Friday, December 28, 2012

Long Slumbers Moon

~~unknown

  Cold Moon,  Turning Moon, Moon After Yule, Moon of Darkness,  Pine Moon,  Quiet Moon, Rowan Moon, Owl Calling Moon, Elm Moon, Elven Moon(modern),Dreamers moon, Long nights moon, Long slumbers Moon, wishing Moon, Swirling Snows Moon


The thirteenth full moon of the year.  A silver orb that hangs in the velvet sky of this long dark night. only a week past the longest night of the year with most of the winter ahead. This is a time indeed for looking forward, making wishes and plans,and a time to look closely at ones surrounding.  A time to be open to the wonder around us.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

snowstorm

 

Snowing switch off.
Snowing switch on.
It was just that quick.

The fluffy stuff  drifted , then pelted down, at one point it was all but impossible to make out the huge spruce trees, they were hidden by a curtain of  white flakes,


Snow clinging to branches, and starting to accumulate on the road, the traffic slowed. First the coal bin began to disappear and then the tractor. I turned on the Christmas igloo. and swept off the steps.   Soon the fluffy white stuff covered the the tractor, and  the traffic was barely crawling along.

Sunset it seemed had come about an hour early,  and vehicles had come to a standstill, the sounds of traffic now replaced by the sounds of idling engines.  And the white stuff kept falling.

 
The last bits of wood peeking out of what only this morning looked like a very respectable woodpile now ere covered with snow.  And still the traffic wasn't moving.  HARK! the sound of a snowplow came echoing down the canyon of whitened spruce trees.  And shortly all I could hear was again the sound of falling snow.
I opened the back door and again the snow was piled up against it, I swept the steps and went back inside where it was warm. to watch the news, and the plights of others who were so much worse off than me.
 
 

 
 The Igloo glowed softly through the now gently falling snow, the area under the hundred foot tall spruces had filled up with snow.

Venturing out one last time before I too would crawl under a blanket, I swept away the snow blanketing the steps and walkway.
I swept away the tracks.
And then paused, in the chilly still air to look up into the flakes that were drifting down.

And saw the glow of the nearly full moon through the clouds.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Greetings

 



It Feels Like Christmas Lyrics

by The Muppets
It's in the singing of a street corner choir
It's going home and getting warm by the fire
It's true
Wherever you find love
It feels like Christmas
A cup of kindness that we share with another
A sweet reunion with a friend or a brother
In all the places you find love
It feels like Christmas
It is the season of the heart
A special time of caring
The ways of love made clear
It is the season of the sprit
The message if we hear it
Is make it last all year
It's in the giving of a gift to another
A pair of mittens that were made by your mother
It's all the ways that we show love
That feel like Christmas
A part of childhood we'll always remember
It is the summer of the soul in December
Yes, when you do your best for love
It feels like Christmas
It is the season of the heart
A special time of caring
The ways of love made clear
It is the season of the sprit
The message if we hear it
Is make it last all year
It's in the singing of a street corner choir
It's going home and getting warm by the fire
It's true, wherever you find love
It feels like Christmas
It's true, wherever you find love
It feels like Christmas
It feels like Christmas
It feels like Christmas
It feels like Christmas

Sunday, December 23, 2012

"Ivy. snowflakes and love are in the air."

The Christmas lights seemed out of place in the morning chill and drizzle, the landscape was brown and gray, not white and fresh like it should at this time of year. She drove past"The dairy" as everyone had always called it, this was where the town was founded. The new owners had cut down the ancient maples that had according to the stories been the fence posts of the cow pasture. The old house was gone now, it was a simple building designed to house not only the family but boarders, there were only 5 bedrooms and in a family with 9 children, the boarders must have been stacked up like cord wood in the two tiny attic bedrooms, all that remained of the out buildings were a few foundation stones and cellar holes, the main barn had collapsed, leaving mostly weeds and a few huge, rotting timbers propped up against the earthen ramp.  Ivy and her siblings had played there, finding horse shoes, and other rusty golden treasures of child hood.

It just seemed like a good morning to take the long way around town to the Post Office and mail Christmas Cards, and the parcels for her Grandchildren. Thad was busy putting refills in the pens,  he took his job very seriously, his Mom was the postmaster, and he was a proud as any first grade kid could be of that. Ivy didn't know the young woman who waited on her, but there was a line of people that was getting ever longer behind her. suddenly the lobby was full of people. if there was an echo to Ivy's steps like there was when she came in, it was inaudible over the sound of people shuffling along with their packages.

