Friday, December 31, 2021

Auld Lang Syne Sing Along

Antique Seasonal Blue Willow Pattern
by Williamson and Son


A selection of songs for the evening,
all to tune of Auld Lang Syne

1. Cliff Richard ~ Millennium Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done
On earth as in heaven.
Give us Today our daily bread.
And forgive our sins,
As we forgive each one of those
Who sins against us

And lead us not to the time of trial,
But deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom,
The power and the glory.

Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done
On earth as in heaven.
Give us Today our daily bread.
And forgive our sins,
As we forgive each one of those
Who sins against us

Lead us not to the time of trial,
Keep us from evil
For Thine is the kingdom,
The power and the glory.

Let all the people say Amen,
In every tribe and tongue.
Let every heart's desire be joined,
To see the kingdom come.

Let every hope and dream,
Be born in love again.
Let all the world sing with one voice,
Let the people say Amen.

Let all the people say Amen,
In every tribe and tongue.
Let every heart's desire be joined,
To see the kingdom come.

Let every hope and every dream,
Be born in love
Let all the world sing with one voice,
Let the people say Amen.

Amen Amen Amen . . .

Songwriters: Paul Field & Stephen Deal

2. Bobby Vinton ~ My Christmas Prayer

No Christmas gift could I bestow
that could ever quite impart
The fondest wish, the dearest dream 
that I feel within my heart

May God above send down his love
and bless the world with cheer
May all the joy of Christmastime
live on throughout the year

May peace on Earth, Good will towards men,
be the dream for which we live
Let all the good of brotherhood
be the Christmas gift we give

May God protect us, one and all,
and keep his goodness near
May all the joy of Christmastime
live on throughout the year

Oh little star of Bethlehem
May your bright and shining light
Forever guide all humankind
Through the darkness of the night

May God in Heaven bless us all
With peace we hold so dear
May all the joy of Christmastime
Live on throughtout the year.

May Heaven bless with happiness
all people everywhere
And fill the world with love and joy
That's my fervent Christmas prayer!

Songwriters: Lyn Duddy & Jerry Bresler

3. Bobby Darin ~ Christmas Auld Lang Syne

When mistletoe and tinsel glow
Paint a Yuletide valentine
Back home, I go to those I know
For a Christmas Auld Lang Syne

And as we gather 'round the tree
Our voices, all combine
In sweet accord, we thank the Lord
For a Christmas Auld Lang Syne

When sleigh bells ring
And choirs sing and the children's faces shine
With each new toy, we share their joy
With a Christmas Auld Lang Syne

We sing His praise, this day of days
And pray next year, this time
We'll all be near to share the cheer
Of a Christmas Auld Lang Syne
Merry Christmas, everybody, and a Happy New Year

In sweet accord, we thank the Lord
For a Christmas Auld Lang Syne

Songwriters: Frances "Frank" Philip Military
& Emanuel "Manny" Kurtz (aka Mann Curtis, Manny Curtis)

Monday, December 27, 2021

Snowman Cake & Tree

Previous ~ Christmas ~ Cakes
This year we added a new feature:
a miniature Snowman to make it more like the movie!

In case you haven't seen the movie:
The Snowman

I love this scene when the Snowman discovers
the miniature of himself on the Christmas Cake!

Little White Tree ~ Little Black Cat
Also in 2019
Gerry specializes in Trifles as well as Cakes!

Friday, December 24, 2021

Orange Gumdrop Cake

Ben's Favorite

Cream together:
1 stick butter
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c buttermilk
1 1/2 c flour

Then add:
1/2 pound (1 1/2 c) orange slice candy
(chopped into small chunks and tossed in 1/4 c flour)
4 oz (2/3 c) chopped dates
3.5 oz (1 1/3 c) coconut
1 c pecans or almonds (optional)

Bake 1 hour ~ at 300F ~ in 3 mini loaf pans
Besides being one of Ben's most requested treats, another thing I like about this recipe is that you can use pecans or almonds -- not necessarily noteworthy except for the sweet story that goes along with it. I love that moment when you pull out a recipe card with its very own signature story that brings it all back.

