Sunday, December 25, 2011

Gingerbread army

My kitchen has been taken over by these fresh little men!

(OK, maybe I feel just a little Christmas spirit coming on.  We'll see what happens!  Merry Christmas to you!)

Friday, December 23, 2011


Long ago and far away, I believed in Santa Claus.  My mother, who also made those kicky curtains you can see behind her left shoulder, told me all about him.  To be fair, she also told me about Jesus, who slept perpetually in the tiny manger of the creche you see over my right shoulder.  

Come to think of it, none of what my mother told me about Christmas turned out to be true.  But that's another story.

When my older sister and I were wee ones, my parents longed for an opportunity to sleep in on a Sunday.  So my mother would set out craft projects on the coffee table before she went to bed on Saturday, and then we would keep ourselves busy creating until Mom and Dad got up on Sunday.

The project I remember better than any was the clothespin angels.  It was so simple:  glue together a red triangle for the dress, a pink circle on the front of one point as the face, a half paper doily on the back for wings, and a silver or gold circle behind the pink circle for the halo.  I don't remember what we did for hair, but we always had yarn and pipe cleaners around.  

The magic of the craft came in the decorating.  Glitter.  Sequins.  Crayons, colored pencils, markers.  Our house was craft supply heaven, and our imaginations knew no limits.  Mom had assembled one sample.  The rest was up to us.

Do angels have buttons?  Ours did.  Or do they wear stripes or plaid?  Maybe one angel's dress had a scalloped hem, accentuated with a piece of rick-rack.  Our angels smiled.  Or had round, singing mouths.  Some sported rouge.

Once the glue dried, each angel was stuck to a clothespin and attached to the tree.  As the days of Christmas wore on in the dry heat of the early '60s, the glue would crack and pieces of the angels fell to the floor.  Only a few angels endured the season to be packed up with the heartier ornaments and brought out again the next year.

But we remembered how to make them, year after year.  Later, in my adult life, I took Polaroid photos of all of my colleagues, cut their heads out and created clothespin angels with their faces.  It was a spectacular tree.  Even Oskar was on that tree.

But my best clothespin angel memories come from that first year, working quietly next to my sister while Mom and Dad slept in.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice

And now the days begin to become longer and brighter.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday spirit

I haven't had much Christmas spirit this season.  Probably not having had much snow at all is part of it.  Another part is the hens haven't been laying, so I didn't plan an eggnog party.

I did manage to put some lights on the front fence, along with a wreath.

When you look over the gate, you can see my beautiful front door wreath, too.

That's all nice, but I was still lagging on spirit.  So I told Ulani "let's get in the car and see what other people are doing for Christmas lights!"  Always game for a road trip, Ulani jumped right in and off we went.

Down one country road I saw a light high above a big working farm.  What would that be?

A simple star mounted on the top of the tallest grain building.  Such a simple representation of the season, shining bright on a clear night.  I admire these tasteful displays.

We drove on.  My friend Charley had featured a different sort of display on his blog, Vector Charley, and I wanted to see it myself.

Coming around a bend in a dark country road, I saw tail lights ahead.  A number of them, actually, and I knew I'd found it.

It has wishes for a merry Christmas and a happy new year from the family.

It has a choir and a church.

Of course the reindeer were there...

...and a gingerbread house.  In fact, it has everything

except maybe the kitchen sink.  But I couldn't swear to that!

There are about two acres of lights.  Honestly.  I don't know if this family puts on such a show every year, or if this is something new.  Maybe a reader can shed some light on that?  (Ugh, sorry for the pun!)

Seeing this display took me back to my childhood, when our family would pile into the station wagon after dinner and drive around to see the lights.  Dad would have scouted out some major set-ups on his way home from work, so we often went beyond our own neighborhood to see the latest and greatest.  For years my favorite lights were on a huge pine tree.  The family had it covered in lights, and the lights would change colors, slowly blending from green to blue to red to gold.  

After driving around for an hour or so, we'd get back home and have hot chocolate with marshmallows floating in it, then go to bed and dream of all the wonders of Christmas.

Well, my spirit's not back to 100%, but I'd say it's rising!  And we have something else to celebrate now -- this is the 300th post on Life at Busy Solitude Farm!  300 posts in three years!  I'd never have anticipated reaching this milestone!

I hope that your Christmas spirit (no matter what your religion, you're allowed to have some) is warm and cheery this year.  And my wish for all of us this holiday season is for...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lunar Eclipse

This was the view out my bedroom window at 6:00 am today.  The sun wouldn't rise for another ninety minutes or so, but the shadows on the snow were intense!

The window facing the west showed the moon as bright as a sun.  Can you believe how bright it is?  No wonder I woke at 5:30 on a Saturday morning!

Around 7:15, the moon sank to the tree line here.  But I didn't want to let it get away quite yet, because today was a big day -- a full lunar eclipse! 

 Ulani and I got in the car and headed out to where we'd have a better view.

 We drove a few places to find the best vista.

 Just as the moon's disk began to show the Earth's shadow.

And finally, just before the moon set at 8:00 am, it glowed the beautiful red associated with an eclipse, then dove behind the trees and set.

What fun it was to drive through the countryside before sunrise chasing the eclipse!  I only wish we were a bit further west today, so that we could have seen the full eclipse.