Monthly Archives: December 2012

Resolution

Happy New Year!  firework 1

I’m not a big believer in New Years resolutions.  I tend to either be willing to do something, or not, and no amount of resolving is going to help.  New Years has never been a great holiday for me anyway.  The impact towards promoting a new resolution leaves a lot to be desired.

The spiritual “push” to start something new in my life seems to be more seasonal.  Maybe it’s the lunar cycle that helps me with resolutions.  Maybe I am just so encultured to the academic calendar that I am moved to start things in September rather than January.  Maybe I think starting something new moving into the coldest, darkest, most miserable weather season of the year is setting myself up for failure.

This New Years we will be with the family having Christmas.  It was the best date for all of us to get together.  We’ve been challenged to bring a dish with the secret ingredient of egg nog.  I’m supposed to work with my niece and come up with a side dish.  Karina, the pastry chef, was of course given dessert (and the most difficult partner).  Orion isn’t going to eat anything with egg nog in it so he’s off the hook.   I’ll let you know how it turns out.100_3846

I’m really avoiding the issue here, which is resolutions.  Objections aside I have made myself a challenge for the year 2013.  I’ve started a new blog.

Don’t fret, I’ll continue to post this one.  The new blog is a challenge for me personally.  It’s supposed to make me think about my writing in a different way.    I’m calling it LisaSpiralReads.

I am a reader.  I’ve always read, a lot!  The blog is a challenge, not to read 50 books in a year.  I do that most years without even trying.  The blog is to write 50 book reviews in a year!

So if you’re a reader, or just interested enough to see how much crazy stuff I read, consider following the new blog.  I won’t post on a schedule.  I’ll just post as I go.  I may only review the things I like, or I may buck up and try a review of something that doesn’t really turn my fancy.   I’m not going to rate books.  I can’t even manage to rate my pain levels!  But I will let you know if something appeals to me, if I recommend it, and why.100_4153

In the meantime, thanks for checking in.     Best wishes for a fabulous New Year!

Magic

A house in my neighborhood.

A house in my neighborhood.

There is something about this time of year that is simply magical.  Maybe because it gets dark so early we find ourselves outside in the night a little more often.  The stars sparkle and their light is reflected on the snow.  Because its cold the air feels clear.  There is a sharpness to sound that evokes the ringing of bells.

Solstice Blessings

Solstice Blessings

There is a fantastical element to all the lights and decorations.  Santa can be seen in his red suit.  But Santa can also be found in small acts of kindness.  Smiles and seasons greetings pop up in unexpected places.  Generosity is abundant (and often unbounded when credit cards come to hand).  Giving small gifts of time, handmade treasures and treats or the perfect purchase is it’s own reward.

Orion is telling his good buddy Santa all about spreading holiday cheer.

Orion is telling his good buddy Santa all about spreading holiday cheer.

The season lends itself to surprises.  Unexpected guests drop in.  Carolers seem to appear from nowhere in the malls.  The postman brings cards and letters from friends far away, and sometimes packages.  It snows on the internet and inboxes are filled with invitations to festive celebrations of friends and family.

Time is funny between the solstice and New Years day.  School children are underfoot destroying any sense of routine. The offices that are open seem to have more free spaces in the day for chatting with co-workers or stealing treats from the break room.  Holiday hours are posted making that late night run for milk sometimes a tricky affair.  The mail and the garbage man seem to come intermittently and never when you expect.

The lights on my tree are Karina and Orion.

The lights on my tree are Karina and Orion.

Even staying at home can get busy.  There are presents to wrap and cookies to bake.  The smells fill the house and evoke memories of holidays past.  Boxes of decorations have been brought out of storage.  They also hold memories, keepsakes of holidays past.

All this can be frustrating and annoying and cloying and difficult.  But take a deep breath, and remember how special this time of year can be.  Slow down and notice the magic, the spirit, and the joy.  Stop before rushing off and take in the night, and the cold, and the clarity.

May the magic of the season stay with you through-out the coming year.

Hearthfires burning

Hearthfires burning

Solstice Fever

The winter crud is going around.  Orion and I got hit late last week and we’re still dragging a little.  This time of year, when there is so much to do, so much pressure to get it done, it’s hard to take time out.  I don’t get fevers.  When I do they totally wipe me out.  I can’t argue, don’t care if I eat and spend my day moving from one “nest” to another.  I managed to get Orion fed thanks to leftovers and toaster waffles.

There’s another fever going around this year.  The world is supposed to end, or at least the Mayan calendar ends, on 12/21/12.  In case you didn’t notice, that’s the winter solstice.

Have you perhaps been looking at the Aztec calendar?  Or the Oreo Cookie?

Have you perhaps been looking at the Aztec calendar? Or the Oreo Cookie?

In fact that’s kind of the point.  The Mayan’s had a phenomenal grasp of astronomical principles.  They understood, better than many American’s do, that the earth’s trip around the sun gives us our longer nights and shorter days (visa versa towards the summer solstice.)  They also understood the progression of the equinox, the way the whole galaxy turns upon itself.

