December Full Moon–December 7

About December’s Cold Full Moon

December full moon is commonly known in the Northern Hemisphere as the Full Long Nights Moon. It takes its name from the winter solstice, which has the longest night in the year. The Full Long Nights Moon cuts a soaring trajectory through the wintery skies, in direct opposition to the low-hanging sun. According to Pagan tradition, on years that the Full Moon falls before the winter solstice, it is referred to as the Mourning Moon. For our early Pagan ancestors this was a time of cleansing by stopping bad habits to make one stronger to service the cold winter ahead. The Algonquins called this full moon the Cold Moon, in reference to the cold light it casts upon long winter nights. Strangely enough, in certain other cultures, December’s full moon can actually be associated with warmth.

As night draws 
a dark curtain
across the sky
and coldness knocks
on doors and windows,
time turns inward and
reviews what has past
and what is to be.

Turn negativity
into positivity
creating an image
of warmth and light
enough to share
with a world 
in desperate need
of both.

December 6 is St. Nicholas Day

St Nicholas Day – St. Nicholas derived from Nicholas of Myra and was a bishop in 4th century Greece. He was known for selling off his own items and then giving the money to the poor. He would commonly leave coins in people’s shoes and dedicated his entire life to serving people who were sick and suffering. This is how he gained his saint status, and is what inspired St. Nicholas Day (also commonly known as Feast Day or the Feast of St. Nicholas). 

It is celebrated on 6 December in Western Christian countries, and on 19 December in Eastern Christian countries using the old church Calendar, it falls within the season of Advent. It is celebrated as a Christian festival with particular regard to Saint Nicholas’ reputation as a bringer of gifts, as well as through the attendance of church services.

In the European countries of Germany and Poland, boys have traditionally dressed as bishops and begged alms for the poor. In Poland and Ukraine children wait for St. Nicholas to come and to put a present under their pillows provided that the children were good during the year. Children who behaved badly may expect to find a twig or a piece of coal under their pillows. In the Netherlands and Belgium children put out a shoe filled with hay and a carrot for Saint Nicholas’ horse. On Saint Nicholas Day, gifts are tagged with personal humorous rhymes written by the sender. In the United States, one custom associated with Saint Nicholas Day is children leaving their shoes in the foyer on Saint Nicholas Eve in hope that Saint Nicholas will place some coins on the soles.

The American Santa Claus, as well as the British Father Christmas, derive from Saint Nicholas. “Santa Claus” is itself derived in part from the Dutch Sinterklaas, the saint’s name in that language. However, the gift giving associated with these descendant figures is associated with Christmas Day rather than Saint Nicholas Day itself

Jolly old St. Nicholas
lean your ear this way
you needn't tell a single soul
what I'm going to say
It's already out on twitter
and maybe on Tik Tok too
No one has any secrets left
what are we supposed to do?

Christmas Eve is coming soon
and so  you dear old man
help us stop the evilness
and mischief if you can.

National Candle Day– 3 December

Although it is a commercially inspired day, by Bath and Body so they can sell more candles, who doesn’t like candles? They are a staple of

  • birthday cakes
  • church services
  • electrical outages
  • jack-o-lanterns
  • special dinners
  • eliminating foul odors in bathrooms
  • mood lighting
The flicker of the flames
danced to the rhythm
of the rain
falling on the roof
Increasing and decreasing
in tempo
with the raindrops
during a Celtic Evening Service
in the church sanctuary

Saturday Mourning in Charlottesville

On Sunday, November 13, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. (a 23 year old student) fatally shot three other UVA football players – Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry – and wounded another football player, Mike Hollins, and another student on a bus returning to campus from a class field trip. The field trip was to see the movie Til in DC, followed by a stop at an Ethiopian restaurant for dinner. Although Jones was not a part of the class, he was invited to go on the field trip by his professor.

For 12 hours, UVA was on lock down until Jones was captured in Henrico County about 80 miles away. He was charged with with three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of malicious wounding and five counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony.

Classes were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday. The last home football game on Saturday, November 19 with North Carolina State was cancelled. However, the basketball games that weekend were played.

At 3:30 a memorial service and reflection was scheduled at John Paul Jones Arena. It was open to the public as well as the UVA community. UVA’s annual 5k, which was already scheduled for Saturday morning, was dedicated to remembering D’Sean Perry, Lavel Davis Jr. and Devin Chandler.

