Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Roses in Winter, Deux

Today I went to the little park, where the winter roses bloom, and I gathered three roses. There were only three blooming. I also saw a sprig of rose hips, and took that as well. 

There is a new statue outside at our Cathedral, a depiction of Our Lady as she appeared at Guadalupe. I put the roses in her hands and I knelt and just had no words, except to help me be strong for my little family. I love the new statue. 

But I have been given a great gift to feel as if I am looking at the actual Blessed Mother. The Virgen de Guadalupe is the best-known apparition Mary has made in the new world, so she is especially dear to us here. On Mary's hand in the photo above, do you see a bright spark of light? Mary was in shadow, with the sun behind her. That little spark has me wondering.

And now the spark has moved...and doubled...

I can always feel Mary's eyes on me in church. She always has such a loving gaze, a balm to the heart.

The faithful have gathered the pretty berries that fell around the statue and made a ring around her feet. I love the childlike faith here. I wish everyone lived where the churches are open every day, and a Mass (or sermon) is said each and every day at each church!

I hope your week is going well and that "Hump Day" finds you safe, content, and well, and if any of those things are missing, may they quickly find their way into your life.

Kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Sassed by Google!

The other day, my husband and I were sitting at the big farm table he built decades ago. I have a love/hate relationship with that table: I love how I can spread out crafts, foods, and sewing on it, but I dislike how very massive it is. We have a "great room" in this current house, and it sits in there, near the kitchen. But for the usual formal dining rooms of suburban homes of the 1960s and 1970s, it is too large. 

Anyhoo, we were sitting there, and as usual my phone was near me. We were chit-chatting about something, and suddenly the Google Girl Voice boomed out something about whatever it was we were talking about. I hadn't queued it up in any way, and I don't have the Google Assistant enabled, but there it was, talking and talking. 

I told my husband, "Gee, that Google is always listening. It's like a spy."

Oh boy! Suddenly the voice, with a sound of anger, said, "We are not always listening."

I about fell off the bench. I was shocked! The voice went on, something like this (I was so shocked I could barely attend to what it was saying):

"Google Assistant is activated only when initiated...blah blah blah...we do not listen...blah blah blah...privacy something privacy privacy something....blah blah...You can open the Google Something and delete any conversation at any time."

I yelled, "You just proved you are listening!" and then I am afraid I said a lot of bad words mixed in with the Prayer of St. Michael.

And in the snippiest tones, Google Girl Voice then said, "Do you want to delete this conversation?" and I said, "YES!"

I'm pretty suspicious as a person, but having an argument with the Google Artificial Intelligence (AI) Karen Bot really shook me up. I was SASSED by an invisible robot spy!

I have also been sassed by an AI on the phone. I called an office, only to be met with a huge number of menu options. Press this, press that, and I mumbled something rude, like "What dumb-butt programmed this?" and the phone shot back, "Why, thank you!" in the most sarcastic tones.

The local university campus has a lot of actual physical "bots" that hurry to the dorms and offices from the various food and toiletries vendors on and around campus. Students and staff can order lunch, hygiene items, and so forth, and off will go a bot, rolling along with the students on the pathways, seeming almost alive! But the campus bots are friendly and polite! They don't sass anyone and they stop if you need to go in front of them!

Before Christmas I got some video and photos of them, but I'm too old to keep up with their nimble wheels. There are two in the photo below, both to the right of the pole.

I needed some time with nature after the run-in with Google! I went to church and there were so many lovely bouquets in honor of the Saints and of the Epiphany. I took photos of some lovely pale roses, and some bright mixed bouquets. I don't know if it's because of our large Hispanic population, but the parish churches just burst with flowers. There are always armfuls of roses at the base of each statue of Mary outside, too.

I hope if you are having a cold or dreary day, that these will brighten it! 

Have you ever been sassed by an Artificial Intelligence entity?

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Get Ready for Twelfth Night

I first blogged about Twelfth Night in 2015. Here is the post, updated a bit.

Most of my little celebrations are just me and the pets. Back when my first husband was in graduate school, we had so many friends (I thought), and Twelfth Night was loads of fun, with loads of company. *sigh*

But don't let a lack of comrades stop your enjoyment of holidays or events! Enjoy them yourselves. Draw memories of good times to yourself, and enjoy. With COVID, we are having to learn new ways to celebrate.

For Twelfth Night, lay in a goodly supply of nuts to crack, especially walnuts, and make a batch of spiced cider or wassail.  If you have the money, get some little pots of ivy to place around the den, or get any houseplants, really. 

WHEN is Twelfth Night? It's the evening of January 5th, the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany on the 6th. The Epiphany marks the end of Christmas (in most churches) and is 12 days after Christmas ("the Twelfth Night"). The song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" harkens to Twelfth Night.

If you can, have a smorgasbord: Cheese, meats, crackers, boiled eggs, carrot sticks, dip, jams.

Where possible, have a fire built in your fireplace. Have it burning brightly once it's dark out. Twelfth Night is a LONG party - it goes to past midnight. If you have no fireplace, and you can SAFELY do so, have a bunch of candles lighted, preferably up high so no one is endangered. If you are having a bonfire, get it ready. If you have no access to actual fire, play one of the fireplace videos on your laptop!

During the evening, before the stroke of midnight, feed the old greenery, twigs, cinnamon sticks, etc. from Christmas into the fireplace or bonfire, while snacking and talking. If you have a bonfire, I'd suggest throwing it all on at one go, and getting back inside to get warm. If you are lucky enough to have some teens at your fest, they will probably be "firebugs" and love to keep going outside and throwing things onto the bonfire.

