Last Night of Hanukkah

Let me start with the …

Lighting of the Candles

Written by Ellen Bring and adapted by us:

With this candle of Peace and Justice, tonight, we light the candle(s) of [check below to see what night(s) and word(s) apply, depending on the night]. May [repeat the names associated with the candle(s)] burn brightly in our hearts and manifest in our daily lives.

Peace and Justice: Shammash (9th candle, lit every day)

1st night: Respect
2nd night: Love
3rd night: Compassion & Empathy
4th night: Connection & Kinship
5th night: Enlightenment & Consciousness
6th night: Liberation & Freedom
7th night: Gentleness
8th night: Harmony & Cooperation

In this time of the miracle of Light, let the message, the mission, and the action be enlightenment. May humans open their hearts and immediately cease their war against other animals, Mother Earth, and each other. May we cease our ignorant, arrogant, unconscious, and violent ways, and become our highest selves, filled with love and respect for all who are here, committed to gentle coexistence with Mother Earth.

May those beings who are suffering be released from their pain and terror.

May those beings who are unjustly imprisoned and enslaved be freed and unshackled.

May those beings who are anxious and scared know peace and courage.

May those beings who are cold and hungry know warmth and plenty.

May those beings who are lonely and depressed know love and joy.

May those beings who are lost and abandoned be found and loved.

May the waters run pure and free; the flowers bloom; the trees grow old; and the Earth renew and reclaim herself.

May the Light of the universe shine upon everyone and everything, and through everyone and everything, so that all beings experience their highest, truest selves.

May kinship with all life blossom and flourish in our hearts, and may peace and justice for all living beings and things be now.

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A day late during a very, very busy holiday season for me, with dinners or brunches almost every day. Now we’ll finally get to the holiday drawing….

Though it has been busy, it also has been lots of fun. Starting with getting to know Steve’s parents. Steve is our daughter Liana’s boyfriend. Having both of our kids and their partners and parents around for get-togethers has made for lots of laughing and drinking and eating. And we’re not done yet. One more brunch and dinner and I will not step into my kitchen for a while. Except to grab leftovers from the fridge.

Knitting will become my main activity again. Remember Liana’s sweater I need to frog (unravel)? It’ll hurt but be so worth it. She says it’s ok being a little big, but, nah, it has to be perfect. I have many winter months left.

So let me hop over to the random number generator and see who will get an extra present this season.

The envelopes, please:

Almond chocolate bark. Ta-Da! Dawn

Chocolate truffles. Ta-Da! Cindy

The Cowl. Ta-Da! Cereza

Happy Hanukkah – 4th Night

Not much to report here, actually not much time for writing. Last minute vacuuming done, all spices and foods packed so I can do a brunch tomorrow morning for the Bay Area family. Presents wrapped and ready for delivery.

While cleaning up, I noticed we’ve received only one holiday card. Stephen and I disagree about whether to display the thing or not. Of course we don’t write cards anymore, a story I will let you in on soon. But it looks so cheesy only having one card. Then again, the card comes from very important people: Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter. Perhaps we can impress the holiday guests with it.

Your Ta-Da! Moment: It’s Janie who won the 2 truffles today.

Lighting of the Candles

Written by Ellen Bring and adapted by us:

With this candle of Peace and Justice, tonight, we light the candles of Connection and Kinship, Compassion and Empathy, Love, and Respect. May connection and kinship, compassion and empathy, love, and respect burn brightly in our hearts and manifest in our daily lives.

In this time of the miracle of Light, let the message, the mission, and the action be enlightenment. May humans open their hearts and immediately cease their war against other animals, Mother Earth, and each other. May we cease our ignorant, arrogant, unconscious, and violent ways, and become our highest selves, filled with love and respect for all who are here, committed to gentle coexistence with Mother Earth.

May those beings who are suffering be released from their pain and terror.

May those beings who are unjustly imprisoned and enslaved be freed and unshackled.

May those beings who are anxious and scared know peace and courage.

May those beings who are cold and hungry know warmth and plenty.

