Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blue Moon On New Year's Eve

(Moon partial eclipse taken by John Stetson in Maine)

Believe it or not, tonight's full Moon is a "Blue Moon." It's the second full Moon this month and the first Blue Moon to fall on New Year's Eve in nearly 20 years. Sounds like a rare excuse for a party!!!!!

There's more. In Europe, Africa and Asia, the Blue Moon will dip into Earth's shadow for a partial lunar eclipse. At maximum eclipse, around 19:24 Universal Time, approximately 8% of the Moon will be darkly shadowed.

Don't expect the Moon to actually turn blue, though. "The 'Blue Moon' is a creature of folklore," professor Philip Hiscock of the Dept. of Folklore at the Memorial University of Newfoundland explains. "It's the second full Moon in a calendar month."

This definition of Blue Moon is relatively new. If you told a person in Shakespeare's day that something happens "once in a Blue Moon" they would attach no astronomical meaning to the statement. Blue moon simply meant rare or absurd, like making a date for the Twelfth of Never. "But meaning is a slippery substance," says Hiscock. "The phrase 'Blue Moon' has been around for more than 400 years, and during that time its meaning has shifted."

The modern definition sprang up in the 1940s. In those days, the Farmer's Almanac of Maine offered a definition of Blue Moon so convoluted that even professional astronomers struggled to understand it. It involved factors such as the ecclesiastical dates of Easter and Lent, and the timing of seasons according to the dynamical mean sun. Aiming to explain blue moons to the layman, Sky & Telescope published an article in 1946 entitled "Once in a Blue Moon." The author James Hugh Pruett cited the 1937 Maine almanac and opined that the "second [full moon] in a month, so I interpret it, is called Blue Moon.

That was not correct, but at least it could be understood. And thus the modern Blue Moon was born.

Blue moon has other connotations, too. In music, it's often a symbol of melancholy. According to one Elvis tune, it means "without a love of my own." On the bright side, he croons in another song, a simple kiss can turn a Blue Moon pure gold.

Blue Moons are rare (once every 2.5 years). Blue Moons on New Year's Eve are rarer still (once every 19 years). How rare is a lunar eclipse of a Blue Moon on New Year's Eve?

A search of NASA's Five Millennium Catalogue of Lunar Eclipses provides an approximate answer. In the next 1000 years, Blue Moons on New Year's Eve will be eclipsed only 11 times (once every 91 years). A year of special note is 2848 when there will be two lunar eclipses in December--on Dec. 1st and Dec. 31st. Such a double-Blue Moon-lunar eclipse ending on New Year's Eve appears to be a millennium-level event. That's rare.

Go outside and enjoy the moonlight!

(Information for this post from Space Weather and NASA.)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Labor of Love

It wasn't too long ago that I posted this photo of
Raggedy Ann and Andy from the Vermont Country Store...
an early shopping through the catalogs
looking at the *old fashioned toys*.

Did you have an Ann or Andy when you were growing up?
I didn't.
But I do now!

Just look at her!
Isn't she beautiful?
My sista made her for me -- with her own two hands
and a little help from her sewing machine.
This doll is almost as tall as I am (5' is stretching it).

I love you.
I love you, too!

And, the doll comes with memories.
Memories of this little girl,
one Halloween
when her Mom made her a Raggedy Ann costume.

Hard to be believed --
that cute little girl is all grown up.
This beautiful young woman
celebrated her 23rd birthday this year.

Labor of Love

How do I say Thank You?
How about -- I love you, too.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Jolly Christmas

A Jolly Christmas to You

May your world be warm with peace and joy,
may your life hold love and laughter,
may all that's dearest to your heart,
fill your Christmas and each day after.

Thank YOU
for your friendship.
We wish you the merriest of holidays.

Monday, December 21, 2009

My World/Winter Solstice

Be sure to visit My World to see more of our world
or to participate yourself!

To celebrate the shortest day of the year and
moving into light,
here are a few doors decorated for the season
in my neighborhood.

