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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Heading to 2020

by Rain Trueax

sunrise December 18th from Casa Espiritu

The time between Christmas and New Years is a special time for me. Yes, the calendar is a manmade tool, but it can be used. The idea of moving into a new year, especially a new decade, feels important-- even more when it has such a neat sound to it-- 2020. 

This week used to be when I would write goals for the coming year. I did that for years. I was pretty much always having the same goals. I got more organized with them as I'd put them in three categories-- spirit, body, mind. I would think what did I want to do to move myself forward in each area.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas

From Ranch Boss and me-- Merry Christmas

a state of mind

by Rain Trueax

I hope you are having a great holiday season-- however you celebrate it. It would be nice if Christmas could be a time of forgiveness and joining together with love as we look toward a new year.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Monday, December 23, 2019

'Tis the Season

by Rain Trueax

Happy Hanukkah!

I've seen it spelled different ways, which complicates writing about it. Chanukah is the Jewish eight-day wintertime festival of lights, beginning with lighting one candle and nightly another on the menorah along with special prayers, songs, games, and foods. I had always heard of it as the eight-day miracle of the oil lasting during a siege.

The word means dedication because it celebrates the re-dedication of the Temple. It is also commonly spelled Hanukkah but it is pronounced (or so I read) with a gutteral 'kh' sound. 

I first learned of the dreidel when our son was in grade school and the teacher arranged for a Jewish student's mother to explain some of the traditions to the class. 

This year Hallmark has had two movies involving Hanukkah, which has involved one of the characters being Jewish and sharing part of the tradition with the other who celebrated Christmas. It's been a nice tough, I thought, to their holiday season plots. 

Whatever the case, it is part of this holiday season of lights. I found this image in Stencil and the quote one of those online that represent the meaning behind the celebration. 

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Winter Solstice

by Rain Trueax

We are here, at the Winter Solstice, over the hump and on our way back to light.  From the fall equinox, I look forward to this time when every day will mean a few seconds longer day. It's a time to celebrate, as humans have done from time immemorial. When humans were more dependent on growing their own food, this was so important that most ancient religious sites have a way for the priests/shamans to know exactly when it happened as it also related to when to plant.

When we got back to Tucson, I had brought artificial greens in a box. For years, we decorated with real greens but then realized we got sinus problems about that time. The artificial ones look real, don't require cutting up a tree or getting sick. They last season after season. In the box were two glass angels I'd had on the Oregon mantle. I was happy to see them as they mixed in well with the Southwestern flavor of our home-- plus were a little touch of family as they had been my mother's.

Then I got the idea to order fairy lights. They are tiny LED lights that are run from batteries. It let us have a magical glow at night when we settle onto the sofa to watch a movie like White Christmas on Netflix... A new favorite is Christmas Chronicles-- give it a try if you haven't already. It's not exactly traditional but anytime you have Kurt Russell rocking out as Santa Claus, it's a win/win for me.

There are many traditions for ways to celebrate this day. Most go way back in history but are easily adapted to today. I wrote about some for my book, A Montana Christmas, where the family celebrated not only Christmas but also the Solstice. In writing that book, it had been fun to research the many traditions possible. When I wrote The Marshal's Lady, I
researched the traditions that went with a Yaqui Christmas.

For today, to celebrate this season, decorating the home with sacred herbs and colors provides the right energy. Druidic colors are red, green and white (sound familiar-- it should as many traditions associated with Christmas came from pagan sources). Place holly, evergreen boughs, pine cones, and ivy around the house. A sprig of mistletoe is always good over a doorway. 

Christmas wreathes symbolize the continuity of life and the wheel of the year in addition to being welcoming on a front door.  

Anytime is a good one for conveying love to friends and family, but it was at the heart of Saturnalia, the ancient Roman festival celebrated from the 17th to the 23rd, whatever that was on the Roman calendar. Feasting and gift giving were also part of it as it is now with Christmas and can be for the Solstice. 

Of course, Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days along with traditional games, foods, and the lighting of the menorah.  
In these traditions, we honor the new solar year with light, which can be candles or open fires. This is when the Yule log is used. It is supposed to be oak as that has important symbolism but really any log works. 

Finally, contribute to others, donate food, clothing, money. Feed wild birds. The birds need us and we need them-- more than some may realize.

Remember, my books with Christmas in them will be on sale until the 27th. The info on them was in Wednesday's blog with four historical and two contemporary.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Holiday Sampler

by Rain Trueax

As part of the celebration of the season of giving, we are having a sale for my books that have Christmas in them. They are 99¢. Why not free? Well, it's not easy doing free if your books are wide. 99¢ is virtually free since the writer only gets 35% of that.

The banner below is a little unusual because their connection to each other is that celebration of Christmas, which impacts the characters. Usually writers put together historicals or contemporaries. In this case, four are historic, three in Arizona and one in Oregon; two are contemporary where Christmas happens in Montana and Utah.

What does Christmas mean to us? How do we celebrate it? Is it a time of sadness or of joy? These books, two full length novels and four novellas, explore various elements of a season that can mean so many things from great joy to great sadness for the expectations.

