Restoration of Antique Nativity Figures

The historic church's  Nativity Scene was brought out to be set up for its fiftieth Christmas, but the group was very worn-looking and needed repair and restoration.   Most Certainly!   It was clear that the group was much loved by the people and so I just loved it, too.   Later that  year came the easy opening to ask Father if I might restore the figures, to say thank you for the community support for me while healing from an injury.  I had the interest and love and skills.

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It's About Life Being Valiant

The Winter Holidays work for a long list of reasons, but mostly because it Sings the Song of LIFE -  in the midst of cold and unfriendly days each year where all is dead or domant.  At such times, life is not merely charming, or warming - it is VALIANT.  

 Maybe that is why we love the story of Jesus so much - a really special new life, one that changed the world, delivered  in the middle of difficulty.  Valiant - a thing made more beautiful and clear because adversity did not dim its lights and actually made those lights shine all the brighter ! 

During a time where,  in most of the world,  people suffer from the cold its discouragement, this wonderful new life came to join us and show us the way.   So, instead of hiding out or quitting or crying or stopping our work,  we use the cold months as a generator of warmth, of insight, of triumph.  

One day, as a girl, an uncle with farmer skills told me, as I asked why he was shining up his tools, when it was snowing and nothing doing, " In Winter is JUST when we do these things, and we study the catalogs  ,buy the seeds and more, so when Spring comes, we will be ready and our tools and our plantings ready too!"  I carried that loving chat with me till this day to share now with you...just a beautiful thing to brighten gray days.  And he learned the way to use winter, in days when the Depression made such fidelity to life a valiant thing.

In college we learned easier lessons:   the winter months might inspire our best works - the challenge of the cold reduces heat's stupefying way - and opens the eyes and the mind.   Clear cold lights are sometimes the best!    Every glance says death or sleeping till spring, but not us - we breathhhhhhe in the challenge and breathe out fire of the mind and heart and the soul.  Every beat of our heart is winning argument against death itself.  Is that why we believe in pursuing long life?  


My show program on Death Cleaning


Christmas and it's all about life and the birth of the Blessed Infant.

But why just now are we hearing in headlines - "Death Cleaning"?  - in which the ailing or older person keeps their home with things ready for removal upon their death....they actually call it "Death Cleaning" - no.   It is good to keep our things in good order to make things easy on our grieving loved ones, but to call it "Death Cleaning" is like sleeping in one's coffin..."yehhhh pop the  lid on me and carry me out the door..." Yikes...word on this please.  But my word is that the tidied elder residence is very very good , but NOT to call it "Death Cleaning" please....Such thinking and speaking is very bad for the human psyche....brutal, in fact.  There is plenty to say death to us, and to undermine the one required factor:  that all our motives say LIFE !   Our goals be UNgood unless they are good for LIFE!  What do you think?In warm climates one kept burial things near at hand and disposed of their dead and their belongings instantly, to protect the corpse from what heat would do to it - the smell and disease and predatory animals that might happen would make a dignified passing impossible.  

IN cold climates it might be different and time to respect and celebrate the life that had just passed is key.   We write poems, give endowments, spend special times with the family and forever after, we show our love for life in memories of the one who passed, shared with all who might enjoy them.   We support our own lives, when we honor the dead.

But our changing society and its ways is threatening that.    My  widowed godmother died after a brief illness and for ten years had lived in one of the lovely senior condo setups we all like so much for our elders and soon, ourselves, perhaps. She was almost eighty and beloved of spouse and children and many others including me. Attended fun events, church and folk dances and more. Kept a lovely home, was pro-active with her family moments and always paying attention and careful to say the thing that would help.   I loved her.   Two weeks after she died, one would not know she'd ever lived - I was distraught at the rough way of it at her!    Everything out of the unit and all her possessions disposed of or passed to children . NIGHTMARE - so sub-human.  At least 30 days, to give the family that week or two for devotions and condolence and comfort...but NO - she might as well have been the family dog.   


The Strawberry Top

True story - first published 2001

No matter how much we love the Winter Holidays with all the trimmings, there is the validity of Christmas 'stocking stuffers'  - a refreshing escape from the "too-much-ness" of things.  Stocking stuffers and similar "little-gift" observances renew the awareness that the true holiday spirit is a small and shining moment that connects people in light !   A funny little thing can be like that! 

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Aftershow Afterglow

Monday November 27th 2017 -   grateful that good rest found me up and ready this morning.

Study subject for Spring/Summer art

Study subject for Spring/Summer art

Monday is Sunday for many artists because they work nights and weekends often, and sometimes permitted to do my Sunday religious things on Monday, as well, since the Sunday idea is restoration of the spirit , study and reflection - focus for the week ahead. 

Lunch was wonderful Thanksgiving dinner leftovers and amazing soup!  Then it was about packing gear and on to unfinished business from the previous Saturday.  The bus at my door and ten blocks to Artspace Hartford, to pickup a painting that did not sell after this year’s OSH Group Show closing.  Two strong fabric artwork sleeves and bungee, on a wheeled dolly for the 36 x 48 inch framed art, found me trotting merrily back home - cost:  thanks to senior deals and planning - $2.24 ,  a fun fee for  a trip to America’s  cradle!

Connecticut State Capitol Hartford and the famous ancient burial grounds and waters taken by the Founding Fathers and the Old State House that ran things, including the famous Amistad trial,  upstairs,  and on the groud floor- well….ground:  a mini-mall farmers market with dirt floor in places for livestock for sale and area produce in 1776.   Today the modern Farmers Market pitches its tents and tables there as a love song to forebears.   And THIS Hartord is my stomping grounds for five years now! Wow!   The nation's first museum now crowned by a controversial neon “OMG” over the fine restoration, to show they are NOT only about yesterday.

