Everything Has Its Time

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Once again I shall step into the song booth confessional:  I cannot STAND “Auld Lang Syne”.  I have always admired the Scots and love bagpipes.  I married a man of Scottish descent.  But I just find that song the most depressing ever in the history of music — and that includes its Irish cousin “Oh Danny Boy.”  I believe it is the consensus of Western society that life is linear.  You are born and life leads up to death.  But with the passing of Old Man Time’s top hat to Baby New Year the cycle repeats.  Native culture believes life is cyclical.  And in the Bible Ecclesiastes 3 verses 1 – 8 says:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

I suppose at this time we make resolutions to avoid the Sisyphean fate of having to repeat our poor choices into the next year.  As we enter into 2016 tomorrow I pray we all strive for goodness, tolerance, justice and peace.  It all begins within ourselves.

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Pieces

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My little one came to me in tears.  She’d been playing with the Christmas ornaments even though I repeatedly explained they were not toys.  She said she was so sorry; that she’d broken one and put it in the recycling.  I asked her which one and discovered it was from the first Christmas Burk and I spent married.  I had never had a house and I’d had my new last name put on it.  She was sobbing and I told her that even though she should not have been playing with them I knew it was an accident.  I went to the recycling expecting to find it shattered.  Instead I was surprised to find most of it intact.  As we go through life, all of us have little pieces of ourselves that get broken for one reason or another.  It’s how we choose to deal with them that makes or breaks us.  Feminist writer Virginia Woolf said, “Arrange whatever pieces come your way.”  Sometimes a lot of shattered fragments make a beautiful mosaic.  Or we can sweep them under the rug and pretend nothing ever got broken.  Our little ornament is still salvable.  I told her I was so proud of her for coming to me and telling me.  I think it is a testament to her character that she owned up to it, didn’t try to put the blame on anyone else, and told the truth.  I feel guilty to this day because I broke Mama and Daddy’s wedding cake topper and blamed it on the cat; poor Snowflake.  As this year closes I am trying to gather broken pieces of my own mostly because it has been a year since Mama has been gone.  I realize at least I have some; they just need to be repurposed into the mosaic of my life and my daughter’s.  We will always miss her, but brightly colored pieces of her that cannot be dimmed still shine their way through.  I will not let them fade with the passing of time.  And this mosaic will become part of others in the years to follow.  It already carries strong pieces of a Choctaw matriarch I never knew.  Then came pieces so elegant from my Grandmother Maris.  Daddy’s pieces have been the most prevalent, carrying wisdom, positivity, and perseverance.  Now Mama has added her own funny ones, soft ones, and beautiful ones and rather than try and bury them I choose to gather them all up and wrap them about me like a patchwork quilt.  The mosaic of my daughter has already started.  I think it carries seeds of greatness as its foundation.  From my side alone she has inherited the blood of French royals, Choctaw spirit and Irish fire.  And so our little ornament cannot hang anymore but it still exists; altered but standing.  It does not stand defeated, rather it stands open, proudly full of the memories from its past with room and hope for those yet to come.

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Let It Be

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I confess I may be the only person on the planet who does not revere the The Beatles.  We had to sing “Eleanor Rigby” in elementary school and it STILL haunts me.  I literally run if I hear that awful tune or “Yellow Submarine”.  The relatively new jargon “ear worm” comes to mind.  However, I have always liked “Hey Jude”.  But the song that has been weighing heavily and comfortingly on me lately is “Let It Be”.  I had no idea it was Marian until a few years ago.  Statistically I think this is the time of year when there are the most deaths in general as well as suicides.  There is the stress and pressure of in-laws and dysfunctional families for some and the crippling loneliness of loved ones lost for others.  There is also a certain melancholy for me that creeps up with the ending of each year.  Retired Anglican Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize recipient The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”  And now the lyrics to The Beatles song I suppose everyone knows:

“Let It Be”

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the broken-hearted people
Living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted
There is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be

Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Yeah, there will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be
Ah, let it be, yeah, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me
Shine on until tomorrow, let it be
I wake up to the sound of music,
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be
Let it be, yeah, let it be
Oh, there will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Let it be, yeah, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

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Ice Ice Baby

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Interestingly enough “ice” was the first word my mother ever said.  She was always crunching it.  They say it’s possibly linked with anemia and later in her life she wound up being iron deficient.  As a kid I remember filling those darn ice cube trays and how I detested them.  For years I longed for an ice maker and finally got one when we bought our house.  Funny how the little things can make one so happy.  I love our refrigerator with its filtered water and two ice settings.  But I was still stuck with the huge ’70’s shaped cubes or having them crushed to bits.  Recently I discovered an inexpensive portable ice maker that makes small, perfectly round cubes.  It is ridiculous how much I love it and it lives above our mini fridge in the garage.  I transfer the cubes to our kitchen refrigerator so they come out of our ice maker.  They are delightful with my lemon water and, being the good “Whiskeypalian” that I am, I adore them in my favorite libation, a seven and seven with a lime.  Pictured above is my Christmas drink I call the Three Wise Men:  Frangelico, Baileys, and Kahlua.  Rock singer David Lee Roth said, “I used to jog but the ice cubes kept falling out of my glass.”  Now I know why I don’t jog.  😉  À votre santé.

