Archives for December 2013

Blessings of Light in the New Year


All good wishes for 2014, starting with the Irish toast below!

*     *     *

May the blessings of light be within you,

Light without and light within.

And in all your comings and goings,

May you ever have a kindly greeting

From them you meet along the road.

Wordless Wednesday: Santa Stopped By!

Christmas in Charleston

Christmas in Charleston

Simple Greens, Honoring Veterans


East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery, Knoxville, Tennessee

It’s a moving sight as you crest the top of a nearby hill. Hundreds of newly-placed holiday wreaths, backlit by the evening sun and shadowed by giant oak trees, rest against the names of military veterans etched on stones that are evenly-spaced in the grass.

Every tombstone is alike — every wreath the same, simple design. Uniformity makes the scene more beautiful, yet belies the complexity of the lives of the men and women laid to rest here. While I don’t know anyone buried on this hillside, I still wonder where these people served, how old they were when they died, what their families were like.

Memories of my father — a World War II veteran (U.S. Army Air Corps) and gruff sentimentalist when it came to Christmas — are a big reason this scene gets me every time I pass by. These memories put the last-minute holiday scrambling in perspective, bringing with it a certain kind of peace.

Soon, the wreaths will be gone, leaving the hillside bare of ornamentation. The buds on the trees will start to swell and a whole new cycle of life will begin. I’m looking forward to it — fully aware that winter just started and there’s a good long time to wait.


Thanksplant_mmtnI treasure all my indoor plants. Each one brings a certain seasonal pleasure, but the Thanksgiving cactus definitely shines in the bloom department. This week, a grouping of them brought an especially welcome burst of color, considering that I’ve been in forced seclusion from a virus or other unknown malady. Seeing those vibrant, red blooms cheered me every time I walked by them. The blurry photo to the left is the last one I took of the mother plant – or anything, for that matter – before my reliable old Nikon gave up its focusing ability and, eventually, the ghost. (Are you listening, Santa)?

All week I’ve marvelled at how these cacti bloom so reliably, at the very same time, year after year.  They get no special treatment — only water and (possibly) an annual feeding. Maybe this is just an especially vigorous cultivar, but I like to think there’s a connection between the abundant blooms and the person whose passing brought us this mother plant and her eventual offspring.

If you’re ever unsure what type of holiday cactus you have, Thanksgiving cacti (Schlumbergera truncata) have sharp points at the end of leaf segments and Christmas cacti (Schlumbergera bridgesii) have rounded edges. Most plants offered for sale anymore are Thanksgiving cacti, native to the tropical forests of Brazil.