Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Chritsmas to All

May your stocking be full and your dinner be tasty.
May your family and friends gather round with good cheer.
Happy Christmas to you and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Ghost of Christmas Past

I came across an envelope this morning, Dear Reader, tucked into the back of my jewelry drawer. In my mother's printing, it was labeled "Very Precious Notes." I know she meant that envelope for me and that I would find it when I cleaned out her desk after her death. Until this morning I have never had the guts to open it and read those messages Mom had tucked away. Today was the day.

Anyone who knew my mother, even casually, would never say that she was maudlin or sentimental, not one for "Kodak moments" or Hallmark Hall of Fame manufactured emotion. It was with some surprise I read the following poem---but I understand why it was special to her and why she kept it. If you can't be sentimental at Christmas, when can you?

So, Mom, thanks for putting this away for me. Thanks for being my Ghost-of-Christmas Past. Reading that little bit of doggerel has opened the flood gates of memory and I truly feel you are right here with me, giving me the stink eye for 'outing' you. I am sticking my tongue out at you (with love). Guess I should say, back at you! I miss you. Merry Christmas.

by Lois Duncan

I saw the Ghost-of-Christmas Past
Glide by our lighted tree.
Her arms were filled with dolls and toys,
And all were meant for me.
I sensed the rustle of her skirts.
Her blouse was trimmed with lace,
And when she turned to smile at me
She wore my mother's face.

Just as this vision slipped from sight
I heard my daughter call.
Wild footsteps clattered on the stair;
Shrill giggles filled the hall.
She burst into the gift-filled room
And squealed in glad surprise,
And all the Christmases-to-come
Were mirrored in her eyes.

How swiftly fly the rainbow years,
Like splintered shafts of light,
As fragile as the gentle ghosts
Who whisper in the night.
I draw my child into my arms
And hold this moment fast
Against the time my face will be
Her Ghost-of-Christmas Past.

Eleanore "Pete" Smith Rawlings, 1916-1997

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Day Before Winter

I do know, Dear Reader, that in many parts of the world the weather we are experiencing now in the Pacific Northwest is not unusual. It is common winter weather. Snow and ice are business as usual in many, many places. However, that said, I would like to point out that an inch of snow can bring this region to its knees. Can you imagine what six to twelve inches of this white stuff is doing to us? Added to the snow, tonight we are having major winds in many places. Think temperatures in the 10 to 20 degrees F range and then factor in the wind chill of 35 mph winds. Think no heat. Think no hot water. Think no lights, Christmas or otherwise. Think no hot cocoa. Try not to think about being homeless and thank God and the municipal authorities who have opened shelters all over the area. We have had snow and record breaking cold temperates for a week now. Most of the snow was melted away the other day, although ice was still a problem. I have been out and about in town, walking carefully, like a 900-year-old woman, for fear of landing on my backside (or worse, my head!) unexpectedly. I have ventured out and slipped and slid to coffee and the post office (your gift is finally in the mail, Tiff) and the bank. I have even rather enjoyed it. Well, sort of. I am not really a fan of snow in the lowlands. I strongly believe that snow belongs in the mountains, and only in the mountains. It does not belong in cities and towns in the lowlands, especially those that lie along large bodies of salt water, like Puget Sound, fer heaven's sake. Apparently Mother Nature does not agree with me and she has the weather chops while I only have the weather whines.

It started to really snow this afternoon. Very small and cold little flakes. It snowed all three hours I was at the movies (Australia, which I enjoyed much more than the critics, by the way---amazing photography!) and it kept snowing and kept snowing and kept snowing and it's still snowing and it is getting deeper and deeper and deeper. It's cold. It's very cold. It is pretty, but it is going to be awful tomorrow for anyone who has to go anywhere. I am supposed to take my friend Rune and my granddaughter Emma to see The Nutcracker. We'll see. Emma's daddy would have to bring her to me as there is NO WAY I could drive to their house in all this. NO WAY.
Have I mentioned that it is still snowing? Well, it is.
I am going to go to bed now and pull the covers up over my head and dream of palm trees and turquoise waters lapping against the hull of a tall ship, of gentle Caribbean breezes and hot sun and cool drinks. I may well stay in bed until March, when I will make my daydreams come true.
And it won't even be officially winter until tomorrow. Anyone thinking global warming right now?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Ever since last summer I have been mulling over a conversation I had with my granddaughter Emma about art. At the time we were on our way back from a ferry boat ride to Kingston with most of the family. All the clan had gathered at my house and then trooped down Main street to the ferry, where we walked on and rode over to have breakfast. Mostly it was an outing for all of us and a fun thing for the grand babies to do. The cousins see each other only a few times a year and so, when we all gather, we try and do some "kid friendly" fun activities. Anyway, that was what brought us together this particular Saturday morning in July. On the walk down I pointed out to Emma that her Granty had artwork for sale in a local home decor shop and there was a lovely glass and shell mermaid window of Granty's prominently displayed in the store's front window. Other pieces were just visible, if you peered through the shop window, hung on the wall inside. Emma seemed rather interested in what Granty had done so on the way back Emma, Granty and I stopped to give the art a closer work. (And to compliment Granty, too, of course.)