It seemed that everywhere she went there was someone she hadn't seen in a very long time, and by the time ivy got back to her car she was exhausted, but at least all of her errands were done and she could stay home for a few days, especially since there was a storm coming.

Skye greeted her at the door, and then ran to the window, he struggled to see over the windowsill. "What do you see?" he was wagging his tail so hard it thumped on the floor, and making tiny little yips he had never heard him make before.  Ivy had never seen him so excited, she thought Cam might be outside and Skye wanted to play, but she couldn't see him and Skye wasn't pawing at the door.  Even Mr chips was singing.  Ivy had promised to bake some bread for the St. Lucia Pageant. For so many, many years this was the way the Christmas season started, the first memories she had of it were with her flamboyant great=grandmother,then her grandmother,her mother and now she was carrying on the tradition. The house would always smelled wonderful with the rich smells of spices and dried fruits.

Ivy put on Mr chips favorite Christmas music, and he chirped along merrily. Ivy busied herself, and Skye paced from his blanket to the window and back again. 

By the next day temperature was dropping fast, and Ivy was determined to hang Christmas lights before it got too cold, before she put the coffee on to perk and carried the wreath and garland down from the attic and arranged them on the the front door. The school bus went by, but she didn't see Skye streaking across the lawn. There he was over at the empty house where the Benners had lived, he seemed to be looking or sniffing around for something, and that was unusual for him.


It began to snow, great, huge fluffy, SuzySnowflake flakes. Afternoon changed to early evening as the flakes began to pile up.
Skye left early today, he bounded across the yard, disappearing into the swirling snow.  As she began to kneading the bread, and she wondered if she would ever find out where he went. She had thought about following him, but knew she could never keep up. The bread was set to rise. Now her house smelled like Christmas, she joined Mr Chips in whistling "Silent night", as she climbed the steps up to the attic, carrying her mug, she sang the whole way. Settling into her chair she looked around in, so many reminders of the good and the bad that this house and her little family had seen, but almost all of the memories were good. She hadn't turned the lantern on, and instead was waiting for the sun to go down, wanting to enjoy it in silence. The deep reds and mauve's, streaked with golds and rust, it was at once sad, and beautiful. i made Ivy long for Spring. It made Ivy miss Will. She thought of the December afternoons when she walked home from school and when she would take the long shortcut down Main St. to look at the Christmas displays in the Store windows, and then turn on to Water Street so that she watch the model trains in Haggarety's Hardware. Nearer to Christmas there would be a 6 foot stocking filled with toys, and on Christmas Eve they drew the name from the fishbowl placed next to it. Ivy turned on the lantern, and watched as the house lights came on and people came to the window and waved, Ivy waved back. There was a light in the Benner's house, then it went out, and a tallish man carrying something in his arms walked out and got into a truck and drove away.


They old green Subaru pulled into the Bethlehem Lutheran parking lot.
people were already there busily preparing for the Lucia Pageant tomorrow, much hustle and bustle , nervous children practicing their speeches and songs.  the table were covered with white paper and each decorated with a centerpiece of fresh pine boughs,  cinnamon sticks, scented pinrcones, and a handmade white candle, paper stars and snowflakes made by the Sunday school children where everywhere.  Everyone talking at once about their Christmas plans. asking and answering questions, singing and laughing, and generally leaving ivy wanting a few moment of peace and quiet.  She poured herself a glass of fruit punch and walked out into the hallway that lead to the chapel, it was cool and quiet. A young couple came through the back door with armloads of greenery, "Hi, Mrs. C. got your tree up yet?". Dhe knew him, he looked so familiar, but who was he? "No, no not yet."

Ivy wasn't sure if she was going to put up a tree, after all she was going to Paulenes'. all of the family now descended on poor Pauline every Holiday and Pauline loved it, always playing Martha Stewart. Her bags were already packed, and she was looking forward to the train ride.  Ivy had also been invited to Mrs Mappes house, she found the romance blooming between Gus and Mrs Mappes to be a beautiful,tender and hope-filled love.

On her way home Ivy stopped to buy a tree, and the next day set it up in the living room. each ornament held a story , and most a memory. Home made and hand me down, the handmade she had bought sometimes because she felt sorry for the person who was trying to sell them. the most precious by far were the ones made by her children. 

