HAPPY SOLSTICE TO ALL – KIM HARRISON

Sunrise - Winter Solstice - New England

Sunrise – Winter Solstice – New England

From Kim Harrison, a happy Hollows Solstice!


 ‘Twas the Night of the Solstice

by Kim Harrison


‘Twas the week before Christmas, and up in the Hollows,
Solstice bonfires were burning, to toast the marshmallows.

The pixies were snug in their stump, even Jenks,
Who claimed he was tired, and needed some winks.

 So I in my parka, and Ivy in her boots,
Were toasting the season, with thirty-year hooch.

When out in the street, there came such a crash,
I thought that it had to be ‘coons in our trash.

Away to the gate, I trudged through the snow,
While Ivy just said, “If it’s Kist, say hello.”

I lifted the latch, and peered to the street,
My face went quite cold.  We were in it thigh deep.

‘Twas a demon, who stood in the headlamps quite bright,
With his coat of green velvet, and his uncommon height.

His eyes, how they glittered, his teeth how they gnashed,
His voice, how he bellowed, his tongue, how it lashed

The street wasn’t holy, so on Big Al came,
As he bellowed, and shouted, and called me by name.

“Morgan, you witch.  You’re a pain in my side.
“Get out of your church.  There’s no place to hide!”

Like hell’s fury unleashed, he strode to my door,
Where he hammered and cursed, like a cheap jilted whore.

But Ivy and I, we circled round back,
To stand in the street and prepare for attack.

“You loser,” I shouted.  “I’m waiting for you.”
And the demon, he spun, taking on a red hue.

Ivy stood ready, and I whispered, “Okay . . .
“If he wants to get rough, I’m ready to play.”

With nary a word, us two girls got to work,
Putting foot into gut, of the soul-sucking jerk.

I circled him quick, with a few words of Latin,
While Ivy distracted him with lots of good wackin’

“Get back!” I yelled out when my trap was complete,
And Ivy somersaulted right over the creep.

My circle sprang up, entrapping him surely,
Al fussed and he fumed, like a demonic fury.

The neighbors all cheered, and came out of their houses,
Where they’d watched the whole thing, like little house mouses.

So Ivy and I, we both bowed real low,
Then banished Big Al, in an overdone show.

But I heard Al exclaim, ‘ere he poofed from our sight
“You won this time witch, but I’ll get you one night!”

– – – – –

Kim Harrison, December 14th, 2005

(Last-minute gift givers, I’ve got your The Turn is coming card for under the tree right here: http://www.kimharrison.net/BookPages/TT/TurnSignedCopy.html )

MAIN STREET DRESSED FOR THE PARTY

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – December 21, 2016


It’s the winter solstice today. The shortest day of the year … and just two days until Christmas Eve. Welcome to our town. It’s after dark and we are all dressed up for the holidays.

Main Street after dark

Main Street after dark

Main Street southbound

Main Street southbound

The Rectory on the Common

The Rectory on the Common

Cee which way photo challenge

CELEBRATING OURSELVES – SHARING MY WORLD, SPECIAL HOLIDAY EDITION 2016

SHARE YOUR WORLD – SPECIAL HOLIDAY EDITION 2016


What is your favorite holiday?

happy-anniversary-september-deck-09132016_019

Our anniversary. I know it’s not a national or religious holiday, but that’s part of why I enjoy it. No pressure. We can do a lot, a little, nothing … or delay it until the time is more convenient. It’s our personal holiday. We can do whatever we like.

What types of food is associated with your holiday?

Sushi in Dunham

If it is just us — and it usually is — Japanese. Sushi, sashimi, and tempura. The last time we went out — and I think it was, indeed our anniversary, we realized the rice we cook at home is better than the stuff they are serving in the restaurants. My green tea is better, too. We have become rice and tea snobs. Now, if I could just master the art of tempura!

Do you travel for your holiday?

Frequently, yes. It’s a good time of year, mid-September. It’s one of the reasons we chose that date to have the wedding.

Good weather, usually. It is past the worst heat of summer, but before the danger of snow. Also, hopefully, it’s not in the middle of hurricane season. We’ve traveled to Cooperstown twice (that’s upstate New York). To Maine several times (Ogunquit, Jackman, Freeport, Kennebunk). Locally to Cape Cod (Hyannis, Barnstable, Martha’s Vineyard, Bourne).

