Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

Every new year people make resolutions to change aspects of themselves

they believe are negative. A majority of people revert back to how
they were before and feel like failures. This year I challenge you
to a new resolution. I challenge you to just be yourself.

Aisha Elderwyn

This past weekend I did something I always do on the weekend before the New Year is ushered in. I dug out my old 'Resolution' book, not to write new ones....I stopped making resolutions several years ago....but as a reminder of the me I used to be. You see, every year it was the same thing. "I will stop smoking" was always at the top of the list, but I never did. In fact, I never made it past my morning coffee. It was the same thing with "I will lose weight", but I never lost a pound. On the contrary, each year I steadily gained a few pounds. There were other resolutions in my book as well, but aside from 'getting healthier' the above two were the most significant ones. Year after year the same failed resolutions. 

This is a time of retrospect for most of us. On the 1st of the year, we review the year that has passed, find what we need to give thanks for, and make our New Year's resolutions with great hope and anticipation for the upcoming year. It is an annual ritual in our society as we bid farewell to the old and ring in the new year. However, most of those resolutions are nothing more than words written on paper.
We are not going to quit smoking because we don't 'want' to quit smoking.  That weight is not going to come off because we are not ready to give up our eating habits.  And, this, as I have recently found out, catches up to us when we least expect it...which brings me to the point I am trying to make.

When it comes to a habit, we can have all the best intentions in the world, but if you are not fully committed, it just isn't going to happen. In other words, our resolutions often fail because they're based on what we THINK we should do and not what we really WANT to do. Furthermore, we often make too many of them, and psychologically speaking, the more numerous our resolutions, the more likely for us to feel justified in breaking any one of them because we tell ourselves, "It's okay. I have others to fall back on," and before we know it, we've  broken all of them.

So, we continue with our facade and good intentions year after year, but for some of us, it takes a real eye-opener to make us finally succeed, but our success has nothing to do with the fact that we wrote it in the book on the 1st of the year.  No, some of us need a real kick in the butt to finally 'get it'. In 2009 I once again made the same resolution I made for almost 40 stop smoking, but it wasn't until July 4th that I finally did it, and not because I wanted to.  I stopped because I couldn't make it up the subway stairs. I couldn't catch my breath. Smoking had finally caught up with me, and if I am going to be totally honest here, if that hadn't happened, I probably would still be lighting up. It is the same with my health.  Years of not taking care of myself finally took their toll.

Hubby and I have nothing special planned tonight. Those days of hanging out partying til the wee hours of dawn are long gone for both  of us, and juving worked in a bar, a restaurant, and in catering on New Year's Eve, I have no desire to partake in the festivities.  A quiet evening at home is all that I long for.  Each year hubby goes to one of our favorite restaurants and we feast on this fantastic chicken roasted on the spit and yucca steamed in olive oil, vinegar and tons of lots onions.  Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Yesterday I made a pernil, gondulas and rice, and salad...a typical Spanish meal.  And now, after that, it is time to get myself back on track. Not that I have done THAT bad over the holidays.  But, I have gone over my daily sodium limit...and calories...and next Monday I have to see the doctor.  If I don't get myself in gear, she is really going to hand me the riot act on a silver platter. Seriously, though, it is very easy for me to fall back on bad habits...and the fact is, these bad habits can kill me.  I want to live.

Do you make New Year's resolutions? Most adults do. How successful have you been in keeping your resolutions?

Friday, December 28, 2012


How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterward.

Spanish Proverb

Ah, the weekend has arrived.  This was a short week for me, but, nonetheless, I am sure in need of some much needed rest.  All the preparation for the holiday is behind me, I don't have to cook, and I don't even have to head out to the store.  I've already gotten what I need from the fruit stand, and on off weeks, I usually cook my beans, but with holiday eating, the freezer is still stocked.  This will be the first weekend that I can remember that is totally devoted to rest.