For the next few days, Ivy kept busy. She made a list of what needed doing before she left for her daughters, Ivy did want to stay long she would miss the peace of her home. Yet she was very excited. Skye seemed to know something was going on, but he also seemed to be very interested in the new neighbor or neighbors.  On the afternoon before she left Ivy decided that she would walk around the neighborhood and look at the Christmas lights, she and Will had always taken their children on walks around the neighborhood on Christmas Eve. A still night , with a few snowflakes, the air was crisp and refreshing...and the street was aglow with with light and color. Ivy took her time, and admired each lighted house, enjoyed the crisp air, Ivy had walked as far as Haggarety Hardware, the same model trains were still in the window, Pvy paused for awhile, and began to walk home, the  houses were spaced farther apart the closer she got to her home,as she saw the lights of her house, she also saw a small black dog rocketing towards her, followed by a tallish man yelling "Millie! Millie!".  He scooped up the little dog, who looked very much like a bear cub. he said "Hi, I'm Mike Benjamin and this is my dog Thoroughly Modern Millie, Millie for short."

















 


  



    

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Solstace solitude

            
                                                            ~~the Dark Woods

Winter, is just beginning, the days have grown so short, the nights so long, and a chill has settled in to stay for awhile, a long while.
But on this day when the night is the longest it will get, night will finally looses its battle to the the returning sun. the wheel turns again and the sun shines a little longer each day. the the silvery iciness warmed golden by the strengthening sun, crisp whites and vivid blues of the night skies blend with the reds of sunset and sunrise, and the promise in the greens of pine , spruce, holly and mistletoe.

There is a ancient legend about why evergreens stay green.  At the time of the winter solstice the sun was feeling weary and he told  the plants and tress that he was going to rest for a brief time and then he would be back, spreading light and warmth very soon.  the sun left and very soon the earth became very cold, the the plants and tree became frightened and began to cry for the sun to return, they shuddered in fear and dropped their leaves, they were so sure he would not return.
the firs, pines and holly which grew farther up the mountains could see that the sun had moved very far away, but was still there. They tried to explain this to the other trees, but the other trees insisted that the sun had abandoned them and wailing and moaning they dropped the remainder of their leaves.
Gradually the Sun returned to the earth and the land became green again.  When the Sun saw  that the trees had shed their leaves, he was very disappointed.  He had kept his part of the bargain, but that the trees had not, and from now on they would shed their leaves each year to remind them.   As a reward for their loyalty the sun let the pines, firs and holly he let them keep their fine greenery year round.

If you can walk in the woods or fields, even for a few moments to experience the solitude of winter gathering in the sights and rare sounds, the earth speaks to us when all else is quiet.

In Norse tradition enemies who  met under a bough of mistletoe, would lay down their weapons, at  least for awhile.   A hope that survives to this day.   On this day when the sun stands still, and we welcome back the sun and our hearts a hopeful, we spend time with family and friends in celebration of Yule, and the solstice. Might we be lucky enough to make a few new ones.

Beneath the tree of light and life,
a blessing at this season of Jul!
To all that sit at my hearth,
today we are brothers, we are family,
and I drink to your health!
Today is a day to offer hospitality
to all that cross my threshold
in the name of the season.

~~Patti Wigington



Sunday, December 16, 2012

stary, stary night

                              
                                                                  ~~All is known in the sacredness of silence.  Rumi


The power was off, that happens so often it is really just a part of  everyday life. 
I settled myself into my favorite chair , and as I became accustomed to the darkness the sky began to fill with stars.  Oh, I know that the stars were there all along, but the lights of town pretty much overpower the tiny points of starlight.  The winter sky always seems so full of stars.  I'm not sure how long I sat there,  watching the sky, feeling blessed to watch the lights of the night sky, but when I awoke the lights were on and the stars were hidden again.


















Thursday, December 13, 2012

St Lucia





 

In Swedish. Merry Christmas is 'God Jul' I  have known that since I was a youngster, because all of my neighbors were of Swedish ancestry.  Also knew a a few things about St. Lucia, like her very name meant light. And that one lucky girl  got to be her in a church pageant right before Christmastime.  One year it was my neighbors younger daughter, and of course all of the neighborhood was so proud, she was radiant standing in their kitchen wearing her beautiful white robe, red sash and  a wreath of candles in her hair.
I learned from another neighbor, that back in Sweden, when she was  very young the oldest girl in the house would get up very early and make coffee and pastry, dress up in a white robe and wearing a wreath with candles and she and her siblings would serve breakfast to their parents. 
he Holiday had been celebrated on western Sweden for some time but after the 1920s it spread through the rest of the the country. Also celebrated now in the other Scandinavian countries, Bosnia, Croatia, and France also in parts of Italy.  In parts of Italy children leave a sandwich for St Lucia and her donkey, because they bring the children their gifts.

