The space between the end and the beginning

A new and glorious morn

A new and glorious morn

So Christmas hath ended, passed away, disappeared into the ethers.

New Year’s approaches, wearing bells and jangles, but she’s still in the future.

We’re in between, kids.

We’re in between the Solstice and Christmas and Hanukkah and other shining holy-days.

We’re waiting.

We’re between births.

We’re between worlds.

We’re between 2017 and 2018.

These next maybe five or six days exist in limbo.  An intermediate or transitional stage.

Even though the Christ child hath been born, we’re still waiting for those Wise Men to discover that a new consciousness is possible.  To fathom what the baby means to us ordinary folks.

Even though it’s almost 2018, it’s not yet time to meet the new possibilities of another year.

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Posted in December 2017 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Gifts to give ourselves for Christmas

A gift to ourselves

A gift to ourselves

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of friends who are suffering at this time of year.

You name the boogeyman.  Some of my friends struggle with health.  Others with family issues.  One friend just lost her husband, shattered her femur, and is now recovering in a nursing home.  Another friend suffers from depression.  Another from loneliness.  Another from alcoholism.  Another from emotional abuse. Many more feel politically drained, worn out, almost hopeless.

It can feel so challenging at times like these.

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Posted in December 2017 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

The mystery of the loud thuds

Christmas CD's and leftover kale pomegranate salad

Christmas music and leftover kale pomegranate salad

Yesterday, in between listening to Christmas carols and making a pomegranate kale salad, I heard a loud thud.

What in the world could it be?

First thought: The mail carrier is delivering presents from Portland, Oregon, or Edgewater, New Jersey!

Alas…no.  Something else was thudding.

Darkness descended upon our Little House in the Woods.  Another THUD!

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Posted in December 2017 | Tagged , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Our Little House in the Big Woods


All spiffed up

All spiffed up


I just received an official notice.  It’s been nine years since I first started blogging about our Little House in the Big Woods.

Nine years ago, on a snowy winter day in 2008, the idea arose to spend an entire year “Opening the door, walking outside” and blogging about it.  On Solstice, 2008, I started yakking to no one in particular about this commitment to open the front door, day after day after day, and find out what new & exciting might present itself in the outdoors of this Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

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Posted in December 2017 | Tagged , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Life is what happens when you’re looking sideways.

When someone gives you a handmade welded cross at a restaurant dinner

When someone gives you a handmade welded cross at a restaurant dinner

Life is what happens when you’re looking sideways.

Or up.

Or down.

Or doing something you probably shouldn’t be doing.

Or singing a song you probably shouldn’t be singing.

Life tends to bloom when we’re least expecting it.

During road rage or snowstorms or furnace failings.

Or when the political world goes to hell in a hand basket.

Life happens when you’re least expecting it,

when your tolerance erupts,

or your spelling fails,

or someone bombs a subway,

or someone irritates you on Facebook,

or the car slips on ice, careening left and right,

and right and left,

and you don’t know if you’ll live or die,

and you don’t know if the world is worth saving at all.

Somewhere in that moment of not-knowing it’s possible

to feel a jubilation larger than the heart of Christ,

or bigger than the Menorah your Jewish friend just described,

or more massive than your last trip to the market

and some small voice within sings,

This is it!  This is it!

and even when you don’t know what this might be,

you’re so in love with the sheer joy of being alive

you delight.

Oh don’t you delight

that life happens when you’re looking sideways,

when you least expect it,

when it’s the grace of simply being.


**Thanks for reading the poem of my joy tonight.  When is the last time YOU have felt unexpected joy, unexpected grace, life opening your heart in an unexpected moment?



Posted in December 2017 | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

Close your eyes and imagine your dead father’s face

It would be wonderful to visualize him this much

It would be wonderful to visualize my dad this much

Close your eyes.  Now imagine your dead father’s face.  Pull it into your inner sight, the wrinkles on his face, the dear crooked smile, the stubble of beard, the gray-brown hair that fell just so on his precious forehead.

Feel that which arises at this inner sight:  the up-rush of warmth, the soft nostalgia of memory.  Bathe in this image as you might bathe in a crystal clear stream.  Ahhh, you have him back for a moment in your inner mind and heart.  Aren’t you lucky to be able to pull him into memory in this way, to not lose him entirely?

Now that your eyes are open and your heart softened, imagine those of us in the world who can’t see this way, who can’t pull up the faces of loved ones into inner focus.  Try to imagine the differences of perception which exist among us.

Now hear the term that scientists use to describe this condition:  aphantasia. This term refers to a condition where a person does not possess a functioning mind’s eye and cannot visualize imagery.

Welcome to the dim and blurry edges of trying to visualize in my world. Although I am not sure if I would clinically qualify (because I can sometimes visualize vague and hazy images) there does seem to be a huge difference between the way many others are able to naturally pull forth images in the mind’s eye–and the way my mind’s eye mostly refuses to cooperate.

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Posted in December 2017 | Tagged , , , , , | 40 Comments

Let there be light

What it looks like off the deck in the light

What it looks like off the deck in the light

Snow sleets sideways this early December morn.  Wind howls and shakes the dickens out of the tree branches.  Occasionally it topples an entire poplar or maple, severing its tree-life and sending it crashing to the snowy earth.  Twice since 5:15 a.m. falling trees have opted to take out electrical lines as they plummeted.  When that happens–it’s a very dark and morning in our Little House in the Big Woods.

First one’s husband rolls over in bed pondering the time.

“No power,” he grunts.

Because of the magic of a lighted iPad (no internet, kids) we can ascertain the time.  5:30 a.m.  I set the alarm for 6:30 so he can trek to work on time.  It wakes us an hour later with a little rumba tune, ta-boom, ta-boom, ta-boom.

Years ago we installed two gas lights to see us through the darkness.  First we find flashlights to light our path in the dark house.  I patter down the basement to start the wood stove, aiming the neon-bright illumination toward the wood pile, the matches, the newspaper, the kindling.  We can’t build a roaring fire on power-less days because the wood stove blower won’t fire.  Instead, we keep the old girl modulated, burning lightly but steadily.

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Posted in December 2017 | Tagged , , , , , , , | 29 Comments