Saturday, December 28, 2013

Drifting down the tracks of Christmas memories -

Drifting down the tracks of Christmas memories - KPCNews: Kpcnews

The above link is this week's column sharing Christmas memories. When life changes, it is important to establish new customs and traditions so I did just that fourteen years ago.

The Christmases I spent on the farm with the boys cannot be replaced. I knew when I was divorced that it would be impossible to continue the traditions without the farm...without the children...without the past.

It is not easy to venture out to new horizons when we are caught up in our own traditions, but there comes a time that we must do it.

The above link shares a few of the adventures I have embarked upon since those days. I think the challenge is to be able to let go.

I met a woman the other day who said that her Christmas was to be the same as always. She was a single woman who had no reason to be living the same traditions that were making Christmas a season of sadness. I told her to hop a plane or a train and just go somewhere new.

She gazed at me as if I had told her to fly to the moon. Do we need permission to try new outings? Who gives us the permission to go or who tells us not to go? I guess these are things to think about in the new year.

As for this Christmas I decided to take a plane to visit Ocracoke. It is lovely here this time for visitors (sorry about that), and no heat! It is always nice to visit Philip in his village of family and friends as well.

I took this photo of the Methodist Church yesterday in the late afternoon. Enjoy as well.

Until next time, let your mind wander a bit.

Lou Ann

Monday, December 23, 2013

A view from Cushendall, Ireland.

A lovely view of winter from Cushendall, Ireland. This photo was taken by my friend
and storyteller extraordinaire, Liz Weir.

The Winter Solstice has passed balancing the dark and the light. My old house welcomed friends and family as we gathered on that night to share each other's cooking, read poetry, and sing songs. We ended the night by lighting my Christmas tree and singing "Oh Christmas Tree."

As each guest left I handed them a bag of cornmeal to scatter around their favorite tree. It is an old Solstice custom.

As we near Christmas I have photos from friends and poems to share with you as well. The above photo was taken by Liz Weir who lives in Ireland. I had the opportunity to spend time with Liz a few years ago in Ireland and also in the United States. On this day she is snowed in by an old-fashioned blizzard!

The poem is from John Cunningham. I think it fits the photo very well. Enjoy the poem and, if you feel like it, please dance a jig at the end! We read this poem at our Solstice party.

"The dark of winter wraps around us tight.
The lamps are fired, and flickering light 
beats time to the fiddle as notes float softly down, 
like the years' first snow.

While outside the window a blast of late December wind
whistles harmony to the drone of the pipes.
We push the old year back against the wall
so we can dance a jig for Christmas
and welcome in the New Year."

John Cunningham
Dublin, Ireland

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Solstice

Today is the Solstice. It is one of my favorite days in all the year. It is a simple day with the world balancing the dark and the light, the day and the night.

Traditionally, we light fires, sing songs, and wish for the sun to return. As we celebrate the darkest of the dark tonight, let's remember to toast the sun giving her permission to come back to warm our fields and grow our gardens.

Happy Solstice.

A winter scene in my small town in Indiana.
Photo by Tyler Moor

Lines for Winter

Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself—
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon's gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Sing Ye Noel...

The cabin has been electrified, but is heated with an old pot belly stove.

Helen Swenson's Art Cabin
Jonah at the Christmas sing at Wing Haven

This is my youngest grandson, Jonah. (I have four in total!) I took this photo of him at the Christmas sing at Wing Haven in Angola, Indiana.

This lovely old cabin, nestled in the woods in northeastern Indiana, has been owned and cared for by Acres Landtrust since 1983. The cabin (see above) was built from 19th century tulip logs and was the art studio for Helen Swenson. The studio is open to the public the first Sunday of every month and the sing is held the first Sunday of December. 

This is the event that begins the Christmas season for me, just as you have similar events in your hometown. We gather for a Christmas sing-a-long with guitar music from some of our faithful folks who have always played! 

We just shout out the name of a song and we all fumble to find it as we are wearing gloves and mittens to stay warm. We sing and then find another one. Wassail and cookies are served after the event in the same cabin. The children always run outside down the ravine to the lake while the adults gather round and tell stories.

For more information on Acres Landtrust or to donate to the preservation of these beautiful land in Indiana, please log on here:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Stories from a Small Town

This is the Mound in my hometown.

Photographer Bill Eyster took this photo on Saturday evening after the big snowfall. He was on his way home from a photo shoot and said he just had to stop and take this photo.

This Civil War monument sits in the middle of our town and the commerce of this small town spins around this relic. The monument is decorated every Christmas and has music piped out of the base for folks shopping or just strolling by. The music used to play all night long until a few folks who lived in the downtown complained about the tune. The rest of us love it!

When our ball teams or choirs or bands come home after returning from competition they always circle the mound and honk (more than once!) Actually they go around several times!

I always make the circle myself when coming home. The mound is our welcome mat to visitors.

Here is the wikipedia entry:
The most popular landmark in Angola is the Monument, referred to by locals as "The Mound" or the 'Circle'.
Built in 1917 by E.M. Heltzer, The Monument commemorates the Civil War. It has statues for all four branches of the military. On top is the statue of Columbia, facing east. It cost $17,000 in 1917, over $1,000,000 if it were built today. The Monument is the center of many town celebrations and festivities. It was unveiled on Thursday, September 13, 1917 at 1PM to much fanfare. On the Monument are plaques with the names of the 1,278 men from Steuben County who fought in the war. Per capita, more men from Steuben County enlisted for the war than any other county in Indiana. The monument underwent a renovation in 1993 and was re-dedicated during Fourth of July ceremonies.

I was asked by Mayor Selman to do the dedication of Columbia in 1993. A scaffold was built for me so I could be seen from all four directions. I told her story and sang a few songs. I spent weeks sitting on the mound, waving to friends, and trying to imagine times gone by. It was the biggest honor ever given to me by my town.

Come on by and visit, take a spin around the mound, and then come on over for supper.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

It’s time to wish upon a Christmas star.

Here are just a few photos from today's storm. We were to get only six inches of snow, but as of last measurement, we had eight. 

It has been a gorgeous day in Indiana. Of course, plans all were awry, but then again, "plans of mice and men." Everything everywhere is canceled. It is nice to let the world rest for a day or so.

It is indeed nice to be cozy and warm in this old house of mine. Enjoy the photos and the link to this week's column.  As always, thank you for reading.

Lou Ann

It’s time to wish upon a Christmas star - KPCNews: Kpcnews

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Christmas activities culminate fun holiday season...

Christmas activities culminate fun holiday season - KPCNews: Kpcnews

Here is the link to this week's column. As always, thank you for reading. I love writing stories for you!

Finding the perfect Christmas tree.

Finding the perfect Christmas tree can always be time consuming. My family and I usually go to Booth's Christmas tree farm and cut down our own trees. However with the trip to Arizona we changed schedules. So Kathy Vaugn and I set out to find our own perfect Christmas trees. We knew we did not want to cut them down ourselves so we hunted all over town.

We finally found our trees at Gary Stroh's apple farm. Gary was right there holding the trees up and helping us find the best one for us. When we did find the best trees, he cut off the bottoms and loaded them into the truck. We felt like pioneer women driving around town with our trees in the truck.

Getting them out of the truck and into the house was a totally different scene. However mine is up and decorated, and it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas in my Small Town.

Lou Ann

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