In lieu of trying to belong to any number of societies: Chesterton, Sherlock Holmes, the Inklings, and so on: I propose and establish one of my own. Don your intelligence cap at the door; dust off your logic and imagination; did you bring your inspiration and encouragement? We are shapers, my friends; lit lamps; light-bringers. Bring quotes*; poetry should be uplifting and thoughtful, or witty and clever, (or both). Humor is encouraged; laughter is invited back. Pull up a chair. Anyone for tea?



End of the year....

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct  the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."
-- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
This is easily what comes to my mind as I think over the previous year, it being at least partly true of every age, and even most years.  Our challenge at all times is to dwell on the blessings, the gifts of life; the glimpses of Aslan's mane.  And so I have been inspired by others, as this year draws to a close, to make a little list of my personal favorite things.  A small reminder (mostly to myself) of a year full of gifts.
The difficulty for me, in anything of this sort, is to disentangle the threads of 2012 with the other years past.  Granted, I have not lived out so very many, but still, to a dreamer's mind, chronology can become a challenge.  The days grow upon each other, the more swiftly as I grow myself.  My greatest desire is that, as I do grow older (though no longer bigger) that I would find Christ 'bigger'.
' "Aslan," said Lucy, "you're bigger."
"That is because you are older, little one," answered he.
"Not because you are?"
"I am not.  But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.'  --C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian
Oh yes, one of my favorite things in every year, are the books.  Some very old, reread so often they become brittle and dog-eared; some so new to me.  A grand new fairyland of ideas, filled with dozens of friends, some brightly new, some reminding me sharply of others I've known.
Many of these books I will keep with me forever (or very nearly =) rereading them often.  A few, I probably won't read again; but each one shapes me, making me think, even if I don't agree with the book at all.  Here is a list of the books I've read for the first time this year.  I rarely finish a book I don't approve of, so these are good ones, although with differing degrees of my reccommendation, surely.  If there are questions about any particular one, I would be most pleased to discuss it.
Booklist 2012 (chronologically, I think)
St. Peter's Fair  -ELLIS PETERS
The Leper of St. Giles  -ELLIS PETERS
The Red House Mystery  -A. A. MILNE
Virgin in the Ice  -ELLIS PETERS
The Court of the Stone Children  -ELEANOR CAMERON
Looking for the King  -DAVID C. DOWNING
Queen of Attolia  -MEGAN WHALED TURNER
The Tiger in the Smoke  -MARGERY ALLINGHAM
Witch of Blackbird Pond  -ELIZABETH GEORGE SPEARE
Mrs. Miniver  -JAN STRUTHER
The Secret of Father Brown  -G. K. CHESTERTON
The Bird in the Tree  -ELIZABETH GOUDGE
Mere Christianity  -C. S. LEWIS
Ronia the Robber's daughter  -ASTRID LINDGREN
The Heart of the Family  -ELIZABETH GOUDGE
The Scent of Water  -ELIZABETH GOUDGE
The Castle in the Attic  -ELIZABETH WINTHROP
Surprised by Joy  -C. S. LEWIS
America's Godly Heritage  -DAVID BARTON
Stories from Shakespeare  -MARCHETTE CHUTE
Much Ado About Nothing  -WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
My highest reccommendation must go to Elizabeth Goudge, her books being the most shaping, inspiring and insightful books of this year, I think; and I can't wait to read more C. S. Lewis, and Cadfael.
Music: another of my favorite subjects.  I am acutely aware of music all around me, feeling it deeply.  An important part of me is made up of the stuff, and I don't know how I could live without it.  I haven't listened to a great deal of new music this year, except to become more familiar with some Indy/folk/pop, which is my genre of choice for singing myself.  Some of my favorites there are "Fallin' for you" Colbie Caillat,  "Lucky" Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat ;), "I'm Yours" Jason Mraz,  "The Way I am" Ingrid Michaelson, and "Talking to the Moon" Bruno Mars.