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Stormy Weather

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I was so excited!  We were getting three of our skylights replaced yesterday after eight years of looking though a dirty opaque kind of haze in our loft.  Two men worked non stop for at least six hours as I nervously checked the skies.  At first we were only supposed to get rain.  Then it became a possibility of thunderstorms.  Literally as the last dome was dropped into place and drilled the first raindrops fell.  Just minutes later the heavens opened unlike any storm I can recall in Texas in December.  It had been warm all day and humid.  You can see the clouds passing over from the picture I took when our first skylight was removed hours before.  Warning sirens started wailing outside, alerts began blaring on television, and texts where buzzing on my iPhone like crazy.  Thunder boomed and lightning sparked.  A set of our locked French doors blew inward into our den from the storm knocking down our Christmas tree.  My little one started getting scared.  I remember being very afraid once in elementary school when they used to have those “duck and cover” drills and a tornado passed directly over us.  After about two hours things subsided and Maris asked if the “tomato alerts” were over.  As people began reporting losses of homes, cars, and even lives I began praying for all those two legged and four who were still in harm’s way.  Frankly I am astounded that people out there still do not believe in human induced climate change.  The Titanic always comes to mind with the arrogance of man’s supposed triumph over nature.  Whoopi Goldberg said, “That’s the thing about Mother Nature, she really doesn’t care what economic bracket you’re in.”  My father taught me to always look to the animals.  Our wolfies were calm, therefore so was I.  Daddy was such an incredibly wise man not far removed and sanitized from nature.  A few years ago people were perplexed when they looked around and noticed all the animals were gone about a day before that terrible tsunami struck in Indonesia.  Now they know why.  So look to the skies but also listen to the animals.  The fallacy is our patronizing belief that they need us.  The truth is we need them.  All of them have things to say, from the wild horses that run the plains to the smallest sea horse that clings to fragile plant life in the ocean.  All are worthy of our protection.  Achukma hoke.

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Words With Friends

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Yesterday’s old school game post got me to thinking about the modern game I currently enjoy playing.  It all pretty much started around the time I got pregnant.  I would get up in the middle of the night frequently and couldn’t get back to sleep.  And so I dove into the equivalent of Scrabble with strangers on my iPhone.  I loved playing with this one guy from heaven only knows — New Zealand maybe — because it was day where ever he was and it would be about three in the morning my time.  The guy always beat me!  It was brutal losing EVERY time.  After a certain point I think he moved on to more cerebral waters.  I have some regulars with whom I usually have a game going.  Some are friends I know in person and some I’ve been lucky enough to meet through Facebook.  I’ve only tied twice and I have shamelessly posted a screenshot of my highest scoring word above.  I’m still trying to top that.  I’ve also been trying my hand at playing in French which has been VERY humbling.  As in I believe the gentlemen with whom I was playing might have thought I wasn’t firing on all cylinders.  Still, I enjoy the challenge of playing with people who are better in the hope that I will become better, too.  Tennis great Rafael Nadal said, “My motivation and aspiration is the same, being number one or being number five.  So that’s the truth.  And my goal is the same – it’s to always be happy playing, it’s to enjoy the game and improve always.”  He’s a bigger person … I want to be number one!  😉

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Hi-Ho! Cherry-O

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When I was four I remember getting this game for Christmas.  I think I must have played it a thousand times with my parents.  I have never cared for math but always loved counting.  When I saw it in a catalog I jumped to buy it.  I had no idea they still made it!  Four years of waiting to be able to play games like this with Maris made this my greatest Christmas gift yet.  We played five rounds tonight and the last was an epic battle to see who would win as we were tied two to two.  The goal is to pick all your cherries off the tree but if the spinner winds up on the overturned bucket you have to put them all back.  I had forgotten about the dog and the bird that make you take two cherries out of your bucket if you land on them.  Maris shrieked with glee as she quickly won the first two rounds.  She lost the third and was incredibly gracious saying, “Good job Mama!”  When I was her age I’d cry when I lost.  We had no screens of any sort — no iPads, no television, and no iPhones.  Just a slowness of time sitting around the table.  It was déjà vu and a cycle of life continuing.  Author C. JoyBell C. said, “Life is a bowl of cherries.  Some cherries are rotten while others are good; it’s your job to throw out the rotten ones and forget about them while you enjoy eating the ones that are good!  There are two kinds of people:  those who choose to throw out the good cherries and wallow in all the rotten ones, and those who choose to throw out all the rotten ones and savor all the good ones.”  I try to cherry pick the good.