Now, if only I could take advantage and sleep late, but I just can't seem to do that anymore.  My biorhythm just won't let me.  I can sleep no later than 7:30 where I used to be able to lounge about until 10 or later. A night person throughout my life, it was  hard for me to reset my rhythm to work a day job.  I finally did it, but what is happening now is that the old night person is struggling to make a comeback while the day person refuses to let go.  So, I find myself lying awake until the wee hours at night and up at the crack of dawn.  They do say that as we get older we need less sleep, but some days as I struggle to make it through the day, I have to wonder how true that really is.

So, this weekend I am going to take full advantage of my situation.  If need be, I will get up early and take a series of naps during the day, but, by golly, this weekend I am going to rest. 

Wishing you all a relaxing weekend.

Sometimes the most
important thing in a whole
day is the rest we take
between two deep breaths,
or the turning inwards in
prayer for five
short minutes.

Etty Hillesum

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Dream Catcher

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.The
Chief Seattle

The above arrived for me at work yesterday. It was such a wonderful and rather unexpected surprise.  The gift came from a co-worker who moved onto a better position during the summer.  It   was her way of thanking me for the help I gave her when she had been suffering from some rather disturbing dreams. Nightmares were seriously plaguing her to the point that she was looking drawn and sickly.  After working through the dreams, I advised her to get a Dream Catcher and told her the story of how they came to be. She not only remembered, but she also remembered my love of nature and the Moon and included them in her gift as well. It's lovely, isn't it?  And maybe it might be totally psychological, but I slept better last night than I have in a long time. Below is a closeup...

According to the legend, Native Americans believe that the night is filled with good and bad dreams. It is said that, when one hangs a 

Dream Catcher above the place where they sleep, it moves freely in the night air and catches the dreams as they drift by. The good dreams pass through the center hole to the sleeping person. while the bad dreams, not knowing the way, are caught and trapped in the Dream Catchers where they destroyed at the first light of the morning sun. 

There are many variations on the legend of the Dream Catcher, but the Ojibwa are credited as the first people to use Dream Catchers, so I will relate the following...

"Long ago in the ancient world of the Ojibwe Nation, the Clans were all located in one general area of that place known as Turtle Island. This is the way that the old Ojibwe storytellers say how Asibikaashi (Spider Woman) help Wanabozhoo bring the Sun back to people. To this day, Asibikaashi will build her special lodge before dawn. If you are awake at dawn, as you should be, look for her lodge and you will see this miracle of how she captured the sunrise as the light sparkles on the dew which is gathered there.

Asibikaashi took care of her children, the people of the land, and she continues to do so to this day. When the Ojibwe Nation dispersed to the four corners of North America, to fill a prophecy, Asibikaashi had a difficult time making her journey to all those cradle boards, so the mothers, sisters, and Nokomis (grandmothers) took up the practice of weaving the magical webs for the new babies using willow hoops and sinew or cordage made from plants. 

The shape of a circle represents how Giizis travels across the sky. The dream catcher filters out all the bad ba-we-dji-ge-win (dreams) and allow only good thoughts to enter into our minds when we are abinooji (asleep). A small hole in the center of the dream catcher is where those good bawadjige may come through. With the first rays of sunlight, the bad dreams would perish. 

When we see little Asibikaashi, we should not fear her but instead respect and protect her. In honor of there origin, the number of points where the web connected to the hoop numbered 8 for Spider Woman's eight legs or 7 for the Seven Prophecies." 

It is traditional to place a feather in the center of the dream catcher; it means breath, or air. It is essential for life. In the cradle board, a baby watched the air play with the feather and was happy being fascinated with the blowing feather. Dream catchers used by adults do not use feathers in the center. The feather of the owl, keeper of wisdom, was kept by the woman. The feather of the eagle, keeper of courage, was kept by the man. 

Hanging by the window,
the dream catcher waits,
to catch me a dream, that's hopefully great.

Quiet and still, it waits in the night,
to catch a dream, traveling in flight.

Its web is of leather, its feathers light,
the magic it works, carries great height.

Will it bring me a lover, a funny story or song?
or, will it bring nightmares
where everything goes wrong...