If you are inside and have access to the fireplace, it's fun to throw the things into the fire a bit at a time. My favorite thing to throw in is a pinecone. If I bought cinnamon cones before Christmas, I throw them, too, since the scent's gone.

If you have no access to a bonfire or hearth fire, just throw the old pine boughs and greenery out of the front door! I just have a few sprigs of juniper and yew left this year, and some berries from a nandina bush. 

Now, Twelfth Night is not for the faint of heart. It's a time for telling ghost tales and odd happenings. In olden days, so was Christmas Eve, don't you know. So let your tongue run freely as to strange sights and olde stories (I have a million such), and if the feeling moves you, tell some new tales that pop into your mind. The key is to tell tales of wondrous happenings without being gruesome or awful or non-Christian - kind of like the "Sleepy Hollow" story.

If you will be celebrating alone, as this Olde Dame must, watch an old movie or read a book of strange tales (like The Hobbit, Rip Van Winkle, or even an autobiography of long ago, such as A Schoolteacher in Old Alaska which has many strange happenings).

As midnight nears, continue to crack open the nuts and eat them, throwing the shells into the fire. Pop popcorn and salt it well for luck. Talk or think of the year ahead, and sing olde songs. Remember olde times and olde friends and don't let the fire or candles go out before midnight.

Now, remember the broom you bought a few days back? Well, get it ready. Get your OLD broom ready, too. At midnight, you are going to THROW that old broom out your back door, bristles first. That broom is now your "yard broom" and its indoor days are over. It took last year's regrets and errors with it. Out they went. Take your NEW broom and draw it thrice across the front door threshold, drawing in luck. 

If you have guests, give each a little bag or jar of salt (luck) and a bag of walnuts (representing gold nuggets) to take with them as they leave.

I often stay up most of the night, just dozing on the futon or in a recliner.

If you can't manage Twelfth Night, don't worry: CANDLEMAS is another very olde celebration. It has you taking down all decorations by February 1st, and runs much the same way as Twelfth Night, but with even more plants to be placed around in anticipation of spring.  

As you know, of course, Twelfth Night is just done in fun, and is merely a fanciful attempt to recreate some of the holidays of the very early Church.

Kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame  


Monday, January 3, 2022

"In the Bleak Midwinter," Some Light!

I love that song, "In the Bleak Midwinter."

Oh, it's not midwinter yet, but it can feel like it when the Christmas lights come down and all seems dark. Even though the days are getting longer, January and February can still feel gloomy, especially in climes where it is cloudy and cold.  

I am extremely sensitive to light, or rather the lack of it. But even in the sunny desert, the winter days can feel dark. So, I always have a "substitute Christmas tree" ready for when the real tree comes down. I used to have a tall birdhouse on a turned table leg, but during the last move it disappeared, and so I am using a little birdcage I have, and reusing some "rice lights" or "fairy lights" that run off a USB plug. 

It uses negligible energy so it's on all day right now. I have a glittered bird's nest in there because I cannot yet let go of all the sparkle of Christmas! At night it gives a wonderful glow.

Morgy relaxing by the new display.

I saw on another bloggie fren's post that she has electric candles in her house year 'round. I am going to try for that idea, too! I hope some of the thrift stores will have some when they reopen this coming week.
And I am already at it with Valentine's decor. Just a bit! You might recall these items from last year, too.

We had a day of rain yesterday, unusual here. And then that cold front that's sweeping across the nation came in, and when the clouds lifted, there was snow on the mountains. 

I drove hubby up to the foothills and took some photos. We couldn't get close because the road had a gate across it. It's usually open.

Driving up to the foothills caused me to miss Mass at the parish I prefer. But God had a plan; Father Alex at the big parish had a homily I really needed to hear. It was about letting yourself feel joy, feel appreciation, despite the sadness in this world. To not feel guilt when seeking out joy and beauty. It's not a seesaw, where if you have peace and joy on one side, the other side tips up and dumps more sadness on the world! Well, he said it much better than I can. He feels that any happiness you have can help you reach out to others and combat darkness. "While you are biting into a piece of cake, don't let it turn to dust in your mouth because you think of the hungry children. Enjoy the cake and think of ways to help the hungry, and do it."

Some lore:

"When snow flies, rain falls, you see a bird on the wing, or breath is visible the first 10 days of January, so too will especial fortune and hope mark the days of the coming year."

Twelfth Night is coming! I will put up my usual post about it this week, maybe tomorrow. Don't forget to buy a new corn broom, if you can! Brooms are rather prominent in a lot of old lore.

Practical lore: 

525,600 minutes in a year! How many can you spare to help others and treat yourself kindly? 

This year, if you want to do so, get an inexpensive "planner" and on each date, write the weather, and if you feel inclined, write something you thought, or that you did. You will be glad you did, at the end of next year!

FOR THE DISORGANIZED: Get a very large box, if you are a disorganized person such as I. Get one of those photocopy boxes. Into the box, throw everything you think you might need, paperwork-wise. Receipts, notes you jot down, mail that you received. Keep it all in that box, if it has no other designated place. I used to have to dig through it constantly, but now my skills have improved and I am just comforted by it and don't often have to go rustling through it for something important. The box idea has helped a lot of young folks out on their own for the first time.

Thank'ee for stopping by! Do you know any New Year lore? What's on your mind today?

Kind regards,
Holly, The Olde Dame