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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

You Can Start With A Christmas Letter...

Did you know that December is "National Write a Friend" month?

First in high school, then again in the early '90s I used to pen pal.  Loved it.  But with the first group we lost track because of starting our lives as adults we all got too busy.  

With the second bunch, I blame email.  Have you ever noticed how when something gets easier... people do less?

Letters for example.  People would sit down and take time - real time - and put pen to paper.  That paper may have been expensive stationary or the back of a shopping bag.  But the the caring came through no matter what it was written on.  Letter writing took time; it was a gift in itself.

Now staying in touch is cheap.  Emails are short, tweets are shorter.  Connections are disappearing.

How can you get back to some of that closeness?  

You can start with a Christmas letter.

Not one of those phony things lying about a perfect life.  But something that tells about what you've been up to, sharing your life without all the confetti or dramas.

Then slide it in a Christmas card and send it on its way.

It's a start...

Monday, December 5, 2016

Advent - What Those Candles Really Mean

Yesterday was the 2nd Sunday of Advent.  So often when I hear the word, I am reminded of a line from The Princess Bride:  "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means".  Advent is not the "Santa Countdown" or some sort of December party time or how many shopping days are left.

The word 'Advent' is a noun noting the arrival of an important person or event.  In this case Advent notes both...the arrival of Jesus Christ and the events of His first and second coming.  Advent   contains repentance, remembrance, and anticipation.  It was intended to be a serious time of looking inside yourself, a season of fasting and renewal.

Advent candles are lit on the Sunday of each of the weeks of Advent.  As a group, they symbolize the difference between darkness and Light.  The four candles are traditionally purple or blue.  Sometimes the fourth candle is rose or pink for peace.

The first candle lit is the "Prophet" candle.  It symbolizes Hope...the hope we have in Christ.

The second candle lit is the "Bethlehem" candle.  It symbolizes Faith... as with the faith of Joseph and Mary.

The third candle lit is the "Shepherd" candle.  It symbolizes was the joy of the shepherds as they heard the angels announcement.

The fourth candle lit is the "Angel" candle.  It symbolizes Peace... Peace on Earth and Good Will to ALL men. 

An Advent wreath can have a fifth candle in the center.  It is white and symbolizes Jesus Christ.  This candle is lit on Christmas Eve.

I wish you all a blessed season of renewal and joy.

(This post was originally written for a group that I am a member of.  We are doing advent messages this year and I was asked to write 3.)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Red, White, and Blue Christmas Wreaths for the VA Home

We had another fun event with Team Red, White, and Blue.  This time we were being creative for someone else.  We had a social to make Christmas wreaths for the Clarksville VA Home.

We started out with some noshing.

Himself brought his 'world famous' chocolate chip cookies in both 'nutty' and 'chippy' varieties.  I contributed the stuffed eggs.

We overheard this little guy ask for a cookie.  His grandfather responded "What kind?"

His answer... "The REAL ones!"

For the wreath making we were each to bring items to decorate the provided wreaths.

Himself guarding the supplies.

Everyone spread out and got to work.

It was a wreath making palooza!

I brought a lot of items to work with... but I seem to have forgotten the most important one... crafting mojo.

RWB Eagle Charles kept the kids going on making Christmas cards for the Vets.

Why not a blue Christmas tree?

Love how they wrote inside.

SO cute!

Here's just a few of the finished wreaths.

Mine is not in there.  It was so ugly that I asked (begged) that I could take it home to redo and bring it back in a few days.

Mojo back...and I finished my wreath.

A huge group from Team RWB had a decorating party at the VA Home on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  I can't wait to see out it looks!

Friday, December 2, 2016

O Holy Night

I found this music video when I did a YouTube search for the song "O Holy Night" (my favorite Christmas song).  I think it is incredible.

(O Holy Night performed by Gentri)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Look At The Sky - December

The Planets for December:
A VERY poor month for viewing the major planets, with virtually all "wow" planets being in either daylight sky or in strong twilight at dusk or dawn; only the distant planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are visible all month in dark skies.

