Monday, December 31, 2007

home for the holiday, and gone again

First, he is healthy, and all grown up, and seems happy.

Second, he is still my baby, but he is SO BIG!
And so smart, and so independent, and getting some wrinkles!
It's a funny life, it keeps on going. Can't freeze it anywhere along the path. Would I want to?
But back to big... when I hug him my ear is right there, at his heartbeat. That is what always gets me right there. Every mom remembers that first listen to her baby's heartbeat.
The years compress with that hello hug, and that goodbye hug.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Oh Frabjous Day

Caloo! Callay!
Patrick is home.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I've discovered Google Books

Text not available
 About this book  Read this book "Little Gardens for Boys and Girls"  By Myrta Margaret Higgins
A charming bit of gardening advice for the children of 1910, found on page 57:
"Foxgloves and larkspurs are two of the best perennials to have. The foxglove is very thrifty and a great attraction to bees. The larkspur is so superior to many flowers, one can hardly look on its heavenly blue and not be good."
Text not available
 About this book Read this bookLittle Gardens for Boys and Girls By Myrta Margaret Higgins

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Recipe: Easy Provincial Bean Soup

You say Provencal - I say provincial: the difference is in the mind of the speaker. But is a crock pot of bean soup anything but rustic?
We usually (for 36 years?!?) have either ham or a turkey but I was hoping on this Christmas Day 2007 to have an easy to serve, non-traditional main dish.
After a month of parties, we're all ready for some relief from the groaning table. And there have been some pressing medical issues in the family, so the company was the point, not the production number.
But it all worked out anyway that there was too much food for the feast, and not nearly so much cleanup as post Thanksgiving. And grandma had time to hold her granddaughters, the best gift.

Here's the menu we had this year:
Provincial Bean Soup (made with turkey stock from the Thanksgiving bird and home grown herbs)
Dearborn Holiday sausage, provided and grilled by son, Skip
Cheesy potatoes, provided by son, Tony
Pumpkin Bread (made with puree from the little pie pumpkins, cooked and frozen after Halloween)
Herbed Potato Rolls (link) (made with home grown herbs)

Cheese spread and crackers, chips and dip
Veggie tray and dip

and for dessert:
Brownies, provided by Tony
and, Tada! Blueberry pie (made by Herb with berries we picked at a local farm)

We completely forgot to break into the tin of gingerbread boys, that I've been safe keeping since I made them around Thanksgiving. Oh well, there's another weekend get-together coming, when Patrick finally gets here.

Everyone liked the soup, especially with the grilled sausage and no one complained about the break from tradition, so I'm thinking next year maybe gumbo or chili? I have an authentic gumbo recipe that's lotsa fun.

This bean soup recipe is really easy, because I use the beans that come in a bottle, already cooked, and jazz it up. Everyone thinks you made it from scratch. I used to soak and cook the beans, and believe me, this way is just as good. Herb Sr. said it was excellent, so I must have done something right. Here's the recipe, my riff on the recipe on the bottle of Randall Great Northern Beans:

Provincial Bean Soup

Heat a quart of your best(frozen) turkey broth until warm and pour in crock pot. Turn crock pot on and set to high.
Tie some twigs of fresh rosemary together with a length of dental floss and put the bundle into the broth to take out before serving. (I also added a few small fresh bay leaves but forgot to fish them out.)
Meanwhile, pour a bit of e.v. olive oil in a hot skillet. In the hot oil, saute about a generous cup each of minced onions, celery and carrots and about 4-5 crushed garlic cloves until they are softened and starting to color.
Add a large jar of beans and warm. Stir it all into the crock pot with the broth.
Add a handful of chopped dried tomatoes (the recipe calls for diced canned tomatoes), sprinkle with ground bay leaf (I grind my dried bay leaves in a dedicated coffee grinder), fresh ground black pepper, and lots of fresh thyme. (The recipe also calls for chopped fresh parlsey, but I forgot to add it. Oh Well!)
Cook on high until it boils and begins to thicken, a few hours, then turn down to keep at serving warmth.
Serve with shaved Parmesan cheese, rolls and sausages. Bon apetit.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

the little mother

All the Christmas parties this year, and so much serious adult conservation about Brittany Spears' little celebrity sister getting pregnant. Like, is it our business? Like, who cares what celebrities do in their private lives? Like, is THAT all you have to think about in the season of giving?

