Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Blue Moon?

Not really. It's only the method of time-keeping invented by man that causes two moons to appear in one month. La Luna keeps to her own schedule of approximately 28 days, and cares nothing for the artificial schedule created by man.

Although, if you are near a recent large volcanic eruption during a full moon, she can appear to be blue in color due to the volcanic ash in the air.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Few of My Favorites

This little cardboard house is my most cherished Christmas ornament. It's worth nothing monetarily, but to me it's priceless. It belonged to my grandmother on my mother's side. When I hang it on the tree I think of all the other hands that have touched it; my grandmother's hands, all of my aunt's hands, my mother's hands and my sister's hands. They have all moved on, except for my sister, but I keep them near me with things like this.

The golden-colored bell was my first ever present...and, at the time it was given, I wasn't even aware of it as I was only one day old. Granny Edwards, not a blood relation but a wonderful woman who was called 'Granny' by all who knew her, gave a set of four bells to my mother the day after I was born, and told her that they were for me because "this child will love Christmas and it will love her back." The set contained 2 golden and two deep pink bells. I still have all of them, although they are faded and worn.
The red and white beaded ornament next to the bell was made by my sister about 20 years ago. She made one for me in every color imaginable.

My husband and I bought these darling little mice in 1992. We've bought a dated ornament each Christmas since we've been married. We should have 34, but the cats ate the one dated '1977' so we only have 33.

The ornament on the right is the second oldest ornament that I have. My mother and dad bought it for their first Christmas together in 1927.

Since my husband's favorite holiday is Halloween I bought this Christopher Radko ornament for him. No, really I did. Just because there's a little red haired witch with an adorable black cat on the pumpkin had nothing to do with it. ;)

My husband made dozens of these 'candles' for our tree in 1998. He used doweling then drilled a tiny hole for the piece of pipe cleaner. To make it look like wax has dripped down the candle he dripped a really thick gesso down the sides after he painted them with the same gesso.

And this sparkly reindeer is the newest member of our Christmas decorations. When I saw them (I bought 6) I just couldn't resist!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

On a Cold and Frosty Morning...

It's so good to come back into the warmth of my cottage! It was 22 degrees Fahrenheit when I went outside this morning to put out food and water for the feral cats and the birds. I always make a fire and put the tea kettle on to boil before I go out.
That way, when I step back inside, I'm greeted by the cheery crack and pop of logs in the living room fireplace, the welcoming sound of water boiling in the tea kettle, and, soon, a hot mug of Earl Grey tea with milk added. Ahhhhh...
Of course, I only hear the sound of the water boiling if the tea kettle hasn't switched off. I had to switch to an electric kettle that shuts off automatically a couple of years ago because I'd go outside, get distracted by something, and forget I had water boiling for tea on the stove. I burned up three tea kettles!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Queen of Christmas

She is suspended by the wreath all through the day, staying so still you could be fooled into thinking she's just a figurine. Why, she even hovers by a wire to add to the illusion!

But, at night, when the lights are out and we've gone to bed, I could swear I hear the the sound of tiny wings and feel a disturbance in the air as something flits by. I quickly open my eyes but I've never seen anything except a sort of twinkling shimmer up by the rafters of the bedroom or sometimes a trail of something that might be Faerie dust disappearing around the corner of the hallway.

The cats certainly thunder around during the night more madly than usual when the Queen of Christmas comes to visit. I suspect she teases them, but doesn't let them get too close. Although her timing might have been just a teeny bit off the other night. I heard Shadow yelp so I got up to see if he was all right. I saw the distinct impression of a tiny candy cane on top of his head and he was covered in sparkling Faerie dust! And now, when he passes underneath her in the daytime, he seems a little nervous and keeps a watchful eye on her.

Hmmmm...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'm Done - Finally!

I finally finished the decorating and baking this afternoon (Dec. 23). I have more pictures to post, but I'll have to do it after Christmas day.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Soltice

This is a picture I took last December on the Winter Soltice/Yule but it seems to personify, for me anyway, this day.

