Thursday, December 31, 2009

At the End of the Year

The particular mind of the ocean
Filling the coastline's longing
With such brief harvest
Of elegant, vanishing waves
Is like the mind of time
Opening us shapes of days.

As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.

The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.

Surprises that came awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have quenched.

The slow brooding times
When all was awkward
And the wave in the mind
Pierced every sore with salt.

The darkened days that stopped
The confidence of dawn.
Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.

We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.

    --John O'Donohue (1956-2008)

John O'Donohue had a great impact on all the lives he touched...including mine. His books were the first Celtic books that I read.   My special favorite is Anam Cara which I loved so much that I went out and bought it again when it was lost.  What a special, wonderful man he was.

May each and every one of  you have a wonderful New Year filled with blessings and joy.  I am so thankful to have each of you in my life. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Blue Moon

The "Blue Moon:" occurs when two full moon's occur during the same calendar month.  We usually only have one full moon a month because the phase period of the moon averages to 29.5 days; however, each month it occurs a little bit earlier than the previous month.  This means that about every 2.5 years we can expect to get two full moon's in a calendar month, and to distinguish the two, the ancients called the second moon the "Blue Moon".  There is no physical difference in appearance.

The first known use of the term "Blue Moon" occurred about 400 years ago and was intended as an example of something which seemed almost improbable or something that most likely would never happen; hence, the expression "Once in a Blue Moon."   Although the origins of the meaning of the "Blue Moon" cannot be substantiated in pagan communities, some believe that the second full moon holds the knowledge of the Goddess, and, therefore, contains a three-fold energy.

Still others hold the view that the "Blue Moon" represents a time of heightened or clearer communication between our physical being and the Great Grand Mother Goddess or the Crone Goddess.   With that in mind, I would like to say that there is not only a "Blue Moon" occurring on the 31st, but also a partial lunar eclipse...meaning that this is a VERY powerful time for wishing magic and making goals.  Enjoy the energies.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sorting Thoughts on a Cold Winter's Day

Brrr!!!!  It sure is cold outside.  What a day to have the trains delayed for a broken rail, but that is exactly how I started my day.  It was barely 20 degrees when I headed out this morning, and when I got to the train station, I discovered that no trains were running into Manhattan.  Now, you never know how long these things will last, so I decided to stick it out for awhile.  I stuck it out, all right...from 7 am to 8:30 am...on an elevated platform.  Talk about being cold.  Finally, they sent all of us on our way and closed the I headed on home.  Fixed myself a cup of coffee and sat down to watch some television....and as soon as I took a sip, I heard the train pass by.  Then I went through a few "should I or shouldn't I" moments.  I bundled up, started out the door, then unbundled and sat back down.  Did this a few times until I finally figured, "Oh, what the heck!" and I headed back out.  Truth is, I really didn't want to use up a sick day today.  And you know, I made the right decision.  My boss told me not to even bother changing my time sheet, so they didn't even deduct those two hours I was late.

Today I wanted to talk about New Year's Resolutions.  I have a book which I have kept since 1991.  This book is only for my resolutions.  I dug it out the other day and had a look through it...and you know what I found?  I've made pretty much the same resolutions year after year after  year....Stop smoking...Eat healthier....Lose weight....and on and on... and it never works for me.  Take smoking, for example.  At midnight, I will say "no smoking for me in the new year", and then morning rolls around I am lighting up with my coffee.  And, as the years' end rolls round, there is that big letdown that I didn't accomplish anything that I set out to do.  Well, this  year I am going to do something different.  I'm not going to concentrate on what I want to do in the new year; I am going to look at what I have accomplished in the old year.  And this year I have a lot to be proud of..

First on my list is smoking....not to stop smoking, but to acknowledge that this was the year that I finally did STOP.   July 4, 2009 was my Independence Day, and on January 4th, I will have 6 months smoke free.  You don't know how big that one is for me.  It's the first holiday season in 40 years that I haven't smoked.

I completed my Bardic Course and started on my Ovate.  That's another biggie for me.  Finishing things...especially courses...and even more especially, courses that I don't have to pay not easy for me.  I tend to jump in to something, get bored, and that's the end of that...but this was important to me...and I set my mind to completing, and I did it.

I've learned to budget.  I no longer run off to the stores and spend, spend, spend.  And this started long before hubby lost his job.  I was never content to buy one of anything.  If I bought one nail polish, I had to get two more of a different color.  I bought so many things that I didn't need, so many clothes that were never worn.  I wouldn't call it an addiction; it was more like a compulsion.  I often wondered if it stemmed from my teenage years.  I've worked since I was 16 years old and had to give my parents 3/4 of my salary...leaving me with virtually nothing.  I remember going to high school and not having the nice things that the other kids had.  Now I see it as being materialistic, but back then, it was heartbreaking to a kid.  Or, perhaps my compulsive shopping stemmed from my early days here in the city when I was so poor that I would buy a jar of Ragu sauce and a loaf of bread, and that would be breakfast, lunch, and dinner for days.  Whatever the reason, I can honestly say that those days of needless spending are now over.

I've not only found an outlet for my creativity, but I have met some wonderful new friends while doing it.  I am going into the new year feeling blessed.  I thank you all for your gift of friendship.  Aside from love and health, there is nothing greater in the world.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Good Afternnon Fellow Bloggers.

Good afternoon.  Spent most of last night awake...thinking...not by choice.  My cat, Minga, is such a spoiled little creature.  My son works nights and has gotten into the habit of feeding her some special treats when he gets home.  Hubby was coughing with a sore throat yesterday so I decided that I would spend the night on the sofa to avoid catching it. And usually, I have a very restful night out there...but it just so happened that my son had run out of her favorite treats the night before, and she was not about to give in and eat the old brand.  Has anyone ever heard a cat howl like a dog?  Well, my friends, that is my Minga.  It was just awful.  I made my son promise to get her treats today before leaving for work.

It was really so busy here at work that I had little time for the things I wanted to do.  So, I did a little more updating on the blog.  I wasn't planning on this theme, but it seems to be working out well.  I've also been having a ball visiting other blogs and seeing all the creativity going on around me.  Setting up a blog is so much fun.   So, with that, I have a couple of questions for all my fellow bloggers.  Since I am still fairly new to this, I am still learning, so please bear with me.

1.  I have noticed that many/most of you have pretty little pictures and other items on both sides of your blogs, but I have only figured out how to do the one side.  So, how do I get to add the little pics and stuff to the other side?

