End of a Long Year

Yesterday we had another chance to hang out with the kids while my son packed up the car and took care of other chores in preparation for their trek up north.  I think everyone had a sense of impending change, which drew us together more for security.

This has been, shall we say, a very eventful year, both historically and personally.  Turbulent and mercurial come to mind.  We can only hope that 2019 will bring desperately needed stability and a return to forward progress.  I’m sure we can all drink to that.

I leave this sad year with these hopeful images of children making the most of the present moment, a skill we could all use in our current reality.


Mountain Sunset

We got to spend a day up on the mountain with my son and the kids, who were playing with all their new acquisitions, including phones and a drone.  The latter afforded a momentary opportunity away from screens to enjoy the 60-something degree outdoors, as K figured out how to fly it.

It was a good chance to have fun together before the kids are moved far away once again, this time up north.  We hope their resilience will continue to serve them well as they make yet another transition.

There was a gorgeous golden sunset bathing all the hills and trees, which of course my so-called camera couldn’t capture, but here’s my attempt.


You Make the Best of What’s Still Around [Sting]

Here is yesterday evening’s sunset.  (You had to have been there, but I do my best with less-than-stellar tools.)

I’m feeling a little under the weather today, so conserving energy for helping with the Gkids tomorrow.  They got delivered and left to my son to entertain, while the others drove off to facilitate the PA move, the latest chapter in the gypsy saga.  Ironically, the same part of PA they moved away from.  Again, this latest move planned right in the middle of a school year, in winter, just as the kids were getting used to FL.  I’ll just leave it there.  It’s complicated.

On the more positive side, I got connected with all the native wildflower orgs in the area, so I can access their wealth of resources on creating wildlife-friendly native habitats out of an empty field.  You have to start somewhere, however modest and on-the-cheap.  At least there is plenty of blank canvas on which to experiment, and not too many exotic invasives to rip out.



Xmas Refugees Unite!

It’s easy for me to say xmas is just another day, because for me it’s mostly just a day to be waited out and gotten over with.  But for the people closest to me, it can be very sad and lonely.

In one way or another, they’ve lost everyone important to them, and the day is an empty void.  Like the proverbial unfortunate Dickens character, face pressed to glass, they longingly eye others gathered festively in the warmth of family and friends, feasting and opening presents.  Never mind that much of that merriment is forced and artificial; it still hurts to be the one out in the cold, through no fault of your own. And our commercial culture doesn’t make it easier, with all the pressure and hype in your face.  It’s a very hard day to ignore.

So I have mixed feelings about this day.  Personally, it’s simple: enjoy a quiet Chinese meal out with family, while the feeding frenzy of last minute shopping swirls outside, which is what we did yesterday afternoon with my son and granddaughter and her friend.  Other Jewish people (a real minority here) will be doing the same.  Then we just hunker down at home, safe from all the drunks, and wait for it to be over for another year.

But I feel sad for those who have had their family and festivities yanked out from under them, and for the most part face this significant season alone.  They’re like aliens that got left behind in the mad stampede.  All your friends are doing their family thing, and the few places that are open are not much consolation.  All you can do is find other refugees and do stuff together, or just sit it out.

I feel bad that I can’t compensate for the huge losses they’ve endured.  All I can do is be here for them and provide a place of refuge, such as it is.

I hope each of us, in the spirit of inclusion and generosity that this holiday is supposed to embody, will give a thought to someone you know who may have fallen through the cracks of other people’s self-centered pursuits.  If you’ve ever experienced pain and loss, remember what it felt like to be alone and forgotten, and pass on some kindness, especially today.

Here’s how it’s done, Jewish-style.  Keep Tsingtao in Xmas! (Courtesy of Fulin’s Asian hospitality.)  Sundown yesterday evening.  Some strong martinis.  You almost can’t tell the fire is fake!




Don’t Panic

Just a normal day, yet festive at the same time.  Watch and learn!

Here’s some nature [chard, fungus, lichen–heheh, Festive Fungus] being festive, even in the cold:

Here’s some booze being festive, and lunch of champions:

Here’s Misu the Opportunist begging to come in the back door (to eat), then immediately wanting out the front door:

This is how we do it.  So much Not Panicking.



The best thing I can say for this time of year is the sparkly, shiny lights, turning a dark, humble space into a wonderland.

Other aspects of this holiday can be illuminating in quite a different aspect.  It seems to bring out the worst in people.  A minority appear to be having a merry, festive time, while a growing majority are struggling not to go into further debt.  The stress level is intensified.  Those of my friends and family who are mourning the loss of loved ones this time of year, whether recent or not, feel the loneliness and isolation even more deeply.  The oblivious frenzy around them just amplifies their own marginalization.

To my family and friends who have lost someone close to them, been abandoned or rejected by their families, have experienced a painful dissolution of a relationship or lost access to their children, had their whole life disrupted or income severely impacted, or just struggle day in and day out to survive and find meaning, I just want to say: you are not alone, take heart.  The people who intentionally make your life a hell, in contrast to the values they lay claim to this season, are not worth the effort and expense they expect of you.  Whereas those who love and support you and share your essential values are your true family, with whom meaningful “traditions” can be created.

Just like the simple lights that can transform an inner space into an atmosphere all year long, I wish for the people I care about who have suffered loss, much transforming light in their lives in the coming year.  And may a spotlight expose those who only do damage, for what they really are.



Solstice Full Moon Days

We had a very pleasant Solstice evening with my son over.  Here is a local baked Kentucky pie he brought us.  We [MSTies] really do like pie [I know a guy…].

Today we got an early-ish start doing some last minute grocery shopping before the stampede of frenzied buzzards really gets going.  Now we can safely hunker down and weather the mini-apocalypse that is xmas.

Here is what Misu thinks of it all.  She’s just basking in the sun (what there is of it).  I even managed to find some plant color in amongst the cold-hardy lettuces.


Solstice Still Life

My son is here for our erev tradition, so what do I take pictures of?  Random objects!  It’s been pouring for days, and everything outside is soggy, gray, and unphotogenic, while inside we have: my son working behind this door, this lovely craft beer (and a pie) he got us, some festive disco lights, and an alien.  Just a normal day, the way I like it.