Thursday, December 27, 2007

Betwixt and between

Rush rush rush... woosh! It's over. I always so look forward to the holidays and then when they are finally here, everything is so busy and rushed that it feels like they are over before they really begin! Of course half of my plans don't happen either... my Christmas cards are still sitting in my living room un-sent. (I think I will still write them up and send them as a New Year's greeting. What the heck!) I have a ball of gingerbread dough in the fridge that has yet to be baked. That homework I was going to get a head start on for next term... um ya. Not so much. My stack of library books... I've read about five pages. The house is messy and chaotic.
Soon I will have to launch myself back into the rushing and the doing - buying text books for the new semester, returning/exchanging certain gifts, trying to pick up a few necessities while they are on sale... But for the moment I want to take a breath and just enjoy the betwixt and between. That space of time between Christmas day and New Year's day. The tree is still up, the gifts are open and can be enjoyed, the fridge is plump with left-overs (we have an odd (but delicious) assortment of herbed potatoes, cake, mincemeat tarts, home-made pizza, fruit and lumpia in ours), most of the obligations have been met so you can laze about on the couch or visit unhurriedly with friends... the Big Day is over, but there is still the changing of hands from one year to the next to look forward to. If you have to work (which I do) it is usually less busy and the hours are reduced (unless you work in customer service of course, in which case, my condolences). It is a nice in between feeling, a time outside of regular time, a little yearly nook where you can cocoon yourself away before starting anew.

We are having a momentary lull in the cold weather, so all those giant heaps of snow are melting and it looks almost like spring (all the grey muddyness, none of the green shoots!). Perhaps it was the relative warmth that brought out the birds this morning, but walking to the bus I saw dozens of feathery creatures flitting and whistling.

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

'We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,
'I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

- Oliver Herford, I Heard a Bird Sing

Photos: "Polar Sleigh" from Paper D'Art; American Tree Sparrow by Altrendo Nature photos from Getty Images.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Winter Solstice

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.

They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,

And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!

All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,

And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.

Welcome Yule!!

Photos: White candle on tree Ullamaija Hanninen (Getty Images)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Shortest day of the year

I think that Yule is officially the 22nd this year (according to wikipedia) but I am thinking Yule-ish thoughts today too.

Yule, is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, much celebration was to be had as the ancestors awaited the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth and made her to bear forth from seeds protected through the fall and winter in her womb. Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were "wassailed" with toasts of spiced cider.
Yule Lore

Photos: Red candles with snowy trees - Tom Morrison; Christmas punch by the fire - Helene Toresdotter both from Getty Images.
About yesterdays (100 things) post... I have seen those kinds of lists on other people's sites and I think they are really fun to read. However, most people seem to have them as lists on the side you can link to. I couldn't figure out how to do that so I just posted it as a regular post and now it is SO LONG it takes up the whole page. lol. If anyone knows how to make it not a regular post I would appreciate the tutorial!! : )

Thursday, December 20, 2007

100 things (this list didn't take as long as I thought it would...)