2.  Speaking of pics, I deleted the Christmas pics and added some new ones to go with my blog's new look.  But, what am I doing wrong?  I had wanted poor little Maukie to stay on top so he can get some attention, but I don't know how to add pictures midway down.

I guess that is it for now.   I know I have a few more questions, but can't think of them right now.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Great Love Story

(Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetary)

Today I'd like to introduce you to some members of my family tree.  Although not close ancestors, per se, I have felt a sense of closeness and developed a bond with Mary ever since I first heard their story.  Perhaps it is that we share the same name, or the beaty of the meaning of her Native American name.  I have always felt close to and loved the Moon.  Needless to say, ancestors or not, theirs is one of the true love stories of the ages and deserves to be told.

My 4th great uncle,Philander Prescott, left his New York home in the early 1800's and settled in what was then "The Michigan Territory".  He became one of the first traders to provide provisions for the soldiers at Fort Snelling.  Once settled, he met and fell in love with the daughter of the chief of the Dakotas, "Man Who Flies".   Her name was Nah-he,no-wenah or "Spirit of the Moon", (such a beautiful name), but she was called Mary.  In 1823, she became the common-law-wife of Philander.  Later, that year, Philander approached her father to ask for her hand.  As with the customs of those times, Philander brought the chief many gifts such as blankets, rifles, whiskey, and ponies, but although the chief relented and gave his blessings after only three days, it took another ten days before Mary consented to become his bride. 

Mary was a special woman.  It was said that she understood both French and English, but chose to only speak her native language, Dakota.  Although a gracious hostess,.Mary always stood silently in the background.  Mary always remained close to her famiily and continued to share their values.  On at least one occasion, she left Philander over a disagreement as to how they should raise thier bi-racial children.  He, in turn, left his wife and children to go South in search of business opportunities, but two years later he returned to his family. 

Despite these disagreements, their marriage is one of the great love stories of the Minnesota territorial pioneer history.  In those days, it was common for traders to live with, then abandon their Native American wives and children, but their marriage lasted for almost 40 years.  Philander was one of the casualties of the 1862 Dakota Conflict, and was brought back to Minneapolis where he was buried in the "Minneaplis Pioneers and Soldiers Mememorial Cemetary".  After his death, Mary moved to Shakopee to live with their daughter, Lucy Pettijohn (*see below).  Mary died there on March 29, 1967 and was buried next t her husband and their son, Lorenzo.  She is the only known full-blooded Native American to be buried in this cemetary. 

(*Lucy Prescott married Eli Pettijohn on January 1, 1850.  Eli invented 'rolled wheat and oats' and founded Eli's Breakfast Cereal Company.  The company was sold to Quaker Oats.)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Rainy Days and Saturday Ramblings

Okay, I realize that Christmas has come and gone, but why did it have to fly by so quickly?  Not that I am enamoured with  how commericalized it has become, but I do love the quality family time which seems to pass by so fast.  I will also miss the diluge of holiday films which have become so much a part of my Christmas traditions.  But, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, if you ask me 'how happy I am that Christmas has passed", my response would fall in the midway mark. 

Christmas Eve was a wonderful family night....It was just my boys, hubby, and me...a little more special than usual because my youngest was able to be with us.    We ate...and ate...and then ate some more.  But, unfortunately, my youngest wasn't feeling  well, so although we usually wait until midnight to openthe gifts, this year we did so at 10:30 so he could get home.  I got one of my favorite gifts...a Barnes and Noble gift card from my youngesi and a new coat and cologne from my eldest.  Hubby and I didn't exchange gifts this year...what with his situaltion and all.  Besides, there is nothing that I really need.  Just having the family together after the tumultous December I have had was enough for me. Yesterday we had a great meal (Penile, gondulas and rice, mixed string beans, cupcakes) and basically just lounged around in front of the television.  And last night, I did something I never do.   I stayed up until 2 am in the morning watching Noah Wylie in the three "Librarian" films.  Usually, I am in bed by 11 the latest...especially since I knew I had a busy day ahead of me.

And then this morning arrived, and life was back to normal.  It's a food shopping and cooking week for me, so I headed out early to beat the heavy rain and wind forcasted for our area today.  Good bye, snow!!!  All my meals are on the stove and in the oven.  And like many others of you, my fellow bloggers, my friends, I am spending some time today thinking my blogs.  My first thought was, "Oh, my, what do I write about now?"  I've gotten so used to writing about Yule and Christmas as many of us have.   It's a time of new beginnings...Do I want to begin anew?  What do I hope to accomplish?  I've only been blogging since late September so this will be my first full year.  I know I want to incorporate some of The Native American teachings I have studied, but I also have many wondrous tales in my family background to share.  In my other blog, I plan to incorporate 'shadow and inner child' work, but I also hope to find a place for dreamswork...which I credit with saving my life many, many years ago.  Oh, and there is so much more, but now I realize I am rambling.

So, my dear blogland friends, as we wind down from the holiday, I'd  like to take this opportunity to say that I am so glad to have met all of you.  I am not much of a socializer.  My calendar consists of when the new shows return to the lineup.  LOL!!!  Having all of you in my life means more to me than I can possibly put into words.  Thank you.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Magical Christmas Sky

There is something very special that happens in the Christmas sky.  The heavens appear deeper, bluer, and even the stars seem to glitter with electricity and energy.  The sky is alive and set apart from earthly activity--reflecting so much that we know in our hearts.  But doubt and pain would steal this tranquil vision if we were to allow it.  To stand and look into a Christmas sky tells us something about a Power far beyond our most vivid imagination.  It removes us from competition, takes us out of pettiness and drains away the bitterness.  Listen, this is no common phenomenon, this is all life, this is all peace, this is joy unspeakable!

--But if the vision was true and mighty, it is true and mighty yet. --BLACK ELK--LAKOTA--
From "A Cherokee Feast of Days, Vol II"

Hoping everyone is having a wonderful day.  May the magic of the Christmas Sky touch upon your heart and soul.  Blessings to all.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Hard to believe it is already here, isn't it?  When we were children, waiting for the holidays seemed like eternity; now, they are come and gone in the flash of an eye.  Time does seem to speed up the older you get.   This morning I got up early and took my yearly walk to our area Shoprite; it's the only place in my neighborhood where I can get cold cuts.  It's far, but not that far, and it is a great much variety.  Problem is, there is too much variety, and I found I was spending more than I needed to when it was my regular food shopping store.  I'll admit it, I am one of those who fall for those fancy displays get me every time.  I always end up buying something that I really didn't need...just because it was made to look good.  So now, I do my food shopping at our little Met Food which only carries the staple and items that I need.  There are no fancy displays found there; they don't have the room...and I spend so much less in groceries.  And as you all know, this year is Christmas on a budget.  And all I have to say is, it's about time.  I realize I've been to commercialized.  It feels good to get back to basics.

