Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Winter!

We had our first big snowstorm of the season last night. And this morning, it was truly a winter wonderland.

“Is it snowing where you are? All the world that I see from my tower is draped in white and the flakes are coming down as big as pop-corns. It's late afternoon - the sun is just setting (a cold yellow colour) behind some colder violet hills, and I am up in my window seat using the last light to write to you.”

-- Jean Webster, "Daddy Long Legs"

“All Heaven and Earth
Flowered white obliterate...
Snow...unceasing snow”

-- Hashin, Japanese Haiku: Two Hundred Twenty Examples of Seventeen-Syllable Poems

At the ditch, the snow was deep, the ponds still, the trees laden with white.

“A few feathery flakes are scattered widely through the air, and hover downward with uncertain flight, now almost alighting on the earth, now whirled again aloft into remote regions of the atmosphere.”

-- Nathaniel Hawthorne

The giant pine outside of Rick's house was carrying its weight in snow.

He's away this week. I'm hoping his kindly neighbor will plow him out!

My street? It still isn't plowed, this evening, many hours after the snow. If it freezes, we'll be driving in ruts till it melts!

“I love snow for the same reason I love Christmas: It brings people together while time stands still. Cozy couples lazily meandered the streets and children trudged sleds and chased snowballs. No one seemed to be in a rush to experience anything other than the glory of the day, with each other, whenever and however it happened.”

-- Rachel Cohn, Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

The snow was endless, a heavy blanket on the outdoors; it had a way about it. A beauty. But I knew that, like many things, beauty could be deceiving.”

-- Cambria Hebert, Whiteout

“Snow flurries began to fall and they swirled around people's legs like house cats. It was magical, this snow globe world.”

-- Sarah Addison Allen, The Sugar Queen

“It looks like something out of Whittier's "Snowbound,"' Julia said. Julia could always think of things like that to say.”

-- Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown

“Let every man shovel out his own snow, and the whole city will be passable," said Gamache. Seeing Beauvoir's puzzled expression he added, "Emerson."

"Lake and Palmer?"

"Ralph and Waldo.”

-- Louise Penny, A Fatal Grace

One must be careful at the Ditch. Plowing is not part of the experience. Neither is shoveling, though there are buckets for salt. Still, lovely it is...

“Anne came dancing home in the purple winter twilight across the snowy places.”

-- L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

“In the nineteenth century, Fritjof Nansen wrote that skiing washes civilization clean from our minds by dint of its exhilarating physicality. By extension, I believe that snow helps strip away the things that don't matter. It leaves us thinking of little else but the greatness of nature, the place of our souls within it, and the dazzling whiteness that lies ahead.”

-- Charlie English

“A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.”

-- Carl Reiner

Personally, I prefer my ice in cubes. But you can't deny -- it's lovely! Let the caroling begin!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Perfect November Day

It was a flawless November day. Flawless and shocking, this Friday after Thanksgiving. The sun was bright, the temperature an unseasonable almost-sixty degrees. The sky? A pale blue, a few wispy clouds here and there, high and unthreatening.

Several days later we'd be warned that two-to-four inches of snow was expected over the next couple of days. But on this day, this uncharacteristic day, snow seemed an impossibility.

The walk to the ditch was particularly pleasant. The neighbors were out in force -- walking dogs, raking leaves or -- like my neighbor Frank -- putting out Christmas lights.

Everyone wanted to stop for a chat -- it mattered not that we were strangers. On this day, we were all friends.

The ditch was awash in quiet colors on the shore, water reflecting the flawless blue sky. There were reeds the color of wheat, berries deep red. A lone nest, visible through bare branches.

A few stray leaves remained, orange and bright.

A few dried leaves remained on the barren branches, but for once, one could see more than one pond at a time. It was stark, yet surprisingly lovely.

At the ditch, the ducks were in full force, gathered in the center pond.

A family came along, carrying a bag of bread. They were extremely popular, attracting ducks of every size and color.

