Posts Tagged With: joy


DSC07673 (Copy)We all lose loved ones and we know it is hard to bear.  My friend Sharon lost her husband, mother and sister in a period of six weeks. She meets with a grieving group. She has many friends in her church and several nearby family members. Those connections play a huge part in healing. Some people have more difficulty than others and have fits of despair. I try to keep her laughing. We went to what she heard was a good movie, thinking funny and full of laughter. It was a good movie, full of dysfunctional family, struggle for achievements and in the end a success story. The name of the movie was Joy, about a woman inventor. Empowering in its way, but funny  it was not. Still, stepping out, enjoying a burrito bowl afterwards at Firewood in Murphys, certainly entertained both of us enough to decide we should do it more often. I’ve promised myself.  Ciao

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Christmas cards trend toward themes. Popular at one time are replicas of old-fashioned cards. So familiar are Currier and Ives, small snowy towns, people sledding through the snow. This one is a famous painting and charming. (Not Currier and Ives.)

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This is also a painting. The clothing shows the affluence these children enjoyed, reflecting their times.

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A famous Madonna painting. There are so many beautiful paintings of the Madonna in museums all over the world and many of them are replicated on Christmas Cards.

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What would Christmas be without an angel?

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Or thoughts of peace and good will?

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Also from a painting, these happy children playing in the snow.

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A more contemporary vision of children playing in the snow.

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Something warm and fuzzy.

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This is my favorite. It much reflects the era of my childhood. The kids of all ages, a couple of them playing on the floor, the boy reading in his socks with his feet up on a book, apples on the tree, showing your treasures to grandpa. The homey pictures on the bureau. The girls are wearing those awful long stockings I hated so much growing up in a winter clime.

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A touch of humor. Birds, animals and nature play heavily on Christmas cards.

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This one is such a sweet tickle. It also shows another tradition; we decorate and light up trees in our yards.

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Famous artists lend their skills to a Christmas card.

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A Christmas tree can be almost anything.

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I read in Smithsonian where it took a long time for Christmas trees to catch on. Now, a Christmas never goes by without a card with a Christmas tree of some kind on it.


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I liked this lovely message. Some are old worn out clichés.

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Christmas caroling is something not many people do anymore, but Christmas has its own special music, evolving year by year. But the old songs never go away.

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A popular song clings to us for years and here we see a popular song in this card, “…the partridge in a pear tree.”

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A Christmas card can be whatever you make it. And here I have to salute a local artist, Bambi Papais. She and her sister Judie are both terrific artists admired and locally renowned. So with that in mind, I hope you’ve enjoyed my rummage through my box of Christmas cards from 1992.

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Happy holidays.


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One year, about age six, my favorite Christmas gift was a Christmas card. I take great pleasure from them now and have a tendency to keep them forever, much to my kids dismay.  It’s harmless enough.

The yearly ritual of a Christmas letter for me began in 1988. It was disconcerting to have distant friendships from the past reduced to a Christmas card each year.  Sending a short personal message in each card wasn’t enough. Besides,  my penmanship is practically unreadable.

Friends often send a family photo, or a personal work of art made into a card. Mine are pretty dull, without photos. My parents had twenty siblings, thus cousins number over one  hundred. Now I can send Christmas greetings  on-line.

Internet cards, or a simple message has replaced cards for many of us. I treasure my email as much as I miss the cards.

My new ritual is to read last year’s Christmas letters, and cards, then put them away in a box. Then as Christmas approaches,  I take out old cards,  from any year,   to enjoy the beauty and sentiments.

Or the whimsy as in Happy Moo Year.

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Obviously,  some post offices must be closed. The US Postal Service is bleeding money while most of us communicate through our computers, fax machines or private delivery services. Consolidating is a hard decision when it affects postal employees during already hard times. I’ve heard neighbors grumble  why not cut down the number of days the mail is delivered? For rural folks like us, the Post Office is regarded as a necessity. House to house delivery was just a wish when I first moved to Calaveras County. In some remote areas it is yet the case and continues to serve as  a friendly neighborhood meeting place. You can’t just shout  “Howdy” to your neighbor as you drive by when neighbor’s driveway might be a half mile long on two dirt ruts. It is the place for a community bulletin board when you inform your neighbors there has been a death in the family, or you impart other less important information.  Giving up such a chunk of history will be hard.

From a purely selfish point of view, I’m hating the idea of closing post offices because I’m a stamp collector. It was a lesson in history growing up, inexpensive, and engaging at one time.  The above two post marks reflect local history from two different communities that most people could care less about. But, what’s in a stamp?  The small towns of Centerville, Irvington, Niles, Mission San Jose, and Warm Springs became Fremont in 1956. The post mark reflects the change from each community.  I wish I’d gotten a transfer mark from each town. The Calcopex post mark honors the former community of White Pines which consolidated with Arnold many years earlier. Local folks identify themselves as being from White Pines and wanted their heritage honored and remembered. They applied to the U.S. Postal Service and permission was granted.

I started my collection in 1946. And it was a thrill if a neighbor gave me a post mark from far away places, like Norwich, Connecticut, or Tuscumbia, Alabama. It was enough to make me dream of faraway places. Along with the  stamps I collected history on post marks.  (Click on the picture to enlarge it.) You notice abbreviations were CONN. and CALIF.  No zip codes. Stamps are pretty boring to young people who have the world at their fingers in their computers.  I still like to send away for Christmas Post Marks in exoticaly named places like Bethlehem, IN, Antler, ND,Chestnut,Ill, Snow,OK, and Angels Camp, CA. Yipes!  Just 9 miles down the road. I don’t oppose the closings, but I will miss the post marks. I’m saddened to watch this small part of history disappear.




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Hey, this guy is terrific and I’m a pathetic latecomer to realize quite how terrific he is. (That is Andrea Bocelli  with Kathryn Jenkins above.) I first saw him perform with Luciano Pavarotti on television where he was overpowered by the other voices it seemed to me. I couldn’t figure out why he never opened his eyes and needed a shave.  Over the years, a glimpse of him here and there revealed a beauty and purity of voice that I enjoyed but I had never watched a full Andrea Bocelli concert.  (I watch very little television.)  And, I knew nothing about his life.  What would we do without Wikipedia? You can check out his biography for yourself at the following link if you like.

He went completely blind at age 12 and made it in a tough and demanding business. He has maintained a demanding work schedule since 1992.  I was stunned. He played piano bars to put himself through law school and worked as a court appointed attorney for a year before he went into music full-time.  He’s blind! I watched the Christmas Concert on PBS Tuesday evening with David Foster and a number of guests including Kathryn Jenkins, Natalie Cole and the Muppets. Now, I know what beauty his voice can give you.  Better late than never. And, now I understand why he rarely opens his eyes.

I picked up this painting of Andrea from Wikipedia. There was no attribution, but as you can see, his trademark three-day old beard. Sorry if I was disrespectful. His Christmas Concert with David Foster was a wonderful, eye-opening experience for me. I love this guy.  If you go to the following link and type in his name you can hear his music.

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Several months ago, I picked up the book Blue Highways, by William Least Heat-Moon. He calls himself a half-breed. Part Indian, his father called himself Heat Moon, and his oldest son Little Heat Moon, thus, born last, William became Least Heat Moon. Least Heat Moon set out in a home-made camper van and traveled on “small roads”, across the U.S. from Missouri headed east to the coast then back through the Carolinas, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Utah, Nevada;  north to Oregon; east across the top part of the U.S., through the Great Lakes, up to Maine and then back to Missouri. An epic journey of trails and travails in fascinating prose. What made it special to me is the many places he passed through that I have passed through these last three years, with Jim, at the helm of a motor home. Least Heat Moon  reminded me of other RVers, (particularly our friend Randy Vining,) who take the path less traveled, and adopt philosophies of a simplified life. Emerson, Thoreau, poets, Walt Whitman, and other historic figures like Muir, who relate to nature and the simpler things in life. People shed their possessions and find harmony, peace and joy. On the road, we meet people who profess to want that, few find it. Be inspired by this book.  Here is a link to Least Heat Moon:

Jim ordered 68 books from the Book Barn in Connecticut, at $1.00 each. He finds an author he likes, and they ship him the used books. He is set to put in another order, and I’ve ordered two more “journey” books by Least Heat Moon and a Walk In The Woods by Bill  Dryson. What a treat, what a deal.

Yesterday was a quiet day of letter writing, swimming  and reading. The weather remained cool, but dry with a weak sun. Enough sun for Jim to get out and put new battery cables on the Bronco while I swam. At the pool, I met three kids from Tennessee with their grandfather. None of them knew how to swim. I had fun with the youngest, seven-year old, teaching him the basic rules of learning to blow bubbles, getting used to having his face in the water, and holding onto the edge and kicking. All benefit of watching my own grandkids take swimming lessons a few summers back. The boy was pleased with himself. I was taught the old, regrettable way, as a kid, when my dad pushed me off a stump and said, “swim.”

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