Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I don't trust our ancient furnace not to explode or asphyxiate the cats, so when there is no one here to feed the fire the house gets cold.  We returned from 3 days away to find the indoor temperature a cool 47 degrees.  So cats and humans alike have been lolling downstairs while the fire blasts out enough heat to make the  house habitable again.

I never installed any fans to bring the heat up, so I had the boys tie on blanket capes and run up and down the stairs.  Effective as well as entertaining.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The shortest day of the year was rainy, windy, cold and dreary.  A good day to stay home.  But, of course we celebrate the night not because it's a nice, pleasant night - but because, despite all dreary evidence to the contrary, it's the night of turning once more toward the sun.  The days will get longer.  The cycles of the world will renew.  It's going to get colder - this is the first day of winter, after all - but the work of re-making spring starts now.

After darkness had fallen and the drizzle was only intermittent, I took dry fuel from the woodpile to build a blaze.  The windy night soon had it whipped into a dancing bonfire.  A friend and her daughters joined us and we toasted marshmallows and sang, and dodged the sparks and embers that were flung out from the fire.  I threw wet pine boughs on the blaze to send even more shards of fire twirling up and around in the dripping wet woods.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

There's a side of me that thinks winter ought to be a time of dormancy.  That we should take our cue from northern nature, whose living bits more or less coast through the cold, dark months on whatever they have managed to store away.  I read somewhere that the old Russians used to nap the winter months away on their stove ledges - maybe doing some needlework or carving to complement their imperfect hibernation.

To this side of me it seems cruel that we are flogged through the trough of the year by winter holidays -- these christmases and hanukahs and new years.  Too much febrile bustle for such short, dark days to contain.

But in a few days the solstice will be here.  I'm going to burn our mound of pine boughs and make a hissing, spitting, crackling pyre in defiance of the sun's neglect and in welcome of its imminent return.  And I'll drink hot cider and scorch my wet boots dry.  Because there is a side of me that wants no part in dormancy.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Monica took the top of the pine that the hurricane threw down, and she made it our Christmas tree.

José and Nico discuss the nature of flying monkeys.  (All three of the boys are performing in the school musical, The Wizard of Oz this week.)

Friday, December 14, 2012


In October Monica's mother, Esperanza, was diagnosed with late stage ovarian cancer.  Monica flew out there and her sister, Clara arrived from Costa Rica.  There was little that medicine could do except ease her pain.

Abuela with her grandchildren
Esperanza gathered her family and her friends around her - she reached out to those she couldn't gather, and she gave them the strength and peace to accept that her life was drawing to a close.

And on December 9th she died.

In January we'll have a memorial service for her in California, and I hope by then I will have been able to put together the words to express some of what she meant to all of us.

With her daughters two years ago