Welcome. We are glad to meet you.
We welcomed 2014 with fires indoors and out. Gathering the wood for the outside fire was especially soulful for me. While not the same, it is similar to taking food from Nature. I am grateful for the trees.
We enjoyed our traditional meal of ham (baked this year), hoppin’ John, and greens. I don’t know that any of us really believes that these foods will bring us health, fortune, or wealth. I do think we each enjoy knowing what to really expect a few days a year, New Year’s Day being one of those.
We began our Three Kings Day conversations. We welcomed our newly made kings to the table with some folded stars and the Christ Candle from our Advent Spiral. We are grateful for the Light that led those Kings to honor a sweet baby king. We’ve only talked (and occasionally baked) about the day in the past years. I’m hoping it is something more memorable as we move into this new year.
Rest is where our bodies and hearts are headed now. Rest.
Our Christmas seasons can be fraught with gift needs and wants, places to be, people to see. There are gifts wants and needs and people we would like to see, but no fraught (fret?). Not this year.
I grew up in a family with faults far too numerous to count and far too in the past now to dredge. But there were some really cool things, too, that I have chosen to carry into this moment in my life. Like the sincere appreciation for homemade gifts. So, many years I make some if not all of the gifts even when I know they are not appreciated. I had the recipient in mind through the process and so the gift is a piece of me on behalf of my family.
This year there are not so many homemade things. I don’t know why. There just isn’t. And it’s OK. I’m not in the least bothered by it as I would have been in the past. I don’t know why. I’m OK with not knowing why.
My Husband comes about the holidays in a different way than I do. He likes to go and look a half dozen times and then pick up a few things here and there. Stealing a piece of a text with my Sister …
That’s a big part of what gets his mind in the right place for the holidays. Funny how I just want to be home and bake and make while he wants to be out and about. This year, for the first year, I am perfectly OK with whatever. I have no stress. So odd and awesome at the same time.
And I am OK with that. This year. Typically I get my granny panties all wadded up over it. Not this year. I don’t know why not this year, but not this year.
As I type this I am just laughing at myself. There is a brief squabble over what color the next loom band ornament should be. There is a science experiment debate over proper microscope management and there is a miniature schnauzer in desperate need of a good grooming on my lap. It’s comical. And I’m all good with that.
I am grateful for the odd and awesome.
There is naturally a buzz here with the anticipation of celebration and gifts. But it is a pretty chill buzz this year. Chill by all of us. There isn’t a flurry to do this, make that, buy things. Sure, we’re picking up here and there and making with our minds and hands, but it isn’t rushed.
It feels so good.
The highlights are times with friends, the advent spiral, and lots of just being.
Even the most perfect tree we just picked up yesterday sits in its most perfect spot sans lights and ornaments. Only a stand full water.
And this calm, this peace, this moment is just right as solstice nears and I prepare my heart for the gift of Christmas.
Last week I sat in our local co-op grocery with three of the sweetest of friends. We listened to teens and tweens make their first attempt at a formal meeting. We listened to younger friends rambunctiously laugh their way through nearly every wobbly tall stool in the place. And I became overwhelmed.
Several physical challenges were wrapped around our family. All at once. Nothing life-altering. Nothing permanent. Yet I was overwhelmed.
I am sitting with a woman who has lost two loves. Lost them. They were taken from her. In an instant they were gone. I cannot comprehend.
I am sitting with a woman who will be central to the future of her parents. Precious parents. Parents who love to kiss one another and me. Parents who love their daughter with words and actions I cannot comprehend.
I am sitting with a woman whose steadfastness has bound her family with one another and in determination through the most devastating of challenges. She is the glue. I cannot comprehend the many months, years of wondering.
And my woes are temporary. I cannot honestly say I feel any guilt about my worry. I am concerned about my worry taking me. I am simply overwhelmed. But I was with friends. Sweet, honest, solid friends.
That evening, as I was pounded by the jacuzzi jets that ease the pains in my legs, I made a decision. I decided I am taking these physical challenges of my family’s. I am taking them. I am making them into the most sincere pause of Advent, Solstice, Winter’s Nature that I can. Not by doing, but by being.
And the treadmill I so badly want to be back up on … the walks on our trails covered in hickory nuts and dotted with mud pits? I am taking them, too. After all, I have been medically declared the most non-compliant patient in the county. Why disappoint?
I recently won Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold from Mymcbook’s blog giveaway. I am truly excited about this as it is 1.) aviation, 2.) gold, 3.) a female, and 4.) a red-head. WOOOhoooo!
This makes me want to learn more about how to do giveaways. Not that I could determine what was relevant to the miss-mash here … SO much fun!
So the thing about new ferments/cultures is this … most of the time they are awesome but sometimes they suck.
Villi yogurt – awesome. Easy. Requires little thought. Tangy. Perfect. When it’s cold.
Milk Kefir – whoa. Not sure how to strain those grains yet, but the stuff is good. Feel free to tell me how to strain the grains without having my hands all in it. Delicious when cold. Excellent quickie smoothies. Cold.