We showed the shell artwork Granty creates to Emma. She looked at it, very interestedly. Granty told her a little bit about how she made them. Emma, big blue eyes wide, took it all in. Finally I asked her what she thought about all this art.


I pushed a little. Emma announced it was pretty and she liked all the shells and the way the colors looked. And that the shells were shiny. And the sand Granty uses as background in may of her works.....but, they were not art. Now, Dear Reader, this was said in a firm and exceedingly confident voice. Emma knew what was art and THAT WAS NOT IT. I am the first person to defend any one's take on what constitutes art to that individual person. Art is, we all know, very subjective. If Granty's work was not art to Emma, so be it. Four-year-olds aren't usually that, er, what's the word I want here.....critical? Secure in their own taste? Emma, however, is. Very sure. Very, very sure.

Granty's canvases were pretty and she truly liked them, but THEY WERE NOT ART. Nope. Not art. Not at all.

We had to know what was Emma's definition of art and why didn't Granty's things live up to that (apparently) very high, Emma set, bar!

After a lot of questioning and conversation it came out that art is sparkly. Art is glittery. Art fairly glows. Disneyland is art. The opening credits of any Disney movie, with the castle and the fireworks and the fairy dust and the glitz is art, to Emma. Granty's work was, alas, pretty but not glittery or sparkly. It did not shriek of fireworks and Tinkerbell's fairy dust or anything. It was just shells.

So, the photo below is art. To Emma.

(It's a lovely photograph of Disneyland taken by someone with the Flickr name of 'Mastery of Maps'. Please give the photographer due credit for a lovely photo.)

And how did I come to feel the need to share this with you, you ask, Dear Reader? Well, every time I look at my Christmas tree and my eye falls upon a glittery ornament, or I look at the beautiful silver glass glitter stars I both saw and bought when I was at Wendy Addison's Theatre of Dreams last August, or a bit of glitter falls from a Christmas card I received in the morning mail, I think back to Emma and her very sure definition of art.

Christmas is an arty time, isn't it? I hope your Holidays are twinkling and sparkling and joyful. And full of art.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

All through my town, all through my neighborhood and all through my house it's very obvious Christmas is coming!
My house is decorated, inside and out. We even had snow yesterday, an unusual occurrence in the Puget Sound region this early in the season. We don't usually get much snow until January or February. Everything looks Christmas-y.
This is Edmonds' official Christmas tree and it's right across the street from my little house---a most festive view, I can assure you.

Even the local geese like flying over in the early morning to take in the decorations from on high.

I've begun my Christmas baking in earnest now. I must stay out of the goodies, I MUST.

I have finished my shopping and have wrapped the gifts and shipped those for my out of town friends and relatives.It is a joy to walk around town these days, especially these nights, to admire all the decorations and lights. Twinkling white lights, sparkly ornaments and tinsel trimmings, fragrant greens, garlands and wreaths all drive away the darkness of these drear December days.

And visions of sugar plums.....I know just where to get them! Right down to the end of my alley, turn left, walk 50 paces and there you are at Nama's Candy Store, home to all things sugary and delectable.
I enjoy candlelight especially this time of year and have little tea lights all over the house. These are on the kitchen counter, near the stove.
How are your Holiday preparations going? I hope you are enjoying a relatively stress free December and that the light and love of this magical season are in your home and in your heart.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Be Good Tanyas - The Littlest Birds

LK Ludwig has had another brainstorm! She has now suggested that those of us interested share a favorite song. Here is an excerpt from the email I got from LK explaining her idea:

"A Day of Sharing Song

"The idea: Songs can move us to places we haven't
been in a long time, places we long for every day, or places we someday hope to
be. The combination of music and poetry can transport us across distances, and
through the years. While we listen, perhaps we grin wildly, or are moved to
tears. We all have songs that are "ours" in our very hearts. We have songs that
touch us, move into our hearts and resonate, creating a feeling, taking us some
place- past, present, future- perhaps some place we have never been and may
never go, but for whatever reasons, the song sings for us.

Meeting new
music, musicians, composers, poets, new ways for my soul to sing, is an
intriguing concept. Want to go on this adventure with me? It will be easy to
travel along.

Many of us already do this sharing; this idea is just to
help us find each other and hear the words we have to share.

The Date:
Wednesday, December 3.

The Plan: on your blog, post a song that moves
inside you, touches you, reaches you. You can do any or all of the following:

link to a youtube video (done as you would normally post a link)
link to itunes or amazon for a sample of the song
embed the youtube clip
(instructions here)
post just song lyrics
post multiple songs, if you
can't choose just one.

Include the composer and/or musician and
source (book, album). Perhaps also include the amazon or itunes link if there is
one. no explanation required, no other revelation necessary.
One last thing-
Perhaps add an image. a photo. a video. a painting. a collage., if you would."

My pick is The Littlest Birds by The Be Good Tanyas.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Christmas Card 2008

I finally got my lino block cut and have now printed my Christmas cards for 2008. I have this yearly need to make my own cards. I've felt that way since I was a girl and it just makes me happy to do this little project once a year. I bought my cards for years when my children were younger but now that they are beautifully grown and gone, I have time to return to my favorite Christmas art project.

