Category Archives: holidays

Twenty Thirteen

It is a new year.  At least by the Gregorian calendar it is.  The calendar we use is named after Pope Gregory XIII who introduced it 1582.  It replaced the less accurate Julian calendar.  The Gregorian calendar is accurate relative to the length of a solar year, but boring.  Most of the months are named after mythical gods or Latin numbers.

In China, 2013 is the year of the snake.  The Chinese calendar is way more interesting than ours.  It’s filled with creatures and complex explanations of the attributes of months, years, signs, etc.  Chinese New Year falls on February 10th this year, so I guess it’s not quite the year of the snake yet.  It is still the year of the dragon.  I was born in the year of the dragon, tempered by the element of wood.  You can do a search on that to find out how that makes me special.  🙂  I was not only born in the year of the dragon, I am a Capricorn.  A woman I worked with once (many years ago) who was from Thailand, told me that in her country, in the time I was born, I probably would have been killed because I was girl born under two very powerful signs.  She said that in her culture, there was too much power in that combination for a woman.  I’m glad I was born in America.

2013 AD (or CE, you pick) correlates with the Jewish years 5770-5771.  Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of the Jewish new year.  This year the celebration will start on September 4th.  By far I like the history of the Jewish calendar the most.  It started on the 6th day of creation, the day that Adam and Eve were created.  I can’t hazard a guess as to how much time transpired prior to the day of the creation of man or to how old the earth is, because God exists outside of time.  The thing that the Jewish calendar is missing for me, though, is Jesus.

So, despite its relative mundanity, my favorite calendar is the Gregorian one…the one that marks time relative to the birth of Jesus (likely inaccurate by years as well as months and days).  I like that every time a reference is made to the year, that a quiet recognition is made to His very existence.

Happy New Year!  Happy 2013 years (give or take) after Christ’s birth.


Forever 39

My best friend, Connie, died a few months before her 40th birthday.  Today would have been her 47th birthday.

I think she would have disliked getting older, and eventually old.

She would have loved seeing her oldest son becoming homecoming king at his college, and having even more fun in college than she did.  She would have loved seeing her oldest daughter get married, and loved having a son-in-law.  She would have loved seeing her youngest son working along side her dad making and fixing stuff.  And she would have loved seeing her youngest daughter become the quintessential young lady.  She would have loved hearing her kids laugh together as nearly grown ups.  She would have loved looking forward to grandchildren.  She would have loved being able to celebrate all the wedding anniversaries she has missed.  I and her husband (my brother) have toasted to her with a bottle of Dom on their anniversary every year since she left.  She would have loved all that great champagne that I got drink instead.

But she would have hated having to wear reading glasses just to be able to read her watch.  She would have been frustrated with her hands losing strength and her fingers getting crooked and stiff.  She would have hated that sometimes hopping out of bed would be more like groaning and rolling out.  She would NOT have been on board with the whole “the spirit is willing, but the body is weak” thing that happens with age.  She would have not liked anything about aging that would have slowed her down.

She’s missed all that good stuff and will miss a lot more…but she has missed the bad stuff, too, including the creaky parts of aging.  I know that she is likely laughing at me wearing readers and pushing ever closer to 50 every time her birthday rolls around and she still gets to be 39…forever 39.

The Christmas Code

I grew up on Bungalow Street.  It isn’t a weird street name to people who grew up in my town, but when I started to make friends outside of my little town, I learned it was a little odd.

There were lots of big families in my town.  There are six siblings in my own family.  That didn’t seem like a big family, until I started to make friends outside of my little town.  The biggest family on the three blocks of my street had 11 kids.   That was a big family, but certainly not the biggest in town.

The next door neighbors had five kids.  And when Christmas came ’round, they turned into a very crafty and sneaky bunch of kids.  I don’t know if their parents ever knew, but they would surreptitiously unwrap each of the presents under the tree before Christmas and then rewrap them so that nothing seemed to be amiss on Christmas morning.  And so they’d know what they were all getting.

My mom was a little bit crafty and sneaky herself.  She would not put our names on our gifts.  She came up with a new code every year.  Sometimes she would number the presents, or she would mix up the names on them.  Even if we would have opened the presents (which I’m not sure we ever would have, but she wasn’t taking any chances) we wouldn’t ever know who they were actually for…so what would be the point.

