Tag Archives: Christmas

Goodbye 2017 #amcelebrating

Christmas Day has gone, taking with it the snow that lent our small valley transitory beauty. It left behind the memory of cozy warmth, of a table laden with comfort food, and old friends sharing a holiday meal.

The old year is nearly over, and while it has been a difficult year in many ways for my family, I have far more blessings than I can count.

My New Year’s Eve wish for you is: May you never lack for good food, warmth, and the companionship of witty people. May you always have books to read, and may happiness regularly cross your path.

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Filed under #FineArtFriday, writing

Thoughts on a Christmas Card 2017 #FineArtFriday

Somewhere, long ago,

An unknown artist painted

A warm, wonderful picture.

A feeling of home and family and joy,

That fits neatly in an envelope.

A piece of fine art arriving in the mail,

Along with a little poem.

“Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

I wish the same to you, and you, and you.


Credits and Attributions:

Thoughts on a Christmas Card (2017), by Connie J. Jasperson ©2017, fine tuned from an earlier poem of the same name.

Christmas Eve by J. Hoover, 1880, Published by J. Hoover, Philadelphia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Glædelig Jul, ca 1906 By Nasjonalbiblioteket from Norway [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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#FlashFictionFriday: remembering Mama and the year of the tipsy reindeer #christmas

HolidayTree2012Web Olympia Downtown AssociationI live in a very small town. The residents here go all out decorating their houses and yards for the month of December. It makes for a wonderful drive after dark, just cruising the local neighborhoods admiring the inventive displays.

The city maintenance department decorates the main drag through town and it looks amazing. I wish we could have those awesome lights up all winter long. They make the long, dark nights feel so much kinder.

All up and down our street, homes are decorated for the season, but our home is always quite simple in its holiday decorating–a tree, candles, a cute centerpiece for the table. Outside, my hubby puts up small lighted displays,  but nothing too fancy.

We keep it simple because we have to tear it down and put it all away over New Year’s day, and that rapidly becomes a bore.  It’s work, and I don’t like anything that falls into the category of labor.

In 2008, my mother was terribly ill with lung cancer and was living with us in her final days. She was 82, and had always been an active, hardworking woman, managing a pizza parlor, and wrangling my eccentric, alcoholic father. She had kept an immaculate home with religious zeal, and maintained her garden just as neatly.

It was a sign of just how ill she was that she allowed me to move her into my home so I could care for her.

My hubby had set up the lighted reindeer  display: three sweet reindeer made of wire and white lights. However, the snow was quite deep, and around their little electric feet it would melt from the heat of the lights, but not evenly.

The little one kept falling over, which looked awful as compared to the neighbor’s fancy displays. Every day, Mama checked on that reindeer first thing in the morning, wanting to get out there and fix it herself, but she was too frail.

The disease had taken her health, but it hadn’t taken her sense of humor. The snow provided a form of entertainment for her, and she would laugh and make all sorts of ribald comments as she watched me or my hubby try to stand the rickety Rudolph back up and attempt to anchor it  more securely into the frozen turf.

No matter how we tried, our display that year was the lamest one on the street, with our neighbors pointing and laughing at the prone reindeer as they walked to the grocery store. We would check on it and make sure it was upright before we went to bed, but it never failed–sometime during the night, the wind would blow that one particular reindeer over.

lighted-reindeerOne morning, a few days before Christmas, I was in the kitchen, and Mama was looking out the front window, talking on the phone to my Aunt Lillian. “That littlest reindeer is a terrible influence. Usually he’s the only souse in the lot, but today we have a yard full of drunken reindeer.”

Aunt Lillian said something, and Mama replied, “I’m not joking. The whole herd is passed out in the snow. Either that, or we had a drive-by shooting and the reindeer were the casualties.”

Sure enough, when Greg went out to go to work, all three electric reindeer were laying on their sides.

That was Mama’s last Christmas.

I miss her when the neighborhood is decorated like wonderland and the yard is full of snow. She loved life so much and clung to it fiercely despite the chemo and the vile disease that was killing her.

This year, snow is falling again, and we will put up some sort of display, although the reindeer have long since gone to broken ornament heaven.

Somehow, decorating for Christmas isn’t the same without them.

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Winter’s Heart

HolidayTree2012Web Olympia Downtown Association

Olympia Downtown Association

I love the way the Christmas lights  light up the dark streets at this time of the year. It removes a little of the creepy ‘horror movie’ factor from being downtown at night. Why can’t we have them on the bare trees all winter long? They make the long, dark nights feel so much kinder.

It rains a lot here, some years more than others. This year seems to be a ‘more’ year, but that’s what we like up here. Something about the  gloomy days fires my desire to write. The climate of Northern Waldeyn in my book, Huw the Bard, is inspired by the weather here in the great Northwest, as are the forests and the mountainous countryside. Even the waterfalls are inspired by those that can be found here in my home state of Washington.

We made the weekend journey north to see our kids and drop off presents for our grandkids this weekend, slogging up I-5 in the pouring rain and heavy traffic. It’s not too bad if you aren’t in a hurry-so I never make that trip with high expectations of arriving anywhere in a timely fashion–it can’t be done. Far too many vehicles clog the lone artery that connects Olympia Washington with Vancouver, British Columbia to the North, and San Diego, California to the South.