75-Cyclone-NK-066

Us ... Coney Island ... 2007 or thereabouts.

Nathans at Coney Island

Up to New Hampshire (Lincoln and the mountains nearby). Vermont (friends in Peachum). Various places in New York, especially and most memorably to Coney Island — Brooklyn, don’t you know.

And we’ve stayed home and partied. Gotten remarried twice.

We’ve gone to Arizona twice. Last year, we deferred the journey until the following January because we wanted to be there in cooler weather, this time. Our previous visit was late August/early September and you could cook eggs on the sidewalk, depending on how you like eggs.

This year? It’s number 27, a sort of off-year. So maybe we’ll celebrate our birthdays instead. We were born a month apart, me in March, Garry in April. I’ll turn 70 and he turns 75 … which is definitely not an off-year. I feel we ought to do something, but it will depend on money … and the weather … and if I think we can actually gather enough of a crowd to make a party. Everyone lives in a different states these days. Gatherings are difficult. Moreover, you absolutely cannot predict weather in early spring in New England. It might be gorgeous … or blowing a blizzard.

Is it a religious or spiritual holiday?

Define religious. Define spiritual.

72-AtteanView-GA_016

Is there a gift exchange?

Not so much anymore. Tokens. Cards. These days, if we need or want something, we get it. We had been saving for a rainy day, but then we looked up and realized … “Hey, it’s raining!” Usually the trip and travel is the gift. And the cameras we are carrying!

How long does the celebration last?

There’s no rules about this. We start talking about it months ahead. We ponder. I look to see if I can squirrel away a few bucks and I check prices on places i think we might want to go … and which aren’t so far away that the drive would be more stressful than fun. Otherwise, we go out to dinner. And that’s good too.

ECLECTICALLY YOURS – ODDBALLS AT CHRISTMAS

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: 2016 Week 50


The oddest thing about this week is that it is two weeks before the end of the year. I’m still not sure how we got here so fast.

My house is full of religious iconography. Ancient symbols live harmoniously together in display cases and shelves. This one is from the mantle in the living room. It is a very old bronze of Vishnu riding Garuda, a (modern) bronze dancing Ganeesh, a very small Christmas tree, all against a backdrop of Bergman’s “Jerusalem.”

300-ganeesh-vishna-garuda-christmas-16122016_011

May your holidays be eclectic!

A cowboy nutcracker guards the fortress

A cowboy nutcracker guards the fortress

Merry whatever you celebrate! It’s all good to me!

AND IT COMES AGAIN …

Thursday photo prompt – Christmas Present – #writephoto


72-christmas-living-room-11122016_024

The little tree sits neatly on our coffee table. Not a big tree. No lights on it, there not being any convenient electrical outlet nearby. Yet it is satisfying. Pretty, festive, neat. Cheerful without taking over the house.

I remember the big trees of years past. Hulking great trees covered with easily shattered glass ornaments. Shivering with lights and tinsel. I recall all the the years of not being able to decorate the bottom of the tree because cats found the shiny, dangling glass balls irresistible. The dogs found tree an overwhelming temptation too, especially the boys. No amount of heart-to-heart conversations about Christmas tree etiquette with them ever convinced a dog to not imbue the tree with his own personal essence.

72-blue-lights-13122016_03

People always called Christmas pines real trees, as if there was something intrinsically superior to cutting down a living tree, hauling it indoors, then decorating it. Only to watch it slowly die. Then dragging it outside to be collected as trash, or give it a Viking funeral in a bonfire.

I’ve always hated taking the tree down. It wasn’t unusual for me to leave it up until Valentine’s Day or later. I hated watching it die and refused to admit it was. Like the cut flowers I  never throw away until they are completely crisp and brown.

This little tree is an elegant fake. It will never die because it has never lived. It can return every Christmas and will never become trash on the curb. I prefer it this way.

72-christmas-08122016_06

The surprise is how much we enjoy our small, quiet Christmas. It doesn’t feel like deprivation. We can watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story” again. Maybe add “White Christmas” as a bonus. Cuddle the dogs.

