Thursday, December 31, 2009

You Give Me Wings ...


Song: Bach Cello Suite 001 in G Major

'Winged Figure', By Abbot Handerson Thayer
(Image courtesy of

There are many ways to say it, but here is mine ...

As 2009 draws to a close … I find myself thankful … not reflective … nor looking ahead … but instead, rather content to just be … [have to say that again] … I am content to JUST BE … and that has been a long time coming indeed.

I also find myself truly thankful for my many, many blessings … most especially the wonderful people that I am so fortunate to have present in my life … some of you physically, others mentally, emotionally or spiritually … some of you all of the above. You lift me up, in ways beyond your ever knowing … you give me hope … you give me wings … and on rare ocassions: you even make my heart sing. I could not imagine a world without you in it.

So God bless you, one and all, as this remarkable decade draws to a fitting close. What the future holds: only Heaven knows … but we, each of us, have a part to play. And so, I pray for ALL of you (even those just passing by): may Good Health be yours, may Hope be ever present in your lives, may Peace light your way and may much Happiness and the ever elusive Joy fill your days. God Bless and Happy New Year 2010!

Sending all my best your way,


P.S. And surprisingly – for the first time ever -- I don’t think that I will have a hard time writing '2010' … for some reason, it seems as if I have somehow been waiting for 2010 to come along, and now that it is finally here: I am eager to greet it … go figure? : )

Monday, December 28, 2009

Heaven touched the Earth today ...

Sunset from my bedroom balcony ... 12/28/2009 ...
A fitting pre-cursor to the close of a remarkable decade ...

[All images copyrighted @ December 2009 ... Michelle C. of]

[All images copyrighted @ December 2009 ... Michelle C. of]

[All images copyrighted @ December 2009 ... Michelle C. of]

[All images copyrighted @ December 2009 ... Michelle C. of]

[All images copyrighted @ December 2009 ... Michelle C. of]

[All images copyrighted @ December 2009 ... Michelle C. of]

[All images copyrighted @ December 2009 ... Michelle C. of]

1/19/2010 Finally found a photography class that is reasonably priced and covers topics I'm interested in exploring.  It's a month long evening course with some weekend field trips, but you get hands on experience with the pros.  There's even a final exam and I get a certificate at then end.  I can't wait!  : )  Hopefully, some much better photos are coming your way ... [A new lens for Christmas 200x and not fully understanding depth of field implications for this news lens ... coupled with not wanting to miss this incredible sunset ... and hence not swapping the lens out for a lesser magnification ... resulted in the lack of cloud detail seen in these photos ... I could kick myself now, but what can you do?  Live and learn ... emphasis on LEARN!  ; ) ]

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Boxing Day!

Happy Boxing Day ... "Boxing Day is December 26, the day after Christmas, and is celebrated in Great Britain and in most areas settled by the English (the U.S. is the major exception), including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand." (source

(image removed)

I had almost forgotten about this holiday ... but a news story caught my eye today and reminded me of this holiday celebrated in Great Britian since mid 1800's:  Boxing Day.  It is one of the few 'Bank Holidays' recognized by "recognized since 1871 that are observed by banks, government offices, and the post office." (source, but the origins and meaning of this holiday run deeper.

Despite the name, 'Boxing Day' has absolutely nothing to do with a boxing match, gloves, and two individuals going at one another ... sorry to disappoint.  : )  [Don't feel bad, when I lived over in England, for a time, and first heard of this holiday:  my first image was of a boxing match as well. ]

'Boxing Day' is believed to have originated during the Middle Ages.  Servants were required to work on Christmas Day, but were subsequently given the day after Christmas off.  Supposedly, as the servants would line up to depart, their masters or employers would present the servants with boxes of gifts.  Today, the this tradition has evolved to where common people (you and me : ) often present those who provide services (i.e., mail carriers, tradesmen, porters, doormen and others) with gifts the day after Christmas.

Another possible association of this holiday tradition includes the fact the church would open its collection boxes (placed throughout churches to collect donations for the poor) and distribute the contents to the poor the day after Christmas, December 26th, which also the feast day of St. Stephen ... a decon and martyr dedicated to caring for widows and the poor. (source

For more info on St. Stephen see:
Life and images of St. Stephen painted by Rubens and other masters
Catholic Encyclopedia, for St. Stephen
St. Stephen suffered martyrdom in Jerusalem about the year 34. He is reckoned as both the first Christian martyr (the protomartyr) and as one of the first deacons.