1. When I was little, my favorite colour was Purple
2. 2 is my favorite number... I also rather like 9
3. I think I am part snail because I like to move slowly, eat slowly, live slowly and hide away in cozy little nooks (hence Spiral Bound)
4. That said, it is totally annoying when there are slow people blocking the sidewalk
5. I have (so far) attended 5 post-secondary institutions (2 colleges and 3 universities) in 3 provinces
6. Having my hair brushed, washed or played with is pure pleasure
7. It makes me happy to read or watch holiday-themed stories/shows at Christmas, Halloween, mid-summer etc... even if they are really cheesy
8. I try to remember to celebrate (or notice/aknowledge/observe) 8 festivals throughout the year: Yule (Winter Solstice), Imbolc, Eostara (Spring Equinox), Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lammas, Mabon (Autumn Equinox) and Hallowe'en/Samhain
9. I was a vegetarian for about 9 years
10. I still don't eat much meat... and I think it best if it is local, free range or wild
11. I am one of those people who dislikes cilantro (I know, but I can't help it, it's in my genes)
12. I have lived in 12 different Canadian cities/towns
13. I love the rain, and I miss living in rainy south-western BC
14. I love biology (especially zoology) and sometimes wonder why I didn't just study that
15. When she invited me to, I almost moved to Borneo to study Orangutans with Biruté Galdikas... maybe I will still do that one day
16. I have ridden on a camel, more than one elephant and several horses
17. I have touched (and fed) a dolphin
18. I love farmer's markets
19. I love to get gooey cheese, home-made red pepper jelly and fresh bread at farmer's markets
20. Sweet, firm red apples are my favorite (royal gala) but I like the tart green ones too
21. Raspberries are my favorite fruit
22. Fruit in general seems like a kind of miraculous gift to me when I think about it
23. I am open to trying almost any kind of food at least once
24. I have moved 24 times in my life (that I can remember), the first 5 times were with my family but the rest have been since I moved out
25. I have never been to the maritime provinces but I would love to go
26. Same goes for northern Canada
27. When I was little, I wanted to be an astronaut
28. I still kind of do
29. The first food I remember really liking is black olives
30. I've been to Morocco but just for a day
31. I have one tattoo, on the back of my neck
32. Lip Balm. Not sure why, but I am obsessed
33. I love all things coconut
34. In fact I adore lots of nutty things, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts, pinenuts, and even peanuts
35. Nut butters are great too... smooth or crunchy but all natural, no icing sugar
36. Ok, sometimes the gross icing-sugar peanut butter is good too (but just as a treat)
37. I hate baby-talk
38. I also dislike msn-isms like: how r u or cu l8r
39. I don't mind abbreviations like lol or brb though
40. I procrastinate a lot (um... yes that is what I am doing right now actually)
41. I am a bit of a geek (see next)
42. I know what 42 means
43. I have a tendency towards perfectionism (maybe related to the procrastination thing?)
44. I am right-handed but always wished I was a lefty (I always want to be what is "different")
45. I cry easily and often
46. This can be frustrating, especially if I am in a situation where I would dearly like to remain composed
47. I have started to say "frak" in place of other swear words
48. I have a crush on Jeanette Winterson
49. Cloves are my favorite spice (for smell) and I think if I ever have a daughter I would like to call her Clove
50. I have been present for the birth of more than 50 human beings
51. I have never been present for the death of a human being
52. I like that when people find out I'm from BC they assume I am a granola person
53. Actually, I like to think that Adrien and I are a bit like Dharma & Greg
54. I think I am pretty evenly spilt right brain and left brain... I love both arts/creativity and logic/science
55. I would like to become a better gardner (or be a gardner at all)
56. I love the smell of sawdust, it reminds me of my grandpa
57. I like the word "steampunk"
58. I am hard on myself, but not all the time
59. I dream big, and am often disappointed that my grand plans don't work out
60. However, I still find that I am frequently really enchanted with the small, everyday twists and quirks of life
61. I am a good mediator/peace-maker (for others)
62. I can be stubborn, argumentative and very defensive when I feel vulnerable (which is a lot)
63. I get terrible pangs of jealousy (often)
64. I am a good listener
65. I sometimes find that the opinions I argue for (or against) in the fiercest way are the ones I understand the least
66. I used to be a barista and I sometimes miss making foamy cappuccinos with those lovely, shiny steamy machines
67. I can play the flute, the trumpet and the euphonium (although it has been years since I touched any of them)
68. I am a pretty good cook and a decent baker
69. I wish I had a bigger place so I could have people over and cook for them more often
70. Pot luck dinners rock
71. I love getting & sending letters in the mail (thank you Alissa!)
72. I speak English (obviously), French and a miniscule smattering of Spanish
73. I once tried to teach myself Russian (Zdravstvuite, menia zovut Christine!) and would love to learn a zillion languages
74. I really like hands, they are usually one of the first things I notice about people (not a big fan of long or painted nails although painted toes are cute)
75. Adrien has great hands : )
76. I am mostly English, but also French and Dutch (and Canadian and American)
77. Perhaps that is why I have a fondness for all things British... especially British TV (Doctor Who, River Cottage, The Good Life, Vicar of Dibley)
78. I would love to spend some time living in the UK
79. I would love to spend some time traveling, and/or living just about anywhere on the planet
80. I enjoy a witty, sarcastic sense of humour
81. I can be a brat
82. I am a bit of a sugar-aholic and I would like to do something about it... but I am also kind of ok with it : )
83. Surprisingly though, I am not as big a fan of ice cream as one might think
84. I have a little obsessive compulsive side that I don't think many people know about
85. I used to love math, but now find it a little mind-boggling... I wonder what happened there
86. I have only one serious regret, and I have already been forgiven for it
87. I want to believe in magical things (and I sort of do) but my skeptical side often steps in to warn me not to be gullible or silly
88. I am an athiest
89. I am also pagan; kind of witchy; interested in religion/spirituality, especially Shintoism, Taoism, Buddhism and Hinduism; in awe of Life, The Universe And Everything (see 42); open, curious, confused, and certain only that no has all the answers yet
90. I read a lot of children's/young adult literature (His Dark Materials is one of my favorites)
91. I read a lot of everything
92. I am (trying to... in the process of) writing a novel. Well a series of 4 actually. It is slow going, but really enjoyable.
93. Cigarette smoke makes me feel nauseous, cranky and gives me a terrible headache
94. Pipes and some cigars though smell kind of nice
95. I sometimes have great difficulty remembering my exact age
96. Even though I now think that it is an evil, evil empire, I have fond memories of eating at McDonald's as a kid (I always had the filet-o-fish and a strawberry or vanilla milkshake)
97. I will always save big bug-creatures (spiders, centipedes, beetles) but I kill itsy-bitsy ones like fruit flies and mosquitoes
98. I don't like it when people call me "shy" even though I sometimes am
99. I am thinking of becoming a librarian
100. My favorite colour is still Purple