May those beings who are lonely and depressed know love and joy.

May those beings who are lost and abandoned be found and loved.

May the waters run pure and free; the flowers bloom; the trees grow old; and the Earth renew and reclaim herself.

May the Light of the universe shine upon everyone and everything, and through everyone and everything, so that all beings experience their highest, truest selves.

May kinship with all life blossom and flourish in our hearts, and may peace and justice for all living beings and things be now.

Happy Hanukkah – 3rd Night

I lied. All this time I was under the mistaken impression that Christmas Eve and the last night of Hanukkah collided this year. Not so. High School algebra was of no use to me after all. Eventually I would have figured this out. It would have been a clue when the candles ran out.

This might be a good thing, now we get to celebrate 9 nights in a row.

I’ve cleaning news and progress to report, but that’s boring. I’ve let go of a lot of cleaning. The basics are done and we all will have to live with what didn’t. There were no plans to eat off the floor anyway.

Let’s get right to the Ta-Da Moment! Barbara Sue, it’s you for the 2 truffles.

And for the Lighting of the candles tonight:

Written by Ellen Bring and adapted by us:

With this candle of Peace and Justice, tonight, we light the candles of Compassion and Empathy, Love, and Respect. May compassion and empathy, love, and respect burn brightly in our hearts and manifest in our daily lives.

In this time of the miracle of Light, let the message, the mission, and the action be enlightenment. May humans open their hearts and immediately cease their war against other animals, Mother Earth, and each other. May we cease our ignorant, arrogant, unconscious, and violent ways, and become our highest selves, filled with love and respect for all who are here, committed to gentle coexistence with Mother Earth.

May those beings who are suffering be released from their pain and terror.

May those beings who are unjustly imprisoned and enslaved be freed and unshackled.

May those beings who are anxious and scared know peace and courage.

May those beings who are cold and hungry know warmth and plenty.

May those beings who are lonely and depressed know love and joy.

May those beings who are lost and abandoned be found and loved.

May the waters run pure and free; the flowers bloom; the trees grow old; and the Earth renew and reclaim herself.

May the Light of the universe shine upon everyone and everything, and through everyone and everything, so that all beings experience their highest, truest selves.

May kinship with all life blossom and flourish in our hearts, and may peace and justice for all living beings and things be now.

Happy Hanukkah – 2nd Night

Last night Stephen picked up a book I had on hold at the library: The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis. I read late into the wee hours and finished this morning. Obviously I recommend the book. Nothing earthshaking, but a good read.

Finished some more truffle orders and other than that this day was pretty uneventful. Tonight will be more exciting as we’re invited to dinner.

The winner selected by the random number generator for 2 chocolate truffles is: Debbie! Ta-da!

This being the second night of Hanukkah, here is the “prayer” to go with the lighting of the candles. Every night we add another named candle. Yesterday it was Respect, tonight it’s Love.

Written by Ellen Bring and adapted by us:

With this candle of Peace and Justice, tonight, we light the candles of Love and Respect. May love and respect burn brightly in our hearts and manifest in our daily lives.

In this time of the miracle of Light, let the message, the mission and the action be enlightenment. May humans open their hearts and immediately cease their war against other animals, Mother Earth and each other. May we cease our ignorant, arrogant, unconscious and violent ways, and become our highest selves, filled with love and respect for all who are here, committed to gentle coexistence with Mother Earth.

May those beings who are suffering be released from their pain and terror.

May those beings who are unjustly imprisoned and enslaved be freed and unshackled.

May those beings who are anxious and scared know peace and courage.

May those beings who are cold and hungry know warmth and plenty.

May those beings who are lonely and depressed know love and joy.

May those beings who are lost and abandoned be found and loved.

May the waters run pure and free; the flowers bloom; the trees grow old; and the Earth renew and reclaim herself.

May the Light of the universe shine upon everyone and everything, and through everyone and everything, so that all beings experience their highest, truest selves.

May kinship with all life blossom and flourish in our hearts, and may peace and justice for all living beings and things be now.

