for a better world, and an end to war and poverty and hunger, and all of the Big Philosophical Stuff that we should all wish for every day. But that's not what a Christmas wishlist is.. not to me, anyway.

Many wishes never come true, but that shouldn't make the wishing any more or less fun. There's a joy in hoping and anticipating and thinking about pie in the sky and winning the lottery and all of that sort of stuff. Especially around the winter holidays, when everything should be fireside-warm and sparkles and glittery and ornamented and toasty and smell like fresh-baked something-with-cinnamon.

I have a wishlist of things I want to do and give for co-workers, friends and family. That's a separate project wishlist, and one which is making me look at the calendar in startlement. When did December sneak up on me?

Anyway, here's my wishlist of things the universe might consider gifting to me, should it be so inclined... click here to read it )

Wow. Yeah, that pretty much gives an accurate impression of my life right now, huh? *grin*
naturedance: crafting joy (crafting joy)

Buy The Narada Christmas Collection Volume 3: Christmas Blessings from Amazon.com


This is one of my favorite holiday instrumental collections. It’s perfect for cuddling up under a warm blanket or an afghan or two, watching the flames dance in your fireplace if you’re lucky enough to have one, or watching the lights twinkle on your tree, or watching the bubble lights burble away atop your Yule log, or simply for having a few close friends over for holiday tea.


It speaks to me of warmth of hearth and home, in the midst of cold, quiet star-filled winter nights.

naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (winter wonderland)
The Narada Christmas Collection Volume 3: Christmas Blessings

This is one of my favorite holiday instrumental collections. It's perfect for cuddling up under a warm blanket or an afghan or two, watching the flames dance in your fireplace if you're lucky enough to have one, or watching the lights twinkle on your tree, or watching the bubble lights burble away atop your Yule log, or simply for having a few close friends over for holiday tea.

It speaks to me of warmth of hearth and home, in the midst of cold, quiet star-filled winter nights.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (winter wonderland)
I meant to write about this before Christmas, but things got busy. Oh, well. Most of the snowy weather is yet to come for most places anyway, so this is OK.

When I was little, my parents and I lived in a house at the back edge of a new housing development. At the edges of Indianapolis' sprawling suburbs, developers plowed over fields and planted houses, so behind our house was still farmland. There was a small creek running past the back of our property, and a row of tall trees, mostly buckeyes, and then a big field, with overgrown and tree lined fence rows on all the other three sides, bounded by more fields.

Somewhere back in there was also an old pond, with random junk laying about and tossed into it, and a run-down house, and an old barn or two a few fields away. I remember there being a broken mirror or two in the upper level of the house, so you could see light reflecting oddly through the window opening if you looked at the house from just the right angle. Outside the house, there was a tree that grew very long glistening blackish-brown seed pods. We always joked that that was a witch's house, and that she had died or left and the remnants of her presence in the house made the tree outside grow witches' fingernails, those marvelous seed pods.

Dad and I used to go for long walks in the fields and fence rows in the fall, after the first frost and the harvest was over. The field behind us grew corn some years, but I most remember walking with Dad through the stubble of brown soybean stalks, finding here and there a fuzzy pod of dried soybeans.

When it snowed, we went on Woozle Hunts.

Anyone who has read the Winnie The Pooh stories will remember woozles. There is a lovely story about Pooh tracking a woozle in the snow, walking around and around in a great circle about a large tree, and being wonderfully startled when the tracks of the woozle are joined by a second one! A bit later, Piglet joins him, and they track the two woozles together until they notice that the two woozles have been joined by a wizzle!

Dad and I would bundle up and go tromping off across the field, wandering in any direction that seemed interesting. We'd see how the edges of the creek were freezing, little crystalline sheets of ice trying to infiltrate the flowing water. We'd see how the winter weather was affecting the plants, look for raccoon prints in the mud and gravel next to the creek, hunt for scratched trees marking a bobcat's territory, look for prints of rabbits running from a fox, search for the small trails of squirrels and the tiny trails of mice. We'd try to decipher the story told by whatever tracks and droppings we found on the snow. We'd see ice melting a bit in the sunshine, hanging from tree branches, and listen to the creak of branches rubbing against one another in the cold, and the rattle of dried grasses and weeds rustling in the wind.