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

December Moon

Before going to bed
After a fall of snow
I look out on the field
Shining there in the moonlight
So calm, untouched and white
Snow silence fills my head
After I leave the window.

Hours later near dawn
When I look down again
The whole landscape has changed
The perfect surface gone
Criss-crossed and written on
Where the wild creatures ranged
While the moon rose and shone.

Why did my dog not bark?
Why did I hear no sound?
There on the snow-locked ground
In the tumultuous dark?

How much can come, how much can go
When the December moon is bright,
What worlds of play we'll never know
Sleeping away the cold white night
After a fall of snow.

- May Sarton, December Moon

*Even though we live practically in the city, Adrien and I have seen a fox on our street more than once!
Painting: "The Fox Dance" by Liz Wright found at Bridgeman

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ok I couldn't resist...

He's just too ridiculously cute in his goofy Christmas collar. Oh and here is a fuzzy one of the tree and of one of my favorite ornaments. : ) I will get better at this, I promise!


The universe has been pretty kind to me this week. I don't know if it's because I recently befriended Ganesh or because I had some good karma stored up or simply because the Christmas Spirit is overflowing. Whatever the reason, I am feeling very grateful. For one thing my loans are very nearly completely sorted out and I even got an unexpected bursary. For another, last week I received a Christmas box from home, so full of presents that they barely fit under my (enormous) tree. And the box included a rather hefty bag of what I believe are chocolate truffles - though I have thus far (quite admirably) resisted the temptation to gnaw open the shiny gold package for confirmation. Then yesterday I received another package, this time from my kindred friends Megan and Jason. They have very generously gifted me their digital camera... which is an incredibly thoughtfull and kind thing to do! They are upgrading to a new camera so they decided to pass on their old (not old at all actually) one to me and Adrien. Which means that not only do I now have a digital camera, I have one that is full of the energy and love of my friends. How cool is that?
Unfortunately I am crazy busy this week (week before Christmas... everyone is crazy busy), I'm working all week and doing *stuff* every evening (like writing exams and going to Christmas parties for work) so I will not actually get to play with my new toy until this weekend. But once I do: watch out! There will be photos of Griffin everywhere!
(well, he is the most photogenic subject I know of...)

T h a P1000644 K Y with leaves o U

Monday, December 17, 2007

Mon beau sapin, roi des forêts

I don't mean to blab on about the weather again, but really... how can I not? It is stunning to see so much snow fall. Yesterday's storm added to our last few snowfalls and now there are now drifts out there taller than me. Our car is just a lump with an antenae poking through next to what used to be a sidewalk. It is lovely and so strange to me, more so because today is all blue skies and glinting sunlight. Now and then the wind tosses handfulls of flakes from roof-tops and they spin through the air, glitter and dust.
Yesterday while it howled and gusted outside Adrien and I stayed burrowed in our little appartment and put up our tree. It was a two-day affair, begining on Saturday, owing to the fact that we were seduced into getting a biggish tree and then realized that it would not fit into our stand, with only 30mins to get to Canadian Tire. We made it but then had to go out and leave our naked tree in its new stand while we went to a friend's place for shabu-shabu (yum). On Sunday we got to sleep in and then decorate the tree at our leisure. The blizzard must have been terrible for anyone who needed to venture out, but I must say that it made for perfect tree-trimming weather.

