Robin watching

I learned last year that robins only migrate south when food sources or extreme weather conditions force them to do so. Facultative migration, it is called.

This holly tree can be seen from a bedroom window. It grows by our front deck. This afternoon, it was a very busy robin feeding station. The last frame shows a mockingbird getting his share.

The flock invaded the backyard as well, where they were joined by starlings and all were busy running to and fro turning  up leaves looking for a tasty snack and enjoying the lovely, sunny day. It seemed quite a party!

robins

Merry Little Christmas!

Happy New Year! Blessed Epiphany Greetings!

Christmas Tree

Growing up, I loved Christmas music. Throughout the season I would search through the old records and play them over and over. This one lingers in my memory still. To me, this version of We Three Kings has a rich, mysterious and regal sound. The person who posted to Youtube has added some beautiful artwork to the page, if you care to linger there.

Magi once travelled far from their comfortable homes to seek, to gaze. I think about them each year, the seekers, the searchers, the brave adventurers, the courageous explorers. Their breed has not vanished from the earth, you know. They are among us still.

There is a stargazer inside me – one searching for The Star; longing to gaze into His face, His eyes.

However, I am a bit like this one – see him? Wise Men  Down on his knees, begging his camel to come along… I find it all too easy among all the festivities to become distracted by things that are to serve us, and to serve them. And not only that, but see how the others have become distracted too? Yah, I can lead others to distractions too. Then we miss the shining path through life.

This year, I want to follow our pastor’s encouragement to ‘step into my dark and look up for the star.’

star light

I want to find my way to the promise of grace, wonder, glory and great beauty in this New Year.

May  you find yours as well.Nativity scene

Several years ago, I read and interesting book by Brent Landau titled, Revelation of the Magi. This is a translation of an ancient Syriac document. It is a fascinating story of the Nativity told from the point of view of the Magi and told with great reverence. You might find it interesting.

We had the gift of a light snow today. The beauty offsets the bitter cold.

IMG_4713 It follows after evening and morning glorious of Monday which I simply must share.

evening & morning

{You may click on any photo to enlarge it.}

 

Tree voices

Christmas Eve busy winding along to Christmas day but I haven’t forgotten waking early thinking of trees. I wondered why and listened hard but found them still and silent in the dark outside my window. Not satisfied, I wrapped in flannel and opened the door. Trees patiently, quietly standing washed in rain.

evergreen

I don’t see them, but I hear the early call of a few birds at their prayers – loud praises. No doubt most are huddled in evergreen and bush and brush from the steady rain, whispering bird praises.

I think it a companionable gathering - birds and trees. Storms and disease take their toll, but in life and death, trees live to serve and shelter them.

evergreen

This Christmas eve, I’m not really listening for bird call but I strain to catch other voices, to hear the trees whispering. I am sure they were calling me from sleep. But I hear nothing. Maybe it’s just the breath of fresh greenery in the house. I’ve shared my early memory of trees before and I wonder if my small self heard their voices then.

Trees are like a wondrous, rich inheritance, but one taken for granted, I’m afraid. From Genesis to Revelation, trees are pictured, connecting to us in parable. They are portrayed with their own rich life, lively and nurturing and protecting. In parable, I too can have a rich tree-like life - thriving and strong, serving and sheltering.

lighted evergreen

I’m so glad we celebrate Christmas with trees; they teach me to rejoice too! Listen, you might hear them clap their hands! Now on this silent night, I listen for the rustle of their praise and add my own to the chorus.

Christmas treeMerry Christmas to all!

 

 

A Simple Gift

snow day    The words of the old Shaker song go round in my head. Finding myself in “the place just right” seems hard some days – like the other day when I realized that the inkjet cartridge had leaked black all over lovely wood and then I picked up the wrong can of paint and though I thought it looked a bit dark - it was wet… I went on painting. And then I had to paint again. <sigh> I know, in the grand scheme of life, not so big a deal but it is the little things some days that seem to overflow the cup. What do you do with those days? When the wind blows hard and there are even waves in the birdbath.

IMG_4512

In 1985, it was really big deal to have our beloved Nana diagnosed with dementia. We tried keeping her at home with helpers, but the disease took her away in giant steps. Too soon, for her safety and well being, it became a necessity to place her in a care facility. It was a time of busy grief.

Christmas was coming. I had so much on my mind that day I drove the beltway – from where and to where - I no longer remember. But on that drive, the thought came to me that we could give her an album quilt for Christmas. Only one problem. I had no idea what an album quilt really was but I thought of blocks, large ones, that would tell a story, the story of her life.