Sunlight was thin and the air was chilly as my husband and I drove and walked around the University of Virginia Grounds and area near some of the fraternities to see some of the public displays marking the deaths of the three football players. About 8:30, we saw dozens of students (many in UVA’s colors of blue and orange) walking or jogging toward campus in a steady stream of bodies.

Many fraternities had large white sheets displayed from front facing windows and porches with the numbers of the football players. They also displayed statements like UVA Strong.

One of the main places for students to share what they are feeling or thinking is Beta Bridge. Thanks to social media, dozens of students (mostly female) organized a group to paint both sides of Beta Bridge on Tuesday to share how they felt. By Saturday morning, dozens of candles and flowers had been left beneath the messages on the bridge and students were stopping to add small handwritten messages in any free space on the bridge.

Two other places on campus also marked places where students left floral tributes or written comments.

The back of the UVA Rotunda was not as tightly packed with tributes as else where.

Near the Newcomb Hall where we got welcome cups of Starbuck beverages to warm us up for our walk, we found a wall where students were able to leave chalked messages.

The only other memorial that we did not walk down to was located near the football stadium. “Gov. Glenn Youngkin dropped off flowers at the University of Virginia football stadium Tuesday, where students have left mementos honoring the three players killed in a shooting Sunday night.” Supposedly a private moment, it was recorded and shown on local news, where Youngkin appeared grief stricken with quivering chin while he explained his desire to be there to remember the three young men.

November 16 is International Day for Tolerance

The International Day of Tolerance seeks to promote tolerance, respect, appreciation and cooperation amongst the world’s different cultures. Tolerance refers to the recognition and acceptance of looks, opinions, beliefs and practices that differ from one’s own. Tolerance is considered the backbone of human rights and fundamental freedoms as people are naturally different. Tolerance allows mixed communities to thrive and ensures that all humans are equally important.

The International Day of Tolerance was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1996. It has since been celebrated annually on November 16 by those who strive to unite the world through mutual understanding and respect.

Intolerance means:

Indifference to others suffering
Nativism when it comes to immigrants
Tribalism (us against them mentality)
Obtuse logic about why "they" are inferior
Legally withholding rights others could or used to enjoy
Entitlements for those that feel it is their due
Rants against them (who are not us)
Arrogant behavior becoming the norm
Name calling and failing to assume responsibility "because..."
Cancerous growth of hatred
Enormous damage to the ones who are intolerant and the ones that are no longer tolerated

We've grown more intolerant of other races, other religions, other ideas, other political parties, other countries, name or blame that group.

Drowning in Sound

The Saturday night
dinner crowd
surged into the 
tiny restaurant
the staff
the kitchen
fellow diners
and the acoustic
ability of the
room to contain 
the babble of sounds.

Loud voices
crying infants
clattering flatware
and plates
drunken laughter
impatient diners
flustered staff
made our booths
seemed like holding pens
for animals awaiting
by aural assault.

Why Did We Sour

Why did we sour
on the transfer of power?
To win at all costs
Means our angels have lost

Some one will win
and some one will lose
It depends on the vote
and who people choose

Don't be a whiner
if you side didn't win
Pick your sorry butt up
and try once again

I've heard lies on the left
I've heard lies on the right
I've heard people lie
rather than button lips tight

The whiners just cry
"Poor pitiful me,"
Instead of trying much harder
Can't they just let it be?

They used to be called sorry losers.
Now they claim voter fraud.

Soporific Saturday

The soft sodden morning
with it's feel of April
in November
enticed me to
slowly saunter
around the block
Overhead a soft
gray duvet
of clouds
on a fluffed up bed
of colorful, damp
leaves would be a
sophomoric idea
(wisely foolish
or foolishly wise.)

The plants were similarly
shooting out new growth
to peep out through their
covering of fallen leaves.

Even the spring-like bird song
seemed confused as if
the singers were unsure
what do to with the humid
 unseasonably warm air.
Nest or migrate?

Damp air held the scent
of decaying leaves
that clung to each step
with unrelenting tenacity.

Sweet Autumnal Melancholy

In homage to All Saints Day

Bright leaves falling
on graves, old and new
Confederate war dead
American ambassador
Probable suicide
All lie peaceful 
under the crazy quilt of colors

from children's cherubs and lambs
through simple veteran's crosses 
All that remains of those
that once were

Dying fall flowers
poke up through the layer of leaves
smelling of cider and fermentation
released as the leaves are crunched 

Frisking squirrels and
lamenting crows
the only sign of life
in this quiet
country churchyard.

When Fog Snuffed Out the Fall Color

Brilliant fall colors
under a misty gray sky,
elevation climbing
visibility falling,
leaves disappearing
clouds occluding.

Only color visible
off to each side
peripheral landscape
all that remains

Further up the mountain
periphery snuffed out
along with any signs
of traffic ahead

In the slow lane,
faint red lights flashing
through the fog.

Preferable to seeing
whiteout ahead,
pulling in behind.

Long seconds of
blind driving
speed dropping.

Red lights showing brighter,
back of a flat bed trailer 

Oncoming headlights
pierce through
thinning fog.

Peripheral color re-emerging
peak foliage
brightening the mountainside.

Passing on through
to the other side.

October 28 is National Chocolate Day

The history of chocolate goes back 2,500 years. Aztecs loved their newly discovered liquid chocolate to the extent that they believed Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom, literally bestowed it upon them. Cacao seeds acted as a form of currency. And this was back in the “bitter” chocolate days — before they added sugar! Once chocolate turned sweet — in 16th-century Europe — the masses caught on and turned chocolate into a powerhouse treat.

Several present-day chocolate companies began operations in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Cadbury started in England by 1868. Milton S. Hershey, 25 years later, purchased chocolate processing equipment at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago He started the company by producing chocolate-coated caramels. Nestlé, dating back to the 1860s, has grown into one of the largest food conglomerates in the world.

Did you know that chocolate is a fermented food? That’s right, once the cacao pods are picked, cleaned of pithy white material from the fruit and dried, the cacao beans are fermented. The papery shell is removed and cacao nibs are revealed. Chocolatiers then grind them into cocoa mass, separate them into cocoa solids and cocoa butter, and combine them with milk and sugar, or in the case of white chocolate, just the chocolate butter with milk and sugar.
Today there’s a move toward dark chocolate since it contains far less sugar. Ghana, Ecuador, and the Ivory Coast,all near the equator, have ideal climates for cacao trees and produce some of the world’s best chocolate. It’s best to look for dark chocolate from those regions.

But there’s a dark side. Child labor has become a serious issue. When you purchase “fair trade

Creamy, crunchy
Dark or light
Total deliciousness
In every bite

Add fruits or nuts
or  in s'mores
All of them
we may adore

Chocolate is my main addiction
My only complaint is too much restriction.

Random Thoughts from the Left Coast

On a recent trip to San Diego with a one day excursion to Laguna Beach and the Wayfarer’s Chapel in Palos Verdes, I had an opportunity to observe things and people. In no particular order:

  1. Gas Prices – In San Diego gas ranged from $7+/gal at a station in Pacific Beach. I think it was a Union 76 and there were no other gas stations, nearby. The most common prices were $6+/gal. On base we found gas for $5.75/gal.

2. Weather and Rainfall– Normally (now a word that seldom applies) October is warm and sunny. Because of the likelihood of Santa Ana winds it it often the peak month for wildfires. The week we were in San Diego, the marine layer came ashore daily like the more typical May Gray and June Gloom. On the night of the USS Midway Volunteer Dinner, which is held on the flight deck, people were walking around with umbrellas because it was sprinkling. I have no idea how long it had been since it had rained in downtown San Diego.

Midway Volunteer Dinner after the drizzle had dwindled

3. Drought, what drought? – As the plane began its descent into San Diego, somewhere over western Arizona, we could see that Arizona is still using a fair amount of Colorado River irrigation water from all the green crop circles in an otherwise dusty brown landscape. Once we got into California, it was easy to see how much of the reservoirs in East County had dropped from previous years.

Residential landscaping is still in the process of transitioning. Retirement communities in Rancho Bernardo had a mixture of lush green lawns and houses with all the grass replaced by decorated stones and mulch patterns or succulents. Other houses were a mixture of sparse, straggly grass with lots of bare soil.

We had lunch at the bar at one of one our favorite restaurants and asked the bartender what he thought of the drought. He paused from checking his cellphone to respond, “I’ve heard San Diego is not affected by the drought.”