The time is now near, for me to lie down
and wait for a dream that's happy and sound.

Dream catcher, dream catcher,
caution you please,
my heart is now calm, my mind is at ease

Go in the night and find what you will,
catch me a dream
that's meaningful and still.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Day After

Time goes, you say? Ah no!
Alas, Time stays, we go.
-Henry Austin Dobson-

Well, here we are...the day 'after' already. Another Christmas has come and gone so swiftly that I was barely able to catch my breath.  It was such a wonderful Christmas. There was lots of good food, sharing of memories, and laughter. We all became a bit melancholy when discussing childhood Christmases and those who are forever gone from our lives. We watched "A Christmas Story", and as usual, it stirred up memories of how we celebrated the holiday when I was a little girl. I was a child in the 50's, and oh, how I could relate.  Christmas WAS Christmas back then, and it 'never' began until the day after Thanksgiving.

This year there were presents under the tree. Not that presents are what it's all about. Actually, last year when we were only 15 days into our move and money was very tight, we had a great Christmas because we spent it together....but there IS something about a wrapped present under the tree that makes it look like Christmas.

Miss Minga even made out like a champ...something she so well deserves.

She really couldn't wait to open her gifts.

Our feast consisted of a wide variety of cold cuts, cheeses, potato salad, the above pesto salad, chips, dip, pickles, olives, cookies, candy, and cake. I am really pretty proud of myself because I didn't fall back into the Pepsi trap again.

The night ended about 1 am with kisses and hugs and promises to call each other more often.  And so, life continues and I find myself back to work.  In some ways it seems that Christmas never happened, but I know that is not true.  I will always have my memories.

What is time? The shadow on the dial, the striking of the clock,
the running of the sand, day and night, summer and winter, months,
years, centuries--these are but arbitrary and outward signs,
the measure of Time, not Time itself. Time is the Life of the Soul.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

May the joy and peace of Christmas be with you today and always.

 Wishing you all the blessings of a beautiful Christmas seasons!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

Christmas reminds us we are not alone. We are not unrelated atoms, jouncing and ricocheting amid aliens, but are a part of something, which holds and sustains us.
As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December's bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same. Christmas shows us the ties that bind us together, threads of love and caring, woven in the simplest and strongest way within the family.

Donald E. Westlake

It is early on morning of Christmas Eve morning as I sit by the Christmas tree sipping a steaming cup of coffee and thinking about the things I have to do today.  I'm off work today.  I always take off on Christmas Eve. This has become a tradition for me. Just taking a few moments of relaxation before the busyness of the season 'really' begins for me.  Soon I will be off to the store for candy, cold cuts, and other forgotten items. There is potato salad and pesto macaroni salad to put together, cheese to be cut and platters to be made. Later will I will prepare my famous Buffalo Wings  for myself and my sons and shrimp sauteed in butter and garlic for hubby. These have become two of our holiday traditions. There is also a cake to be baked, and, oh, I must remember to take the cookies out

Since my children have grown, Christmas has become just another day for me, but Christmas Eve is different. Christmas Eve is a very special family time, a joyful time. and a great time to remember all of our blessings. We eat cold cuts and salads on paper plates and pig out on chocolate candy, cookies, and there is, of course, our Yule Log at midnight and a box of chocolate covered cherries for hubby...which will probably be gone by tomorrow.  Nothing formal. The time we have to spend with each other is just too important for anything, including cooking, to interfere.  It is just us, the tree, a sharing of memories, and a sense love peace that envelops us all. 

Wishing you all a joy-filled Christmas Eve.

The most vivid memories of Christmases past are usually not
of gifts given or received, but of the spirit of love,
the special warmth of Christmas worship,
the cherished little habits of home.

Lois Rand

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's Friday...Yippee.

Many days we may not get up with love in our hearts for our
family, our friends, our co-workers. We may, in fact, want them
to show their love for us first. But if we reach out, give love
unconditionally, focus on another's needs, love will return
tenfold. And the act of loving them will lift our own spirits.
We will know love; we will feel love for ourselves and
the many persons close to us.