Yesterday evening, sitting with tea and warm gingerbread, I oogled the tree and felt a considerable amount of gratitude. In part simply for the tree itself. It is my favorite yuletide symbol, and always seems like the focal point of the home during the holy-days. And o tannenbaum 2007 is a particularly gorgeous specimen if I do say so myself (although I fall in love with my trees every year, it is impossible not to when they are so alive and cheerfull and smell like a forest). In part I felt glad for the oodles of gifts crowded under the branches. But mainly I was feeling grateful for all the baubles and gems glittering away on the tree. The first time I celebrated Christmas away from home all I had was a tiny little tree (maybe a live one in a pot?) and a box of generic wooden toy ornaments. That was better than nothing, and very cute but still, not the same. It has now been ten years or so since I moved out and this year it really feels like I have my own grown up tree. For one thing it's big - 6.5 feet. For another, the adornments all have meaning to me. The wooden toys are still there, but after so many Decembers together, they have started to feel a lot less generic. There are the pale blue lantern-like glass ornaments I found at a hardware store (of all places) a few years ago. There is the silly sheep wearing stripy blue & white socks and stars on its head that I found when my brother and I went the the Christmas Shoppe in the Old Port when he came to visit. There are the lovely origami-paper-covered seashells from dear friends in Japan. There are the three silver stars that came from Andrea & Will's wedding. There is the airplane with a working propellar that my parents gave Adrien. There are all the elfish looking Santas I have collected here and there. There are the covorting ceramic snowmen (not actually on the tree, but near it, on my altar) which were painted by mom either when she was pregnant with me or when I was still just a wee thing. And there are this year's additions; sparkly mini-Christmas trees and hanging strings of beads made from the treasures mom gave me last time I was home. And so even though I was being a bit of a grouch yesterday (truth be told) I still ended the day gazing at a tree, encircled by dancing lights, and ladden with pleasant memories of my Christmases past.
I would love to post photos of my tree-of-wonder but alas my scanner is not working and so the photos I would be too lazy to get developed could not be transfered anyway. I have decided to splurge and get a digital camera soon, but I think I will wait for the post-holiday sales. Once I have my new camera I will be sure to take some pictures of the yule*tree before we take it down. Oh and some photos of Griffin in his Christmas collar (it is like a court jester's collar, green and red, with glittery stars and he LOVES it).

Photos: Snowtime in New York puzzle by Bill Bell; Montréal's Old Port in winter from Getty (Image Source Black?); Water drops on Spruce by Jon Tove Johansson (from Getty); Decorations on tree by VEER Ellen Denuto (from Getty); Candy cane and a Christmas bauble by Stefan Ek (from Getty); Christmas ball-girl by Patience Brewster; Santa dancing with the tree from Paper D'art; Christmas tree and stars by Michele Constantini (once again from Getty).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Smiling's my favorite

Whew! I think I am just as busy now as I was during my last two weeks of school, except that I am busy doing things that are thousands of times more enjoyable. I am working as hard as an Elf to get everything ready for Christmas. Since I have to mail my boxes (I hope that sending them tomorrow means they will make it!) that means I have to get all my shopping and handmade stuff done a bit earlier. Now, it is not like I am complaining. This is my favorite time of year! I have downloaded a ton of holiday movies and I have turned the living room into a craft-zone. I have more or less done my shopping already (did it yesterday), and at a time when there are a lot less grouchy, harried shoppers, so that is nice. Now I just have a few things left to do and then wrapping, boxing up and sending! I also did a bit of baking on Monday (I gingerbread) and tomorrow we get our tree. So from then on... well I can just relax and read a lot and enjoy the holidays! Well, and study for my exam next week, and take some extra shifts at work, and do that take-home-exam I have for next semester... man, can a snail-person ever get a break around here? : ) Obviously I could just do a lot less holiday stuff if I wanted more of a break, I don't HAVE to work like an elf. But where would the fun be in that?

Photo: Santa baking by Paper D'Art (they don't list the artist names on the website, but on the back of the cards I bought from them they list Reuben McHugh- he doesn't seem to have a webiste, but I think the Tim Burton-esque santas and snowmen he does are great).

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

My first Meme

I found this
meme over at Boho girl's site, but it seems to have originated here at Colors on my mind.

Have you taken any dance classes in the past year that you loved?

I took ballet when I was little (hardly even remember it, although I do remember the fi
ve foot positions) and I signed up for belly dancing with a friend once but sadly we never ended up going. Like yoga, dance is one of the few forms of exercise that by body does not flat out reject. I enjoy dancing when I am home alone and sometimes I make Griffin (the cat) join in. Adrien is one of those people who has a panic attack if he is forced to dance in public, but we are working on it.

What is your favorite tea and where do you get it
Right now my two favorite teas are green tea with jasmine and herbal orange spice. I am not that picky, I get my tea from the little market where I buy groceries or the yucky bigger stores when we end up there instead.

What is your favorite podcast? What do you love about it?
I have only ever listened to one podcast and that was to do with the last Harry Potter book this summer. Meh. Wasn't all that great, but it did help with my feverish need to hear what other HP geeks thought of the book.