There is very little snow here on the ground today. The sky hangs low and dark gray, seeming to balance on the tops of the Ponderosa Pines. There is a chill wind blowing from the north, telling me that it may bring snow by tomorrow night. I have kept a fire going in all my fireplaces all day long.

Early this morning, I brought in branches of holly and twined in some ivy. I left the pines, firs and Western Red Cedars (which are the only kind of cedar tree that grows in these mountains) alone, as they don't recover as easily from pruning. ESPECIALLY THE CEDARS; cut a frond or branch from a cedar tree and it will never put out new growth to replace what you have taken.

In this day of bleak mid-winter, may you have friends and family near, lots of good things to eat and drink, and firelight, whether logs or candles, against the dark. And, of course, lots of Yuletide blessings.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Oh NO...Gremlins!

They've struck again. Notice how only a few of the lights, in the middle of the strand, are lighted. All the rest are not. So my poor husband had to take the whole strand out of the garland and replace it. Gremlins cause grumbling...

even among the toy animals! Miss Paulina Purrmeeze is complaining that a mean old gremlin came by and knocked a large snowflake onto her ear. I'll bet I know who that particular 'gremlin' was...

Lars Olaf says, "Hmmpf. I have NO idea what you're talking about."
Uh huh. Sure.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hurry, Please...

I'm lonely. Aren't you done decorating yet?

At least, that's what I think Miss Ruby is saying. (I'm surprised her lower lip isn't quivering).

I'm so behind in my decorating. My husband lost the top to our old tree (how, I don't know) so I had to order a new one on the internet. Their stock was backordered, and I've been playing catch-up every since. I plan (and you know what they say about plans) on finishing the decorating tomorrow and doing the baking and candy making on Thursday and Friday.

Ever notice how time seems to go into warp drive right around the beginning of November? Or does it do that just to me?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Wonderful Weather


This is what it was doing all day here.  60 mph wind gusts and heavy snow.  According to the weather forecast, it's supposed to continue for the next six days!  Whoo hoooooooo! We need it desperately. I didn't get much Christmas decorating done today because I was kept busy trudging from feeder to feeder. The birds and animals seem to have bottomless pits for tummies during the first really big storm of the season.
I'm sorry this picture is so blurry. I didn't want to take my camera out from underneath the shelter of the porch because this snow is so wet and heavy. I just couldn't get it to focus through the screen on the porch. I have a Canon DSLR but it's heavy and sometimes my hands just won't co-operate so I have to use my Canon digital. Anyway, the bird down on the baffle is a Wilson's Warbler and the two birds up on the feeder ledge are Purple Finches. I don't know why they call them 'purple' because they've always looked more red to me. Well, the males do. The females are various shades of buff and brown. Maybe the person who named them was a bit color blind. Gosh...I hope it's not me, given what I do for a living!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

New Header


The photo was taken by my husband last year. I like the way some of the lights are blurred; it looks so magical. That time of evening, when the sky isn't completely black yet, but a beautiful, glowing, ethereal blue is a magical time to me anyway, even without snow and trees with colored lights on them.

I'd better post this quickly; the lights are dimming every now and then, and the winds are howling. We're supposed to get snow for the next seven days. I'm sure glad we have a generator!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chickadee Attitude

Chickadees are so cute, and they're one of my favorite birds, but they can be so frustrating to photograph.

I had been trying to get a photo of this little person for about 15 minutes. I think she finally just got tired of me following her with my camera and decided to pose. Look at her face: Doesn't she look like she's thinking "Okay, just take your darn photo and then leave me alone!"?

