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Monday, December 31, 2007

Cups and Saucers and Some Year-End Links

Devilish cups and hypnotic saucers: I painted this when I first moved into my current house, when I was just beginning to put paint on canvas. I'd sold my coffeehouse the previous year, so perhaps it is an exorcism painting, which seems a suitable image for the end of the year, when the old goes out, and the new wanders in and pulls up a chair and asks for cream and sugar.

Anyway, on this last day of 2007, I'm sharing with you a few of my favorite places in the blog world. Places I think you might like. It's not an exhaustive list; it's a sample. A sip. A demitasse.

My favorite blogs tend to be written by dreamers, people with the ability to turn a concept into a landscape of possibilities, some practical, some less so. Like Evelyn Rodriguez at Crossroads Dispatches who has a fascinating mind. Her posts are mystical and enchanting, and beautifully illustrated. And Dave Pollard at How to Save the World. He's not really trying to save the world, exactly, but to transform it, and us. His regular Saturday links pages can keep me at my keyboard for hours.

It was through Dave Pollard that I came to know the Cassandra Pages. A recent excerpt:
At midlife, much more aware of my own mortality and the limitations of time and energy, the quest has changed: instead of trying to reach personal goals, I struggle to make the best use of whatever time and energy I have, not so much for myself, but for other people, because I've learned that giving fully and freely actually enriches my own life much more than being focussed on myself alone. (full text here)

I've also become a fan of 37 Days, and in particular, this delightful post about the author's telephone conversation with poet Billy Collins.

The Contrary Goddess is equal parts affection and exasperation, rant and compassion. "
I'm a woman, a wife, a mom, a cowgirl. I'm a seeker, a lover, a friend & thorn. I'm a horseman, husbandman, hillbilly, heathen. I am that I am."

Richard Power posts some of those most compassionate political writing on the scene today. Even if you don't like political blogs -- they wear me out, quite frankly -- there is reason to add Words of Power to your daily or weekly scroll. Excellent music videos, as well.

Oh, and one more thing. My web-wanderings have taken me to so many fascinating places this year, and thanks to Sharon B's patient illustrated instruction at In a Minute Ago I now know how to use Google Reader to subscribe to my favorite sites. Yes, I'm a woefully slow adopter of all things tech -- no cell phone, no ipod -- though here I am with a blog, and now a Google Reader page. Go figure.

I'll share a few more of my favorite places in a future post. For now, I leave you with a thought from Richard Bach, quoted in a recent post at 37 Days:

Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished.
If you're alive, it isn't.

Happy New Year.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Solstice

A feast for the neighborhood birds (and squirrels) on Solstice:

Dragonstar displays our offering: a tall feeder full of sunflower and niger seed; mini-bagels spread with suet and seed; suet balls rolled in niger seed, and a tray of millet sprays and peanuts in the shell. Yummy!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

O Tannenbaum

We put up our fresh-cut tree in the art room this year, but the living room is always given over to our family treasure: the BBPiT found this little beauty at an antique mart about five years ago, in its original boxes, with a revolving stand, and it came with not one but two color wheel lamps to illuminate its loveliness. We decorate it in all appropriate tackiness, with rubber devil ducks, Carmen Miranda ornaments, oversized jingle bells and candy, and this year, a little thermos (dangling front and just off-center). And I do believe that tree-topper is to die for: originally an antenna bauble, I think, re-purposed for the season.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Wee Bit Random, Part II



It's raining here on the northern side of the Ohio, fast rain falling straight and true. It hits my roof with real purpose, runs in ribbons over the eaves, heedless of the gutters -- which at any rate are festooned with a season's growth of very small maple trees. There are some jobs I just don't keep up with.

I've lived in the midwest for ten years. I still find the weather disconcerting. Rain in December feels amiss, even though it's typical. The first year I was here I wrote a song about it:

It's the middle of December and nighttime comes early
My hometown in New York is on its second foot of snow
While here in Indiana the winter's barely started
And I find myself reluctant to let the autumn go...

Dragonstar and I are considering ways to celebrate Solstice, a mere two weeks away. Someone on an email list suggested a Dark Party: candles, shadow-puppets, gathering around the fireplace for winter nibbles like nuts and fruit and mugs of hot chocolate. We don't have a fireplace, but the rest of it sounds appealing.

Last night we went to a Tacky Christmas Party, where the fruitcake was front and center, and by the end of the night every slice had been eaten -- or at least taken. Perhaps the host and hostess will find it stashed and perfectly preserved between various chair and sofa cushions in the coming months.

The picture at the top of the post was taken at the Blue Ridge Center in North Carolina this past September, when the woods are at their greenest and most lush. A mere season ago; I suspect that now that path looks much like the wild corner of my back yard, with its skeletal trees and serpentine brown vines.

Yesterday we shopped for a Christmas tree in the rain. The thoughtful members of the boy scout troop that set up the lot had laid thick paths of straw through the trees, but the ground was still soggy and waterlogged. Our shoes got very wet.

We found a perfect tree. Today we'll be putting it up. I hope the rain lasts all day.