Create Light

Bringing Light to the Darkness

Last night was Winter Solstice . . . the darkest night of the year.  


To celebrate, Tom and I lit candles and turned on our Christmas twinkle lights.


Then, we went in search of Christmas lights in Kalamazoo.  First we found this house . . .


Bright.  A bit over-the-top.  But kind of charming.

Then, we found this one . . . 


It's hard to capture the . . . experience . . . of this home light display with a mere iPhone camera.  Because there is animation.  And flickering.  Lots of twinkle.  3-D everywhere.  And music.

Also . . . this is only part of the display.  Here's the rest . . . 


Now THAT is bringing light to the darkness!


Back to the Basics

My life is in one of those "whirlwind phases" right now.  

My work . . . involves a constant stream of deadlines.  That is just the nature of what I do.  And, generally, everything just moves along.

But every now and then (in February and August, to be specific), those deadlines stack up in a rather frightening and overwhelming manner.  

And then . . . all hell breaks loose!

When life gets over-busy and everything feels under pressure, I need to remember to step back a little and get back to the basics.


Go to yoga.

Knit a few stitches.

Pull a few weeds.

Start the morning with coffee and some poetry.

I Go Down to the Shore

I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what shall --
what should I do?  And the sea says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.

---- Mary Oliver in A Thousand Mornings

And now . . . you'll have to excuse me.  I have work to do!

Color Box(es)

When I was a little girl, I loved to color.  I would occupy myself for hours with a coloring book and my big box of "colors."  (I never called them "crayons.")  I'm not sure exactly what it was about coloring that was so satisfying, but it was.

Maybe it was using my fine motor skills.

Maybe it was the visual nature of seeing the colors on the page.

Maybe it was that my mind could wander and I could dream while I was engaged in a simple activity.

But I think . . . it was choosing the colors!

A few weeks ago, when I was feeling particularly stressed out from too much activity (and, truth be told, from the cold, monocolor world around me), I decided that what I really needed to do . . .

was color!

So I bought myself a new box of colors.


And a new color book.


And discovered the same pleasure from coloring that I had when I was a little girl.


So much pleasure . . . that I decided . . . why stop there?

I decided to get out my "color box" of yarn and color with that!


The knitting is slow - because color work often is - but I'm enjoying all the same elements that come from coloring with colors on paper:  

Practicing my fine motor skills.

Enjoying the visual nature of seeing the project unfolding in front of me.

Letting my mind wander and drift.

Choosing the colors!


When it comes right down to it, what I really needed during this cold and drab (and never-ending) winter . . . was playing with my color box(es)!

Right Now . . . January 2014

I'm so glad to see January come to an end!  It's always such a long, long month.


Here's what's happening in my world . . .  Right Now.

Watching . . . Sherlock on TV.  Movies at the theater.  Winter out my windows.  (True confession:  I've completely lost my Downton Abbey mojo.  Not caring what happens with Lady Mary or the Bates marriage at all.)

Reading . . . Just finished The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner and, let me tell you, it was a rambling mess!  I can't figure out why I continued through the bitter end (I blame January), but I did. (It was awful.)  Now I'm reading The Man in The Window by Jon Cohen, which is a breath of fresh air and just what I needed.  (Thanks, Carole.)  I recently finished The Aviator's Wife (Melanie Benjamin), which was interesting . . . and that led me to re-read Gift of the Sea, which is always good food for thought.  I also recently read The Spinning Heart -- which was wonderful (although I would guess . . . not to everyone's taste).


Knitting . . . Oh, the knitting.  I'm nearing the end on two projects .  This hat (a total Pain in the Ass -- AND it looks like it might be a big too big, which is always a drag), and this wrap/poncho thing (which is, basically, cast on 110 stitches and stockinette til the end of time).  (I'm ready for a new project.)

Listening to . . . Justin Timberlake . . . the 20/20 Experiment.

Dreading . . . Needing to replace one of my team members at work.  She announced her departure just yesterday (for love AND money I might add), and although I wish her all the best, I'm feeling sorry for myself.

Planning . . . A trip!  My sister and I just made reservations for a trip to Italy.  It's a long, long way off still -- but just the thought of the trip will get us through the most dreary winter days.  (It's too far off to get too excited, but I will say this . . . cooking class in Tuscany!)


Humming . . . Mean Mr. Mustard.  This has been going on for over a week now . . . always shouts out something obscene. . .

Drinking . . . Bells Two-Hearted (I just love a nice, hoppy IPA. . .)


Itching to . . . Plant something.  Pull weeds.  Harvest fresh herbs.  Dig in the dirt.  (Although, at this point, I'd settle for just Seeing Grass.)

Needing to . . . Ship a couple of packages.  They're all packed and ready to go.  But they're big and bulky and I keep putting it off.

Organizing . . . Shelves and drawers and cubby holes.  But not all at once.  I'm trying to tackle one small space each day -- and, so far, it's working!


Delighted by . . . More light and more sunshine!  Now that Lake Michigan is nearly frozen over, it means that here on the eastern shore, we will get more sun.  (It'll be colder, too, without the insulation of water.  I'm trying not to think about that, though.)

Inspired by . . . POSSIBILITY.

How about YOU?  What's going on for you. . . right now?

Right Now . . . August 2013

My life is off the charts right now . . . when measured on the Craze-O-Meter . . . so it's not a surprise at all to find myself at the end of another month . . . wondering where it went???


