Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year

The tradition of the New Year's Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar. Janus was always depicted with two faces.  Janus was time, and  he presided over all moments of transition--dawn, noon, dusk, midnight.   He was the first god the Romans prayed to in the morning and the last god they prayed to before retiring for the night. 

According to Roman mythology, this ancient Latin deity presided over the beginning of everything.  With his two heads, he stands at the parting of the ways looking back retrospectively over the year that is gone and prophetically over the year that is coming. To the Romans, this was  a time for a review of the past  and for new resolutions  to be friendly and good to one another.

Janus is the originator of the New Year's gift for on New Year's Day, the principal festival of the god, the Romans gave presents to each one another. These consisted of sweetmeats and branches by giving each other branches from sacred trees for good fortune. Later, nuts or coins imprinted with the god Janus became more common New Year's gifts. On one side of the latter— given for the sake of good omen—was the double head of Janus, and on the other a ship. The latter was probably a symbol wishing good luck to the recipient. 

Let us, like the good Janus, for whom the month of January is named, look forward as well as backwards.  New Year's Eve is a time to look back on the previous year, to reflect on the good times and the bad.  As we embark on the journey of another year, let me take this opportunity wish you and yours  all the best in 2012. May you have a delightful New Year full of love, peace, and joy. Here’s wishing, all the love, joys and good things in life dawn on you with this new start.

Happy New Year!   See you all in 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

As You Travel Through Life

What a truly amazing poem for the New Year.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  Hats off to the author.

As you travel through life there are always those times
When decisions just have to be made,
When the choices are hard, and solutions seem scarce,
And the rain seems to soak your parade.
There are some situations where all you can do
Is simply let go and move on,
Gather your courage and choose a direction
That carries you toward a new dawn.

So pack up your troubles and take a step forward -
The process of change can be tough,
But think about all the excitement ahead
There might be adventures you never imagined
Just waiting around the next bend,
And wishes and dreams just about to come true
In ways you can't yet comprehend!

Perhaps you'll find friendships
That spring from new things
As you challenge your status quo,
And learn there are so many options in life.
Perhaps you'll go places you never expected
And see things that you've never seen,
Or travel to fabulous, faraway worlds
And wonderful spots in between!
Perhaps you'll find warmth and affection and caring
And somebody special who's there
To help you stay cantered and listen with interest
To stories and feelings you share.

Perhaps you'll find comfort in knowing your friends
Are supportive of all that you do,
And believe that whatever decisions you make,
They'll be the right choices for you.
So keep putting one foot in front of the other,
And taking your life day by day...
There's a brighter tomorrow that's just down the road -
Don't look back!
You're not going that way!

As the New Year quickly approaches, I find myself thinking about events of the past year and focusing on my hopes for the future.  I remember making resolutions concerning every aspect of my life at one point, but  I gave up resolutions a long time ago because I was only setting myself up for failure. I actually have a notebook filled with resolutions, and amazingly, it was the same ones year after year. I wasn't going to stop smoking until I was good and ready to stop.  Writing  it down wasn't going to make me want to quit. So, with this in mind,  why was I putting myself through the torture of making a resolution when I knew deep down that I wasn't going to  go through with what I said I would do?   A resolution is a determined decision that requires discipline to carry out.  

New Year is looked upon as a fresh new start.  It is a chance to correct many of the things that went wrong in the previous twelve months.  So, instead of making those same ill-fated resolutions each year,  I take a look at all I need to improve in my life and work on fixing that. I do know that I have to lose weight, but it is not a resolution that will make me do so.  It is a desire to do the things I used to do, the things I still want to do, and hope to do again without having to stop and catch my breath.   Change is part of the new year and making personal changes almost seems easier and more logical. The last thing I need though is a resolution that will instill guilt once I break it.

A fabulous New Year awaits us...and it is just down the road.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes

Last year on December 26th and 27th, we were dealing with the Blizzard of 2010.  The city was at a standstill.  Couldn't make it to work because the trains weren't running.  Despite the fact that the city was snowed in, the CEO and his cohort decided that we should forfeit a vacation day because we didn't make it to work.  Talk about Scrooge!!!