I heard opinions from a lotta people and I'm sure you did too, but did you hear anyone mention this:
Biblical historians, anthropologists, and archaeologists say the woman who bore the child that we claim to follow was probably a young unwed mother.

Tsk, tsk.

Who was it said, Judge not lest ye be judged?
This is what I'd tell Brittany's sister - ignore the hypocrites, love your baby, and just remember, with some folk, you're damned if you do - and you're damned if you don't.
'Nuff said.
Ave Maria, love that tune. It makes my Christmas Eve.

A small post post: I'm proud to note that not one of my company mentioned Brittany's sister's faux pas at our festivities.

Monday, December 24, 2007

the fourteenth grandmother

Wasn't that video about the thirteen grandmothers great? I'm just dismayed that no one considered adding a fourteenth grandmother to represent the indigenous Caucasian, European women who understand the value of their cultures to humanity. We are not all of the imperialist conqueror mindset. Although come to think of it, the 'wise women' of the European landmass were systematically subjugated and murdered throughout history to silence their contribution to the perennial debate, so perhaps no one knew where to find the fourteenth grandmother... but I'm wandering off the path.

Right this moment I'm just taking a break from the festivity preparation to add to the story I began two days ago ... the Solstice, the crane, the holy day... why does the activity of vacuuming carpets lead my mind to wander along submerged paths and faint trails? Back to the thread of the story...

After seeing the crane fly over at dawn, I Googled "crane" and "legend" to find out what other cultures associate with the crane.
Wikipedia was a good place to start, and if you look you will see legends and associations and symbolism about the crane goes way back in the history of humanity. We all know about the story of the Japanese schoolgirl who made a thousand cranes to commemorate health and life and peace after the destruction of war.
But classical western culture told stories about the crane as well.

I must get my shower and get to the grocery store, but I wanted to leave you and me here with this turn in the story: the crane, which visited me on the solstice dawn, is the messenger of peace, good health, life.
Wasn't that the message of the baby who will be born again tonight?
Hopeful things to wish you all for the new year.
Let us pursue these ends: peace, life, good health.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Winter Solstice notes, part deux.
Yesterday I left you with the picture of me standing with coffee in hand looking out the south west corner window at the gray light of a cloudy dawn. So I'm standing there and suddenly out of the east a gray crane flies directly overhead, so low that I can clearly make out the toes of his feet.
Dawn, the Solstice, the visitation of a crane.
Gotta be something there, something the world is trying to say. Telling me, in the way the world speaks, something I must focus on, to think about, to tell you. Our ancestors would have thought so. They wouldn't have missed the hint.
Our grandmother's grandmothers would figure this out and tell the story. Maybe that is the story, right there.
Listen to the world, tell the story you hear. Make sense of it.

What Would the Grandmothers Do?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Good Morning, Starshine...

the Earth says 'Hello'...
You twinkle above us...
We twinkle below.

"It is true that we need the land, but that is not the whole story; for the land also needs the people. It needs to feel the pounding of our feet to the rhythm of the dance, needs to hear the laughter of our children and it needs to hear the ancient stories told in a sacred manner." -saying of native people of Central Australia