Sometimes we'd make tracks intended to confuse anyone else who might happen upon them... walking forward for a while, then walking backwards, putting our feet into the tracks we'd already made, and then leaping onto a log or a rock and jumping off in another direction. That way, anyone trying to follow us would have, in theory anyway, have followed the track until it simply stopped, a mystery in the snow.

We'd spend a good chunk of the afternoon wandering around, until our feet got really cold and the tip of my nose was bright red from the chill. Then we'd head home for hot chocolate and a warm dinner... I think Mom usually made soup or stew or something else hearty, but honestly, I don't remember much of those dinners. I remember how pink and frosty my cheeks felt, and how strange and wondrous the first wash of warm air from the utility room would be as we stepped in, closed the garage door behind us, and started stripping out of wet boots, snow pants, scarves, hats, coats, sweaters, double thicknesses of socks...

One year, on Christmas Eve afternoon, Mom and Dad let me ask my friend Irene on one of our Woozle Hunts. They had to explain how she'd need all of her cold weather clothing, and I think her Mom brought her over to our house. I don't remember how she got home... but her Mom called mine sometime later and said something like, "Oh, I understand now! She fell right to sleep! That never happens on Christmas Eve!"

:-)

Keeping warm, hiking around for hours, even at a leisurely pace, and trudging little booted feet through drifts of snow... well, it was the perfect way to both enjoy the natural wonder of winter and to wear out excited little girls.

Woozle Hunts are magical. Thanks, Dad and Mom...
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (winter wonderland)
At our house, growing up, the Christmas tree was taken down sometime during the day on New Year's Eve. And on New Year's Morning, there would be one or two small presents left in the space where the tree had been.

The New Year's Cherub always came to our house, and he always comes to my apartment.

It makes it easier to pack away the holiday decorations, makes the dreary days of January seem a bit more festive. And it's a great excuse to hit the after-Christmas sales and clearances... our family took turns being the Cherub for each other, and it was usually arranged before Christmas, if I'm remembering correctly.

Happy New Year, folks! May it be a joyful, healthful, wonderful year!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (winter wonderland)
If it snowed on Christmas Eve, did you dash outside in the morning to see if there were sleigh-tracks or hoofprints on your roof?

Merry Christmas, everyone!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (winter wonderland)
Pfeffernusse are German spice cookies. They're dusted in confectioners sugar or icing, and they're kind of ball-shaped. They're wonderful. Archway, Bahlsen, and Trader Joes all make them prepackaged, and a local bakery called Berolina, in Montrose, CA, makes a very tasty fresh version.

There are bazillions of different recipes out there if you want to try to make them at home. Here are some:
http://christmas.allrecipes.com/az/Pfffrnss.asp
http://www.apexfitness.net/html/nutrition/recipes/desserts/holiday/pfeffernusse/
http://www.cookierecipe.com/AZ/PfeffernusseKuchen.asp
http://www.fabulousfoods.com/recipes/dessert/cookies/pfeffernusse.html
http://www.recipecottage.com/german/pfeffernusse06.html
http://www.pepperfool.com/recipes/desserts/pfeffernusse.html

Heck, there are ten recipes given at this page alone! http://www.kitchenrecipes.com/files/German/more1.shtml

Oh, and anyone out there on a low-carb diet? ;-) This link is for you: Low-carb Pfeffernusse recipe

Happy holidays, folks!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (winter wonderland)
So I was feeling a bit stumped about what to give some special folks who happen to work in a sub-basement without windows. I wanted to give gifts which were more professional than closely personal, and I'm ostensibly keeping rein on my budget... also some folks are on special diets, or have medical reasons that make items like tea or scented bath stuff less than ideal, so it's sometimes tricky to find a suitable gift!

A very nice fellow at OSH last evening helped me out. Apparently, many bromeliads can grow along quite happily in an office environment with no windows and standard fluorescent lights. They are actually tropical forest plants that grow in shade anyway, and they're pretty durable if you water them enough to keep a puddle of water in their top, though over-watering can kill them.