At least this experience was better than the one I had a few weeks ago. I thought maybe if I used my telephoto lens and a tripod I could get some good close ups of Chickadees at the feeder. What I got were a lot of photos of 'the amazing invisible bird,' which is what I call those photos where the bird flies off just as the shutter trips. And to add insult to injury, when I lifted my head up from the camera there was a Chickadee perched on the end of my lens!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Haze

I took these at the beginning of November when I was on my way home from the valley that lies about a mile (5,000 feet) below, under the haze in the first photo. I wish I would have taken some photos when I was down in the valley; it's amazing how different the clouds look when viewed from below versus being directly across from them.
Of course, when I was down in the valley the clouds didn't look as spectacular; because of the haze I couldn't see clearly.
I suspect we all have our own particular 'haze' that obscures our vision of some things and keeps us from seeing clearly. Obviously, some hazes are more damaging than others; the haze that misogynists, racists, and religious fanatics view the world through comes to mind.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all get rid of the haze?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Passages, Fear and Hope

My sister's husband passed on November 5th. They had been married for over 50 years. I've been staying with her since his passing. Today I had to return to my home. Well, actually she kicked me out saying "Honey, you need to get on home. Your husband's retired and a man with too much time on his hands...well there's no telling what he might get up to!" Still, leaving her today was one of the hardest things I've ever done. She's alone in a huge house in the middle of acres and acres of orange groves. I've done what I can to make her safe; had a state-of-the-art alarm system installed in the house and on the grounds, along with new security lights all over the place. She's in her very late seventies, but still REALLY feisty and can shoot a single leaf off a tree from one hundred feet away.

I want, of course, for her to be around for many, many years to come. I fear that this passage from her old life to a new one may be too hard for her to navigate. I hope that I'm wrong.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Masters

I said "no" to more fish treats because I felt Opie Furgus, Chieftain of the Fuzzy Toes Clan, had eaten enough. This is the look that he gave me. Yikes!

Cats are the masters of the dirty look. Not even Sister Mary Meaner Than Mean (a fictitious name for a real nun at the Catholic grade school I attended) could top this look, bless her heart.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ancestors

My husband is busily putting out the final decorations in the yard for the various creatures that will come tonight for candy, and I've finished with the interior of the house for family and friends that will come to visit on All Hallows Eve.



But after everyone has gone home, usually by 10 p.m., I will go out to my quiet studio and wait...for my mother, grandmothers, and aunts, stretching back in a long line that covers hundreds of years. Of course, I don't actually see them, but sometimes I feel that they are very near, and not just at Samhain.


I feel them near in times of joy, their happiness mingling with mine and intensifying it.


I feel them near when life is particularly hard. They crowd close, supporting me and reminding me who I am and where I come from; a long, long line of strong-willed, smart, stubborn, determined, loyal and loving women.


I am blessed with, and by, ancestors and I honor them, not only on this night, but all through the year.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Decorating

My husband is putting up the outside decorations, while I've been doing the same inside. That's the living room mantle in the picture above.


This is the top of a armoire next to the living room fireplace. I leave St. Francis up year round, even though he looks a little odd with the Halloween things.And wouldn't you know, as soon as I got all the Autumn leaves in the basket and the other things put in place, half of the lights went out! Grrrrr...


What would Halloween be without a cute, cuddly little bat?



Or some darling little cats in costumes? I suggested to my feline and canine "children in fur" that they might want to dress up for Halloween, but that was met with a unanimous paws down.
I really like the sparkly pumpkin, and I wish I would have bought more of them. I only bought two, thinking I'd see how they looked in my house and then go back for more if I liked them. But when I went back for more they were all gone. Since I can remember every single thing I never bought but wish I had you'd think I would have learned by now. Oh well...
I have lots more pictures to post, but it's taking Blogger about 20 to 30 minutes to post each picture, and husband is growling about dinner. And, more importantly, so are the cats and dogs!




Monday, October 26, 2009

Above and Below

"Looking above and looking below
my head hardly knows which way to go.
I look up, down, all around
and, soon, my bottom meets the ground!
Ouch!"


This is what my great-great niece, who is six, said to me yesterday morning on our walk through the woods as I was leaning down to help her up. I thought it was amazingly good for a person who had just done what is described above!