Yesterday was stormy as well...gale force winds and heavy rain.  If it had been colder, it probably would have been worse than last year's storm.  Of course, Scrooge already made his appearance on Friday when he announced that they didn't want to allow staff to leave early.  They prefer to pay us to play computer games than let us spend some extra time preparing for the holiday....

But,  it wouldn't  be Christmas without a visit from Scrooge, would it? Sadly, there are more and more people who act like Scrooge during the holidays and fail to embrace and enjoy the season of Christmas--disagreeable, mean, greedy, and uncooperative. The current economic climate is such that it might not be all that surprising to see that many people are becoming a Scrooge of sorts this Christmas.  And who can blame them.  So many are losing their jobs and the replacement jobs are just not there.  How can one possibly feel the Christmas spirit?

As an example, I'll use my agency....and this is happening all over the country.  Five years ago we got Christmas bonuses....$50 Barnes & Noble gift cards.  Four years ago we got movie tickets.  We also had a wonderful Christmas party each year. We felt appreciated. Then, the year came when the Christmas party was gone as well, but the evening dinner cruise still continues.  They say that all of us are invited.  But, how is that possible when we have to only the higher ups get to enjoy it.  The clients had a Christmas party as well, and they actually got some nice gifts.  

That is gone as well, now.  The CEO and his cohort say they are losing money, but how can that be?  They're consolidating all of us into one building.  Not only do we no longer have offices, but are accommodating more clients than ever in a space half the size of what we had.  Let's see...there is our program, the Manhattan Apartment Program, our Reception Center Shelter, our detox, our medical office, Human Resources, and a brand new 200 bed men's shelter sharing the same building. That's seven rents they are saving.

Our CEO has a salary of $292,000.  His cohort is probably not far behind.  Guess it pays to run a non-profit agency, doesn't it?  We get a 3 per cent raise and our health insurance goes up 4 per cent.  Bye, bye raise.  The clients get nothing.  Hot meals are gone.  Soup and sandwich are the daily menu.  Yes, Scrooge is alive and well in New York City...and, he is not just one person.  There are many of them who are pocketing high salaries to the detriment of their staff and clients.  That's the difference between the haves and the have nots.  Is it any wonder why the Christmas spirit is disappearing?

But, of course, Christmas was never meant to be about money. In my own opinion, Christmas is meant to bring families together. It is a day to let go of everything negative.   There should be good food and praise music. People should gives gifts from the heart. The rich should give to the poor. No one should be alone. Christmas is about love, peace, and joy on earth. When and how did we forget? And, how do we find it again?

Thanks for letting me last rant of 2011.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011



It is the letting go of all the
should's, the must's, the have-to's,
the have-nots, the cannots,
the doubts and the guilt.

It is allowing your thoughts to come forth -
without judgment.

It is allowing yourself to feel -
without judgment.

It is allowing yourself to do what you want -
without judgment.

It is allowing yourself to be who you are -
without judgment.

When you allow yourself to be,
You find
Peace, Freedom, Love and Joy
Within you.


Christmas has come and gone.  The gifts have been unwrapped and most have already been put away, but perhaps the greatest gift is one that we find within ourselves......being.

Have a great day.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Our First Christmas in Our New Home

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. --Norman Vincent Peale

It was a quiet holiday...just hubby, myself, and my two sons.  My youngest had a nasty cold, and I had told him to stay home and come on Sunday, but Christmas Eve is a tradition for us.  It was nice to enjoy a tree this year.  I told my son that, in previous years in the old house, the only time I saw the Christmas lights was when I checked to see if they worked...and why the heck did I even bother that.  Didn't matter if they worked or not.  Couldn't enjoy them.  Silly, wasn't it?  (Sigh)

We had our usual Christmas Eve spread--chips, dip, buffalo wings for he boys and I, shrimp for hubby, cold cuts, all kinds of cheeses, Christmas cookies, chocolate Yule log cake at midnight.  There is a church on my block, and it was wonderful to hear the bells toll at midnight.  It 'really' made if feel like Christmas.  None of us is doing well financially this year, so gifts were small and from the heart.  And, most importantly, we celebrated together.  

