Category Archives: christmas

Solstice means Sun Standing Still

Wendell Barry’s lines: “make a poem that does not disturb / the silence from which it came,” served as a writing prompt this week. Tall order, that! In fact, those lines would make a useful weekly prompt for the rest of my life (the full Berry poem, below).

SoulCollage : Solstice

Here’s a version of what I wrote on Tuesday.

Even when lids shut, the tissue
aquiver — the scroll of light
rolling on, a form of
damnation.

I want to go through my days,
my nights, like a rib cage.
Each curving spear connected
at a central pole. Sure
in form, sure in purpose,
protecting the two wind
lobes and the single beating
fist — lungs and heart safer
for the bony embrace.

Instead, a vibrato of uncertainty.

How has the non-tactile
flow of damage gained ascendancy
over sinew and nerve,
crowding out all the places
in the body that crave
silence?

One day those ribs will spear
dirt and crumble. Shouldn’t the body
being Hand Maiden to Death wake
us out of stupor now
and then?

Let me eat a cracker
with a smidge of butter.
Let me sweep the steps free of snow
and then sleep under a blanket
that whispers ‘hallelujah.’
Let the sun falling on tabletops
stir gratitude.

The Solstice is here.
Let ‘standing still’ mean something.

Wendell Berry’s poem, “How to Be a Poet,” from “Given:”

Make a place to sit down
Sit down. Be quiet. [ . . .]

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditional air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensional life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

So many lines there to use as springboards!

I made my crack of day (not quite dawn) run to Wegman’s. Shallots, greens, prosciutto, corn meal, dill and sage, oranges and oyster mushrooms. Tonight: a Solstice Party at a neighbor’s (see last year’s post on ‘the Irish Goodbye’). I’ll bring an onion tart. Christmas Eve, dinner for eight. Ham, smashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts and cukes in vinegar. Slight variation on a meal I’ve made many times.

Any nice ideas for dessert?

With the boys and now my niece living so far away (LA, Boulder, San Fran), I’m really looking forward to this.

Happy Solstice to you!
May the richness of the dark touch you, nourish you,
and bring us all forward into the light.

PS I went to see if my first blog post was December 2009 so as to mention TEN YEARS of blogging. Turns out the first came December 2008. Imagine that! Eleven years here.

Mail from Michelle. More on that to come.

Also, have to post this. It goes to season, darkness, and the hope for cycling into light, after all.

 

 

Pages turning

Ran to the store near the lions to get my new calendar. Does that make the new year official?

Yesterday, some of us stood on the corner near Rep Kennedy’s office. I dashed off to writing class, late, while others met with our rep. Does that make the new political season official?

Also yesterday: Pelosi was sworn in as Speaker of the House, ushering in a season of HOPE and accountability.

(Year-end review produced this gratitude-soaked realization: I’ve needed no major dental work for the last two years. Ahhhh!)

Time to get back at it. It’s easier to pick up the needle than the pen, but both are in hand again.

Reading for the new year will be facilitated by the generosity of others. I’ve devoured three from this glorious pile already.

Still in between

Dumplings in Chinatown.

Home Depot run followed by Savers. Look at that beautiful linen shawl and swath of Woolrich houndstooth!

Ansel Adams at the MFA — unbelievably crowded. Tolerable because I know I’ll be back.

Watching Bird Box (creepy good with some unexplained baloney that I now call ‘the Lost Effect’ — after the TV show).

Not sharing.

Fitbit early observations: the steps have got to be inflated (it doesn’t take 1200 to get dressed and make breakfast), sleep stages are all in the normal range but I could use a little more, and I really am not that keen on having this apparatus on my wrist (don’t tell K. And anyway I know I’ll find it useful).

All good holidays now include trips to the airport. We head back to terminal B later today.

I cannot believe that I used to put out dinners for four 350 nights a year.

We are all wishing for snow.

Photo from MFA pictured above:

Cornball meets irony?

OMG. The Hallmark movie producer must’ve said to scriptwriter: Get racy! Because instead of the usual egg nog or ubiquitous cocoa, the obvious couple-to-be drank wine! And instead of our heroine being a Gold Star Widow or a widow whose husband died on Christmas Eve or the single sister of a veteran serving overseas or the big city career gal in relationship with a chump who narrowly but conspicuously misses being handsome and who fails to appreciate either the spirit of Christmas or small town values (said spirit and values being interchangeable in the Hallmark universe), she was — gasp— divorced.