One Christmas I had made a batch each way and put them in holiday baggies, marked "A" or "P." When our friends Pat and Alan stopped by for just a moment in the midst of holiday errands, I handed them one of each flavor, totally forgetting to mention what the letters meant. I remembered awhile later and gave Pat a call to say that one contained almonds, the other contained pecans. She said, "No worries! I just assumed the initials stood for Pat & Alan. That worked for us!"
Another option ~ mini pumpkin breads:
don't forget the chocolate chips!
Bread Machine Success:
just add gluten; works like a charm!

It takes a village!
Christmas Countertop
Christmas Stovetop
Amazing homemade peanut brittle
from Aaron & Pam


Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Plotting the Solstice

The Mystical Analemma
Post by Cathy Lindsay ~ Photo by Scott Betz

Also perfect for Summer Solstice ~ Celebrations
Learn more about the Solar Analemma . . .

Another version . . .

. . . and Fractals in Nature
. . . and other universal patterns!

Speaking of cosmic patterns . . .

Thanks Burnetta!

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.

A Midnight Clear

An Indiana Solstice Sunrise

Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away tonight.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.

Poem by Joy Harjo
Artwork by Josie Wren
Post by Heirloom Gardener
Not forgetting the Equinox . . .

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Must Be Santa & Marley & Marley

There are so many fun reasons to stop by
McCord Candies corner store,
anytime of year, but especially at Christmas.
Don't forget to look way up at the top window:
there's Santa!
And right next door, you will see
Statler and Waldorf ~ aka ~ Marley & Marley
These historic buildings have been featured
several times on Preserve Historic Lafayette.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Christmas Orange

Little Boy With Oranges
Norah Neilson Gray (1882 - 1931)

Oranges At Christmas Time

I can see our dining-room still,
the sideboard with a central mirror,
heavy two-handled fruit bowl
doubled by its own reflection
in the glass; round red Jonathans
polished to perfection, Jaffa oranges
and sometimes pears; no rules
forbidding us to touch - they were
there for the picking.

At Christmas there were tangerines
for eating at the table after meals.
A conniving uncle taught us how to spit
the pips backwards into the fire
without getting up from our chairs,
my mother indulgent to his goings-on.
He was the same uncle who tickled us
till we screamed for mercy then drew
breath to ask for more.

Last Christmas I was given a tree,
a Citrus Mitis, fragrant with flowers
growing in clusters, perfectly formed,
delicate and white, five small oranges
appearing at the same time. They
ripened to perfection and I used
them in my next batch of marmalade,
alongside the Sevilles and the limes,
and it tasted fine.

New oranges upon my tree this year,
rich colour set to rhythm and to rhyme,
their succulence a secret learned
in childhood, schooled by my mother's
tolerance - acceptance of the aunt who
taught us to suck oranges messily
through a sugar lump, thrust deep into
a hole made through the rind, to reach
the flesh beneath.

Oranges at Christmas time, memory
sharp as their flavour, sweet as the
indulgences of childhood and the lasting power of love.

by Elizabeth Bewick
Found in Light Unlocked: Christmas Card Poems (p 64)
Edited by Kevin Crossley-Holland and Lawrence Sail
See also these lovely nostalgic essays:

"Why We Should Bring Back
the Tradition of the Christmas Orange"

by Jackie Mansky


"Ode to an Orange"
by Larry Woiwode

" . . . on Christmas day you would find yourself digging past everything else in your Christmas stocking . . . in order to reach the round bulge at the tip of the toe which meant that you had received a personal reminder of another state of existence, wholly separate from your own."