man, we were tanned.
I was also able to see an Owl City concert with Ben this year, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  His music is talented and entertaining, and his lyrics very clever and interesting.  I listen to his CDs around the house (excellent for cleaning-music ;).  Kate Rusby's "The Girl Who Couldn't Fly" CD also gets a lot of play;  Scottish Moors too, (these aren't new to this year, just the background music for it);  Shane and Shane, and Sons of Korah;  and of course, Glenn Miller for old, undemanding, soothing.  And there are so many others that we have listened to and enjoyed....  I could never list them all.  These are more like the old stand-bys that make up almost every year.
One quite new experience for me in the music realm, was being able to sing in a choir this spring, as I hope to do again next year.  It is something I have always wanted to do, and it was a great joy to sing with 'Deo Cantamus'
Oh yes, and I learnt Liebstraume on the piano this year.
I've seen three movies in theatre this year: 'Tintin' (which was splendid, for we are big fans of the books) 'Bourne Legacy' (prefaced by the other three, and greatly enjoyed) and of course 'The Hobbit' which was brilliant, and quite the best in my opinion.  It's not the book, I grant you, but it was magnigicently done, (the dwarves song still plays in my head--speaking of music.)
Alright, how about doing 12 things from 2012?  So we have books, music, and movies, that's 3.
4. A great highlight in the events of my year was, rather obviously, my trip to Washington D. C. in which I took in so many sights and memories that I will never forget.  Thank you Grammy Rose! Thanks and thanks and ever thanks;  and also to Aunt Karrie et al.  I miss you!
I hope very soon to put up pictures of our further adventures to Gettysburg and Annapolis!
5.  Annika  (Such a big blessing in a little person) --love you sweet, pert, fairy-child!
6.  Oh yes, and Graduation, that was big. ;)

'Does genious burn, Jo?'
 7.  Writing ~an irreplaceable part of every year.
Among other things, this year I wrote some poems which I shared on this blog (label poetry) and nearly 15,000 words in a little story I'm having fun with.
8.  Food  --because I love food.  I have enjoyed learning more and becoming more proficient in the kitchen, especially as I've made the switch to Gluten-Free foods.  One of my favorite discoveries is 'mushroom-eggs' as I call them--just onions and mushrooms sautéed with an egg scrambled over them.
9. Exercise, I'm getting a little more consistent in that department, which is encouraging.  I especially appreciate Pilates.
10.  Gifts                              11.  Art              
12.  Dreams
This doesn't cover the half of it--but you know that.  I've probably left out something crucial, and put in unneccessary things, but that's rather how life is, isn't it?  I'd love to hear some highlights of your year, too...

John Ridd

"His lordship was busy with some letters, and did not look up for a minute or two, although he knew that I was there... Then he closed his letters, well-pleased with their import, and fixed his bold broad stare on me, as if I were an oyster opened, and he would know how fresh I was.

"May it please your worship," I said, "here I am according to order, awaiting your good pleasure."

"Thou art made to weight, John, more than order.  How much dost thou tip the scales to?"

"Only twelvescore pounds, my lord, when I be in wrestling trim.  And sure I must have lost weight here, fretting so long in London."

"Ha, ha!  Much fret is there in thee!  Hath His Majesty seen thee?"

"Yes, my lord, twice or even thrice; and he made some jest concerning me."

"A very bad one, I doubt not.  His humor is not so dainty as mine, but apt to be coarse and unmannerly.  Now John, or Jack, by the look of thee, thou art more used to be called."

"Yes, your worship, when I am with old Molly, and Betty Muxworthy."

"Peace, thou forward varlet!  There is a deal too much of thee.  We shall have to try short commons with thee, and thou art a very long common.  Ha, ha! where is that rogue Spank?  Spank must hear that by-and-by.  It is beyond thy great thick head, Jack."

"Not so, my lord; I have been at school, and had very bad jokes made upon me."

"Ha, ha!  It hath hit thee hard.  And faith, it would be hard to miss thee, even with harpoon.  And thou lookest like to blubber, now.  Capital, in faith!  I have thee on every side, Jack, and thy sides are manifold; many-folded at any rate.  Thou shalt have double expenses, Jack, for the wit thou hast provoked in me."

"Heavy goods lack heavy payment, is a proverb down our way, my lord."

"Ah, I hurt thee, I hurt thee, Jack.  The harpoon hath no tickle for thee.  Now, Jack Whale, having hauled thee hard, we will proceed to examine thee. . . ."
Lorna Doone,  R. D. Blackmore

That sort of day...

 the slow kind, and oh-so-very welcome.

Oh distant thoughts and far-off reverie
Needful of weightless silence to emerge
An open stillness, that soft panoply
Of ordered mind, precipitating surge

For merry as the chatter of delight,
Or congregating people for a feast
Still frequently my thoughts will take their flight
To fairylands of stories, trees and peace

Sometimes when days stream happy by
Though filled to brimming with our things to do
The mind must pause from contemplating why
Or drifting into philosophic blue

But still the aerie of my mind
Is found alone, and will forever be
For out of silence, in unhurried time
Comes that native tongue, sweet poetry

and long sunpatches all day...
'The Dean's Watch'


This is the month, and this the happy morn,
Wherein the Son of Heaven's eternal King,
Of wedded maid and Virgin Mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy sages once did sing,
That he our deadly forfeit should release,
And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.
That glorious Form, that Light unsufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of majesty,
Wherewith he wont at Heaven's high council table
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,
He laid aside, and , here with us to be,
Forsook the Courts of everlasting Day,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.
John Milton


"Tomorrow I will come!"

Culmination of preparation~
The birds chirp a merry Christmas Eve, I chop venison, mushrooms, onions; wash and clean; listen to Handel; set tables, light candles, bake gingerbread.  Preparing still for the festivities to come.  I'll post more about our evening activities later!  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

The Long Awaited

Days in shadow, days of night
Unrevealed was present Light
Those who pondered what was told
Waited long to be consoled
For consolation long foretold

One had waited long and well
Righteous, filled with hope they tell
He was old but could not die
Said the One who cannot lie
Until he saw the Savior nigh

Years he waited, years he prayed
Yearned to see what plans were laid
Simeon, they called his name
Often to the temple came
But one day it was not the same

Called the Spirit, 'follow me'
Calling irresistibly
To the temple's level ground
Listening for any sound
Of Him to whom his life was bound

Then he saw a man and wife
Bearers of eternal life
Recognized the babe she wore
Root of Jesse evermore
But they knew not whose Son they bore

He approached them with great joy
Reached his arms to hold the boy
"Your Salvation now I see,
In your grace, you answered me
--I'm ready for eternity.

"Peace to my heart, light to all
Revelation and a call
Blessed be your parents here
Marveling at what they hear
And may they see You reappear.

"Many at his word will fall
Many more rise at his call
Some shall come against his hand
Leading the opposing band
A Man of Sorrows in His land.

"This is triumph that you feel
They can only touch his heel
Ages ached to be redeemed
Long to come, it often seemed
Until upon them, Jesus beamed."

. . . There were also others there
One with hope and long white hair
She would worship, pray and fast
Waiting till Messiah passed
And all her heart was filled at last

She had often spoken out
Years in temple-work devout
She was simply known as Anna
Now all through her heart there ran a
Joy, with which she cried, "Hosanna"

. . . Days of shadow, turned to light
Now revealed unto our sight
His Salvation, high and free
Fills with joy and comforts me
And will for all eternity

From Luke 2, written by Olivia, 2010
all rights reserved, as always, to this blog
Run the Earth and Watch the Sky

A Winter Party

This year for our midwinter's day, I planned a party for the family, with a surprise menu and decoration.  I decided to try my hand at Pavlova, making mine with pomegranate and cardamom for a Christmas treat.  I whisked egg whites, listened to music and stories, and thwacked at pomegranates with a wooden spoon.  I had so much fun!

ready to bake

Dad's puzzle
~music to cook by

~gingerbread and cabbage in cheesy sauce
It's rather like a spongy marshmallow inside
ready and topped with whipped cream and pomegranate seeds

photo by Motherdy
~A Merry Festive Feast~
...and now the days will just be getting longer!
Nigella's bacon-wrapped meatloaf
-baked apple compote-
-pomegranate seeds-
Compliments of the Season to you all!

Merry Midwinter! {repost}

'It was a frosty morning. The air was crisp and cold and everything sparkled in the winter sunshine. The little mice hurrying along the path turned up their collars and blew on their paws in an effort to keep warm.

"Merry Midwinter," panted Dusty Dogwood, scurrying past Mr. Apple and the Toadflax children with a huge covered basket. Mr. Apple and the children were busy too, dragging great sprays of holly and trails of ivy and mistletoe towards the Old Oak Palace. When they arrived at the gates, they heaped all the branches on the ground, and Wilfred tugged at the bell.'. . .
"When the days are the shortest, the nights are the coldest,
The frost is the sharpest, the year is the oldest,
The sun is the weakest, the wind is the hardest,
The snow is the deepest, the skies are the darkest,
Then polish your whiskers and tidy your nest,
And dress in your riches and finest and best . . .
For winter has brought you the worst it can bring,
And now it will give you
The promise of SPRING! "

~Jill Barklem

A Child's Christmas in Wales

a rather remarkable little book, blending so well those memories of Christmas with his childhood imagination.  The DVD is also quite delightful, and we own a record of Dylan Thomas himself reading the book.  But best of all are Trina Schart Hyman's illustrations in our copy on the shelf...
"One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner ... that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six."

" 'Were there postmen then, too?'
'With sprinkling eyes and wind-cherried noses, on spread, frozen feet they crunched up to the doors and mittened on them manfully.  But all that the children could hear was a ringing of bells.' "
" 'Were there Uncles, like in our house?'
'There are always Uncles at Christmas...' "