Friday, December 31, 2010

It's been a year

Quite a year.

Seems the days slip by - the time passes and we have another year behind us. This year has come to a crashing end - pushing and slipping and slamming us towards the new year. I'm looking for peace and happiness.

As this year draws to a close I am thinking about what makes for happiness.

Good health, or course, that helps. And since Don's heart surgery, good health has been on our minds more and more. He is in good health and that brings me happiness. . .

The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness.
You have to catch it for yourself. ~Benjamin Franklin

Family - children and children-in-laws - all spectacular adults leading productive and wonderful lives. Growing and learning and always there to help others when needed. And grandsons - there is hardly a moment of a day that I'm not thinking of things the boys have said, things they have done, photos I have taken, times we have spent with them. And now, next June, another grandbaby - all bring happiness . . .

Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open. ~John Barrymore

Linda - at a sew-in in Anacortes

Friends - I have many friends; long time friends; school classmates that I've reconnected with; new friends; friends nearby; friends far away; friends I talk with almost daily; friends I contact only ocassionally and still, it is like we were together yesterday; friends that care; friends that I care about; friends from around the world that I've met through blogging - friends are happiness . . .

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming
gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~Marcel Proust

Working with my hands - this is when I meditate, when my thoughts wander and swoop and swirl and swoosh far and near. When I can light on any subject and ponder it as long as I want, or for a tiny short moment. Quilting, knitting, crocheting, crafting, gardening, washing the dishes, cleaning our house, painting, dabbling about in new crafts - all bring happiness . . .

Every now and then, when the world sits just right, a gentle breath of heaven fills my soul with delight... ~Hazelmarie ‘Mattie’ Elliott, A Breath of Heaven

Helping others - when a friend hurts, hold their hand; when someone is sad, be their sunshine; if there is a need, fill it; if the path is long and lonely, share the journey - these bring happiness . . .

One joy scatters a hundred griefs. ~Chinese Proverb

Nature - the beauty of the trees; a surprise visit to the bird feeder of a bird we've not seen before; the happiness on a child's face when a deer comes close and eats from their hand; clouds with sunshine bursting from behind them; eagles soaring over the river; dark stormy days when the very air rocks and blasts us; spray from the waves of the ocean; water, smooth or choppy, rippling or rushing - happiness surrounds us . . .

Pleasure is spread through the earth
In stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find.
~William Wordsworth, 1806

Time spent with Don, just the two of us. Watching the Alaska ferry depart on Friday nights - listening for the whistle blast as it echos through the hills of Bellingham; walking down the mossy path at the lake - finding a new scene that we've not noticed before; riding for hours - looking for swans, or snow geese, or flotillas of ducks, or pelicans skimming the ocean; sitting in our comfortable chairs, talking late into the night; driving down to the bay at midnight just to listen to the fog horns; waking each other up so we can both hear the owl in the night - happiness multiplied over and over . . .

“The really happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery when on a detour.” — Unknown

And so I find happiness - happiness in the year just past, happiness in the things to come, happiness that makes my heart sing, even after a hard patch, happiness that lasts and I can revisit over and over . . . there is happiness . . .

You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy ice cream.
And that’s kind of the same thing. – Unknown

Happiness and ice cream to you all in the new year!!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

From our family - the merriest of christmases!

May you have as much fun and happiness as we are having!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Some fun stuff in the mail

This week I received some wonderful things in the mail - I do love surprises. From my friend Franni, in Florida, I got a nice big box of fun things. Some I knew were coming - some I was surprised by.

Some cute hair clips for the holidays - Franni makes and sells these in her Artfire shop - do stop over and see what else she has there. . . you'll be glad you did . . .

More darling hair clips . . .

And then the surprise part - two big stacks of red fabrics - oh how I love red fabric . . .

And a big piece of this fabulous 30s reproduction fabric - isn't it just great?

And for our tree, the cutest little sequin boot ornaments . . .

And a machine embroidered picture frame - just the thing for Ben's santa photo . . . such a fun box to open - it just went on and on - I'm lucky to have a friend like Franni.

And from my good friend Pam, a wonderful suprise. I was not even expecting this box, but when I saw the return address I was really excited.

This is a santa that Pam's mom made. Pam and her mother took a doll making class together and Pam's mom started this Santa doll. She passed away before she could finish it and the teacher finished it up. Santa has lived at Pam's house for 6 years now and she decided that he wanted to live here with my other Santas. So she surprised me with Santa.

Santa has stripey socks and "leather" shoes and mittens, checked pants and a lined velvet coat with hat and pack to match. His hat jingles with a bell and he is watching to see if you were naughty or nice. Pam was definitely nice, to share Santa with me. He will always be a very special treasure.