Here's what's happening . . . RIGHT NOW.

Watching . . . Nothing.  We switched over to AT&T's U-verse at the beginning of August, and so far, I haven't had the time or the inclination or the brain power to figure out how to use the new system.

Reading . . . Paris by Edward Rutherfurd.  Big book.  Big commitment.  (I'll be there awhile.)

Knitting . . . Not much these days.  My want-to-knit list is growing exponentially and my time-to-knit is shrinking.  (Sounds like a math-y, graphing problem to me.)

Listening to . . . Nothing in particular, everything in general.  Lately, the random-shuffle feature on my iPod and the general, random nature of Pandora suit me just fine!


Dreading . . . Shorter days!

Humming. . .  Oh, man.  You're all going to hate me for even mentioning this one out loud.  But . . . Lady Marmalade.  The original version.  Patti LaBelle.  Here . . . catch the earworm yourself.


Planning . . . My work is All-Planning All-the-Time these days.  My brain is full-to-the-brim with Planning.


Drinking . . . Sanpellegrino.  My favorite is the orange flavor.  But I like ALL Sanpellegrino.

Itching to . . . Just have a couple of unstructured days to relax and not think too hard.

Needing to. . . Sift through my desk at home and take care of loose ends and paperwork.


Organizing . . . Starting to think about the coming change in seasons and what that means . . . in the garden . . . in my closet . . . in my pantry . . . at the cottage. . .


Inspired by . . . Fresh vegetables.  They're everywhere.  They inspire my cooking.  I want ALL the vegetables!


Delighted by . . . My butterflies.

Surprised by . . . Oh, do I have a big surprise coming into my life today!  Big.  Really big.  (And wiggly.)  Stay tuned.


How about YOU?  What's going on for you . . . RIGHT NOW?


Window Garden

Over these last few "dark months," I've written about my efforts at . . . creating light. . . in my surroundings.  As the days got darker, I focused on my windows, trying to make them more inviting and light-full. 

I hung stained glass suncatchers in windows to catch the light.  I created  little "vignettes" of objects I particularly like on my windowsills.  I put candles in my windows.  And I created a window garden.


All of these little efforts helped to create a bit more light in the dark days of winter.  But I think my window garden made the biggest difference for my spirits.


That's probably just the gardener in me . . . connecting with living plants through the non-growing season.


But I think it's actually deeper than that.


The tending.  The watering.  The new growth.


All reminders . . . that everything cycles.  Seasons change.


Light comes.  Again.

Cabin Fever


I don't mind winter.  I love snow.  I have a down coat, cozy boots, and plenty of wool to keep me warm.  I have an all-wheel drive vehicle that I can rely on to get me through whatever winter throws down.  I have a fireplace.  I like to read.  And knit. 


I can deal with winter.

It's just that . . . when it starts to look like this . . .


with the slush and slop . . .


and the ice and the ooze . . .


that the Winter Blahs really start to take hold!

Yesterday, I wrote about some of my favorite winter-blah cures:  greenhouse visits, chai lattes with a friend, symphony music.  Today, Carole has us thinking about Ten Ways to Beat the Winter Blahs.


1 -- Create Light.  Find ways to bring more light into your surroundings.  I hang little glass sun-catchers in my windows, and I keep some holiday twinkle lights up until spring.  It helps.

2 -- Embrace the Weather.  You can't change it . . . so you might as well accept it.  Get OUT in it.  Take a walk in the snow.  Get out your shovel.  Find some great rain boots.  A little weather won't hurt you.

3 -- Find the Beauty.  Each season holds a special wonder.  Try to find it.  (Take your camera.)


4 -- Get Out!  Do something.  Go somewhere.  See a movie.  Or a play.  Go to a concert.  Diversion can be delightful any time -- but especially so when the Blahs set in.

5 -- MOVE.  Yeah.  Go work out!  The harder the better.  Exercise improves your state of mind, keeps you healthier, and perks you up besides.  (And remember - swim suit season is just around the corner.)

6 -- The Right Beverages.  A cup of tea.  A chai latte.  A bottle of wine.  A jigger of whiskey.  Ahhhh.


7 -- Make Plans.  Design a garden bed.  Plan a vacation.  Or a weekend getaway.  Choose some new paint colors.  Reorganize your Ravelry "queue."  Let your mind wander and have some fun with new ideas.

8 -- Try Something New.  Not necessarily a big thing . . . but just a little tweak can bring some fresh perspective to your life.  Usually read novels?  Try some poetry.  Usually knit?  Try a little sewing project.  Usually run?  Try some yoga.

9 -- Comfort Food.  When the weather outside is . . . BLAH. . . I like to cook hearty, warm-you-from-the-inside foods.  (This pot of chicken noodle soup will do the trick -- and, with Tom gone, I'll be eating it for days and days and days!)


10 -- Surround Yourself with Things that Make You Happy.  Combat the Winter Blahs with images . . . hobbies. . . people . . . activities . . . words. . . that make you happy.  Life is good.  Even in the dead of winter.


How about YOU?  How do you beat the Winter Blahs?


Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.

In the Contrast

There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.  --- Charles Dickens

Yesterday, as I was rushing around the house preparing to leave for work, I walked into the kitchen and saw this. . .


The sun was breaking over my back fence, lighting my morning and taking my breath away for a minute.

And then. . .

I noticed this. . .


Light . . . stronger in the contrast.


Create light . . . create shadow.