Wow!!! Here we are entering the last weekend before Christmas. I can't believe it, can you? Time has flown by so fast. I've not much to do this weekend. In fact, it will be quite a long weekend for me, I am off until Wednesday, so I plan on stretching things out. It's a cooking weekend, but, with the holidays on the horizon and the freezer still pretty much full, I only have to cook two meals tomorrow. House is decorated. Presents are wrapped and under the tree. Hooray for me. A much needed break.

This is also the day we celebrate the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year when the earth is farthest from the sun.  From now onward the days will begin to lengthen. The ancients called it Yule and held feasts and rituals to encourage the return of the light. Bonfires were lit in the fields and trees were wassailed with cider. For years we have been hearing that the 'Mayan Long Count' calendar ends on ‘this’ Winter Solstice, December 21, 2012. Heralding the end of an old era and the beginning of something new.  Many predict it will be the end of the world.  Others say that some people will move into the fourth dimension while those who are ready will ascend

I believe that this day symbolizes a new beginning, a transition into a new era.  It ushers in the return of the feminine, balancing the energies of the masculine and feminine within ourselves. No longer will we be subject to a patriarchal...or a matriarchal society for that matter either...for the new society will be a blending of the two. It won't happen overnight. It will take time. I see this as a time of personal transition into a new era, a personal renewal that will help us to achieve peace and love in the world and harmony in our lives. 

So, as we enter into this weekend, the first weekend as the old era ends and the darkness begins to turn to the light, gather with friends or take the time alone to center yourself in the space of what peace means to you. Then offer a prayer for peace for all being and creatures everywhere.
Let us be united;
Let us speak in harmony;
Let our minds apprehend alike.
Common be our prayer,
Common be the end of our assembly;
Common be our resolution;
Common be our deliberations.
Alike be our feelings;
Unified be our hearts;
Common be our intentions;
Perfect be our unity.
-- Rig Veda--

Thursday, December 20, 2012

All I Need to Know I Learned From Santa Claus

Wow!!!  I don't know what to say.  I literally don't know what to say.  Seems like I have come down with a case of writer's block. Don't know whether it is the excitement of the time of year, or the mass of paperwork at the job that I just cannot seem to put a dent in, but the words just don't want to come, so when I stumbled onto the following list of observations about Santa and the life lessons we can learn from him,  I really thought it was pretty cool and thought I would share it with you. And, although I found it while looking for a Christmas joke for my group, I thought most of these things were actually quite appropriate.

1. Encourage people to believe in you. 
2. Always remember who's naughty and who's nice. 
3. Don't pout. 
4. It's as much fun to give as it is to receive. 
5. Some days it's okay to feel a little chubby. 
6. Make your presents known. 
7. Always ask for a little bit more than what you really want. 
8. Bright red can make anyone look good. 
9. Wear a wide belt and no-one will notice how many pounds you've gained. 
10. If you only show up once a year, everyone will think you're very important.
11. Whenever you're at a loss for words, say "HO, HO, HO!"

Don't ya just love the following....

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exists, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. 

Charles Dana editorial in the New York Sun, 1897, responding to a letter from 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Childhood Joys

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love

of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having,
in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world,
had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon
and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.

Barbara Jordan

Each year as Christmas approaches, I find myself drifting back to a different time and place, to that carefree time when life was filled with fun and games and a sense of wonder--childhood. Christmas was also such a magical time when wishes came true and all was well with the world. Do you ever wish you could be a child again? That you could do it over again? Even just for one more day? Christmas day?  Well, why don't you?  It is never too late.

The problem is that when we grow up we get so caught up in all that is expected of us as adults that we forget that joy we once felt and feel that we will never find it in our hearts again. Yet, while we may no longer be able to run as fast as we once did or do handstands, or, as in my case, ride a bike, there are still plenty of ways to recapture that joy of life we once knew and what better time than Christmas which always makes me feel like a child again.  There are...