What food did you love when you were a kid, that when you eat it as an adult it brings you back-carries so much more than just the flavor-but memories. And would you share a recipe?
Well... let's see. Barbecue salmon is one. Dad used to fish for salmon in the rivers near where I grew up (sometimes I would go too) and so we often had fresh salmon on the bbq. Snickerdoodles are another. And how could I ever eat chocolate without thinking of my mom? : )

What was the last thing you bought yourself?
As you can imagine, I haven't been doing a whole lot of consumer therapy lately. I think probably the last thing I bought myself that wasn't at least kind of a necessity was a book from a second-hand store. This book was a delightful serendipitous find, I had never heard of Carrie Mac before but now I am eager to read the rest of her stuff. Oh and some soft purple socks. I couldn't resist.

I am thinking of getting a digital camera once all of my student loans/bursaries are settled. I am quite jealous of all those gorgeous photo-filled blogs out there and I want to start posting my own photography too!

What color is your bedroom? Is it the nicest room in the house?

I don't have one! lol. We live in what is known by Montrealers as a two-and-a-half. Which is a large bachelor suite to most other folks. It is pretty big for what it is, we have a large living room/bedroom, a long hallway full of closets, a large kitchen (with room for
a washer/dryer and a small table by the window) and a bathroom. Our "bedroom" consists of our bed (which Adrien designed and made by hand for us - so that is awe*fully neat) and a small black fabric room divider to separate it from the rest of the room. I guess you could say we have a bed-nook. As it is part of the living room, and that is the room I have spent the most time making cozy with wooden bookshelves and richly coloured throw pillows, yes it is the nicest.

Are you a better cook or baker?

I would have to say that I am a better cook, though I yearn to be an excellent baker. I think it is in the attitude. I see cooking as a necessary daily activity (we've all got to eat) and so I think of it as being "easy" to throw tasty meals together. I like eating and that makes it feel like creating good food should be intuitive (I know it isn't always). I rarely ever follow recipes, if only for the fact that I don't always have all the ingredients on hand. I do have a shelf full of luscious cook-books for inspiration th
As for baking... I adore baked good. Especially cookies. And pie. And cake's not so bad either. Chocolate croissants... oooh and pudding! Ok, anyway. I love it, but you have to be a bit more precise about it for it to work properly. I improvise too much and sometimes that ends in disaster.
I adore reading good food blogs like Foodbeam (I am looking
forward to trying out these coconut balls soon) and watching food-based tv like River Cottage, which is especially nice to watch because it is about his transformation from London Chef to Dorset small-holder.

What time do you go to bed usually and when do you wake up?
It depends, but generally during the week we go to bed around 11 and we get up around 7 or 8. On weekends we stay out a bit later so don't make to bed until around 1 or 2 and sleep in until 9 or 10. Sometimes Griffin objects and dances on our heads until we get up to wring his neck. Which of course we can never do because he is far too cute.

What sign are you? Do you know your rising and moon? When is your birthday?

I am a January 28 Aquarius, with my moon in Taurus. I have an Aquarian brain and a Taurean heart. So I am spacy, smart, imaginative and quirky but I am also stubborn, sensitive, defensive and kind. What was the last thing you said no to that felt like you were taking good care of yourself?
Well.... I had to say "no" to visiting my dear chum Andrea next week, mainly due to on-going money obstacles. Which doesn't quite feel like it qualifies, but I suppose in the sense that I am taking care of my finances it does. I also said "no" to doing my library volunteer work for the past two weeks in order to free up some time to get my school work done. That totally counts.

What is your happy place you go to in your mind when you need to close your eyes and take a moment for peace and calm?

The one that pops into my mind is what I think of when I am feeling car-sick. I think about the fizzy fireworks over-top of a freshly poured glass of 7up/sprite. I actually NEVER drink pop (except for a bit of ginger ale or ginger beer when I am sick) but the idea of that popping and sparkling from clear lemony soda seems to calm my tummy.
Otherwise, when I am picturing peacefulness and calm I imagine the coastal rainforests back home, and the sound of rain dripping from the deep green outstretched fingers of cedar giants onto a forest floor alive with moss and mushroom villages.

What is the thing that you are most interested in learning about right now?

You would think that, as a student, the last thing I want to do over the holidays is try to put something else in my already overflowing brain. But I do! I have been wanting for a while to learn the history of the British Isles. Sort of learning about my own ancestral history I suppose... and I know how much stuff gets left out of the history books, and how much is written from the perspective of the conquerors and all... but still. I would like to know a bit more about people like Empress Matilda and of course good Queen Bess and who doesn't want to know about Mary Queen of Scots. I'd like to know more about my family tree, and I'd like to learn about pre-historic Britain too.

So now I invite anyone who so desires to fill out this meme on their blog. The rule is that you have to add one question at the end, of your own invention. Of course I know that the majority of my readers don't actually have blogs and they don't even leave comments to let me know they are there! : P So if you don't have a blog but want to answer any or all of the questions above, please feel free to leave a comment with your juicy responses. (You don't have to have a blog to leave comments by the way.)