Fermented Cranberry Sauce – A hit on the extended family Thanksgiving table. My pickier-than-usual-adult Father-In-Law liked it. Seemingly a lot. I’d say it passed. Best room temperature.
Desem Sourdough Starter – just getting going, may be able to make bread by the end of the week. It prefers to sit on the mantle, nice and cozy.
True Pickled Eggs – SUCK. Now, in all fairness, I followed the video example of how to boil eggs in the link and I think this was the issue. I should have boiled them as I always do – one minute hard boiled, cut heat, cover pan, let sit for 15 minutes. Because these eggs SUCKED. I vomited after eating them. The yolks were barely set and saturated with salt. Nasty. So I take full responsibility for the fail. My first ferment fail. It happens to everyone. Right?
(Please do not forget to tell me how to separate the grains from the milk kefir without digging with my fingers.)
Funny how posts that seem “fluffy” to me sometimes get some not-so-fluffy play.
Apparently there are folks from many walks that feel quite offended that my family enjoys Hanukkah and Christmas. And the mention of Samhain. Whoa. People of the World … relax.
What is my faith? Mine. I believe in God and His Son, Christ Jesus. I have faith in Him as my Redeemer. Is it mysticism as assumed by one clever reader with an excellent, vocabulary. If it is mysticism, it is my mysticism.
And if it is mysticism, I will add the faith and trust in my Husband to provide for our family into the mysticism column. And my faith and trust in my friends to hold my confidences into the mysticism column. And my faith and trust in the producers of the foods and supplies my family uses. And my faith and trust in the chair holding my tired legs into the mysticism column. Oh, wait. The last one was pure physics. The others are blind faith and unyielding trust, however.
Whatever my faith is, it is mine. These children are here with us for this brief time. Will they be influenced by my faith? I cannot imagine how they could not be. As within any family. Am I confusing them with our learning about Nature and history and faith? No more than I am confusing them when I encourage them to eat fresh foods then serve them buttered pasta for dinner. (To my credit, the pasta was whole wheat, the pizza seasoning on it organic, and the parmesan fresh and local. Or was it? There goes my faith and trust [in the products I purchase] again.) Nor as confusing as when I expect them to hold their portion and then cave regardless of portions held. Kids are wise.
They are kids. Why can’t they simply enjoy light? Why can they not simply enjoy light in this season of darkening days? Why can’t they simply celebrate light as the days lengthen and we begin to prepare for our outside time? Who cares if their joy is simply striking the match and watching the wick catch fire and then coating their fingertips in the warm wax? Who cares? I don’t.
I have faith that they are designed and made for their Nature of curiosity and learning in their own ways and in their own times.
I have faith and trust in myself and in my Husband and in our children that this Advent we will enjoy and grow in our own faiths, in our own ways and in our own times by seeking light inside, outside, within. For me, the light is Christ. The light is God’s Nature. The light is a beautiful rhythm of life and death and light and darkness. The moment of living in the joy with light and the finding light within death and darkness. A constant circle. That is my faith.
The past few days I have been ridiculously productive. This is no good. I am confident I am setting myself up to feel like a failure when I do nothing. Probably today. No. Wait. Today starts Hanukkah! There is surely some crafting to do. Here are some of the ideas I have gleaned. And this is my favorite take on a menorah EVER. We’ll probably use leftover glass rather than buy anything. I don’t think God cares. I think He is joyful.
And there went my feeling of failing … I don’t know that experimenting with floating wick prototypes qualifies as doing nothing.
No. We’re not Jewish. We’re not pagan, either, but the children have celebrated Samhain before. And we’ll probably enjoy Muharram towards its end. I think it is fun and we learn. All of us. And not always things we wish to know. Knowledge, no less.
As for the fermented cranberry sauce? I will open it for a taste this afternoon. It *looks* like it “worked.” Monday, I started a gift for my Husband: true pickled eggs. They’re still sitting in the dark. The ones I made for him last year…eh.
The Villi yogurt has made a full quart. Eh. Not so crazy about the taste. But perhaps as the tang develops in the starter. In the meantime, I have a batch in the crockpot right now.
In need of a brief and slow and deep breath of the woods, the younger children and I ventured to the best groomed trail – the racetrack in the woods. We brought back treasures to add to past gathered goodies and resurrected my need of a deep breath of Light. We made a usually-too-stacked-and-packed magazine table into our Nature table. I am grateful.
Heaviest on my heart and mind these last many weeks is the reply to my statement, “We’ll, that is Common Core.”
The reply? Nearly always, “What is that?” The rest of the time it is, “I don’t really know anything about it.”
I do not understand how anyone can subject a child to something so very unknown or not understood. Subject the whole family.
Start here. Please.
And if you dare, google your state’s “stop common core [state].” For my state, the primary site is here. Mind you every stop Common Core site I have seen assumes and justifies the right to a “free” public education. I do not believe in such a right.
So why do I care? Because I believe in the innate freedom of a family and every individual to choose whether or not subject oneself to the state. I believe wholly in freedom of and freedom from education.
Want convincing reason from a staunch supporter of public education? Pick up a copy of the 1953 book Quackery in the Public Schools by Albert Lynd. He believed public education should exist. Read and see if you are otherwise convinced.