Thursday, December 31, 2020

Breaking Up Christmas

 Per family tradition, I'll spend today disassembling the Christmas tree so it will be out of the house before the New Year. The lights on the stairs and elsewhere will stay to cheer us through January's darkness, but I'll also begin to put away the red and green bits.

I'll set the black-eyed peas to soak and give thanks for the end of this horrible year. 

Though it's tempting to stay up till midnight to see the end of it (make sure it goes, as someone said,) it's been a while since we felt the need of waiting till midnight to toast the New Year. 

Instead, I'll be thinking of my blog friends in different time zones and raising a glass with them--Joan, Merisi, Therese, Miss Yves, Martin, and Andree --and all the rest of you, here and there. 

Goodbye, 2020--and good riddance!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

What's Up with the Castle People?

As most of you know, my corner cupboard, once the place I displayed special seasonal objets, is now half Josie territory. I still get the top two shelves but as she grows, her empire may move upward.

I'm always interested in how she arranges the Castle People. Often by the time she leaves, they are just a Big Mess but on Monday she left an interesting scene.

The horses and the Dire Wolf were on the second shelf with four Faery riders, pretty much as they'd been before.

On the bottom shelf though, Something was going on.

The two Magical Glass Barges (plastic tops from Christmas card boxes) seem to have become party boats.

This one's very crowded.

I think this king is propositioning the lady in blue. 

And this barge is atop a yellow rock, some of its passengers are caught in a net, and the purple queen has swooned.  Or something. It's her king that's propositioning the blue lady.  This king (whose wife is on the other barge party boat) looks to be having entirely too good a time considering the situation.

Meanwhile, trees and thimbles are congregating atop one of the castles.

And the party spirit has spread upward to the third shelf where Mary and Joseph have put Baby Jesus on a sled.


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Begging for Reviews--And Another Drawing

I'm beginning to hear from folks who've been reading Crows during the holidays and have been so delighted at the lovely things they've said. 

Now if only they would put those nice words into a review-- on Goodreads or Amazon (two of the most influential spots for gaining new readers.) As I've said before--a review doesn't have to be long or like a book report--just your reaction to the book is fine. 

As before, I'm going to do a drawing from those who do a review and ask to be included in the drawing. Do several reviews nd I'll put your name in several times.  At the end of February, I'll draw two names and each will win an elegant mug with the Crows book cover illustration (without the words.) If your name was in the pot for the first drawing, it will stay there for this one--unless you were a winner already. (Note that the streaks on the mug pictured are reflections, not part of the mug.)

 More about the writing of Crows HERE


Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Christmas Elf

Our tradition is for the youngest (that's been Justin for a long time) to be the Christmas Elf and get the presents, one at a time, from under the tree and hand them to the designated recipient. This year, Josie was the elf. She had to have help reading the tags but she cheerfully did her job, even when she might have preferred to play with her new stuff.

Like the amazing No Drama Dolly Llama her Aunt Aileen crocheted.

Or her tool kit with a power drill that makes sounds.

I'm embarrassed to see how few pictures I took but between trying to keep a record of what gifts were from whom and trying to make sure the roast beast didn't get overdone and that the puff pastry mince tarts got assembled and cooked, well, I just failed as the photographer.

Things were quieter yesterday and I had to get a better picture of that llama. For those of you who were around last year, you may remember the HUGE pink octopus Aileen made. 

This year it was this gorgeous, cuddly llama and a beautiful red afghan--(as well as a cardigan for Claui of which I didn't get a picture.)

Our friend Louise, who is a skilled basket maker, working mostly in willow these days, gave us this beautiful basket. She said it was an experiment but I think it's a work of art. 

So many skilled makers! I love the story that came with the cozy blue afghan from our niece Amelia. She worked on it, she said, while sitting with her son Lucas and helping him focus on his second-grade Zoom classes. A multi-tasking pandemic mama, for sure!

And John surprised me with these handsome mugs and shopping bags, adorned with the Crows logo. Perfect!

I have it in mind to offer some of these in another drawing . . .
More later . . .