Christmas has always been about families for me. I loved spending the festive period with all off my family around me. Eating lots of food and all laughing together. After my grandparents died the magic of Christmas was lost for awhile, but with the birth of my sons, I found that magic again.  Christmas means family and love and hope. It is a time for families, friends and loved ones to come together. Christmas is always a great time to be happy and be grateful. It's a time of peace and harmony.  Christmas is a time of giving and receiving, a time of hope and love and wishes. Christmas is a magical time when dreams come true. That's what Christmas means to me. 

The only problem I have now is that it passes all too quickly, but it doesn't have to, for Christmas is forever....

Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself...

Norman Wesley Brooks, "Let Every Day Be Christmas," 1976 

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's That Wonderful Time of the Year

Hard to imagine, isn't it?   Here we are on the eve before the eve.  The missing keys have my son's pocket.  My set of keys has the same key chain as his, and since I'd left mine on the kitchen table rather than the rack where I usually keep them, he'd thought they were his.  Whew!!!  At least I hadn't thrown them away.  This morning I bought my eacy of my sons  a gift card.  I've always loved wrapping gifts and seeing the surprised look on their faces when they open them, but this year with the move and finances so low, there is just no time for it. 

Tomorrow morning I'll be heading on out to the supermarket.  Still trying to figure out which one to go to.  It just happens to be a cooking weekend for me, not that I am going to spend all day Christmas Eve cooking.  That I'll put off for another day.  But I will be busy putting together our usual cold cut tray, chips and dip, and whatever other little goodies I find today that my family might enjoy.  Heck, I'm even thinking of baking a few cookies. I'm so looking forward to this, my first Christmas in my new home....some soft Christmas music, candles, good food, and my family.  Who can ask for anything more? 

Again at Christmas did we weave
The holly round the Christmas hearth;
The silent snow possess'd the earth,
And calmly fell our Christmas-eve:

The yule-log sparkled keen with frost,
No wing of wind the region swept,
But over all things brooding slept
The quiet sense of something lost.

As in the winters left behind,
Again our ancient games had place,
The mimic picture's breathing grace,
And dance and song and hoodman-blind.

Who show'd a token of distress?
No single tear, no mark of pain:
O sorrow, then can sorrow wane?
O grief, can grief be changed to less?

O last regret, regret can die!
No--mixt with all this mystic frame,
Her deep relations are the same,
But with long use her tears are dry.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

 Wishing you all the happiest of holidays.  Merry Christmas.  Happy Yule.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Fancies

It's been one of those mornings.  All was going fine until it came time to leave to go to work.  I couldn't find my keys.  Ended up getting here late, but I still didn't find them.  Luckily hubby was there to lock the door behind me.  When I got to work I remembered that yesterday morning it was raining, and I couldn't find my umbrella, so I stopped to buy one on the way to the train.   When I opened it, I slipped its wrappings into my pocket.  This morning, I tossed it into the garbage.  Bet my keys were in there.

Been back at work now since Tuesday.  Such a busy time.  Came back to find five new intakes in files on my desk.  I've been touching base with all my clients and trying my best to stay caught up.  That's why I worked so hard before my vacation.  I knew what would be waiting on my return.  Today I must do some discharges before my caseload gets too out of control, so I am...

...hoping you all enjoy the poem today.  Ella Wheeler Wilcox is one of my favorites.

When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow,
We hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago.
And etched on vacant places,
Are half forgotten faces
Of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know –
When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow.

Uprising from the ocean of the present surging near,
We see, with strange emotion that is not free from fear,
That continent Elysian
Long vanished from our vision,
Youth’s lovely lost Atlantis, so mourned for and so dear,
Uprising from the ocean of the present surging near.

When gloomy gray Decembers are roused to Christmas mirth,
The dullest life remembers there once was joy on earth,
And draws from youth’s recesses
Some memory it possesses,
And, gazing through the lens of time, exaggerates its worth,
When gloomy gray December is roused to Christmas mirth.

When hanging up the holly or mistletoe, I wis
Each heart recalls some folly that lit the world with bliss.
Not all the seers and sages
With wisdom of the ages
Can give the mind such pleasure as memories of that kiss
When hanging up the holly or mistletoe, I wis.

