Snug at Home in December

During the month of December, it's so nice to enjoy time at home.
Taking the time to notice the play of light and shadows in the entrance of my apartment.
Noticing the colour of the wood on my chair and the butterfly cushion.

Moving in closer, to see the Chinese lanterns that I love to keep in a vase at this time of the year.
The little dove wall hanging given to me by a good friend
and the tiny doll in a rocking chair given to me some years' ago
by a charming American lady called Belle, who used to paint
dolls' faces and dress the dolls.

When I made my bed in the morning sunlight, I enjoyed bathing
in that gentle light and was reminded of the book
that I want to finish reading during the holiday period.

Since Christmas is coming, it's the perfect time to get out my blue Mason Cash
mixing bowl and make some cookie dough for gingerbread men.
I froze most of the dough to bake these cookies fresh just before Christmas

... but I had to bake a few to taste, just to make sure they were spicy enough!
The pretty tea-cloth is a gift from my son who bought it when he visited
Windsor Castle recently!

I hadn't made rum balls for a few years, so decided it was time to make them again.
They're also in the freezer!

Then I made some chocolate truffles.
Oh my! They were too good to keep out, so I ate two and froze the others! 
I also made two other kinds of cookie dough that I've been making since my children were small.
Everything will be baked at the last minute so that it's extra fresh.

My little branch elves have found a special place on my small round table.
I bought them years ago in a craft market and they come out every year
to warm themselves by candlelight.

December is also the month for crocheting decorations.
This year, I found some glitter yarn in different colours and decided to make trees.
I like to try out different patterns and also use old favourites like the snowflakes
in this posting from 2012.

I love the atmosphere of lighted candles, the smell of baking, 
the inevitable mess of strewn yarns and my crochet hooks -
 it reminds me of when my children were little and I was always so busy
 preparing decorations and gifts and making our home inviting and full of 
the delicious aromas of baking!

The heartbeat of my neighbourhood

With all these inside activities, it good to remember to get out at different moments
during the day.
Sometimes, when I notice a special lighting outside, I like to take my camera
and catch a sunset.
From my local park, I can see the tip of the faraway mountains
 and connect with the neighbourhood in which I am living.
When I look at my street already in darkness, I see how all the buildings have joined up
as one connected scene, how the lights have come on in certain homes
and how friendly it all feels.
Although I have no close friends in the area, in this evening lighting, 
I feel a oneness with all I see
and how the rays of the setting sun bring us all together.
I return home to my small, snug apartment and feel contentment.

The lights on the small, real Christmas tree bring joy and warmth to this hanging heart.
I also think of those who once shared my life and are no longer there.
Remembering them brings them close again.
The heart is in their memory.

As we come to the end of this year, it is good to remember how we can become
more conscious and aware human beings.
Each one of us can do our part to protect our planet for future generations.

The tiny fir tree decorated for Christmas is watered regularly
and I will plant it outside so that it can grow bigger.
Forests and all trees are the lungs of the Earth
We need them to survive and they slow down global warming.
They need protecting.

Why not plant a tree in memory of a loved one today?

Wherever you are, whatever your circumstances,
may this holiday period be gentle to you.
For those who celebrate Christmas, may it be meaningful and joyful.

I am taking a blog break, probably until some time in January.
In the meantime,
take care!

Harmony Through Space and Form

Down by the lake
the weather-vane looked so elegant against the pale blue of the sky.
As if on cue, the three birds flew by in perfect harmony,
following the rounded shape of the arc.

The white bell-tower cut out against the deep blue 
allows us to study every detail without surrounding distractions.
I'm especially drawn to that suspended bell.
This type of capture is one in which space intensifies the experience of form.

Sometimes it is form which intensifies our experience of space.
In this image, the space becomes the part which is framed by the form
of the structure.

Sometimes, we aren't quite sure which element is showing off the other
to its best advantage.
I feel that the form of the metal sculpture 
really brings us into contemplating
the space of the sky, with more space appearing between the lines.
 I feel that the sky and the space complement each other just about equally here.