But, as I said earlier, I make my once a year trek to Shoprite on Christmas Eve Day.  I take off work every year so I can get there before the crowds (oh, that is another thing I can't deal with there), but never fails, it always takes me about two hours to get it matter how early I am.  So, tonight we will have cold cuts, a shrimp dish for hubby, and buffalo wings for me and the boys.  Tomorrow I'll do my real cooking...Pernille, gondulas and rice, mixed green beans, apple pie.  Yummy!!!

May your holidays bring you everything that you wish, love, and peace.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Native American Names

Remember I said I was going to incorporate more Native American lore into my blog?  Well, today is the first installment.  Native Americans have such special names.  Ever wonder how they come about these names?

A little Native American boy asked his father, the big chief of  the tribe, "Father, why is it that we always have long names, while the white men have short names like Bill, Tex, and Sam?"

His father replied, "My son, our names represent a symbol, a sign, or a poem in our culture; not like the white men who live all together and merely repeat their names from generation to generation.  For example, your sister's name is Small Romantic Moon Over the Lake because on the night she was born, there was a beautiful moon reflected in the lake.  Then, there is your brother, White Horse of the Prairies, because he was born on a day that a big white horse who gallops over the prairies appeared near our camp and is a symbol of our capacity to live and the life force of our people.  It's really very simple and easy to understand.

Do you have any other questions for me, Little Broken Condom Made in China?"

What can I say?  I am feeling a little silly today.  After today I am off until Monday.  I really do admire the Native Americans, and soon after the holidays, I plan to introduce my fellow bloggers to one of my great, great aunts.   Hope this little joke wasn't offensive to anyone.  Know that I don't mean to do that.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Beautiful Parable

Someone sent me this beautiful parable and I wanted to share it with all of you.  Enjoy.

A woman came out of her house and saw that three old men were sitting in her front yard.  She did not recognize them.  She said, "I don't think I know you, but you must be hungry.  Please come in to eat."
"Is the man of the house home?"
"No," she replied.  "He's out."
"Then, we cannot come in," they replied.

In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had happened.
"Go tell them I am home and invited them in."
The woman went out and invited the men in.
"We do not go into a house together," they replied.
"Why is that?" she asked.
One of the old men explained: "His name is Wealth", he said, pointing to one of his friends, and said pointing to another one, "He is Success, and I am Love."  Then he added, "Now go in and discuss with your husband which one of us you want in your home."

The woman went in and told her husband what was said.  Her husband was overjoyed.  "How nice!"  he said, "Since that is the case, let us invite Wealth.  Let him come and fill our home with wealth."  His wife disagreed.  "My dear, why don't we invite Success?"  Their daughter-in-law was listening from the corner of the house.  She jumped in with her own suggestion.  "Would it not be better to invite Love?  Our home then will be filled with love."

"Let us heed our daughter-in-law's advice." said the husband to his wife.  "Go out and invite Love to be our guest."
The woman went out and asked the three old men, "Which one of you is Love?  Please come in and be our guest."
Love got up and starting walking toward the house. The other two also got up and followed him.  Surprised, the lady asked Wealth and Success:
"I only invited Love.  Why are you coming in?"

The old men replied together: "If you had invited Wealth or Success, the other two of us would have stayed out, but since you invited Love, wherever He goes, we go with him.  Wherever there is Love, there is also Wealth and Success!!!!!"

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Nordic Yule Blessing

Today was a rather difficult day.  It started early this morning when the trains were running slow...if that is the proper word for it.  I waited 35 minutes in the brutal cold on an elevated platform so naturally, when the train finally pulled in there was not only a sense of relief...but also that burning desire to have someone to blame...ah, the poor conductor.  But, before I could spew forth my tirade of complaints, I thought about what day it was...the Winter Solstice...a time to look inward...and I decided then that this poor guy was having a hard enough time of it without me adding to his frustration...because EVERYONE seems to blame the poor conductor.

Then, I got to work and went to open a canker sore cream I bought and realized you needed to clip off the end...and all I have is a pair of very blunt scizzors at work.  And, oh, I was in such pain as I tried and tried to clip the end.  Eventually, I did manage to get it, but then as I went to replace the little cap, it went flying across the now, rather than fix my breakfast, I have to find that little cap or have the tube squeeze out in my purse.  Okay, I found it.

Then, I am about to run my Co-dependency/ACOA group, and I am told that one of the interns is out, and I have to combine groups.  Okay, at the last minute I have to replace my co-dependency materials with materials that both my group and an Early Recovery Mental Health group can get something out of.  What a disastor!!!  It was so dreadful, I can't even talk about it...but let me just say that several of the group members began snoring.  Oops!!!  But, it wasn't that I am a boring counselor; the fact is that in order to enter the co-dependency/ACOA  group a client needs to have some amount of clean time because we touch on subjects that early recovery cannot handle.   Then, after that,  a client tells me off because I told her counselor she acted out in group so she decides to let me know that I am not even in her league, that she is far brighter than me and my stupid Bachelor's Degree.and CASAC...this in front of  several other clients;by now I am walking back to my office repeating the Serentiy Prayer over and over again.

But, Yule is a time to set aside animosity between ourselves and those people who we normally allow to antagonize us.  I say "allow" because no one can make us feel bad unless we let them.  This is truly a time to set our differences and to think about finding peace in the Spirit of this wonderful season of joy and love.  With that, I would like to share a simple blessing from my BOS.

Beneath the tree of light and life,
A blessing at this season 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.

--unknown source

Happy Solstice

May you all have a wonderful day...a day filled with love, peace, and joy.

The sad earth cowers beneath the snow
That wraps her like a shroud.
Around the house the bleak winds go
With wailing shrill and loud.
But soft and low my heart doth sing:
"I know, I know--
After each Winter comes a Spring,
When roses blow!!

What time my soul in sadness lay
Compassed by shadows drear,
When gladness seemed so far away
And grief so near--so near;
Still soft and how my heart would sing:
"I know, I know--
That after sorrow there comes a morrow
With joy aglow."

--by Alice Williams Brotherton (1848-1930)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My First Pictures

My son taught me how to use his camera.  But, I still don't know how to get the photos from the camera to the computer.  This is in front of my house this morning.  That is not our car.  Here in Brooklyn, it is very rare that you are able to park in front of your house.  Notice how clear the streets are already. 

