Christmas in October

I just realized it’s about time to start planning for Christmas.

The holidays have gotten easier to deal with since I started boycotting Wal-Mart over the company’s vicious treatment of former employee Debbie Shank, but I still intend to adhere to my annual tradition of getting all of my Christmas shopping done and buying two months’ worth of canned goods, pasta, and frozen vegetables by midnight on Oct. 31 so I can stay out of stores between Nov. 1 and Jan. 1.

To that end, I am shopping for socially responsible greeting cards (I think my favorite is the Amnesty International card with the globe and the dove and the Peace on Earth message) and planning an environmentally friendly Christmas tree.

I’ll probably set up the aluminum tree in the living room again, and I’ll probably make — and break — yet another promise to myself to get a color wheel for it this year, but I want to do a little bit more this time around.

We have a nice evergreen shrub in our front yard, the top of which should be reachable with a stepladder. We also have a smallish pine in the front yard that produces a few cones each year. While I was looking at the pine one day, I was inspired.

Remember making pine cone birdfeeders when you were a kid? That was always a popular craft when I was in Girl Scouts.

I got to thinking about that, and I decided I ought to celebrate Christmas this year by making a bird-friendly Christmas tree out of the evergreen in our front yard.

I’m looking forward to smearing pine cones with peanut butter and rolling them in birdseed. Maybe I can borrow somebody’s kid for that project. The little girls across the street are nuts about animals, so they’d probably dig helping me feed the birds.


That bwessed awwangement

I haven’t blogged since Wednesday because I haven’t been home and online since Thursday evening.

We bailed out of town after I got off work Thursday and drove all night to Illinois, rolling into my parents’ driveway around 6:30 Friday morning. Our mission was to attend (and photograph) my sister’s wedding.

Grace and her faithful sidekick, Geoff, got married Saturday evening under the gazebo in my parents’ backyard. We decorated it with garlands and twinkly lights and stuff to make it look all festive, and the kids had a big bonfire in the back 40 after the ceremony.

They used tiki torches to light the bonfire instead of doing a unity candle. In honor of Geoff’s fascination with Zorro movies, my dad made a wick for the bonfire and — unbeknownst to Geoff — arranged it in the shape of a Z so that when the fire started, the guests would see a big, flaming Mark of Zorro.

Of course the wedding was very pretty, and of course my sister looked utterly beautiful, and of course everybody had a lot of fun.

A big highlight for me was seeing my friend Zola and her family.

I used to babysit Zola’s daughter Jessica when she was little. Jessica is now in high school. I am still trying to reconcile the image of this teenage knockout with my memory of the first day I babysat Jessica. I think she was about 18 months old at the time. If I close my eyes, I can still remember the way the house smelled, and I can still feel the weight of her little body — all tangled up in her beloved white-and-blue blankie — in my arms as I picked her up to keep her from crying when Zola left, and I can still see the vaguely forlorn expression on Jessica’s little face when she’d wake up from a nap, bright-eyed, funny pink creases on one cheek where she’d rested her face against a fold in the blanket as she slept.


Speaking of surrealism, I blew into town early enough Friday to sneak down to Makanda for a few minutes. I wanted to photograph the garden behind Rainmaker, which is one of many inspirations for the fun things I am planning to do to my own garden next year. Here are a few shots:



I have more pictures, but something is going on with WordPress tonight, and I’m having trouble uploading things, so I’ll have to save them for later.