....Christmas cartoons to be watched, 
....stockings to be filled, 
....presents to be unwrapped,
....a bowl of ribbon candy at the door, chocolate to be sipped, 
....gingerbread men just waiting to be eaten,
....carols to be sung, 
....popcorn to be strung,
....paper chains just waiting to be made,
....and who says you you are too old stare out of your bedroom window on a Santa watch.You never know, if you just let yourself go and let that childhood magic take over, even if just for a night, you just might be lucky enough to catch a sight of him. 

 When my mother is n't here,

    And I just won't go to bed,
    And it's cold outside and near
    Christmas; and the kitchen-shed
    'S covered thick with frost and snow;
    Then my nurse she says, "Oh! oh!
    Better get to bed! My Laws!
    Think I hear Old Santa Claus!"

    Then I hurry; never kick,
    Squirm or cry or anything:
    But jump into bed right quick:
    'Fraid to look around; and cling
    Fast to nurse; and close my eyes
    Tight: she looking just as wise!
    Scared, too, don't you know? because
    She fast heard Old Santa Claus.

    Why in goodness I'm afraid
    I don't know. For Santa's good,
    So they say, and brings much aid
    To all folks. It's understood
    Specially to girls and boys,
    Christmas-trees and cakes and toys;
    But there must be some good cause
    Makes one 'fraid of Santa Claus.

    It's his whiskers, I suppose;
    Gray and big about his chin,
    Where you just can see his nose
    And his eyes, each like a pin:
    And his clothes all made of hair
    Twinkling thick with frost. Declare
    If I saw him I'd have cause
    To be scared of Santa Claus.

    One night, week from Christmas, I
    Looked out through the window-pane;
    And right in our back-yard, why,
    Some one walked in wind and rain,
    Swishing, splashing with a whip.
    Did n't I just hop and skip
    Into bed? because, because
    Guess it was Old Santa Claus.

    And I am all shivery
    When I wake up winter nights,
    And it's dark and I can't see,
    And the black wind fights and fights
    Round the chimney; then right quick
    Under cover my head I stick,
    Crying, "Mother! wake up! 'cause
    Think I hear Old Santa Claus!"

Madison Julius Cawain


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Fancies

Even the most verbose of us have these days when the words just won't flow, and today is my day. Actually I did have a post all prepared, but, laid awake last night thinking about it and decided it just wouldn't do. Too cold and forced. Talk about addiction. Imagine blogging keeping you awake at night.  So, instead, I will leave you with the following lovely poem by one of my favorites. *(Actually, the blogging 'really' didn't keep me awake, but it did give me something to think about.)

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 world's beginning,
            End fear and hate and sinning;
    Let Love, the God Eternal, be worshiped in all climes
    When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes.

Esther Wheeler Wilcox

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday Morning This and That

It singeth low in every heart,
We hear it each and all,--
A song of those who answer not,
However we may call;
They throng the silence of the breast,
We see them as of yore,--

The kind, the brave, the true, the sweet,
Who walk with us no more.

John White Chadwick

Monday morning of a bittersweet weekend.  It was really hard knowing what to say, what to do.  Do I continue on with my plans, or do I spend the weekend mourning the victims? And, what do I say here this Monday morning? How do I post about baking cookies when so many out there are wandering around lost in a sea of grief? Will it seem like I don't care if I write about cookies and Christmas?  I decided that the best way to honor those who died is to go on with my life and not let the evil win just as we did after 9/11. We got on with our lives and showed them that they won't keep us down.  Every time we make a decision to do good instead of evil, we alleviate some of the evil in the world. There is no greater victory over evil than to refuse to let it win.  We defeat evil, in ourselves, in others and in the world, when we refuse to give it control of our lives.

Many days we may not get up with love in our hearts for our
family, our friends, our co-workers. We may, in fact, want them
to show their love for us first. But if we reach out, give love
unconditionally, focus on another's needs, love will return
tenfold. And the act of loving them will lift our own spirits.
We will know love; we will feel love for ourselves and
the many persons close to us.


