Saturday, December 20, 2014


Reflections On a Scottish Christmas
by Johnny Cunningham

The dark of winter wraps around us tight.
The lamps are fired, and flickering light
beats time to the fiddle as notes float
softly down, like the years' first snow.
While outside the window
a blast of late December wind
whistles harmony to the drone of the pipes.
We push the old year back against the wall
so we can dance a jig for Christmas
and welcome in the new.

I discovered a peril of herbal medicine recently. My husband was somewhat sick and I kept giving him stuff to make him feel better and then he would go to work. Where he wouldn't get any rest, and we would start again the next day, with him a bit more exhausted. So maybe helping him feel well enough to go was not doing him a favor. Trying to get him to take a day off is somewhere between "tough" and "nearly impossible," but people just need to get their rest, you know?

Speaking of rest, I could use a break (literally and figuratively) myself. Ever since the PTA Reflections arts competition deadline moved from after Christmas to before Christmas, my holidays have been more rushed. I love the Reflections program, but when I turned in this year's entries, I danced a jig in my heart that I am not going to be doing it next year. I've been coordinating the program for eight years and as many as three schools at a time. It's a lot of work at a busy time of year.

So we've had Reflections, illnesses, wisdom tooth surgery, pet minding, present shopping & making going on ... yesterday when I found myself grumbling to the Christmas tree about the fact that it keeps wanting to be watered, I realized that I should cut myself some slack somewhere. I gave myself permission not to post this week. I had to get up a million times while I was writing this (to attend to a cat, a dog, and a sick child) so I figure that was the right choice. Happy holidays, all!

Some old winter and holiday posts.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Time to Ponder and Listen

This time of the year is spent in good cheer,
And neighbors together do meet
To sit by the fire, with friendly desire,
Each other in love to greet;
Old grudges forgot are put in the pot,
All sorrows aside they lay;
The old and the young doth carol this song
To drive the cold winter away.

My friend Joyce Ray made my day with the thoughtful parcel she sent for the Winter Poetry Swap. Here's her elegant pantoum:

The Language of Trees
by Joyce Ray

Twigs, sap stilled by cold,
etch brush-stroked Kanji
over gray skies and hold
a promise of spring through winter’s story.

Brush-stroked Kanji etch
tree poems in stick season.
Limbs promise spring and stretch
toward orbs of light to illume and open

the tree poems of stick season
because now is the time to ponder and listen
as light orbs illume and open
Kilmer’s analogy of trees to poems.

Let poets listen. Let poets ponder.
Do trees beckon to hear poems,
stripped of Kilmer’s summer wear,
in winter’s language, plain-spoken?

Perhaps they beckon to hear our prayer
and like twigs, sap stilled by cold,
we’ll pray in the stripped language of winter
against gray skies we must hold.

Joyce also sent chocolates, candles, and a custom ornament
(not pictured because it is already on the tree)

The Poetry Friday round-up is at Buffy's Blog.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

It Was Terribly Cold

Have you ever heard Hans Christian Andersen's story of The Little Match Girl? It's a sad tale about a little girl who is sent into the cold to sell matches, but when no one buys any, she winds up using them to warm herself. In their light, she sees happy visions of food, comfort, and her loving grandmother. She freezes during the night and is found in the morning by people who passed her by the night before. It's not a story that I have a sentimental attachment to from my childhood or anything, but last year I shared a bit of David Lang's the little match girl passion. This year I have some art:

Remember the little match girl (Please donate to your local food bank)
photo by Justin Ennis

The little match girl of tucia
photo by 黑本

The Little Match Girl dreaming of Christmas trees (The Hans Christian Andersen museum, Copenhagen)
photo by kurozukin

The fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen
by Helen Stratton

Little Match Girl
photo by Scott Moore

The Little Match Girl
by Shigeru Hatsuyama

The Little Match Girl loses her shoes, Fairy tales and stories, 1900
illustration by Hans Tegner

The Bloggess is running a "give what you can, take what you need" post that you might want to look at if you are interested in direct ways to help people out. I would scroll down quite a bit to get to messages that have been seen fewer times.

Monday, December 15, 2014

I'll Paint You A Picture

I am a lighthouse, worn by the weather and the waves.
I keep my lamp lit, to warn the sailors on their way.

This Music Monday, Nickel Creek :-)

Friday, December 12, 2014

How I Was

A poem today by Ukrainian poet Oksana Lutsyshyna.

The Cat
by Oksana Lutsyshyna

father asked: write a poem about me
how I was young, how I was, period
played the guitar, chased a soccer ball in the field,
bouncing it with my head high into the sky

how I returned home
to our apartment
that smelled of oatmeal and Saturday laundry
with a tapestry hanging on the wall

(on the tapestry
a man and a woman
woven in red
ride a pair of black horses)

no, father, I kept saying, I can’t...

read the rest here.

Poets in Ukraine celebrated like stars
Dave Bakke: Ukrainian war sparks poetry protest
An article about Ukrainian poet Serhiy Zhadan

These Four Corners is the Poetry Friday round-up host.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


The means by which migratory animals navigate from place to place are as diverse as the journeys themselves. Some species follow an invisible road map created by the earth’s magnetic field, which they perceive through tiny magnets in their bodies. Others rely on landmarks such as mountain ranges and coastlines, the alignment of the stars in the night sky, or olfactory cues to determine where they’re going.
~David S. Wilcove

Male hooded merganser photo by Ken Billington

We live near a pond that is populated by a blue heron, green herons, dozens of Canada geese, mallard ducks, and (at the moment) hooded mergansers. The hooded mergansers are only here for a little while, on their way to warmer climes. I love to hear the hummingbird-esque noise their wings make when they fly. In honor of those beauties, we have a migration theme today.

Gathering Wings
photo by Steve Wall

Morning Migration
photo by Nathan Johansen

Tundra (Whistling) Swans resting after the long migration flight
photo by Dave Rooke

Zebra migration
photo by Francesco Veronesi

Wildebeest migration
photo by Francesco Veronesi

Birds storm!
photo by Riccardo Palazzani

Monarch Migration
photo by Nicole Hanusek

Operation Migration
photo by Virginia Piekarski

Monday, December 8, 2014

Two Birds of a Feather

Our cheeks are nice and rosy,
And comfy cozy are we,
We're snuggled up together
Like two birds of a feather would be,
Let's take that road before us,
And sing a chorus or two,
Come on, it's lovely weather
For a sleigh ride together with you.
~ Mitchell Parish

Two versions of Sleigh Ride...the first will ease you into waking up, and the second will finish the job :-) :