For life was made for loving, and love alone repays,
As passing years are proving for all of Time’s sad ways.
There lies a sting in pleasure,
And fame gives shallow measure,
And wealth is but a phantom that mocks the restless days,
For life was made for loving, and only loving pays.

When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes,
And silences are melting to soft, melodious rhymes,
Let Love, the worlds beginning,
End fear and hate and sinning;
Let Love, the God Eternal, be worshipped in all climes
When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Winter Solstice

Every winter,
When the great sun has turned his face away,
The earth goes down into a vale of grief,
And fasts, and weeps, and shrouds herself in sables,
Leaving her wedding-garlands to decay -
Then leaps in spring to his returning kisses.

-Charles Kingsley-

For thousands of years, almost every civilization has celebrated the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. This is the time when life retreats from the earth when the Lord of Death is most apparent, but it is also a time to celebrate the new life that is born from death.  Long ago, people feared that the sunlight would not come back again. or those ancient people in their completely natural environment it marked the end of the long dark days, the freezing cold nights, the hard barren earth. Solstice means, "When the Sun stands still." They began the tradition of burning yule logs to help bring back the light.  

For people throughout the ages—from the ancient Egyptians and Celts to the Hopi—midwinter has been a significant time of ritual, reflection, and renewal.  Although three months of winter still lay ahead, each coming day will have a little bit more sunlight signaling the coming of spring. In celebrating the Solstice we celebrate the seasons of change and honor Mother Earth. Throughout  many regions of the world, peoples have marked the Winter Solstice as a yearly cycle of life. It is a turning point, a time for reflection on the past and for hope in the future. 

At Winter Solstice, the Oak King brings the opportunity to be reborn and begin new life.  Traditional celebrations usually include fire, light, and quiet contemplation. This year, my quiet celebration will contain all from my candles, light from my tree, and quiet contemplation of the year that passed and the year that is yet to come, a time of acknowledging the passing of the year, a time of reflection and looking forward.  It is a time for deep reflections; and of looking back over your past experiences, and planning changes to assure a better future.

It is the darkest day of the year, when we fold ourselves like feathered birds gazing at the inside of a candle flame, at the small sparks of humanity, the place of light.--Louise Nayer

Happy Summer Solstice to my friends in the Southern Hemisphere.  As you celebrate your 'longest' day of the year may you have love, peace, and joy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Christmas Tree

Put the finishing touches on my tree finished yesterday, and I actually have it lit.  Hip! Hip!  Hooray!  My son bought me some lights that played a squeaky Jingle Bells over and over again.  Didn't take long for us to pull the speaker out.  I have a bunch of pictures of the tree on my camera, and guess what?  The memory card on the camera does not work, and we cannot find the wire.  Alas, the above is not my tree.  As I sat there last night, just watching the lights twinkle off and on, memories of Christmas past drifted into my mind.

When I was a little girl, we always had a real tree.  Mom and dad would park the tree in the back yard and not bring it in until Christmas Eve.  Once I was fast asleep, they bring out the decorations.  How amazing Christmas morning was.  Then, when I got older and had my own place, I remember thinking that the aluminum tree with its glass bulbs and color wheel was the greatest. I had two cats at the time and, for Christmas, I had bought them stockings filled with catnip toys. I wish I had a picture of that Christmas morn.  They'd torn open their stockings and catnip was everywhere.  My tree was down and half the bulbs had broken.  Wrapping paper and ribbon were strewn all through the living room.  Talk about a lesson learned.  Never put catnip under the tree again.

My first year here in the city was the only time in my 64 years that I didn't have a tree.  In fact, I didn't even have a Christmas that year.  It was a time I like to forget, but always remember because it shows me just how far I have come.  Since that time, I have not had another real tree.  Now, I have an artificial that we bought 15 years ago, and although it is still as good as new, I think next year might bring some changes.

