Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Christmas Wish...

Naughty Maudie wishes you a very nice Christmas!

Love and best wishes from the rest
of the Quiet County House Clan too!

photo by Aisling, December 25, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

Winter Solstice

A Song for Winter

Let Winter come,
cool and healing,
like the laying of hands
upon a fevered brow.

Let Winter's hush
lay upon us,
like new-fallen snow,
still and undisturbed.

Let Winter's subtle palette
paint the earth and sky,
letting our eyes rest
for a time.

Let Winter's cadence,
a long, deep breath,
slow our steps,
and steady our beating hearts.

Let Winter nourish us,
as the slowly melting snow
nourishes the earth
in the spring.

~ original poetry by Aisling, all rights reserved, December 20, 2007

photos by Aisling, December 20, 2007 1) Japanese Maple (cultivar: Waterfall) 2) ice & lichen on firewood 3) knotted grapevine

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Poetry Thursday - Handmade

Our Christmas tree is very homespun and eclectic, with no design scheme what-so-ever. Handmade creations, made by artists of all ages, hang amid mass-produced ornaments received as gifts and in stockings over the years. There are ornaments my husband made as a child, with his aunt or at a neighbors house, and there are ornaments I made with our children. There are both colored and "tiny white twinkle lights" because there is no consensus in the house as to which is better. Dotted around the tree are my favorite mid-twentieth century glass bulbs. I have only a few, but I love they way they reflect the sparkling lights - white and colored.

The styrofoam ornament above is one that my husband made as a child. It is hanging on the tree next to an ornament our youngest son made at preschool last year, and above one that his aunt crocheted early in our marriage. At Christmas time, the years and memories of our family are all stitched together, homespun and heartwarming, like a patchwork quilt.

(a Christmas Ornament haiku)

made by little hands
some so many years ago
some just yesterday

~ haiku by Aisling, December 20, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday Muse - Wintersong

I have been listening to Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong cd most often this holiday season. The tranquil mood it sets is just what I need to balance the hectic calendar that arises from children's musical programs, work Christmas parties, and other committments. My favorites, though it is so hard to pick, are Sarah's Wintersong and her cover of Joni Mitchell's River. You can listen to some snippets of this music here:

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Poetry Thursday - The Winter Landscape

sun-dazzled blue sky
stubbled hills softened by snow
a bright new landscape

~ Aisling, December 6, 2007

Shifting patterns of cloud keep changing the mood of this day. When the clouds cross the sun, the day is shadowed and one believes easily that more snow is on the way. When the wind moves the clouds away from the sun's bright face, the sky is vibrantly blue and the light glints off the snow that blankets the ground. I see evidence of the slow-turning of the year, as the stalks that supported last summer's wildflowers and the autumn's bountiful seedheads rise, pale and brown, above the snow. I wrote this haiku in one of the sunlit moments of the early afternoon. The photos I've included show both the shadows and the light of early December in these northern hills.

photos by Aisling, December 6, 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Poetry Thursday - Gathering

Some of my favorite children's books read like poetry to me, illustrated with pastoral or whimsical art. One such favorite is the book Gather Up, Gather in written by M.C. Helldorfer and illustrated by Judy Pedersen. This pretty book, subtitled A Book of Seasons, begins a poetic narration with Autumn and ends there again.

Here is just a bit that appeals to me, as autumn is hidden beneath a blanket of snow:
"Just like that
the trees are bare.
The geese have flown,
and children are home by fires.
The grapes are jam,
and pumpkins, pie.
Gather up, gather in,
gather close tonight:
Winter slips in."

photos by Aisling, November 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Almost Wordless Wednesday - November

At this time of year, there are afghans and throws tucked into baskets and draped over chair backs all over my house. If we are spending the day at home, by late afternoon there are extra blankets in use on the couch, as someone naps or relaxes while watching a movie. In the photo above, little Aidyn is napping, cat-style in a beam of sunlight, on a pile of blankets which I folded and stacked in the rocker.

photo by Aisling, November 10, 2007, Aidyn napping

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Traditions: The Christmas Dolls

Last year, beginning in late November, I wrote many posts chronicling our family tradition of learning about a country each year and incorporating some aspects of their culture into our Christmas celebration. I am including below a link to each of those posts, in case any one who is interested in this tradition missed out on reading about it last year.

1995: Sweden

1996: Mexico

1997: Ireland

1998: Australia

1999: Poland

2000: Japan

2001: Kenya

2002: Peru

2003: India

2004: Greece

2005: Russia

2006: Taiwan

More on Taiwan from our daughter's letters home.

photo by Aisling, November 23, 2007

Trumpets & Sky above Macy's in downtown Chicago

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Ice-Forming Moon...

This same November moon, the Ice-Forming Moon, rose over our own familiar snow-covered hills, but we saw it rise above Millenium Park in the Windy City.
photo by Aisling, November 24, 2007 - Chicago

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sunday Stroll - Through Shadows and Light

I have learned this week that I don’t know how to write about sorrow. A young friend , a seventeen year old girl, has been killed in a car accident along with a 20 year old man. The other passenger in the car, a 19 year old man, has been seriously injured but is doing well. I have tried several times to write of this tragedy, which came one week after the suicide of another young man in our community, but how do you summarize a life in a few paragraphs? How do you put into words all of the ways that grief colors your days?

