impossibleway: (God Jul)
Forgive me, just a little bit, for multiple dessert pictures.  Travel back in time, instead, and recall my mother's glorious Christmas parties (really!) where she would order a Yule log cake from a local Swiss restaurant.  What happy memories those are, and so tasty!  Just over ten years ago, I tried my own Bûche de Noël, and it was a mess.  I laugh a little to see that I used hand beaters on the sponge cake.  This is certainly an occasion for an electric mixer!  Parchment paper is also a must.  I didn't have that last time.

Buche de Noel

Here's the recipe that I used, five recipes, really.  Mine is not exactly like the photos, but I like it better.

Buche End

I think the meringue mushrooms must have been the best part for the children.  It is, admittedly, a rich dessert, so I invited over Becky and Katherine to share the occasion with us.  A cake like this is its own occasion.  We revived the Christmas dishes and I continued playing Winter music from Windham Hill.  Mike did the photo shoot.

Meringue Mushroom

I do think it was worth the wait, or the ten years it took for me to build up the courage to do it. I'd make this recipe again, for sure, though I'd probably beat the ganache a little less. And bake the cake at the right temperature. Everything has to have one little mistake, right? No one minded a bit.
impossibleway: (Peace & Joy)
"To insure the fruit trees did produce a good crop, it was the custom to toast or bless them on Old Christmas, or Twelfth Night.  Armed with a jug or a pitcher of cider or some other drink, the men would visit each tree in the orchard and drink the following toast:

Here's to the fruit tree
May you grow and bear fruit.
A hat full, a bag full,
A basket full and some to spare.

If the orchard happened to be fairly large, the men often found it difficult to reach the house after such a blessing ceremony. . ."

~ Christmas in the Mountains: Southwest Virginia Christmas Customs and their Origins :: Hubert J. Davis

Wassailing 1

Wassailing 2

Wassailing 3

Wassailing 4

I have to chuckle at that description of wassailing. The book goes on to described the way people wassailed apple trees back home in Somserset and Devon in England, where these traditions began. Sometimes, bread was soaked in the wassail and hung on the trees.  Loud songs were sung and shouted and people danced around the trees.  Our celebration did involve some singing and little climbing in place of the dancing.  You can tell that most of the trees are quite old, and may not even make it beyond this year.  Laurel took care of the youngest trees, the ones in our yard.  We are hoping for a big harvest this year, since last year was not so big.  We mourned the loss of a couple trees, one that was particularly good at bearing consistently (and cut down for that reason!), and we planted an Early Transparent a few weeks ago with hope for the future.

Here's the verse we used, from Sparkle Stories, and here are some more.  There are many to choose from!

Old apple tree, old apple tree,
We've come to sing to thee!
To bear and to bow,
Apples now!

Hats full, caps full,
Three bushel bags full,
Barn doors full,
And a little heap under the stairs.


And so it is that Christmas goes out.  Today, we take down the tree and welcome in King Winter.  There's awhile, I think, where having the tree up after Christmas feels silly, but we keep it for tradition.  Then, when it's time to take it down, it feels a little sad.  We're enjoying watching it twinkle one last dark Winter morning, before we send it back outside.  We've got a dusting of snow today and some in the forecast!

Twelfth Night
impossibleway: (A Winter's Solstice)
Winter's Nap

Supper Time

It's easy, right now, to wish to move on with things and welcome in the bright emptiness of the new calendar year.  I am trying to savor this time out of time while it is here, to be more present, and to wrap up the season with connection and presence.  The Twelve Days of Christmas are a time of clarity for many and I feel it, too.  I can look back and see what I would like to keep and discard, both for the year and for Christmas.  I've spent little snippets of time clearing out things and reorganizing.  It's small, really, since this work here is full time, but every little bit helps.  I think these days are very reflective, and considering materials possessions is certainly fitting.