My Farmer's Almanac tells me that the shortest day of the year, what pagan people honored in worship as the Solstice, is "around" December 21, yesterday. That means this morning's sunrise is the sunrise that milleniums of people around the world have celebrated.
Herb's radio playing Scott Horton interviewing the other Scott Horton woke me up before dawn today, and a few minutes later I was dancing in the shower to the storyteller's steel drum poem playing on NPR's Living on Earth (what a great show) ... That is called waking up on the right side of the bed.
In a happy spirit and guided by intuition, which is the best way, I thought to play Google's 'I Feel Lucky' and search for the words solstice legend. The first site I looked at gave me the quotation above, which I feel is perfectly fitting for today's inspiration. As you can see it is still dark outside, so I think I'll pause now, make a cup of coffee, and greet the sun.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Misses Holly and Ivy

I'm dreaming of a greener new year

Inpiration can come from someone you know, right in the neighborhood... we met Holly at the Grand Blanc Farmer's Market last summer and she was curious as to if I knew of any local, organic soaper ... someone who could sell her something special for a very special baby shower she was giving for a relative. The special theme to this party was all about giving the hope for a cleaner better world to her grandchild, and she carried out this ambitious theme by making every part of it greener, more sustainable, more local, more kind to our Mother Earth, who, after all, represents the grandmother to us all.
After she began relating all of the cool things she was planning, I promised myself to write about it on this blog but the Flint Journal beat me to the punch and did a much better job.
The party reportedly turned out terrific, and The Flint Journal details (at this link) below many of the tips and tricks that Holly used to teach us all how we can make change for the better happen too.

Forget pink and blue; this Flint baby shower is all "green"
Posted by Elizabeth Shaw
The Flint Journal
October 28, 2007

FLINT -- Every new grandma wants a bright future for her first grandchild.

Holly Lubowicki may be working harder than many on that future: The longtime environmental activist is hosting a "green" baby shower today -- complete with how-to guides for guests -- as a surprise for son Christopher and his wife, Audrey.

When you're talking about bringing a child into the world, you're talking about the future. I want to show people there are better ways to do things, in order to sustain life for future generations," said the Flint resident. "I'm hoping this is a good start to my grandchild's life."

A program assistant for Keep Genesee County Beautiful, Lubowicki is well known in local environmental circles for "walking the talk."

But the green shower idea just grew on its own, she said.

"Originally, I just thought 'I'm not doing any stupid crepe paper and paper plates -- I'm doing all compostible sugar cane and corn fibers.' But I'm like a crazed woman once I get an idea in my head," she said, laughing.

First she tossed out the disposable servingware in favor of her grandmother's china and silver. Then she dumped the entire concept of throwaway decorations.

"Since it's going to be at a church instead of my home, I have to create that warm, cozy environment elsewhere. But I'm trying to be as nonconsumer as possible."

She scavenged from a Dumpster at Goodwill an old crib where guests will place gifts, then hauled in wicker baskets, potted perennials and furniture from her Flint home.

Party favors include handmade natural soaps tagged with green Web addresses, and homemade paper embedded with wildflower seeds that can be planted to bloom in the spring.

"I wanted to ask people to carpool and not use wrapping paper and cards, but I figured that might cross the line," she said. Her own gifts are wrapped in receiving blankets and tied with baby shoelaces.

The menu is all locally grown and produced organic foods, from a salad of mixed greens grown at Whetham Organic Farm in Flushing Township to preserves made from wild autumn olive.

"The traffic at farmers' markets really drops off in September because people think once the tomatoes are gone, everything's gone," said Pat Whetham. "But people still have lots to sell -- greens, carrots and potatoes, just about any kind of root vegetables. Some, like parsnips and Brussels sprouts, are only this time of the year."

Buying organic AND local isn't always easy: Much of the organic produce sold at large chain stores is shipped in from out of state, and not all locally produced food is organically grown. Always check the labels or ask the grower, said Whetham.

"It's not enough to just use a local bakery -- you have to know where the flour comes from," Lubowicki said.

When she couldn't find a local organic cream cheese, she simply learned how to make it herself.

All the effort won't be lost on the guests: The decorations include a huge map and chart highlighting the origins of all the foods and products, with tips on how to apply green strategies to everyday life.