This is the giant bush in my back yard.  I say bush because I am not really sure what it is.  It's leaves are not your typical bushlike leaves and almost look fake.  Its leaves always stay green and never fall off.  But it's real, and it has doubled in size since I moved here.  If anyone knows what it is, please let me know.

This is my backyard.  I am blessed to have a yard with this much land here in Brooklyn, but this is why I love this borough.  It is the best of both worlds...close enough to the city that you are there in 15 minutes...and a somewhat country-like your backyard, that is.  So, there you have it.  My first ever digital pictures.  Not bad, huh???

The First Snow

The leaves were still raging with color when the first snow came to the silent mountains of the Earth Mother.   Looking down from the Spirit World, Wisdom Keeper breathed a sigh of relief, having feared that human beings had forgotten the importance of dreaming.  The appearance of the snowflakes, which held the patterns of the human hopes and aspirations in their frozen wheels, temporarily relieved the Medicine Guardian of her fears.

The Wise One remembered that less and less snow had come during the last few winters, and this realization troubled her.  Were her human children forgetting to use their imaginations?  Were they so busy that they had lost the will to recapture their innocence and wonder of life?  Had the false masks of sophistication robbed them of their common destiny?  She knew that the destiny of humankind was to remember who they were and to use their talents to dream the Coming World of Peace.

She sighed as she wondered how many would grasp the double meanings of the Remembering.  Had separation robbed her children  of  picking up the fragments of themselves and re-membering themselves into wholeness?  Could the Two-Legged Tribe of humans access their connection to the Great Mystery and claim the awareness that was their right?

She knew the answer.  Not without imagination, daring, freewill, and the power of the dreamer.  She also knew that all she could do was assist those who sought her out--and to trust that the dreamers will awaken. 

(From "Earth Medicine; Ancestors Ways of Harmony for Many Moons" bu Jamie Sams)

I wanted to share this today because I believe it says a lot.  Many of us have somehow lost our way.  We have lost our imaginations.  It is true that less and less snow has been falling for the past several years.  Does that really mean that we are forgetting?   I love Native American wisdom and hope to incorporate more of it into my blog during the coming year.  There is just so much to learn.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Dear Friend has Passed

I received some very bad news this morning.  My dear friend, Elizabeth, has passed away.  Although we have never personally met and have only spoken on the phone a few times, I feel as if I have known her forever and perhaps I have.  I met Elizabeth on a Yahoo group about 3 years ago.  We hit it off immediately and became like sisters.  We were both only children.  When the group dissolved, Elizabeth and I branched off and started our own group.  I even surprised her by getting one of her favorite authors to join--Ellen Hopman, and she was so excited, but shortly after the group began, my dear friend participated less and less until she finally admitted that she had liver cancer.  I know none of you knew this very special lady, but I will forever miss her.  Sobeit, I think you are the only one who knew her. 

It just makes you realize how strong the online friendships we develop can be.  Everyone we meet comes into our lives for a reason, and we are blessed to have been touched by them.  I still have our Yahoo group and still participate in the smoking cessation support group, but most of my postings nowadays are here on my blogs.  I've made so many  wonderful new friends here.  I just want to take a moment to let each of you know how blessed I feel that you have come into my life. 

We are expecting a snowstorm here today...well, actually it has already begun.  My son has promised to show me how to take pictures and put them on the computer, so I hope to have some for you either later on or tomorrow.  May you all have a blessed day.  Thanks for being my friends.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Ultimate Candy Store

The world's best candy store  is located right around the corner from where I work.  Am I lucky or what?  Economy Candy was first opened in 1937, and at that time, it was your typical neighborhood candy store.  But, today, it has become something different.  Not only has it become a neighborhood staple, a family-owned candy store that sells hundreds of kinds of chocolates, but walking into the store is somewhat like walking into a time machine to the past.  Whenever I walk in there, I feel like a kid again.  I feel like I have been transported back in time.

From the old-time band music to the floor to ceiling candy, it is definitely a mesmirizing experience to say the least.  It is not a very large store, but it is certainly very easy to get lost for hours in there.  As New York Magazine said, "it's candy abundance that would leave Willy Wonka weeping in his cocoa."

And of course, how can I not mention the large stock of old-time candies we enjoyed when we were kids--Razzles, those candy cigarettes that taste like mint, candy necklasses, candy buttons, clove gum, Nerds, pop rocks, big league chews, bubble gum cigars, rock candy, sugar daddy's...I could go on and on.  Even if you don't buy anything, just looking at all the goodies on the shelves brings back so many memories.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


December 17th.  Today is the first day of the weeklong festival of Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture and harvest.  This festival has an astronomical character, referring to the sun's yearly course and the commencement of a new cycle.  Through December 23rd. the Roman world engaged in merrymaking and the giving of small gifts in honor of the father sun and mother earth.  One Saturnalia custom was happily anticipated by the slaves.  A feast was held at which the masters served the slaves; this was thought to commemorate that, under Saturn, all men were created equal.  On the day of the feast, the master of the house would present the slaves with a small conical hat made of wool; this served as a symbol of their freedom and equality.   

Saturnalia was a time of banquets, merriment, and the wearing of fine clothing. It you can, take the time today to dress festively.  Embrace the beauty of you as you go about your daily routine.  This is also a good time to remember the people in your life whom you might ordinary not give a gift to...a co-worker, a neighbor.  Practice some random acts of kindness for those people who are more integral in your life than you might think.  These acts need not be material in nature, just sincere expressions of thoughtfulness.  Do this for the simple joy it brings.  In my case, I am thinking of something nice to do for the man upstairs.  He is not always the nicest man in the world, but I do remember how, on the day of the blackout, he offered me a sandwich and a cold drink from his cooler...and refused anything in return.  

Happy Holidays from Your Employer...or Maybe Not so Happy

Brrr!!! It's cold out there today, and they are forecasting our first snow of the season for this Sunday...not much, of course, and probably by Sunday, it will somehow become rain instead, but  at least we got as far as the forecast this time, right?  Actually, we've had nothing more than a dusting of snow in the city these past few years and much as I love and want the snow, I guess that is really a blessing in disguise.  City snow can be beautiful, but on the second day it becomes dirty, slippery, treacherous to walk on...and I, with an old back injury practically crawl down the street...hanging on to whatever I can get my hands on. 

