This past August, I visited Australia. Being in the southern hemisphere, it was winter there. (Or, as I called it, since the weather was still quite temperate, “winter.”) In any case, there perhaps weren’t as many flowers blooming as there might be in other times of year. But we did come across this field of poppies near the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.
These particular poppies were knit and crocheted, many sporting buttons or beads. I’m not sure when these particular poppies were planted. I believe that they are likely part of the 5000 poppies project:
From its association with poppies flowering in the spring of 1915 on the battlefields of Belgium, France and Gallipoli, the poppy has become a symbol of both great loss in war and hope for those left behind
As a crafting community contribution to the Centenary of Anzac Commemorations, the 5000 Poppies project “planted” a field of nearly 300,000 poppies in heart of Melbourne as a stunning visual tribute to Australian servicemen and women for more than a century of service in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.
You might be wondering about that seemingly random list of words: spider, bird, party. In my head, they aren’t random, though. They have a sort of roundabout connection.
For a start, our house is still decorated for Halloween. We kind of went all out this year, as the kids hosted a bit of a party for some friends a couple of weeks ago. And one of our major Halloween decor themes is spiders and their webs. Here’s a sample.
We also tend to have a lot of bird-related things. For Halloween, we have some various crow, raven and black bird items, such as the wreath below.
But aside from that, the connection between the words for me is a bit more of a tangle. Yesterday’s photo of a bird statue with a spider web reminded me that the words for bird (ptak) and spider (pająk) in Polish are two that I have gotten mixed up before. In case you are wondering why I have had the occasion to mix them up at all, I’ve been casually studying Polish using DuoLingo. (I had a conference in Poland last year, and I started the study as a bit of preparation for the trip. And I’ve just been continuing, with no concrete goals aside from learning some of a new language.)
But thinking about the various ptak and pająk items we had up for our party also reminds me of the most surprising word I’ve learned so far in Polish. The word impreza means party. It just so happens that I have been driving an Impreza (a Subaru Impreza) for the last 14 years, and had no idea it was a party.
Below is a photo I happened to have in my phone of the impreza.
(I sometimes take a photo of my car in parking garages to remind myself of where I’ve parked. Usually I delete it afterwards, but I happily I still had this one. Because what’s a party if you don’t have photos to show for it?)
I’m rather fascinated by the term fascinator. It’s a much more fanciful expression than “funny little fancy hat.” In any case, I fashioned myself a fascinator from a fluffy little friend. Well, really, I just took one of our many spider decorations, and fastened it atop my head. I felt it worked just fine.
We got our Christmas tree this weekend, which is remarkably early for us. We even managed to put it up the same day. (There have been years when the tree sits outside for a few days before coming inside.) I got a few photos of the kids decorating the tree, and this one was my favorite. The motion blur was completely unintentional, but it made such a beautiful circular pattern. As one friend commented on Instagram, it captures the feeling of the holidays.
Today we celebrated Thanksgiving, which is a holiday bound in tradition for me. And much of that tradition involves food. Not just the eating of it, but the preparing of it, the serving of it, and the discussing of it. I love that we have this holiday which centers around spending time with family and friends, and about sharing a meal with them.
Thanksgiving always leaves me full of thanks and of food, but also of nostalgia. More than anything, I think of Thanksgivings past at my grandmother’s house. I remember setting the table with the special china, fancy glasses and candlesticks. I remember being shooed out of the kitchen so my grandmother could manage the entire feat of feast-making in her own way. (Also because her kitchen was tiny, and she didn’t want us in the way.) I remember enjoying so much of the feast when it came time to eat, pretty much loving all of it, except for the dreaded liver lumps in the gravy. (My grandmother would cook up and dice up the giblets, and toss them into the otherwise smooth and tasty gravy.) And I remember the extended time in the kitchen after the meal, typically with one or two other family members, hand-washing and hand-drying all of the dishes from the meal. (Because my grandmother’s house did not have a dishwasher. Also, my grandmother was happy to get out of the kitchen at the end of the day.) I usually got the job of drying. I can still remember the feel of the dishtowels in my hand, typically linen and worn rather thin from years of use, and getting more and more damp until finally you had to get out a fresh dry towel.
I spent much of yesterday and most of today preparing food and preparing the space to eat that food. (Our dining room had gotten rather buried over the past 8 months or so, but I was bound and determined to unearth it.) We had a few guests (my mother-in-law, and a friend and her 2 kids), so there were eight of us. In spite of the moderate numbers, we had an immoderate number of food items on the menu.
Now that the day is done, and I’ve turned in for the night, I am still feeling full from the feast (which was blissfully free of liver lumps). I am also feeling full of thanks for the bounty of our feast, for our comfort and safety, and for the people in my life who make my life so full.
In about half an hour, many around the world will watch the ball drop in Times Square. I’m not sure whether I’ll watch that ball drop, but here are a few balls that I’ve watched in the last couple of weeks. (“Watched” in the sense of “looked at while I took a photo.”)
A shiny glass ball on my Christmas tree.
A soccer ball, and the bowl shaped depression it left when it was frozen in a puddle.
A new ball for the puppy, out on the frozen slush on the back patio.
A glittery decorative ball on the sparkling aftermath of a craft project.
While it had some good times, 2016 was a tough year in many ways. I feel like a dropped a lot of balls. Here’s hoping the new year has me successfully juggling my various projects.
On Friday, I helped out in my son’s classroom holiday party. We were encouraged to share holiday traditions. I organized a craft making little felt stocking ornaments, and shared the story of the time my family made our own Christmas stockings. (It’s amazing to realize that I wrote the post about that 10 whole years ago.)
I missed posting yesterday, because I was getting ready for a concert. Actually, what I was doing was putting together my late submission for the The Eleventh Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert, graciously hosted by Neil at Citizen of the Month. Go check out all the songs and photos! (And look for my stop-motion video doodling, accompanying a recording of “We wish you a Merry Christmas.” )