Here is the block in the process of being carved.

This is a row of drying prints.
The prints are then trimmed and matted to the backing red cardstock with those adhesive spacer thingies....the ones I never know by what name to call them!

Once the cards are matted, they are then glued to the front of the card.

And here we have a pile of the finished cards.

I can now check Christmas cards off my To Do List.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Today was a sad day at my house. Our rescue kitty, Toes, who has been with us for three years, had to be euthanized for a variety of medical reasons. It was the right thing to do but it was very, very hard. She was a nice old lady who only wanted to be loved and petted. Toes was never happier than when she was ensconced on a lap, getting face scratches and being crooned to. She looked, alas, much like a dust bunny, but she had beautiful green eyes and her nose was a perfect little black heart. She had, of course, six toes per paw.

I will miss her very much.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

For Gwen

maggie and milly and molly and may

e.e. cummings

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles, and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles; and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

for whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea.

Photo is detail from a watercolor hanging in my dining room by Graham Herbert, a painter from Hornby Island, British Columbia.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Day of Sharing Words


I arrive at the Bell Tower

and they go on

talking about some silly thing they did

when they were girls. One keeps saying,

remember, remember?

The ferry glides

serenely by, brimming with tourists

gathered on deck for a feast of seeing the way of our town.

When the other woman says,

Oh, I don't know if he ever really loved me...

I turn to go

because he must be her husband.

But the other leans in, caresses her friend's hand,

kisses it lightly, says, your father loved you,

and I don't knowy why I feel relieved

but I do.

After a pause, I walk on.

Their voices follow, especially the laughter

(so elated, so shared) bubbling

with affection, the champagne

of intimacy.

Because of their bond

no loneliness invades my aloneness. I bend

to pick a few daffodil buds

carry them home

and later on my sill

they swell open and beam

like candles.

Mary Lou Sanelli

from Craving Water: Poems of Ordinary Life in a Northwest Village

A Day of Sharing Words

Today, dear Reader, I received an email from LK Ludwig who has proposed A Day of Sharing Words. LK explains:

"The idea: We have words that touch us, move into our hearts and resonate, creating a feeling, taking us some place- past, present, future- perhaps some place we have never been and may never go, but for whatever reasons, the words pulse in our blood. Meeting new words, new poets, new poems, new ways for my heart to beat, is an intriguing concept. Want to go on this adventure with me? It will be easy to travel along. Many of us already do this sharing; this idea is just to help us find each other and hear the words we have to share.

"The Date: Wednesday, November 19.

"The Plan: on your blog, post a poem that moves inside you, touches you, reaches you. (quotes and song lyrics also welcome). Include the author (or composer or musician) and source (book, album)- perhaps also the amazon link if there is one. no explanation required, no other revelation about the poem you are choosing is necessary.

"One last thing- Perhaps add an image. a photo. a video. a painting. a collage. if you would.Come here to this post.

"Add a comment with your link. I'll create a typepad page with the links, so others can hear the rhythm of the words, see the image and share in the experience.

"The Request: If you are intrigued enough, post on your blog about this Day of Sharing Words- encourage your friends to post. Who couldn't use a few new poems in their treasury or new songs in their hearts? How cool would it be if we coud [sic] get dozens of bloggers to share on the same day!? What an anthology that would make!!!"

I will certainly be posting one of my favorite poems next Wednesday, Dear Reader. Come back then and see what I have chosen! Will it be a Billy Collins poem, or a Mary Oliver, a classic from Shelley or Keats, perhaps a little e. e. cummings or someone else? Who will I share with you that day? I hope that many of you will be joining in the fun. Please do let LK know so that we may all go to the link page she will create and encounter new poets and old friends. See you there!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dear Husband's Birthday

Today was my DH's birthday. We are now entering into those lovely three months when I can claim that he is "so much older than I" and that he was born "in an entirely earlier decade!" Yes. I can. And I will.I baked DH a big, big, BIG three layer sour cream birthday cake. With rubber ducky candles, no less. I made such a big cake so he could take it out to the gun club tonight to share with the other Thursday night trap shooters. I'm sure there will be no cake left when he returns home. I rather like the ducky candles.
DH's Dear Mother gave him the jackalope for his birthday. This one even sports wings, tail feathers and bird feet! I had never seen one like that before.....

He is very fond of his jackalope. DH is smitten with his jackalope, almost smug to actually own one. DH is taking it to his cabin. Tomorrow. He likes it.

DH is taking it to live in his cabin, the huntin'-fishin'-shootin'-manly activities cabin that fairly reeks of testosterone. He's taking it tomorrow.

Thank God.

Happy birthday, DH.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans' Day

In loving memory to two gentlemen who fought for their country in World War II. My Daddy, Joseph Bell Rawlingsand my father-in-law, Donald Paul Unger. You are missed.
It was a cold, wet and windy Veterans' Day, but the wind made the flags snap crisply and the cold rain couldn't dull the bright colors of the flags.

I honor the all men and women who have made the sacrifice to fight for their country.

Thank you.