With our traveling done, and the winter solstice past us, we’re just preparing for our small Christmas day celebration here at Casa del Jasperson. After Christmas, I intend to settle in and get serious about writing again. I’ve been editing a wonderful book, which is a pleasure. I also have several irons in the fire, so to speak–the third book in the Tower of Bones series, Mountains of the Moon, is in the middle of the editing process at Eagle Eye Editors. MOTM is a prequel to Tower of Bones, and is a lighthearted book.

I’m in the final stages of reformatting Tower of Bones to be republished sometime in early 2015–new cover, new maps, all new interior, and Forbidden Road also has a new cover, new maps and a newly reformatted interior. I am still working on the cover for Mountains of the Moon, but I have an idea of what I want to do. The design studio in my Room of Shame is cranking out artwork as fast as I can think it up.

I’ve gotten the two followup books to Forbidden Road through the rough draft stage and into to the final fleshing out. The Wayward Son, and Valley of Sorrows had to be written concurrently, and the story line necessitated a name change in the earlier books, as a minor character became a major character, and her name was nearly identical to that of another major character. Since I had already pulled the two earlier books for reformatting, I decided to just take the plunge, and make that change globally. The Wayward Son is the story of John Farmer’s redemption, and takes place during the same months as Forbidden Road.

I’ve learned how to make vectors, and am getting the hang of creating digital art, and have found that I have a talent for graphic design. At least I like my pretty pictures.

All in all, it’s going to be a busy year. I can hardly wait to see what is going to come along next–maybe I’ll take up alpaca ranching. I’ve never done that before. They can’t be any worse than sheep…which were a pain, if you want the truth.

Okay. No alpacas. But they are awfully cute.

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The Queen of Bags

father-christmas-saint-02I love the sights and scents of the holiday season. Cookies baking, houses on our street with lighted displays–you don’t have to go wild to make a huge impression. My dear hubby always puts a few decorations out, little trees made of white lights and lighted candy-canes.

All up and down our neighborhood, homes are decorated for the season. Anyone driving through our little valley will see some ambitious displays. Our home is really quite simple in its holiday decorating–a tree, candles, a cute centerpiece for the table. We keep it simple because we have to tear it down and put it all away over New Year’s day, and that rapidly becomes a bore.  It’s work, and I don’t like anything that falls into the category of labor. But I love looking at other people’s efforts!

christmas-gift-bagsWrapping the presents is also a bore, but I am now the queen of bags! I love that all I have to do is remove the price-tag, fold a little tissue around it and stuff it in a bag. Jam a little tissue in the top and voila! Christmas is served! No more tape sticking to the wrong place, and no more hunting for the scissors I just set down.

Just lazy me, blowing through wrapping the pile of presents like a sleigh through snow!

We have a lot of grand-kids. We’ll make sure their gifts arrive at their houses before the big day. It’s sad when their presents are out from under our tree and under the trees in their homes because our tree looks a bit lonely. But not for long–we’ll soon have a few bags under there, just a little something for the two old people to enjoy on their quiet Christmas morning.

Field Roast holiday roastIt doesn’t take a lot to make the place feel festive. A little here and there, and the house feels warmer, cozier. An atmosphere of peace and well-being. I will roast a turkey breast for my hubby because he is a carnivore, but I will make a vegan entrée for me, a Hazelnut-Cranberry Roast made by the Seattle-based Field Roast Company. Everything I cook will be vegan except Greg’s turkey, and it will be delicious.

I make all the traditional dishes, substituting Earth Balance vegan margarine and almond or rice milk for the dairy. I use vegetable broth to make the cranberry-walnut stuffing. Anyone can eat well, if they choose to, and it’s not anymore expensive than eating junk-food, cheaper if you want to know the truth.

This is my recipe for:

onion and mushroom gravyONION AND MUSHROOM GRAVY

Ingredients:

  •  3/4 cup white or button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 small yellow or white onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp poultry seasoning (or 1/2 tsp each of sage, thyme and marjoram)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation: 

In a large skillet, melt the vegan margarine and add onion and mushrooms. Sauté for just a minute or two over high heat.

Reduce heat to medium and add vegetable broth and soy sauce. Slowly add flour, stirring well to combine and prevent lumps from forming. Bring to a simmer or a low boil, then reduce heat.

santa in snow stormI love this time of year. Great food, all the Christmas lights and decorations–I kind of go nuts. When we take the presents round to our children’s homes I feel a sense of having succeeded–they have new traditions for their children, combined some from our past. I feel a sense of continuity–We’re the grandparents now, the old-fashioned ones, the ones who always have time for a cuddle and never deny a grandchild a cookie when he wants one.

We’re always there, slightly in the way of Mom getting things done, but trying not to be. We’re happy to be mauled, sat on, have our hair brushed, even our toe-nails painted if that’s what makes a child happy. We’ll play Legos with them until the cows come home, so their parents can get the real work of the holidays done.

When their parents were small, our parents were there for them, being the old, wise people who loved our children as unconditionally as we love our grandchildren. 

In this holiday dance, the circle is complete.

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Filed under Adventure, blogging, Books, Fantasy, Food, Humor, Literature, Publishing, Self Publishing, Vegan, writer, writing