And so, on a rainy Sunday I baked my Christmas cookies as planned.  Thumbprints and Nutty Chocolate Chip are in front. Snickerdoodles and Mexican Wedding cookies in back. Needless to say, on Sunday I went over my calorie count.  are. And I just had to taste them when they came out out of the oven...not each batch, but each tray full.  No matter I ended up with a belly ache.  

The recipe for Snickerdoodles was given to me a long, long time ago by an aunt from the German side of my family--that being my paternal grandfather's family. I made these cookies so often in my youth that after all of these years, the recipe is still etched in my brain. So are my memories. Oh, such amazing smells from my kitchen yesterday!  Reminded me of the little girl who was once chased out of the kitchen when the women folk were doing their baking. And how  I felt on that day oh, so long ago, when that little old lady with the German accent pulled me aside and told me I was old enough to learn. I must have been about 10 or 11, but she sure made me feel so grown up...and so loved.  She died not long after that Christmas, but she remains forever in my heart. I honor her by continuing on with the tradition.

Kind words, family rituals, Ribbon Candy, Christmas songs, Peace, Love, Joy, Christmas traditions that last a lifetime.  This is what the holiday is all about. Let us remember during this season that true love is unconditional.  It includes everyone--all of our brothers and sisters, as well as ourselves.  Remembering that we are Love. That is what it is all about.  

When you give away some of the light from the candle,
by lighting another person's candle there isn't less light
because you've given some away--there's more.
That works with love, too.


Friday, December 14, 2012


Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world; to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground; to see that your fellow-people are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy; to own that probably  the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life; to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness--are you willing to do these things even for a day?  Then you can keep Christmas.

Henry Van Dyke

Isn't the above scene lovely?  I snapped it at the hospital yesterday when I went for my tests. I'll have the results after the holidays. Call it denial, but I'm putting it all out of my mind until after the holidays.  Nothing is going to spoil this holiday for me.

Afterward I left the hospital I went to do some shopping for my boys.  Last year, due to the move and to finances, it was a present-less Christmas, and they were totally amazing about it. No one complained, and if they were disappointed, neither of them showed it in any way. In fact, both of them told me that gifts weren't what was important, family time was. It filled my heart with joy hearing them speak about the true meaning of the holiday. I guess that means I did something right.

Those who have not Christmas in their hearts
will never find it under a tree.

Roy L. Smith

Yesterday as I was waiting to catch the bus, I glanced over and there stood a Spanish lady selling candy apples.  They looked just like those that I loved in my childhood, that fire engine red syrup hardened like a rock, dipped in coconut.  Mmmm!!!  My mouth was watering for one. But, fortunately, logic took precedence, and I decided against it.  I really cannot afford to repair my dentures before the holiday...but I can always close my eyes and imagine.

As far as this weekend goes, it will be busy, but a joyful kind of busy. Saturday morn it will be off to the store for boxes, paper, and ribbon; then back home to wrap.  Sunday is my cookie day.  Yes, I decided this will be my first cookie baking Christmas in almost 15 years.  There won't be my usual 80 odd dozen, but I do plan to make more of those Mexican Wedding Cookies, Thumbprints, Chocolate Chip, and Snickerdoodles.  

No matter how stressful your week may have been, the weekend has come and let the good things happen. Wishing you all a weekend filled with love and joy. See you on Monday.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Legend of the Poinsettia and Other Stuff

It once was the custom in Mexico for the villagers to leave a gift for the Baby Jesus in their church on Christmas Eve. In one small village,a little boy who had no gift to bring prayed to God for a way to show his love for the Infant King. God,in His mercy,looked down on the boy and answered his earnest prayer. By causing a flower to bloom where he knelt a flower so brilliant and fair. The miraculous flower was formed like a star with leaves that were red and so bright. And the boy's precious gift has come to be known as the "Flower of the Holy Night". 

