Sunday, December 30, 2007

Winter Pictures

In my attempt to appreciate winter more, I took pictures in my yard on December 29th. The next day I took a short trip to Cedarburg, WI and brought along my camera.

Cedarburg is a small, charming German town about 25 miles north of Milwaukee. My grandparents lived in this town in a house built by my Grandmother's grandparents. I have wonderful memories of Cedarburg and my grandparents (Oma and Opa). Cedarburg is a great place to shop and is host to many festivals throughout the year. It has grown, but has kept its old world charm.

Anyway, here are the pictures I took. The first few are from my garden, the rest are from Cedarburg.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Long Winter Nights

I don't do well in winter.

I have SAD (Seasonal affective disorder) to some extent. So did my Mom, so I guess I inherited it.

I try to be aware of it. I try not to let it affect me, but these long dark nights and cold days really do a number on me - my health, my emotions, my attitude - just everything.

I want to live in a climate where in winter I grab a light coat to go out - not a heavy coat, scarf, hat, mittens, warm socks and ugly shoe-like boot things to keep my feet dry.

I dislike getting up in the dark and coming home in the semi-dark. I dislike not being able to walk my dogs because of the cold (and salt on the sidewalks) and I don't feel safe walking them in the dark during the winter. Where are my flowers? Buried deep beneath the soil. I start to doubt if I will ever see them again!

I get so anxious. I get easily frustrated. My emotions run high and then low - I bounce all over the place. I shut down-figuratively and literally. I'm tired. Where's my cave? I put on (even more) weight. I cry a lot and am overly sensitive. Did I mention that I am so very tired? It is like my emotions are on a tight rope and I'm not doing a very good balancing act.

I want the sun. I've sick of snow and it's only the first month of winter. I'm sick of my shovel.

Although I get a lot of reading done, I lose energy and interest in other things. I have great plans for projects to do each winter and each winter I fail miserably at them - I rarely even start them.

I want to be left alone, yet I feel clingy.

I try to see the beauty in the season, and I do to a point. I enjoy the beautiful sunsets in winter, the fresh, crisp air, fresh snow on the trees. I like seeing kids playing, building snowmen, sledding. I love watching the birds at my feeder - stocking up before a storm.

Then the snow gets dirty and ugly. The streets are filthly, garbage piles up, my car is dirty all of the time. I hate it.

UGH! It is so frustrating.

I need sun. I need warmth. I need a long walk with Phil, with my dogs.

After this winter, only 2 more before I can retire. It can't come soon enough. After I retire I only want to see snow on calendar pictures.

More Books

As I mentioned in my last post, there were 19 books that were not chosen to be read by my book group in 2008. Of the 19 I have read 4 (Time Traveler's Wife, Anywhere But Here, Daughter of Fortune and The Thirteenth Tale) and have 1000 Splendid Suns (audio version) on the waiting list to get from the library.

Will I read the other 14? Don't know. I'm only familiar with a couple of them and I might read those. So unless I get any input on any others, I probably won't. The book I recommended, The Thirteenth Tale, didn't make the cut. It is a great book, unusual, somewhat Gothic. Sally recommended it to me and I loved it. Oh, well . . . it has a great website - - check it out!

Here is a list of the books not chosen:

Evil Genes by Barb Oakley
Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Almost Moon by Alice Seybold
1000 Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Dante Club by M. Perle
The Most Wanted by J. Michard
Anywhere But Here by Mona Simpson
Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beach
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
Bethlehem Road by Ann Perry
Farmboys by William Felloews
Being Dead by Jim Crace
Daughter of Fortune by Isabelle Allende
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Vegetable, Animal, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
The Most Famous Man in America by Debby Applegate
Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon
Service Included by Phoebe Damrosch


Book Club

I belong to a Women's Book Group through my church

The group recently selected the books to be read in 2008. Unfortunately, I couldn't attend that night, but am happy with the books chosen. I've read 3 of them already so it should be an easy year.

I have either read or listened to: Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tam (excellent, I enjoy her books); Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (grabbed at the airport on the way home from Costa Rica and glad I did!) and Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (listened on CD - very funny and highly informative book about the Appalachian Trail).

I find the list includes one classic and a host of fantastic authors.

So, here is what I will be reading for sure the next year. Plus, all the books on CD and other recommendations. My next post will be of the books not chosen for 2008 - there are 19 of them. These women LOVE to read!

Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst
Plain Truth by Jodi Picout
Come Along with Me by Shirley Jackson
Lolita by Nabakov
Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan
Pushing the Bear by Diane Glancy
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
1000 White Women by Jim Fergus
Walk in the Wood by Bill Bryson
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
Shattered Dreams by Irene Spencer

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wrapping Gifts (A Lesson in Frustration!)

I'm wrapping presents tonight.

Unfortunately, I'm terrible at it.

Luckily, I don't have too many to wrap!

Thank goodness for gift bags!!!

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Still of the Night

Winter Solstice

Of all of the Earth-based holidays/celebrations, winter solstice is my favorite. Not only because of its closeness to the Christian celebration of Christmas, but because it means the return of the light. The end of the year, the birth of a new year. A time of hope, joy and peace.

The midwinter sun stays a little longer each day. The return of the sun light brings forth the moment of new beginnings.

For me it is a time of reflection, a time of hope, a fresh start to the new year. A time of knowing that the days are longer and having the sun light kiss my face.

Tonight it is snowing like crazy. I've just returned from Terri's house where I brought her a Middle Eastern birthday dinner (Happy Birthday, Terri - December 17th). The drive home was slippery and I am happy to be in my snug house, flannel pj's and drinking hot chocolate. The dogs are curled up on my lap and at my feet and I'm looking at the Christmas lights in my living room. My bird feeders are full so the birds won't be hungry in the morning. A new shovel is waiting for me on the front porch. Phil is with his daughter this weekend, but I know he is with me in spirit, as always.

I feel peaceful. I feel content. Solstice will be here in a few days. I will light candles and know that all is well, that all is well, that all is well.

May the circle open, but never be broken. Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again. Happy Solstice every one.
For a cool website on Winter Solstice see

Monday, December 10, 2007

They Don't Get Much Cuter

It's an auntie's right to brag - similar to that of a grandmother. So, here are 2 pictures of my youngest great-niece, Shannon Erin. One was taken in June and the other on December 1st.

I have another adorable great-niece, Cadyn, who lives in Atlanta and is equally as cute. I don't see her much, but here is one from last March, along with her, extremely handsome brother, Coggan.

Then there is Aaron, Shannon's 15 year old big brother, who avoid cameras like they are the plague. Here is one from last March with me.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas

A few years ago my church lady friend, Nikki, turned me on to this song by Dar Williams. I really like it and it helps to create a bridge between the Pagans and Christians during this holiday season. Enjoy! (Thank you Earth-Bound Spirit for walking me through the uploading video experience. Not quite sure how I did it after a dozen attempts, but this try worked!)