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The Wolves’ Night Before Christmas

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Defenders of Wildlife Senior Northwest Representative Suzanne Asha Stone has rewritten what is in my opinion the greatest rendition of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” since its inception.  It will now always be a revered part of our Christmas tradition and I hope perhaps yours as well.  I am grateful for her generosity in allowing me to repost her work.  Happy Howlidays!

The Wolves’ Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the eve before Christmas
And to Santa’s dismay
Came such an icy storm
The reindeer couldn’t budge his sleigh.

As Santa paced and worried
And elves began to scowl
‘Rose a song through the wind:
A wolf pack’s mighty howl.

From the thick of the storm
O’er deep snow on big padded feet
Came eight silvery wolves
Ice and wind could not beat.

Santa’s mouth hung open for a blink
As the wolves lined up in front of his sleigh
Then he sputtered to the elves
“Well… let’s be on our way!”

Santa thanked each wolf
As the elves finished loading the last gift
Then he sprinkled them with fairy dust
Chuckling, “That’ll give you the lift.”

“They won’t believe this in Idaho..”
He laughed, a merry twinkle in his eyes
Then the elves harnessed the wolves
And they took to the skies.

On Lightfoot! On Blacktail! On Windswift! On Howler!
On GreenEyes! On MoonSong! On Hunter! On Prowler!
The wolves’ eyes glowed as they leapt through the storm
Santa wished his own coat could keep him as warm.

That night the wolves even taught Santa to howl
An ancient song filled with hope for Peace and Joy
That this season may bring for all Life on Earth
As they left special gifts for each girl and boy.

‘Twas that eve before Christmas
Santa will always fondly remember
When wolves rescued his mission
That stormy December.

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Deck The Halls Y’all

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When most people think of Christmas, they think red and green.  For me it has always been blue and white.  We have a silver tree with dark blue “swag” that perpetually sways drunkenly because we have cats.  This was the first year my little girl helped me decorate the tree.  Every place we have traveled we always buy a Christmas ornament as a souvenir.  And so I explained to her where we brought this or that and she was delighted.  I know she will come to cherish them even more as she grows older.  It is like revisiting our trips with the placing of each bauble.  As she carefully helped me arrange the ornaments I thought it was no small coincidence that the first one she chose was Notre Dame — the place in which she took her first steps alone.  A Cafe du Monde ornament from New Orleans is hanging next to a trolley car from San Francisco.  A couple in a gondola dangles next to the Eiffel Tower, representing our honeymoon in Venice and Paris.  There is a Santa holding a cactus from Phoenix from the first trip Maris ever took.  Of course our tree has primarily wolf ornaments.  Some of my most beloved we got in Alaska, Quebec, and Santa Fe.  My very favorite ornament I chose to post.  I just cherish him and bought him a long time ago when I was single.  American author Louis L’Amour said, “No memory is ever alone; it’s at the end of a trail of memories, a dozen trails that each have their own associations.”  And so I see our Christmas tree as a tangible display of our life’s intangible treasures — yet another wonderful thing about Christmas.  At the top of our tree is a starfish from Florida.  Ave Maris Stella; Hail Star of the Sea.  So deck the halls one and all, y’all, and be blessed.

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Lo! How a Rose E’er Blooming

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In our neighborhood there is a great, big tree whose branches spread and drape gracefully far and wide.  No other tree around resembles her, and our little family of three looks forward to seeing her and touching her whenever we go on our walks.  Across from a creek with a little bridge the tree stately towers.  In spring she produces a delicate, fresh fragrance.  In summer she provides shade in the glaring, unrelenting heat.  In autumn her green color remains as the other tree’s leaves are turning.  But in winter … in winter we discovered she produces a beautiful cone that is shaped like a wooden rose in bloom.  She is our enchanting tree and never fails to delight us.  I did some research and discovered the tree’s natural habitat is in the Himalayan Mountains but it has become a popular ornamental tree in the United States.  It is a Deodar cedar and has been called the most graceful cedar desired for its tall silhouette and gently drooping branches.  The Sanskrit root word for “deodar” roughly translates to “wood of the Gods.”  They can grow up to 250 feet in their natural habitat.  In the US they reach a height of about 70 feet with a maximum spread of 40 feet.  The cones take two to three years to develop as they turn from blue to reddish-brown.  Today is the Winter Solstice, and yet on our morning walk she had one precious rose waiting for each of us.  We all carefully held her delicate offering of wooden blossoms so perfect in their symmetry and so surprising in their shape.  What a joy and what an incredible treasure.  On the darkest day of the year we were each bestowed a rose by this “our” enchanted tree.  They are precious and priceless and our family collection now totals sixteen.  How lovely and fitting that she has even called to mind one of my very favorite Christmas hymns, “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming”, first written in German in 1599.  I love both the words and the melody and will close with the original two verses:

Lo!  How a rose e’er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming
As those of old have sung.

It came, a flow’ret bright,
Amid the cold of winter
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah ’twas foretold it,
The Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it
The Virgin Mother kind.

To show God’s love aright
She bore to us a Savior
When half spent was the night.

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