Last night I was watching a 'Bones' rerun and hubby called that I had a phone call.  Now, I am not a phone person...haven't been one for about 10 years ago...not since I worked in the halfway house where I received a minimum of 50 calls per day of people trying to get in.  And I have been pretty lucky about not receiving many phone calls since I joined the "Do Not Call" list.  It has really worked for me.  Of course, the company's I do business with such as Verizon and Cablevision are still able to call with their offers, but all these'cold calling' companies have been cut off., and since I am an old-fashioned type of gal--still have the plug in home phone and an answering machine--I am pretty much able to avoid any phone conversation if I so wish.  Of course, when hubby is around and happens to pick up the phone, I don't have much of a choice...because he is not very discreet when he calls me to the phone.

But, last night I was pretty glad that he had called me in for a "customer service" call.  Turns out it was from HIP, the insurance company I chose from the list that our employer provides for us.  Once a year we are provided with a list of approved providers and given the opportunity to change our plan, but I've been happy with what I had these past few years, so I always check off 'remain the same'.  Not happy about the yearly rise in fees, but happy with the insurance nonetheless.  So, the nice customer service rep told me they were calling everyone to make sure all of the information they had was correct.  Address?  Fine... Doctor?  Fine, remains the same..A few other questions and then came the biggie...."And I see here that you have switched to the HIP HMO?"    "WHAT????"  "It says here that you have switched.  Isn't that what you wanted?"  So what part of "Remain the Same" did they not understand? "Well, what's the difference in the two?"  "Well, in the plan you had, you didn't need a referral to see a specialist.  Now you do."...Not good.  I suffer with sinus issues and have been attending the clinic at New York Eye and Ear now for about 20 years.  With this new plan, I cannot go to them without a referral.

Moving on.  So, then she tells me that "Everyone I called tonight from this company has been switched, and all knew nothing about it."  I ask her to switch me back, but she says I have to go through our human resource department.  So, the first thing I get in I call....along with all the other unhappy employees...but, of course, I get the voice mail.   Now, mind you, the amount I pay towards my insurance has gone up by $26 a month.  That is quite a hike, and the way I look at it is, I am paying more for less.  I honestly don't know much about how this stuff works, and what my employer has to pay towards it, but right now I am under the opinion that they switched everyone, not thinking we would all find out at once, because it is cheaper on their end to have the low HMO HIP.

After all, the penny-pinchers have already notified us that there will be no Christmas party or bonus for staff this year...but of course, they make sure they have their boat cruise every September....supposedly for staff, but its mostly the bureaucrats that go because "staff" has to work...but I am not getting into that today.  It's holiday season...enough ranting already.  Just had to get that one off my chest.  Love you all for listening.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Birth of a Tradition

One Christmas, a long, long time ago, Santa was getting ready for his annual trip, but there were problems everywhere.  It seems that four of his elves got sick, and the elves from the temp agency did not produce toys as fast as the regular ones so Santa was beginning to feel the pressure of being behind schedule.

And, then, Mrs. Claus dropped her bombshell.  She told Santa that her mom was coming for a visit...and this stressed poor Santa even more.

On top of that, when he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and another two had jumped the fence and were out, Heaven knows where...More stress....Then, when he began to load the sleight, one of the boards cracked, and the toy bag fell to the ground and scattered all the toys.

So, a very frustrated Santa went into the house to fetch a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum.  But, when he went to the cupboard, he discovered that the elves had not only drank all the cider, but also hidden the liquor so he had nothing to drink.  And, in his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider pot, and it shattered into hundreds of little pieces all over the kitchen floor.  He went to get the broom to sweep it up and found that the mice had eaten all the straw.  Just then, the doorbell rang, and a very irritated Santa trudged to the door.  He opened the door, and there was a little angel with a great big Christmas tree.

The angel said, very cheerfully, "Merry Christmas, Santa.  Isn't this a lovely day?  I have a beautiful tree for you.  Where would you like me to stick it?" 

Thus began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This and That

Gosh, am I late today!!!  Photobucket wasn't working, and I hate to say it, but I was totally losing it.  I love putting  pretty pictures on my blog, and although I know there are plenty of places that I can find pictures,  I have become such  a creature of habit. Rarely, do I look elsewhere.  Ironically, and maybe I shouldn't admit this, but the Christmas Rose above was already saved in my photo album.  Who thought to look  in there?  LOL!!!

Also wanted to let everyone know how things are going with hubbie's employment.  I finished his resume and cover letter, and both are ready to go.  Not expecting to do much with it before the holidays, though.  Things are looking up for us, though, in some ways.  They have agreed to pay him 150 hours of his vacation time which will carry us through January. Usually, they refuse to pay it.   And, they have also agreed not to fight unemployment benefits as some employers will do. So, I am now breathing a sigh of relief.  I've some Christmas/Yule  plans that I will be sharing with you in the coming days.  I just refused to let myself get really down about devastating as it was.  Because, sometimes when you allow yourself to get down about things, you stagnate there and not move forward.  And, I am so looking forward to the new year..a fresh start.  

And speaking of fresh starts....because the Winter Solstice is a time of new beginnings, I have a little something to share with you...a little fun thing to make and use for the Solstice...spell bags.  First, think about what you accomplished over the last year?  Think think about what set into motion and what manifested?  This is also the perfect time to think about next year and what you hope to accomplish.  So, as we think about our reflections and intentions , a fun way to ring in the New Year on Solstice morn is with the help of an Air spell in the form of a New Year's Spell bag.

So, here are the few items that you will need:
Paper lunch bags of various colors
Decorations for the outside of the bag such as stars, glitter, pictures cut from magazines
Intentions to infuse in the creation of the bag that which you want to carry over all year round.

Decorate your bag and fill it with your whispered intentions and a spell; blow it up and pop at the Sun's first light rays of the year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Beauty of the Season Spell

Winter is an old Germanic word which means "time of water". Winter is cold crispy snow, blustering winds and creaking house walls.  Yes, it truly can be the harshest of seasons.  The cold burns your cheeks and dries out your skin, but it also means warm soups on the stove and spicy cakes served with a steaming cup of chocolate.  It is Christmas; it is New Years.  I love the winter and find it to be the most incredibly of the beautiful of the seasons...especially for all of you blessed to live in the countryside.  So, for this simple, easy spell, bundle yourself up and go out.  If you are a city-dweller like me,  take a walk down the street or go to your favorite park. 