Mercury - Mercury is very difficult all month, setting just after the sun in strong twilight  at midmonth  - in SAGITTARIUS

Venus - the brightest of all planets is low in the west where it remains most of December; however, be prepared for a spectacular quadruple conjunction at the end of December and the first week of Jan. 2017, when Venus climbs eastward in the sky and encounters MARS, NEPTUNE and the thin waxing crescent moon on January 2 right after sunset and the darkness begins to do not want to miss this rare conjunction! - in AQUARIUS

Mars - Now just WEST of dim Neptune, the Red Planet is quite distant and is seen as a reddish star just south of overhead at the end of evening twilight, setting in the west about midnight; not a favorable month to be viewing this mysterious world - in CAPRICORNUS

Jupiter - Now rising in the East about 2:30 a.m. local time and overhead about sunrise for most locations.  Jupiter begins an exciting apparition for 2017 and is favorably placed throughout the later winter and early spring months.  - in VIRGO

Saturn - Not favorably placed for observation in December . - in SCORPIUS

Uranus - distant planet Uranus sets in the west about 2 a.m. local time and is south of overhead by about midnight,  It shines at magnitude 5.9, bright enough to spot in good binoculars if one knows where to look; use a good planetarium sky program or GO TO telescope to locate this distant world; by sunrise it is high in dark skies and will show a faint, blue disk in large telescopes - PISCES

Neptune - At only a few degrees due east of bright red MARS - look for faint Neptune in large telescopes at midmonth south of overhead about 10 p.m. local time.(mag. 7.6). - in AQUARIUS

Pluto - at magnitude 14.1, our most distant planet ( is a planet) is setting in western skies at dusk, - only 12 inch and larger telescopes can spot this world visually.  - in SAGITTARIUS

METEOR SHOWERS for December  2016:

Observe when the moon does not interfere and attempt to observe AFTER midnight for most meteors to be seen!.  However, as with a months and times during the year, observers should always be aware that new sporadic meteor showers can occur at anytime from seemingly unknown sources and radiants.  Unfortunately for 2016, the full moon occurs at midmonth, which means that pretty much at least some of these showers are going to be less than impressive in terms of faint meteors.

December 10  - MONOCEROTID meteors - An poor year to explore this minor meteor shower, since the moon  will be absent throughout the night during its mid-peak on Dec. 10.  Observations throughout the night should reveal several of the brighter members of this elusive meteor shower.  Look for these meteors as early as December 1(less moonlight!) and lasting through the 17th.  They emanate very close to the Gemini-Monoceros border, rising in the SE sky at dark local time and overhead/south about 1:00 a.m., very favorable for both southern and northern hemisphere observers but only when the moon is not in the sky.  In some years up to a dozen meteors per hour can be seen from this shower during moonless nights;  the point of radiant is: RA 06h 50m; DEC +10d.

December 10 - CHI ORIONID meteors - like the Moncerotid meteors that peak on the same night, the light from the moon will hamper observations .  It is very interesting that the Monocerotid and this shower both peak at nearly the same its name implies, the CHI ORIONID stream has its radiant very near that fairly bright star, and thus the shower members from both showers are hard to differentiate many times; even more interesting is that the Chi Orionid meteors have TWO radiants apparently, one very close to the "horns of the bull" in Taurus and the other further into the constellation of Orion.  Strong waxing gibbous moon to interfere this year.

December 11 - SYGMA HYDRID meteors - These emanate from the head of HYDRA the mighty water snake, and are among the swiftest of meteors know, most being seen even in morning twilight.  They ARE a bit on the faint side because of their speed, but expect about a dozen an hour in dark skies, which we will have in 2016 due to the strong moonlight at peak this year, not setting until just before dawn.  Have you noticed that THESE meteors too, are peaking on the same night as the Chi Orionid and Monocerotid meteors?  However, this radiant (RA 08h 32m ; DEC +02 deg) is far to the east (rising about three hours later) than the other two.