The practice of having a decorated tree and gifts, lights, carols, feasts, and processions has pagan origins. It originated from the pre-Christian Pagan cultures and was associated with the Winter Solstice.  The birthplace of the Christmas tree was in Egypt, and its origin dates from a period long before the Christian era.   Around 1300 BCE, the ancient Egyptians decorated their homes with palm branches to mark the Solstice. Not having evergreen trees, the ancient Egyptians considered the palm tree to symbolize resurrection. It was a happy holiday for them for the greenery reminded them that as the hours of daylight increased, their crops would begin to grow. 

In northern Europe, the fir tree was the most common evergreen, and our ancestors used branches of fir to decorate their homes from the Winter Solstice through to spring. Many ancient people believed that the sun was a god and that Winter came every year because the sun god had become sick and weak. Hence, the ancient Germanic people tied fruit and attached candles to evergreen tree branches, in honor of their god Woden.  Evergreens were seen as symbols of eternal life at a time of year when all other plant life had died off.   

In the folklore of Iceland we read of a sacred ash tree, whose branches were covered with shining lights that no wind could extinguish.
According to their concept, the Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life, is the eternal tree of Northern belief, the great natural core that links our world to heaven and hell. On the top was supposed to sit an eagle. The lights were the stars. Now an angel takes the place of the eagle and proclaims good tidings of great joy.

The mid-winter festival of Saturnalia, an old Roman holiday to commemorate the god Saturn, started on December 17th and often lasted until a few days after the Solstice. The houses were decorated with lights and greenery, and it was customary to have trees laden with decorations and gifts. When Christianity supplanted these earlier religions, and Christmas replaced Saturnalia and the winter solstice celebrations, the ritual of the decorated tree was retained. Only now it symbolized the birth of the Christ child.

There is an old 8th century German legend that St. Boniface, the organizer of the Christian Church in France and Germany, came upon a  group of Druids who were congregated around an old oak tree about to perform a sacrifice  St Boniface chopped down the  sacred oak tree around which they were worshipping and split it into several sections, each falling in different directions.  In the midst of the splintered oak, a small, unharmed fir tree stood growing at the roots of the old oak.   Taking this as a sign of the Christian faith,  he instructed the people henceforth to carry the evergreen from the wilderness into their homes and to surround it with gifts, symbols of love and kindness.

And, then there is an old French romance of the 13th century in which the hero sees a tree whose branches from top to bottom are covered with burning candles, while on the top is a figure of a child shining with a still greater radiance. This tree symbolized humanity — the upper lights being the souls of the good, those below, of the wicked, while the child represented Christ.

Yet another legend tells of a poor woodsman who long ago met a lost and hungry child on Christmas Eve. Though very poor himself, the woodsman gave the child food and shelter for the night. The woodsman woke up in the very next morning to find a beaming tree outside his home and surprisingly he found one as well. The child was really the Christ child who camouflaged. The child rewarded the poor woodsman the glittering tree for his charity.
Credit has been given to Martin Luther, founder of the Protestant faith, for inventing the Christmas tree. According to legend, it around the year 1500, when Luther was walking through the woods near his home in Wittenberg, Germany, on Christmas Eve and  was awe struck by the beauty of the evergreen trees and how the millions of stars above glittered through their branches. He brought a little fir tree inside to share the story with his children. He re-created the effect by decorating it with candles, in honor of Christ's birth.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
Thou tree most fair and lovely!
Oh Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
Thou tree most fair and lovely!
The sight of thee at Christmastide
Spreads hope and gladness far and wide
Oh Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
Thou tree most fair and lovely!

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
Thou hast a wondrous message:
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
Thou hast a wondrous message:
Thou dost proclaim the Saviour's birth
Good will to men and peace on earth
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
Thou hast a wondrous message

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
You stand in verdant beauty
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
You stand in verdant beauty
Your boughs are green in summer's glow
And do not fade in winter's snow
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
You stand in verdant beauty

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
How laden are your branches
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
Your presence here enhances
Your silver star does glisten bright
Reflecting all the candlelight
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
How laden are your branches

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
You fill all hearts with gaiety
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
You fill all hearts with gaiety
On Christmas Day you stand so tall
Affording joy to one and all
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
You fill all hearts with gaiety

Monday, December 19, 2011

Busy Times

It's been a very busy time for me, but everything is falling into place.  There is still a ways to go, but it is starting to look like a home.  Last night I set up my tree.  Yes, there is still much more to be done in the apartment, but I've only gone one year without a Christmas tree, and that was the year I moved to New York, a Christmas that left me with nothing but bad memories.  I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I was to set up up in front of my living room window...and actually be able to light it.  This year, my Christmas village will be on hold.  