I went to a small quilt shop with my idea and the staff was so helpful with the project from beginning to end; even supplying fabric from personal stashes when I cut the border fabric wrong and there was not enough to finish.

I sent fabric and the plan out to family and everyone worked on squares that said something about her life. Everyone worked quickly, taking comfort in being able to do something, anything, to bring some comfort to her, and ourselves. Soon, all the blocks were back and it was time to make the quilt.

I had never made a quilt before…

Sewing the blocks and borders together was the easy part. Then came backing and batting and I recall taping it to my kitchen floor as the only place to stretch it out and layer it. Finally it was pined together and ready to quilt.

I had never made a quilt before…

I called my friend Lucy. She was a Southern girl with a country background. Did she know how to quilt? “Quilting should enhance your design, don’t do too much.” What did that mean?! I stitched some, and then some more. Then came the binding – and somehow – it was done – by Christmas.Nana's quiltThe quilt became a great gift to us as we felt we could wrap her in our love. Nana used the quilt for 4 1/2 years. At first the staff thought it a nuisance, then it changed their view of this wonderful woman. It gave her an identity, a life; it became a conversation point. It reminded them that she was loved and cared about.

There is nothing fancy about the quilt but it is now a family treasure, faded, worn and soft.

And today? That gift to Nana, opened a space for me. For when the wind blows hard, the ink spills, the paint goes on wrong… there is a calm that comes with fingering fabrics, hearing the whirl of the machine.

                   quilt     quilt

We woke to snow today, rather like a celebration to remember Nana on her birthday, with love.

Loretta    1906 – 1990

Nana

Gratitudes aplenty

“Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude.”

                                                                                                         Colossians 4:2 Mess.

We were blessed to visit in Williamsburg again. One of my favorite places is the Botanical Garden there. Like most everywhere else, it was and had been very cold. The afternoon that we visited was brilliant.  Bird chatter from high above or feeders or deep within shrubbery was constant and timid squirrels clung high.

Botanical Garden

I was surprised to find that there had been late Iris bloom, sadly hit by the bitterness. But new buds seemed untouched. There were, in fact, many brilliant things to see in this small place.

Brights

Beautybush, Winterberry, Wax Myrtle (?); Roses, gorgeous leaves, Flowering cabbage; Iris, Tansy, Bald cypress

Then I took another look to see how the garden was dressing itself for the holidays. Here is just a sample.Subtle

I really missed the names of many of these as the colonies are large. But the first is Hops and directly below is Queen Anne’s lace. In the center, trailing pinkish petals, Echinacea and next to it, Northern sea oats. I could hardly take it all in, the variety of subtle was intriguing as I walked round and through the many pathways. Then all to soon, it was time to leave.

Pinecone

I wish everyone a joyous Thanksgiving! May your tables be full of the bounty of family, friends and provisions. Look well, stay alert!

Deep into autumn

mellow time  Sumac red and dogwood mahogany fade to apricot this long and extraordinary season.

mellow road Russet and gold mellow; the world is quieting.

ice on birdbath  Ice begins to form on the birdbath and this year the Snowbirds compete with the Goldfinches at the thistle feeder.

frost  Frost twinkles in the early light before sun.

Loch Raven  Contours and features long hidden in green come back into focus.

first snow  And one night, the first snow drifts down. Time to settle into warm clothes, lamplight, comforting foods and wrapping my heart extra tight in gratitude for wonder and blessing.

Bedtime Writing

November 2, 2014

Reading Slowing Time Seeing the Sacred Outside Your Kitchen Door, sinking into the poetry of her thoughts and prayers. Tonight as I huddle under the comforter, it is quiet. The roaring, rushing winds of yesterday that lingered through the early hours of the day are whispering now.

As I linger in Barbara Mahany’s images, a little urge for something warm slips in. As I make my way to the kitchen, light is filtering through the glass block window. Light that only comes from the filling in of the moon. Finding a small quilt to wrap around me, I step blindly out into crunchy leaves so that my view of moon and stars will be clear.

Stunning seconds of beauty in the freezing cold. Right outside my kitchen door.

October bows out with flourishes

I found these lovely words by Will Carleton, American poet:

Sweet and smiling are thy ways, Beauteous, golden, Autumn days!

Bright jewel colors still linger.

October

There are mysteries this year of purple leaves and fallen oak leaves, blooms with berries and brilliance in tree tops.

October

Sunsets glorious with clouds end days.

October