"The way we eat has a huge impact on environmental issues," she said, including energy, fossil fuels, pesticides and farmland preservation.

"You can show people it can be done, it can be positive and you can have absolutely wonderful tasting food. I don't care how much time it takes. I'm having a ball."

Organic offerings
Holly Lubowicki's baby shower menu includes salad with edible flowers and homemade dressings, maple-glazed Brussels sprouts, country French three-seed bread, pesto, garlic spread, jalapeno jelly, fruit preserves (strawberry basil, blueberry lavender, autumn olive, raspberry-cherry and black raspberry), fruit cheesecake, brownies, ice creams (ginger, pumpkin, vanilla and peach) and more. Where did it all came from?
• Vegetables: Whetham Organic Farm in Flushing, Lawrence Farm in Millington, White Pines Farm in North Branch, Law Family Farm in North Branch.
• Fruits: Almar Orchards in Clayton Township, Coyners Organic Farm in Flushing Township, Ware Farm in Manistee County.
• Breads and grains: Hampshire Farms in Kingston, Westwind Milling Company in Argentine Township, Pleasanton Bakery in Traverse City, John Simmons Farm in North Branch.
• Eggs: J.B. & Sons in Montrose.
• Dairy products: Thomas Organic Creamery in Henderson, Calder Dairy in Monroe County.
• Garlic: Full Moon Flowers in Lapeer County.
• Preserves: Food for Thought in Honor.
• Herbs: Byrne Family Farm in Attica.

To learn more about organic and local foods:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A little holiday fun

"If you can't laugh about our continuing desperate need to be hip, then you aren't yet hip," she said, snapping her fingers, yeah.

Found this site yesterday while clickin' the links... pages and pages of Square Americans celebrating the holidays.
Made me smile, and hope you smile too.
That woman above is wearing my blue plastic catseye glasses.
Merry, merry.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A gift for Grandmas with computers

Some link I followed a few days ago brought me to this neatest website called Lookybook! Online children's literature, YES!
If you're a grandma you know even the littlest children are familiar with computers in their homes and they watch "online content" the way we used to watch Lassie and Timmie on the tube. But we want them reading books too! We want our grandbabies in our arms, listening to our voices reading to them, turning pages to see colorful pictures that we can pause to discuss and appreciate.
Lookybook is for us.
Here's a sample - sign up for free, find books you like and put them on your own virtual bookshelf, for next time the grandbabies come over.

The Story Goes On
Written by Aileen Fisher | Illustrated by Mique Moriuchi
8 x 11 | 32 pages | Ages 4-8 | Roaring Brook Press | Published in 2005 | ISBN 9781596430372
In this exquisitely illustrated picture book, one of America's foremost poets for young people describes the ongoing cycle of life.

Go ahead, click on the book, turn the pages, see what fun it is!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

crafters are like snowflakes

Back in the olden days (when the boys were little and the funds were short) we used to decorate for the Holidays with home crafted paper crafts - construction paper chains, colorful origami boxes, Victorian pleated fans and angels, white paper snowflakes.
There is a big home craft movement growing again among the younger generation, probably a reaction to the sameness of all that cheap imported repetitive junk we see in the stores.
Witness the success of Etsy! I could spend hours looking at all the creativity there.
(On the same wavelength The New York Times Magazine ran a story about the craft movement and Etsy this past weekend. Heres a snippet:

