31 December 2008

The Death Of The Old Year

Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,
And the winter winds are wearily sighing:
Toll ye the church bell sad and slow,
And tread softly and speak low,
For the old year lies a-dying.
Old year you must not die;
You came to us so readily,
You lived with us so steadily,
Old year you shall not die.

He lieth still: he doth not move:
He will not see the dawn of day.
He hath no other life above.
He gave me a friend and a true truelove
And the New-year will take ‘em away.
Old year you must not go;
So long you have been with us,
Such joy as you have seen with us,
Old year, you shall not go.

He froth’d his bumpers to the brim;
A jollier year we shall not see.
But tho’ his eyes are waxing dim,
And tho’ his foes speak ill of him,
He was a friend to me.
Old year, you shall not die;
We did so laugh and cry with you,
I’ve half a mind to die with you,
Old year, if you must die.

He was full of joke and jest,
But all his merry quips are o’er.
To see him die across the waste
His son and heir doth ride post-haste,
But he’ll be dead before.
Every one for his own.
The night is starry and cold, my friend,
And the New-year blithe and bold, my friend,
Comes up to take his own.

How hard he breathes! over the snow
I heard just now the crowing cock.
The shadows flicker to and fro:
The cricket chirps: the light burns low:
‘Tis nearly twelve o’clock.
Shake hands, before you die.
Old year, we’ll dearly rue for you:
What is it we can do for you?
Speak out before you die.

His face is growing sharp and thin.
Alack! our friend is gone,
Close up his eyes: tie up his chin:
Step from the corpse, and let him in
That standeth there alone,
And waiteth at the door.
There’s a new foot on the floor, my friend,
And a new face at the door, my friend,
A new face at the door.

By: Alfred Tennyson

28 December 2008

RIP ~ Delaney Bramlett

1 July 1939 ~ 27 December 2008

26 December 2008

Thread of Life by Christina Rossetti


The irresponsive silence of the land,
The irresponsive sounding of the sea,
Speak both one message of one sense to me: —
Aloof, aloof, we stand aloof, so stand
Thou too aloof bound with the flawless band
Of inner solitude; we bind not thee;
But who from thy self—chain shall set thee free?
What heart shall touch thy heart? what hand thy hand?—
And I am sometimes proud and sometimes meek,
And sometimes I remember days of old
When fellowship seemed not so far to seek
And all the world and I seemed much less cold,
And at the rainbow’s foot lay surely gold,
And hope felt strong and life itself not weak.


Thus am I mine own prison. Everything
Around me free and sunny and at ease:
Or if in shadow, in a shade of trees
Which the sun kisses, where the gay birds sing
And where all winds make various murmuring;
Where bees are found, with honey for the bees;
Where sounds are music, and where silences
Are music of an unlike fashioning.
Then gaze I at the merrymaking crew,
And smile a moment and a moment sigh
Thinking: Why can I not rejoice with you ?
But soon I put the foolish fancy by:
I am not what I have nor what I do;
But what I was I am, I am even I.


Therefore myself is that one only thing
I hold to use or waste, to keep or give;
My sole possession every day I live,
And still mine own despite Time’s winnowing.
Ever mine own, while moons and seasons bring
From crudeness ripeness mellow and sanative;
Ever mine own, till Death shall ply his sieve;
And still mine own, when saints break grave and sing.
And this myself as king unto my King
I give, to Him Who gave Himself for me;
Who gives Himself to me, and bids me sing
A sweet new song of His redeemed set free;
He bids me sing: O death, where is thy sting?
And sing: O grave, where is thy victory?

(Artwork: Winter by Alphonse Mucha)

24 December 2008

Christmas Eve 2008

Holy Cow it's Christmas Eve. I've just finished all the cards I am going to send. Everything just seemed to take a little longer to get into the groove this year, despite my diligent planning. This may be the last year I send Christmas cards. So many of my friends and relatives have already stopped the practice. Oh, there will always be those stalwarts who send one every year like my aunts and my mom, who can always be counted on to give one of those chronological exposés on all that they did in the past year, travels and visits made, babies born and so forth. Still, not only has the practice of sending Christmas cards fallen off, but it could hardly be considered very "green" by today's standards. Oh well, as I bought three boxes at an after-Christmas sale last year I have now used them all up. If I send any next year I think it will be a more traditional correspondence, or homemade cards recycled from old cards.