The Empire State Building all dressed up in honor of the Robin Hood Foundation. The very top actually rotates between white and red.  I took several shots trying to get the full effect, but this was the best I could get.  It was getting late, and I wanted to get home to see the concert, which, by the way, had the effect of making me realize just how much time has passed since I followed these bands. Sorry, but I laughed aloud when  Roger Daltrey of the 'Who' ripped open his shirt and went bare-chested. Great as it was to see you again, I'm sorry, but those days when your bare chest made women swoon are long gone. I do have to say that Mick Jagger was amazing. That man still has his moves.

I'm off on a vacation day today.  I am scheduled to have a sonogram on my thyroid.  I figure while I am off I might as well get my blood work done as well. Won't get the results until after the holiday.  My choice. Last night I was thinking about it.  I've not taken a 'real' vacation since April.  Every time I take a vacation day it's for a doctor's appointment or some sort of medical test. And January, I'm scheduled for my doctor, the endocrinologist, and the pulmonologist.  Will probably have another cat scan as well, and I really have to say, that's scaring me.  I've lived in denial since they initially told me about the lesion. After the holidays it is time to come back to reality.

Do you have a real Christmas tree, or are you like me. Do you take the old fake tree out year after year and, as fancy as it may be decorated, do you  yearn for the Christmas smell of a real pine?  I'd love a real tree, but here in the city, they are really far beyond my budget.  I think we probably have to pay for the transporting of the tree to the city as well as the tree itself.  But, oh how I miss that wonderful smell of a real tree. So, every year I buy candles, pine sprays, yet, as nice as it may smell, it doesn't smell 'real'

Well, I just so happened to stop at Duane Reade the other day to purchase some toothpaste, and while at the register, I happened upon the above, "Scentsicles".  I picked it up, looked at it, then put it back when I saw it was $8 for only 6 ornaments. But, just as the clerk was ringing up my bill, my eyes were drawn back to it, and it was, "Oh, what the heck."  I picked it up and bought it.  And I really have to say it was well worth the money.  The scent is so real it will take you right back to your childhood. I hung only two on my tree, and when I got up Wednesday morning, my entire living room smelled like I had, indeed, purchased a real tree.  And, each stick lasts 30 days so it is well worth the money.

Well, it's getting about that time. I found out last night those days of hanging out to the wee hours of the morn don't agree with me anymore.  That concert didn't end until almost 1:30, far past my bedtime.  Overslept so now it is time to shower and dress.  Hope you all have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's Beginning to Smell A Lot Like Christmas

New York seems to come to life at Christmas, and one of my favorite things this time of year is the Christmas tree scent which emanates from the thousands real live pine trees and wreaths that line the city sidewalks beginning shortly after Thanksgiving, and for a few short weeks, the city comes alive with the smell of Christmas. It's funny how smells can call up a childhood memory locked away in our hearts, and the scent of a real Christmas tree evokes many fond memories of days gone past. 

One memory that still seems as vivid as if it were yesterday involves dashing down the stairs on Christmas morning, looking across the room, and seeing the Christmas tree lit in all its glory.  Mom and Dad had always wanted me to believe that Santa not only left gifts, but also trimmed the tree.  Hence, when I went to bed on Christmas Eve a bare tree stood in the corner, but in the morning it had come to life.

This was one old tradition I didn't try to keep. Santa Claus brought presents, yes, but I wanted my boys to experience the joy of decorating the tree.  There is something special about that family time, it is quality time, so when they were young, we made a full day out of it. Together we made paper chains of red and green, strung popcorn, ate homemade cookies, drank hot chocolate, later sung Christmas carols.  Later, we would snuggle close together on the sofa and watched  "A Christmas Story", still a holiday tradition in my home. "A Christmas Story", for me, brings me back to a time when Christmas didn't come until December, and all was right with the world.  In closing, I'd like to share the following little story that has become another holiday tradition for me.