4. Port of Long Beach -Enroute to the Wayfarer Chapel, we passed the exit to the Port of Long Beach. (From Wikipedia: Long Beach is a container port in the United States, which adjoins Port of Los Angeles Acting as a major gateway for US–Asian trade, the port occupies 3,200 acres of land with 25 miles of waterfront in the city of Long Beach,) The 710 freeway was jammed with massive tractor trailers barrelling along the narrow, tightly packed lanes. As we neared the exit for the Port of Long Beach, the massive trucks jockeyed to get as close to the head of the line as possible as the backup extended from the port onto the free way. Once we passed the exit, we were able to look down on acres of lined containers stacked four or five containers high. It was not possible to tell if they were empty and awaiting to be exported or full and waiting to be transferred to a waiting truck. We did not notice ships anchored off shore, waiting for the opportunity to moor dockside.

5. Trump National Golf Course – Right after we passed the Port of Long Beach, we noticed a Trump National Golf Course sign off the Freeway. (From Wikipedia; Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles is a public golf club in Rancho Palos Verdes, California with a 7,242-yard course designed by Pete Dye and Donald J. Trump Signature Design. It is owned by The Trump Organization.) I did not even know Trump had a golf course in the LA area. As we flashed by, it did not look as manicured as some of his east coast properties.

6. Wayfarer’s Chapel – This mostly glass chapel was designed in 1951 by Lloyd Wright, architecture son of the famous Frank Lloyd Wright. It stands on a bluff in Rancho Palos Verdes, and is one of the few places that still looks like California before it was overdeveloped. It is surrounded by redwoods and on a clear day, you can see Santa Catalina.

October 12 is National Stop Bullying Day

From the bully pulpit to the school yard, bullying should not be a spectator sport. Whether it is at a rally, trolls on the Internet, bosses or co-workers,or kids on a playground, bullying is cruel, demeaning, and will continue as long as people excuse it or tolerate it. Sometimes it is an individual, at other times it is an outcome of mob mentality.

I’m going to bet that almost everyone who reads this or deletes it as not applying to them has been bullied by somebody in their lifetime. Sometimes the bullying is on purpose, whether the bully justifies it as teasing or not. At other times the hurt can be accidental because we do not know where another person’s vulnerabilities lie.

Bullying at school can range from taunting to tackling, with many shades of torture in between. Bullies can be both adults and children. Over the years, the Simpsons television show has portrayed a huge range of bullies–some of them you might not easily identify as bullies.

People tried to bully me in junior high and high school. Fortunately for me, they were people whose motives were obvious and they were never able to generate a enough of a clique for it to become systemic or widespread.

Though there have always been bullies, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the issue began to be researched. Dr. Dan Olweus, a Norweigan psychologist, spearheaded efforts to better understand and prevent bullying. In 1983, in response to the tragic suicide of three boys who were being bullied, Dr. Olweus developed a bullying prevention program that helped to inform American anti-bullying efforts in the 1990s. 

In 1999, after the school shooting at Columbine, anti-bullying programs sprung up in and around schools. The tragic event seemed to give way to the movement, which focused on fixing the environment around victims – no longer putting the weight of the burden on the victim. To combat bullying, anti-bullying laws and policies were introduced, and teachers focused on empowering bystanders, policing classrooms and hallways, and punishing and reforming the bullies. 

From the webpage

Some anti-bullying resources

October 9 is Curious Events Day

How Curious Events Day originated remains a mystery.

Some have theorized that it was intended as a day when we could feel free to not sweat the small stuff. The annoying squeak in the door of the medicine chest. Those hard-to-open blister packs. The speed with which refrigerated strawberries appear to have attracted dryer lint. With all of that off our minds, we could concentrate on things really worthy of our mental ability.

What are you curious about?

  • Where the other sock goes
  • Why whichever line or lane you are not in seems to go faster
  • Why the more important the meeting or appointment after lunch is in direct proportion to your chances of wearing lunch
  • How does lint get in your belly button
  • Why does the traffic light turn yellow as soon as you get close
  • Why does the toast lands butter side down more than 50% of the time
  • Why you have to go to the bathroom after you pass the last rest area for the next several miles
  • How some politicians can keep getting re-elected
  • Do cats always land on their feet and do they have nine lives
  • If dogs are man’s best friend than who are dogs best friends
  • Do paperclips or clothes hangers reproduce in dark hidden spaces
  • Do elevators have a parallel universe they visit when it seems forever for them to get to the next floor
  • If the man in the moon shows us his face, does he show outer space his behind