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Gathering Winter Fuel

The Woodshed in Winter
"gathering winter fu - oo - el"

by Julian Sullivan, 2018
from Annual Christmas Missive, 2019

I love this beautiful painting -- especially the color of the sky! -- from my long - time Christmas letter pen-pals Julian and Veronica, along with the following tender words from Richard Crashaw -- so perfect together:

In the Holy Nativity of our Lord:
A hymn sung as by the shepherds

Welcome, all wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span;
Summer in winter; day in night;
Heaven in earth, and God in man.
Great little one, whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heav’n to earth.

Richard Crashaw (1613 - 1649)

Moonrise ~ Santa Lucia Day

Ghost of Christmas Past ~ In the Gloaming
I had procrastinated all day, until finally around 5 - something, I went out on the front porch in hopes of hanging up the bead garlands before it got dark. All of a sudden, I looked around and realized, "This is it -- the gloaming."

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Grandma's Favorite Poem

by Carlton Alfred Smith (1853 - 1946)
For the last decade or so, this clipping has been
on my mother-in-law's kitchen bulletin board.
She told me that it captured precisely
how she felt at the conclusion of every visit.

Grim & Gram,
tucking the boys into the way back.

Incredible to realize they've gone:
Matthew - Maro - their children - our grandchildren -
Saskia - Cosima - in the Renault
Festooned as for a wedding, with pink hands
Waving from windows blown farewells.
Matthew's parting smile above the wheel
Disappears down our lane -- his face
Torn from a coloured postcard of our garden.
We go back to thehouse where Yesterday
Still scatters through the rooms the wreckage
Of cardboard boxes, toys, torn silver paper.
Our room that seemed to bulge with voices
And walls bounced off by Matthew's clarinet's
Billowing notes -- relapsed to silence. We ourselves
Though anicent, not yet ghosts, feel two-dimensional
- Cardboard cut-outs of grandparents
With one small soul, like some flower plucked at a picnic
A century ago -- pressed between pages
Of an ancient tome -- absorbing ink each side --
One chapter's ending and the next's beginning.
Well, do not let this silence -- vacuum
Which, as they say, Nature abhors --
Be filled at any moment with our tears.

Stephen Spender (1909 - 1965)

A Page from
Grandma Rosanne's Notebook
Evangeline Paterson (1928—2000)


You might recognize this seasonal favorite:
Christmas Eve
also by Carlton Alfred Smith

Monday, December 6, 2021

Light One Stovetop Burner

Light One Stovetop Burner
for the Maccabee Children!

Why were the latkes taking forever to brown? Why were those in the small skillet, over the smaller burner cooking faster than the big skillet, over the big burner? After much frustration and consternation, it dawned on us that the main burner was malfunctioning!

In hindsight, we could see that this also explained the lukewarm gravy at Thanksgiving and the barely simmering spiced / spiked cider on the stovetop. But those foods don't require high heat anyway, so it had been easy to disregard and then forget all about the irregularity. Not so with the latkes! Thanks to them, we realized that the oil in our lamp was fading! Our eyes were opened -- a miracle of Hanukkah!

Next, Gerry texted a stove repair person who messaged back that he was COVID-closed at least until January. Yet, free of charge, he left us a long helpful voicemail of things we could try. The first one fixed it! Light was restored! Another miracle!

We didn't need a new stove after all, or even a housecall -- just the repair instructions plus Gerry’s genius. As we say around our house, "It's not really lost unless Mom can't find it; and it's not really broken unless Dad can't fix it!

Friday, December 3, 2021

First Mince Pies of the Season

Mince Pies & Mulled Wine
at Heathrow Airport
2018: My Recipe
2017: Previously at Heathrow

As a sweet friend and fellow anglophile wrote: "Gorgeous pies! And mulled wine — so festive! I’m glad you got to have a first taste of the holidays while there. I really enjoy spending Christmas in England. I love the oldy woldy pubs with fires going and low ceilings with wooden beams and the friendly hum of conversation. Roast dinners and an old fashioned trifle for pudding (I had my very first one homemade by you [more likely, by Gerry!] and it remains the most delicious in my memory)!