I have saved many cards throughout the years. Mostly those most dear to me. Especially the ones friends send with pictures of the children growing up. I still have the handmade cards my late grandmother made with liquid embroidery. I like to look them over every year. They are a touchstone to Christmas Past. But as I get older, maybe I don't really need to save everything. It's a hard choice for me between sentimentality and simplicity. But maybe some can be reincarnated into something someone else can enjoy for a moment.

And now we have eCards. But they're so ... digital. There's nothing to hold. To feel the presence of your distant loved one by holding the very card they touched, laboured over, chose, hopefully inscribed and carefully addressed all with you in mind is as sweet as a beloved's kiss under the mistletoe. The feel beneath your fingertips of an embossed snow scene, or a gilded Madonna. To hear a bit of news from afar. Perhaps even a faint smell of perfume or kitchen that provokes a long forgotten memory. When a digital card can accomplish all of that then maybe I will warm to it.

So, for now, whether you are having a Charles Dickens sort of Christmas or a Charlie Brown Christmas (and in this economy you can guess which one I'm having) I'd like to wish all my readers and all the world a peaceful Christmas holiday season.

22 December 2008

Gloucester Cathedral Choir - In the Bleak Midwinter

I found this video over at The Anchoress blog. Nothing says Christmas to me as much as English choir boys and candlelight.

The poem by Christina Rossetti is one that many years ago I used when I sent homemade Christmas cards and it has always been one of my favourites.

If this doesn't center you, I'm afraid nothing will.

Enter with a quiet heart.

19 December 2008

Guest Blogger - my brother

My favorite 19th century social critic of industrial capitalism,
Charles Dickens, once wrote, "like you, I hope for better things. I
will pray for them, and believe that they will arrive." (Florence to
Walter as he leaves. Dombey and Son, 1846. Dombey and Son is a story
about the destruction of the family cause by greed and industrialization. )

Many Americans, as well as many around the world, believe that the
better things they've been hoping for have arrived. A new president
has inspired hope for some and fear for others. Which reminds me of
another Dickens's tale, and another analogy. As Christmas is just
around the corner, I think about "A Christmas Carol" and how the
Spirit of Christmas Present warns Scrooge to beware of the children,
Ignorance and Want.

"'Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,' said Scrooge,
looking intently at the Spirit's robe,' but I see something strange,
and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a
foot or a claw.'

'It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,' was the Spirit's
sorrowful reply. 'Look here.'

From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched,
abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet,
and clung upon the outside of its garment.

'Oh, Man. look here. Look, look, down here.' exclaimed the Ghost.

They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish;
but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should
have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest
tints, a stale and shriveled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and
twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat
enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no
degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the
mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way,
he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked
themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.

'Spirit, are they yours.' Scrooge could say no more.

'They are Man's,' said the Spirit, looking down upon them. 'And they
cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This
girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of
all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom,
unless the writing be erased. Deny it.' cried the Spirit, stretching
out its hand towards the city. 'Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it
for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.'

'Have they no refuge or resource.' cried Scrooge.

'Are there no prisons?' said the Spirit, turning on him for the last
time with his own words. Are there no workhouses?' "

- A Christmas Carol, 1843

These orphans are yours and mine as they belong to Man. When Dickens
spoke of Want he was probably referring to the poverty at that time of
industrialized London. And although we still have problems with
poverty in this country I feel that "want" has also come to symbolize
greed. Our children have left the workhouses for the shopping malls.
How often do we see kids fill these malls with desire for the latest
fad? How often do we see kids who have never worked a day in their
lives driving cars? And they don't want a cheap, sensible car, but an
expensive luxury car. No, prudence is no longer a virtue. We have
become so wealthy we no longer understand the difference between want
and need. It is this lust for vogue that propels the wars we detest
and behind them poverty rates are increasing, including the wealthiest
countries in the world.