No more maxed out credit cards or guilt over not buying the right gift … or spending weeks decorating, wrapping, and preparing. And ending up exhausted, with an empty bank account and a vague feeling of disappointment. This year, my one big blowout gift is for us: I’m getting a team in to clean the house. I’m neat, so it’s not a disaster area. I do the best I can, but cleaning this place thoroughly is beyond me these days. So happy Christmas to me! We shall go into the New Year clean.

christmas red door wreath

Christmas day will be a dinner with friends. He’s not feeling too well, so we’re going there. I understand. These days, our health and the health of friends is not a given. We keep fingers crossed that it’s going to work out and everyone will be fine — and the weather will coöperate.

Maybe this was the way it was supposed to be. Warm, friendly, quiet. Low key — with not a single shred of disappointment. Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah. And a joyous anything else you celebrate. Whether you are having a crowd or just yourself, may it be a time of comfort and joy.

INDEPENDENCE, CONCISELY

Today is America’s Independence Day. It celebrates the announcement of the Declaration of Independence, our formal statement to King George and Great Britain that we no longer were willing to retain our status as colonies.

Declaration-of-Independence-signing

There’s more than a little confusion about which event happened when regarding the Declaration of Independence, so here’s an historical timeline. Not everyone agrees on this exact timeline, but it’s close for most purposes.

JULY 2, 1776: John Adams, a leader for independence, gets the delegates to the first Continental Congress to unanimously ratify the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson wrote the draft document because in a rare moment of general consensus, the delegates agreed that Jefferson was the best writer.

JULY 4, 1776: The Declaration of Independence is signed. July 4th becomes the U.S.’s official independence day, although John Adams argued it should be July 2nd, the day the document was ratified rather than the 4th on which it was signed. But that was Adams — arguing about everything.

JULY 4, 1776 through August 2, 1776: Following its signing on July 4th, the Continental Congress announced the Declaration of Independence. It is distributed and read across the colonies. The process of reading the Declaration — getting the official word out — took about a month.

By August, a more attractive document displaying all the delegates’ signatures had been produced. In any case, whether or not the colonists had read or heard the document officially read, everyone knew about it. The “official word” took a month to distribute, but men on horseback going from town to town told their friends and family and the word was quickly spread. People talked in pubs like and over the pasture fence, as they do today. But without Twitter or cell phones.

JANUARY 1777: The first printed versions of the Declaration of Independence are distributed to the general public. The colonies are fully engaged in rebellion against England.


Jefferson’s original draft, with changes by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, as well as Jefferson’s notes of the changes made by Congress, can be viewed at the Library of Congress.

declaration_independence

You can see the most famous version of the Declaration, the hand-written signed document, at the National Archives in Washington DC.

MEMORIAL DAY 2016 – TIME & REMEMBERANCE

Memorial Day


Memorial Day (formerly Decoration Day) is observed on the last Monday of May. It commemorates the men and women who died in military service. In observance of the holiday, many people visit cemeteries and memorials, and volunteers place American flags on each grave site at national cemeteries.

A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.

72-Flags-Party_07

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

Harbor flag

The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies.

d-day remembrance manchaug memorial

After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.


Israel, my other country, did not have a memorial day as such. There was Independence Day, celebrating the country’s official nationhood … and a very somber Holocaust Day. Independence Day was the only non-religious holiday during which businesses and the government closed down.

Holocaust Day, the only thing that closed was the television and radio station which did not broadcast. The sirens blew for a full minute at 8 in the morning and again at 4 in the afternoon. Everybody stopped what they were doing and stood until the sirens stopped. Traffic stopped. Cars and trucks pulled to the roadside. Drivers got out and stood. Listened. Remembered.

Even if you were alone in your home, you stood to honor those dead who never carried a weapon and got no medals.


Official holidays become less important as we get older, but personal milestones become more meaningful. Calendar marking become more like seasonal reminders and less like a time to party.

Have a great weekend, however you celebrate. Remember those who fought … and those who died because a war happened to them.

It’s good to remember war, to hope we’ll someday stop fighting and find another way to settle our differences.