So ... now you know what 'Boxing Day' actually is and IS NOT. Feel enlightened in some small way, perhaps?  : )

Well ... most everyone I know is out shopping and exchanging gifts today.  I sent my people (i.e., Ken ... he actually likes to shop and get deals ... NOT me?!)   out to do the after Christmas shopping and gift exchanging.  : )  And  me?  I am still in my comfy PJs, with a nice cup of tea, enjoying the crystal clear view of the snow capped mountains (in the distance) from my balcony.  [Kids wish some of that snow would make its way over here to where we are ... but that may yet happen ... predicted a chance of snow this upcoming Tuesday.]

Ah (take a nice long sip of soothing warm liquid) ... this is the life!  : )  Joyful, joyful day to you!  Enjoy the 'Second day of Christmas', leading up to the Feast of the Epiphany.  God Bless!


P.S.  Here are some of our Christmas Day photos (and making Christmas cookies) 2009.  Today was 'clean up all the boxes' day for us  : )

(slide show removed)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

'Angels Entertaining the Christ Child', By Marrianne Stokes
(Image courtesy of

Let All the Earth Rejoice and Be Glad!

Merry Christmas Everyone:

His Peace, Light and Blessings
to you and yours!

Song: Hark The Herold Angels Sings, Music By Edward Shippen Barnes Performed By, 'Straight No Chasers' 

'An Angel', By Sir Edward Burne-Jones
(Image courtesy of

P.S.  Heard that Texas is getting hit with a bunch of snow ... "Been snowing all day?!"  Said my sister, Kris, not 30 minutes ago.  Weird?!  So stay safe you all driving to and from Christmas Eve services and celebrations.  I'll be praying for the same.  God Bless!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Some Christmas Tunes ...

(Photo courtesy of my eldest daughter : )

Here is the Christmas Songs list:

They have an 'Old Time Favorites' list too:

Even a 'Bah-humbug' list, but I'm not gonna post that one ...

If you have time and you're in the mood for some holiday cheer check it out!  Some good songs.

Enjoy!  : )


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lacrimosa Requiem (W.A. Mozart)

This is so hauntingly beautiful ... Enjoy!

Q:  How many of you know what the instrument directly behind the saxaphone is around the 2:00 minute mark?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Christmas Card to YOU ...

  [Click on Image or Words to go to Artmagick Album to view card inside.]

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

'Grown-up Christmas Wish'?

Song: 'Grown-up Christmas List', By Michael Buble

Sitting on Santa's Lap (Never subjected my own kids to this?!)
[Maybe I'll go sit on Santa's lap and get of photo of me to post here? : ) ]

All the hustle and bustle of this busy time of year ... 

So easy to get caught up in the all of the drama and must haves .... must dos of the season ....

Well, my strategy this year has been to: 1) TRY to keep it simple; 2) focus on doing family things; and 3) wait until THE LAST  POSSIBLE SECOND to shop -- I truly, truly dislike shopping ... I'd rather go to the dentist ... no joke!  : ) 

But hey, our tree is up.  I've done some on-line shopping and I sent Ken out to brave the crowds for most of the rest of it.  We went to see the 'Nutcracker' Ballet  last weekend ... and this week, we will take our daughters to see Irving Berlin's 'White Christmas' (I've always loved the movie ... you know, the one with Bing Crosby and Danny Kay).   Bethany and Erynn Jeanne went caroling with Girl Scouts at a retirement home in the neighborhood just yesterday,  so I'd say we're making the most of the season.

Pacific Northwest Ballet Company performs 'The Nutcracker' Ballet

This evening, while toying with 2 boxes of Christmas cards -- and trying to decide if I REALLY want to send out Christmas cards this year --  the song (a remake of an old song?) 'This is My Grown-up Christmas List', sung by Michael Buble came up on Christmas CD shuffle. This particular song got me to thinking:  What would my 'Grown-up Christmas Wish' be this year, 2009?

How about you? 
Q: What would your 'Grown-up Christmas Wish' be this year?