December 13-14 - GEMINID meteors - with the moon at near full phase this year, the faithfully rich Geminid Meteors should present a poor show in December since the moon will be in the sky all night, giving bright skies for early evening observations; for those who stay up late and into the early morning hour to view some of the brighter fireballs may reward your efforts.   The Geminid shower is normally THE meteor shower for December, producing  as many as 60 very white meteors in dark skies...only about 3 % of these meteors leave the characteristic "train" or trail, even when appearing as fireballs;  this is a very unusual meteor shower in that it does NOT originate from debris of a spent comet, but rather from the MINOR PLANET  "Icarus," a very peculiar asteroid that swings by the earth very closely during some passes.  The radiant will rise nearly due EAST at dark and will be conveniently located (for northern hemisphere observers) about midnight; wait until about 10 p.m. this year to view this shower.  ON THE SAME NIGHT is a very minor and newer meteor shower, the "LEO-MINORIDS", from Leo Minor; it will rise due east also, but about 8 p.m. and be overhead around 2 a.m.  This was discovered by casual stargazers in 1971!

December 16 - PISCID  meteors - Found in 1973, about 8 meteors per hour were seen coming from the constellation of Pisces near a distinct radiant at 01h 42m, +09 degrees; few have been seen since, but this year's skies with a nearly full moon in the sky, provides an poor year for sky watchers to "rediscover" this important meteor stream.

December 20 - DELTA ARIETID meteors - If you want one later in the evening, this is IT!; look for about 10 meteors per hour (the moon this year will be a third quarter, but will be rising from the sky during this meteor shower, so this may be an fair showing this year)  coming from the tiny constellation of Aries.  Overall a good year for this minor shower.

December 22 - URSID METEORS - This meteor shower, coming from within the "Little Dipper" will never rise nor set and you can watch it all night; however, best observations would be about 11 p.m. local time and into the early morning hours.  This is a fair year for the Ursid meteors since the moon will be less than last quarter are rising at about 2 a.m..   The meteoroids in this group have origins with the famous Comet Tuttle, and leave many spectacular wakes and smoky trails in their wakes.  Up to 20 meteors per hour under dark skies can be seen to any observer looking nearly due north and "up" a bit!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

KonMari All Over Again - Starting on My Studio

KonMari in our main house is done!

So it's now time to start all over my studio.

Remember the first sort is "cloth".  I have so much of that.  There is cloth from other countries, cloth for crafting, cloth for sewing, cloth for quilting...

...and just 'cloth'.

There were blankets and afghans and throws.

And there were rugs.

There was a LOT of sorting and culling.

Keepers were carefully packed into tubs that were labeled and photo inventoried (I like to swap out rugs and throws).

The various fabric/cloth pieces were sorted by type or by what I am going to do with them.  The above are my ethnic fabrics.  Then they either went into my fabric dresser in my studio or tubs out into my extra storage area in the garage.

It took me several days but the results are fantastic!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Pottery Painting

Ceramic painting can become addictive...

I did another painting session with my Team Red, White, and Blue group.  This time I worked on a pattern rather than another flower.

I just kind of doodled and made it up as I went.

Himself came along this time for the social fun...not the painting.

Didn't thing about the fact that with a bowl you have two sides to decorate!

I like the way it turned out.  What the camera didn't pick up is that the red areas are sparkly.  Fun!

Can't wait til the next painting social!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Bah Humbug Walmart! - Seriously?

On Wednesday I had to make a run to a Walmart store.  There I saw this set-up...

I smiled because I love 'Angel Trees' however they are done, whoever they are done for.  I looked first on the small tree at the wishes.  There were not many so I moved over to the larger tree.

I was shocked.

THIS was what was on the large tree!

The store was using the 'Angel Tree' to lure people over to look at the stupid Walmart credit card applications!!  

That is just garbage.