Monday, December 31, 2012

Resolution Revolution

  OK.  I'm not a fan of  New Year's resolutions.  So I'm starting a resolution revolution.  Join me if you want, if not , that's OK too!

january one
open the newspaper
same old, same old

same old, same old
 will it ever really change
flip the calendar

flip the calendar
promise a brand new start

nothing new under the sun
live in the moment

live in the moment
it's really all one can do
breathe peace

breathe peace
in and out every moment
start today

start today
peace one breath at a time
january one

   I'm still on a blog break for the holidays but wanted to wish all my wonderful friends, readers,  fellow bloggers and poets a peace-filled 2013. Thank you for your encouragement and support in 2012!  I am so blessed to have you in my life!  

Sharing with Haiku Heights 'new'

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Magic of Christmas

  It is usually easy to  conjure  up that old Christmas magic every year.  The sound of Christmas hymns in church ,  the smell of pine in the air, the gradual appearance of lights and decorations just as the darkness of winter comes upon us,  and the excited anticipation of children everywhere, all stir up in my heart,   the magic of Christmas' past.

 Perhaps nothing does it for me quite like the decorations I put on my Christmas tree. Each one is dusted with the magic of Christmas memories. A few were on the first tree I ever saw in my parent's house!

      When I was very young, we lived in the basement of my grandparent's house.  What I remember most about Christmas was the lights.   We had  bubble lights (since outlawed as dangerous)  that  were shaped like candles but had bubbling liquid in them. They were magical and  I loved them.  And perhaps because I was so close to the floor, I recall looking, in absolute wonder at the glittering balls and decorations on the tree.  Magic!

 On Christmas morning, we opened our presents, then some time later, Nannie would come to the stairs and call us,  saying that Santa had come upstairs  to her house too.   My sister  and I would run upstairs  to find another tree with more gifts under it.  Magic!!  


     My favorite memory of  my other grandmother involves her suggestion that we call "Saaaanta" into the old fireplace in the living room.  Before long, we would hear, coming right out of the fireplace, Santa's voice!!!!   Years later, my mother  told me that Grandma would answer us through the heat registers in another room and the sound of her voice would travel and sound like it was coming out of the fire place. Magic!!

       Moving to the suburbs a few years later, brought new and unforgettable traditions.  My father set up the only outdoor creche in the neighborhood and someone  got all the kids together to practice singing Christmas carols and every year on December 23rd, we went caroling after dark.  Finally we gathered around the creche on our lawn to sing one last hymn.  Then someone gave out hot chocolate and we warmed up.   Magic!

   I recall three gifts from my childhood.  When I was perhaps four or five, I got a chain drive tricycle.  I was thrilled that Santa brought me such a big bike!  Magic!  Another year, I  received a  John Nagy Drawing Kit,  something I had coveted.  I guess that was an example of early television advertising.  Still, it was magic!   By the time  I was nine or ten, we received mostly clothing  for Christmas but always, a few Nancy Drew books were tucked away behind all the clothes boxes.   I opened them last and spent the rest of Christmas Day reading.  Magic! 

     Once I married and  started to have children , the idea of Christmas magic shifted and  suddenly  we became the magicians - no longer did we expect magic, we now wanted to make it!   Soon we were creating our own family  traditions even as we added more babies to our family.

  We began collecting decorations for our tree,  adding a few more every year.  Watching the little ones react to the lights  was magic!   When the children were old enough, they made ornaments and those remain some of  my most cherished. 

    Sharing the  ancient Christmas story about the Light of the World with each child, perpetuating the magic of Santa for another generation and sharing with them the joy of giving carried with it  special joys.  I revisit each memory when I see the tree in all its glory.    

     Recently, our grandson  has brought the wonder and delight of childhood back into our lives.  Every light and ornament looks brand new when I look at it with him. As he stares with wide eyes at my Christmas music boxes and studies each ornament on the tree, I can experience Christmas through the eyes of a child again.  Magic!!

     My Christmas memories fall loosely into three eras : my childhood, my children's childhood,  and my grandson's childhood. And my tree has ornaments on it from all of those years.  Each one, sparkling with memories,  is capable of bringing the innocent joy of Christmas to my heart.  

