We have moved scatterbeams to a self-hosted site at scatterbeams.com.
Please visit our new home.
I’ve moved the site from being hosted by wordpress.com to my own hosting.
And, if you have subscribed to a feed for this site, your subscription didn’t follow along with.
After this one, there probably won’t be any more posts from this feed.
Which means, if you are subscribed here, you might be wondering about the radio silence.
I’ve been busy, just not here.
Hop on over to scatterbeams.com, where you can see what I’ve been doing since you last heard from me.
If you want to.
Which you do, right?
If you are using GoogleReader, you can click the Add a Subscription button, and copy the URL into the open box. Easy peasy.
(Even easier if you have the “subscribe…” button on your Google Chrome toolbar. Oh, am I sounding like the converted acolyte? Oh dear.)
For other feed tools, um, I can’t help you with those. Just do what you usually do?
I’d love your company at the new home of scatterbeams. The kettle’s on.
I have this feeling of accomplishment – the kind that comes from actually DOING something I’ve meant to do for a long time.
Something that has been on my list, and moved to the next list, and written in my journal, and moved to the next journal, and taped to my monitor on a post-it.
Accomplishment feels like a bouquet of red balloons, or the bubbles in champagne, or tying your shoes by yourself for the very first time.
The only downside to this particular task completed is that hardly anyone will know or see the difference.
But I will.
And it’s huge.
While I have owned the scatterbeams domain name for a long time, I have been using this wordpress hosted blog for the site.
Over the last couple of weeks I
- transferred ownership of Kristina’s domain names
- arranged hosting for multiple sites – hers and mine – and some spares
- learned how to set up and use an FTP client
- researched and installed a new theme for my site (multiple tries there)
- modified the CSS of the new theme to suit me
- installed plugins and researched others to add features I couldn’t have on the old site
See what I mean? Most of those things are in the background – behind the curtain, as it were. But I learned a ton of new skills and put them to immediate use.
Ed had a knack for coming by and asking how I was doing when I was about ready to howl in frustration. I know I was not easy to help. He helped anyway.
Even so, most of it I figured out for myself.
Scatterbeams has a clean new design and I am excited for what is to come.
Now I am working on a photo gallery that will be part of the site – we’ll see how that goes. (It is still possible that I will become an active flickr user, but I am trying to avoid that.)
I expect this to be the last new post here. Please visit me at scatterbeams.com for more stories and photos celebrating life.
We have been hunkered down here, lighting candles, playing our favourite Christmas music, baking, and (finally) getting the last ornaments on our tree, landing the angel on the top-most branch.
Yesterday afternoon, new friends joined us while we made our holy grail of Christmas treats. The conversation and warmth in our kitchen was a balm and a joy.
And last night, two of Kristina’s dearest friends came over to comfort her, to keep her company through one of her darkest nights. We watched White Christmas, enjoying every minute.
Later, we went out on the porch to peer up at the moon, wondering at the cosmic forces at work to create a lunar eclipse. Wondering at the way ancient peoples might have explained it to each other. Wondering at the science we have explain it. Wondering at the way science doesn’t detract – rather, adds – to the magic for us.
Shortly after totality, the clouds committed to covering the sky. We didn’t see the light emerge again from the other side.
But we knew it would.
Much as, even in the midst of Kristina’s heart-break now, she can know light will come again.
What would love do now?
What if the answer to this question is all that really matters?
I am taking this to heart.
The sun has crested the trees now, shining glorious rays into the shortest day. (That is the view from my office, above.)
Tomorrow the little hands of summer will start pulling each day just a few minutes longer. This image sustains me through the darkness of the next six weeks. It seems to take that long for me to really appreciate – really believe – that spring is on its way.
This is my wish that you find light and magic in your day.
When my youngest sister was a toddler, she wanted to be part of everything around her, not missing a thing. She would often find my mother or me in the kitchen, climb up to counter height, and ask in her little-girl voice, “Making?”
Grinning, with her hands in whatever we were doing, she wanted to be part of the making. (Now, she makes her own wonderful things.)
Today I’m responding to Reverb10 writing prompt #6.
I make a real dinner most nights. I make cards that become handwritten love notes for family and friends. I make photographs and stories. I make birthday cakes that are not really cakes, more like sophisticated creamy desserts.
I make a home.
Last year, for Christmas, I intended to make a cushion for the window-seat in the kitchen. The window seat – six feet long, two feet deep, atop a bank of deep drawers – was Ed’s brilliant idea when we designed the kitchen during our remodel.
He often sits there at the end of the day, keeping me company while I make dinner.
I wanted that to be more comfortable for him, so I set about creating the best window-seat cushion known to man. First the foam, which had been in short supply since Hurrican Katrina – apparently most US foam manufacturers are in the Gulf region. I found just want I wanted, dense and firm, at a shop in Seattle.
Then, I selected a beautiful sable-coloured micro-suede for the cushion cover, and some chocolate-coloured micro-suede for throw pillows.
And then I ran out of time. With all the Christmas baking and a sick kid at home (Kristina had mono from Thanksgiving to Christmas), I just did not get the ingredients made into an actual usable cushion.
Ed was amused when I gave him a kit – along with the promise of completion – for Christmas. (You see where this is going, right?)
I really planned to get it made. Then my sewing machine broke. I drove around with it in the back of my car for a few months.
(Does anyone else do this?)
Then came the months immediately after Kristina’s injury. When I finally brought the machine in for repair, I was pleased to find that there was an easy fix. I was chagrined to learn the the fix was a new needle, which I had in my sewing kit at home all that time.