Hubby and I were talking last night, and both of us are in agreement.  Despite all that still needs to be done, we already feel so much more comfortable.  No more of the insanity of the other place.  No more family feuds...although, believe it or not, my ex-landlady did give me a call yesterday to chat about what had been going on at the other place.  Very politely I told her it was not a good time for me to chat.  What I REALLY wanted to say was that there would NEVER be a good time for me to chat.  

This place has such unbelievable ambiance. We'd seen larger, more modern apartments in fancier buildings, but none 'called out' to me like this one did...and, ironically, I didn't even want to come see it.  It was my late night at work, and after putting in a full day, who wants to go check out apartments?  But, I went, anyway and knew from the moment I walked in that this was 'the one'. 

First of all, it is one of New York City's great pre-war apartments which, with their  high ceilings, hardwood floors, doorways and other old world charms, are prized by renter and buyer alike.   I haven't measured, but my ceilings are at least double hubby's height which makes them about 12 feet high, quite appealing, but not when you have to change a light bulb.  Older, pre-war apartments tend to be sturdily constructed with thick firewalls between apartments lending to a quieter living environment.  I 'must' get some pictures.  I'd love to learn the history of this building, and once settled, I plan to do some investigating.  And, after the holidays, my sister-in-law will be coming to bless our home.

Christmas this year will be  a time for family appreciation, a to say thank-you and I love you.  There will be no high-priced expensive gifts. Money is very tight for us this year.  Each year I watch the Christmas movies where how many gifts one gets matters not. One special favorite is Christmas in Canaan where gifts are pictures from wish lists torn from a magazine...and there was oh, so much love, there.  The joy comes in being together, and that is what I am looking forward to....a good old-fashioned family Christmas with plenty of good eats, love, and laughter...Christmas the way it was meant to be.

In the bleak mid-winter 
Frosty wind made moan, 
Earth stood hard as iron, 
Water like a stone; 
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, 
Snow on snow, 
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him 
Nor earth sustain; 
Heaven and earth shall flee away 
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter 
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty 
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him whom cherubim 
Worship night and day, 
A breastful of milk 
And a mangerful of hay; 
Enough for Him whom angels 
Fall down before, 
The ox and ass and camel 
Which adore. 

Angels and archangels 
May have gathered there, 
Cherubim and seraphim 
Throng'd the air, 
But only His mother 
In her maiden bliss 
Worshipped the Beloved 
With a kiss. 

What can I give Him, 
Poor as I am? 
If I were a shepherd 
I would bring a lamb, 
If I were a wise man 
I would do my part,-- 
Yet what I can I give Him, 
Give my heart

--Christina Rosetti--

Friday, December 16, 2011

Even the Best Laid Plans

The move  was a nightmare.  I'd been working toward organizing this for a month now, and I thought I had it all together, but what one thinks, and what is, may sometimes be two different matters altogether.  On moving day, I realized I still had much to pack, so when hubby announced that he was going to get the truck and the movers, I was totally not ready, but it was already 2 pm.  It had to be done.  The movers from the other night never called, so we hired a few guys for $50 each who stand on the corner just waiting for odd jobs.  I give these guys credit;  they stand out there in all kinds of weather just waiting for someone to need them for a job.  We've hired plumbers, electricians, even painters eager to make an honest living...and, we've never had a problem.  That is, until we hired the movers.

Everything was rush, rush, rush.  I understand they were eager to get back to their spot in the hopes of another job, but by the time they left to I just wanted to cry.  They were picking up bags so quickly that I had to chase them halfway out to the truck to make sure they weren't taking garbage...and every time I sat down to take a break, they came to take whatever I was sitting on.  I was going from room to room just trying to find a quiet place, and the next thing I knew, the chair or bed was being pulled out from under me.  Well, maybe not pulled, but it sure did feel that way.  And if I wasn't so gosh darned tired and in pain, it was like a comedy show.