It's also fitting to consider the past and the people that are gone from this world.  On Sunday, in particular, I felt the presence of my Grandma Lois quite strongly.  She was the person who made Christmas for me when I was a child.  Mike and the children had gone to a cemetery, as we often do, and I was remembering how she left us.  It was a car accident just three weeks before Christmas Eve, the day we always gathered for celebration.  Our family was never the same after that, as if she really were the glue that held us all together and kept us on the path.  Things changed rapidly afterward, as the threads she brought to the family tapestry quickly unravelled.  My own life was still constant, but that was not the case for everyone.

I've been doing some biography work this year, inner work, with the adult development book Tapestries.  After focusing so heavily on child development for the past six or so years, it's helpful for me to consider where I am going in all of this.  I feel like I have taken hold of some big things this year, many of them quite private, and it's both empowering and frightening.  Thirty-three truly has been a "valley of the shadow of death" year for me, though I have had many moments of joy and beauty.  In these twelve days, I'm casually using these exercises from The Parenting Passageway.

I do think I would like to give more outward energy to these days next year, though I do have a few things planned for this year.  Advent has become less and less each year, and I think I will continue in that mood.  I still really, really want a tree with real candles on it, just once or twice.

Well, time to give some attention to my bread dough.  We've got SNOW this morning!  Happy sixth day of Christmas!
impossibleway: (Willow in the Sling)
We took turns making wishes from the Yule log on Christmas Eve.  I don't know if you're supposed to share the wishes, but I made mine for a good garden this coming Summer.  I had a brief moment of feeling like I need to get to work on working on the raised garden beds this morning, only to realized that Spring is still a good ways off.  Could be the cool, wet weather that has me a little confused.  I could sure use a good snow right now!

Yule Log

I told the children that the sparks from the Yule log represented the spirirts of our family members who have gone before us.  We were inviting them to our celebration.  The highlight of my childhood Christmas Eve's was the time at Grandma Lois and Grandad's house.  They had a table-top Victorian tree and let us drink Cheerwine from their huge collection of tiny (more historically accurate) wine glasses.  How I loved that!

Tomten Treats

With that in mind, we keep Christmas Eve in that mood, with finger foods and Grandad's favorite shrimp cocktail.  You can see the Tomten's plate here.  There was homemade egg nog, cheese log, wee pickles, and plenty of cookies given to us by friends.  I'll admit my Christmas baking was pre-empted by all the Christmas crafting this year.  Mike gave me some snowflake sprinkles, and I'm waiting for just the right snowy moment to put them on some frosted sugar cookies.  I haven't made those in years!  So many cookies, so little time.

Christmas Nature Table

Christmas morning was nice--in a glow of candles we enjoyed our blackberry pudding and the culmination of all the weeks of waiting.  We celebrated with family throughout the day, with plenty of quiet time at home.

Holy Family in the Stable

Here's Roan's little Nativity, with the Christ Child nestled in an oyster shell.   I think the little folks came out just right!

I'm wishing you all a Merry Christmas and peace in the days and years ahead. 
impossibleway: (Advent Apple)
By the Shores of Silver LakeBack home from another trip to the big city down South, and it's the same as always.  I return to renewed appreciation for my own kitchen and my own bed and the simple everydayness of my own life.  I don't say that to sound high and mighty, just that I really treasure the routine and quiet life we have here.  Life in a place with endless strip malls is just not for me.  I travel often into the woods, but not down the interstate.  I see that a town not so far away, which fought it for so many years, now has a big super Voldemart and the earth is being moved for yet more development.  Willow's reaction to it all, though colored by the stress of travel, nearly brought me to tears.  Yes, why can't we just let the land be and enjoy that kind of beauty?

I've had such a hard time this year, despite trying to really focus on home and routine.  The news from the outside world is just awful.  I don't see our country becoming great again, not for little folks like us, not that it ever was.  It is so hard to know any more, and that is what is so unsettling.  Nothing feels safe any more.  After so many years of hard times, of scraping by, it's hard to keep your chin up all the time.  The weather is crazy, the news is crazy, the people in charge are extra crazy.  It's just too much.