Four shows done this fall - and fit again, after a disability - my window to un-disable my formerly-lovely money.  New legal and business help empowers -  I WILL do it.  Recent prizes and sporadic sales satisfy the misgivings of others who are not used to working “upper-midlife-ers” like me. Done making  less money than I made babysitting as a girl  - no more  - Dues paid -  EARNINGS now and money fixes - age with dignity.

These were my thoughts,  while minding it all, as the famous Hartford chill  city winds caught the large wrapped wheeled painting, as though it was a boat sail !   But I smiled in my heart because  I grew  up on Southport Harbor and loved it !   So I tacked thru it like a good little sailboat art and artist, doing just fine!    Ten or twelve historic blocks to the bus hub.  Careful navigation wins.

When the bus driver looked at me at boarding,   I said "not to worry, i am fine  . I do this all the time! " truthfully, and settled safely and was delivered to my door before dark!    YES...I love my life at “55-and-holding” !  Checking the FitBit ap when I got in - YESSSS!!! the extra work found me OVER THE TOP for the day's goals  and blessed home base met by day’s end !   

Do Monday right and the rest follows well.

How the Robin Got His Red Breast

Legend - fable - fiction - 2006 - from "A Christmas Stocking" by Louise Betts Egan

On that first Christmas, it is said, the night was wrapped in a bitter chill.  The small fire in the stable was nearly out, Joseph had gone for food and the new Mother Mary worried that her baby would be cold.  She turned to the animals about her and asked them for help. 

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The Twelve Days of Christmas Decoded

An Underground Catechism ~

You're all familiar with the Christmas song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" I think. To most it's a delightful nonsense rhyme set to music. But it had a quite serious purpose when it was written. It is a good deal more than just a repetitious melody with pretty phrases and a list of unique gifts. 

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Celtic Christmas

Growing up with seven Irish uncles , one dolly auntie, "The Chief" their Da and his Else our Grammie, who was the true power, there was exultation in the popularity of Bing Crosby and several others of the Irish persuasion and their take on the winter holidays - "White Christmas",  "Christmas in Connecticut" , "Christmas in Killarney" and more shared the grand heart with our fine-hearted family.  Sharing here, once more in their memory.

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Polish Cultural - The Lulajze

On Christmas Eve, at our home in the 50s and 60s, holiday preparations focused on the Nativity Scene arranged atop the shiny mahogany music center top - sight and sounds of recorded or radio holiday music, glows in memory even 50 years later.  How we teamed well for a change, to help set it all up, with Mother in charge:  cotton mat for snow and the wooden stable, with the lighted star at top;  the icons in plaster and paint, with all but one of the figures set.   For days, we'd visited the scene with a prayer and anticipation,  gazing longingly at the empty manger  like the Mary and Joseph and all the other figures . 

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White Snows of Winter 2017

12-17-66Lt.V.P.Fagan, Jr. and Elle Smith Fagan.jpg

Wednesday November 8, 2017 evening.
Invited to join the farewell to one of our military divisions deploying today - I found the YouTube link to the song,  "White Snows of Winter"   and posted it at their place at Facebook, to send my heart to them all.

the song was  An old one from the Kingston Trio;  sings of the separation of loved ones . May they know happy reunions after their brave service.

We care for all these people, men and women, giving us their lives, right at the holidays - may we be worthy!  


So many years later, their story renewed memories of our own military days:   pride, commitment, fear, passion, devotion, more commitment, duty, response!

 our minds and hearts had it easier.   we grew up on the patriotic John Wayne movies and learned to believe we were doing the good thing in our loyalty and support of our land at war.   the idea of demonstrations of such violence against our own military was not known in my parents' time.    there was the daily impetus of  passionate patriotism. among everyone - We simply did support our government in general  and our soldiers , sailors and marines in particular - with our whole hearts and souls.    So I grew up feeling very proud of my country and NOT a friend to its enemies , here or otherwheres.   

Only later in life did I accept the fact that There have been times in our country when a war was very very unpopular ,   beginning with our war for independence.   Neighbor against neighbor in the matter was as bad as it gets , then repeated a century later in our civil war to end slavery and maintain the union.  And times afterward.     But when I was young, the "seven irish uncles" held sunday front porch meetings with the elderly "chief" at the head of the room, presiding.  I grew up thinking all americans were like them - passionately in love with our land, and ready to show it as needed.    all the able-bodied served and were very proud to do so.   Mother made ammunition at remington  arms in wwII and so , of course, at fort Knox, I joined red  cross, as a matter of course.

 During our own "white snows of winter"   Being the angel for my officer and gentleman seemed the only thing to do  - we laughed offthe  high fevers for both of us from  army base viral pneumonia  -  bragging we lost all that weight to look more svelte  for the photo ops at our Christmas Winter wedding, though we could barely walk across the room at first from it..

the next winter, our son was born  at Fort Knox - bringing him home on gray day that felt just fine, because he was our sunshine and we undaunted!     22 days later  we were back in Connecticut, and  winter deploying and hurry-up christening so Daddy could be there for it and then unspeakable fear I thought I hid well.    


And one more homecoming - the happiest one with our little family all home and safe and warm and medals won!  Proud to have served. 
 the indescribable holiness of home and loved ones, peacefully asleep so near,  once more!  

they still do not make words in English to say the words for the beauty of such days.   there was still this in my prayer, We earned OUR life together and we Would have it now.    Each day, giving and grateful for our path - helping in church and community and support for those who follow.  

I am widowed for some time now and fine and date and work and jog about , but I am not sad today because we really did our part well in work and love - and I still do -  and I am still fed by the goodness of the many lovely seasons warm and cool we enjoyed as a family - wonderful days  to make for ourselves and all within our reach.   

Thank you for that, life !  I am fine.