Kudos to my mom for her pro-activity in keeping Christmas a surprise!

What about you?  Did you ever try to find out what you were getting before Christmas?  Did your parents do anything devious like my mother did?

La Mort En Rose

Some Parisian cemeteries are destinations.  We (okay, it was me, not we) picked Cimetière du Père Lachaise because it is where Edith Piaf (singer of La Vie En Rose) is buried.  Also, it’s famed for its beauty in all of Paris.

We went on Halloween, just because, well, why not?  This was part of the decoration of one of the “sepulcres”, and seemed appropriate for the day:

There were many other visitors to the cemetary.  And lots of chrysanthemums, which I learned after returning home is the flower best known for remembering the dead (the article pointed out that mums should never be taken as a hostess gift).  So, there were not just touristy types at the cemetery that day, but people coming (often with mums in tow) to honor loved ones and notables who had passed.

I was expecting a large and beautiful gravesite for Edith Piaf.  But it was small and simple.  In fact, if not for the other people visiting the site, we might not have found it.  Edith Piaf was not her given name.

Fittingly, those visiting her grave brought roses…

The cemetery was laid out much like a randomly plotted city.  There were winding cobblestone roads marked with street signs.

In a number of strategic locations there were “roadmaps” to assist in the location of gravesites.

This “city” is also the final resting place of Modigliani, Molière, and Jim Morrison.

The “notable” M’s

We didn’t look for Modigliani’s or Molière’s graves, but we did seek out Jim Morrison’s.  I also expected somewhat of a spectacle for his grave.  But it was even more simple than Edith Piaf’s.  His was, however, surrounded by a low fence to keep his fans from getting too close.

Nearby trees and light standards have been turned into message boards of a sort for those who come to visit.

Even the wads of gum stuck to the tree have messages written on them.

There is no shortage of beautiful art or architecture in this city within a city.

As it was late fall, the leaves had mostly turned color and many had fallen.

Those that remained in the trees lining the cobbled streets made the place just a little bit golden, and a whole lot beautiful.

This trailing vine was hanging on to its smashing color and looking mighty fashionable as it decorated a grave largely forgotten over time…

While it was not in the least a creepy place, I don’t think I’d want to be there during the night time.  But if you ever are lucky enough to get to go to Paris, add “visit the Cimetière du Père Lachaise” to your “must do” list.

La Toussaint: Sur Le Coin

We decided to save Les Catacombes (the catacombs) for our last day in Paris.

November 1st.

Bad decision.

In France, November 1st is called La Toussaint, or All Saints Day, and it is a national holiday.  Which means the catacombs were fermés , closed.  Daaaaaaaaaaang.  Being a national holiday, pretty much everything “touristy” was closed.

It was a gray and darkish overcast day, our day for the catacombs.  It would have been PERFECT!  But, c’est la vie (c’est la mort??), our plans for the day required reworking.  As we had not had breakfast we decided to eat at a corner cafe called Café Du Rendez-Vous, which was right down the street from the catacombs…and it was open!  We picked a place outside so we could observe the bustle of the corner from a close perspective.

We settled in under the white and red striped awning and ordered the not so very frenchy sounding “Breakfast” from our waitress who spoke absolutely lovely English.  🙂

It started with a generous basket of fresh breads with butter, jams, and Nutella.  My choice was the croissant which I smeared with Nutella and would have died a very happy woman, had I died that is.  Orange juice, café crème, water basted eggs, and a little glass pot of plain yogurt (into which I stirred just enough apricot jam to make it a wee bit fruity) rounded out the meal.  I could have had bacon with it, too, but I passed on that.  When the plates of food were brought out, another small pail of bread joined the jumble of dishes, and glasses, and cups filling two small round cafe tables.

As we dined, the rain started.  And it was a GOOD rain, too!  So, in sight of the closed entrance to the catacombs, we sat, and talked, and watched…and I took pictures!