Happy Hanukkah – First Night

This holiday thing had me clean my house a little deeper. OK, I admit it, it’s not the holiday thing, but Liana’s boyfriend’s parents coming to visit. As usual, I had grand deep-cleaning plans and even contemplated finishing up chores long since deserted mid-task, like painting the ceilings. But as time runs out and I’ve done fun things instead, like knitting, I’m getting more and more tolerant of the state of our house. If ever there was someone who took the concept seriously about clean house or fun with friends, it’s me. Friends win each and every time. So I will not be remembered as the German with the clean house, a myth anyway, but as someone willing to expose her cleaning shortcomings.

A little frantically, things are stuffed into the garage. This time from the front garage door. The access from the kitchen is kind of almost blocked. Sure wish I could start purging, but instead I told a Hanukkah well wisher today: sure I embroider and cross stitch, so apparently I’ll inherit what she didn’t manage to throw away. As you can see, I’m helpless and the situation is hopeless. Let’s move on, nothing to see here.

I decided to put the random number generator into action for Hanukkah. Tonight, one of you will be a winner of 2 chocolate truffles. If you win, you’re still in for the cowl and 5 truffles and the chocolate bark. The big prizes will be revealed on December 22 or 23.

Ta-da! It’s Ginna! We’ll talk flavors soon, and perhaps a visit?

And as a bonus, here is our prayer for the first night of Hanukkah (written by Ellen Bring and adapted by us):

With this candle of Peace and Justice, tonight, we light the candle of respect. May respect burn brightly in our hearts and manifest in our daily lives.

In this time of the miracle of Light, let the message, the mission and the action be enlightenment. May humans open their hearts and immediately cease their war against other animals, Mother Earth and each other. May we cease our ignorant, arrogant, unconscious and violent ways, and become our highest selves, filled with love and respect for all who are here, committed to gentle coexistence with Mother Earth.

May those beings who are suffering be released from their pain and terror.

May those beings who are unjustly imprisoned and enslaved be freed and unshackled.

May those beings who are anxious and scared know peace and courage.

May those beings who are cold and hungry know warmth and plenty.

May those beings who are lonely and depressed know love and joy.

May those beings who are lost and abandoned be found and loved.

May the waters run pure and free; the flowers bloom; the trees grow old; and the Earth renew and reclaim herself.

May the Light of the universe shine upon everyone and everything, and through everyone and everything, so that all beings experience their highest, truest selves.

May kinship with all life blossom and flourish in our hearts, and may peace and justice for all living beings and things be now.

 

Give-Away #3

Hi, remember me? I’m still here. It’s not just a stereotype, this sure is a busy season. Days seem to fly by, in and out. If only they would wait for me to get something done before they leave. But often it is not to be.

Since the holidays are coming at an even faster and more furious pace, we should all take a moment and find some time to relax and be together. I’m not sure how you go about doing that, but it’s a darn good suggestion, you have to admit.

Our family will be together this season with Liana and her boyfriend coming from Denver. And this year we get to meet his parents, who are also coming and tagging on a ski trip to Lake Tahoe or Squaw Valley. We’re not skiers and will not make fools of ourselves, no worries there. We’ll do what we do best and that is host people and wine and dine them.

Toby will head over from Grass Valley with girlfriend and her mom. All this on the evening of the 24th, when I actually celebrate Christmas. And this year it will also be the last night of Hanukkah. How much better does it get? I think everyone is relieved that I lay claim to the 24th and let them do their thing on the 25th.

A few more presents to wrap by candlelight and some incense burning, and I’m happy as can be, for now. Being who I am, I’m sure I can find something to be unhappy and upset about. Right now my pet peeve is the movement to diss saying ‘happy holidays,’ in favor of ‘merry christmas.’

Come on, that’s pure crap. This is a huge extended holiday season, and a ‘happy holidays’ is in order. Unless you count all your consuming in malls and online shopping as a merry christmas, you are plain wrong. You will have bought into a consumer mentality that makes people downright mean and selfish at times.