St Lucia was from the  Syracuse on the island of Sicily, she brought food to the poor and imprisoned, since she did  this under cover of darkness, she wore a wreath of candles so she could keep her hands free. For her her good deeds she was to be condemned to death and  was martyred in 304AD.
 The 13th of Dec is also the date of the Winter Solstice on the Julian calender, and though the story of St Lucia was probably brought to Sweden by traveling Monks, her crown of candles should also remind us of the returning sun especially during short days and long nights at the time of the Solstice.  A young woman wearing a wreath of lit candles lead a procession  recalling the promise of the returning sun   Boys  also join in the procsession, wearing pointed hats and carrying wands bedecked with stars, they are the "Star Boys" and some dress as the Tomten the guardian of every farmhouse and village.



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12/12/12


                                                                 ~~Sid Graves

So for about a hundred years we won't have another  date like this until January 1,2101.....I am sure there are people around now who will be around then, though i am pretty sure that I won't be one of them, well at least not as who I am now, and as the song from the Highlanders says"who wants to live forever".  Especially if you are one of the people who think that the next 01/01/01 is really on January 1, 3001.

~~Not going to happen. Leastwise, not this year.
                                                 Source: NASA - Artist: Don Davis
If you are still operating on the old calender, this is really 12/21/2012, the day the Mayan calender ends.  It should be pointed out here that our calender ends every Dec 31....and the worst that happens to most of us is that we make resolutions we know we can't and won't keep, and may-be have a hangover.

However since it is already tomorrow in New Zealand, Australia, and a number of other places. And I am to late to be relevant.




Tuesday, December 11, 2012

National Noodle ring Day

There do seem to be an awfully lot of these national food holidays, and honestly I thought that this one was to celebrate one of my favorite, the hot and nourishing, well the makers say so,  I  just think its tasty a darn easy meal....SpagettiOs!!!!  SpagettiOs have never let me down, they really do deserve a day named after them.



National Noodle Ring Day


Celebrate Again on December 11th, 2012


A noodle ring, for those of you who don't know (and really, who does?), is made by mixing eggs and noodles together with ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and cheese and then, inexplicably, smashing the concoction into a ring mold to bake. In some variations, once the ring is released from the mold and properly plated, the center of the ring can then be filled with creamed chicken. Once a staple of mid-century cookbooks, the noodle ring has since fallen into obscurity. Can't imagine why
http://www.theultimateholidaysite.com/holidays/2012-12/#!national-noodle-ring-day



here is a recipe from The Big Oven

German Noodle Ring with cheese sauce

Another thing I noticed in my extensive research is that there were several references to the tinned cheese food product made by Kraft that would last in definitely and was frequently  and part of the American soldiers diet. I can't help feeling that that might have something to do with the creation of this day,  that and the fact that no one seems to know who or why this day was created.  I have never partaken of noodle ring, and I am not sure if I ever will.

Ingredients




 
1 cnoodles; *
1/2 tsPaprika
3 tbButter
1/4 lbCheese, swiss
1/2 tsSalt
2 Egg; well beaten
Salt
3 tbFlour
3 cWater; boiling
1 1/2 cmilk
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
German Noodle Ring with Cheese Sauce Preparation
Boil the noodles in salted water and cook about 10 minutes until tender. Drain and put into a well-greased ring mold. Melt the butter, add the flour and blend. Stir in the milk and continue cooking, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Add the seasoning and cheese cut in small pieces. Cook until cheese melts. Reserve 1/2 of the sauce to use later. To the remaining sauce, add the well beaten eggs and mix well. Pour over the noodles. Set mold in pan containing hot water and bake at 350-F about 45 minutes. Unmold on large platter, pour over the remaining hot cheese sauce and fill center with any desired vegetable, such as peas and carrots, spinach or asparagus tips. Source: Pennsylvania Dutch Cook Book - Fine Old Recipes, Culinary Arts Press

So anyway tonight we are having......not Noodle ring.

Monday, December 10, 2012

SYFY says the Mayans wrote the Twelve days of Christmas

I fell asleep on the couch  when I got home day before yesterday and woke up at about 9PM, I wasn't sleepy anymore, which should be of no surprise to anyone, not even me.  The house was dark, but the TV was on and tuned to a favorite channel, SYFY. 
"The Twelve Disasters of Christmas"...um, yup, that's what was on; this sounded at the very least diverting.