(Really. Does anyone else do this?)
So, now I have a sewing machine in good repair, and a year’s worth of mending stacked up, and a kit present from last Christmas quietly suggesting that I might have issues with follow-through.
Last night, I told Ed that I want to make his Christmas present this year, but that I feel bad about last year’s present being incomplete. (He was sitting on the bare window seat while we had this conversation.) I wasn’t sure which one to do first.
“Make this year’s first,” was his immediate response. Last year’s is already late – I think maybe he’s hoping to avoid yet another kit present.
So yes, there is something I want to make. I need to clear some time for that.
Before 25 December.
I think he’ll really like it. I do like making. I also like completing.
Christmas calendar: this tinted lip balm from Lush.
Simon’s Cat is at it again. Here is their Christmas greeting:
Christmas calendar: we are getting our tree today. It will smell like Christmas here tonight.
When I was in New York last January, I planned some time either side of the conference I was attending to walk around and make friends with the city.
Something unexpected happened: I fell in love .
It was the week before the Northeast would be buried under crippling storms and snowfall. The skies were blue, the air was crisp – every cabbie horn and hammer strike rang clear and sharp.
I took the subway, strode the sidewalks, grinned at furniture-moving-men, and snacked on slices of the best gluten-free pizza I’ve ever had (more on that later).
On my last day, I headed toward 7th Avenue to catch the 1 train to Penn Station, passing Madison Square Park on the way. I was taken with the park – wrought iron railings surround the green space, squirrels and birds nibble on found treasures, and this – Shake Shack.
It was 7 deg F – damn chilly for a Seattle-girl – and folks were sitting outside, chatting and gnoshing, enjoying the space. I was full of pizza and no longer had time to stop, but this looked special in a way I couldn’t define.
I knew I would put this on my list of places to visit next time.
Now, I have a better idea why.
I noticed today that registration is open for GEL 2011. On their home page is a link to Randy Garutti’s talk from 2010. Randy is COO for Shake Shack. He has some very cool things to say about food service, hospitality, and what makes Shake Shack work.
My favourite quote:
Make the charitable assumption.
You’ll have to listen to the talk to find out what he means by that. Here it is:
Even though I complain about Christmas music coming on too early in the stores, that’s only because I don’t want to get over-saturated on it before Christmas actually gets here.
I love Christmas music.
Every sleigh-bell, every chorus, every voice pitched to the heavens, every set of strings strumming a well-loved carol.
I put the instrumental CDs on in the morning to keep the dark at bay. I play Christmas carols – secular and religious – while I make cookies and treats to enjoy over the holidays (it makes the treats taste better) and while we decorate the tree.
I wouldn’t even think of wrapping presents without Christmas music in the background.
Naturally, we have quite a collection. And while we do not listen to all of them every season, these are always in the rotation:
I picked this one up years ago – I think I was buying gloves or socks or something, and this was sitting at the register. Yep, they got me. (The case and cover are long since gone – I’m not even sure of the title of the CD.)
I really liked this when I first brought it home, then decided I didn’t like the non-traditional arrangements, and have since decided that I like it a lot. What? I can change my mind. This is a nice mix.
This is hands-down one of my favourites of the season. When the Grinches threaten my Christmas spirit, this album sets me right; it is soulful and melodic, without being over-the-top cheery. I especially love her cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s Song for a Winter’s Night.
Vonda Shephard – A Very Ally Christmas
Vonda Shephard leads the way, with several of the actors from the show chiming in. Remember Calista Flockhart’s rendition of Santa Baby from the show, when everyone said Ally couldn’t make a Christmas carol sexy? She can, and she does. My favourite is Robert Downey Jr.’s version of Joni Mitchell’s River – haunting and lovely.
This album was a gift, from my Tina. It is an instrumental release, and lovely from beginning to end. Wonderful background to whatever we are doing, or a peaceful thing to listen to in the candlelight when I need to get my calm back.
Another beautiful instrumental collection from a sampling of Windham Hill artists.
We don’t have Celtic Christmas I or II (I assume the exist), but this is stellar. I found it in the Chinaberry catalogue – they have always been spot-on with their book and music recommendations. (This is another Windham Hill collection.)
This is blissful. Another recommendation from Chinaberry, this one came to us last year. It is a wonderful addition to the Christmas mix.
The movie White Christmas, with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, is one of our favourite Christmas traditions. The camaraderie between the leading men is great fun. This album includes similar banter between Frank and Bing in between Christmas standards. Perfection.
This was another gift from Tina. There are only a handful of songs on the album, but Michael Buble’s signature style rings through here, without the big-band distraction his music sometimes has. This album introduced my to Bublé.
If you have little ones, this is a treat:
This is a story narrated by Kelly McGillis, with musical accompaniment by Michael Hedges (another Windham Hill artist). After the story, the musical arrangements are repeated on their own. We still love this, so I guess it’s a treat even if you don’t have little ones.
I am a huge Pink Martini fan. They came to the winery in Woodinville this year, and we missed it. I hope they come back, to an indoor venue, soon. I expect this album to become a new favourite. I love when new music joins and compliments what we already have.
And now, my all-time favourite Christmas album.
Even though we have literally dozens of Christmas CDs, this one is first, last, and always the best. If I had only one Christmas album forever, this would be it. I will always picture the actors dancing on stage at rehearsal, Pigpen’s dust cloud ruffling up around him. And the droopy little Charlie-Brown-tree drooping under the weight of one glass ornament. And the whole group singing around Charlie Brown at the end, voices raised to the sky, tonsils and noses waving at the stars.