The pine was mortal, once, like other trees 
That lift their boughs in the air, 
Wearing in summer its green fripperies. 
In winter going bare 
And desolate of birds.
But that was in an old, forgotten age 
Before the words 
Of Wise Men stung King Herod to such rage 
That his loud armies went 
About the land to slay the Innocent. 
Then there was consternation and no joy 
In Israel. Joseph and Mary, Flying 
Into another country with the Boy 
Came when the day was dying, 
Houseless to the edge of a green wood 
Where valorously stood 
A needled pine that every summer gave 
Small birds a nest. 
And half its trunk was hollow as a cave.
Said Joseph, "This is refuge. Let us rest." 
The pine tree, full of pity, dropped its vast 
Protective branches down 
To cover them until the troops rode past, 
Their weapons jingling, toward a different town. 
All night it hid them. When the morning broke, 
The Child awoke 
And blessed the pine, His steadfast lodging place. 
"Let you and your brave race, 
Who made yourself My rampart and My screen 
Keep summer always and be ever green. 
For you the punctual seasons shall not vary, 
But let there throng 
A thousand birds to you for sanctuary 
All winter long." 
The story tells us, too, 
That if you cut a pine cone part way through, 
You find it bears within it like a brand 
The imprint of His hand.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesday Musings

We are born for a higher destiny than that of earth; there is a realm wherethe rainbow never fades,
where the stars will be spread before us like islands
that slumber on the ocean, and where the beings that pass before us
like shadows will stay in our presence forever.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton

This past Saturday before I entered the supermarket, I finally remembered to snap a few  photos of the church I had mentioned several weeks ago. I didn't really expect much, and it truly  amazed me that these photos came out so well...being that they came from my little cell phone.  The above photo really opened my eyes and made me rethink my concept of Mary as goddess.

I took this picture from across the street when I got off the bus. It was then that I remembered to snap some shots. The church, or basilica, is so large it is impossible to get a picture of the whole building at once.

This is a closeup of the tree. I couldn't get the entire tree in the photo, but you can see how simple yet beautiful it is decorated.

It is truly a magnificent church that opened its doors in March, 1893. According to the churches history, a copy of the icon of 'Our Lady of Perpetual Help' was brought from Rome in 1894 and enthroned in the new church. The original icon dates back nearly a thousand years.  It is known as a miraculous icon because of extraordinary grace and favors received by people who have knelt before this picture of Jesus and Mary to pray. Once I overheard a woman say, "That church is like a maze inside."  Perhaps I have found the labyrinth I have been searching for. 

Every once in awhile I happen upon a funeral that is being held there. At one time it was the funeral of a motor cycle club member.  It was something out of a movie.  Parked on the streets were hundreds of motorcycles while their riders, dressed in club attire, long hair and scruffy beards, milled around outside the church. The hearse was a slightly larger than coffin size cart drawn by a motorcycle.  

On Saturday, I hadn't known what was going on inside the church as I snapped the above photos. Another funeral was being held.  As I left the store I saw many people in front of the church, and as I got closer, I saw that someone was handing out red and white balloons, then the person handing them out said something, and everyone let go of their balloon.  All I heard was 'fly gently up to heaven,' and then everyone cheered as the balloons rose high in the sky. As I looked around, I realized this had to be the funeral of a teenager.  There were just so many adolescents milling about, many of them in tears and consoling each other.  It broke my heart and tears began to flow in my own eyes.

I thought of my own sons and how grateful I am that they are strong and healthy and will be spending the holiday with me. And then I thought of the parents of this child and the pain they must be feeling, and I prayed that they find some peace.  It also reminded me how tenuous life is and how important it is that we savor every moment we have. Death is a necessary part of life as the wheel continues to turn. I went home and called each of my sons to tell them how much I loved them.  Then, I hugged and told my hubby how much he means to me. Sometimes we assume that our loved ones know how we appreciate them. It is so important that we let them know every day how much they are loved.

Do not fear death, but welcome it, since it too comes from nature. For just as
we are young and grow old, and flourish and reach maturity, have teeth and
a beard and grey hairs, conceive, become pregnant, and bring forth new life,
and all the other natural processes that follow the seasons of our existence,
so also do we have death.
A thoughtful person will never take death lightly, impatiently, or scornfully,
but will wait for it as one of life's natural processes.

Marcus Aurelius