Winter solstice and small miracles

The glowing center of this morning glory—still blooming where I live—looks much like a pink star in a midnight sky.

Where were you in the year 1226?
There is a rare treat awaiting us on this year’s winter solstice. It’s called the Great Conjunction, and the last time humans could see it like this was on March 4, 1226.

When two planets in our solar system appear close to each other—from Earth’s perspective—it’s called a conjunction. When it happens with the two biggest planets, Jupiter and Saturn, it’s called the Great Conjunction, which occurs around every 20 years. However, it’s quite rare when they appear to be overlapping each other AND are visible from earth. The last time they looked this close to each other was during Galileo’s time, in 1623, but the planets also lined up so close to the sun that they weren’t visible from Earth. The next time this will happen is relatively soon: 2080.

Continue reading “Winter solstice and small miracles”

Sparkles for the Season

Archbishop Palace
The magic of the season in tiny sparkly lights adorning the medieval walls of the Archbishop’s Palace in Narbonne.

 

The holiday season is winding down, with all the busy-ness of shopping, wrapping, mailing, cooking, and partying. I’ve gathered some photographs from my celebrations of both Christmas and New Year’s Eve to give you an idea of how things looked in my corner of paradise.


Christmas — Noël

On Christmas Eve—Réveillon de Noël—I joined some of my French friends for a visit to Narbonne to stroll through the Christmas market, watch the parade, and hope for a glimpse of Père Noël (Santa Claus). A week later, on New Year’s Eve—Réveillon du Nouvel An, or Saint Sylvestre—I was with many of the same folks to share a meal and watch the festivities televised from Paris, where 400,000 cold revelers crowded the Champs-Élysées.

Continue reading “Sparkles for the Season”

Going green

S&H
This image is etched into my childhood memory bank! A stack of vintage sheets of S&H Green Stamps. Photograph from the company itself, Sperry & Hutchinson.


Green stamps
When I was very young, I remember my mother collecting S&H Green Stamps.* The stamps were green, they carried different point values (1, 10, and 50), and they came in perforated sheets, like postage stamps. When you bought things, mainly groceries, but also lots of other things, the merchant would hand you the receipt along with a row or block of the stamps whose point value related to the sale total.

Continue reading “Going green”