But we had many of the usuals: big toothed child fervently wishing for her parent’s happiness, the small town with over the top decorations, small town and better beau lining up so that to choose one is to choose the other, the town festival in jeopardy.

(Yes, I created Hallmark Christmas Movie Bingo — don’t judge!)

And don’t ask how it all came out. As much as I keep recording these narrowly disguised Christian homilies and watching them the way one might a road side accident (curiosity, horror, but also irony), I also take inordinate satisfaction in hitting “delete” halfway through.

My excuse? The same one I use for not sleeping well and to explain a rather pernicious inclination toward gloom: the news. What else?

But wasn’t yesterday an exciting one? It was one of those days where I broke down and watched CNN (I’m more of an MSNBC gal).

We now have Trump, his family, and his campaign gathering dirt on HRC from Russia while actively pursuing a business deal in Moscow and lying about it. “Where I come from, that’s collusion.”

Eric Swallwell

Sheila makes her own season

Meet Sheila. She is all pepped up about the coming of gift giving season. Ribbons! Tissue paper! Specially printed boxes! She loves them all — and those are just the wrappers! Unlike Walgreen’s or Macy’s, Sheila’s festive mood arises from joy. Not greed.

She wears a recycled blouse & sweater and a cute pink button. Part of a wool challis scarf that belonged to my mother wraps her neck. It’s one of my “good luck cloths” and I hope it lasts forever, because when I include a scrap, it feels like a blessing for the recipient. Her pipe cleaner arms make a loop in the back for hanging, but she’s very versatile (it’s one of her charms) and will stand on her own.

Sheila is rather proud of her crocheted tail and insisted that I include this shot. The harsh shadows made it a “no go” in my book, but she is very persuasive. Must be that charm!

Because she keeps singing “I’m going to Texas“, I gave her a peace amulet. But when I came downstairs this morning, peace was hanging by a thread. I didn’t like the look or sound of that, so I dug up a festive woodland branch for her instead. She is so at home everywhere she goes — whether it’s among the ferns or next to a toadstool. In that regard, I want to be more like her!
Her holiday cheer must be contagious for I finished one of the starched doily snowflakes using cotton string and a few crystal beads. Sshhh! It will be a gift!
It’s windy today, making the black walnuts fall in waves of bombing that sound like artillery. I was lucky to survive filming. Although, I didn’t look up. Maybe all the nuts have fallen now.​

​This week I’ll be going to Salem. I hope there’s time to take a few pictures before or after visiting my sister, because the place goes absolutely ga-ga for Halloween.

And just to get us back to October, here’s a page from an old Ranger Rick magazine that I found while sorting downstairs (today, I tackled the file cabinets).

Fairy day at Tower Hill

Tower Hill Botanic Garden is only 45 minutes from here out by Worcester, but somehow today was my first visit. It was so worth it! There happened to be a fairy hut-making workshop this morning which meant we were enchanted by charming little structures everywhere we looked.


We encountered a few fairies as well.

The woods had a yellow cast to them that was also somewhat magical. The wonder of it reminded me that the Japanese have a word for this:

Shinrinyoku” (“forest bathing”) is to go deep into the woods where everything is silent and peaceful for a relaxation.

While looking that word up, I discovered this one — “Komorebi”. It means sunlight that filters through the leaves of trees.


There was also a wonderful outdoor art installation: THE WILD RUMPUS, A Stickwork Sculpture by Patrick Dougherty (better pix at garden’s website, linked above).

Finn had a good time once he settled down. Fortunately, we only saw one other dog.


I chatted up two women winding red lights on the branches of one of the trees near the visitor center (how like me — er, not!) and learned that Tower Hill does it up for Christmas. I plan to go back before another 25 years pass — maybe even in 2017!

Once back at the manse, perhaps inspired by the thought of that Garden done up for the holiday, I finished a Santa hat for one of my little critters. I’ll show you her tomorrow. She’s really quite special.

PS before the light faded too much I made my own fairy hut with whatever materials I could grab from nearby.