Handmade 2.0
By Rob Walker
December 16, 2007

The declaration from something called the Handmade Consortium materialized on a Web site called in late October. “I pledge to buy handmade this holiday season, and request that others do the same for me,” it said, and you could type in your name to “sign” on; within a few weeks, more than 6,500 people had done so. “Buying handmade is better for people,” a statement on the site read in part, and “better for the environment,” because mass production is a “major cause” of global warming, among other things. There were links to an anti-sweatshop site and a Wal-Mart watchdog site.
The pledge echoed the idealistic language of a tree-hugger activist group, but actually the consortium’s most prominent member was the online shopping bazaar Etsy, a very much for-profit entity that bills itself as “your place to buy & sell all things handmade.” Etsy does not fulfill orders from an inventory; it’s a place where sellers set up virtual storefronts, giving the site a cut of sales. While eBay rose to prominence nearly a decade ago as an endless garage sale for the auctioning of collectibles and bric-a-brac, Etsy is more of an online craft fair, or art show, where the idea is that individuals can sell things that they have made. How many such people can there be? At last count, more than 70,000 — about 90 percent of whom were women — were using Etsy to peddle their jewelry, art, toys, clothes, dishware, stationery, zines and a variety of objects from the mundane to the highly idiosyncratic. Each seller has a profile page telling shoppers a bit about themselves, and maybe offering a link to a blog or a MySpace page or a mailing list; most have devised some clever store or brand name for whatever they’re selling.
Read on here...

Like I was going to say, no two home crafters are alike, just like snowflakes. Think of two crafters, using the same ingredients and the same techniques... their hand crafted goods are still individual, they still reflect something from the personality of their creator.
There is value in making things, keeping the eye interested and the mind working. Some is art, some is not, but handcrafts speak for the individual, the unusual, the unique. The human.
Which leads to thinking about ... snowflakes...Snowflakes!
I found this site yesterday, and made the snowflake at the top of this post. It's free, it's fun! Click the link and Try it! (I fixed the link, sorry!)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Yipee! Herbie wins a Silver!

Our favorite local apple orchard makes the best cider in the world, and we just happen to have a wine-maker in the family. Put the two together, and I get some lovely homemade apple wine. I knew Herbie's wine was good, but a silver medal on his first entry in the Great Lakes Olde World Syder Competition (GLOWS) is a well-deserved Attaboy.

The tale begins thirty something years ago when we were tent camping at Sleeper State Park in Caseville, Michigan. Late in the day, some folks pulled into the lot next to us just as it was beginning to sprinkle raindrops (our usual camping weather). They had a new fangled tent that they hadn't tried out yet and Herb helped them put it up, and later at the picnic table we shared a bottle of their homemade apple wine.
A few months later, a letter came in the mail from Bob Graham, of Brisco Brokers distributor of baking ingredients, with the detailed recipe for Herb to make his own delicious spiced apple cider wine. I won't share the recipe here, it is lengthy and wine making is an art I haven't explored. I have a winemaker in the family, after all!
I will reveal the recipe calls for local cider and cinnamon, cloves and mace. Herb's Porter's Cider Wine is surprisingly clear but subtly flavored with the spice, and the quality of the apple cider is a key to the quality of the flavor. Over the years, Herb has learned to taste the cider as it develops over the season (from Porter's Orchard in Goodrich, Michigan) (because the apple varieties change from week to week) and judge when it has reached the perfect tree-ripened apple-y flavor, late in the season.

Anyway, last month Herb was reading The Michigan Beer Guide (it encompasses all craft brewing and we began reading it after our son re-introduced Herb to craft beer brewing which is very popular among some serious young men) and he mentioned a competition.
Lightbulbs appeared over our heads, why not enter a bottle of his spiced apple cider wine? The rest is history...
Herb is listed as a Silver medal winner in the non-commercial division under Other Specialty Cider/Perry. The weather was threatening to make the drive to Grand Rapids difficult, so we stayed home the day of the competition, but next year you may see us there, tasting, enjoying the event, and learning more.
I've posted a few photos of Herb bottling his wine last winter... one bottle left! It's time to make another batch, and Porter's cider tastes great right NOW!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

a new gadget

I just added a new blogging gadget today that I found while surfing (or as we say in Michigan, sledding) the internet. Check out any links in the writing and a little snapshot of the linked page appears in a balloon, awesome! Hope it adds some fun to your reading. This snippet from the source, Snap Shots, explains how it works:

"Sometimes Snap Shots bring you the information you need, without your having to leave the site, while other times it lets you "look ahead," before deciding if you want to follow a link or not.
Should you decide this is not for you, just click the Options icon in the upper right corner of the Snap Shot and opt-out."