The chain is a really strong element here
and the colour and space of the water really shows all the details of the chain.

Some images are wonderfully contemplative.
I feel calm just looking at this one.
I was standing under a Weeping Willow tree
and watched those dainty branches blow in the wind.

A large stone structure seems to be swallowing the sky!

A tender moment against the rocks at the lake's edge.

Closer to home - and on one of my walks.
An expanse of cobblestones 
with a single oak leaf in the golden light of  late afternoon.

The simplicity of the grey, textured space of the roadside 
brings those beautiful leaves into our line of vision.

Even the urban chimneys have their place of honour.
This one is in my neighbourhood and provides the city with its heating.
Natural gas is used and is therefore non-polluting for our environment.
The smoke is simply water vapour which soon disappears into the air.

This is the same chimney taken in the early evening.
You make well ask why it is pink?
Well, during the Christmas period, right up to the New Year,
this chimney is illuminated by different coloured lights reflected at its base.
I happen to rather like the pink reflection shown here.
The lights at the top act as a warning to the helicopters
when they land on the roof of the nearby hospital.

I am taking an online class with Kim Manley Ort
Our exercise this week was recognizing the importance of space and form
and the roles they play.

Silhouettes and Skies

A trip out into the country where I can enjoy nature
and a simple fence silhouetted against the sky and mountains.

Closer to home, in my neighbourhood,
the local church steeple rises above the buildings around it on the hill.

A little fluffed-up sparrow settles on a branch
of this young Gingko tree which still has a few leaves.

There's nothing quite like hanging seed-pods 
to gracefully adorn the cloudless sky.

A little colour this time of these pods ready to drop and swirl in the wind
like mini helicopters when they leave the tree.
I find they look so glamorous against the pink tones of a painted house.

Mr. Blackbird shows us his elegant silhouette 
perched on a branch of a beech tree in the park.

These are the tall poplar trees I walk past
every time I go to my nearest park.

When I see that a beautiful sunset is going to take place,
I drop everything and go quickly outside with my camera 
and climb to the highest spot I can find
to capture the silhouettes of the trees against the forever changing sky.

The leaves of the tulip tree are easy to recognize
and the low hanging boughs decorate the sky
and fill my frame.

One last look at the skyline which is now turning orange.
I've taken a vertical shot to exclude distracting things
like tall city chimneys and cranes!

There are still some private houses among the buildings
in my neighbourhood.
I love to see this one cut-out against the sky on my way home.

The lighting behind the poplar trees has changed a lot
since I first went out.
I notice that the lights have come on along the small bridge
I need to cross to get home.

Some days, 
it's really worth dropping everything
to seize the moment.
Don't you think?
I hope you do the same!

Autumn Writes a Story

Spring is tender
Summer is passionate
Winter is elegant

 Autumn contains all these qualities
and shows us how.

with passion

and the tenderness of new buds forming for the following spring.

Elegance in the park

and when the autumn colours reach for the sky
we hold our breath at the sheer audacity

We follow the paths of fallen leaves

not wanting to touch a single thing

I've never seen such a beautifully decorated bench at the foot of a beech tree

Catch a falling leaf and make a wish
it is said that they always come true 
I'll let you know!
Here's one for you!

The sun plays such an important part
in illuminating those gorgeous leaves.

The Gingko leaves like golden fans upon the grass

lead us to some steps on their carpet of loveliness

which we climb to discover yet more beauty

The American oak leaves dance against a backdrop of sunlit beech.

The pond acts as a mirror
for a nearby tree

and the fountain is decorated with shimmering leaves from a tulip tree
floating on the surface of the water.

As I walk through the gates of the park
the fallen leaves seem to accompany me into the street
as if they know that I am unwilling to return back home.

Luckily for me,
this lovely park is in the city where I live
and I can visit it anytime I want.
It's only a short bus ride away.