Then there is Ignorance, the child Scrooge is warned to be especially
wary of. Ignorance, or the voluntary lack of education, has become a
complete resistance to learning. Ignorance is the cause of intolerance
and the foundation of repression. We have become so sophisticated that
we no longer value literacy, science, or the arts. Our children attend
school but basic test scores are dropping. To a great extent this has
happened because there is one thing Ignorance is capable of doing
without instruction; produce more ignorance.

I remember after Sept. 11th there was the question circulating the
media, "Why does the rest of the world hate us?" The "rest of the
world" replied that it was due to our greed and ignorance. And not
just that we are greedy and ignorant, but that we were arrogant about it.

The answers will be found in how you and I see the world, our
environment and our fellow inhabitants. Lets take advantage of this
new hope and seek out those opportunities that will allow us to take
responsibility for our actions. As the New Year begins let us begin to
make others and ourselves conscious of our charity, mercy,
forbearance, and benevolence.

Good luck, happy holidays and have a great year.

18 December 2008

16 December 2008

My first follower

I am so excited to welcome my first "follower". Judging by her Blogger profile it would appear that she is well-traveled (yes I am instantly envious) and she likes to blog (something I should aspire to myself) and she likes to make SoulCollage® (ah, a kindred spirit). Some other things I can tell about her is that she likes Gibran and Amelia Earhart (as do I). I do hope to learn her name soon, but for now she is "Traveler One". Based upon my analytical powers I suspect that she found my site from another SoulCollage® site, which makes me feel ashamed because I have neglected my SoulCollage® art for quite some time. But I promise, as soon as the holidays are over and the new year is underway, I will be back at my SoulCollage® art projects. I have some great images I've collected in recent weeks and some good ideas for cards.

But for now, I am just so pleased to have a follower. My first follower. Welcome Traveler One.

And I leave you with a quote attributed to Albert Camus:

"Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend."

15 December 2008

Amazing Peace

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.

We question ourselves.
What have we done
to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

Into this climate of fear and apprehension,
Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness
high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence
and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged
as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth,
brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches,
breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft.
Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now.
It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound.
We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war.
But true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.

On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth's tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.

We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.

- Maya Angelou

13 December 2008

12 December 2008

10 December 2008

09 December 2008

08 December 2008


Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

~John Ono Lennon
1940 ~ 1980

03 December 2008

In Memoriam

Odetta ~ 31 December 1930 - 2 December 2008

Portrait by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

01 December 2008

Christmas Fancies by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow,
We hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago.
And etched on vacant places,
Are half forgotten faces
Of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know –
When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow.

Uprising from the ocean of the present surging near,
We see, with strange emotion that is not free from fear,
That continent Elysian
Long vanished from our vision,
Youth’s lovely lost Atlantis, so mourned for and so dear,
Uprising from the ocean of the present surging near.

When gloomy gray Decembers are roused to Christmas mirth,
The dullest life remembers there once was joy on earth,
And draws from youth’s recesses
Some memory it possesses,
And, gazing through the lens of time, exaggerates its worth,
When gloomy gray December is roused to Christmas mirth.

When hanging up the holly or mistletoe, I wis
Each heart recalls some folly that lit the world with bliss.
Not all the seers and sages
With wisdom of the ages
Can give the mind such pleasure as memories of that kiss
When hanging up the holly or mistletoe, I wis.

For life was made for loving, and love alone repays,
As passing years are proving for all of Time’s sad ways.
There lies a sting in pleasure,
And fame gives shallow measure,
And wealth is but a phantom that mocks the restless days,
For life was made for loving, and only loving pays.

When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes,
And silences are melting to soft, melodious rhymes,
Let Love, the worlds beginning,
End fear and hate and sinning;
Let Love, the God Eternal, be worshipped in all climes
When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes.