Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas 2015

“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all that cold, cold, wet day.”
                                                                                 Dr. Seuss

This was one of the worst Christmases I have ever had due to a long illness that is still unnamed or conquered. But the day inside has been better, enough energy to actually work on a short story and to make a blog effort for the first time in days. Despite not having much to say, I want to post before I have lost my moxie for the page.

Outside, the weather is frightful! The whole country seems on tilt with the weather. The days between Christmas and New Year are often cold, snowy, or icy and some areas have that very thing. Others tornadoes! Here now, we have relentless rain and more rain. The dog will barely go out as there is never a break in the pouring and more is to come. Roads everywhere are closed; cattle are being moved from flooding pastures; buildings have raging waters up to their roof lines and rock slides are happening.

Meanwhile, we have not had to go out for any reason. It is safe in our house on high ground, and we sit in chairs wrapped in flannel. In the Christmas story, these are the days the Wise Men made it to the newborn Babe. Today they and their camels both would be swimming to the stable! Like lines from Cat in the Hat, we sit inside sipping a gift of tea, reading gift books, and nibbling on what is left of Christmas cookies.

My writing life was enhanced by friends this year. The typewriter is an ornament, but I can’t bear to put it away in a storage box after the holidays. So I hung it over my desk as a reminder to stay in the space of “Once Upon a Time”, words that are printed on the typewriter roll bar. A new thirsty stone coaster is great for both hot and cold drinks, but it is my friend the buffalo on the front that will keep me company and maybe inspire some new lines.

I hope all readers are warm and safe and happy wherever they are at tonight.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Yesterday’s heavens were definitely a winter sky! It was December dark and grew darker all day as the heavy rains approached. The possible severe storms faded out though and we got only the rains—a relief. The temps were so warm in mid-70’s and broke a hundred year old record for the day. Ah, December in the Midwest!

That evening I went to a friend’s church with her. It was the third week in Advent and we both expected a solemn atmosphere emphasizing the hope and promise of the coming birth celebration of a baby Messiah. Imagine our surprise when a band with drums and guitars were in the choir loft! The music was toe-tapping and hip swaying, not your traditional hymns.

The altar had a mini-altar set up in front with a brown skinned Madonna and bright flowers, all accentuated by bright lights. The service was said in Spanish as it was the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12th. I had heard much of this Madonna as my grandparents saw the original cape or tilman on a trip to Mexico in the 1960’s.

Mexico and Central America, like much of North America, were Christian by the sword and force. The story says that the Blessed Mother appeared asking for a church where her people could practice their faith. She sent a man, Juan Diego, to the local bishop with a cape folded over a bunch of roses to plead her case. When he got there, the roses had become a beautiful painting of the Madonna, a miracle. The fabric and painting still exist today and have been studied by scientists with no answer to exactly what or how it came to be painted.

So last night was a festive adoration and celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The music made us feel like dancing and that was not a bad way to exit a church and face a new week in the world!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Gift from December

The days keep being bright and cheerful which is a gift in December; the weatherman tells us not to get used to it. Two big storms are coming in next couple of weeks, one on Christmas Eve. I hate to hear that when it will wreck some families’ holiday plans.

One of the best parts of the holidays is the expectation of Christmas coming and getting out among the mood and decorations of the season. Due to illness, I missed a great many stops I had planned for yesterday. By afternoon I was able to get out and do one I really wanted to attend! DH drove, Biscuit rode along, and we all took a drive down Highway 59 in the warm sunshine to see Doug Hall’s new log cabin studio. The artist was holding open house.

                                                                      Doug Hall

Doug lives near the Huckleberry Ridge Forrest and allows a muzzleloader’s shooting range every Sunday on his new cabin’s property. He and friends built the cabin themselves; they took the logs from his mother’s trees. It is darling and Doug uses it as a small gallery for his art work
Doug paints mostly Shawnee Indians or Woodland people. These are not your full feather head-dressed Natives of the old westerns. These men will scare the bejebbers out of you. Their heads are plucked clean around a stiff and prickly roach. They paint their faces red and black with frightening masks and designs. They are usually bare legged and hunkered in trees, watching. My photos cannot capture the intensity of the paintings largely due to the reflections. I did not feel well enough to fight the issue, but I snapped what I could.

                                                           Model drives a COKE truck

I asked Doug why he paints the Shawnee. He doesn’t really know. He is crazy over Indian lore and just found researching the Woodland Indians so fascinating. The red color is abundant in his painting, as is the use of filtered light in the tree leaves. He paints from models, men who dress and portray the Shawnee. He says they look ferocious to him even. One of the models drives a COKE truck for his day job!

                                                                  Great red boots!

Outside guests were treated to free hamburgers, hot dogs, and chili cooked on a campfire. The wood smoke on the beautiful day smelled marvelous. The Cookie, as cooks on cattle drives used to be called, is actually a husband and wife team. The undercarriage of the cook wagon is original but the man built the wagon box new. It was an original Springfield wagon, built in Springfield, Missouri in its day. The owner made sure he trimmed the wagon with the dash of white stripes which was a pattern of the original wagon maker.


                                                      "What cha lookin at, Mister?"

We weren’t there long, but I soaked up everything I possibly could like I was a dry sponge! Someday when I am better and maybe on a cold day, I want to go down again and sit around that potbellied stove and soak up those beautiful paintings. Oh, but I will be watchful for any sudden movements out of those Woodland faces!!!