Taken in February of this year. It looks absolutely nothing like this here now...the snow that was still on the ground on December 21st is completely gone because we've had highs in the 40's and low 50's for the past several days! This is the warmest December on record for these mountains, although the nights have been cold with lows in the 20's. We've even been under a "Red Flag Warning," which means the wildfire danger is extremely high due to high winds (70 mph gusts) and dangerously low humidity. I've lived here all my life, but I've never seen weather like this in December.
...Around our little cottage. The tree was very different this year, due to the completely insane nature of my five youngest cats, Merlin, Malcolm, Penelope, Priscilla and Alyce. (You have yet to meet the last three). I bought all new "shatter-resistant" ornaments for the tree and only put a couple of plastic Hallmark ornaments from years past on it.
The little teapot and the "Merry Christmas" are old; everything else is cat-proof (so far, anyway). Oh, and the wooden candles that my husband made are very old. The sterling silver bell is our "dated" ornament from last year. I figured it was cat-proof. Things have been so crazy this month and last month I forgot to buy a "dated" ornament for this year!
Only six of the treasured ornaments from my childhood were brought out this year, and I placed them up very high. The two little cardboard houses hung on my Nonna's Christmas trees, the three Father Christmas ornaments hung on my Godmother's Christmas trees, and the barely-visible-at-the-bottom-of-the-photo aqua glass ornament hung on all of my mother's Christmas trees from the year she married my dad (1927) until she gave it to me in 1971. I have a photo, somewhere, showing a three-year old me standing in front the Christmas tree with this ornament hanging on that tree.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas filled with joy and blessings. I have lots more Christmas photos to post, but that will have to be after tomorrow because it seems like everything went into fast-forward right after I got up from the Thanksgiving table and I'm still behind...on Christmas Eve! Oops, there goes the cookie timer......Happy Christmas!
On this day, every winter, the hours of day and night are equal. Tomorrow, the amount of daylight will increase a bit every day until the Summer Solstice, when the amount of daylight starts decreasing.
The Yule log is lit and burning brightly here in my living room fireplace. It's quiet in the narrow valley where my cottage is tucked in among the pines and cedars, except for the sleepy murmur of the creek and the faint sound of the wheel of the year revolving as Mother Earth turns back to the light of Grandfather Sun.
I finished this painting of a friend's cat a few days ago and remembered, for once, to take a photo of it before it went to live in her home, although I should have photographed it before I put it behind glass and framed it. She saw the small version a couple of years ago when she was out here visiting a mutual friend and called me last summer to ask if I could do a bigger one. She sent me a photo of her cat; she wasn't kidding when she said the kitty in my original small painting looked just like her Tomaso. I'm going to try to remember to take photos of each of my paintings before they go to their new homes because I know there is a day coming when I won't be able to paint; it will be nice to be able to look back at what I created. I wish I had started taking photos of all of my work a long time ago. Ah, well...
The first weeks of December were a wonderful time in Mrs. Van Ostrand's first grade classroom. On the big windows that looked out on the forest, we used stencils and Glass Wax to make Santa Clauses, reindeer, candy canes, stars and snowflakes, even though real snowflakes were usually falling on the other side of the windows. (In the Big Bear, CA, of the 1950's, you could absolutely depend on snow in December). After we finished the window stencils, Mrs. Van Ostrand gave each one of us blunted scissors, construction paper, cotton puffs, glitter and glue. Then she guided us in fashioning decorations to take home to our families and decorations to put on the little tree in her classroom.
Each year her first grade class sang a carol at the school's Christmas pageant, and my favorite part of the day was when she taught us to sing the carol she had picked out for that year. Our carol was "Silent Night," and we learned a few lines every day. I was having trouble with the "round yon virgin" part because it just didn't make sense to me. Shouldn't it be "young?" Just what was a "yon," anyway? Mrs. Van Ostrand patiently explained it to me, but I think her patience was sorely tried when, as we were singing for the second time the verse "holy infant so tender and mild," my barely six year old brain had a moment of misunderstanding so epic it caused her to never use this carol again. I shrieked, "Tender and mild!? They cooked Baby Jesus!? THEY COOKED BABY JESUS LIKE A TURKEY!!"
It's not always a good thing to have a vivid imagination...
Nevicata (means "snowfall" in Italian) must have gotten tired of sledding on various things in my studio, because she called her friends,
Neve ("snow" in Italian)
and Blanche and asked them to call all their snow faery friends to make it snow here. It worked! There's about six inches on the ground right now, and it's supposed to snow all night long and into tomorrow! It rained all Wednesday night, Thursday and part of Thursday night, then turned to snow. Every rain drop and snow flake is a blessing, and all of us who live up here are so, so very grateful.
"What will it take to become a society that praises those who care? That honors kindness more than success? That teaches children to love the earth more than to accumulate its products? I suspect we will need to listen to different elders - not the ones who promised wealth but the ones who taught compassion." Linda Hogan
It rained lightly all last night and part of this morning. We had "tree rain" for the rest of the day. I'm grateful for every drop!
I went outside not expecting to be able to see the moon, but the clouds were moving pretty briskly, so I waited a bit and got lucky. My Oglala Sioux ancestors called November's full moon "Last Leaves Falling Moon." You can find dozens of websites purporting to know the names that the tribes of the First People called the moons, but I find that very few match exactly what my Sioux and Cherokee grandparents and parents told me. I'd tell you the Cherokee name, but I can't remember it right now. Darn memory.