Swing and Wreath

I love the swing with the red pillows.

Home Sweet Home

This wreath smells like cinnamon.

Red Ribbon

Love the red ribbons.


Snowmen -- one of my favorite holiday *things*!

Candy Cane

A giant Candy Cane

Happy Yule!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


One morning last week, as Mr. Dragon and I were preparing to sit down to breakfast, I started to raise the blinds on the doors leading into Musashi's garden. We normally feed the birds before we feed ourselves, but the birds had been quiet lately. Not much action in the yard. We found out why. There, no more than twenty feet away, on the fence, sat a red tailed hawk. By the time we both had a chance to see him, he was off to check out the buffet someplace else.

I pulled out my copy of The Druid Animal Oracle and found the hawk card with his key words of nobility, recollection and cleansing. It was the last line in the four page spread that got my attention: "It is considered lucky to see a hawk first thing in the morning". We are grabbing the good omens where ever we can find them and thank our feathered friend for his visit.


Mr. Dragon finished his first week of treatment and so far so good. Five more weeks to go and then a break and then surgery. Keep those good vibes, juju, thoughts, prayers coming. We really do appreciate them.


A little fun for you! I found the link for Refrigerator Soup several weeks ago and WOWOWOW. Those of you who love to cook must visit this site. I can't keep up with all the great sounding recipes I want to try or visiting all the blogs! There's something here for everyone. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Camera Critters

Misty brings us Camera Critters every Saturday.
Be sure to stop by and visit.

One of my favorite animals at the Houston Zoo
is the Wart Hog.
They are so funny and shy.

Wart Hogs

Neither graceful nor beautiful, warthogs are nonetheless remarkable animals. They are found in most of Africa south of the Sahara and are widely distributed in East Africa. They are the only pigs able to live in areas without water for several months of the year. By tolerating a higher-than-normal body temperature, the warthog is perhaps able to conserve moisture inside its body that might otherwise be used for cooling. (Camels and desert gazelles have developed a similar mechanism for survival in hot, arid environments.)

The warthog is a tough, sturdy animal. Males weigh 20 to 50 pounds more than females, but both are distinguished by disproportionately large heads and “warts”—thick protective pads that appear on both sides of the head. The warthog's large tusks are unusual: The two upper ones emerge from the sides of the snout to form a semicircle; the lower tusks at the base of the uppers are worn to a sharp cutting edge. Sparse bristles cover the warthog's body, although longer bristles form a mane from the top of the head down the spine to the middle of the back. The long tail ends with a tuft of bristles. The warthog characteristically carries its tail upright when it runs, the tuft waving like a tiny flag.

Wart Hog

The warthog is mainly a grazer and has adapted an interesting practice of kneeling on its calloused, hairy, padded knees to eat short grass. Using its snout and tusks, it also digs for bulbs, tubers and roots during the dry season. They may eat earthworms and other small invertebrates during the wet season.

Predators and Threats
Outside of protected areas, the warthog’s range is declining. They are killed for raiding wheat, rice, bean or groundnut fields. People in some agricultural areas also eliminate warthogs as they can carry African swine fever.

(Wart Hog information from

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Postcard Friendship Friday

Our lovely postmistress, Marie, brings Postcard Friendship Friday
to us each week.
Be sure to drop by for a visit.

In preparation for the upcoming Holiday,
two more postcard reproductions from
the Lillian Vernon Corporation.

A Merry Christmas/Sled

A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year

A Merry Christmas/Sing a Song

A Merry Christmas

Sing a song of Christmas Cheer
Of Santa Claus who'll soon be here;
Of dolls and other lovely toys,
To please both little girls and boys.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sacred Sunday

Fall Color

December 11, 2009
Intention and Intuition
The Purpose of an Altar

If you didn’t grow up with an altar in your home, having an altar now may seem like an exotic and unattainable idea. Yet having an altar does not have to be complicated or difficult, nor does it need to be based on a religion or a set of ideas that don’t seem to relate to you. An altar can be a simple, personal expression of what you want to focus on right now. You do not have to build anything or take up a lot of space. You do not have to buy anything new or follow a complex set of instructions to create your altar. All you have to do is have a general understanding of what an altar is and the willingness to allow yourself access to this wonderful, ancient tool of transformation.