 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Autumn Riches

The morning sun shines so beautifully through the leaves of the oak tree thatis outside my bedroom window. I'm always amazed at how many colors Autumn can paint on one single tree, one single leaf. To me, it's a breath-taking spectacle that never fails to delight. I think this Autumn is especially beautiful. I didn't expect the colors of the trees to be so vibrant because of our unusually dry summer. But the rain that we had a few days ago, combined with night time low temperatures a bit below freezing, brought the magic! And it feels like Autumn used to up here, but hasn't for quite a few years. The air, even in the daytime, feels cool, damp and smells of wet earth, pine, and acorns and leaves that have already fallen from the oaks. At night, the scent of woodsmoke from fireplaces, my own included, adds its tang to the air. I just came back inside after getting more wood for the fireplaces and I could smell the scent of the spice cake baking in my oven joining with the other delicious odors drifting on the cold currents of air that flow through this valley.


At this altitude, Autumn is fleeting. But oh, what riches she freely gives us while she is here!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Still Raining :-)

I took the above photo from my back porch. That's the really big drawback about most digital cameras; they hate getting wet. It's times like these that I really miss my old 35 mm cameras. I'm going to have to look around for a not-too-expensive digital that can take getting wet.

Today was great. It's still raining, and the main part of the storm isn't supposed to roll through until early tomorrow morning! Listening to the sound of the rain, watching leaves dressed in their Autumn colors dancing through the silver sheets of rain with the wind as their partner, the air redolent of wet pines, wet earth and the slight tang of chimney smoke filled me with gratitude and joy.

Oh, and I must not forget the scent of baking chocolate chip cookies with pecans which is emanating from my kitchen...and there goes the timer. Yippee, fresh baked cookies, here I come!

Monday, October 12, 2009

RAIN ! !

It actually started raining while it was still sunny.
The Cedars loved it.

The Ash Leaf Maples, just starting to turn, loved it.


Then the clouds settled in, but it's still raining...and we ALL love it! The weatherman is predicting that it will continue through tomorrow and part of Wednesday.
Finally...RAIN ! !

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Best of Both Worlds

This was what the light looked like this afternoon when I was leaving my friend's house. She has a wonderful view of one of the lakes up here. Every time I visit, I lament the fact that my home is down in a valley and it gets dark two hours earlier at my home than at hers. If I want to see the sun set or rise over the lake near me, I have to hike up to the ridge line or down to the lake. And her home is nearly new, it's not a money pit like mine.

Every time she comes up to visit me, she laments the fact that I have a creek, a "fairy-tale cottage" (her words, not mine) that was built in the 1920's and my own studio which is separate from the cottage.

Now, I don't think either one of us would trade but we always ooh and aah over the other's home and bemoan what we don't have, then say: "But aren't we lucky we're friends? This way, we have the best of both worlds!"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Windows


One of my favorite kind of window...an antique store window!
I almost didn't go in, because it looked like they just had china, and I'm at the point where I'm going to have to start getting rid of some of my china things.
I'm so glad I did decide to check inside; they had lots and lots of wonderful things!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Goodbye for a While...

Our hummingbird feeders have not been visited in over a week, so I think the two species of hummingbirds that are here during the warm months have left.

I took the above picture of an immature Rufous Hummingbird back in July. We have two different kinds of hummingbirds that visit our feeders: Rufous, which have brilliant green heads when mature, and Anna's Hummingbirds, which have iridescent red heads and are larger than the Rufous ones.

Anna's Hummingbirds are not truly migratory, even though they don't stay up here during the cold months. They spend the cold months at the coast and in the warmer inland valleys of Southern California.

The tiny Rufous Hummingbird is migratory, spending the cold months in southern Mexico; in some cases that's a journey of over 2,000 miles!

So goodbye for a while, little friends. See you in late Spring!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bounty for the Birds


These are the berries of the Creeping Oregon Grape Holly (Mahonia Repens). I leave them for the birds to eat as they love them. Once, years ago, I did pick the berries for jam. It took me forever to get enough berries and the resulting jam wasn't all that great, just ok. The biggest problem, though, was that after I picked the berries that year I had to watch the birds forlornly poking through the bushes looking for missing berries. I felt terrible! So I replaced the missing Grape Holly berries with out-of-season, very expensive imported Blueberries. Then my budget felt terrible, lol.

So now I just leave the berries for the birds. It's much easier on my budget...and my heart!
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