I have learned that my community embraces families that endure such tragedies with food and financial support, sharing memories and tears. That is a positive thing about our community, but I wish I did not learn it through such sad circumstances as our friends losing their beautiful vibrant daughter. I wish I did not have to find out how many people in our community loved the seventeen year old with the amazing friendly smile after she was gone. And I wish, so much, that I did not have to hold my daughters, or watch them huddle together with their friends, while their bodies shook with inexpressible grief.

Mid-week, my husband’s 86 year old uncle passed away. Saturday we drove across the state for his funeral service, having already attended the services for our young friend a few days before. All around us, as we drove, was evidence of the season progressing. At first, the fact that life goes on despite one’s troubles seems a cruelty of nature. As we drove, leaves fell from the trees like tears falling to the earth. Wind blew some of the leaves away. I realized, as I have in the past, that the progression of the seasons is not a cruelty, but a gentle, healing balm.

On the ride home, we stopped to hike a path in a national forest. We walked 300 steps downhill to fresh water springs filling the wide slow-moving expanse in a river bed. The sound of the gurgling freshets, the crisp leaves underfoot, the deep peaceful shade under a canopy of branches restored us, as we walked together.

The photos that accompany this post are from Haiku’s walk closer to home today. She went to find the quiet, and to walk the healing trail through the shadows and light in the woods.
photos by Haiku, November 4, 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Leaf-Falling Moon

The leaves are falling now. The temperature is falling, dipping to freezing over night. Last night's rain and the early morning dew are dripping from the eaves of the house. As I write this, the brilliant full moon of October, the leaf-falling moon, has fallen below the western edge of the sky. But there are two sides to most things in nature, the light and shadow of things. And so this morning, mist is rising from the lakes and fields. The sun is slowly rising, spilling golden light over the eastern hills. And in our warm little house, sleepy family members are rising one by one.

photo by Aisling, October 26, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Poetry Thursday - An October Song

night rain is falling
wind is moving through the leaves
an October song

~ haiku by Aisling October, 2007

We woke to the first frost of the season. This will be the day I look for the windshield scraper, bring the green tomatoes in to ripen on the counter, and share my first frost-in-the-garden photos of the year.

photos 1) Maple leaf on the grass;2) Alchemilla Mollis (Lady's Mantle) 3) Weather-worn Pink Cosmos 4) Pink Zinnia glazed in frost 5) Yellow marigold

Monday, October 22, 2007


Kate at Our Red House awarded me with a CommunityBlogger Award. This award is meant to honor someone "who reaches out and makes my blogger community a better one." I love my visits to Kate's Red House and am so pleased that she enjoys visiting me here also. Thank you, Kate!

I haven't decided if I can narrow my list of blogging friends down to just a couple of award recipients. Everyone on the list, (and some others who haven't made it there yet because I haven't gotten around to adding them), makes my blogging community better and brighter.

If you are reading and I haven't met you yet, please leave a note on my door (otherwise known as a comment.) I'd love to meet you and to extend the borders of my blogging community even further.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Poetry Thursday - This Autumn Day

I was pleased to find a few moments to take photos on this busy autumn day. This poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay expresses the deep joy that one can find in nature. Is this joy more poignant in Autumn, because we know that winter will soon be here? It's very late in the evening, but I have another load or two of laundry before I can go to bed, or some family members will have "nothing to wear" tomorrow! *grin* I'm tired and sleep is calling my name, but waiting for laundry has given me an opportunity to share a poem by a favorite poet. I hope you enjoy it!

God's World

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this;
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart, -- Lord, I do fear
Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me, -- let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call. ~ by Edna St. Vincent Millay

photos by Aisling, October 17, 2007 1) Leaves on the fiesta maple 2) Haiku taking a walk; 3) other leaves on the Fiesta Maple

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday Stroll - Late Season Color

photos from the Cutting Garden by Aisling, October 14, 2007 1) Evening Scented Stock 2) Pink Zinnia 3) Orange Zinnia 4) Bright Lights Cosmos 5) Old Fashioned Garden Balsam, grown from seeds shared by a cousin (and friend and gardening mentor!)

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Little Note about Nothing Much...

This morning everything is dripping from night rain, but the sun is shining through the clouds over the eastern hills. We are expecting fair weather for the weekend, though seasonally cool, so my "to do" list grows longer: roll up and bring in the garden hose, clip back some plants that are "done" for the year, cut back dead blooms on the mums, and bring in the rag rug from the front deck. As I wrote this post, the softest rain began to fall, so I ran outside and took a couple of photos. The photo below is of one end of a rainbow across the western sky.

I've included a photos of sunflowers and yellow-orange mums taken this morning. You can see those flowers looking very different, in this post a year ago today.
photos by Aisling, October 12, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Cold Morning on the Hill...

