A study in silver and white

Big snows in Central Arkansas are a rare event, at least compared to say, Buffalo, N.Y., or International Falls, Minn. So the Christmas Day blizzard here was a doozy in a lot of ways. Fun for kids unused to a white Christmas, but a long, cold post-holiday week for the 200,000 people whose power disappeared under the blanket of white.  (The National Weather Service office in Little Rock has a short history of Christmas Day snows in its forecast area.)

Hundreds of bucket trucks from out-of-state utilities such as Southern Electric Corp. of Mississippi, and disaster logistics folks like Storm Services Inc., converged on Arkansas to help.  We’re grateful to all the emergency workers who are giving up holiday time with their families.  Today the power flickered a few times;  here’s hoping the brief outages and clicks meant more people being reconnected to the grid.

12-27 Kanis road
WINTER WONDERLAND — That is, until you have to drive in it.
12-27 Pond2
REFLECTIVE — The pond’s still surface mirrors the snow-covered mountainsides.
Ice and snow coat a pine cone.
GLASSED IN — Ice and snow coat a pine cone.
12-14 Shimmery Sky
SHIMMER — Winter can make even the sunshine seem cold.

Weekly photo challenge: Our 2012 in pictures

We hope your 2013 is filled with happiness!
A few photographic snippets from 2012 in the Ouachitan woodlands of Arkansas.

And be sure to check out the challenge homepage: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/12/28/weekly-photo-challenge-my-2012-in-pictures/ a page that includes:

Weekly photo challenge: Surprise

Another better-late-than-never catch-up post. This time, it’s for the Dec. 21 WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Surprise. 

Little Rock hadn’t seen a white Christmas since 1926 and boy, was Mother Nature saving up. Arkansas received up to 15 inches of  heavy and wet snow. Here in our corner of the Ouachita Mountains, the snow pressed 152 trees onto the quarter-mile road to our neighborhood. Surprise! (More about this in a future post.)

The long quarter mile.
These bent and broken pines were just the tip of the iceberg. There were more than 100 broken trees further up the hill.

Other surprises:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate

A little family time. A little vacation time. A little time away from the computer and we’re a little behind on the latest Weekly Photo Challenges. So, T-minus two weeks ago, here are our entries for “Delicate.”

Others from the Dec. 14, 2012, challenge:


And a wealth of photographic delicacies may be found at the challeng homepage: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/photo-challenge-delicate/

It all started with a misprint

In a few hours, NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, will be tracking Santa’s progress as he makes his way around the Earth–even stopping at the International Space Station. It’s a tradition that spans many generations; from those who readied the house for Santa with in the time-tested analogue way: a tray of cookies and carrots by the fireplace, to the current generation who can follow him live online.

Why does this American-Canadian entity keep tabs on Santa? It all began with a misprint in a Sears advertisement and a little help from the inner children at the Continental Air Defense Command.  See the full story at:  http://www.noradsanta.org/en/why.html

For those who want to follow along, visit www.noradsanta.org/en/track.html.

Merry Christmas everyone!

(P.S.-Today is our third anniversary with WordPress. We want to thank you for your gift of readership. Merry blogging!)

In the bleak midwinter, a message of hope

For me,  “In the bleak midwinter” is one of the most hauntingly sweet, humble and hopeful Christmas songs. Gustav Holst’s melody can’t but stir the soul.  However, after years of listening to the Madrigal singers at the University of Central Arkansas perform the piece, I was finally inspired to seek out the words.  Adapted from a poem by Christina Rossetti, these lyrics are as moving as their musical setting.

The beautiful YouTube’d version by the Gloucester Cathedral Choir  includes lyrics. It’s worth a look and listen.

Merry Christmas!

Poem In the Bleak Midwinter set against bleak wintry scene

The photo above was originally posted in 2010, and has become one of the most-visited posts on this blog.

Gaudete Sunday

Today is Gaudete Sunday, the next-to-last Sunday in Advent. Advent, like Lent, is a time of introspection; a time to prepare the soul and mind. Advent encompasses four Sundays in anticipation of Christmas and Lent does the same before Easter.

During three of the Sundays in Advent and Lent, the priest wears violet vestments — a symbol of penance. Gaudete Sunday is one of two holidays in the Catholic calendar where rose vestments — which symbolize joy — are worn, the other being Laetare Sunday, the third Sunday of Lent. (A nice summary on liturgical colors can be found here: http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/LITCOLOR.HTM)

In the West, pink is a culturally difficult color. It’s OK for women, but often taboo for men. It takes a big man to wear rose, and they don’t come any bigger than B16. Biltrix has a great photo of Il Papa in his rose vestments. (In Thailand, pink has become associated with the king.)

A trend we’ve been seeing in the pews is parishioners embracing the colors of the season. At the Saturday vigil Mass, the pews were filled with men,  women and children who had worked rose or violet into their Sunday (or Saturday) best. It’s a powerful external symbol of the inner states that  Advent and Lent are meant to touch.