Santa's face close up - I love the red wire glasses and his puffy beard.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas lights

What a wonderful season - and beautiful lights. I love how everyone decorates their houses this time of year - and shares it with their neighbors. Don and I took a ride the other night - and found glorious lights everywhere.

Close up of the star lights . . .

The above 7 photos are all of the same yard . . .

The mailbox opened and closed . . .

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Jahn's holiday concert

We went to Jahn-Zyel's holiday concert last week. Each grade sang several songs. The third graders were especially good.

There is Jahn - in the center in the red shirt . . .

Smiling at Ben when Ben waved to him . . .

After the concert we got to visit Jahn's classroom, here is Jahn, ready for christmas vacation. . .

This is Mt. Baker, the view from the playground - what a magnificent mountain . . . what a fabulous day!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solstice - a grand time of the year!

At last the shortest day of the year - a time of celebration and good cheer. The sun is coming back - the days are getting longer - there is hope of spring again - though we have plenty of rain, wind and cold weather - at least is is better than two years ago, when our world here in NW WA was covered in two feet of snow and more was coming down. This year had a spectacular event in the wee hours of the morning - a full moon, and a full lunar eclipse at the time of solstice. This will occur again in 2094 and hasn't occured since the 1600s - a rare treat indeed.

This is one of the favorite celebrations in our family - some are making "sun" cookies with yellow frosting - some are making art that reminds them of spring and sunshine - others are simply enjoying nature and thinking of the good things that have passed through our lives this past year.

Newgrange, in Ireland (Irish: DĂșn Fhearghusa) is one of the passage tombs in County Meath, one of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world and the most famous of all Irish prehistoric sites.

Newgrange was built in such a way that at dawn on the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, a narrow beam of sunlight for a very short time illuminates the floor of the chamber at the end of the long passageway. This light lasts for 17 minutes on the day of the Winter Solstice. There are many prehistoric sites around the world that are also engineered in this manner.

The Roman midwinter holiday, Saturnalia, was both a gigantic fair and a festival of the home. Merry-making took place, and the halls of houses were decked with boughs of laurel and evergreen trees. Lamps were kept burning to ward off the spirits of darkness. Schools were closed. Friends visited one another, bringing good-luck gifts of fruit, cakes, candles, dolls, jewelry, and incense. Temples were decorated with evergreens symbolizing life's continuity. Many of our modern Christmas traditions were taken from Solstice celebrations.

In pagan Scandinavia the winter festival was the yule (or juul). Great yule logs were burned, and people drank mead around the bonfires listening to minstrel-poets singing ancient legends. It was believed that the yule log had the magical effect of helping the sun to shine more brightly.

Yule log

A Scandinavian Yule tree - lit with candles.

Mistletoe, which was sacred because it mysteriously grew on the most sacred tree, the oak, was ceremoniously cut and a spray given to each family, to be hung in the doorways as good luck. The celtic Druids also regarded mistletoe as sacred. Druid priests cut it from the tree on which it grew, with a golden sickle, and handed it to the people, calling it All-Heal. To hang it over a doorway or in a room was to offer goodwill to visitors. Kissing under the mistletoe was a pledge of friendship. Mistletoe still has a special place in our Christmas celebrations.

There are great traditions to build on and enjoy this time of year. A wreath is a good place to start - a symbol of the circle of a year. After making the wreath and making wishes for the coming year - it can be placed outdoors. After the new year the wreath can be recycled back to nature - or it can be saved and burned in the Summer Solstice bonfire.

If you like - add some pine cones spread with pnut butter and rolled in bird seeds - to welcome our feathered friends to our homes.

Making desserts is a great way to celebrate - and add birthday candles to the dessert - which often might have the shape of a sun on it. Each family member can light one candle and give a thankful thought about the past year - or a hopeful thought for the coming year.

Big fires in the fireplace - or burning candles if you are not so fortunate to have a fireplace - are both symbolic of the soltice celebration - calling to the sun to come back and shine stronger for a spring and summer of growing food.

Gift giving is a wondeful tradition on the Solstice - either opening one of the many gifts under the tree - or having special gifts in a basket to share with family and friends on this wonderful day.

And baskets of food are often taken to friends and family as part of the Solstice celebration. Don't forget some of those sunny cookies.

And of course singing is a great part of any Solstice celebration - Deck the Halls, and Carol of the Bells are two very significant songs sung at this time of the year. Reminders of our connection with nature and our connection to our past and to our future.

We find many of our holiday celebrations come from variations of the ancient celebrations - bringing us all closer together, sharing our celebrations with one another.

Happy Solstice to all - we'd love to hear about your Solstice celebrations.