Natal Luz, December 21, 2021

Natel Luz or Christmas festival of light is held in Fermata Brazil from November 12 to January 13, Making it the longest and largest Christmas festival in Brazil.

It started in 1986 with a concert and a Christmas light show. It is now the largest Christmas festival in Brazil. Earning Fernatta the name Christmas capital of Brazil.. There are many activities during the festival. One of the most popular is walking into a ninety nine foot Christmas tree. You feel a part of the decorations. There are 3500 ornaments , 2500 strings of lights, 1000 strobe lights and a snow making machine.

Other events are tree decorating contests, concerts, reindeer and a dramatic readings of traditional Christmas stories.

One of the most anticipated events is a floating parade with singers and music on lighted barges. The show has five sections. They depicts the history of man from Adam and Eve, through the birth of Christ ending with the last days. Over one million five hundred thousand people visit Fermata from November to January each year.

Christmas in Brazil is celebrated on December 24th. This is when families and friends gather to greet the coming of Christmas.

I dedicate this article to my special Brazilian sister, Adelia, She was telling me that this year the festivities are being limited because of the virus.

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A Brazilian Christmas

The warm breezes flow over the start of flowers blooming.

A cool sea wind pushes waves to lap at the shore.

Men and women dress in colorful flowered shirts and dresses.

One can see the snow on the mountain caps in a distance.

This is Christmas in San Paulo Brazil .

carolaspot@aol.com

copyright 12/21/20211

Wrap It Up, December 16, 2021

Tis time for the final step in getting the presents under the tree and labeled with the recipient’s name. This is a joy and challenge for a blind person.

When buying rolls of wrapping paper, I would look for paper that had a texture or foil on one side. Without the texture clues, I wrap the paper with the white side out. When wrapping large packages, I will wrap the item on a bed. Some heavy items are stapled together. When I wrapped an advent beer calendar. The staple hit a can of beer and created a leak when the carton was unwrapped.

Some of the texture paper was so heavy, it was diffucult to crease. I used the stapler with caution.

I notice that the newer rolls of paper were thinner and rip easily when trying to use them. I have to cut much more than I needed to get enough for a box to be wrapped.

Finally I give up with odd shaped presents and find a gift bag to put the item in. Then I surround the gift with tissue paper. I use white so I don’t have to worried about matching colors.

I have the same matching problem with colors of ribbon and bows. I have abandoned the use of ribbons, except to hang Christmas cards on. I will select a bow based on it’s size in relation to the package and stick it on. Even if it is a different color, I consider it an accent.

The hardest task is the labeling of each present with the name of the person to receive it. I start with a braille name on a label. This is attached to the outside of the present. later, I will go back and print the name of the recipient with a thick Magic marker. Since there is braille on the label, the person knows that the present is from me.

I love gathering all the gifts to give away around the bottom of the tree. They add a festive touch to the tree display.

Our holoday was early this year. So I am ready to store the wrappings in the basement for next year. I have wrapped it up!

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Ribbons and bows

Ribbons, bows, I see

On festive bags

under my tree.

What does a baby see?

She grabs a red bow,

as she cries with glee.

No presents, but an empty box

to play hide and seek.

carolaspot@aol.com

copyright 12/16/21

Peonies In Winter December 14, 2021

On a cold drizzling day, I listened to this book by Sally Rosenthal. Her poetic memories, take the reader from an English cottage to a small village in Pennsylvania. Along the way we are introduced to Sally’s grandparents, parents and her husband Samual. Her family’s circle was complete with three guide dogs and the seven cats that adopted her.

With a cup of coffee, I listened as Sally shared her losses, grief and endurance.

I felt the underlying joy with rememberences. The scent of peonies sprayed on the wrist, a gift from her deceased husband. The talents contributed to her in her grandparents DNA. The felted ears and furry head nuzzled by her animals made moments of joy, knowing she was loved.

The book helped me to consider loss as a part of living and the lost are not forgotten, but kept alive in these stories.

After reading “Peonies in Winter,” I was left with hope and comfort that love, once experienced, is never diminished.

You can order this book from Amazon as an ebook or as a print edition. All proceeds will be donated to Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Huntington New York.

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The Scent of Remembrance

On a warm Spring day, the scent of violets profuse the air.

Mild in small clusters, the field of blue assults my senses.

I am taken back to a little girl,

wanting to bring every flower as a love offering to her Mother.

She is allowed to pick all the violets she wanted.

They will be encouraged to bloom more.

Her gift is accepted and placed in a clean jelly jar.

carolaspot@aol.com

copyright 12/14/2021

Peanut Brittle and aging December 9, 2021

Before I get into the peanut brittle story let me offer you a MP3 to listen to of an interview at my local library. They have a podcast studio and asked me to come and talk about my poetry book, “Leaf Memories.” I read four of my poems. The recording is about a half an hour.