Also, while Googling blogs about Flint, Michigan, my hometown, this morning I found one I thoroughly enjoyed reading and will bookmark: Flint Expats, written from far away, beautiful San Francisco. I read a lot of blogs, and don't usually leave comments on them, but this one is so well done that I took a moment to leave a comment and got a reply! If you love Flint with all of it's scars and beauty, take a look at Flint Ex Pats.
I'm particularly thrilled to see some of my old favorite Flint spots discussed, photographs included, and there are plenty of intriguing links to explore.

Speaking of leaving comments... please do! It's nice to know someone out there is visiting.
And finally, this blog is now somewhere in the vast links list of Absolute Michigan, I think under hobbies (as I didn't easily find the gardening list.) I heart Michigan, and I intend to explore lots of Michigan blogs this winter. If I find one I particularly like I'll tell you!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

a no-cost no-cal gift for my gardening friends

Nationally known gardener Ken Druse and his garden buddy Vickie Johnson have been broadcasting an enjoyable weekly radio program for some time now, and here is the link to listen online:
Real Dirt Radio

For folks who "Ipod" (in other words listen to an .mp3 player) or who can listen online, the show (and the past the archived episodes - 25 or so) is available for free from Apple's ITunes store (Google it). Just type Real Dirt into the search box in the upper corner of the ITunes store and subscribe for free from the results page.

By Sheer Coincidence, on the very week when I sent this message to our Master Gardener volunteer coordinator to share on her list-serve, Ken and Vickie were discussing herbs and the Herb Society of America.

Vickie was telling about this year's collaboration between the HSA and Park Seed, that you will see when you get your Park Seed Catalogue. (Every gardener in America gets the Park Seed Cat, right?)
As I understand it, a committee within the HSA made a list of their Top Ten Easy and Annual Herbs, and Park will be selling a promotional package (link) in coordination with the 75th Anniversary of the HSA.

I must comment on both Park Seed and the HSA. The Park Seed catalogue is how I got into growing plants from seed so many years ago. It was my winter dream book. I grew unusual things from seed back in the days when our local nurseries only carried common plants and trips to Bordines Nursery were reserved for my birthday.
The Park Seed catalogue introduced me to the world of plants and led me to look for more seed sources, down the road to J.L. Hudson Seedsman, Richter's, and more.

Obviously, a seed packet can stretch the budget, but growing plants from seed gives a depth of knowledge that buying transplants does not. Following this thought back to herbs, if you are thinking of using your plants (herbs are useful plants by definition), you simply must know their Latin name. For instance, look at the sorrel in the Park package... it is NOT the same sorrel as you will find growing in the vacant lot. Learning to look for the right variety of a plant means learning their names. Common names are not adequate for a true herbie.

I've heard some (usually inexperienced) gardeners dismiss bionomial nomenclature as high hat, for instance, but if you are an avid garden catalogue reader, you learn botanical latin as if by osmosis. And once naming plants properly takes root, you only feel silly with pronunciation, which fortunately can become an ice-breaker in conversation if handled well.
I've read that no one really knows how Latin was pronounced in Classical Roman times (any more than a typical modern American would understand spoken Middle English) and binomial nomenclature only really gained popularity with Carolus Linneaus in the 1700s, so I personally give people the benefit of the doubt when they try talking about Clematis or Yucca and hope for the same grace in return.

Pronunciation is not the point, what the person is saying about the plant is what matters. But we need to be talking about the same plant, especially if we intend to use it herbally. But enough said about the common name-botanical Latin debate, I digress. Things have really changed since the 1970s, and we have all kinds of plant and seed selection we never had before, but the Park Seed catalogue is still great for a cozy winter afternoon read.