This year everything lines up.  The winter solstice, the sun in relationship with the galactic core, all of it.  It seems a more reasonable place to “end” the calendar than December 31, or September 18th if you’re Jewish, or  January 23, 2012 or February 10 2013 on the Chinese calendar or November 15th in the Islamic calendar system.  Our dates are pretty arbitrary, the Mayans at least picked an event that can be calculated consistently and that only happens once every 26,000 years or so.

Humans mark the “end times” with fear, and always have.  That in part is the reason for the solstice celebrations.  This is the longest night of the year, it marks the beginning of the coldest season.  It’s a scary time.  Modern sensibilities speculate that the general population didn’t believe the sun would come back unless they celebrated the rites of solstice lead by the priestly class.  How much different is that than stocking up on water and supplies as we approached December 31, 1999?  How familiar is this year’s “solstice fever”?

For a really good article explaining the astronomical connections between the winter solstice and the Mayan calendar  look here:   http://http://www.december212012.com/articles/solar/2012_The_Astronomy_Connection.htm

In the meantime, stay well and Happy Solstice!

Snow

White car in the storm

White car in the storm

Sparkles tinkling in the headlight beams

Falling in clumps from overburdened branches

100_4102

Drifting in biting breezes

not too high yet

not too high yet

Plowed with dirt and grass ready to trap the unsuspecting traveler

Blown in furrows an orchestra of engines up and down the driveways

Toddlers in a circle tossing handfuls up to fall again100_4095

Packed as gentle weapons in a war of laughter

Snowman Karina Dylan and DavisSculpted into fat round men glistening in the sunlight

Cold damp kisses on eyelashes and tongues

Winter’s cloak of glory

icicles under the rain barrel

icicles under the rain barrel

The season’s first snow100_4103

Old Friends

I grew up hearing “We only seem to get together at weddings and funerals.”  Now I’m at an age where I truly appreciate how weddings, funerals and this last weekend christenings do provide an opportunity to bring people together.

Karina and two of her "old friends"

Karina and two of her “old friends”

The grandparents of one of my daughters best friends from childhood died in a fire Thanksgiving weekend.  They were also neighbors and the kids spent many summers playing in their pool.  The funeral provided many glimpses into they dynamics of “old friends.”

The girls are at an age where they are just starting to move away from the people they’ve grown up with.  They are off at school or starting their careers.   They’re no longer spending the day together and then rushing to text or talk again on the phone as soon as they are apart.  They make a point to check in over holiday weekends, “When are you coming home for winter break?”

Several of their close childhood friends took different roads.  They’ve already lost touch or “stopped speaking” to each other, which often means unfriending on Facebook.  It’s not that the gossip ring isn’t still active.  We still hear that this girl has gotten engaged or that one has a new college boyfriend.

The Mom of one of the girls my daughter is “no longer speaking to” said, “I miss having the girls over.  At my new apartment I have never found rock hard marshmallows under the cushions.”  My daughter said it was really nice to see her friend’s Mom and that she would have been happy to just smile and wave at the friend.  But she also noted that having her friend come over and chat was almost like when they were kids.  “She was nice to me again.  (Probably because her boyfriend wasn’t there.)”

The grandparents who died had lived in the neighborhood over 50 years.  So has my neighbor across the street.  She was very sad.  For her this is the end of an era.  They weren’t necessarily close friends but they lived in a time when everyone knew their neighbors and counted on them.  They have been old friends.  I suppose I am too.  I’ve lived across the street for 20 years. We talk at the mailbox.  Maybe I should stop in and invite her to go for a walk.

Me with the proud parents.

Me with the proud parents.

The christening was for the son of one of the boys I used to babysit for when I was a teen.  I did ‘summer in-home day care’ along with almost every other Friday night.  My sister would sub for me when I was busy.  The Mom was one of my mother’s best friends.  They grew up and I went off to college but would occasionally find an excuse to spend the day together.  Lost track of them when I started having kids and they went away for college.

I’ve kept in touch with the older brother over the years, although it’s definitely a long distance relationship.  I’ve reconnected fairly recently with the younger brother and his wife.  Picking up right where we left off.  Haven’t seen the Mom and her new husband in at least 20 years.

I used to watch this woman's kids.  Now we're old friends.

I used to watch this woman’s kids. Now we’re old friends.

With the new baby my Mom and their Mom had an excuse to reconnect.  A congratulatory phone call was made.  Photos were sent with a letter in the mail.  There’s a lot of water under the bridge, but they’re still old friends.  Me too.  I sat with the family at the christening.  Grandma handing me her camera to take a picture introduced me as an old friend of the family and a newly published author.  We’re old friends.

The boys embrace me into the family as well.  Their partners treat me like the favorite auntie. They all brag on our old friendship and tell me they are  ever so grateful that I could attend.  I’m the one who’s grateful.  I’m lucky to have so many old friends.  I just wish I’d get to see them more often than at weddings and funerals and christenings and reunions.  🙂

I babysat two of these boys, would like to babysit the third.  The fourth is a new friend who I hope will become an old friend.

I babysat two of these boys, would like to babysit the third. The fourth is a new friend who I hope will become an old friend.

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