And while it might not pay the bills, this is the year I've realized that it's perfectly acceptable to be the introverted person that I am.  It's probably my greatest strength right now.  Some people pressure us to do more, but we are not often around them, and we simply cannot afford to be dancing and scouting and fencing.  Unless that means putting a fence around the garden. ;-)  I feel glad to offer my children a picture of a slow life, maybe something they might come back to later on, when life feels too full.  I've already seen the Appalachia I knew as a child, with its shaped note singing and dinner on the grounds, change so much.  I am weary of the future, like the elders of my memory sitting on their front porch watching the cars speed by.

I spent the trip knitting and reading about Christmas traditions of a Southwest Virginia that has been gone for almost a hundred years.  We try to hold onto some of those traditions here, and to make our own, as I often share.  The world seeks to steal all meaning and add back materialism, expecting we won't notice the walls closing in on us.  It's up to us to be the filters.  I feel so glad my children are growing up in this little county with our little town.  We've got a bustling main street, a growing music scene, large natural places.  If it has to be a town in this part of the state, this one is it.  Roan wants to live in the country, and I really wish I could give him that, but it's not realistic right now.  I do think we will take to the wild places even more in the Spring and Summer, maybe nature school twice a week.

This is all pretty heavy stuff for the day before Christmas when we are all busy with preparing to make merry.  I really hated being away from home for the Solstice.  It felt almost as if it didn't happen at all.  All the wind went out of my sails.  I've got to gather things back together today and get the house in order.  We need to pick out a Yule log from under the back porch stairs.  It's raining, which is nice if it has to be in the fifties.  We've got some things stashed away for a simple celebration at home with just the five of us.

Don't you like my Christmas ornament I got?  I'll admit that I did some heavy hinting about the sweet Little House ornaments.  This one is so poignant to me.  I think, oddly, I might like parts of the Silver Lake story best of all.  That wild place they went to, that nice house full of good things to get them through the Winter (what a dream of mine!), it's just all so beautiful and bittersweet.
impossibleway: (God Jul)

Christmas Folk01.JPG


It's been said that introverts have a rich inner life. I very much agree.  A good book or a good song can almost put me into a trance.  Christmas Folk by Natalia Belting is such a book.  It's written in the same style as Summer's Coming In, and Barbara Cooney is also the illustrator.  Following the saints' days leading up to Christmas the the twelve days after, it creates a festival that makes me wish I could go back in time.  If you've seen Tudor Monastery Farm Christmas, then some of these customs are familiar.

Christmas Folk03.JPG

The hallow days of Yule are here.
The nights are long and dark.
A feeble sun scarce warms the day,
And cold congeals the stoutest heart.
The hallow days of Yule are come,
And now the Christmas folk bestir. . .


Christmas Folk02.JPG

The celebrations begin with St. Andrew's day, when it's time to make the Christmas pudding.

Christmas Folk04.JPG

St. Barbara's Day brings fireworks.

Christmas Folk05.JPG

And the boys lock out the teacher on St. Nicholas Day.

Christmas Folk06.JPG

There are mummers throughout the book: a string of costumed folks, Hobby the Horse, Snap the Dragon, and the Christmas Bull.

Christmas Folk07.JPG

Tulya's E'en brings all sorts of mischief and superstition.

Christmas Folk08.JPG

St. Thomas's Eve was the time to divine images of your true love. This practice came here, along with many others from far off times, and are discussed in Christmas in the Mountains: Southwest Christmas Customs and their Origins.

Christmas Folk09.JPG

Christmas Eve found the Christmas Folk all over town, bringing the news that Christmas was coming in.  In our area, many people stayed up most of the night on Christmas Eve, serenading their neighbors and trying to catch a glimpse of the animals speaking and kneeling.

Christmas Folk10.JPG

The Christmas Bull came in to wake people up, which sounds both terrifying and funny to me.  I don't know much about this tradition at all.

Christmas Folk11.JPG

Now the feasting began!  A Tudor Feast at Christmas details some of the dishes served to nobility at that time, including the peacock pie.

Christmas Folk12.JPG

St. George slayes the dragon in the traditional mummers' play.  John Langstaff wrote a book for making one's own play.  It certainly looks quite different from the Christmas plays we are accustomed to today.