I'm not really familiar with bromeliads... The real test will come over the next few months as folks try not to be the first person to kill theirs... here are some links to help prevent that sort of thing:
Introduction to Bromeliads
P. Allen Smith's page
Bromeliad Fact Sheet from the Horticultural Services Division of the Smithsonian
Gertens' Beautiful Bromeliads page

For folks with office windows, I found some lovely Christmas cacti. I love these plants... they're easy to care for, bloom beautifully, and look pretty and green year round without having to trim off dead leaves or anything. My parents had one when I was growing up, and for years, I thought all Christmas cacti looked like it did. That's not entirely true... some have blossoms that are hot pink, some are white throated with pink or red tips, some are mostly white, and there are even a few orangey-salmon colored ones. Most have medium to dark green leaves, but many nowadays pop out more than one blossom per leaf-end.

I have four myself in my office, some of which were gifts to me over the years, and some which were post-Christmas rescues from the bargain bin at Target... and I just bought a new one for myself for home since the pale salmon-orangey color called to me. :-)

Here are some links for folks trying to figure out how not to kill theirs to keep their Christmas cacti so it will bloom next year...
Fernlea's page
Purdue University's Consumer Horticulture, Lawn and Garden page
The Plants Database page

Enjoy!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (winter wonderland)
A friend of mine forwarded me an email which is supposedly from USA Today... it's about celebrating the holidays rather than trying to avoid anything that tastes good because it might not be healthy for you. Quite entertaining... "1. About those carrot sticks. Avoid them. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls."

Now, I don't advocate eating anything that will kill you... and enough of my friends and family are on special diets for very good reasons, so I'm not joking about it. However, there's no reason to make yourself feel less than jovial, less than festive... less than abundantly in the holiday spirit.

Everyone celebrates differently, but anyone that goes through the holidays with no decorations anywhere, living on celery and carrot sticks... well, in my humble opinion, they're missing the point.

:-)

Most years, I do a lot of projects and bargain shopping all throughout the year, so that by the time December rolls around, I've got a huge stash of goodies in a big box or two in the closet, all ready and waiting to be sorted and wrapped and shipped and tucked under trees.

This year, I've been working too hard at my job to the exclusion of many other things, and am now feeling quite drained and tired, and the holidays feel rushed. Actually, this whole year has seemed very rushed. Whatever happened to November? October? May? Eeeeeeeep.

Mom tells me that everyone has years when the holidays sneak up on them, that this is normal and expected and all that. However, it's the first time it's really felt that way for me, and I've had some rather busy and/or stressful times in the past without feeling this way.

But, after taking a few deep breaths, I remember that I should have more faith and more calm. Everything works out if you just relax.

I've braved the mall and a few of my favorite shopping haunts the past few days, and special items have found me for most of the folks I really really wanted to have presents for. Some of them were even nice bargains! So I haven't blown my budget too frightfully, and though I still have some unchecked people on my list, I'm feeling not as off-kilter as I was a week ago or so. At this rate, I might even get my holiday cards into the mail before New Years...

The way I see it, most people stress about getting their gifts and cards out on time. And most people feel a post-holiday slump in January. So for those of us who might not manage to get our holiday shipping and mailing done in time, our gifts and cards just brighten up that post-holiday slump in January!

This is not to say that procrastination every year is desirable... I'm just saying that we should give ourselves just one more reason to forgive ourselves and make the best of whatever we have to share with those we love this holiday season.

So, whether early, on-time, or belated... happy Hannukah, joyous Solstice, jolly Yule, merry Christmas, and happy New Year, everybody!

This is a reminder to me, but you're welcome to it, as well:
Be thankful for the good things in life. There's plenty of time for resolutions to fix the less-than-good things in January. Even if only figuratively, or long-distance, hug those you love close this season. It's not the gifts or the food or the decorations, though they all can make the season brighter. It's about love, the warmth of caring, about relaxing into the embrace of our loved ones, and loving humanity at large. And not sweating the small stuff.

February 2017

S M T W T F S
   123 4
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728    

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 20th, 2017 12:17 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios