Clean up, clean up…

My apologies that you’ll now have that song stuck in your head for the rest of your life.  Back to my regularly scheduled post.

When I learn about something I find particularly exciting, upsetting, annoying, etc., my son likes to say that I’m a little late to the party, meaning the ‘something’ has been around for a long time. For example, when, in 2009, I discovered an awesome band called Matchbox Twenty I also found out they’d been around since the mid-nineties.

What does being fashionably late to life have to do with cleaning up? Be patient, I’m about to explain. You see, I’ve only just arrived at the party hosted by the tidying queen herself, Marie Kondo.

Marie Kondo.

If you haven’t heard of Marie you must have been living in the same cluttered, oops, sorry, untidy cave I’ve been in. I’m not surprised I didn’t see you amidst all the stuff surrounding me.

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I’m over by the model airplane.

One Saturday afternoon I came upon a story about Ms. Kondo. Because I’m an inquisitive woman, I researched the smiling, tidying guru and was immediately sucked into her world of tossing shit (bleep), items that no longer bring me joy.  I’m not a stranger to the joy thing, I’ve been pursuing it for 60 years. One time I almost had it but the slippery little sucker managed to get away.

I’d already done a purging of the kitchen; not willingly, mind you. My 16-year-old cat spends his nights prowling and, well… You get the idea.

dead mouse

One of the many gifts Shadow has left me.

Okay, back to Marie and my disorganized life. After discovering Marie I spent the remainder of the afternoon learning about her system for tidying-up. The basis of her formula is as follows: Instead of looking for items to throw away, look for items I want to keep because they bring me joy. I get the joy part when it comes to personal stuff, such as Chris’ drawing of Batman when he was four. No, Batman wasn’t four, Chris was four. Yup, I’m an author. Dah.

And cue Marie.

Did I mention Marie is selling items to help you organize, sorry, tidy your home? Very expensive items. The good news is they’re guaranteed to declutter your life because you’ll have less money to spend on things you don’t need.

So, in closing, I’ve decided to give the KonMari Method a try in my office. Here are my before pics:

I’ve been trying to organize, argh, tidy my office since the first of the year. A futile attempt but I did find $15 under my desk. Sweet!

I’ll keep you posted on my KonMari Journey. After I tackle my office I’m heading outside. The ducks need tidying.

Blessed be :}

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Before I say hello, allow me to say goodbye.

I didn’t want 2018 to leave without saying goodbye. In many ways the year was wonderful, and in many ways it sucked. The purpose of this post isn’t to dwell on the sucky parts but to revisit all that Mother Nature brought me one year ago. Let’s begin.

coyote

Remember my coyote? He stopped by early one January morning and walked across the frozen river to say hello.

And then there was this guy (or gal). He/she helped him/herself to a nice duck dinner. Orange sauce, anyone?

Not to be outdone, a hawk enjoyed his/her own tender duckling. I was left with feathers and a pair of feet to clean up.

January 2018 also brought frigid cold temperatures and snow.

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Mourning dove, one cold dawn in January.

Mallards

My ducks doing what they do best — eating.

A lot happened to my ducks back in January, 2018. Being eaten by assorted birds of prey, freezing their little duck feet in the snow or on the ice. I hope this January is kinder to my ducks. So far they seem to be doing okay. The river isn’t frozen…

…so they get to frolic in the water and even do the wild thing when they think I’m not watching, but I see them, those dirty little birds.

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A Cooper’s hawk has been spending time in my tree tops.

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It (I’m giving up trying to figure out if I’m looking at a male or female) must have heard about my succulent, meaty duck lunch specials.

Mallard hen

Do these feathers make me look fat?

I don’t know what the new year holds for my little corner of the Concord River. Or me, for that matter. One thing I do know is that I’m grateful for the blessings that will come my way and those that I’ve already received.

It’s my hope that 2019 blesses you with joy, love, abundance, and good health. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ll visit me in the coming year.

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American goldfinch – female.

Blessed be :}

 

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Welcome Winter

At 5:23 PM, EST, the Winter Solstice occurs and the darkness begins its journey back to wherever the darkness comes from. I think it’s somewhere near Washington, D.C., but I could be wrong. It might be Mar-a-Lago, Florida. These days it’s hard to tell.

Anyway, back to the Solstice. Welcome Winter, I bid you:

Joel Gray, Cabaret

Photo courtesy of ABC Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome!
Fremde, étranger, stranger
Glücklich zu sehen, je suis enchanté, happy to see you
Bleibe, reste, stay
Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome!

Although today is a rainy, rainy, rainy, (Have I mentioned it’s raining?) day, the ducks were busy doing what they do best: sloshing around in the water and eating cracked corn.

Mallard Ducks

Neither rain nor sleet nor wind and snow shall keep the ducks from filling their crops with corn.

I have a ton of beaks all of a sudden. When they take off they leave a gust of wind in their wake that even blew my baseball cap off the other day.

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Another hungry horde blew into my little corner of the river. A flock of American robins came through and cleaned out the berries on the hardy bushes in my yard. Who said robins are heralders of spring? This crew announced the arrival of winter.

And now for the interactive portion of this blog post. See if you can find all the robins in each photograph.

I also gained a flock of Mourning Doves. I guess the word got out this is the place to go if you want to eat well.

Okay, back to the Winter Solstice. I won’t bore you with the details about how the solstice marks the the point when the sun shines directly over the Tropic of Capricorn or that the Earth is tilted on its axis by 23.5 degrees and that it’s the tilt of the Earth, not our distance from the sun, that causes the winter season. Here’s a diagram for all the nerds in the audience.

 

I also gained a flock of Mourning Doves. I guess the word got out this is the place to go if you want to eat well.

Mourning Doves-birds-songbirds

I hope they leave a five-star review on Yelp!

Okay, back to the Winter Solstice. I won’t bore you with the details about how the solstice marks the point when the sun shines directly over the Tropic of Capricorn or that the Earth is tilted on its axis by 23.5 degrees and that it’s the tilt of the Earth, not our distance from the sun, that causes the winter season. Here’s a diagram for all you nerds in the audience.

What I will tell you is that this is a wonderful time of year to take stock of the past months and the blessings you have received. It’s a time to revisit where you’ve been, not physically, and where you’re going, again I’m speaking metaphorically, and I know typing is not actually speaking but I am talking while typing this so, in fact, yes, I am speaking.

How does one go about celebrating the Winter Solstice. Well, there are the traditional ways such as lighting a Yule log and chanting, sitting in the dark and reflecting on the past year, or, my favorite, hold a Yule Blessing Ritual. All you’ll need are two different colored candles in shades of the season: gold, white, silver, red, or green, a cone or stem of frankincense, cinnamon, or myrrh incense, (If you don’t have the incense, don’t worry; the Goddess is very forgiving.) and a quiet place. Before lighting the candles, close your eyes and allow your mind to journey deep into your DNA to that place where your ancestors reside. Think about their lives at this time of year, how they lived without electricity or the Internet or supermarkets. Travel back to a time when all they knew was the frozen ground beneath their feet and the warmth of a fire to ward off the cold, biting winds. Despite the darkness of the night they knew the light would return to the earth, bringing with it life.

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The Winter Solstice welcomes the return of the Sun.

Next, open your eyes and light your candles while reciting:

As the earth grows colder,
the winds blow faster,
the fire dwindles smaller,
and the rains fall harder,
let the light of the sun
find its way home.

The last part of the ritual is the most important. Go to your closet and remove an article of clothing to donate to your local homeless shelter. It’s preferable to choose something that will offer warmth. Fold the item neatly and bless it by asking that it keep the wearer safe and warm.

After the ritual you get to drink some mulled cider or eggnog and enjoy some Celtic Yule Cakes

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1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp grated orange zest
1 Tablespoon Milk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup softened butter
2 eggs (beaten)

Beat eggs, butter, vanilla, orange zest and sugar together. Add flour and baking powder. When well mixed add the tablespoon of milk. Pour into a cup cake tin lined with a baking cup and bake in an oven preheated to 375º F for 15 to 20 minutes. Decorate with buttercream frosting and shaved white chocolate and powdered sugar. Enjoy!