Christmas Folk13.JPG

Twelfth Night was the time to wassail the apple trees and livestock.

Christmas Folk14.JPG

And there was the cake which helped pronounce the king and queen of the revels.

Christmas Folk15.JPG

Yule's come and Yule's gane
And all have feasted weel,
So Jock takes up his flail again,
And Jenny spins her wheel.
impossibleway: (Advent Apple)
In the Advent garden,
Dark the night below,
Earth is waiting, waiting, waiting,
For the stars to glow.

~Winter :: Wynstones


Advent Spiral 1

Advent Spiral 2

Advent Spiral 3

Advent Spiral 5

Advent Spiral 6


It was a perfect night for spiral walk--the air was cold and frosty, the wind was calm, and we were all so anxious to go. Mike captured these memories for us, along with taking care of a baby doll.
impossibleway: (Peace & Joy)
Whew!  Okay, almost.  I'm blocking the Baby Surprise Bonnet and still working on the Yellowstone Ear Warmers, but it's all so close to being done!  I've just got some short rows and some pinning to do and then I'm free!  Here are my makings from this very, very busy week.

Jack-in-the-Box

This little fellow would like to say, "Hello!"

In the Box

He makes his home in this little refurbished match box.  It's a tight fit, but he doesn't mind.  He's the Jack-in-the-Box from The Children's Year and I love him dearly.  This can be constructed quite simply.  It took around and hour and a half, but I did do a softer version of a true Waldorf doll head (that's a little big).  The face is done with mapmaking pens and some beeswax crayon.

Holy Family

And here's Roan's Holy Family, done just this morning while Laurel sat by my side at 5:15!  I made six doll heads yesterday, some for the shepherds and one king.  Those will wait for later, but I think we've already got a great start on a lovely nativity for his forthcoming stable.

Pot Holders

Don't look too closely at these pot holders, just appreciate that they are done.  I've learned a lot about sewing on bias tape, too.

Rosalie's Dress

And here's a very, very red dress for Rosalie, just like the one on the cover of The Doll Book.  I'll have to tell that story another day.  I might make some pants in a cheery print, if I get a chance, but I'm not holding my breath.

Lined Pants

Lastly, though done first, are some new lined pants for Laurel Mae.  Kids' clothes are notoriously wimpy, really, and I'm done with it.  So, I've archived the leggings and made some warm pants in corduroy, flannel, and quilting cotton.  Children wear what we put before them, so make your choices count.  Yes, I've got a clothing soap box.  It's been a long week. ;-)

For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.

Humankind

Dec. 19th, 2016 06:12 am
impossibleway: (Advent Apple)
The fourth light of Advent, it is the light of humankind:
The light of hope, of thoughts and deeds, the light of hand, heart, and mind.


Four Lights

It's been a long wait, and now it feels as if there is no wait at all.  I have loose ends to tie up today and tomorrow, a flurry of making to do, but I feel hopeful that I can do it.  I've had some real lows and a few highs, so perhaps the excitement is past.  I am ready for some waiting and some celebration.

Christmas Pyramid

We had a little accident last week--the wooden mantel fell off the brick on it sits on.  Gone is the oil lamp, repaired is the Christmas pyramid (whew!) and saved were the glass mushroom and my precious silhouette lamp.  The treasured clock is a little splintered around the corners, but it looks fine if you don't stare too hard.  No one was hurt in all that glassy, oily mess, and that is the best of all.

Fourth Sunday Rainbow

We saw this beautiful rainbow yesterday morning, both ends!  We've had half a dozen since Election day, of all things, reminding us that there is Someone much greater in charge of things.  This one was the best, and it brought yet more nourishing rain.  I am beginning to think the terrible drought is lifting.

Nature Table

Sunday suppers are by candlelight now.  I've tried lighting the candle after supper, but that's a time when quiet reflection is not at its best.  It is so lovely to see the lights grow each week.  I am hoping to do our Advent spiral this evening, having waited for the cold to blow out and the wind to die down.  Yesterday started at sixty degrees and ended at thirty!