Photos: Snow falling on Christmas trees from Getty; Snickerdoodles by Redglassfire; Aquarius and Taurus by Susan Seddon Boulet; Camelot in winter by Bill Bell.

Monday, December 3, 2007


I woke up this morning inside a snow globe. How is it possible for the sky to ever drop enough of those minuscule flakes to so completely envelop the world? How many snowflakes fell last night and all throughout the day? It must be an impossible number.
When it snows this much it always makes me think of The Long Winter and all of the other Little House books. I can remember reading them, from a place where snow is rare and never copious, and finding it hard to truly envision a storm so bad that you have to tie a rope from the front door to your waist so that you don't get lost walking to the barn and back. Not that Montreal is Wisconsin in the 1800s or anything. Still. I should maybe be over Quebec/Ontario winters by now, this will be my 7th one out here after all... but I do not seem to be. I am always thrilled at the beginning of the season, like today, just so in awe of the way it keeps piling up and up and up, the way the world is transformed into an image like the one above by Bill Bell (titled, appropriately enough, December Snow), the way a whole row of parked cars can disappear into a snow-bank overnight ... the way it all has to be plowed, scooped up and trucked out of the city. (Where do they take it? The river?)
Earlier tonight I went downtown for class and I wrote a little on a scrap of paper I had handy:
"I am sitting by the window of a 2nd floor cafe and looking out at the city. I am in the heart of the shopping district so it is bustling and glittering out there. The building across the street has greenery framing the store-front windows, twined throughout with red and gold baubles, so gaudy that they are actually rather festive. Snow skims the lamp posts, carried on the breath of winter, throwing itself on rolling drifts below."
It always takes a few trips out to the bus-stop to remember the unique challenges of traveling short distances after heavy snows. It all depends on whether or not the sidewalks have been plowed. You may be walking in a glittery trough, between yards piled high on one side and car-sized snow mounts on the other. This is the best case scenario. If they haven't been plowed then you either have the choice of plunging into the mashed-potato snow half-way up your shins or else taking your chances walking in the road. If you don't want snow-crusted pants you will likely go with option two. Which is fine on a clear day, but if it is still blowing snow then you will not be able to open your eyes. But you might do it anyway, because the sidewalks are impassible, especially when the plows for the road use them as dumping grounds. And there you are... walking down the middle of an icy street with your eyes closed. lol.
But I digress... here I am almost complaining. This is still the time of year when the snow delights me. I far prefer this to the frigid cold, and I have been told that this winter will be colder by far than most. Eeeep.
I think my favorite time to walk through the snow is at night. This evening, thankfully, the sidewalks to my door had been plowed. The snow had blown back across them, making a rippling pathway that made me think of a sandy beach. It is cold enough that the snow squeaks a bit underfoot, and it glitters as you pass under the lamp-light.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Season of Solstice Begins

Now that it is officially December I can finally embrace Solstice Fever. I actually think that NaBloPoMo should be in December, since I think I could easily write something everyday, or at least post one of the zillions of imagination-tickling pieces of holiday art I have collected on my hard-drive. Like the one here of elves and gnomes riding on a skate by David Wenzel. I will fully admit to my appreciation (read:obsession) of holiday themed creations, although I think I am a bit particular and if something seems overly saccharine (kittens with bows) I am generally not interested. Of course that is completely subjective, and so one person's "perfect!" is the next person's "gag!". None the less... I have collected lots of sites and pictures full of holiday cheer, and now that I have a blog I finally have something to do with them all (besides using them as my desktop backgrounds, which I hardly ever see anyway!). So. I am just letting you know that this will be a CHRISTMAS FRIENDLY ZONE for the next month or so. If you are of the Scrooge or Grinch variety of folk, you are still of course welcome but don't say I didn't warn you.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Christmas wish*list

In the midst of my week of craziness I received some good news... it seems that my student loan woes have FINALLY been sorted (only 5 days before the end of the semester... lol). Gigantic *S*I*G*H* of relief... Thank you money-gods!

It put me in such a buoyant cheer-full mood that I decided to daydream about stacks of brightly coloured packages sitting in jumbles under a fir tree strung up with lights and twirly decorations, cheerful santas and dancing snowmen.

So just in case you were wondering, here is my "little" wish list : )

* Little Dee volume 2

* Anything from Treehouse28... especially this and these!

* This sequel.

* Any old digital camera would do...

* A bucket full of acrylic paints... (I have a few new canvases that are mocking me with their blank-ness).

* Anything from this fabulous company (especially body butter!), this Lush place, this local place or this man called Burt.

* Yoga blocks and straps.