You see, we have all been wrong about the Mayan doomsday prophecy's, we had the date right but the story wrong.
The Mayan religious hierarchy was a very well educated group, and they knew that the only way to save the world from certain doom in 2012 was to bury five golden rings in a place somewhere in western North America, which was called Calvary, they created a compass to lead the chosen one to the location of the five golden rings which would be the key to saving the planet from extinction this time. They then constructed a wooden book to hold this wondrous object and explanatory illustrations. After this they compose the song we now know as the "Twelve Days of Christmas, total debunks the idea that it was written about a wealthy, but I suspect daft suitor, gifts to a bewildered{again I'm guessing} maiden on the days between Christmas and Twelfth tide {Jan 6}.  Now then, having done all of this, the wise elders sent, someone with one of the rings and the book to Europe  about a Millennium ago to inter mingle and create a fair maiden who would save the world in 2012.  And that ends the interesting and cleverly thought out part,this information is revealed during the course of the movie, however since you may feel the need to go for snacks, or something, I thought I would explain it , sorta. 


Now on to the present, where I was in the kitchen getting a snack.
It is 12/21/2012, and it is Jaycee's birthday, her grandmother gives her and lovely ancient golden ring...I go into the kitchen again and when I come back her Grandmother is dead, but her Grandfather is explaining things, people have been hit by giant balls of ice and and the town is surrounded by a giant bubble which if you drive thought it both you and your car will explode...yeah gotta get some special effects going, anyways, Jaycee's Mom, Mary, and her brother who's name I can't remember are out looking for the dog, who ran off before all of this started, personally i think the dog is smarter than most of the townspeople and is not going anywhere near that bubble thing.  Meanwhile Grandfather, Jaycee and her Dad, Joseph, are driving around, narrowly missing the special effects and finding more rings. For some reason I missed while I was picking up the Cheetos  dropped while I was laughing, they all decided to go back to the town hall, where what I think was killer Aquafina, which froze everything, including Jaycees Grandpa...even though she managed to save her dad, Joseph.  There was a lot of confusion, yelling and looking at the images of the alleged Twelve day of Mayan Christmas in the wooden book,  two rather dim hot heads decided that the one page, which they showed alot, and for a good reason, but I won't tell you what,meant the Jaycee had to be sacrificed.  But she and her Dad, Joseph took off again, while the they were looking for another ring in an old mine. Anyway, poor Joseph gets left in the collapsing mine and dim guy drives off with Jaycee.  While this is going on dim guy two is tying up Mary and her son, while the exploding Christmas decorations are try to kill him, and fortunately for the story they succeed, and Mary and her son escape.  OK, so I was out of snacks, and when I get back the dim hot head one is dead, and there are special effects everywhere. Joseph has returned, the final ring has been found,and the reason they show that picture so much is revealed.  Happy ending, and the family is reunited and the very smart dog comes back.

This was masterful SyFy you are to be congratulated.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Seals

 
Christmas seals!  Oh I remember those!
I don't think I new whar they really meant, but I knew that they were important
 
 
 

 In 1907 0n this date the first Christmas seals went on sale.  My memories of them only go back to about 1955. The arrival of that envelope, the one with the Christmas seals in it was a big deal, we could  affix them to anything, it was OK, they were not like a real stamps, which cost all of 3 cents. Stuck on every Christmas card, and as the center of every paper snowflake, adorning the links of  the feet of red and green paper chains, we made as busy work.   The jewel  put on  every schoolbook cover and art project.  Everyone was used, everyone of them,the bright colors and Christmas designs made them irresistible.
 
We were encouraged to bring in 5 or 10 cents, a whole week's allowance for me for a shinny red plastic TB symbol, it hung from a small straight pin. something that would be considered a weapon today, but in those day even the kindergartners wore them everyday until they fell off and were lost.   something i have looked for at every yard sale, but sadly never found even one.  I always wondered what that symbol meant.










The following excerpt from the University of Virginia Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, tells the story so much better than I could.