Four Candles

I'm learning, this year, about things I need to do to make things better for next year. It is always that way, isn't it?  There is nothing wrong with making gifts, but I need to start much earlier, like March.  I did a lot to keep the calendar clear this year and I think that was right--we really needed time to ourselves, to work on ourselves.  The children have been playing much better lately,  and the old creativity is seen once more.  I think, of all things, I used to be vain about how well my children played and dreamed.  It was a quiet vanity, but it was there, no less.  My hope for the coming week and the Twelve Days to follow is for more joyful times and more connection.  Laurel goes to the dentist today (say a prayer for her) and the plan is for me to work on some gifts with Roan.  I think it will be just perfect.

Noel

Dec. 16th, 2016 05:31 am
impossibleway: (Winter Fields)

Grinstone Snow


Grim was the world and grey last night:
The moon and stars were fled,
The hall was dark without song or light,
The fires were fallen dead.
The wind in the trees was like to the sea,
And over the mountains’ teeth
It whistled bitter-cold and free,
As a sword leapt from its sheath.

The lord of snows upreared his head;
His mantle long and pale
Upon the bitter blast was spread
And hung o’er hill and dale.
The world was blind, the boughs were bent,
All ways and paths were wild:
Then the veil of cloud apart was rent,
And here was born a Child.

The ancient dome of heaven sheer
Was pricked with distant light;
A star came shining white and clear
Alone above the night.
In the dale of dark in that hour of birth
One voice on a sudden sang:
Then all the bells in Heaven and Earth
Together at midnight rang.

Mary sang in this world below:
They heard her song arise
O’er mist and over mountain snow
To the walls of Paradise,
And the tongue of many bells was stirred
in Heaven’s towers to ring
When the voice of mortal maid was heard,
That was mother of Heaven’s King.

Glad is the world and fair this night
With stars about its head,
And the hall is filled with laughter and light,
And fires are burning red.
The bells of Paradise now ring
With bells of Christendom,
And Gloria, Gloria we will sing
That God on earth is come.

~J. R. R. Tolkien, see more here.

The Spiral

Dec. 15th, 2016 06:02 am
impossibleway: (Advent Apple)
In the Advent garden,
Dark the night below,
Earth is waiting, waiting, waiting,
For the stars to glow.

~Winter :: Wynstones

Spiral CloseupWe spent our time outside after lunch yesterday, working on our Advent spiral.  This year, it's over at the Roland Estate, which seemed only fitting.  Having spent nearly all of this year looking after the place and enjoying the bounty of the small patch of land, I wanted to end with a memory.  Mike thinks that a magic fairy will swoop in and we will be able to buy the house and land, but I'm not so hopeful.  My only wish is that it will not be turned into commercial property like the stately home that stood next door.  So many mixed feelings, so many.  I don't have all the money or time or ability to take on a house and numerous outbuildings and a garage apartment with structural issues.  Anyway.

A spiral on the land that has come to mean so much to us, yes.

We used our extra Christmas tree branches, along with fresh holly, spruce cones, pine cones, spruce boughs, ivy vines, and bittersweet berries.  The grass was already covered in leaves and raking out the extras gave a nice effect. like it had been planned that way.  We still need to place a big log in the middle for the main candle, and I need to track down the stars.  I've got time, though, as it's going to be too cold today, Mike's playing a show tomorrow night and the weekend looks very rainy.  It's a spiral of found objects and Willow helped with the bulk of it.  It is nice to see this tradition taking shape and the care that she puts into it.  Even Laurel was cautioning me to be careful not to mess it up!

I don't know if we will share it with anyone this year, if anyone will bring lights and walk with us.  I've felt the strong need to simply be just us and choose not to entertain right now.  I have a secret hope that one of the grown children will be in town for Christmas, but that may be only a product of my busy, introverted mind.  I come up with all kinds of scenarious that never happen, conversations that never occur, you know.  Either way, this is a tribute to the people who made this place their home, the lights they brought with them, and the lights we carry out of the spiral of life.