At its most essential, an altar is simply a raised structure that serves as a resting place for meaningful objects. It focuses the eye and provides a place for contemplation and, if so desired, ritual. All of these elements can be quite simple. One idea for a simple altar is a pot with a bulb planted in it, set on a box. This altar to growth can act as a reminder to you that all living things bloom in their time. A simple ritual might be to write down dreams you would like to see come to fruition on scraps of paper. You might place these scraps of paper in the box, or under the flowerpot, or in an envelope you prop against the pot. As the flower grows, so will your dreams.

If you look around your home, you may find that you have already created altar like arrangements without even really thinking about it; this is something we humans do quite naturally. A candle, a decorative box, and a vase of flowers are just a few of the common household objects that lend themselves naturally to the creation of an altar. Simply add intention and intuition, and you have created your first altar. Remember that it isn’t necessarily about the objects you place at your altar—it is the time you spend with it daily, taking the time to be with it for your sacred time.

For more information visit

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Camera Critters

It's Camera Critters time!
Misty is our wonderful hostess over at Camera Critters.
Be sure to visit.

Spectacled bear

Another visit to the Houston Zoo.
This time to see the Spectacled Bear.

The Andean or spectacled bear of South America gets one of its common names from the rings of white or light fur around its eyes, which look like eyeglasses (or spectacles) against the rest of the black or dark brown fur. These markings often extend down the chest, giving each bear a unique appearance (and helping researchers identify bears by their "mug shots!"). The markings also give the bear its scientific name: Tremarctos ornatus, or decorated bear.

Normally diurnal, very little is known about these bears in the wild. They are shy, tend to avoid humans.

The habitat of the Andean bear is being destroyed for mining operations, farming, and lumber. The construction of new roads fragments bear habitat as well. As their habitat shrinks, bears may stray onto farmland, feeding on the crops that replaced their natural diet. These bears have been hunted in the past for their meat, fat, and body parts, but they are now protected from international trade.

The Andean bear is one of the flagship species of national parks in the Andes. This means that the bear, an animal that people recognize easily, is used as the symbol of the parks. Local people in bear habitats are being educated about the benefits of preserving habitat for the bears for tourism, for the protection of water sources, and for the natural heritage of future generations.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Postcard Friendship Friday

Postcard Friendship Friday is brought to us by the lovely postmistress, Marie!

Here are two more of the Lillian Vernon Corporation
reproduction Christmas Postcards.

Jolly Christmas Postcard

A Jolly Christmas to you.

Best Wishes for Christmas Postcard

Best Wishes for Christmas

Happy PFF!


Creative high school students take on the Hallelujah Chorus.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Top 10 Holiday Shoulds

The Top 10 Holiday "Shoulds" (and Permission to Let them Go)
by Christine Kane

Do you know the "Shoulds?" Those voices that occasionally creep around your head telling you that things aren't as good as they could be and that everything would be better if you behaved well?


Well, you're not alone. We all go there from time to time. Some of us spend our every waking moment "shoulding" on ourselves!

In the work I do, I know one thing to be true about this time of year:

The Holiday Shoulds are a special breed of Should. The Holiday Shoulds are loud and insidious. If you're not conscious, they can make you believe that they're a rational way to think.

After all, during the holidays, people become almost hypnotized into believing that every moment should be a certain way, that every yard should look a certain way, that every family should behave a certain way - and that it's okay to beat themselves up for their own preferences or for not keeping up with the imaginary standard.

Here's a list of the Top Ten Holiday Shoulds, along with a thought or two about simply letting them go, and delighting in this moment. In the words of Byron Katie: "When I argue with What Is, I lose. But only 100% of the time."

1 - I should have a new outfit to wear to the Christmas party!

Last year's outfit is fine. Your shiny happy self tells a brighter story than something you bought at a store.