Whenever I go through my old seed stash that I store in a Tupperware box in the back of the fridge, I'll run across those little gold foil packets from Park Seed and recall the years ago gardens when I grew this or that, reliving good memories.
My seeds might be past viability but my memories were only dormant.

And Congratulations on your 75th anniversary and Thank you to the Herb Society of America. The HSA was founded back when herbs were certainly underappreciated and almost forgotten as garden plants. The Herb Society of America was a force behind changing all of that. They showed us what a small group of committed gardeners could do.

let the silly season begin

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

more alternative holiday music

Joni Mitchell's If I Only Had A River
Sung by Allison Crowe

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

the path turns

I'm sure you'll agree... the best gift is another day with those you love.

Monday, December 10, 2007

inspiration in incremental steps

Funny, how wandering links from website to website can take you down paths you never imagined. It was a good path today. Looking for a craft site to remind me of how to securely attach ribbon to a wreath, I came across a series of crafters and artists who are deeply interested in the spirituality of their work. The end of this journey was the following website - no arts and crafts involved, but a dose of inspiration.

Is this the Season of Shopping? Is the Prosperity Gospel, all intertwined with Fundamentalism and Blind Faith and Deservedness of Blessing and Unquestioning Patriotism to (abandoned) Shared Core Values that we no longer as a nation take time to understand - is the 'Prayer of Jabez' what America has sunk to? If manifesting good is the goal of prayer, this richest self described Christian nation in the history of the world has fallen sadly short.

But no, Virginia, there are still those who understand the importance of the Sermon on the Mount... Here is a link to my inspiration for the day... The goals are listed there.

The prayer of the million prayer march is as follows:
"The world now has the means to end extreme poverty, we pray we will have the will."

Sunday, December 09, 2007

inspiration from the old story

Shepherds, yes. The humble competent workmen were visited in person. Lucky. Even without angels, there is a lot to be said for winter night skies. Go outdoors and look up. Be amazed.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Yard art

Inspiration from what others do...

In other words, Peace on Earth! A fine wish for the Christmas Season... what could be wrong with that?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Snowballs and snow forts

On reflecting about the entry below, who says snowballs and snow forts can't be poetry, to a boy?
I guess the poetry is in the reflection, isn't it.

(Reference 'below'. Blogging will cause a new bit of language - when bloggers want you to read something previously written, we need to say see below instead of above.)

Here's' a little hint to moms of kids, take photos of the snowmen while they are fresh, when you're a grandma you'll appreciate the memories.

Anyway, I like this bit I ran across in my Utne Magazine e-mail update this week, and thought to share it with you. In our area, there are two Christmases, no matter what the politicians say about the economy. They don't come near Flint with their soundbites and disaster recovery aid.

I'm desperately seeking inspiration, like a grown up Charlie Brown. Problem is, I know the story, it always works, sooner or later. It's just so hard getting there again.

So my goal in the next few days will be to find and share some inspiration, just in case you need it too. So here's that Utne Magazine survival tip:

Happiness is cheap. In fact, real happiness comes from little things like a chocolate bar, an afternoon nap, or a good book, Science Daily reports. University of Nottingham psychologist, Dr Richard Tunney compared the happiness of lottery winners with non-lottery winners, asking each group what they did to make themselves happy. The study found that "cost-free" activities, like pursuing a hobby or laying in a hammock, contributed more to happiness than buying stuff, even expensive stuff. "It appears that spending time relaxing is the secret to a happy life,” said Dr Tunney. “Cost-free pleasures are the ones that make the difference—even when you can afford anything that you want." This is good news for people who think that happiness is constantly out of reach: A good nap is really all people need. —Brendan Mackie

And remember, hugs are free, so hug freely.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"Look, boys, there are diamonds in the snow."

Tony was small enough to believe me when I said that, he wanted to go outdoors and scoop up the snow to sift out the diamonds. But I never knew if the older boys understood the poetry in nature, if they saw what I saw. They saw snowballs and forts to be sure, but did they see sunlight turning snow into treasure?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Monday, December 03, 2007