* Good enough to eat lip balm from this place my mom told me about mmmmm coconut cream...

* Candles of any kind, as long as they are made of bee's wax.

* This cookbook.

* A coupon for some kind of day at the spa or massage.

* Funky handmade jewelry, especially necklaces or rings and especially the super juicy magical jewelry over at Superhero Designs ... I like champagne the best, but it is pretty darn hard to decide. They look good in photos but I bet they are even more twinkly and pretty in person.

* A print from this photographer, especially this one and this one. Gorgeous, lovely, soft.

* Some big blank scrapbooks with lush purple or green covers for journaling and creative spilling.

* Pottery... chunky mugs and tea pots with swirly blue*green*purple*chocolate coloured glazes.

* Unexpected hand*made artwork from kindred spirits.

*Throw pillows or curtains or bed covers made from jewel-bright fabrics, sewn-on beads and bits of thread.
What do YOU want for Christmas*Yule*Solstice???

*Photos: Plate of cookies and "dear santa letter" from Getty; Little Dee cover from Chris Baldwin; Champagne necklace from Andrea Sher; and gift of giving lady-package from Patience Brewster.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The eye of the storm is winking at me

Greetings from the not so calm center of a crazy storm.
Ok, so I have stuff due every single day next week, including three oral presentations (not exactly my favorite thing to do), two group projects, two big papers and one research proposal for an enormous paper thats due next April. A kindred blogger posted recently about being ostrich-like and that made me think about how I deal with these stressfull times... not like an ostrich, more like a snail. I retreat into my snail-shell where I have a cozy nest of a space to sit and look out the window, practice seeing the world from my cat's point of view, go on bookish adventures and just generally shut myself away from the nasty outside world.
The outside world sure doesn't feel like my friend a lot of the time. It is nearly December and my student loans have still not been properly assessed ... even though I started the application procedure in July (well actually they keep stringing me along, saying I am refused then saying that no not really, but they are still missing documents before they can make a decision and of course they never actually SEND me this information, I have to keep calling them and getting the red tape run around). I am a little concerned that all of my schoolwork stress will be for naught, if in the end I can't actually pay my tuition. I am also trying to sort out some income tax shenanigans from 1998, that I just found out about recently, which meant that the tax refund I was counting on the help get me through this semester is being held for ransom.
Arg! Money is kind of a weird taboo thing to talk about. I've actually been meaning to write a post about it since this summer, but never get around to it. I think I am avoiding it because I am still not sure how I feel or what I want to say, just that I feel like money really messes with me. I have been making little steps towards being less afraid of dealing with money issues, I got a book (not that I've had time to read it!) and a "money tree" to inspire me. But it is so very hard to pull myself out of a money-victim mentatlity when I continually find myself in these terrible money situations. Of course it could be argued that I create those situation by thinking of myself as a victim... but that seems so unfair and cruel! And if that is so, then I am stuck in a nasty catch-22... the more it feels like the universe is toying with me, the harder it is for me to have a positive attitude about it. I really do try to be a trouper and, after the tears and the foot stamping, I find it in myself to laugh at the whole situation. I mean, it is pretty funny. Sad funny, you know. Just almost too ridiculous to be real. And so then I try to approach the situation anew, with more lightness and the attitude that "this too shall pass". It doesn't seem to matter though, the universe just keeps on sending these big kicks-in-the-teeth.
I know I will get through, I have always gotten through. I had my astrological chart done when I was young and apparently Jupiter being where it was at the moment of my birth, means that I will always be taken care of, material-needs-wise. Astrology is one of those things that I love/hate... I love the poetic notion that we are connected to the stars and the planets and the sun and the moon, in such an intimate, personal way. But I hate how goofy it can be, and how it is associated with the very worst of New Age hooey. Anyway. I have none the less always had this idea in the back of my mind, that Jupiter is SUPOSED to be looking out for me somehow, but that he is just barely doing his job. I mean, it's true, my material needs have never really gone unmet. However. I have worried about them, and my bills, debt, and finances in general every single day of my adult life. And I have mostly only been able to get by with help from those around me. If it werent for Adrien, I would be in rough(er) shape for sure. Which is a rotten blow to my idealised independant (Aquarian?) self.
So obviously this is a big part of what I am going to have really work on in this lifetime. It is one of my obstacles/opportunities to grow. I'm learning to be ok with it, I'm learning to be curious and open instead of scared and closed off. I'm learning not to simply hate the machinery of capitalism and be angry all the time that it is even an issue. I'm learning not to see money as evil or my enemy or inherently anything at all except what we make of it. I'm making friends with people who have a way healthier perspective about money. I'm facing up to my ugly tendency towards jealousy and comparison ("why don't I have that!?? It's not fair!"). I am nurturing a feeling of "plenty" rather than one of "not enough!". I am working on being a lot gentler with myself as I navigate this stormy, pirate-ladden sea of money-learning.
And all the while I am still trying to get my homework done, go to work, volunteer at the local library, eat well, find time to do the stuff I like, spend yummy quality time with Adrien (bicker-free of course), day-dream, get a good night's sleep and get some excercise once in a while. No wonder I am so stressed out.
Where's my shell again?