They broke my television so we had to lay out an extra $350 for a new one as cable was coming the next morning to hook up everything.   That was a miracle.  Usually they take days, even weeks to get there.    This time we got an HD flat screen.  Looks great.  I wasn't too happy about all the extra money we had to spend, but I did joke with hubby about how something has to break in order for us to modernize.  We didn't get a DVD player until our VCR literally blew up.  Didn't get a cell phone until our land line kept going off and on.   And now,  our old model, a 15 year old Sharp, had to break for us to get an LED.  

It was almost 10 pm when I finally got to the house.  I cannot begin to tell you about the unbearable howls my cat let out on the trip over.  It was so bad that I gave my son my keys and told him to open all the doors so I could just make a run for it.  The next day was a work day for my neighbors and didn't want to get off on the wrong foot.  She's been on the kitchen chair most of the time since we got here.  I put her litter box nearby and have been feeding her under the table to help her get used to the new place.  Aside from one howling episode about 3 am in the morning,   she appears to be coming around.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I walked in on.  All I could do was sit and stare.  Despite the fact that I'd labeled everything, they had EVERYTHING all piled against the wall...boxes, bags, lamps, furniture.  Matter of fact, by the time we got 'to' the lamps we discovered one of them broken under there. Not much we could do about these things.  The guys are not insured.  

So now, I am busily trying to make this place look like a home.  Thought I'd check in and let you know how things were going.  It's a lot of hard work, but in the long run, will be well worth it.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Halcyon Days

We are now about to enter the Halcyon Days --the seven days prior to and the seven days following the Winter Solstice, being the fourteen days commencing around December 14th and ending on the 28th. Among sailors, it is the two-week period of calm weather before and after the shortest day of the year, approximately December 21st. The name originates from the Greek goddess, Alcyone.

According to the ancient myth, Alcyone was married to Ceyx, the Morning Star. The pair were very happy together until the time came when Ceyx decided that he must take a perilous journey across the sea, leaving his beloved wife behind. Alcyone foresaw nothing but disaster and told Ceyx that he should not make this voyage because everyone knew how powerful the winds upon the sea are, but he chose to go anyway.

The premonitions of Alcyone proved true, and the ship went down in a terrible storm.  Alcyone saw in a dream what had happened and ran to the sea.   In the distance, she could see a body, which she immediately recognized as that of her husband. Alcyone, in agonized grief,  threw herself into the sea, but the gods, out of compassion, changed her arms changed into wings and her nose into a beak. Ceyx rose from the sea to meet her, and the two became a pair of magical kingfishers. 

The Gods their shapes to winter-birds translate,

But both obnoxious to their former fate.
Their conjugal affection still is ty'd,
And still the mournful race is multiply'd:
They bill, they tread; Alcyone compress'd,
Sev'n days sits brooding on her floating nest:
A wintry queen: her sire at length is kind,
Calms ev'ry storm, and hushes ev'ry wind;
Prepares his empire for his daughter's ease,
And for his hatching nephews smooths the seas.

And ever since that time, every year there are seven days on end in which the sea lies still and calm.  They say that these are the days when Alcyone broods over her nest floating on the sea. After the young birds are hatched,  the charm is broken,  but each and every winter these days of peace come, and they are called after her. 

Over the years the term "Halcyon Days" has come to denote a time of comfort, peace and prosperity.  I am so looking at this as a sign, and my moving day just happens to fall  on the first of the Halcyon Days.  It is also supposed to rain tomorrow, the only day this week and the day we made arrangements to move.  They say that rain on one's wedding day brings good luck.  Hope it is the same for settling into a new abode.  

Today is my last full day here.  I'll admit it.  I'm feeling a bit melancholy at this time.  Still worried about my cat. All I can do is hope for the best.  I've not completed the packing, and the truckers have not called back. Sanitation took a pile of stuff today, but Friday is the day for furnishings and housewares, so we'll be coming back. I'm just trying not to let it worry me anymore.   I'll be going offline for awhile.   Hopefully,  it will not  for long.  At any rate, I return to work on the 19th so will have a computer available at that time.