Advent Spiral 2016
impossibleway: (God Jul)
Star Boy

Lucia Morning

Little Lucia

Lucia Crown

Take Two

Ahh, the elusive Lusekatter recipe.  I made beautiful buns early in the morning that were rather bland, and then I made an over-risen extremely tasty Lucia crown in the afternoon.  The children were pleased, both ways, and were especially happy to test out the second recipe (with saffron!) at 4:30 in the afternoon.  I think, if you are looking for buns, that you should add saffron to the first recipe and another egg.  It's hard to choose buns or a crown, but those candles early in the morning would be quite the sight!  Can I celebrate St. Lucia day even after the children are gone and it's just Mike and me? 
impossibleway: (God Jul)
It's amazing what a little time in the afternoon can do! I'm pretty good at working on tedious things, depsite distractions, but it's a real help to have some good quiet time this time of year. "A certain someone," as we call her, isn't taking consistent naps these days. When she does, we work like elves or bees or something to tackle all the focused tasks we can. This might be tangrams or trains or rose windows. It's getting close to Christmas now and time to really stay the course until the big day(s).


Window Star 1

I love this window star--I didn't think it would be a nice color combination, but it is!

Window Star 2

And here are two more, the very simplest.  I want the one Susan has.

Window Star 3

And here are my first efforts at Rose Windows.

Rose Window 1

They're not perfect, but they are so pretty, it matters little.

Rose Window 2

The light wanes quickly these days, so here are some pictures by the lamp.
This is Willow's owl hat, with the eyes waiting to be sewn on.

Owl Hat

And here's the top of her Christmas dress.  The Wizard does not do machine basting to suit me, so I'm doing the gathering stitches slowly by hand.  And I have to sew on days it's above forty outside.

Christmas Dress

I'm also working on a Baby Surprise Bonnet for Roan (more like a balaclava) and that never ending Bad Hombre Poncho. I have lost the crochet hook for it twice, and have been a little glad for the break. I've just got the assembly and blocking to go.

For more crafting, visit Frontier Dreams.

Beasts

Dec. 12th, 2016 05:52 am
impossibleway: (Advent Apple)
We lit our third Advent candle last night during a simple supper.  I think now that we will light the candle before the meal as a way of quieting things down, of making the meal different from all the rest in the week.  Energy has been high lately, too high for me, and it's obvious that time outside is so helpful.  It's funny to me that the forecast seems to always have our work day be warm and pleasant and our nature school time be so cold. Oh, well, I gave Willow a pair of my wool socks.  We'll make it.

Light of Beasts

It's nice to reflect on each light as the weeks pass by, to notcie each kingdom and its beauty.  I know these are not the common symbols of the Advent candles, the ones used in many churches, but they really give the waiting meaning for our family.

Advent Wreath

Here's our hanging wreath, still artificial after last year's rained needles on every meal.  We have many more years to make a natural one and I have bigger fish to fry these days.

Tidy Space

I had some time to myself yesterday afternoon.  I often spend this kind of time working on school planning, sewing, or cleaning something. I know all that sounds perfectly boring, but it is very nourishing to me.  I really, really need the time alone so that I can be a better person when I am surrounded, which is all the time.  Yesterday, I spent the time restructuring play spaces.  It is obvious that Willow has left the early years behind and cannot sink into play with Roan and Laurel quite as easily.  She can still play and certainly does, but it is different now.

With that in mind, I examined the spaces and the ways they were being used (or not used) and did some shifting.  One play stand was disassembled and tucked under our bed.  Mike repaired one section of the play frames and I got them together again.  They're once more a cozy place for one, intended for quiet time.  The play kitchen moved under the canopy, since the children love it, but haven't been experiencing it's enveloping mood very much.  I moved the bookshelf and mushroom house over by the heat vent, where Roan likes to spend his time.  The bookshelf was being used for jumping, more than anything.  Time to change that.