And while we sat and just enjoyed being in Paris, others who planned their day around Les Catacombes came and went away disappointed…

I allowed myself to be disappointed as I really wanted to see this bizarre sight.  But the rain and clouds lifted after a few hours and the rest of the day was spent enjoying long walks down broad boulevards, coffee on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, window shopping at Cartier and Louis-Vuitton, and a walk along the Seine to watch the lights of the Eiffel Tower ignite for the last time.  We came across a photography exhibit and river house boats.  And the smell of something sweet and delicate wafted through the air.  We followed our noses to a street creperie where ordered crêpes chocolat.  The guy making the crêpes was an artist.  So cool to watch him fry up those delicate circles.  And the final result was even better than the my earlier “could have died happy” croissant with Nutella.  After one last look at the preposterously gorgeous Eiffel Tower, we made our way back to the 2nd arrondissemont and our apartment where we packed to get ready for an early leave back to the Charles de Gaulle airport the following morning.

Paris far exceeded my expectations.

“Go to Paris” was never on my list…but I daresay “Go back to Paris” is.

Good news of great joy…

    In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to their own town to register.So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

    And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you:   You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

    Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

    “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

    When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

    So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

    Luke 2:1-20


    If not for Jesus’ birth, there would be no such thing as Christmas…remember this as you celebrate today.

To Those Who Serve(d) So Gallantly

On this weekend where we take time to remember and celebrate those who have fought for freedom’s cause, here is a gift from a class of 3rd graders:

Nothing I can say could be put better than this.

Happy Thanksgiving

For all of you in the States, a Happiest of Thanksgivings to you!

“I’ll be back.”

Some think that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “I’ll be back” line is the best movie line ever.  Others perhaps think Rhett Butler’s “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” takes that honor.  Me?  I am thinking I’m partial to this one:

My dad will like this  for sure, so I think it’s fitting to put this clip here as a Happy Fathers’ Day shout out to my pop!

Mothers’ Day

My Mom is in town visiting for Mothers’ Day.  This has become a tradition since the migration to Colorado started.

Kayla (from my Zambia team) wanted to see what my Mom looks like, so, Kayla, here’s me and my Mom, Cheryl, at a Mother’s Day luncheon yesterday.

So glad to have you here, Mom!

My Mom and Me, Mothers' Day 2009 by you.

My Mom doesn’t know how to use a computer, maybe her friend Ruth will come on by here and print up this picture for her!)

“Aspenglow” – Words and Music by John Denver

Not unfamiliar with the music of John Denver by any means, I was amazed listening to the radio the other night to hear this song.  How did I get to be as old as I am without ever hearing one of the most practically perfect songs ever written?  The lyrics are uncomplicated and not profound, but they are woven together with a light and delicate musical arrangement and sung in the crystal clear voice that only John Denver possessed.

See the sunlight through the pine
Taste the warm of winter wine
Dream of softly falling snow
Winter’s gold, Aspenglow

As the winter days unfold
Hearts grow warmer with the cold
Peace of mind is all you know
Winter’s gold, Aspenglow

Aspen is a life to live
See how much there is to give
See how strongly you believe
See how much you may receive

Smiling faces all around
Laughter is the only sound
Memories that can’t grow old
Winter’s gold, Aspenglow

Aspen is a life to live
See how much there is to give
See how strongly you believe
See how much you may receive

See the sunlight through the pine
Taste the warm of winter wine
Dream of softly falling snow
Winter’s gold, Aspenglow

Unable to find an online player that would play the full length song, I resorted to a YouTube video.  Listen especially to the music.  It’s divine.


I gave my nephew Mitchell a pair of snow overalls (what I call “snowveralls”) for Christmas.  When he opened them up and pulled them from the box, his mom asked him if he knew what they were. 

 Almost without hesitation he nearly shouted…  “OVARIES!”.

True story.  I was there!

The Wind She Is A Blowin’

It’s only gusting at 40 mph, but sitting in my living room it sounds like the shingles are blowing off the roof.

I hope the wind is going to blow in a lovely snowstorm for the weekend…although I hope for a good snow, it could keep me from getting out and finishing my shopping list.

