End of January

Hard to believe that tomorrow is the last day of January.  It is still pretty much snow-less in these parts and thankfully not bitterly cold.  After last winter, we are not complaining.

So – no snow to speak of and most of the landscape is dull and the skies are more often cloudy and gray.  What do you do?  I started pulling up some photos in the archives (the external hard drive) and with the help of a plug in with a VERY old Photoshop program began creating mandalas.

Mirage4-1This was a picture of the cat (see all the eyes?)  It makes an interesting mandala and opened up a whole new way to create things.  I got a few prints and made some cards and we’ll see how they fly.  I have squared some off, isolated the circle image and added different background color in others.  Below, I share just a couple more of the mandalas.

 

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These are just a couple of examples.  Get your own creative juices flowing this winter!

 

A little snow

Holy CrowSo far, this winter has been pretty quiet.

No snowstorms, no below zero days or nights…as a matter of fact before a squall the other day covered the lawn there was still a lot of green in it.  A big difference over last winter  and I for one am not complaining.  But that might change this weekend.

We are not supposed to have as much snow as the coastal areas – at least at this time looking forward.  On the Facebook pages about the weather people either are clamoring for a good snowstorm or they are perfectly happy to not be shoveling.  But I do hear the beginning grumblings of people looking forward to Spring.  I’m just happy that I am not yet looking out the window through the huge icicles that formed, turning the house into an ice prison of sorts.

No matter what winter does, it is a good time for me to do some reading, clean up some digital files, and generally slow down for a little while after the hectic Holiday season. Perhaps even get my butt in gear and make more entries on the page.

And that’s not such a bad thing :)

Heading toward a new year

P1290158-1I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday, whether Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa…or another celebration.

Our “Family Christmas” was held yesterday, the day after Christmas.  The two little ones lit up the room at my sisters’ home and the rest of us just relaxed, shared a meal (and too many candies!)  The weather has been unseasonably warm but that is supposed to change in the next day or so and we should see our first measurable snow.  Then sleet and freezing rain.

As the new year approaches, I have abandoned the habit of wishing for a BETTER year but for the grace to appreciate whatever comes.  Shortly after 2015 began I broke my shoulder/arm and still somewhat feel some limitations in other ways.  We grow older, things change.  Life changes.

But we can embrace life in its fullness each and every day.  We may have new limits but new horizons also open up for us.  Do you see these as stumbling blocks or stepping stones?  I prefer to see them as the stepping stones.

Wishing all of you the very best, and thank you for being with me these many years.  Happy New Year!!

It’s Getting Close

NativityI can’t believe Christmas is just a few days away!

A few reasons…we have had no measurable snow, and it has been warmer than usual (although the past 2 days were more seasonal and a couple of small ponds showed slight signs of beginning to freeze.) Another thing, I’m just about ready which in itself is a miracle, if you know what I mean!

It just seems like each year summer ends and Fall whizzes by.  Maybe because we are all so busy in the Fall…and it is such a beautiful time of the year.  But winter comes in and things for the most part slow down.  As you move along through life that’s not such a bad thing. In the meantime, we have our holidays.

The Christmas season (or whatever holiday you celebrate) reminds us that we are called to be people of hope in the midst of hopeless situations and world affairs.  Each observation reminds us that we are more than just pieces on a cosmic game board. That there is something greater than ourselves to keep the hope alive.  That we may pass it along and hopefully watch those coming up behind us take the torch and run with it.  To work together.  To respect one another.  An age old longing rekindled at this time of the year, year after year.

Wishing you peace, health, happiness and most of all…love.

Advent

advent wreathI just got back Sunday afternoon  from an Advent Silent Retreat at the Dominican Retreat and Conference Center.

As the pace picks up going toward Christmas, it’s always good to take a little time in silence to reflect, regroup and be renewed.   Although it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (or coffee…) we can all benefit from stepping back from the crazy activity that we are all engaged in presently.  No matter which holiday we celebrate.

It is still warm here for December…the grass is still green and snow is at least a few days off.  Maybe even a few weeks – who knows!  I have some decorations up, and enjoy driving around and seeing all of the lights.  As a matter of fact, I think it would be wonderful to have lights up until March.  It would sure help those dark cold days of winter pass a bit more pleasantly.  We human creatures are drawn to light, to warmth.  But it is in the cold bleak days that our appreciation for the season of bloom and plenty increases.  To every thing there is a season.  Take a bit of time out of your whirlwind schedule.

Breathe.  And Be.

Black Friday

sunrise112715Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Things were relatively quiet here as we had the ”’short” version…6 instead of 10.  (small family!)  But we ate enough for 10. The weather was wonderful…on the warm side and no snow like last year  Now we begin leftovers which in our opinion are as good as the main feast.

So, on Black Friday morning, the sun rose beautifully red (cloudy now at 4PM) and it was a day off.  No shopping or crowd fighting…just puttering around, putting up a small tree on the front porch and a good long nap.  Tonight a friend and I will go out for coffee and catch up on what our turkey day was like.

This weekend, Advent begins.  And we move toward Christmas for us – Hanukkah, Milad un Nabi,  or Kwanzaa for our other friends.  And for the most part, the wish for Peace on Earth is present to the majority of people.

May it be so.

Back to standard time

Did you all enjoy the extra hour of sleep last night?  I celebrated by staying up an hour later.  Had a good day where  got out to a couple of places for photos…now, at 4:45 the outside light is growing dim.  The shorter days are really coming in.

P1270793-1GLIt started out as a very gray day but I decided to go out anyway, and then the sun came out.  It is on the warm side for the beginning of November and the humidity made for a bit of a haze for just a while.  In some places, the trees are bare and in other places, they are still green!  It has been an odd fall i that you will see dull or no color, then turn a corner and…color!

collins 2 GLBut it won’t be long before we have no leaves, and things will be on the very dull side until the first clinging snowfall.  I am always a bit sad to see the color leave but I guess it makes us appreciate every season just a little bit more.  It is also time to start thinking about Thanksgiving.  And then Christmas.

Where DID the time go?

Mid October

fallOK..a little past mid-October.

It is an interesting Fall…still a lot of green yet some places have trees that are already bare.  You see a dull area, then turn a corner and some brightly colored trees await.  We did have some color and a very cold day for my retreat day on Sunday…we even had a sleet and then a snow squall.

For now, all the retreat work for the year is done.  It’s time to start thinking of Thanksgiving and already, the needed items are being stocked here on the home front.  I get out a little here and there for photos of course, and wonder just where summer went!  This past weekend, the first killing frost showed up and killed the super coleus that bloomed so magnificently over the summer.  Everything has its time, and the time for the coleus had come…and gone.

And so, mentally it is time to prepare for a long winters’ nap.  Or something like that!

My own retreat!

P1240866-1Most of the retreats I am away on are “working retreats” so every now and then it’s nice to just take a little time away to renew, and to get ideas for the upcoming presentations.  Since they are all nature based, what better than a small cabin/ hermitage where you can take advantage of the quiet?  I did just that last week, spending a couple of days at MY “go to” place for retreat…Still Point.

The photo above is the cabin I stayed in (there are 4…and one is a double cabin.) The weather was perfect…a little rain, a little wind (well, a lot of wind one day) and a little sunshine.P1240851-1  There is a Nature Trail, a pond and woods around the cabin  A perfect place when you crave quiet.  Normally, I will fix my own meals and bring books to read.  There are also programs that you can attend if that is what you like to do.  Not every day, but a few offerings throughout each month.

Mostly, though, I love o absorb the beauty around me…to listen to the birds and crickets at this time of year, to watch the squirrels and chipmunks running around the cabin…it’s a great place to renew and come back refreshed.  A few more photos below, and you can also check out the link at the top of this page.

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Back from the Mountains

PLC1I got back from leading 2 retreats at Pyramid Life Center about 9 days ago.

It is always so beautiful up there, and the weather could not have been better.  Not too hot, not too cold, and NO BUGS!  No mosquitoes, black flies, deer flies…it was like Heaven.  And the people I spent the time with were awesome…some I’ve known since I started up there years ago (2015 was my 10th year presenting) and some new people come in each year.  The loons were not as noisy this year and I only saw one from my observation point but those who got out on the water saw 2-3 of them.

PLC2Pyramid Lake is not too far from the High Peaks area…up around Paradox and is one of only 2 “pure” lakes in the Adirondack Mountains.  Meaning, not affected by acid rain.  Great care is taken to make sure any incoming canoes or kayaks are sanitized before going out on the lake, to protect against invasive species.  I heard also that the fishing was excellent as well this year.  I miss being able to get out in the kayaks or out on the trails like I used to but there is still a lot to see and do.  Life abounds there, and the area (over 700 acres) is in fairly pristine conditions.

PLC3And the evenings…pure magic.  The air was soft and smelled of the mountains.  On clear nights the view of the sky, even with the guide lights along the pathways, is spectacular.  These photos are only a small glimpse of the beauty that surrounds you.  It’s tough work doing the retreats there but someone has to do it.  And I am more than happy to oblige.

There comes the day though when you have to come down off the mountain.  Back to the busy everyday life but that’s not so bad either.  A balance in life is vital, and we all need wild areas as well as the community areas to keep life interesting.

John Muir wrote:Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

Take some time to find YOUR “mountain.”