I prefer to look at this time of year as one big celebration of everything. Whatever you want to name your celebration: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Yule, St. Nicholas Day, St. Lucy’s Day, etc., lights play a crucial role. It’s December, it’s dark, shortest days of the year and all. We need something to cheer us up. This is when gifts of candles are appreciated. I always make sure I have hundreds of candles lined up from Ikea, I’m an Ikea candle fiend.

But let’s get back to the topic of giveaway, meant to cheer us up. You’ll have 2 chances to win. One of them is a package of 5 chocolate truffles, flavors will be the maker’s choice. And you have to be able to pick them up at our house, here in Nevada City.

The second gift is the purple cowl. I’ll give you a picture below, so you know what you’re getting into. The colorway is called avalon. It’s one of those hand-wash lay-flat-to-dry items knitters are so fond of. Now how to get into the drawing for this? Hmmm, let’s say you have to be a subscriber to this blog (look to your right and up), and how about paying it forward. Just make a commitment to do something good for another person next year, I trust you and don’t need the details. And let me know in the comments below or in a private email if you would like to be in the drawing for the cowl or the chocolate truffles or both.

The cowl and truffles are for pickup at our house if you live locally, or if you live outside this area and have a U.S. address, I can ship the cowl to you (not the truffles).

A happy holiday season to all!

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Say Thank You

We are rushing into the gift giving and consuming portion of the year. It’s time to buy, buy, buy, we’re told. It’s time to say thanks. It’s time to make the rich a little richer and us poorer folks burdened with a little more stuff. That’s how I see it, anyway.

For some of us, this holiday season is an opportunity to combine our love of knitting/crafting with showing love to others. We love planning for you. Coming up with the perfect gift item. We love choosing the yarn that will envelop you. We love the process of hours upon hours of repeating pretty much the same stitches. We love meditating, with you in our thoughts and heart. And let’s be honest, we also don’t shirk away from some cussing when things go wrong. But be assured, most of what you are receiving is pure love.

Unfortunately, we are only human and come with expectations of being appreciated and thanked. If you don’t like the color of the socks, or that scarf clashes with your hat, or the shawl is absolutely not your style, we’re sorry. We would have gotten it right if you would have given us better directions. Or maybe we were just wrong in choosing what we did. It happens. But what’s left is still the love, nothing can take that away.

My advice to everyone on the receiving end of knitted or other handcrafted gifts is this: Muster up as much of an enthusiastic ‘thank you’ as you can. A thank you for the love shown, the appreciation expressed, the time devoted, and perhaps even the gift itself, give it a chance. Obviously the knitter or crafter saw something that might not immediately be obvious to you.

You can’t even exchange the gift? Listen, you don’t want to. Why would you want to return love? For what? A Dollar Store trinket? Socks made in China?

This year, honor the intentions that went into the knitted gift. And give the appreciation it deserves, if not from your perspective then from the giver’s perspective. We have that much empathy left, right?

Speaking only for myself here, I don’t mind if I get a big thank you and an ooh and an aah, and then a but…. It’s not your color? You would never wear it? It clashes with your coat? It itches? Give it back gently, and ask if I would know someone else who’d appreciate it. It would save some knitting time next year when I’m under the holiday pressure. For a knitter, one of the worst fates is the gift stuffed in the back of the closet.

Of course the best is if you let me know in advance what you like. Don’t get too specific. Don’t take away my joy of hours with Ravelry looking for the perfect pattern. Or looking in local yarn shops or online for the perfect matching yarn. It’s ok to name a category like: scarf, shawl but no lace, socks but not too colorful. If you need it to match a coat or pants, say that too. Just don’t treat me like the hired help by handing me a picture and telling me: knit that.

 

Give-Away #2

Let’s do a small giveaway. A few dishcloths. If you haven’t used them yet, they might change your life. I’ll let you pick 3 out of my dishcloth stash. They are 100% cotton and can be thrown into the washing machine and dryer. The colors will fade over time, but the cloths will serve their purpose much longer.