I've been considering writing about homeschooling as an introvert and what that means to me.  I feel like there are societal voices that go on about giving children lots of social time, or lots of extra classes and activities.  That doesn't feel like the right choice for us at this time.  Budget is a big factor there, along with the question of what running here and there really teaches children.  I'm a firm believer in doing a few things well.  It's obvious I specialize in the domestic arts, and I don't see a need to fit a mold.  Home life naturally evolves as the people there do.
impossibleway: (Elsa Beskow Christmas)
We took a trip into the chill for our Christmas tree yesterday.  The farm we visit is just outside of town, which is in the country.  No sprawl around here, so it's straight into the farmlands and wilds.  It was thirty-two degrees with a constant wind, so we were pretty frozen on our faces by the time we were done.  Since we brought our own saw, we just walked into the trees and picked one that suited both Mike and me, and trotted back down to the car.

The Big Tree

Willow has become quite the fashion plate, as you can see.  My mother picked up this Rothschild coat for her, after our searches for the ones I wore turned up fruitless.  I guess you could say my early decluttering efforts were not as thoughtful as they are now.  Anyway, this girl has a style all her own.  She's got a lovely brown felt hat to wear with it, but the wind was too strong to bring it along.

The Fashion Plate

This dear boy brought home a smaller tree, as well.
It's the top of a big tree, of course, that took a tragic turn and broke out.

The Little Tree

Roan was so proud and serious about the little tree.
We took the decorations off the little artificial tree and he set to work.

Trimming the Tree

For the first time, we were all able to decorate the big tree as fairly equal participants.
Roan took over the standing around and reminiscing over the ornaments.

Advent Ring

Here's my new ornament from last year from Mike's mom from The Wooden Wagon.
And below is an ornament from my mother's childhood.

Angel with the Deer

This is Willow's ornament from last year, too.  I think it is fitting--she is always the perfect hostess, leaving no one out.  The children really love to feed the birds and ask me for bread cubes any time they see me cutting them up.  Oh, the precious hand-ground grain that has been fed to the birds, though I could ask for no better recipients.

Singing Angel

Tada!  I'll bring up the angel from the basement later!

Tree!
impossibleway: (Club Moss in the Leaves)
See deep in the mountains where the wind blows wild,
There sits Holy Mary and cradles her child.
She rocks the cradle with hands so white,
she needs but a touch for the babe so light.


~ Winter :: Wynstones

Fallen Tree

We had Christmas in the forest today, on the Two Ponds Trail.

Candlelabras

The running cedar was releasing its spores in celebration and the ferns were merry in the cold air.

Christmas Ferns

We even found a few stalked puffballs on the hillside, shining their colors like the sun.

Stalked Puffballs

Our hike was a cold twenty-nine degrees and we needed to keep our faces covered. The wind is strong now, bringing a terrible chill. It's a good day to roast several pumpkins and enjoy the sun blazing into the dining room. Laurel's taking a nap, so I think I'll fold some window stars.
impossibleway: (God Jul)
Willow and Roan woke extra early yesterday morning, in anticipation of St. Nicholas Day.  Roan made certain to leave out a carrot for his donkey.  Sure enough, the gold coins were there, just like always.  I never had St. Nicholas when I was a child, so this is all fun for me, too.  The children insist that Santa Claus is a game that adults play to make children be good, but St. Nicholas coming down from heaven is absolutely real.  There are several sweet stories in the Winter Wynstones book that tell of that idea, if you are looking for some.

Slippers with Coins

The big surprise of the morning was the Christmas pyramid, the one that Roan had admired for so long.  A word of warning: don't use it when the furnace is blasting--I nearly set it on fire!  Don't tell the children.  One candle just burned down too far and scorched its base.  Otherwise, it was a moment full of wonder when the children discovered it on the darkened dining room table.

Pyramid!

And here are our school books for the next few weeks.  In the same pattern as the Enki sages, we are studying the Christmas Saints, as I like to call them.  We'll continue to let the stories sleep and then do pictures and summaries.  St. Nicholas is up first and we are reading the book by Jakob Streit, which has stories from this babyhood to his legacy.  The children are really enjoying these and there are only a few things that I may edit out as we go along.  We'll do Lucia next, using some stories from books and several from Christine Natale.  Roan will be doing fairy tales like The Elves and the Shoemaker, Mother Holle, and the Star Money, along with some of the stories from Winter.