Blessings to all and many thanks for listening to my rants and for all of your support.  I know I've been a 'pain' in the butt about this move, and it surprises me that anyone listens to me anymore.  Thank you.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

And the Stockings Were Hung

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

No one knows for certain where the custom of hanging stockings at Christmas Eve began — only that the practice.  From Italy comes the legend of the three penniless girls from which we are supposed to get the time-honored custom of hanging up the Christmas stocking. According to legend, a poor Italian father was faced with selling one of his three daughters into slavery in order to afford one of the dowries needed for others to marry.  The girls had washed out their stockings and hung them to dry over the fireplace.  Having heard of the families misfortune, Saint Nick decided to pay them a visit.  Late that night, riding his faithful white steed, he stopped by the house and saw their stockings through the window.  He secretly tossed three bags filled with gold coins down the chimney.  The bags fell into the stockings.  His kindhearted gifts made it possible for all three of the maidens to marry.

Eventually,  it became the custom of the people to hang their stockings  out of their windows on the night before Christmas, so that St. Nicholas could put a gift into them as he passed by. By and by, when coin became scarce, toys were put in for the children  and useful presents for grown people.

Another ancient  ancient legend relates  that the hanging of  Christmas stockings over the Yule log comes to us from Scandinavia.  According to the story, a young woman was sitting  by the fireplace on the night before Christmas, wishing for enough fine cloth to fashion her a wedding gown. Suddenly a forest sprite appeared down the chimney. Standing on the log all ready for lighting on the morrow, he softly whispered:

Wishing, Wishing, in the Yule log's name—
Keep wishing thy stockings full. 
Answer will come o'er the Yule log's flame—
Keep wishing thy stockings full.

The girl listened intently and tried to get closer to the charming sprite but he  vanished at once up the chimney as silently and softly as he had come. Excitedly, she hastily withdrew her stockings from both feet and fastened them to the chimney, then fled to her room, wondering whether she should find material for the wedding gown on the morrow. Sure enough, early Christmas morning when the shy maiden stole in the early dawn to the chimney,  she beheld her stockings filled with a silken fabric, plenty to make the bridal gown.

Had to share this one with you. It just goes to show you, things happen when you least expect it.  Yesterday, my son was going to do the  laundry and  run to the supermarket to pick up a few things.  Don't want to pick up too much because we will only have to carry it with us. But, he kept on procrastinating because during the day, the laundromat can be a disaster.

So, finally, about 6 pm he  headed out. Ten minutes later I get a call from him that there were some guys with a truck around the corner who were bringing used furniture and other things out of an apartment building. He stopped and asked if maybe they can help us out since we were close by, for a fee, of course, and they agreed to do so once they got done with that job. In all it cost $40, but it was well worth the piece of mind I felt afterward. 

They took old dishes, four bags of books, old VCR tapes, some pictures from the wall, bowls, cups, all my old school essays, course guides, things from hubby's office he no longer needed, coffee pot, my son's old DVD player, about 60 odd spoons, my old set of pots since I'm getting a new one, etc....things I hadn't been using and didn't plan on using again. In all, they took about twelve bags from me and a few boxes from me.  When you downsize from five rooms to three, there sure are a lot of decisions to be made.

As far as the old furniture goes, as I previously stated, the sofa bed and my son's double bed will stay.  I'll also leave the wooden kitchen cabinet.  All I have to dispose of is the love seat, cocktail table, lamp shades (which I forgot to give them last night), ironing board #2, shopping cart, microwave, and some milk crates we used to carry my gardening supplies when we moved here.  Since then, they have been used for storage.  I'll contact sanitation and see if I can put them out Friday.  If not, I have two other possibilities...our plumber who has a friend with a truck and the guys from last night who may do our moving if their price is cheaper renting the truck and paying a few guys to do the job.

Life sure does work in strange ways, doesn't it?  And like I always say, everything happens for a reason.  Had my son gone earlier, he would not have met up with these guys.  Now, it's all the less I have to deal with.  Still some stress here as I try to figure where to put things, but, I will say, a lot less.