Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

Winter Play List, Pt. 2

December 13th, 2014

snowman seattle web

Winter Wonderland, Ella Fitzgerald

All I Want for Christmas is You, Olivia Olson

Santa Baby, Eartha Kitt

Let it Snow, Diana Krall

Blue Christmas, Elvis

The Wheel of Seasons

December 12th, 2014

xmas wreath web

I love hanging a fresh wreath on my door because in the dead of winter, evergreens offer hope that the earth is not truly dead, that spring will come again. Instead of a tree, I’ll put up strings of Frida-style felt flowers in the doorways as a sign that the real ones will be back with the sun. I’ll listen to music about snowmen and wise men and presents under the tree. And I’ll burn all the candles in my house to hold back the dark and summon the solstice. When we spend so much time staring into computer/phone/tablet screens, at work under fluorescent bulbs or cooped up in cities that obscure the stars, it’s easy to forget the cycle of birth, death, growth and harvest that’s always happening around us. The wreath reminds me to watch for the full moon every month, to pay attention to the birds that come to my feeder, to notice the nuance of light throughout the day, to inhale the essence of the forest, to remember my mother, the earth.

Winter Play List, Pt. 1

December 9th, 2014

 Winter Song Sarah Barielles & Ingrid Michaelson

Christo Redentor, Donald Byrd

White Winter Hymnal, Fleet Foxes

Snowbound, Sarah Vaughn

Corpus Christi Carol, Jeff Beck

The Recipe

December 8th, 2014

beach path color web

For several months I’ve been trying to remember how to make a Chess Pie. I’ve searched cooking sites and found plenty of  variations on the recipe but not one exactly like my grandmother’s. To this day, I can recall the delicate consistency of her ultra-rich pie filling, but the handwritten recipe has vanished — just like the years of Christmas past. The separate tables for adults and children, winter scenes we painted on the kitchen windows, tinsel strands that were carefully smoothed and saved from year to year, fireplaces blazing all day, oranges in our stockings and Chess Pie for dessert. Maybe I’m just trying to find the recipe for that brief period of innocence, those days before I took my own place at the adult table, with all the knowledge of good and evil that was served there. We’re always searching for the elusive path that will take us back to that lost home, lost childhood, lost safety — even if we never actually had it. If I succeed in making Chess Pie this year, I’ll call it The Homesick Pie and close my eyes and taste my way back for a few sweet minutes.

Note to Self

December 7th, 2014


In the Dark of December

December 5th, 2014

Back Camera

December is the month of light. Lights to illuminate the longest night of the year. Lights to summon the return of the sun.  Porch lights to pull us safely home. Twinkle lights to celebrate the childhood eagerness we never quite extinguish no matter how successful, ironic or cynical we become. Moonlight to remind us that we’re surrounded by mystery even under the fluorescent glow of science. Northern lights to make the sky dance. Candlelight to soften the edges of reality. Star light  to navigate through unknown seas. Night lights to say it’s alright when we wake up alone. Fireworks to make us look up in awe. The personal camp fires we build to ward off  the unknown and dangerous. What’s out there in the dark? What’s inside us in the dark? December, in the deepest, bleakest, secret night, turns on our lights. Inside and out.

Making a List

December 3rd, 2014

web paper53 pens

Maira Kalman’s book, My Favorite Things, is one of my current favorite things. Although it started as a companion piece to an exhibit she curated to celebrate the re-opening of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, it’s also a visual memoir and litany of things she loves. I have a hard time keeping a traditional journal, but I’ve been keeping a similar list off and on in one of my notebooks for a long time. The great thing about it is that it continues to grow and remind me of various moments in my life. A few of my favorite things:

French fries in paper cones or silver cups .  Big overcoats . Wishbones . Maps of all kinds . Eating at the bar . Siberian huskies .  Velvet couches . Neon signs . Honeycombs . Fountain pens & drawing pencils . the word “shambolic” . Buffalos . Cilantro . Men’s watches worn by women . “Elegy for Dunkirk” by Jeff Beck … and on and on.

Instead of a list of things you want to find under the tree, a list of what you love will make you feel like you already have everything you need.

“Following Yonder Star”

December 2nd, 2014


I loved Christmas carols as a child, and that has never changed even though I no longer go to church or believe the Nicene Creed or worry about Hell, sure that I’ll end up there with all the people I really don’t like.  Okay, so I put my own spin on carols these days, but they still inspire some kind of childhood numinous awe. I imagine the Three Wise Men following yonder star in search of their better selves, for instance. I’ve had plenty of shooting stars in my life — fleeting love affairs that set my world on fire, rash decisions that seemed so right at the time, red-hot ego-driven ambitions — but I’ve also lost sight of the fixed star of my true self plenty of times. When I’m following shooting stars, it’s difficult to keep my true north, my celestial pole star always in view. I want both in my life — the excitement and ephemeral shooting stars and the fixed light I can depend on to guide me home. For some people, I guess religion is the thing that keeps them on the right path, but for me, meditation is the only thing that has helped me find that yonder star over and over again. I don’t have any trouble reconciling the starry-eyed girl who thought the Christmas story was magical with the starry-eyed grownup who can hold myth and meditation in perfect balance, who hopes to follow yonder star with her third eye, who is always heading home.

Sacred & Profane Dinners

December 1st, 2014

candles web for fb

For a long time, I used to light candles when I was making dinner during the winter. Then I started counting calories and stopped paying attention to cooking. I mostly cobbled together a meal, and I didn’t light candles while I was doing it. On Thanksgiving, I was alone for the first time in years and while I was making my dinner, I started lighting the candles I keep around the kitchen. I always have a Virgin of Guadalupe grocery store candle in the house, and for the first time, I lit the Frida Kahlo candle a friend had given me. Ever since a trip to San Miguel Allende, I’ve always had on hand a supply of the Lux Perpetua religious votives that were burning in the cathedral there, and I added one of those to the mix. I’m not religious, and I’m some people who are might take issue with the mismatched company I keep. But I think the important thing in life is to keep turning on the light any way you can.

[You can order Lux Perpetua candles Alchemy Home or Direct from Mexico. A similar Frida Kahlo candle is available at Biscuit, but the shipping costs as much as the candle so I’ll have to burn mine sparingly and hope that another appears in my life the same way the first one did — serendipitously.]


The Anticipation Calendar

November 28th, 2014


I love the concept of Advent calendars even though I never had one as a child. There’s something about opening a window every morning to find a surprise that strikes me as a wonderful way to start the day.  What you discover these days might be secular or sacred, but common to all the calendars is the sweet anticipation and building of suspense. During December, I’ve challenged myself to create my own Advent calendar by posting something new every day December 1st through the 24th. It might be a quote, a poem I love, an object of beauty or a book — anything that inspires me, or surprises me or keeps my eyes open to the world. I hope you’ll enjoy these opening these little windows as much as I know I’ll love creating them.