School Plans

Our December movement circle is taken from Enki and Wynstones.  We're doing a combination of some quiet Winter movements, some shepherd action verses and songs, songs about Mother Mary, and a couple about the plants and seeds sleeping under the snow.  I am hoping we'll find some quiet afternoons to do some puppet plays using our Mary marionette and the verses we've been working on.  We'll swap shepherds for kings in early January and then move to Winter after that.  I'm more than ready for a good snow!
impossibleway: (Advent Apple)
Light of Plants

It was perfect to go hiking in the soaking rain for the second Sunday of Advent. Everything has felt so hard lately, and this was such a nice time. My Singer sewing machine broke over the weekend, won't turn the bobbin, so I got another sewing machine from my parents, a Wizard. I'll admit that I cried and was generally awful about it. There is so much sewing to do right now and I'm on the tail end of a big little project. But, anyway, the light of plants! It was so good to see the rain coming down so steadily, and there is more in the forecast. The end of the week should prove to be quite cold, so I think we better get those forgotten Fall bulbs into the ground today!  I think it's perfect timing.
impossibleway: (Mike Panorama)
Winter is dark,
Yet each tiny spark
Brightens the way
To Christmas Day.

Shine little light
And show us the way
To the bright, bright light
Of Christmas day.


~Wynstones :: Winter








So much light and darkness this time of year; so much joy and worry.  I'm trying to find beautiful moments every day.  It was a cold, wet rainy day.  Katherine and I took a high through the woods and we loved seeing the water drip from the trees.  I'm really struggling with my anxiety right now and just want to pull away from everything outside of home and family and nature.  Say a prayer for me, if you feel like it.
impossibleway: (Elsa Beskow Christmas)
This little book has been a part of my Christmas traditions for thirty-two years now, and I really wanted to share it here.  I suppose now that we would call it something a bit different, adding a "great" or two to grandfather, seeing as how it's set 150 years ago, as best as I can tell.  It's a dear book, full of all the wonderful images of the perfect family Christmas.  It's a strange thing that we hold onto such imagery, when Christmas is such a mixed bag, but I think Christmas is mostly a set of fantasies that we hold within ourselves.  Each one looks different and nothing beats the mystery and merriment of a childhood Christmas, or I haven't bested my own memories, yet!   Onward, though.  Let's see this book!

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My Grandma Lois, lover of all things Victorian, gave me this book for my second Christmas.
How I held onto it for all these years must be a credit to my mother and my own good fortune.
She always called me "Brandy Lane," so that is the name that I kept when I married.

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These are set so that you can click on the image to see it enlarged.

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There are many wonderful images of all the preparations for Winter and Christmas.

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While we don't do all of these, I do keep some traditions simply that my children may have the memory of them.  I often feel that the world is passing us by and the aimlessness experienced by many is due, in part, to the loss of seasonal land-based activities.

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They go to the old general store to get some Christmas goodies.  Ribbon candy!  We got some last year from The Vermont Country Store.

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This reminds me that we need to bring some wood up to the house.  It always does wonders for our spirits, being out in the brisk air and working to get warm.  Our roaring Thanksgiving fire used up a lot of the two carloads we gleaned.

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Airing the quilts--Willow loves this.  She will happily take something out to the clothesline and give it a swift beating with a stick.  Grandma Lois would have loved her so.  She would have loved them all.

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The "hustle and bustle" in the kitchen reminds me of the hoopskirts in Farmer Boy.

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I have dreams of a truly old-fashioned holiday meal, using The Little House Cookbook as my guide.

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Oh, to play in that haymow and experience the party games.  We really love the chapter where the girls play in the straw stack in On the Banks of Plum Creek.

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We generally have a family Christmas party and I think I may use this as inspiration for the evening.  I know the children would really love it.  Like many things, Christmas is what you make it.  For me, it is a dark season, lit by the flickering lights of candles and "fairy" lights.  It is full of mystery and tradition, and it links us back many, many years across many, many people seeking to keep up spirits in a cold time and a challenging world.

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