Ok, come on Jupiter... do your stuff!!

*photos: money tree from random google image search, astrology wood cut and Jupiter dwarfing Earth from Wikipedia.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Itsy bitsy flurries

This is from Little Dee by Chris Baldwin. It is my favorite comic!
Or one of them anyway. Check it out!!

It started snowing today! Just teeny tiny little baby snow flakes, but still. It is kind of exciting. I love the begining of winter, the pulling out of scarves and mittens and woolen hats. I love making tea and getting cozy by the window, and I love love love getting ready for yule * winter solstice * christmas (though I don't generally start that until December - shame on all the stores who haul out all their decorations right after Hallowe'en!). Talk to me again in March however, and you might get a different story! : )

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Red is the new Purple

Ok, not really. Purple still reigns supreme in the palace of colour, but I am starting to adore a fair few shades of red lately too. In fact, more than any other colour, RED keeps popping up to make itself known.
I think, even though I eschewed red in my younger days, I still secretly craved it. I have certainly collected a number of bright red friends over the years (opposites attract?). I am thinking here of Megan's super hot, and very stylish Crimson Queen St pants (do you still have them?). And Andrea's fiery red energetic personality! A lot of my nearest and dearest girl (and some guy) pals would have proudly proclaimed red as their favorite colour. I always thought they were strange for this, but I kept on being drawn to them anyway.
year I turned 30, which for some is kind of devastating. For me it was actually wonder*full. Seriously! My 20s were a bit... rough. A lot of the time anyway. Some crazy bad stuff happened right before my 20s even got started, and I feel like even though I was all stoic and pulling "I am way stronger than this" faces, in reality I was pretty crushed. Well it's not really a big surprise, but anyway it was sort of a relief to be done with that mixed up decade of me. So I saw 30 as a fresh start, a whole brand new pilgrimage. I have (almost) never seen 30 as "old", which of course it isn't. Being in your 30s, to me, means being way more self-assured, being more self-loving, patient, thoughtful and kind. It means knowing yourself better. It means just a little bit more wisdom. It also means expanding my idea of who I think I am. Being less afraid of (blushing red-faced) embarrassment. Letting in things I didn't think I ever would. Which brings us back to red.
I didn't go directly from only liking bluey purples straight to loving carnation red. I started slowly. I started with pink. But then slowly some deeper, darker reds crept in, and surprisingly (to me) I let them stay. I got a red purse. I got my first pedicure, and they used red polish (they even put funny little swirls on my big toes!). I got a red car. More recently I got this Red Book,which has a very sparkle-y red message.

And it is starting to seem like having let in red, I now have to let in all kinds of other new things. Like cottage cheese. When I was little, just the thought of cottage cheese made me gag! Now, I love it. With pineapple. Yum. And spinach! How stomach-churning it used to be.
Now my freezer and crisper are both stocked with leafy greens. Other stuff too... like whole new worlds of music. And prayer. In fact I am doing a big project for school all about prayer/meditation (fyi I may be writing to some of you out there for interviews and input, but that is for another post). Prayer is a totally new thing for me. Quite an alien concept. But I find myself approaching it all of sudden with a lot more openness and curiosity than ever before. I don't know who I am praying to exactly... well I have some ideas. My own higher god-self. Some kind of vague universal consciousness concept. The buzzing, snapping, electric totality of life on our homey planet. Also, Ganesh. His elephant head makes him somehow a lot more approachable than other gods. Anyway, I am doing it. In my own snail-hearted, skeptical way, but I am doing it. I am warming up to Red and I am praying. I wonder what other unexpected turning me upside-down twists are to come in my 30s? I wonder what crazy adventurous things will happen in my 40s???

*Note: Who else out there thinks that vermilion should totally be a shade of wormy caterpillar green and that chartreuse sounds more like a purpl
ey, burgundy red? What happened there?

Photos: red lantern paper from Studio Paggy; ruddy kelp by Jeff Foott; nettle au rouge by Craig Knowles; ladybug party by John Grant; floppy poppies by Johner Images; two red pedicures by Andrea; Ganesh with crimson blossoms behind his flappy ears by Johner Images; red prayer by Stockbyte. All images (except the pedicures of course) found at Getty Images.