Monday, December 29, 2008

bubble lights

This year I was late getting to the all important task of putting up the Christmas tree. Even during the really bad times of life, this task has always been accomplished. The second week of December, while searching for the tree holder and decorations, I came across a box with decorations I did not recognize. Were these from my sister who died in 2004, my neighbor who died over ten years ago or left by one of the kids? In the box were gold tinsel, older strings of large bulb lights, glass ornaments - and a string of bubble lights!

The bubble lights just had to go on this tree. One of them ended up next to an ornament made by sister Jane - a sweet cross stitch sampler in a heart shape with criss-crossing messages about "glory to god" and "lamb of god" made in 1988.

As John saw the tree for the first time, he immediately noticed the lights. In a rather subdued way he let me know that the ornaments and lights had been boxed up since a last futile and painful attempt to share Christmas with his sons. Christmas had been a big celebration when he was home with his kids, and feasts and carols abounded.

Slowly, the feasts and carols return. Some of the ancient winter carols are the most haunting wails of loss and redemption. But others are rollicking wassail songs!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

persimmons redux

This past Friday I became a woman possessed. I looked out of the dining room window and noticed a large mockingbird eating the persimmon at the left of the picture. While I have been willing to share the bounty of the fig tree, and did not hoist a net over the tree this summer, I have only these 7 lovely persimmons on the newly planted young tree. The weight of the fruit is so great that it bent the main stem (it can hardly be called a trunk).

I shrieked and called Jasmine (the perfect dog) to help me roust the mockingbird from his perch on the wobbly branch. Jasmine ran down the stairs and eagerly chased the bird.

The persimmons were carefully harvested and brought inside to finish ripening in the dining room in a place of honor. The cake plate is a "Fire and Light" Mother's Day present from Anna.

I left the half eaten one for the mockingbird...

"Fire and Light" is a recycled glass manufacturing company in Arcata, CA. They make lovely things out of a now abundant resource. Unfortunately, the store selling these pretty and useful things has been affected by the recession.

But here in Napa, perhaps they will be a persimmon pudding. Perhaps they will be a persimmon frozen yogurt.

In our women's chorus for the Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma we just sang our Christmas concert. One of the songs was a Randall Thompson setting for the Robert Frost poem - "Come In". The mockingbird was not invited in, though he sought to "better his perch"...

As I came to the edge of the woods,
Thrush music -- hark!
Now if it was dusk outside,
Inside it was dark.

Too dark in the woods for a bird
By sleight of wing
To better its perch for the night,
Though it still could sing.

The last of the light of the sun
That had died in the west
Still lived for one song more
In a thrush's breast.

Far in the pillared dark
Thrush music went --
Almost like a call to come in
To the dark and lament.

But no, I was out for stars;
I would not come in.
I meant not even if asked;
And I hadn't been.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dancin' brides



I flew from California to Atlanta for my nephew's wedding - with some uneasiness about the prospect. One of our brothers was not going to attend, and I felt that somehow the family circle would not be complete. It turned out that several close relatives were not there, but the party must go on.

The wedding was in the old First Presbyterian Church in downtown Atlanta. It was a dignified, serious, proper sort of wedding, followed by an equally rowdy and exuberant reception. I took some pictures of "unusual" wedding attire on my brother John's camera. We shall see if I ever get a copy of his wife Patti in narrow dark glasses saying "We are not men, we are Devo". (Patti is the elegant blond beauty above.)

The bride, Corrie, is the dancin' one in the white dress and veil!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

wedding bell blues

Atlanta, home of the southern wedding... 11 bridesmaids and not so many groomsmen. I don't think the young men are as enthusiastic about renting the tux, paying for travel, doing the formal and semi-formal events, and following the strict wedding protocol.

My nephew Craig is getting married today at the First Presbyterian Church, which is a lovely dark red sandstone structure in downtown Atlanta next to the High Museum.

These are two of my nieces, Kate and Sally, with Sally's boyfriend Jonathan. Of course they are bridesmaids. Talking with my brother Joe (father of the groom) and Jonathan about the number of bridesmaids - Joe said "You know how girls are about bridesmaids..." Ummmm, I'm a girl and I don't get it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Green, green, green

This evening at the Napa City Council a green "grassroots" wave took over the room. It was quite an experience to listen to 37 speakers (each allotted 5 minutes) ask, plead and demand adoption of a green building ordinance with LEED silver as the standard for large new commercial buildings.

The Terra Verde club from New Technology High School had three representatives speak - which is remarkable. High school students tend to shy away from public speaking, but they felt so passionate about this issue that they girded their loins and entered the lion's den. I think there were so many green fuzzy feelings in the council chamber that they felt right at home.

I remember my passions from age 19-20, and surprisingly, they are not so different from today. Is character and life time arc established so early? I cried over building demolitions, then got mad, then got into gear. I designed an all natural material "rammed earth" group of buildings in my senior year - and still recall the crisp feel of the vellum, the dashed contour lines, the sinuous curves (aahh the french curves!), working through the night on a model for final presentation. I imagined this place so thoroughly that it was real to me and is as fresh in my minds' eye as it was then.

Engineering students never seemed to work all night, but we seemed to be unable to stay away from the studio as a deadline approached. The comraderie was addictive. The conversations were inane, imaginative, silly, provocative - sometimes important. If there were no donuts and coffee to go get in the middle of the night, perhaps we would not have been so eager to stay.

Three and a half decades later, I feel like I made a bit of a difference in making this a more healthy and sustainable community.