I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Friday, December 13, 2013

Oh Christmas tree... oh Christmas trees

We finished hanging the outside lights today. I helped the Prospector curve a PVC pipe over the iron gate that is the entrance to our front yard. Then we wrapped the pipe with garlands of green and added some Christmas lights, from the house, over the gate to the end of the fence. It is so pretty tonight, looking out there and seeing the lights outlining the fence. So very Christmas.
I've spent a couple of days decorating the house. There are three trees this year. All small but different.

The first one is near the piano. It was going to have a cowboy theme but I haven't found too much to fill it yet. So far I've hung our son's old handmade ornaments from their school days on it.
They are old and have been repaired many times.
I love these ornaments. They are filled with memories.
This tree is also were the animals live. The little dogs and cats with wings ( in honor of pets that are no longer with us), the glass pine cones and cowboy bells and anything that makes us think of country living...
The assorted deer and antelope...
I set the four foot tree on the folding metal chair that I painted chartreuse last year and covered the seat with an old tablecloth that was my Mom's. The boxes are empty. I store the ornaments in them the rest of the year.
"Carl? You are not to touch any of the Christmas things. I know that you will chew any sock if it's left laying around, but all of this is off limits. Do you hear me?"
 "CARL??"
His ears were listening but his body was not moving.
Then he slowly turned around.
He looked at me.
I repeated, "Did you hear me, Carl?"

"YES! I hear you. I just can't make any promises."
He gave me his best "How could you blame me for all those socks." look and then walked away. 


The second tree is a 3 footer. It's on the chest in front of the porch window.
This tree holds a few gourd ornaments that I've made and small collector ornaments that I have collected over the years. The paper mache deer was a thrift store find that had an ugly, faded crape paper flower on it. I took it off and make a rosette for it. The deer was $.50 and my labor was free.
The P. Schifferl ornaments that I've collected over the years are in and under the little tree.
 I love these little carved ornaments. Most are very small and hang on the tree... but this one, with Santa riding an owl, sits below the tree waiting for Christmas Eve. He's ready for his big flight.
 It's one of my favorites. I like the idea of a huge bird flying Santa around the world with his bag of toys.

The third "tree" was inspired by my sister. She cuts manzanita branches when she's here, takes them home, sprays them with different colors and hangs them over her kitchen window. Black for Halloween, white for Christmas and sometimes just natural with leaves that she makes with old pages of a book or sheet music.
So while she found some pieces to take home, I cut some branches and made a "tree" for the buffet.

This was so much fun. I used my mom's old brass bowl and filled it with foil and paper to hold the branches in place.You can also use rocks to hold the branches steady as well.
I'm not finished with this yet but when I am, it will hold all the felted and paper ornaments that I've made or have been given to me. 
I made this one out of vellum paper, an old thrift store, wood ornament, plastic sparkle pieces from the Dollar store and some lichen from the oak trees.  There are also some sea shells attached that I found at the ocean. Added some glitter and old ribbon too.  These small ornaments make great additions to the top of a gift box.
And any wonderful things that I find on my hikes, like this nest, below, that I haven't had time to find a name for. It was kept in a bottle for a few days when I first brought it inside, just in case there was still something hibernating in it. There wasn't. I would have died if thousands of baby spiders had crawled out of it in the warmth of the house.

There are memories of my trip to Germany, last year, hanging here and some photos of the snow, in Montana, that my friend sent me for my birthday. She doesn't have "glitter" where she lives. She has lots and lots of snow. It's beautiful.
The little heart ornament from Munich reminds me of all the snow we saw there and how lovely the city looked from my hotel window on my birthday last year. I was sick. I came home sick. But Munich was beautiful in the snow.
I will show you more as I add things to the decorations. It's fun to change the living room into Christmas. I honor the tradition and love the whole, wonderful season.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

One small inch of pure joy

WE GOT SOME SNOW.
It's been really cold (for us) in the lower foothills for a week and the news was saying that a storm would come in on Friday about midnight, dumping some snow down to the 1500 ft. level. We are about 1200 ft. but it was so cold that we hoped, prayed and did little snow dances all week.
Cutter didn't seem too concerned because my sister was here for a few days and he's always happy to find out that every time his favorite aunty shows up, his favorite sofa magically expands into a bed with lots of room for him to nap on. 
They love when Sis is here. They get all happy and relaxed. I mean, upside down, fluffy butt snuggled in... relaxed and happy...
And she lets them enjoy themselves as much as they want. She spoils them more than we do.

The storm started a little early. By dinnertime it was raining really cold, soggy, icy rain. We had plans to drive over to Sutter Creek and go to the annual open house Christmas celebration. We ate dinner, dressed like we were dressed in Germany (one year ago this week) and left for the party. The Prospector stayed home and kept the dogs company.
By the time we crossed town and headed for Sutter Creek, it was snowing. WE WERE DRIVING...IN THE SNOW... AT NIGHT...IN THE CAR... AND IT WAS SNOWING.
This is the only proof that I have. It's the windshield of my sister's car where we parked in Sutter Creek.
It was very wet snow... BUT IT WAS SNOW!!!!!!
We walked up one side of Main St. and down the other.
We looked at all the shops.
It was like the small town Christmas I always wanted to be a part of. Father Christmas had just arrived and was walking around talking to everyone. There were carolers singing... and there were other crazy people, like us, out enjoying themselves and having a good time. There was a craft fair in the auditoruim and all the stores were open... each had goodies  for everyone. Someone was selling  hot cider on the street.
Even a couple of Santa's raindeer were there...
It was all just beautiful. We came home tired and happy,  with snow on our hats and another good memory of being together.

During the night I heard the rain and my heart kind of sunk. I thought that the weather must have warmed up and that the snow would be gone.
Then, early in the morning while it was still dark, I didn't hear the rain anymore. Not even the downspouts that always drip water. I'm sure that you, who live in the snow, know how quiet it can be... that moment when it's so quiet that you know something is muffling all the sound outside the windows and when you look out into the dark, somehow it's glowing... without a moon.
The storm did come in the night.
Not the heavy, damaging storms of the high mountains. Not the kind of snow storm that covers everything and swallows a foot or two of your house and surroundings.
We had one inch of snow on the ground. (Please don't laugh. I can hear some of you laughing.) This doesn't happen very often around here. 
This snow was like glitter that I add to my collages and paper ornaments.
This is that wonderful kind of snow that looks beautiful, makes everything sparkle...
Catches in the trunks of trees. ..
 makes the world look like a Winter Wonderland...

And is gone by noon.
But, miracles of miracles, this continued.

 Later it started snowing tiny hailstones.
 And then, it snowed heavily for a while.
 The surrounding hills were hardly visible,
even though the hills on the other side of the river had sun coming in between the clouds.

It was just the most beautiful day you can imagine for a "winter" person.
This is what I wait for all year long.
I'm going to give myself this day as a birthday present.
Saturday was a present to me, from me... and mother nature.
Happy, happy, happy.