Even a little one was getting her first lessons in duck feeding, to her joy and amazement.

To our amazement, a muskrat appeared on the scene. Apparently the ducks were too close to the nest, for he (or she) began chasing them, swimming after one, then another.

You can see the muskrat in the photo below -- right in the middle, looking a bit like a floating board.

He darted through the water so quickly it was difficult to get a clear photo!

I wanted to stay forever.

Soon trees looking like this one will pop up in homes all over the country. But I'm not so sure that any one of them could be so captivating as this burst of green in an otherwise muted palette. Brighter, perhaps. More elaborately decorated. But beautiful? I'm not so sure.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving 2011!

My Thanksgiving Wish for You

May you enjoy time with people you love.

May you savor wonderful flavors and delicious dinners.

May you think of family and friends, past and present, near and far.

May you hug one another and value each and every moment you have to spend together.

May you avoid the pitfalls of family arguments, from politics to religion to "mom always liked you best."

May you give thanks for what you have -- and not dwell on not what you don't.

May you cope with grace and acceptance with dinner that's ready at different times, gravy that lumps, stuffing that isn't your own (it's stuffing -- what's not to love no matter who makes it!) and the scales the next morning.

May you enjoy parades or football, Scrabble or a long walk, a road trip or welcoming friends and family.

May you celebrate with love, gratitude and grace for the gifts we receive from challenge, the strength we can build from loss and the joy that exists in the smile of a stranger, an unexpected call from a friend and the love that is present in the touch of a hand, a gentle kiss, a warm hug or a benevolent grin.

May you have a lovely and gratitude-filled Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Season of Frenzy - Thanksgiving Edition

Holidays. They are SO here!

Thanksgiving is a favorite. It doesn't matter what you believe or if you have a gift budget. It's all about food, family, friends and gratitude.

This year, we're having Thanksgiving dinner with friends who kindly told me to bring nothing but the wine. Usually, this would be my day of making pumpkin trifle and stuffing. Rick would handle the turkey. I'd use the turkey dishes that were my mom's. I love it.

I am so glad I don't have to do that this year.

That said, I'm still thinking of some of my favorite holiday prep tips and I thought I'd share them with you.


Thanksgiving decorating is the easiest of all the seasons. No egg dye. No special lighting. Just look around.

Pumpkins, gourds and Indian corn are still readily available in the stores -- or perhaps in your garden.

Your environment is begging you to think creatively!

My friend Barb did a masterful tablescape last year for a seasonal gathering.

She used pumpkins, the last of her garden flowers, candles.

The oranges and purples were a perfect combination for a festive evening.

Barb also made a nice piece for her window but it would also work for a buffet -- tall grasses from the yard, plus a few gourds in a long basket.

(These look incredibly easy. It would be useful to mention that in her previous lifetime a number of years ago, she was a floral designer and is a wonderful gardener!)

My friend Judy often hosts a Thanksgiving-Eve dinner. She has such an eye for using what she has to the best effect.

A stone angel nested in moss, a pumpkin with straw -- it's simple and lovely.

The year Rick had his bike crash shortly before Thanksgiving was perhaps my most memorable. Not knowing if he'd be up to a big deal (and the boys were with their mom), I had ingredients for stuffing, veggies, a turkey breast. Things I'd already purchased.

That morning when we woke up, both of us were feeling pretty good. We decided to call two couples we knew, wonderful and supportive friends who also didn't have concrete plans for dinner. They knew what we were up against, so their expectations for my "Martha" mode were low.

I had a wonderful gourd I'd bought at a greens market the week before, some raffia, and a basket.

I tossed them together till they looked right, set the table with mom's dishes and crystal, added some votive candles, and it looked just fine! No stress.

I will never forget the love and emotion that day as we gathered at my table and gave thanks that Rick didn't suffer greater injuries in his accident. And truth be told, we all had many things that year for which to give thanks.