Ms. Emily Bissell
Ms. Emily Bissell
The fledgling NASPT could not financially support every sanatorium in the country. Many, like the tiny Brandywine Sanatorium near Wilmington, Delaware, were barely able to stay open. In 1907, Dr. Joseph Wales, a physician at Brandywine, asked his cousin, Ms. Emily Bissell, for help. Ms. Bissell was an active member of the American Red Cross with considerable experience in fund-raising. Her mission was to raise the $300 necessary to keep Brandywine Sanatorium in operation through the winter.
Bissell got the idea for a sale of Christmas Seals from an article written by a Danish-American journalist and social worker named Jacob Riis. In his article, Is referred to a successful sale of Christmas seals in 1904 in Denmark that raised $20,000 in the fight against TB. Bissell agreed with Riis’s suggestion that America do the same. She borrowed money from friends to print the first 50,000 Seals, got permission from the Wilmington postmaster to sell them in the post office lobby, and sold the first Christmas Seal on December 7, 1907.
first Christmas Seal campaign
The Seals were placed in envelopes on which the following message was printed:
Put this stamp with message bright
On every Christmas letter;
Help the tuberculosis fight,
And make the New Year better.
These stamps do not carry any kind of mail
but any kind of mail will carry them.
Christmas Seal promotion
On her first day, Bissell raised $25. But when sales tapered off during the next several days, she realized that she was no longer on pace to reach her goal of $300. Desperate, she jumped on the train to Philadelphia, where she hoped to find a voice for her cause in The North American, one of the city’s most popular newspapers. She succeeded. Every day in The North American, articles appeared under the heading, “Stamp Out Tuberculosis.” Her Seals sold so quickly that she had to order another 250,000. The Philadelphia campaign caught the attention of President Theodore Roosevelt, who enthusiastically endorsed Bissell’s Seals. By the end of the Christmas season, Emily Bissell had raised $3,000.

Christmas Seals and the ALA

girl with hundreds of Christmas Seals
Ms. Bissell’s Christmas Seal Campaign went national the following year with the official sponsorship of the American Red Cross. In its second year, the sale of Christmas Seals raised $135,000 against tuberculosis. In 1909, the campaign produced $250,000. The American Red Cross sponsored the Christmas Seal until 1919, when the National Tuberculosis Association (the new name for the NASPT) was finally strong enough to assume exclusive control of the project. The emblem of the NTA, the double-barred cross, appeared for the first time on a Christmas Seal in 1920.
1908 Christmas Seal
The double-barred cross is a modification of the Cross of Lorraine, which is itself a variation of the Jerusalem, or Patriarchal, Cross. Godfrey, Duke of Lorraine and a leader of the First Crusade, commandeered the cross in 1099 when he was made ruler of Jerusalem. In 1902, Dr. Gilbert Version of Paris proposed that the Lorraine Cross be made the emblem of the anti-TB “crusade” at the International Conference on Tuberculosis held in Berlin. The NASPT adopted the cross in 1906 and registered their new emblem as an official trademark in 1920.
1920 Christmas Seal
Since 1959, celebrities have chaired the Christmas Seal Campaign, including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Bob Hope, Lee Trevino, Johnny Bench, Pearl Bailey, and Cybill Shepherd. Early Christmas Seals have attracted the attention of stamp collectors, some of whom pay several hundred dollars for a single Seal. In 1980, Ms. Emily Bissell, “Crusader Against Tuberculosis,” and the double-barred cross of the ALA appeared on a postage stamp. Now one of the best known fund-raisers in the country, the Christmas Seal Campaign raises millions of dollars to prevent, cure, and control lung disease.
Lee Trevino ad for Christmas Seals

Happy Hanukkah!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mitten Tree Day

I just got back from my walk and picking up the days mail.
Yesterday was a warm sunny day, it seemed almost too warm to be putting up Christmas lights, but now I wish that I had.  Today is gray, and blustery with ice pellets in the air, and a wind that cuts through me, and made me wish I had worn a warmer coat,  and made me glad I had worn shoes instead of flip flops.


The sky is low and grey, and there were snowflakes and ice pellets in the air.  I was thinking about the post I was going to write today, and how I wished was wearing warm gloves.   As I  walked past  the home that already had their Christmas lights up, I drifted into the warm and homey images of the Season, kept thinking about my cold hands which I had in the pockets of my denim jacket, and how cold they were.  The words from a song in the A Muppet Christmas Carol. sung by a cute, little mouse began to run through my head.
                                               " It's in the giving of a gift to another   
                                             A pair of mittens that were made by your mother
                                             It's all the ways that we show love
                                             That feel like Christmas"
My mother never made mittens, but we always had plenty. Though we were a working class family we did OK, of course you could in those times.  We often got hand-me-down winter clothing from our neighbors, whos children had moved far away.

