Monday, December 31, 2007

A Blessing For The New Year


May the sun
bring you new energy by day,

May the moon
softly restore you by night,

May the rain
wash away your worries,

May the breeze
blow new strength into your being,

May you walk
gently through the world and know
its beauty all the days of your life.

apache blessing

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Peacock, December 27, 2007

Late Thursday afternoon Bill and I drove over to Richmond to one of my favorite places to see holiday lights .... Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. It's really one of my favorite places to visit at any time of year. But at Christmas it becomes more than about the plants and trees ... it becomes an expression of the joy of the holidays and this beautiful garden spot all rolled up into one.

We arrived at dusk ... that lovely time in the evening when the sun has just rolled over the edge but its light is still giving the sky a lovely glow. It was a warm evening ... no hats, gloves, scarves needed and I almost wanted to take off my coat.

Inside the 11,000 square foot Conservatory, trees glistened, a toy train chugged around a layout made completely of dried and live plant material and the orchids were in full bloom.

This little owl perched in one of the trees is made of all sorts of plant matter as is the little house below.

Who do you suppose lives there??

We haven't
been to the garden for a couple of years. Each year the light show changes as do all of the decorations. The last time we were there the big tree inside the Conservatory was dressed with beautiful glass ornaments from all over the world.

This year, lacey Angel Trumpet blooms and seed pods hung from the boughs.

After wandering through the garden we had a lovely dinner with a friend and reminised about past times.

I'll visit the garden again in the spring when all of the bulbs are in bloom.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Saks Fifth Avenue

All of the images on this post are of the windows at Saks Fifth Avenue taken last week while I was visiting the city. I never did make it to Macy's ... with the grid lock it got too complicated and by the last day in the city, I was pretty tired of the hoards of people that I had to work my way through in order to get a photo. I'm a person who doesn't particularly enjoy being in huge crowds. I did pretty well the first couple of days, but then it got a bit old. I do have personal space issues!

In my last post I didn't mention the food we enjoyed in the big city. The highlights were a marvelous lunch at Milos, on 55th between 6th and 7th Avenue ... simple, fresh Greek food to die for and a delicious dinner at Union Square Cafe on Union Square, of course. We also enjoy Fiorello's across from Lincoln Center where we've had wonderful meals ... they didn't dissapoint at lunch with a scrumptious thin crust pizza and a selection of Antipasto dishes. We mostly ate only two meals a day ... a big breakfast and a big lunch or dinner.

I need to make a correction about all the shows and movies I mentioned that I saw in my last post. My husband tells me I'm losing it and I'm afraid he's right. I can't seem to remember alot of things these days ... names just go down the tubes and numbers, well, forget it. At any rate I saw only 2 plays and 3 movies ... still not bad for a person who doesn't like to sit in dark rooms for extended periods of time. Bill tried to get me to do 2 movies in a row but I just can't do that. I have to spend a certain amount of time moving about outside where the air is crisp and the sun is shining.

We had a lovely Christmas day! It was bright and sunny and mild, around 55 degrees. On Christmas Eve a large flock of Robins appeared and swarmed all over the yard looking for earthworms and whatever else they could find. I spent a couple of hours working in the yard, cutting back some plants and enjoying the springlike day. When we called other family members later in the day we wished them Happy Easter, because that is how it felt! Without anybody visiting for the day, I was able to release those old Christmas demons that have haunted me for years ... I felt unchained, free, no expectations!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Moonrise ...

Last night I watched the moon rise over the river. It was a beautiful sight. It had rained all day ... a wonderful half inch of wetness ... a blessed gift to the trees and flowers that now lie dormant and those that stay green all year round. Then the clouds magically evaporated and this is what I saw.

I'm home from New York and greatful to be here. Though we had a lovely time, this is where my heart is ... in the peace and quiet along the banks of the South Fork Rivanna River.

At Christmas, New York City wears her finest garb and the people for the most part are polite and smiling. The sidewalks were packed with holiday shoppers and tourists like myself, just wandering 5th Avenue, snapping photos here and there. While we were there a "Grid Lock Alert" was posted and people were asked to take public transportation rather than drive their cars. It seemed that most people did still drive, because the buses were only half full. Cross streets especially were backed up with horns being honked by frustrated drivers. In a few days, I'll post some of the photos I took there.

Usually when I'm in the city I visit some of the museums. But this time I joined my husband in one of his "New York Theatre Binges." In four days and nights I saw three plays, all wonderful off Broadway hits ... 4 movies and attended a stunning performance of Handel's
Messiah, with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and fabulous choral singers and soloists. We attended that concert the last night we were there and it was the perfect note to come home on. In between, we wandered through Rockefeller Center, various Christmas markets and the Avenues. Bill did see an extra play one afternoon when I chose to nap.