It’s the 18th of December.  Christmas is less than a week away.  I have not only not wrapped, packed, and mailed my gifts for those afar off, but I haven’t even finished shopping for them, let alone for those who live locally.  No Christmas cards this year.  No decorations up either (although I am choosing to not decorate this year because my new kitten has few manners yet and would be chewing on lights, batting ornaments off the tree, maybe trying to climb the tree…I wouldn’t have the time even if I was going to decorate).  Not a single Christmas treat baked.  How on earth did I get so far behind this year?  I thought I was unprepared for Christmas last year, but this year is my personal best at excellent lack of planning!  🙂

I have tomorrow and the weekend and that’s it.  I work the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th, all day long!  Now, I am off to try to get the gifts I do have wrapped and ready to go!  I think I’ll have to lock the cats in a room to keep them from “helping”.

Photo Friday – “Christmas Lights”

Today’s Photo Friday challenge sends us in search of Christmas Lights.  I looked on my hard drive and found this. 

I would like to play more with lights in motion in the future.  This is a very monochromatic look and would like to see what I could capture with multiple colored lights.

2006 Christmas Lights Two by you.

Don’t forget to Mr. Linky your entry if you are playing.  Please visit the other players sites and tell them what you think of their entries this week!

Photo Friday – “Thanksgiving”

If you are reading this post, you will know that I was unable to access my computer to update it and have scheduled an automatic posting of this. 

I headed to Aspen yesterday morning with my cousin, Julie, and her kids to spend the holiday with another of our cousins, Jean, and her family.  I took my computer in hopes of gaining internet access, but haven’t.  I will update this with a true PF post upon my return.

As of this writing, there is snow in the forecast, so the roads might be messy and our plans might have changed due to that at any point going or coming home!

Thanks to my friends Vickie and Carmen for taking prodigious care of my kitties in my absence!

Check back!


O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. 
For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.
The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.
O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.”

Psalm 95:1-6

In the midst of all the chaos and uncertainty that the world has to offer, the Lord is my refuge, my strength, and my provider, and for that, I am truly thankful.

May you all have the Happiest of Thanksgivings, or at least the most Thankful of Thanksgivings.

Happy Birthday, Connie

This is a day where we as Americans remember and honor those who have fought for us and our freedoms, and fought so that others could enjoy the same freedoms we do.  It is a day where I remember and honor them.  It also happens to be the birthday of my best friend and sister-in-law, Connie.  Today I remember and honor her as well.

Connie was as brave as any soldier and truer than all.

This is Connie’s fourth birthday away from us.  She would have been 43.  I liked it when she had her birthday because it meant that for a few short weeks, we were the same age and she couldn’t needle me about being older than her, which I was, by a little over 10 and a half months.

It’s really more like the fourth anniversary of her 39th birthday.  I’m way older than her now.  That probably delights her…


I miss her as much today as I think I ever have.

Happy Birthday, America

It’s always kind of weird to celebrate the fourth of July in a foreign country.  Especially in countries where people are constantly watching you, like they will be in Malawi. 

I took red/white/and blue tablecloths, some r/w/b star necklaces, and little U.S. flags.  I think we’ll make all the food be r/w/b at lunch and maybe sing happy birthday.  But that’s it.  I don’t know that Malawians would understand us making a big fuss out of our country’s birthday.

Even though I often leave her, I love America.  She’s not perfect, but the only reason she’s not perfect is because people live there.  But I love Americans, too.  As individuals they are the most generous and giving.  They are free-thinkers.  They are full of ingenuity.  They love to work and love to play.  Their interests are as varied as the people themselves are.  America is a land of opportunities.  With enough drive, pretty much anyone can become pretty much whatever they dream to be.

So, from near the heart of Africa, while eating red, white, and blue, food, I wish you, America, a happy birthday.

(Posted in absentia)

I Love You, Daddy!

Yeah, another holiday I’m missing…

Thanks for taking care of Mew Ling again.  That’s just the most awesome thing you do for me.

You’re the best daddy ever!  🙂  (And the best grandpa ever, too!)

And not just because you watch Mew Ling!


(Posted in absentia)

Memorial Day, 2008

To those who have served, who will serve, and to the families of those who have fallen while serving their country, their countrymen, and me…

Thank you.

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