2 - I should have done hand-made Christmas cards! (Or, I should've done Christmas Cards at all!)

Relax. If you had time to delight in making cards, that would be great. But it's okay that you didn't. And as for not sending cards, you can send them out next year. (Or, be like my brother's family and send out Valentine Cards instead!)

3 - My kids/parents should behave differently!

Everyone is doing the best they can. What would happen if you simply accepted each person's path and choices - and let them be exactly where they are?

4 - I should've bought more expensive presents!

When gifting becomes about competition or keeping up, then it just drains you. Take a moment to remember who you are and how you want to love the people in your life. Nothing beats authenticity.

5 - I should go out and buy more [insert useless consumer good or processed food here.]

When you nervously become a consumer for no reason, challenge yourself to sit down, listen, and experience the emptiness. You might find that it's actually quite peaceful in there!

6 - I should've lost weight this year!

Become a champion of yourself. Make a list of five great things you accomplished this year, and let go of those things you didn't. You can revisit them in January.

7 - The Holidays should look more like the pretty scenes in a snow globe or on Christmas specials!

The cool thing about snow globes and such is the happy feeling they create inside of you. Instead of thinking everything should make you feel that way, try to capture the feeling you get from those things - and then carry that feeling to each moment in your life. I call this Positive Daydreaming.

8 - I should've made [Insert time-consuming baked good featured on Martha Stewart]!

See #5.

And remember that Martha Stewart has a very large staff. And that there's rarely a shortage of sugary baked items during the holidays.

9 - My house should have better decorations!

See #8.

And go take a nap.

10 - I should make better scrapbook pages after the holidays!

Doing good scrapbooks does not make you a good mother, sister, daughter or friend. Doing good scrapbooks makes you someone who has time to scrapbook. If you use photo-boxes or boring albums, you're still a wonderful human, and we'll all still love you.


11 – It should be The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas is lovely with all of its twinkle lights and confectionary goodies, AND there are many wonderful times each year. (I happen to love each and every time I hike in the woods, no matter what time of year it is!)

Wonderful is about your delight and how you feel on the inside. When you let go of what is not authentic delight for you, then you might be surprised at how simple the holidays become. You might find that wonderful is right here in this very moment.

Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her 'LiveCreative' weekly ezine with more than 8,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a FRE*E subscription to LiveCreative at
See Christine's blog - Be Creative. Be Conscious. Be Courageous - at

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


What did you see when you first glanced at this photo?

The room was dark when I turned the page in the calendar.

I glanced at the page and thought I saw a woman in black.

(The sound of the Zen Master's rod as it hit the student for falling asleep at the wheel.)

Turn on the lights (I said to myself).

Look again.

It is a cormorant fishing with his tail feathers in the air.

So, I told myself to put my tail feathers in the air and wiggle them.

Tell my Monkey Mind to go sit in the corner.

Stay in the moment.

Enjoy each moment.

Don't look back or forward.

Deal with each day.


Mr. Dragon begins his fight against cancer with chemotherapy and radiation therapy next week. We ask, once again, for your good thoughts, prayers, good vibes, juju as the fight begins. We have been together 28 years and we would like 28 years more. So, we are turning our tail feathers up, wiggling them and going for it!


The photo is from the Metropolitan Museum calendar, Utamaro's Egret and Cormorant (from Myriad Birds in a picture book of comic verse, polychrome woodblock print, ink and color on paper).

Isn't He Cute?!!

I believe this wonderful little turtle is Day 4
of Caron's 12 Days of Christmas.

Isn't he cute?

And he wears a sweater!

Be sure to check out the Caron web site.
The patterns are crochet and knit.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My World

Be sure to visit My World to see more of our world or to participate yourself!

I thought I'd show you what was blooming in Musashi's Garden
(our backyard)
on Thanksgiving Day 2009.


The rose was in full bloom for our snow last Friday.

Flower Lady

Isn't she beautiful?
She lives in our atrium.