 My fondest hope and wish is for the Christmas Light to grow brighter every year until  all hearts are touched by its brilliance.  


Shared with Recuerda Mi Corazon   Postcards from Paradise.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Soul Care

      I had to go looking for inspiration to create a post for the end of this week.  With Christmas looming, there would normally be no shortage of topics to explore, all lending themselves to savoring the wonders of this season.

   Somehow, I was unable to get up the energy to post a recipe of my favorite cookies or another story about Orange Sneakers.  Not this week.  My heart is just not ready to put on the child-like joy I usually feel right about now in the year.

     I often visit Abbey of the Arts for spiritual nourishment and especially to join in the poetry party held monthly by Christine Valters Paintner, PhD., a Benedictine oblate.   The challenge this month was  to write a poem on the topic of 'kinship with creation,' using the photo below as inspiration. Click on the link above to explore more Abbey of the Arts.

   Here are three linked haiku that came out of my meditation on the photo and topic:


an innocent deer
leaves a trail to follow
toward the light


in stillness
trees lift their branches
toward heaven


do song birds
find the silence comforting
in winter? 


Photo Credit: "Snow Tracks" by Brent Bill

I am also  sharing  with Recuerda Mi Corazon for Haiku my Heart on Friday.    Hop on over there to find poets and artists with abundant  heart and soul nourishment!


Take-away for today:  The spirit is the fourth spoke in the wheel of holistic wellness and may indeed be the key to physical, mental and psychological health.   There are many paths to spiritual wellness.  What nourishes your spirit? 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

December Sorrow

    My last post was about how December is a month for and about children. It was titled 'December Joy' and  I  recalled my own childhood as I pulled Christmas out of the attic, relived our children's Christmases  and planned  for more  magic  for our beautiful four-year old grandson.

    I was writing and posting my photos and recollections, forming some haiku as I went along last Friday morning.  No TV, no radio just me and my poetry.  So it was an enormous shock to discover what had transpired while I was writing about the joy and innocence of Christmas.  It was an enormous shock no matter how or when one heard the news.

   I am heart-broken......devastated.......  bereft of words.......filled with sadness like everyone else.

  At the heart of Christmas, of course, is the Holy One who came as a vulnerable child to teach the world about love. The One who always let the children come to Him.  I have no doubt He weeps with us today.

  All I can do is pray....... for the children, their parents, grandparents and siblings, friends and neighbors. All the ones for whom Christmas will never again be wrapped in joyful memories.   May they be consoled.

Shared with Recuerda Mi Corazon

Thursday, December 13, 2012

December Joys


december weekend
unpacking decorations
wrapped in memories

enters her heart and soul
through many doors

fragrant pine
scented with childhood

candles and toys
decorate an evergreen
with joy

giving gifts
the magic of santa
lovely secret

warm kitchen
nana's linzer torts baking
hugs from heaven

carols sung

 with neighbors and friends
o holy night

born in a stable
humble love

a prayer
for the bells of peace to ring
on earth


Sharing with Recuerda Mi Corazon Haiku My Heart

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Bread

   OK, I admit it, I was never the cookie mom when my kids were small.  They knew better than to ask me to bake for the class.  It just wasn't my thing. 

 But I could bake a mean loaf of bread and this particular recipe became a family favorite.  I've been making this bread at Christmastime for as long as any of us can remember.

 Where the original came from is lost to history. I have this written on an index card with enough wear and tear on it to have come from the Civil War, except for the fact that it is written in ball-point pen!

Bread making is a somewhat lengthy process and requires some skill in working with the amazing qualities of the living organism known as yeast.  I admit to having made several brick-like loaves before  I got the hang of it.  This is one of the easiest, most fool-proof recipes I've used and it is delicious!

  There are two parts to the recipe, the basic ingredients and the special add-ons which flavor the bread in various ways.  

   Here's how I do it:

 *** Gather the ingredients and start the bread early in the day.

 ***Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add it to 1 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats in a large bowl.  Add 2 TBS of butter, 2 & 1/2  tsp of salt and 1/2 cup of honey or molasses.  Let this sit for 1/2 hour.