About those roast dinners, Rumi -- as always -- has something wise to say:

Bowls of Food

Moon and evening star do their
slow tambourine dance to praise

this universe. The purpose of
every gathering is discovered:

to recognize beauty and love
what’s beautiful. 'Once it was

like that, now it’s like this' . . .

. . . These visitors came a long way, past all
the houses of the zodiac, learning

Something new at each stop. And
they’re here for such a short time,

sitting at these tables set on the
prow of the wind. Bowls of food

are brought out as answers, but
still no one knows the answer.

from The Soul of Rumi:
A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thanksgiving with Holly & Nora

Holly Hobbie

" . . . life's great conversation:
what we ate yesterday,
what we plan to eat today,
what we're eating right this minute,
and what we're going to eat tomorrow.”

~ Nora Ephron ~

Denise Holly Ulinskas Hobbie

Seems like I must have posted this before --
but just can't remember where:
Can also be seen at
Town & Gown Bistro

Monday, November 22, 2021

Prayers for a Troubled Year

"a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious"
~ Yeats

"Uncle B. recited grace.
Head bowed, eyes shut,
calloused hands prayerfully placed,
he intoned:

'Bless You, O Lord, for the bounty of our table,
the varied fruits we can be thankful for on this
Thanksgiving Day of a troubled year'

– his voice, so infrequently heard,
croaked with the hollow imperfections
of an old organ in an abandoned church –


~ Truman Capote ~
~ The Thanksgiving Visitor ~

Table Grace

Here we sit as evening falls
Like old horses in their stalls
Thank you Father that you bless
Us with food and an address
And the comfort of your hand
In this great and blessed land.
Look around at each dear face,
And keep each one in your good grace.

We think of those who went before,
And wish we could have loved them more.*
Grant to us a cheerful heart,
Knowing we must soon depart
To that far land to be with them.
And now let’s eat. Praise God. Amen.

Gary Johnson

*I admire the subtle options suggested here: Perhaps we wish they had been more lovable, or that we ourselves could have been more loving; that we had loved them better than we did, or longer; that we had been granted more time. All valid.

The Frost Moon of Falling Leaves

Friday, November 19, 2021

Thanksgiving Moon

Dress appropriately!
"As usual, the wearing
of suitably celebratory
celestial attire is encouraged
in honor of the full Moon.

And that's not just my advice!
That comes straight from NASA!

"It is Taqountikeeswush,
the Moon of the Falling Leaves."
Nickommoh! A Thanksgiving Celebration
Author: Jackie French Koller (b 1948)
Illustrator: Marcia Sewall (b 1935)
Additional reading:
The Moon of Falling Leaves:
The Great Buffalo

by Cary B. Ziter

Following September's Harvest Moon and October's Hunter's Moon, the chilly of month November (as with other months) offers a number of enchanting seasonal names: The Full Frost, Snow, Beaver, or Mourning Moon; and plenty of lunar celebrations and ancient customs.

Back in the day when Thanksgiving in North America was observed in October (still the case in Canada), it coincided with The Moon of Falling Leaves. This lovely, lyrical name for the autumn moon was used by the Narragansett, Cree, Ojibway, Lakota (Sioux), Chippewa, and Arapaho.

When it comes to Thanksgiving, gardening, and tree lore -- this is the moon for you!

Monday, November 15, 2021

Falling From Far Up

translation by Robert Bly

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning "no."

And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.

We're all falling. . . .

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 - 1926)
On our walk today, Ellie and I encountered a sea of yellow - green leaves surrounding the majestic ginkgo that we always admire along our route. Sure we've seen it happen -- all the ginkgo leaves falling in one night, or one day, or one hour, in one consent. But aren't they usually bright gold when that happens? Not still half green, as these are:
Then we went a little further down the block and saw a curb covered with wholly green leaves. Summer one day, winter the next. Falling leaves, but no fall, and only the tiniest tinge of yellow - gold. This particular ginkgo is young and small, so you can count what's left. Not many!
Previously ~ The Gingko Light