Me ... well, I'm still pondering ... I'll get back to you when I finally decide .... :  )

Late P.M.  I've got it ... my 'Grown-up Christmas' wish that is .... I was going to wish for a legacy of peace and understanding among all ethnicities, cultures, and faiths ... but the latter wish seems intangible, almost insignificant, when compared another real issue facing the United States of America:   Political Apathy and Moronicness!

[Been awhile since I've written about politics ... so I figure that I'm due!  If you're not up for hearing me rant, best skip on down to the end ...]

I've finally got my 'Grown-up' Christmas wish:  that the citizens in this country will actually 'grow-up' and become truly involved in the political processes of this country ... that is, beyond complaining about and trivializing real issues.

The future of our country and the legacy we leave to our children IS NOT HOPELESS ... and unfortunately 'tiramisu' (if you know me, you know what I mean here) won't fix what ails us!

Most of you wanted 'CHANGE' ... some of you even GOT OFF YOUR AXX and actually voted for it -- what a novel concept?! Well, I've got news for you: your duty as citizen is NOT JUST TO COMPLAIN ... Not just TO VOTE, BUT TO BE INFORMED (quite frankly, if you're not going to be truly informed: I'd just as soon have you keep your butt at home, texting and facebooking and NOT VOTE!).  Furthermore, your responsibility as a U.S. citizen is TO STAY INFORMED, each and everyday thereafter, not just to be informed on the day you vote.

As a citizen of the United States of America you should know the issues: don't just REACT TO THE HEADLINE BLIPS fed to you by 'Big Brother Media'. If you CAN READ: pick up a dang newspaper or a politically themed magazine-- and preferably more than one. Watch an ACTUAL news program (yes, news programs STILL EXIST ... they're not antiques or relics of your parents' past) ... and watch even more than one news program (so as to get a more balanced perspective) and THEN DO SOMETHING TO EFFECT CHANGE: contact the people that represent YOU, 'the people' ... tell your senators, representatives and other elected officials what you want (I.E., COMPLAIN TO THEM IN MEANINGFUL, TANGIBLE TERMS) and then follow up on what you ask for.

If ACTUALLY CARING about the issues facing my country, my country and the legacy that we leave to future generations is 'INSANITY' then let me at it!!!!!!!!!!  GENERATION A (FOR APATHY) can keep your DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING CONCRETE OR POSITIVE 'sanity' and laugh till the FACEBOOK 'EXCEEDED ALLOWABLE POST CHARACTERS LIMIT' COWS COME HOME.

I DARE YOU to actually do something besides complain! Start by finding out who your state senators are (you have 2) and who your representative in the U.S. congress is. Then, GIVE THESE ELECTED OFFICIALS A PIECE OF YOUR MIND (I.E., COMPLAIN TO THEM IN MEANINGFUL, TANGIBLE TERMS). Here are some helpful links to get you started:

What Can I Do to Impact the Political Process?

To those of you who actually stay informed on the issues and get involved: GOD BLESS YOU! You are what helps to keep this country from making its final swirl down the proverbial drain.

Okay, now that I've gotten that off of my chest ... maybe now, I will take a deep breath and make a wish for my earlier noble sentiment (after all, the only way my wish will ever happen is with ALOT of wishes and prayers ... and I do pray all the time!).  ... So, I close my eyes and make my wish ... "This Christmas, I wish for a for a legacy of peace and understanding among all ethnicities, cultures, and faiths here on this rapidly spinning blue planet called Earth."


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Toccata & Fugue in D Minor

J.S. Bach ...

Haunting ... but beautiful.  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Insanity ...

Currently struggling with this ...

Insanity is  "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."  ~Albert Einstein

Trying to find the equation that works for me ...

Sometimes, I think that ignorance truly is BLISS!!!!!!?????!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Exploring ... Dec. 5, 2009

What I did yesterday afternoon ....

Song: BWV 1001_IV.Presto, Performed By Lara St. John

[link to album disbaled]

Just me and my trusty old camera, exploring the Pacific Northwest.  Peaceful ... mystical ... magical ...

The falling leaves, changing colors, crisp cool air ... the preparation for winter ... anticipation ... frantic frenzy ... the smell of a warm wood fire ... followed by serene calm as setting sun lays all to rest.

Congrats Longhorns!

(Image courtesy of Yahoo sports)

You're heading to the BCS National Championship ...

I didn't see the actual game, myself, but I happened to see this photograph, with accompanying caption on Yahoo Sports "Texas Survives!"

