December morning greetings to you friends. Day has barely broken in the city of angles and I have risen early to start the fire in my virtual hearth. Here, let me just light the candles and commence the clattering out of this post. it’s almost Christmas isn’t it? Whether you’ll be spending it alone like me or in the safe company of your household pod I do wish you abundant happiness in these darkest days of the year. Dark but filled with twinkles, good scents, pots of stew bubbling on the stove, and warm cats that like to plop down on top of your journal or sketchbook and insist on cuddles.
Where shall I begin?
My daily art practice for December turned into birds. Unplanned, but a welcome retreat into beaks and feathers and wings.
It began with an impromptu gull I had taken a photo of when I was on the coast last month.
Then one thing led to another, as these things do, and soon I decided on a bird a day for this month.
I’m using the pages in a sketchbook that I haven’t liked up till now. It’s positively NO good for watercolor because the paper is too smooth, but it takes matte paint and gouache very nicely.
This is a strawberry tree. They are also known as Pacific Madrone and have gorgeous red peeling bark which I don’t have a picture of, but I did manage to capture their flowers and fruit which are on the tree at the same time! They are in glorious bloom here and have clusters of bright fruit that hang like cherries all over the tree.
Ginko season is wrapping up. These bright beauties are almost finished with their leaf carpet factories. To stand anywhere near one and look up or down is a real pleasure. I have my favorites I like to visit to see the progression. I have tucked a few of the fan shaped leaves into my journal for safe-keeping.
This is what I do. Walk among the bright colors of December then home to roost.
My 3 week winter holiday from school marm duties officially started as of Monday. How lovely to have these days ahead to draw & paint birds. No Zoom meetings spent trying to convince & encourage children to turn in their assignments. No faculty meetings listening to important lectures and slide shows on incredible relevant topics about which I was heretofore ignorant. No thinking up new ways to motivate and inspire. No classroom visits from helpful admin with excellent tips on how to improve. No siree. Madame School Marm has left the building. Her boat has become unmoored and she is blissfully lost somewhere at sea. Unreachable until January 11. Kindly deliver instructional tips, useful information, and advice to my digital inbox so I can read it and take notes then place it in the proper receptacle at a later date.
When not drifting in my sailing vessel, I spend time basking in the sunshine of patio or porch. Emptying my mind of unnecessary stuff.
To study my growing things and marvel at the winter garden, oh it is glorious!
We’ve had no rain yet so I continue the hand-watering routine.
All plant life in these three photos I’ve started from cuttings. The Copa D’Oro vine, aloe, aeonium, and various succulents.
Even the smallest cutting can turn into a large plant if one has patience. With a year-round growing climate, we Southern Californians have plenty of that.
Our winter thus far has been far warmer and dryer than any in recent memory. I miss the wet cool gray days of winter, but am relishing extra time outside. How good it is to sit outside and write in my journal, lift my face to the sun, and absorb some extra vitamin D.
Still, what I wouldn’t give for a snowstorm and a roaring fire in an enchanted cabin in the Canadian Rockies.
It goes without saying that it is a cold dark winter for many here in America and other places where the virus is spreading like wildfire. I listened to an excellent episode of On The Media (NY public radio) about mourning during the time of the pandemic. Really worth a listen and the 2 recited poems are lovely.
During the last 9 months I have often reflected on the incongruous nature of the global pandemic. Hunkering down at home is not a hardship for me, but I have sympathy for those who are having a difficult time of it. I’ve got plenty of cozy pursuits to keep me feeling okay about everything. Then, I am fortunate to have people I can socialize with via video chats and zoom meet-ups. After all, despite my solitary ways, I am still a social creature. I imagine there are plenty of people who could be feeling very isolated and lonely if they are cut off from all manner of social activity. If that’s you, hold on. You’ll be up to your usual tricks inside of a year. Not much comfort if you’ve already hit rock bottom, I know. There is never a better time to learn to marshal your inner powers and settle into yourself more deeply. It’s the project of a lifetime, but for some a condensed crash course during this pandemic. Come on kids! You can do it. Our country, our world has been through much more difficult and trying times than these.
Those on the front lines of this pandemic appreciate our efforts. My sister Carol is receiving her vaccine this week! As you may know, she is a nurse in busy city hospital in Kansas City. I couldn’t be more relieved. The Moss family has been lucky so far, no casualties in the virus war. If you have not been so lucky, my deepest truest condolences.
One thing that feels like pure comfort lately is to have a big fire going on either my television or big imac screen. They have all sorts of excellent long fireplace videos on Youtube. I like the ones that are not loops and where you can hear the crackle, pop, and hiss of the wood. I almost always have it going when I’m creating or writing in the evenings. If, like me, you don’t have an actual fireplace, I hope a virtual one makes you as happy as it makes me!
For the first time ever, I had the brilliant idea to put potted poinsettias in the empty window boxes. I like to see their velvety leaves waving at me when I’m in the living room.
On woodsy walks at Descanso I always find trees to lean against and gaze up into the leafy canopy. What solace one can find in the company of trees!
Streams and ponds are plentiful and capture the reflection of the branches and leaves.
How I enjoy seeing the leaves that have let go of their branches and are now floating and sinking in the ponds.
Soft piles of yellow.
The camelias have started to bloom.
The aloes are holding their bright torches aloft.
Look at us! We bear tidings of comfort and joy!
My front garden is never better than in December. Nature’s Christmas decorations.
Streaks and piles of clouds.
If I don’t tune in before Christmas, merry merry. May it be good despite the pandemic. May you have time to be still. To walk among trees. To pursue some creative act. To come home to yourself in the darkest part of the year.
Do chime in if you get my smoke signal. Sent out into the milky sky of morning to wherever you may be. It’s bright pink smoke. You can see it with your naked eyes.