Today was cold and windy...and wonderful! I haven't been feeling too well lately, so it was really good to be able to get out and ramble around the woods. Feeling the wind touch my face, hearing my boots crunching over fallen leaves, breathing in the scents of pine, cedar and dampish leaves was glorious. I say 'dampish' because, although the air felt damp and misty, it hasn't rained. It might tonight; fingers crossed. There were little pockets of color here and there (surprising for this late in the year), but for the most part the trees have either parted with their leaves or the leaves are still there, but are that bleached out beige brown color. It's always interesting to me to see how many little micro climates there are in a few acres. I took a few more photos, but this one turned out the best. I also, as I always do, put a few small rocks in my pockets. They'll live in various places in my cottage for a while, then, on a walk yet to be taken, I'll take them back out into the forest. My husband laughs at me every time I go on a walk, because I leave with my right pocket full of rocks to be returned to the forest, and I come back with my left pocket bulging with 'guest' rocks.
Now, at 10:30 p.m., I'm sitting by the fire with a cup of tea. The wind, quiet for a while, has gotten up again, and the chimes outside my window are singing with it. This set of chimes only sings when the wind is coming from the north; their song, an icy tinkling, is well-suited to the North Wind.
This Steller's Jay is eyeing me thoughtfully while I take his (or her, both sexes look the same) photo.
I think he's saying, "Get that camera out of my face!" I told him that I'm the one who puts out all those delicious peanuts and sunflower seeds, but he just said something I can't repeat here and flew away. That's gratitude for you...
Up at the higher elevation of Big Bear, Autumn's colors have nearly finished putting on their show. But, 2000 feet lower down the mountain in Crestline she's still going strong! I feel blessed to be able to have an extended autumn just by doing a little driving. Down in the San Bernardino valley where my sister lives, autumn doesn't really arrive until the end of November but, since it doesn't really get that cold there, it's a very subtle, typical Southern California kind of autumn...hardly noticeable!
"You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you." John Bunyan
This is Mrs. Rose, (upper part of photo), and one of her babies (she had four, all are doing well); notice how much shorter little one's tail is than her mother's tail. The bowl is only six inches across and the baby fits completely inside of it with one of her siblings when they want to do so. Mrs. Rose doesn't even put her front feet in the bowl, just her head. I took this back at the end of September when (I'm guessing) they were about five or six weeks old. They come with their mama to eat every night but the babies are very shy of the flash on the camera, so this is the only photo I have taken. They're quite a bit bigger now!
I guess, for me, that quote isn't completely accurate because I get so much happiness just from seeing the animals that I feed and knowing that they're all right, that I'm more than repaid.
A beautiful Autumn Faery I found on Pinterest. It is still officially autumn until the Winter Solstice, according to astronomers. The World Meteorological Organization says it's autumn from September 1st to November 30th in the Northern Hemisphere. In my own life I go by what the leaves, the animals, the wind and the weather tell me. They say it's still autumn here in these mountains, but winter isn't far off...
I can't believe that tomorrow is Halloween. October always goes by fast, but this one flew at warp speed.
Soon I'll have to put away all my Halloween things.
All the pumpkins and kitties in their Halloween costumes...
All the witches and jack-o-lanterns...
And Miss Luna Witch, who watches everything from her perch on the moon. But...maybe they'll stay for a couple of weeks more...at least until I can start putting the Christmas decorations up! Somebody needs to invent something that will make time go really sloooooow from October through December.
And some other Wildings, big and little, who kindly share their forest with me:
"To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." Ralph Waldo Emerson
A Young Steller's Jay
Common to high altitude forests all over the west
The photos and text on these pages, unless otherwise indicated, are my sole property. They may not be reproduced in any manner for private or commercial use without my consent.
Our task must be to free ourselves...by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. ~~ Albert Einstein
June Is Adopt a Cat Month
But, there are always strays who need a loving home - so don't shop, ADOPT! Click the photo for helpful tips on adopting.
If they breathe, they live. If they live, they feel. If they feel, they love. If they love, they are aware. If they are aware, they have a soul. ~ Williams
I love cats because I enjoy my home and, little by little, they become its visible soul ~ Jean Cocteau (That's Malcolm O'Mewy on the chair)
Feed the Hungry
I think we are bound to, and by, Nature. We may want to deny this connection and try to believe we control the external world, but every time there's a snowstorm or drought we know our fate is tied to the world around us. ~~ Alice Hoffman
What I'm Reading Now:
Give a Child a Book
Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors and the most patient of teachers.
Charles W. Eliot
A person who collects or is fond of books. Also, a person who immediately feels safe, happy, even euphoric, when holding a favorite book.
Care for a cuppa?
Where there is tea there is hope - Pinero
Boulder Bay, Big Bear Lake
Click to visit Big Bear
Lake Gregory, Crestline
Click to visit Crestline
Click to visit Lake Arrowhead
A Favorite Quote
"I don't want life to imitate art; I want life to BE art." Carrie Fisher
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. ~ John Muir, from "The California Mountains"
I'm three-quarters Native American (Oglala Sioux and Cherokee), and one-quarter Northern Italian. I live in a little cottage with my furry "children" in a beautiful mountain forest where we enjoy daily visits from the little wild creatures. I love animals (you probably guessed), books, photography, tall trees, clear lakes, rain, snow, tea, the moon, and creating all kinds of art.