Friday, December 25, 2020

Happy Holiday!!!

We still decorated, as usual, but went for a smaller tree in a different location. A much more manageable size that doesn't require younger helpers--we'll probably do the same next year.  

Instead of the usual feast with lots of folks, it will be  just Claui, Justin, and Josie--and I know how lucky we are to have them.  Ethan and Aileen are staying safe in Georgia.

This little bear below (Barry Bear, according to Josie) seems to me to epitomize this Christmas. I found him shoved back behind a framed picture when I was putting lights on the living room bookcase. He'd been forgotten for years. Back when a dog (I don't even remember which one) brought him home in a chewed up condition. I started to try to mend him then abandoned the task. But something about that little bear wouldn't let me throw him out--instead I put him aside and forgot him. 

When I found him, this year of all years, it seemed important to give him another chance. I sewed up the rips in his fur and gave him new button eyes and a little scarf. Then, since I had them out, I gave him some more buttons. 

Like all of us, he's seen hard times. But he's happy to be here for another Christmas--and to have a little girl to protect him from dogs.


Thursday, December 24, 2020

Miss Birdie's Full House


Why, honey, how good it is to see you. And look at that basket—tangerines and all manner of good things, I know. Just set it down there, I won’t ask you to come in the house but on this mild day we can set a spell out here in the sun. Crazy weather for December, ain’t it?—that little shower first thing this morning and now the sun shining. Look how it sets the drops alight on my little cedar tree there.

Why yes, hit’s just planted. I took me a notion I’d like a little cedar to look at and Bernice’s boy dug one out of his pasture and brung it over and planted it yesterday. He put that bow atop it and said it could be my Christmas.

Get you that rocker there at the other end of the porch and we’ll holler at one another.

You uns doing good up there? Not no one taken this dreadful virus since last we visited? Now, that’s just fine.

No, I ain’t going to Dor’thy’s for Christmas Day like usual. Ain’t nothing usual about this year, is there? Oh, Dor’thy’s all right, so far, but one of her friends from church has got the Covid and she visited Dor’thy right before she got sick. So Dor’thy’s been tested and is waiting to see what happens.

I’ll be just fine—I got all kinds of food on hand. Hit’ll be a quiet day but I don’t mind that. I’ve had a plenty of them quiet days and you know what? Hit’s those quiet times that send me back to the past, remembering good times . . .  It’s right quare . . . sometimes this little house seems just full of folks from times gone by and I can hear them laughing and funning and singing just as plain . . .

Now you’ll likely think I’m crazy but what I do is to stretch out in my recliner and close my eyes. That old heater is roaring and I can smell the spice-smell of the bowl of tangerines at my side and the gingerbread cooling in the kitchen. I just drift, warm and at my ease, and afore long I hear Luther, telling Cletus the Christmas story and Cletus asking questions like why didn’t Mary and Joseph come here for he would have let them have his room. And then seems like I hear a whole crowd of folks a-jabbering away and someone calls for quiet and Nellmarie, who was a young woman what lived with us for a time, starts to sing “I Wonder As I Wander” and her pretty voice is a clear as a bell a-ringing.

 I just lay there with my eyes squinched tight and quick as Nellamarie’s song dies away, fiddle music starts up and it’s all I can do to hold still. Hit sounds like old Bill Gentry—one of Luther’s cousins—who was the best musicianer you ever heard. By now I am grinning like a fool and hit’s just as well ain’t no one here with me for I am having me a time, just laying there in the recliner.

You don’t think I’m crazy, do you? I see how you’re smiling. But, honey, ever since I lost Luther and then Cletus, I’ve learned to be content with my own company . . . and my good memories.

Now, you know I got some Cherokee blood—my mama didn’t like to talk of it but her mama, my Granny Beck, was half Cherokee and she used to tell me stories. Those are part of my good memories. It was last week that I remembered what she told me about the cedar tree—and it got me to thinking as how I’d like a little cedar in the yard where I could see it everwhen I wanted. Bernice’s boy is awful good to humor this old woman, don’t you think? Why, he 's going to get me a new little TV now that the old one has quit working. 