Guess Texas managed to pull off a last second field goal which put them in the lead, by a SINGLE POINT?!

But hey, a win is still a win.    : )
As I whisper "Happy for you University of Texas!" Ican't speak the latter sentiment too loudly because my husband is still in mourning for his University of Florida Gators.  The Gator did not pull off a win against Alabama today; hence, U of Florida will not be heading to the BCS Championship game  : (   A disappointing outcome --from my husband's perspective-- but such is life.  You roll with the punches, eh?

Anyone need a room reservation in Pasadena?

Friday, December 04, 2009

On Mortality ... Aging and Death

'The Temple of the Mind', By William Pinkham Ryder
(Image Courtesy of

A friend of my says that he is "being forced to reconcile my own mortality."

He recalls, as he watches his father lie in a hospital bed and struggle with recovering from cancer surgery, that "not too long ago he was my age." My friend's illusion of "always being 17" is beginning to crumble.

It IS hard to watch someone that you love suffer and grow old. My paternal grandmother, Dorothy Jeanne, turned 90 this year. She's always been a feisty, independent woman. I've always admired her spirit and sense of adventure. She's been a very important role model, of sorts, for me ... but I hear, in her voice, as we talk these days (on the phone) the tiredness and the frailty setting in. At first, it made me sad to see this remarkable woman begin to fade and slowly slip away. But then, she'll recall some amazing little detail of a time long since past ... something that I, myself, had almost forgotten ... and in that moment I am reminded that the body is but a vessel to house the soul and the mind.  The body is but ours to borrow during this brief journey called life. And though the body may change, eventually growing old and slowly beginning to fade away ... I firmly believe that the mind and soul are eternal.

I take particular comfort in this saying of Jesus:

"And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

—Mark 10:13-16


As we age and our bodies begin to fail, we re-enter that state of child-like innocence and dependence ... and maybe it is that very state that makes us worthy to at last enter the kingdom of heaven ... or whatever you happen to believe in.

Eastern philosophy holds that we should not mourn aging and death. Decay of the body is a natural state. Rather, we should mourn when a soul is born; for life is the hard part. Death is a life's --well led -- reward.

Take heart, Paul. Age IS a state of mind. Some are old at twenty.  Some never grow up. Some are born middle aged ... others, in middle age, are given a chance at rebirth and begin seeing life for all of its infinite possibilities and in doing so, they become wild and free (child-like) and remember how to just be. Close your eyes, Paul, take a deep breath and just be ... the rest will come to you in due time.

May peace fill your heart and light your way.  Enjoy your time this weekend with the precious lights of your life.  : )

God Bless!

Song: 'With Arms Wide Open', By Creed

P.S. I am so relieved to hear that your father's prognosis is good and that he is out of the ICU.  I will keep praying for you both.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

'Head of the Demon'

I found ArtMagick on Facebook.  Seems they had some insight into a painting that I was quite puzzled by ...

'Head of the Demon', By Mikhail Vrubel (Image from

It turns out that this painting was done to illustrate a poem, titled: 'The Demon' (published posthumously in 1842), by the Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov. The poem tells of a demon (dark angel?) who falls in love with a mortal woman.  Here is the link to a site containing other works by Vrubel as well as the poem:

(see post for Monday, January 19, 2009)

This poem is a fascinating read and in keeping with my other latest pursuit, Dante's 'Inferno' (i.e., creepy ethereal).

Let me know what you think ...

I, personally, feel sorry for the demon in this poem.  To me, if he ... the demon... is capable of feeling love, then he has something in him yet that is worthy of redemption ... does he not?  I don't think that our Creator ... God .... is vengeful ... on the contrary, I believe that He is merciful, patient, loving and kind.  I believe that He has hope for ALL of us ... and even where there exists only a spark of His divine light, therein lies the chance for redemption.

P.S. For those who worry about all the dark matter that I seem to be reading lately ... I have finished up one of my 7 other reads and have begun a new book about God, the Bible, and finding the God of the Bible (Old Testement) in the world of today.  The book is titled:

"Where God Was Born: A Daring Adventure Through the Bible's Greatest Stories" (P.S.) (Paperback)

~ Bruce Feiler (Author)

It's a very insightful and surprisingly action packed read.  Hard to put down once I get going  : )  Adds balance to my reading repetoire ... Happy reading!   -M