Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Snowy Evening in Late December

There is something about snow falling that is calming. We feel the coziness of our homes on a winter's evening. Snow transforms the dullest objects. On any other evening there wouldn't be anything spectacular to   want to photograph some trees, a fence, and a neighbor's shed. So when our dog had a nature call, I had this opportunity to record this scene that would otherwise be common.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Silver Lights at Hubbard Park

Hubbard Park in Meriden, CT. is a city park. The park was landscaped by the Olmsted Brothers, sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, the famous landscape architect. Mirror Lake is a man-made lake placed in the center of the park.
The City of Meriden celebrates the Christmas Season with the Silver Lights Display. It is free of charge. We walked through the park on Sunday evening. 
We begin our tour with the Skate House. The interior is decorated. 
Here is a peak through some of the windows.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Festive Trees

I do volunteer work at a retirement community in my town. The facility is owned and operated by the Masonic Order. 
The center sponsors a charity event during the Christmas season. It is a silent auction. The residents and departments select themes to decorate Christmas trees. These are displayed in the lobby of the main building. The highest bidder wins the decorations on the tree. 
The best part of Christmas for me when I was younger was putting up a Christmas tree in our home. Our ornaments and lights were stored in my parent's closet. I would open the box when Thanksgiving was over to look at the ornaments. The anticipation for Christmas would begin.
This display of trees is a wonderful sight for tree lovers.
Here are some of the trees that I photographed.
Disney Theme Tree

I named this the Glitter Tree

The Snowflake and Origami Tree

The Elf Tree

The Elf on the Shelf is popular with children  in  the States.  It is based on a book. The Elves magically move through the children's homes, delighting them.

I named this the Wildlife Tree

Friday, December 21, 2012

Traditions Carried On

I went to a local restaurant on Friday to meet a friend. We worked together and both of us have parted from   our career in telecommunications. I knew the restaurant owners are Italian immigrants and that every Christmas season they display their presipio in the restaurant. I brought my compact digital camera to take some photos.

The presipio custom originates in the Napoli region of Italy. The figurines are costumed in eighteenth century fashion and they blend with the nativity figures. It is a depiction of a pastoral life. I have seen a presipio on a larger scale with more intricate detail. I felt cheerful to see this display and appreciate the skill and time of the people who assembled it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Long Absence

I haven't posted anything in my blog for close to two weeks. Some of the reason is related to the tragic shootings at the elementary school in my state, Connecticut. Everyone is saddened by the slaughter of children. I am a substitute teacher in the elementary schools in my location. I've come to know the dedication of the teachers and the students in these schools.
Returning to school on this past Monday was tense. The schools were prepared to deal with children's fears. I was instructed that if any students wanted to talk about the incident I could refer them to the school psychologist and social worker. I had a class of third grade students and there seemed to be no outward signs of anxiety. We did make it a normal day. What made it best for these students was the presence of their teacher at the beginning of the day. Even though she took the day as a personal day she wanted to reassure them that everything would be all right. I admire such dedication.
The victims were between the ages of 6 and 7. I was present in classes  this week with children of the same age group and I looked upon their faces and wondered how capable could a person be to shoot them. The modern explanation of the assailant's motive is based on psychological disorders but it must have seemed evil to the first responders.
I am pleased tonight to know that the children in my town seemed unfazed by the shootings. Their distraction to learn is not caused by anxiety but caused by their anticipation for Christmas and their vacation. The first graders in one class were making ornaments to give their parents. This is the way schools ought to be.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

An Inspirational Source

There can be days when I wish events and circumstances could have been better. I believe that yesterday was one of those days. There were moments during the day when I questioned why am I here? This pertained only to the environment I was in. This wasn't contemplation on the meaning of life. Self-doubts were creeping in about my abilities. I felt like an observer and not a participant. When the opportunity to take control came, I made an error. It could have been so easy to give into the negativity. All of my experiences in this life are determined by my attitude.
So instead of brooding over the days' events I referred to one of my inspirational sources. I always found this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson to be a great way to live with myself.
"Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."
I read this quote several years ago and printed it. I posted it in my work-space to remind me to never carry the day's problems home with me. This printed quote was stored with all of my personal things I brought home . I found a place to display it now.
 Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Memories within the Peel

Whenever I peel a tangerine it rekindles memories as a child. My earliest recollection is of the oil range stove we had in our kitchen. My mother peeled the tangerine and placed the peelings on top of the hot plate. The zest of the peel would singe and it produced the sweetest smell. When the oil range stove was replaced with a gas stove, my mother attempted to recreate that smell again. She placed the peels in a pie plate and placed it over the blue flame. It just didn't replicate the same results. I probably couldn't produce the same effect on our electric stove. It can only be a childhood memory of a mother showing her son what discarded tangerine peels can do.