French Beaded Poinsettia Flower On My Mantel

Here is wishing all of you a very Happy Holiday season and a Peace Filled New Year!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Oh, Christmas Tree ...

We have lived in this house since January 7, 2001 and it is the first year in all that time that we have had a Christmas tree. Some years we were away for the holidays, other years we were tied up in what I call complicated times. So it's with joy that I tell you we do have a tree this year ... small, at around 2 feet tall, but none-the-less a lovely little Frasier Fir, that holds some of our oldest and smallest decorations that go way back ... treasures we brought together when we married that hold sweet memories for each of us. On the top is the wise owl our tiny children chose to be the guardian of our lives.

We will be alone to celebrate Christmas this year but only in the sense that we will be the only two living people in the house. There will be echos of past holidays and the looking forward to future days ... the beginning of a new year ... and an upcoming visit to see our grandchildren.

We could have gone to see them for this holiday ... but this is the first Christmas since my mother died. I feel a need to just be here where I can be with my memories of her and sort through all of the feelings one encounters when one loses a loved one. It will be both sad and happy, bitter and sweet ... a time for healing and learning to feel comfortable with the changes that life is so full of.

We begin our holiday with a trip to New York City ... to see once again the city decked out in its holiday finery. I lived out on Long Island as a child. Each holiday season took us to "the city" to see the magical window displays at Macy's, to tell Santa what I'd like to find under the tree and to spend carefully saved nickles and quarters for something special to give to my mom
on Christmas day.

When we first planned this trip I had no idea how important it would be for me. I thought it would just be another trip to the big city to see a few shows. I'm discovering how much I need to do this ... to look back and look forward all at once, to see where I've been and to wander some possible avenues for the future.

I'll be back next weekend and hopefully will have some big city photos to share!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Weather Extremes ...

Last week we had a very light dusting of snow. It was enough to get me inspired to do something about decorating the house for Christmas.

Today it is 72 degrees outside. It's also very humid, all due to a flow of Gulf of Mexico air coming up from the south. I was going to take that slice of watermelon down from above the door, but with these wild weather swings, maybe I'll just leave it in place. That way we'll be ready for whatever comes.

The next system coming through will bring some rain and they say that there is a possibility of a "winter storm" over the weekend. That usually means lots of ice, but I'm putting in an order for snow. It's that time of year and I'm ready ... though we are planning an excursion by train to the Big Apple on Monday to take in the Messiah at Lincoln Center and a few Off Broadway shows. We'll window shop on 5th Avenue and hopefully do some museums. The American Folk Museum is one of my favorites. So I hope the weather is good enough to allow for all of that. If not, we'll just stay here and bake cookies!! Either way, I'm sure we'll have fun!!

Snow on the evergreen leaves of a Camillia

A friend of mine reminded me yesterday that in order to fight "Holiday Consumer Disease," one should:

refuse to rush
don't expect too much
accept what you have as a gift
be grateful for the little things
give lots and lots of love
remember that all we have is the present moment

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Ushering In The Season ...

Sycamore Tree Near The River, © Joan Z. Rough, 2007

While a good portion of the country is undergoing Mother Nature's wrath, with snow, freezing rain and other forms of nasty weather, we wait for a bit of rain. It isn't supposed to amount to much, if anything. Yesterday the local weatherman called for about 1/4 of an inch, but today he didn't mention an amount . That means that the giant storm causing so many people grief, will probably slide by us to the north, leaving us with worsening drought. Our total rainfall for November was a grim 3/16ths of an inch.

I've just finished preparing bottles of Elderberry Syrup for gifts. Two loaves of bread just out of the oven fill the house with yummy smells. I've gotten quite a bit done today and am feeling pretty good about myself at the moment.

But earlier it was a little different. I woke feeling, not dreadful, but kind of "flat." Kind of like, "who cares!" ... just not interested in doing much at all and the things I needed to do seemed like endless chores. Sounds like the annual "Holiday Blues," some of us suffer from.

I have absolutely nothing to be depressed about. It bothers me that I can make
Big Pains out of little nothings especially when there are so many people in the world in need of the basic things in life ... like food, clothing, shelter, a job and a peaceful place in which to wake up. So what to do?

I start by listing the things that make me one of the most fortunate people in the world: A beautiful home in a gorgeous, peaceful community, tucked into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I have more than enough food in my larder, much of it locally grown and organic. I have warm clothes, shoes and all the accessories to make myself look fashionable. My family is made up of loving, unselfish people. I have my health which is amazing, judging from all those I know who are suffering from one ailment or another, some, life threatening.

A male Cardinal, often called "Red Bird" here in Virginia

That by no means is the end of the list. I could go on and on, but I won't bore you. It's time to brew a cup of spicy tea, put on some Christmas music and address a few cards to those I haven't seen in an age. Maybe I'll also pull out a few Christmas decorations as well. Tomorrow I'll buy a wreath and spread good cheer where ever I go!!