The tangelo had 5 fruit to be picked on Thanksgiving Day.
We stood at the door and watched a squirrel take one off the tree
and take a bite out of it!
The little rascal.
We dashed out and picked the rest of the citrus.
We are kind to our squirrels,
but the little stinker took a bite and then threw it on the ground!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I Couldn't Resist!

This short little You Tube is worth every second!
It will bring a smile to your face.
I guarantee!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Camera Critters

It's Saturday and it's Camera Critters time!

Off to the Houston Zoo again
and a visit to one of my favorite lemurs
and one of the Zoo's newest:
the Coquerel Sifaka.

Coquerel Sifaka

The Houston Zoo is one of only a handful of places in the world where you can see this highly endangered primate from Madagascar, made famous by the PBS television series Zoboomafoo, featuring the Kratt brothers and their Coquerel's sifaka, (cock-er-al's she-fak) mascot.

Sifaka differ from other lemurs in the way they move, using a form of locomotion called vertical clinging and leaping. They leap in an upright position from one vertical branch or trunk to another, using their powerful back legs to propel them over twenty feet in one jump. When they move on the ground, they skip or bound on their hind legs. They look like they are jumping with a pogo stick (remember those?)!

Coquerel Sifaka

Sifakas are plant-eaters. Leaves are their favorite food, and make up most of their diet in the dry season (along with tree bark). In the wet season these primates also eat fruits and flowers. They find much of their food in the treetops, but also occasionally search for food on the ground.
When eating, sifakas rarely use their hands to handle their meal. Instead, they usually grab the food directly with their mouth. The Houston Zoo's sifakas have a favorite treat -- the chickpea or garbanzo bean. They love them.

Like many other types of sifaka, the Coquerel's sifaka is in danger of extinction in the wild. These animals suffer from continued habitat loss, as their forest homes are logged for timber and turned into farmland.

Here's a video from You Tube and the Houston Zoo:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Postcard Friendship Friday

Postcard Friendship Friday is brought to Blogland by our lovely postmistress, Marie!

It's THAT time of year.

Some more reproduction holiday postcards
from the Lillian Vernon Corporation.



Have a beautiful weekend.
We will be staying home and watching the snow fall in Houston!!!!!

Happy PFF!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's That Time Again!

It's that time again -- the holidays -- and some of the yarn companies start including holiday patterns in their email newsletters. I love the Twelve Days of Christmas from Caron. This beautiful crochet Christmas Tree Throw is Day One of their Twelve Days of Christmas. Be sure to check out their web site and sign up for their Twelve Days of Christmas!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Who Says A Dollar Isn't Worth Much?

Who says a dollar isn't worth much? I picked up The Yoga Teacher by Alexandra Gray at Half-Price books for one dollar. It is filled with quirky characters, was the right price and I loved the cover!

"Dissatisfied with her job as a pharmaceutical rep and struggling with the decline of her long-term relationship, Grace, a well-heeled Londoner, uses yoga class to unwind, reflect, and momentarily transcend her earthly dilemmas. While pitching her company’s latest antidepressant to the disarming Dr. James, she is inspired by his plan to study Eastern medicine in Vietnam and decides to quit her job to become a yoga teacher.

After studying at the eccentric White Lotus Foundation in California, Grace returns to London, ready for her new life. But nothing could have prepared her for the motley crew of students she amasses--from the octogenarian industrialist desperate for distraction, the supermodel who indulges yogic aspirations when she tires of kabbalah, to the American film star who uses yoga classes to conceal a scandalous affair. Overwhelmed, Grace soon finds herself relying on her bi-continental correspondence with Dr. James for solace and inspiration, his words hovering above her London life like a sweet promise.

With an eye for the absurdity in every encounter, Alexandra Gray gently skewers our society’s preference for a quick-fix nirvana in this chronicle of one woman’s quest for love and meaning in a world numbed by materialism and psychotropic drugs."

Each chapter starts with a picture and written description of a yoga pose. It is a tale of starting over. Funny. Honest. And the price was more than right!