 *** Add 2 packages of yeast to 1/3 cup of lukewarm water. let this sit for 5-10 minutes.

 ***Add the yeast to the oat mixture and stir.

 ***Add the special ingredients if using.
Choose one:
   * 1 cup of raisins and 1-2 tsp of cinnamon
   * 2 tsp rubbed sage,2 tsp caraway seeds, 1 tsp marjoram
   * 1/4 tsp thyme, 2 tsp summer savory,  1/2 tsp dried parsley, 1 tsp basil, 1/2 tsp anise seed
   * 3/4 cup of citron
   *or use 1/2 cup of orange marmalade and only 1/4 cup of molasses.

 Now you are ready to add the flour.  You need about 6 cups of flour give or take a 1/2 cup.  I use  half whole wheat and half white flour.  Stir in the first four cups of flour, mixing with a spoon. Add the last 2 cups of flour a little at a time and begin mixing with your hands once you can't stir anymore.  Keep adding the flour and kneading as you go.  As soon as the dough becomes sticky, add more flour.

Keep kneading.

Eventually(after about 10 to 15 minutes of kneading) the dough will take up all the flour and begin to have a slight sheen to it.   Kind of velvety.  That's when you've kneaded enough and you are ready to let the dough rise. Cover with a clean towel and place in a warm spot . In 1& 1/2 to 2 hours the dough will go from this:
 To this:

Now punch it down, divide in half and form 2 loaves.  Cover again and let rise for about 1 hour.
 When the loaves are peeking over the side of the pan they are ready to be baked at 325 about 4 inches from the bottom of the oven for about 40 to 50 minutes.

When they come out of the oven take the loaves out of the pans and place on a cooling rack.  Paint the top of the hot bread with butter to make the crust shiny and resist the temptation to devour the entire loaf before it cools a bit!

This recipe, depending on which 'special ingredients you choose, can be perfect with a cup of afternoon tea or as an accompaniment to a turkey dinner, or  for making a sandwich of leftover turkey.   I try to always have the cinnamon raisin loaf for our breakfast on Christmas morning. Toasted heaven!

Some hints for successful bread-making:
           ** Check the date on the yeast package to make sure it is fresh.
          ** Yeast needs lukewarm water to begin to work its magic.  Not too hot please!
          ** Yeast rises best in a warm kitchen free of drafts.  I usually put my dough into a (cold) oven with a pan of hot water under it.  This seems to be a perfect environment for the dough to rise.  Replenish the hot water as it cools.
           ** Don't be afraid to knead, knead, knead.  The flour has to break down for the bread to rise properly and the kneading promotes that.
Thought for today :  There are few aromas more wonderful than baking bread.  It seems to fill the house with love!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Madonnas of Italy

   Today is Mary's feast day.  Catholics believe that Mary is the only person (other than her Son) to be  born without 'original sin' and the feast of the Immaculate Conception honors that.

 During a trip to Italy  years ago I took many  photos of  the beautiful Madonnas that adorn churches everywhere.  Mary is a favorite and revered subject for art work in many countries, Italy is no exception, of course.      

  Mary is everywhere in Italy and artists over the centuries have depicted her in all media.  Here are some of my favorite Madonnas.

        I have been enjoying a lovely blog called Recuerda Mi Corazon where artists and poets are sharing their Virgins during the first 12 days of December (until the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

   I am sharing my photo collection of Italian Madonnas with Rebecca today.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


  we wait
with silent winter stars
come, Lord

December is, above all, a time of waiting.
We wait for Christmas to arrive,  for the silent darkness of the solstice, for the  sun to begin it's slow return, for our hearts to change.
Too often,  December becomes a frantic time of stress with too much to do and not enough time to do it.  There is little time for reflection and self-care.  We can arrive at December 25 exhausted and vaguely unhappy.
Taking time to ponder,  to enjoy the wait, to step back from the frenzy of consumerism can be nourishing.
Although I am not a fan of what plays on most radio stations during the month of December,  called 'holiday music,' I do look forward to hearing certain pieces of music which seem to replenish the spirit and add quiet joy to the season.
Here is a bit of Advent music guaranteed to calm and bring a sense of that peacefulness,  which seems, so often, just out of our reach. Click through to You-tube, close your eyes and enjoy.

Shared with Recuerda Mi Corazon Haiku My Heart

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