Notice how different winter's quiet repose seems from spring's new beginnings, summer's heat and vitality, and the sharp decay of autumn.  Enjoy the freshness of the snow, its flurried whiteness.   Listen to how it crunches underfoot, and feel the chilling freeze of the wind on your cheeks.  Let the beauty of the season fill your heart with love.  Take this love with you and share it with your family and your friends.  Thank the goddess Aphrodite for the beautiful scenery by leaving some food out for the birds, donating to your favorite charity, or sharing the holiday with someone less fortunate.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Stockings


Christmas stockings have been a tradition in my family for as long as I remember.  As a little girl it was just as much fun going through my stocking as it was opening my gifts.  And to my glee, I would find it stuffed with oranges, candy canes, Christmas candy, perhaps a little coloring book and crayons, mittens...basically anything small and cheap.  But, as far as I can recall, there was never any chocolate. (Hmm, I wonder why!)  And then, when I grew up, married, and had my two sons, it was my turn to find creative those little gifts to fill their stockings and bring smiles to their faces.  And today, they they are now grown men, but they still get a stocking.  Why, even my pets have a stocking under the tree, and although my little birdies have passed over the Rainbow Bridge, their stockings of goodies are placed in a tree in my backyard for the winter birds to help alleviate their struggles to survive.

Speaking of pets, take a lesson from someone who learned the hard way...if you have catnip in the stocking...DO NOT LEAVE UNATTENDED under the tree.  I made that mistake one Christmas about 30 years ago.  That was the year I decided I wanted one of those silver trees and I had that spotlight that was continuously moving and changing colors.  Well, on Christmas Eve all was well.  Presents were under the well as my 3 cats stockings.  Never did I expect what I found the next morning.  The tree was down; the presents were scattered and wrapping paper ripped.  Bows were flung as far as the hallway...and catnip was everywhere.  Need I say more??? 

The Christmas Stocking custom has been around for a long time.  Legend has it that the tradition of hanging Christmas stockings by the fireplace began many, many years ago with a poor man and his three daughters.  As the  story goes, he was a very kindly nobleman, and his wife died of an illness that left him and his 3 daughters poor and in deep despair.  The father became even more depressed when it came time for his daughter's to marry... for he was very poor and could not afford their dowries; therefore, they could not wed. 

One Christmas Eve, after the daughters had washed out their clothing, they hung their stockings over the fireplace to dry.  St. Nicholas, well aware of the poor father's despair, intervened and tossed gold coins down the chimney and into the stockings.  The next morning when the daughters awoke, they were delighted to find that their stockings contained enough gold for them to get married.  The nobleman was thus able to see his daughters  marry, and he lived a long and happy life.

In France, children place their shoes by the fireplace...a tradition  which dates back to the times when children wore wooden shoes.  Italian children leave their shoes out on the night before the Epiphany, January 5, so that La Befana, the good witch can fill them.  My husband, who lived in Puerto Rico for awhile, told me the story of how they, as small children would put greens and small flowers into boxes which they then would place under their beds to feed the camels of the Three Kings. 

Up until lately, it was tradition to receive small items like fruit, nuts and candy in your stocking, but these have recently been replaced by more expensive gifts in many homes.  I still prefer the old ways. There is an old poem that goes as follows and still works for us today.
"Something to eat,
Something to read,
Something to play with,
And something they need."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Memories

As many as you know by now, I am a hopeless sentimentalist, and, let's face it.  Christmas was, and still is, a wonderful time of the year when families gather together to make merry.  We eat too much of the wrong foods and laugh til our sides hurt and tears come rolling from our eyes.  And since, you all know by now, I am a hopeless sentimentalist, I'd like to share some of my childhood memories which go back some fifty odd years.  Times were different then.  Traditions were a big part of our celebrations back then, and it makes me said to see that some of these wonderful, glorious experiences have faded away due to today's commericialism of the holiday  In those days Christmas was Christmas, and Halloween was Halloween.  And never the two did meet.  As a matter of fact, you never even found so much as a Christmas ornament out until after Thanksgiving.  I remember how exciting it was when we had to wait for the first of the Christmas goods to appear...which signaled the beginning of the festivities.  I was totally taken aback this year when I went into our local Duane Reade in mid-October and found more Christmas items on the shelves than Halloween goodies.  But, I am not here today to whine and feel sad about how much Christmas has changed.  No, today is a day to take a trip down 'memory lane' which most often brings to mind the following: 

--Waking up on Christmas Eve morn to find snowflakes gently falling on the ground.  Although a city-dweller today, I was lucky enough to have grown up in the country where the air was colder and the snow was whiter.  Bundling up warm and heading off to the last day of school before Christmas vacation...and the cheery greetings from everyone I met on the street. 

--Making 'snowflakes' at school and creating the homemade Christmas cards for mom and dad...and adorning them with sequins and stars.  We stenciled bels, candy canes, and holly leaves onto colorfu paper.    And who could forget painstakingly cutting strips of red and green paper and pasting them into rings, creating those colorful chains to deck our tree.

--Which, by the way, was never decorated until I fell asleep on Christmas Eve.  After all, it was Santa who dcorated it.  And when I awoke on Christmas Day, I was but a wide-eyed child with the gaily lit tree with loads of presents stacked beneath.  And after I had torn off all the wrapping paper and had a look at my gifts, everything had to be painstakingly put back in the boxes and under the tree.  For, one of our family's traditions was that during the week we would visit our extended famiy, and they would visit us.  They never brought our gifts when they came to visit us; but we would give them theirs...and then, when we visited them, we would get our gifts.  And, when they came to visit, I had to take out every gift from beneath the tree and show them what Santa had brung...and my cousins had to do the same for us.  It was one time I said, thank goodness for small families.

--Oh, and before I forget.  I was an only child, and being that my dad never had his son, there was always boy's toys under the tree as well as the feminine stuff.  And I loved playing with it.  I could spend hours outdoors building roads for my cars and trucks.  Of course, I spent a lot of punishment detail for digging up the grass that my parents had so painstakingly planted and nurtured. 

--You know, my favorite holiday film is "A Christmas Story", and I think it's because it reminds me so much of those good old days where the only place we had to shop was Woolworths...where we would always stop for a hot dog and chocolate shake at their lunch counter after we finished our shopping...and the ladies would all be wearing their gaily decorated Christmas corsages on their coats.  What a fun-filled excursion!!!

--Grandma's house for her leg of lamb.  She made the best.  Don't know how she made it; she died before I got the recipe, but I remember there being tomatoes in her gravy.  And, my grandparents always had a small table set up by the door with bowls of fruit, nuts, Christmas candy, and ribbon candy.  Oh, how I loved that ribbon candy!!  I've tried making it a part of my family's tradition, but somehow it doesn't taste as good as it did when I was a kid.

