Saturday, December 25, 2010

And to All a Good Night

Last week I wasn't feeling the Christmas spirit. That feeling is warmer than a good mood, brighter than a hope. I felt okay, just not Christmasy. Plus it was raining.

Friends, local and cyber, made suggestions as to where to look for my Christmas spirit and I tried them all. I played Christmas music, read Christmas stories, gave to charity. I watched Christmas videos, listened to Christmas carolers, viewed Christmas lights in the rain. It was beginning to work. I was starting to feel warm and fuzzy.

Wednesday night, the storm broke. On the suggestion of Pasadena's Public Information Officer Ann Erdman, I drove to upper Hastings Ranch, a Pasadena neighborhood that (surprise!) was once a ranch owned by a family named Hastings. The neighbors there put on a Christmas light show every year. I drove up the hill, as far up as I could go, stopping every so often to take pictures. Then, not quite satisfied, I turned around to head home.

Then I saw the lights of the San Gabriel Valley under the post-storm sky. That was all I needed.

Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 24, 2010


I've totally thrown photography out the window here. It's Christmas eve! Bring on the fun and the pretty lights. I have no idea what a sugarplum is, but bring that on, too. Figgy pudding I'm not so sure about, but if you want it, why not?

When I was a kid we had holiday traditions. We did certain things in certain ways. We had our favorite decorations for the tree, traditional foods and the right time of day for opening presents. (We even had traditional wrapping paper that reappeared, with tape marks, year after year.)

As an adult couple with a dog and no kids we're free from old traditions, but I find myself wanting to establish new ones. I might want to try traveling at Christmas time for example, or making something new.

What are the traditions you can't do without--the ones that create the winter holidays and set you up for the new year?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Lights

After last Saturday's post I implemented many of your suggestions and am now caught up in the holiday spirit. That day I promised "Christmas cheer on the blog, rain or shine, through Christmas day." It's been easy to feel cozy and cheery these past few days with the rain pouring outside and Christmas music playing indoors.

One of my favorite things about Christmas is the lights. Here are ours, reflected on a curtain and a lamp stand, with a little creative license.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Getting Restless

I like the look of the lights against this adobe home and the symmetry of the cross centered in the window. Peaceful.

The rain didn't let up yesterday. I had a lot of time to spend at my desk. I've discovered I can't stay with one task, one project, for a whole eight hours. I begin to feel restless and look for other things to do. After about 90 minutes of researching an article, I felt a deep desire to take out the garbage even though it was pouring rain. And though I knew I had to finish a synopsis, a couple of hours of arranging and rearranging 3X5 note cards had me wishing the bathroom wasn't already clean.

But Boz got a good walk. And John had a nice dinner waiting for him when he got home.

And now it's pouring again. Today, perhaps I can learn to stay at each project a little longer.

How about a poem?

Horses and Men in Rain, by Carl Sandburg (Cornhuskers, 1918)

Let us sit by a hissing steam radiator a winter's day, gray
wind pattering frozen raindrops on the window,
And let us talk about milk wagon drivers and grocery delivery 

Let us keep our feet in wool slippers and mix hot 
punches--and talk about mail carriers and messenger boys
slipping along the icy sidewalks.
Let us write of olden, golden days and hunters of the Holy
Grail and men called "knights" riding horses in the rain, in the
cold frozen rain for ladies they loved.

A roustabout hunched on a coal wagon goes by, icicles drip on
his hat rim, sheets of ice wrapping the hunks of coal, the
caravanserai a gray blur in a slant of rain.
Let us nudge the steam radiator with our wool slippers and 
write poems of Launcelot, the hero, and Roland, the hero, and 
all the olden golden men who rode horses in the rain.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Just One Block

Late Saturday afternoon I put on a rain poncho, grabbed an umbrella and dragged Boz outside because he wouldn't go on his own. I wouldn't have done this if Boz had seemed happy where he was, but he'd been complaining of boredom all day. And he, uh, needed to go.

The rain was steady but light. "One block," I said to Boz. "Just one block, and if you're successful, we can go home."

It's very wet in Pasadena, as you may have heard, but it isn't cold. It's been hovering around 60 degrees during the daytime. So when we came upon the neighborhood kids having a snowball fight, you can bet I needed to investigate.

The kids were bundled up like I used to do in Illinois winters. They were having a blast. They'd been sledding before the snowball fight, and would be sledding again. The parents were having a beer and a nosh, going in and out of the lovely Craftsman home nearby. Christmas lights twinkled on the lawn. I stopped to marvel and asked the homeowner if I could take pictures. He shook my hand and said, "Sure!"

Boz wasn't thrilled. Turning into an alley was not part of our one block agreement. And Boz is not a water dog. The one thing he likes less than rain is hoses.
And that is a hose.

But Boz waited as patiently as he could while I talked to the neighbors and took my shots. Patience under these circumstances meant leaning against my leg and saying "murph," over and over again, as plaintively and sweetly as possible. The neighbors, who don't know me very well, were festive and friendly--they exhibited their Christmas spirit by offering me food and drink and inviting us to their party. We'd have stayed, too, if I hadn't had other plans for the evening--and if I hadn't made a promise to Boz.

Once I had my shots I thanked our friendly neighbors, then Boz and I continued around the block. Boz kept up his end of the bargain and we returned home, each of us knowing, in our own way, that the walk had been a success.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Zen Monday: #125

It's Zen Monday, the day you experience the photo and give us your thoughts rather than me telling you what I think the photo's about.

I look for a photo worth contemplating or, failing that, something odd or silly. And I stay out of the comments box until the end of the day to avoid influencing the discussion, unless you people get totally out of control. That has never happened by my definition, I'm sorry to say.

There's no right or wrong, we're here to have fun. 

I wish you a Zen Christmas week!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wet Christmas

The good news is we've had enough rain this year that it starts to feel like our long drought is coming to an end. The bad news is, don't get cocky.

The good news is, there's free water coming out of the sky, along with the opportunity to use it wisely. The bad new is, there was a big fire in the mountains last year (you may remember), and we've got flash flood warnings through tonight for the burn areas. If you live in those areas, the Los Angeles Times says not to park your car in the street.

The good news is, this is normal winter weather for southern California. If you've been here only a few short years you might not think so, but that's because you've known only drought. This is more like it. Good news.

Boz hates it. You'd think a half boxer/half mastiff or whatever he is wouldn't be such a pansy, but a little rain comes along and it's time to start thinking about doggy Prozac. We don't give him anti-depressants. Good news/bad news.

If you need information about road closures, flash floods, etc. you will always find it at Altadenablog.