All fo this mental rambling brings me to a what I want to write about.  Today is Mitten Tree Day, when people, usually school children bring mittens to school, church, the community center, wherever to decorate a tree, then these mittens are given to children who need them.  The tradition my have started with a first grade teacher or it may have started with the book The Mitten Tree  by Candace Christiansen.   The story of a woman named Sarah, who knitted mittens for the children she saw at the school bus stop who had none. She  hung the mittens on and evergreen tree, and the children never knew who gave them this gift.
When she ran out of yarn, basket of yarn appeared on her doorstep, she then knitted mittens for all of the children in town, and no one ever knew it was Sarah who made them.
hCildren always need mittens. and even if you can't knit,  here is a way to make some, quicker than quick.

Turn Your Ugly Christmas Sweaters into Warm Winter mittenshttp://lifehacker.com/5714457/turn-your-ugly-christmas-sweaters-into-warm-winter-mittens

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Krampus, Belsnickle, and St Nicholas

Certainly looks like an image of the emotional state of the Black Friday shopping crowd, but it isn't, this image is from www.Krampus.com, a site devoted to , well  you guessed it the "jolly devil" himself, Krampus.  

As our country is a melting pot, it is also a melting pot of holiday traditions, and once they got here they were stirred and stirred round once more, emerging as something to be rewritten and retold until every community seems to have a version all their own.    And so it went with St Nicholas, Belsnickle and Krampus, but I'm getting ahead of myself.











Tomorrow is St Nicholas Day,  the gentle patron, giving gifts to the good children.  Howsoever on the evening of Dec 5,  it is Krampusnacht, Krampus, which means  claw, carries a switch to punish the naughty children and to swat the bottoms of young ladies, he is rightly  called the "jolly devil".  With his broad smile and prominent red tongue  he was depicted on most Victorian  Christmas trees, often dressed in red,and carrying switches.  The Victorians would often claim that the presence of the "jolly devil" was to remind us that there are two sides to everything.  Krampus accompanied St Nicholas on his rounds, and really bad children got tossed into his backpack and were carried off.  the slightly bad ones got a lump of coal and a swat.

But Krampusnacht was also for the adults who dressed in costume and went about the streets making merry and more than a little mischief. 



From Bavaria, Switzerland, Germany, and Holland, along with their meager possessions the new arrivals brought their customs and stories,  and in a new land they created their own versions of St Nicolas, and Krampus. A version more suited to the new land they found themselves in, dressed in robes which were sometimes made of burlap sacks and pelts, he went door to door with his bundle of  switches, pockets filled with candy and fruit, and carrying a large sack.  At each home the children gathered in front of him, he might ask them to recite their prayers, or something that they had learned in school,or just ask if they had done the chores, good children got candy and fruit, and the bad ones got a switch, the really bad ones got tossed into the sack and carried off, by  Belsnickle himself.
~~all images from Krampus.com
 
 
 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Celebrate the days December, slightly edited by me

One of my favorite sourse for for a quick bit of information is About.com, so as i was looking up something entirely different I found this list of occasions to celebrate in the month of December.   Through the wonders of search engines, you can end up places you can end up with information better than when you started out to look for, well anyway I can.



December 1st

December 2nd

December 3rd

December 4th

  • National Cookie Day...so i had cookies for breakfast
  • Wear Brown Shoes Day...I don't have any, does this mean I have to go shopping????
December 5th

December 6th

December 7th

December 8th

December 9th

December 10th

.

  • Human Rights Day
    United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
  • Nobel Peace Prize Awarded
  • December 11th

    • National Noodle Ring Day.....HUH???
    • UNICEF Anniversary
      Established in 1946.
    December 12th

    December 13th

    December 14th

    December 15th

    December 16th

    December 17th

    December 18th

    • Wear a Plunger On Your Head Day....preferably a new one
    December 19th

    December 20th

    December 21st

    December 22nd

    December 23rd

    December 24th

    December 25th

    December 26th

    December 27th

    • Visit the Zoo Day
    December 28th


    December 29th

    December 30th

    December 31st

    Monday, December 3, 2012

    Dickens was right about the spirits of Christmass


    Charles Dickens was onto something when he created the spirits of Christmas, as in our memories each one has a personality and a history. Christmas marks the passage of another year. The happiness, sadness, hopes and dreams that surround that day make up the personality of each Christmas spirit. 

    Christmas, or anyway the secular side of it has changed over time, but it is also caught perpetually in the Victorian era, why else would we wrap the latest electronic device in paper depicting handmade Victorian toys?  The tree, though a symbol much older than Victorian times in which it became popular, could be made from anything to plastic to  antler sheds, decorated with candles or  blinking lights synchronized to music, heirloom glass ornaments, treasured handmades, the variety of things that could be used to decorate a tree are only limited by the imagination.  The presents under the tree are a very old idea, but the train, of course, is a pretty new one.