A cold wind is blowing this morning. The early morning scramble for heavy jackets inspired me to clean out the front coat closet. It looks tidy and smells like lemon-grass and ginger essential oils and I have discovered a few things: Sijo has lost his winter coat, which would still fit him this year as it was purchased a little large last winter. I'll just add that to the shopping list. Haiku doesn't like any of the women's winter coats in our closet. None of them were purchased especially for her, and none of them quite suit her style. This may be the year that I buy her a good quality new one, since at nearly 15 years old, she is not going to get much taller (much to her dismay!)

I also noticed that this closet is one of the spaces in my home that has never been painted, beyond the initial one coat of ivory paint, that has faded and chipped over the years we've lived here. I may have to do a closet "make-over" this fall, as I did with my linen closet earlier this year. Hopefully I have some nice paints on hand in the basement left over from some other projects.

My good intentions are piling up like old magazines around the house. I have projects I want to do, breads to bake, autumn tasks in the garden to tend to. But these days, my mornings are dedicated to appointments or laundry, my afternoons to working, my evenings to after-school activities and homework. These obligations set the pace of my days and I have not yet found the quiet niches of time for reading, writing, or even rolling up my sleeves and tackling a project. I will... I just haven't yet.

I will make the time this weekend to pop some tulip bulbs in the ground with Tanka (he helped me pick them out) and to twist pretzels in the kitchen on Sunday afternoon.

photo by Aisling, October 2007, Cloud Tower over the back hill.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Poetry Thursday - October

A child looking at ruins
grows younger but cold
and wants to wake to a new name
I have been younger in October
than in all the months of spring
walnut and may leaves the color
of shoulders at the end of summer
a month that has been to the mountain
and become light there
the long grass lies pointing uphill
even in death for a reason
that none of us knows
and the wren laughs in the early shade now
come again shining glance in your good time
naked air late morning
my love is for lightness
of touch foot feather
the day is yet one more yellow leaf
and without turning I kiss the light
by an old well on the last of the month
gathering wild rose hips
in the sun

by W.S. Merwin, The Love of October

I think these thoughts about October are beautifully expressed. Someone please remind me to kiss the light by an old well on the last of the month, and to gather wild rose hips in the sun!

photos by Aisling, October 2007 1) Galliardia and Coreopsis in the evening light 2) Wild Rose Hips on the back hill

Monday, October 01, 2007

Sunday Stroll - Wild Harvest

The subdued tones of autumn, the mellow golds and brittle browns, may look like things are dying for the year, but as I took my walk yesterday afternoon what I saw all around was life replenishing itself. Stalks of tall grass were dropping seed into the creek bed and milkweed pods were swelling with their own downy seeds. Ripe grapes and viburnum berries, rose hips and thistle seed offered a feast to wild creatures, while ensuring their own abundant return.

photo by Haiku 1) Praying Mantis photos by Aisling: 2) Wild Grapes 3) Green Milkweed Pod 4) the seeds of a wild creek grass 5) thistle 6) rose hips 7) wild purple asters

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Seeking Moon

So often I see the September full moon called the harvest moon, and it is certainly a fitting name. As the full moon lit the sky the other night, I drove my oldest daughter and my exchange daughter to judo class. The moon was low and large, illuminating the lake with a cool wash of light. On the way home, very late in the evening, road-side farm markets were bathed in moon glow. At one market, shadows danced betwixt wagons overflowing with pumpkins and bushel baskets filled with hardy mums.

My favorite source for moon names, however, refers to September's full moon as "The Seeking Moon." That name intrigues me... slows me down to contemplate it's meaning. The Dalai Lama said, "I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we are all seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness..."

What are you seeking, as September mellows into October and the earth offers up her bountiful harvest?

photo Aisling, September 27, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Poetry Thursday - Tanka

According to ShadowPoetry.com, tanka is "a classic form of Japanese poetry related to the haiku with five unrhymed lines of five, seven, five, seven, and seven syllables. (5, 7, 5, 7, 7)" Here is a nice description of "American Tanka." Though I do not see it mentioned in these two websites, one of the things that originally led me to choose this form of poetry for my youngest child, was the mention of the "unexpected." He often does what I least expect!

With those explanations of Tanka in mind, I wrote the following this morning (though I have not included the "unexpected" element as well as I perhaps should have):

The road through autumn
is freckled with falling leaves
scattered by the wind.
One morning, frost gilds the earth
in silver bits of winter.

~ Aisling, September 27, 2007

photo by Aisling, 9/25/07, the garden path

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday Stroll - Autumn Arrives...

I usually buy one new variety of mum each year, unless a friend gifts me with some. Taking these photos this morning, I realized that I didn't have any orange mums, so I bought an orange mum called "warm igloo" (not in any of the photos) this afternoon at the nursery. I also bought two orange crocosmias. I guess it was my day to add orange to the garden. All I need now is a few pumpkins on the porch.

photos by Aisling, 1) Echo Bronze Mum 2) red mums 3) last year's red mum 4) pink mums transplanted from my sister-in-law's garden 5) yellow "Dendranthema" mums 6) another red mum 7) violet-pink mums shared by a family friend 8) little yellow mum purchased as a $1 bargain plant late last autumn, growing with blue veronica.