We are not planning ads for this sale; so it'll only be found by those who either get my newsletter, follow me on Facebook, or read this blog. While I am into subtly enjoying Christmas here in the desert, my biggest concern is how to get the next paranormal seen when it comes out in late January. 

You just got a sampler of my logic behind this sale...

The Marshal's Lady
He wore a gun, which she abhorred. When his estranged, 9-year old daughter showed up in town, Christmas might be a time they could all come together:

Rose's Gift
As a widow, she was too old for romance. He came along, and Christmas brought another surprise:

Frederica's Outlaw
She came to Tucson to find her daughter before Christmas. What she found changed everything:

Where Dreams Go
He had long loved her but when duty called, Christmas was spent a long way from her in the wilderness. Would he lose everything:

A Montana Christmas
She wanted to heal a broken family. Christmas could be the season for that hope. Would the price be too high:

Diana's Journey
After losing her marriage and all she thought she had, Diana is on a journey. Could Christmas just be a reminder of what she'd lost or or was this a new beginning:


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Saturday, December 14, 2019

Not much going on

by Rain Trueax

Our projects since we got to Casa Espiritu have been small ones, but I think good for the house. One is to begin replacing the windows in the living room with energy efficient ones. We got several bids and opted for less fancy windows than we bought for the Oregon house. Tucson, with its sometimes extreme summer heat, seem like a place to be practical. It'll take a month and a half to get them here with a crew to install them. I am not fond of having work done in the house and one window is right by my desk. But still, just one day and then better for not having the window let in so much cold, heat, and noise.

The travel trailer also needs repairs from damage done a few years back by the ironwood tree when we drove in. Turns out it hadn't been repaired well enough and now involves damage to the wood around the skylight. That one is more complicated because if we took it to a dealer, it could cost $4000 and have it there a month or more. If Ranch Boss does it, it's a lot of work for him but less cost as he replaces the disintegrated particle board with plywood and then seals it. He looked into a mobile repair guy coming here but turns out that they don't do that kind of work.

In the evenings, we watch to see if we are going to get a good sunset. It does not always happen as sometimes there is color but no structure and sometimes not much of either. Still, worth looking for.

To date, it's only had one time warm enough for me to sit on the patio to watch the birds. It's not cold by comparison to the north, but it's also not that warm without wearing a coat. So no photos of birds yet but there are a lot here.

We also saw the javelina with some babies-- but no photos. They are something to watch out for when going outside. Small and not dangerous to the level of feral hogs, their tusks can tear a person's leg open if they get startled and did kill the neighbor's dog some years back. Something that made us sad, as she was a really sweet dog, but she had to protect her property, and they had babies.

One more project that Ranch Boss had someone do was getting the gravel landing pad ready for moving the travel trailer beside the carport. That won't happen until the trailer has been repaired; so currently, it blocks part of our view toward the Tucson Mountains. 

This is all kind of mundane stuff and other than my writing and some ideas for possible trips down here for after Christmas, that's pretty much all there has been as we unwind from the drive and settle in here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

nature's gifts

by Diane and Rain

 Arizona sunset 12-4-19

With Diane taking a break until 2020, due to her need to be there for her husband healing from major surgery, her hanging a new show at her town's library, and computer problems, I will be posting all the blogs until after the New Year. I'll keep a regular one on Saturdays, as always, but the others may vary for which days or some might just be photos, such as the one above.

It turned out that sometime back I had put in a Word doc what Diane had written about a small stone she had given me and a painting she had done inspired from it. I instantly loved the stone, loved to touch it for its shape and smoothness. Of course, I had to buy the painting. With it she gave me a poem she had written. The stone and painting are in Oregon. I had taken photos of them thinking someday I might use them in a blog.

This seems the perfect time and season for the words and images.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

seasonal changes

by Rain Trueax

November 29th-- moon setting with the sun from our desert home, Casa Espiritu

How can it already be December with another year nearly gone? Where did this year go? In terms of my writing, I published nothing in 2019. I did write a book but the decision of when
to bring it out kept getting changed. It will be a pre-release, which I'll write more about another time with a firm date set in January 2020-- making it come out before Imbolc, when the story is set. I did not intend to have nothing new for over a year, but it just worked out that way. 

Because of the aftermath of travel, we had debated having a Thanksgiving dinner but ended up doing it with turkey and all the trimmings. This is the holiday season; but after getting the farm ready to leave and then the long drive, I am having to work to get into the mood. 

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

by Diane: favorite pictures of the week.

The chill of winter has arrived.
 Only a few surviving roses linger.
Light comes late and darkness early.

In a refrigerated atmoshere
 the roses hang on through frost and mist
day after day.

By the warmth of a wood fire,
 I review photos of a sweet spring and summer.
Sweet because one of these years our beautiful view will become an urban development.
I loved the ground cover under the redwood tree.

My phone takes amazing pictures all of which are different from how I see our neighboring fields and woods. I could not capture a good picture of the doves sitting on the iced over bird bath, or the flock of robins completely deneuding the holly bush of what was going to be my season's trimmings. I could not capture the robins' flight.  White from being back lit wings flutter and tail turning downward as they flew in to a perch on the birch tree. But my camera's frame helped me to appreciate small vingnettes of the whole like the ice in our birdbath. The rock being one of my on going painting themes.