You might also like to try making some Icicle Cookies

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2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup softened butter
2 ounces white chocolate, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Then beat the sugar and butter together in another bowl, until it’s fluffy. Beat in the white chocolate, egg, and vanilla, then add the flour little by little. When it’s well blended shape the dough into a disc and refrigerate it for 30 minutes, wrapped in plastic wrap.

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease or line a cookie sheet. Take a heaping tablespoonful of dough, form it into a ten-inch rope, and fold in half. Then twist it around so it looks like an icicle, leaving a big loop at the top if you want use a ribbon to hang for decorations. (Otherwise it can be a smaller loop–it will still look like an icicle.) Taper the end. Make more ropes and repeat, and before placing on the sheets, roll in the colored candies or sugar. Place 1 inch apart. Bake 8 to 10 minutes (Don’t let them get brown!) Cool and eat, or hang if desired!

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While your stuffing your face with sweets, how about making up a plate of goodies and dropping it by your elderly neighbor’s house or apartment?

Before you tuck yourself into your warm, snug bed, make sure you look up at the sky. Even if it’s cloudy, the full Cold Moon is up there, along with the Ursid meteor shower.

If you do see a falling star, remember to make a wish. If there’s nothing you want I’m still waiting for Keanu Reeves (hint, hint, hint).

Anyway, that’s it for me. I’ll say farewell and that I wish you a blessed Winter Solstice.

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Blessed be :}

 

 

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Glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble…

When Mole came upon the river in The Wind in the Willows, he was…

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“…bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spellbound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.”

 

 

I know how Mole felt because everyday when I look out on my river I, myself, stare in awe at her beauty, amazed by all the stories she has told me over the years and all the secrets she has yet to reveal.

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My river is by far the most beautiful of all rivers and the only place to hang my hat at the end of the day.

There are times, though, when she does challenge me, such as these past weeks when she seems intent on filling my basement. Thank Goddess for my sturdy sump pump which has been working its little heart out keeping the flood waters at bay. The rabbits are glad. You see, I built an indoor pen for them which, hopefully, will remain dry. Come on, sump pump, don’t fail me now!

My neighbor’s yard is missing, flooded over by the river. Thanksgiving Day I was treated to an amazing sight–a juvenile Great Blue Heron stopped by to rest for a bit during his migration south.

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The ducks didn’t seem to mind having him around. And, just so you know, they’re not in the river, they’re in my neighbor’s yard which happens to have the river in it too!

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Since I’m on the subject of ducks, (Aw, come on, you knew I was going to mention my ducks.) the size of my flock has grown from the dozen I had about a month ago. Did I type grown? I meant to type EXPLODED!

It’s like having my own mini-caravan arriving at my border. Don’t tell Trump, but I’m letting them in without checking their visas.

Besides the influx of ducks and water, not much else is happening in my little corner of the world and I’m perfectly fine with it staying that way. Peaceful nights listening to the Great Horned Owl calling outside my bedroom window and days filled with the joy of just being. Or as Ratty said, “Beyond the Wild Wood comes the Wide World,” said the Rat. “And that’s something that doesn’t matter, either to you or me. I’ve never been there, and I’m never going, nor you either, if you’ve got any sense at all.”

concord River

Dusk on my river.

 

I couldn’t agree more.

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Blessed be :}

Quotes are taken from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

 

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The Roots of Halloween

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First and foremost… Or as those of us who are pagan say, Blessed Samhain. You might not know Halloween has ancient roots deep within 2000-year-old Celtic lore. Samhain (pronounced sow-en with a short-sounding ‘e’) is the Celtic New Year and … Continue reading

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Fine, don’t say goodbye, see if I care!

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Did I miss a memo or email? One day I’m feeding a hungry horde of ducks… …and the next day, none! Not a soul. Hurricane Florence blew through and took my ducks with her, I think. I fed my flock … Continue reading

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Farewell Umbrella Skies

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The summer wind has blown past and the umbrella skies of cobalt blue, the emerald flashes of the hummingbirds, and the bright yellow blossoms of the sunflowers are no more. Autumn winds will now blow through my corner of the … Continue reading

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The End is Near

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It’s been a perilous journey… Continue reading

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Summertime

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Summertime and the living sure was easy. Continue reading

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Divisiveness

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The democrats and republicans have nothing on the animals living on, and in, the Concord River in Massachusetts. Continue reading

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