And that, my dear blog friends, are some of my favorite memories.  I'm glad that I have someone that I can share them with.  I truly enjoyed reading all of your memories.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Legend of the Christmas Spider

The "Legend of the Christmas Spider" is one of the magical stories of Christmas.  It's one of my favorites. 

One December, a mother was busily cleaning the house for Christmas.  She swept every corner  of every room completely clean, for she wanted everything bright and shiny in time for Christmas Day.

The spiders fled upstairs to the attic to escape the broom, for they knew she was far too busy to follow them up there.

On Christmas Eve, as soon as the house became quiet, the spiders slowly crept downstairs to peek.  They scuttled into the living room and, oh, what a sight they saw!

A beautiful Christmas Tree!  In their excitement they scurried up the trunk and out along each branch.  They were filled with happiness as they climbed among its glittering beauty.
Alas, by the the time they had finished climbing, the tree was completely covered with dusty gray spiders' webs.

Midnight came, and Santa Claus came with the gifts for the children.  When he saw the tree, he smiled to see how happy the spiders were, but he knew how heartbroken the mother would be if she saw the tree covered with dusty webs.  So, he turned the gray spiders' webs to silver and gold.
The Christmas Tree sparkled and shimmered and was even more beautiful than before.
And that is why we have tinsel on Christmas Trees, and every tree should have a spider on its branches.

The Beauty of a Woman

The beauty of a woman,
Isn't in the clothes she wears,
The figure that she carries,
Or the way she combs her hair.
The beauty of a woman,
Must be seen from in her eyes,
Because that's the doorway to her heart,
The place where love resides.
The beauty of a woman,
Isn't in a facial mole,
But true beauty in a woman,
Is reflected by her soul.
It's the caring that she cares to give,
The passion that she shows,
And the beauty of a woman,
With passing years,
Only grows.
--Author Unknown

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Recipe for Christmas Joy

Christmas may be a little bit different this year, but it will definitely come. And perhaps I have been just  a little too materialistic during the past few years and forgetting the true meaning of this wondrous time of the year.  And, as if on cue, the following recipe appeared as I was sorting through some of the many files I have stored on my computer.  Hope you enjoy.

Recipe for Christmas Joy

1/2 cup hugs
4 tsp kisses
4 cups love
1 cup special holiday cheer
1/2 cup "Peace on Earth"
3 tsp Christmas Spirits
2 cups "Goodwill Toward Man"
1 sprig mistletoe
1 medium-size bag of Christmas snowflakes (the regular kind won't do)

Mix hugs, kisses, smiles, and love until consistent.  Blend in holiday cheer, Peace on Earth, Christmas spirits, and Good Will Toward Man.  Use the mixture to fill a large, warm heart where it can be stored for a lifetime.  Serve as desired under mistletoe, sprinkled liberally with special Christmas snowflakes.  It is especially good when accompanied by Christmas Carols and family get-togethers.  Serve to one and all.

Miracles DO Happen!!!

First. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each of you for all for your support in these trying times for me..  It's an uphill battle from here.  I know that, but I have never been one to give up.  Now, the union is battling for hubbie's vacation time...which we have now discovered,  the company doesn't HAVE to pay... ..Not fair...totally not fair.  You know, I am not really worried about hubbie finding a job; I am sure in January he will find one...After all, he is credentialed, bi-lingual, and drives.  He will be in great demand (I am keeping thoughts positive). But, it is right now we have to worry about...bills and rent to be paid... Hopefully, he will be accepted for unemployment, that the company won't fight that.  If they do, you best be sure I will compose a letter and send it to every newspaper in the city. 

You know, I have been down many times before...and was able to rise up bigger and better than before.  I'd like to share a story about when I first moved to the city...way back when I was in my early twenties.  I had moved here with two outfits of clothing and $200 in my pocket.  I found myself a room in an old transient hotel..."The Hotel Earle".  Actually, it was quite a famous place...Bob Dylan stayed there....The Mama's and the Papa's stayed there....It was located right across the street from Washington Square Park...a place where you could find up and coming comedians and musicians peddling their wares at all hours of the day...or so it was back then.  Times have changed, and the park has changed.  Used to be that if I couldn't sleep, I could go out and sit in the park at 4am in the morning...and it was a safe place then.  Not anymore.  But, as usual I have started to ramble off the subject.

Each day I would go out searching for employment, but nothing turned up...didn't have a resume and not much experience back then.  Sometimes my diet consisted of Ragu sandwiches (Ragu sauce spooned onto a slice of bread).  And then the money ran out;  I would get so hungry that I would just lie across the bed and sleep.  I didn't want to give in and go home...Mom had always told me that I would be a failure...and I just had to prove her wrong.   So, eventually the day came that it was 'do or die'...find work or go back home.

As I was walking down the block, I looked down and saw what I thought was a dollar bill.  I picked it up to discover it was a ten dollar bill.  I was so hungry.  What could I get that was cheap and really filling?...a Burger King thick shake.  As I was walking out the door, I notice a man handing out fliers.  What harm would it do to ask?  You can imagine my surprise when I asked this man if his employer needed help, and it turned out he WAS the employer.  He hired me on the spot, and it was uphill ever since for me....and all from a miraculous ten dollar bill.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Update on Hubbie's Job

Well, it's official.  He's lost his job.  Right now I am so angry, I want to lash out.  This is what 11 years of exemplary service gets you?  His file is full of letters of commending him for work above and beyond his job description.  He's got months of vacation time and sick time because he never takes off work.  It is all meaningless...and makes one wonder if any of their work is meaningful.  According to the hospital, they 'HAVE' to fire hims so that the client doesn't sue them.  My answer was, "Well, what about you?  You had no protection.  You go into a welfare or social security office in this city and you have security guards where ever you look."   Even the main hospital has security guards on the different floors.  Why does a place that deals with drug addicts and mental illness have only one security guard who sits at the front door?  Why was this client, who was under the influence of drugs, allowed to enter the program to begin with. 

My response to hubbie was sue to which he said they sign a form when first hired that in casee of assault or injury they will not sue the hospital.  And these forms must be signed or else you are not hired.  Sorry, but I find something wrong with that.  After all, you are not supplying the proper security.  What was my husband to do?  The hospital said he should have called the security guard.  How?????  He's on the third floor; the security guard is at the front entranceway downstairs.  The elevator is slow.  Had my husband not defended himself, who knows what this client would have done before the guard could have gotten there. 