What’s the story about the cedar? Well, hit goes like this. Seems like way back when the Cherokee were first here, they got together and decided they’d like things better if there weren’t no night. So they begged God to make it day all the time and that’s what happened. No night at all and the corn and the squash and the beans was growing like one thing.

Pretty soon though, all the growing things was just running wild and couldn’t nobody keep the weeds outen the gardens. And it got awful hot and folks got dreadful bad tempered and ill at one another.

Pretty soon, the people saw they’d made a bad mistake and they begged God to make it night all the time instead. Now God knew that things were made in twos for a reason—night and day, good and bad, and so on and though God thought the folks was awful silly, God went ahead and did like the folks was asking.

Well, you can imagine how it went. Dark all the time, didn’t no crops grow; it got dreadful cold and the people had to spend all their time looking for wood for their fires. Many of the people took sick and the older and weaker ones begun to die off.

The folks that was left finally come to their senses and asked God to put things back like they’d been at the start—day and night, light and dark. And once again, God did like they asked. Soon things went back to how they should be and the crops began to grow and the people thanked God for fixing their mistake. 

God felt bad, though, on account of all the folks what had died during that long night and decided to invent a new tree to put their souls into. And that was the first cedar tree. My Granny Beck always kept a bit of cedar wood nearby—she said the smell of it always lifted her spirits.

And that’s what that little cedar yon does for me. Looky there, the sun's starting to drop behind the mountain but see how it sets to shining those drops still clinging to the lacy green branches? Granny would have said that each one of those little lights is one of my Cherokee ancestors. So you see, betwixt the spirits in the tree and the memory folks in the house, I ain’t a bit lonely this Christmas.

And I'll tell you what else. With a vaccine on the way and a good and sensible president a-coming in, and a fine woman for his vice president— a woman, after all this time--how happy I am! My heart is jest a-singing!

Law, there goes the sun. Without it shining on us, it's too cold to set out here and listen to an old woman's foolishness. You best get on home. I thank you for my Christmas and, if nothing don't happen, I'll hug your neck afore long. Now, you uns take care of one another and make you some good memories to save up.


She was in her Jeep and halfway home when she noticed the foil-wrapped loaf on the seat beside her. Drat! How did it fall out of the basket?  Shaking her head, she turned around to deliver the cranberry bread to Miss Birdie. 

More rain seemed to be on the way and the lights from Birdie's house were cheery in the gloom of the late afternoon. She hurried to the porch. . . but stopped at the sound of a fiddle and voices raised in song. A beautiful haunting melody ended and was followed by a buzz of talk and a burst of friendly laughter as Cletus asked when Santy would get here. 

It was cold now and she returned quietly to her car, leaving the loaf on a rocker and Birdie with her house full of memories.




Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Josie Has the Christmas Spirit

Christmas is almost here! Meema and Grumpy have a beautiful tree . . .

And my dog Benny has a fancy sweater. BobaDog, who has a warm fur suit, made fun of him but Benny did not care because he likes being warm. 

Meema and Grumpy's tree has ornaments made by lots of people--Meema and Grumpy made some and there are some my daddy made when he was a little boy. There are some made by my Grandma and by Aileen's mother and by Cory's grandmother (these two are people I do not know) but there were none by me Josie because I took the other ones I made home. 

So Meema helped me and I got to work. I could not use buttons this time because they were in the closet behind the tree and Meema said NO we could not move the tree. But she had star stickers.

I did a heart and a Christmas tree and hung them up.

And I found a package under the tree to me Josie and it said OPEN NOW! and it was a  big ornament with pink glitter and a picture of me and Mama and Daddy in the dragon suits we wore for Halloween. 


I hung it on the tree for a little while but I will take it home to hang on my tree.

When I was done with the ornaments, I decided to make a paper airplane. It is tricky but Meema helped and we made it zoom.

I love Christmas time! When I come back on Wednesday, Meema says I can open one present. There are lots under the tree and Grumpy said they were all for him but I have looked and there are some for me.  

I am so excited!!!!