The point is, whether you are stacking up the squash for next week's roasting or pulling some interesting branches from the yard, or even cutting off the heads of your end-of-season seedum plant, you probably have a centerpiece without planning! If you're crafty and have feathers in your stash, a vase you can fill with nuts or some leftover sheet moss, bonus points! You're good to go!

The point isn't the decorating. It isn't even the food. It's the joy of being with family and friends. It's the giving thanks and the giving back.

Five Ways You Can Give Thanks by Giving to Others.
  • Make a donation to a food bank -- either with packaged or canned foods or a financial donations. Some states (Michigan is one) offer a tax credit for donations to food banks. (This is the last year for Michigan's credit, so there's no better time to do it if you're in this state!)
  • Invite a foreign student or someone without family or connections to join you for dinner.
  • Give the person behind you in the grocery line an extra five in your purse -- or slip it to the cashier and ask to have that go toward the next person in line.
  • Remember to give thanks to those far away -- a card or a call just to remind them you're grateful they are part of your life will really make their day.
  • If you're baking, take cookies, a pie or a loaf of bread to a neighbor who may have helped you out when you least expected it. You're already baking -- what's hard about a double batch?! Or give them some flowers or something for their table. Even grocery stores are getting nicer flowers these days! Pass a small bouquet along.
However you choose to celebrate, and with whomever you are spending time this week, I wish you Happy Thanksgiving. I know I give thanks for you each and every day of the year.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November Musings

Lisa at Lisa's Yarns has been doing "The 10 Days of Thanksgiving." I've been thinking about a few things I'm pretty grateful for right now. Little big things, and big little things. I'll probably have lots more, but for now...

There are still leaves on the trees and they're quite beautiful on this sunny mid-November morning. This will post later in the week, but as I write it, it is November 12. Generally we lose all our leaves before Halloween.

These fall photos were actually taken last weekend -- November 5 and 6, but the trees still look much the same, despite some wind and yes, our first snow.

I wish I had photos of the snow that hit two days ago -- big puffy flakes that look like ivory flakes stuck together into lacy globs. It was short-lived, and given that I'm no snow bunny, I was grateful. Nonetheless, it was lovely.
In another week, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, Kevin will be home from Atlanta where he has been for the past six months on his internship. It's interesting, because when he went off to college at 18, we can't say we missed him all that much! He had a lot of growing up to do, and we noticed a huge change by the time he came home for that first Christmas.

In recent years, after transferring to MSU, we've seen him much more frequently, so his departure in June was a lot harder than we imagined, with only one quick visit from him. (And frankly, that happened at a coffee shop when he was visiting the wonderful Miss Molly!)

Greg will be home, too. He lives much closer, though we still don't see him all that often. I'm really looking forward to having us together.

Gypsy is doing well and if I didn't know he had kidney disease and have to give him his IV every week, I'd think he was just a lively, huggy-bear cat with a huge appetite and a penchant for naps.

We've taken to doing bedtime snacks in bed, when I toss a piece of his dry food somewhere (in the dark) on the bed and he jumps to find it. While he's doing that, I stash a piece of food under the extra pillow. After he's finished his romping, he burrows to find the pieces of food that are hidden. It took two times doing that and prompting him to the pillow to get him to realize that this was a viable option. Now he often goes there first!

I'm pleased his treatments seem to be working so well. I just hope they keep on for a very long time.

I'm very grateful that I remembered to get some homely tasks I tend to forget taken care of. Things like calling the plumber to turn off the water at the cottage (this could be a bad one if forgotten!) or getting the gutter-cleaner out here.

My art room is relatively in order -- there are a few more things to put away after my sale and the rapid creation phase leading up to it, but I love my new desk and just being in this room!

And finally (more or less) cleaning up the guest room (thanks to Cousin Bonnie for visiting; it was a great motivator!).
There is much more... more walks, more travels to review and anticipate, more gatherings to celebrate and enjoy, more holidays to plan for.

But these are a start! I leave you with a word to "muse" upon:

One of my favorites.

Popular Posts