If you want to be part of the drawing, leave a comment on this post or send me an email. I’ll mail only within the United States. If you live in another country, find yourself an address here or give these as gifts to someone in this country; I’m willing to gift-wrap. If you live locally, pickup is at my house, to save me postage.

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This family is still reeling from and dealing with the tragic news of Gemma’s death. Knowing that time manages to heal, I’m waiting patiently. But deep down in my heart I know her death will always stay with us.

So I’m throwing myself into the knitting. My thoughts are now: the more difficult, the better, give me distractions and difficult lace patterns and impossible intarsia that I have not mastered yet. Anything to keep my mind from wandering. Unfortunately, the knitting that really needs doing is not very concentration-heavy. It’s knitting for my newest grand-niece. A little cardigan, with a matching hat should the yarn last. The cardigan is done and I’m not unhappy though the colors look awfully familiar. No, I didn’t buy the same yarn. But Fleece Artist and Miss Babs must like similar colors. I bought Fleece Artist a few years ago and so had forgotten about the color scheme until I pulled out the little girl socks today. Now I’m wondering if indie yarn dyers get inspired by each other. You be the judge.

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Black Friday. That term has never meant anything to me. I don’t think we ever had a Black Friday in Germany. So I can’t even tell you if I ever shopped on that day. But this time I did.

Before Thanksgiving I went for a button shopping trip to our Ben Franklin’s. Success was mine, and then I fell in love with a quilt on their wall. This quilt came with a package of 2 1/2 inch strips of various patterns. If you hang long enough with this blog you should eventually see what I’m talking about. Anyway, these little package gems come for a dear price, one I was not ready to pay.

I decided to wait for their next 20%-off sale that happens every last Wednesday of the month. December it would be. Then after getting home and checking email, what was in the inbox? Yeah! A 40%-off coupon for the infamous Black Friday. Wild horses and all.

So first thing after our morning walk with dog was a trip to the shopping center. Right away I could tell this was no ordinary day. I had never seen so few cars in that parking lot. And all my agonizing if they would have any of the 7 packages left was for naught. There they were, all 7 of them, ready for me to make my choice.

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So what is this Black Friday thing? An urban myth?

Heartbreak

There are days that should not happen. But instead these days get replayed in one’s mind over and over and over. Such a day was yesterday. After Stephen picked up the phone and I saw his expression, I knew something was terribly wrong. It was Toby with the saddest of news. Gemma, his and Christy’s dog, was hit and killed by a car.

We try to be supportive, but as a parent I feel pretty helpless. We are all devastated.

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We don’t often do Thanksgiving and especially not this year. Instead I was trying to get ahead of the holiday season. My knitting is mostly done except for the blocking. I can actually get away with calling it good. Most of the holiday presents got wrapped today and are sitting in their respective bags in the living room. We still have to add some items that have not been delivered yet.

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Holiday Season

I love the lights, love the bustling about of shoppers, as long as I can stay on the outside looking in, and tolerate and eventually hate the music.

Most of my holiday gifts are either handmade or bought long ago when I knew this is exactly what you would like.

Here is my thought of how to enjoy this holiday season/spirit without having to consume. I’ll go to the mall. With friends. And knit. We’ll plop ourselves right in the middle of the bustle and knit and talk and absorb, but only the good spirit.

Is that possible?

I have mentioned this before, but every year the memory comes back and I love repeating it. A few years ago as I walk joyfully and full of enthusiasm and good spirit through the Mannheimer Weihnachtsmarkt, and the heck with it, I’m stealing these images to show you the place of the crime.

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And this one from Dominik Rossbach / Stadtmarketing Mannheim GmbH

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and some more

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just one more from Mannheim

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and Heidelberg

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During the Holidays in Heidelberg.

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I’m sure glad the area I’m from knows how to turn on the lights;-)

Back to the story. As i’m walking on cloud 11 through the market, I hear a guy say to another guy while passing by me: “Every year, the same shit.” It was like a cold shower.

It could have been me saying that, while living in Germany. But seen from a distance, almost outside, I found it all marvelous.