    There are as many variations on Christmas, as there are conventionally interpretation. One wonders how many started out as family traditions, or the idea of one person. 

    "In our haste to bring back the anticipation and wonder or Christmases past, lets us not over look Christmas present for Christmas Presents."  Anne Moss  

    The Christmases we have lived, make up the Christmas we live now, and the future Christmases of those who's lives we touch. 




    Friday, November 30, 2012

    Must go Soup

    It's time to stock the pantry. it seems like a very archaic notion, I know, but still every year I make a list of those ingredients, remember food is made of ingredients, and it's not a chocolate chip cookie without the chocolate chips, or chili without the kidney beans. And I was off to the "Sharp Shopper" to stock up, so that I won't have to make unnecessary trips on bad roads, and I can stay toasty warm and make English muffin toasting bread instead of pushing the shopping cart with the wonky wheel through the unplowed parking lot.  Yes, I do have an excuse for everything, but I prefer to call it an explanation.

    So yesterday was the first of usually two trips, stocking the pantry for winter should be an Olympic sport it is so exhausting.  Done right it could be considered a competitive sport, but I prefer to  turn it into a convivial sport.  Grocery shopping can be pretty frustrating,  and if you can spread a little cheer , exchange a few words, may-be learn something new , well i say "have at it."  Also if you run into someones shopping cart while you are looking for the marinated portabella, it's always the polite thing to do to exchange pleasantries.  may-be they know where the marinated portabella are.

    ~~google images
    I met a lady while I was looking for large cans of mixed vegetables, she was looking for small cans of Lima beans, we both agree that Lima beans  are a good addition to vegetable soup ,  the kind one makes from the accumulated leftovers, she called it "Must go Soup",  and I like that.
    Indeed everything must go, from the bits of meat and gravy, to the last few peas and carrots, a dash of chicken, why not, a few stray corn kernels,  of course, well may-be not the left over broccoli,  but the noodles can go in later.  Forget the old cucumbers, because it is also in knowing what to leave out, like lettuce. 
     
    My cart filling with canned goods and pasta, cake mixes and peanut butter, spices, seasonings, flour, sugar and coffee, raisins, and other dried fruits, bags of nut meats, corm starch and cocoa powder, ketchup, a few kinds of mustard, some mayo.  If it something is shelf stable, like the old prospector coming into town.....whoops I forgot the yeast, baking powder and dried beans!  
     
    Some time ago I watched a program about a group of people who found a  Mississippi  cargo ship, where it had sunk about a century ago,  complete with most of its cargo, of tinned and bottled foods including bottled pie fillings and tinned meats, the variety of which seemed to amaze them,  but would only make sense because transportation in those days was just too slow for the fresh and perishable stuff to be practical.   A few years ago a well know TV chef said " It wasn't that long ago the even the Queen of England couldn't get fresh blueberries out of season."
    But I do digress, because I am getting very tired from pushing my well loaded cart through the isles, and all of that looking I am doing because there are so many interesting items, that  I just know I will find useful, but how may to buy, two is usually a safe number.
     
    However the people around me also seem to be laboring under the burden of heavy carts, and an overwhelming number of comestible choices.   "Who knew there was almost as many varieties of noodles as there are varieties of pasta?"  One might turn to the person nearest them and ask "Have you ever tried this? is it good?"  In the last isle one begins to hear, " This is work." or "All this thinking is wearing me out."or from the little lady who explained Must Go soup to me, "Looks like we are having a  race."
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    Full Moon tonight!





    The first snows, the first real snows of winter,  have arrived with the Full White moon.  The Full Dark Moon, this year will be only a touch darker, because of the subtle penumbral eclipse tomorrow morning before sunrise.  Appearing to be the smallest full moon of this year, it once was the source of light for those who had extra goods or provisions to barter  at this Full Trading Moon.  In the distant past did our ancestors use the light of the Moon when Horns are Broken off to gather the sheds for making tools and other items, and to set snares for pelts during the Full Beaver Moon when the beavers were also preparing for winter?


    Most trees have lost all of their leaves, save the few that cling tenaciously to the oak, and are silhouetted against the  silvery disk of the Full Tree Moon as shines through them as it rises into the dark  starry night sky. 

    Trolls Tears//Samhain story for children by D.J.Conway

    The Troll Tear---A Children's Story  The night was very dark, with a Full Moon hanging in the cloud-filled sky above. The air was c...