So, the days of waiting and hoping are over.  It hasn't been easy.  There was always hope, but deep down we both knew that employers are a 'a dime a dozen' to these places.  It doesn't matter how good  your work is.  The bottom dollar is this:  A drug addict is allowed to come into a program, assault a counselor, and get away with it.  If the counselor strikes back, he loses his job.  Either way, the client, who has never worked a day in his life...makes his money selling drugs to our children...wins.  And it all started over a $2.50 metrocrd that my husband had no control over.  Program rules--no insurance, no metrocard.  The client went beserk when he was refused.   At least now we know where we stand, and we can move on from here....unemployment, getting resume together, and perhaps getting back into my days of being an activist.    After all, what is that program waiting for...for one of their staff to get killed?

Thanks to all of you for your support.  It means so much to me.

I've Been Tagged

Welcome to tthis Christmas game of tag which was created by Heather and was forwarded onto my by my good friend,
 As with any game, there is a list of questions to well as rules to abide by. So, here goes.

Of course there is a list of questions to answer and rules to abide by: isn't there always..... So here they are:
- Copy and paste the questions to your blog
- Then Tag 5 or more of your favorite blogs and leave them a comment telling them they have been tagged.
- When you post your blog, please spread some Holiday Cheer, and leave a link back to
Heather's Blog as well as the one who tagged you.
And the questions are; (Drum Roll Please)

1. Have you started your Christmas shopping? Afraid not. There was a time when I used to be done by October, but now it's usually the week before Christmas.
2. Tell me about one of your special traditions. Cutting the Yule Log Cake at Midnight on Christmas Even. It's a tradition I made up year's ago and is supposed to bring the family luck.
3. Are you a Black Friday Shopper? Never have and never will. Can't stand those crowds. I'm sure most of you have heard of the incident that occurred at a Long Island mall last year when crowds actually stomped a security guard to death to be first at the sales.
4. When do you put up your Tree? Uusually the day after Thanksgiving. This year I put it off the week before since I had a couple days off.
5. Do you Travel at Christmas or Stay home? I like to stay home during the holidays.
6. What is your funniest Christmas memory? My funniest memory comes from years ago when I first watched "A Christmas Movie". I wanted to spend Christmas morning pretty much the same way so I got out the Christmas candy and the bottle of homemade wine my landlady had given me. I had not idea how potent that stuff was and found myself pretty tipsy by the time the kids finished opening their gifts.
7. What is your favorite Christmas Movie of All time? "A Christmas Story". Reminds me how Chistmas used to be.
8. Do you do your own Christmas Baking, what’s your favorite treat? I used to bake over 50 dozen cookies at Christmas. Don't have time anymore. I love all the Christmas foods. No favorites.
9. Fake or Real Tree? Fake.
10. What day (as a mom) does the actual panic set in to get it all done? Christmas Eve day. We usually just have cold cuts and all kinds of goodies Christmas Eve and being that I work, I usually take off that day to do the food shopping.
11. Are you still wrapping presents on Christmas Eve? Thank goodness, no.
12. What is your favorite family fun time at Christmas? Midnight on Christmas Eve. That's when the holiday begins for us.
13. What Christmas craft do you like the best? Making pomanders. I love the smells.
14. Christmas music. Yes or No, and if yes What is your favorite song? I love Christmas music. Just found a new one that is currently my favorite. I have it playing on Moontides. It is called "Christmas 1915" by Celtic Thunder.
15. When do you plan to finish all your shopping? Hopefully by next Sunday.
And the lucky taggies are:

Sobeit at
Aunt Amelia at
Lizzie at
Sloan Abernathy at
Julie At

I'd love to nominate everyone. LOL!!! This was a great thing to have happened to me today. You know, I have only been blogging for a couple months and didn't know how to add links until today. Not only did I have fun participating, but I also learned something new.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fruits of the Season

I disike fruit. What can I say? Somewhere along the line I lost the taste for something I once loved as much as I now love candy bars. I remember when I was a kid, growing up in the country. There was an old man who lived next door, a Mr. Peterson...never forgot his name. He was a mean old man...a hermit. No one ever came to call on him. Once we kids tried being nice, but were told in no uncertain terms that we should get off his property...and stay off.

Now, it just so happened that Mr. Peterson had the one in only Apple Tree in our neighborhood, and I can remember how us kids used to anxiously wait for the sweet, juicy apples to appear once the blossoms disappeared. Nothing tasted better than one of Mr. Peterson's apples picked fresh from the tree. But, of course, meanie that he was, he'd always be on the lookout to toss some stones our way when he saw us coming to take some of his precious fruit...not that he ever did anything with them. I never saw him come out and pick any. He'd just let them fall and rot. But, that was then, and this is now. But, even though I won't sit and munch on a juicy apple today, there are still ways I can enjoy them....One of my favorites is hot the Mulled Cider (reciped shown below) that I serve during the holidays.

8 Cups Apple Cider
1/2 cup Brown sugar
Just a pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of allspice
6 Cinnamon sticks
8 Whole cloves
8 Orange wedges with rind attached

In large saucepan, combine cider, brown sugar, and nutmeg. Bring to boil and add all the rest of the ingredients except for the orange wedges. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Serve cider in mugs with a clove studded orange wedge in each.

The following is fun, but not edible.

Apple Candle Holders

Core apples. Carve whatever symbols you want, then dip into lemon juice. Put a candle in the hole. These will only last for one day. You can also add some cloves if you like.

Oranges are another fruit that my tastebuds seem to have outgrown. There was a time when they were a welcome part of my Christmas stocking...a real treat back in those dys when it was not so easy to get hold of fresh citrus during the dead of the winter months. Candy canes were put aside as I anxiously peeled, usually with a few squirts in the eye, and sank my teeth into the juicy pulp. Oranges are still part of my holiday, but not in the way they once were. Who doesn't love the aroma of a pomander which fills the room with that pleasant throughout the holiday season.

To make the pomander, punch holes in the organce skin and then insert the cloves into the holes. You may choose to completely cover the orange or create designs such as snowflakes , moons, stars, etc. Within a few weeks, the orange will have completely dehydrated as the cloves help to draw the juice from the fruit. And, as the orange dries, you will notice that it turns dark and becomes very light in weight. While the pomander is drying, it will continue to release its spicy fragrance. Turn it every few days so that it dries evenly, and when completely dry, it can be saved for the next year's festivities. Refresh it with a little essential clove oil and store it in a sealed sandwich bag. It should last for years.