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-qpkbs-114c2ea

Now to the Peanut brittle and aging. My Husband John has made several types of brittle for family and neighbors. He has it down to a science. I assist with the prep, and breaking and packaging of the tasty treats.

On the days he makes the candy, the house has a sugary smell that you can almost taste. It hangs in the air for hours.

This year, the process didn’t go as smoothly. John’s cooked candy was dark and tasted burnt. He tried several batches with the same results. He decided that he had bought an off brand of Karo syrup and that must be the reason for the ruined candy.

He was able to produce several batches of peanut, cashew and pumpkin seed brittle with some success.

When we went to buy more syrup, the shelves were bare. When we saw the syrup in a small store, we grabbed it!

Having two bags of peanuts and one of cashews, John decided to attempt the peanut brittle again. During this cooking, the two glass thermometer were fogged and were difficult to read the temperature of the candy mixture. Again even with three thermometers, the candy was still overdone.

Again, John looked at the Karo syrup, but it was the name brand and was what he had used in the successful batches of brittle.

As a last resort, he rechecked the recipe closely. In all the years of making the brittle, he had put the vanilla, water and baking soda mixture in just before done at 300 degrees.

He had forgot the correct time to put in this mixture and was adding it at a much lower temperature, causing the candy to burn.

Following the recepe, the cashew and peanut brittle came out perfectly.

As we age, our memory may tell us incorrect information or think we can do a task without checking. We had four batches of ruined brittle to prove that this is not a good idea.

I find that I have started to check and re-check directions even if I am sure I remember. Sometimes I am correct and sometimes I am wrong. This is Just a price of aging. I called it muddled thinking.

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Breaking Brittle

a large round brittle piece,

When cool, breaks into small tasty sections,

loose peanuts left for squirrels.

carolaspot@aol.com

copyright 12/9/2021

Pearl Harbor Remembered, December 7, 2021

In 1976, my parents took a trip to Hawaii with the Knights of Columbus group. They paid for me as a graduation gift from college. I spent a week exploring the island of Oahu. One of the memorable moments was accompanying my Dad, a WWII veteran to the memorial in Pearl Harbor.

We took a short boat ride from the docks to the floating memorial that straddles the hulk of rthe sunken Arizona. The crowd grew quiet as we drew near and debarked on the platform.

The radio tower in mid-ship could be seen above the waterline. On the starboard side of the submerged ship, bubbles of gas and fuel continued to reach the surface.

The Arizona was hit mid ship with a large bomb and went down with more that 1000 sailors aboard.

As we gazed over the Harbor, quiet music played in the background. It was easy to see how so many ships were sunk or damaged. The ships were docked in a line and back to bow of the next ship. The harbor has been changed to give more room and distance between ship docking.

I looked over at my Dad. He was looking off at a distance. He had tears in his eyes. He had been on a ship in the Pacific but did not see active combat. I wondered if he remembered friends and companions that had not come back from the war.

The Uss Missouri, one of the last battle ships built, was decommision and placed as a museum in 1999. It was not there when we visited .

All the ships except the Arizona were raised and put back into commision during WWII.

I was glad to share this moment with my Dad. It brought home the reality of the war and the impack it had on my parents generation.

So take a moment to remember all the cost of wars and conflicts and pray for peace.

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Flag over Water

A flag waves lazily over the water of the harbor.

Attached to the sunken ship below by the mast.

At half staff, for the sailors that repose below.

The cost of war is so great,it should deter us.

From such distruction and lost of life.

We hope and pray.

carolaspot@aol.com

copyright 12-7-21

Christmas Cards, December 2, 2021

A second tradition of the holiday season is the writing and sending of Holiday cards.

As a blind individual, I start early writing braille greetings to my braille group. I found some three dimensional cards in a dollar store. They had paper inserts, making the brailling easy. At a dollar a card, they beat Hallmark’s price of four to five dollars a card.

With Hanukkah arriving early, I found tactile cards at the same place and brailled a message. The added perk was they were Hallmark cards.

In each braille card, I put a felted sheep head on a large paper clip. They will be perfect to mark a place in a regular or braille book. I made and sent out thirty of these markers before December 1st.

Now the team work of John and I sending greetings to friends and family starts. I produce a Christmas letter with events of the year and photos of our holiday decorating for Halloween and Christmas. This year we made a Toys for Tots train. Large dolls are dressed in red outdoor clothes. They are making donations then going to feed the lit deer in a pen,(see below for a photo.

We start with a list of people we sent cards to last year. Dividing the work , we complete about a dozen each day. I fold the letter and put a stamp and a return sticker on each enevlope. John writes the address and we both think of the personal greeting to add to the card. It takes us about a week to complete the task.

Then we sit back and wait for the fruits of our labors.

We keep some cards in reserve for unexpected greetings and service people such as the garbage men and Postal person. We never get back as many cards as we send out but it is good to keep some contact with friends and family who live far away. So I will lick my envelope closed and hope you are a recipient, if not, enjoy the short poem below.

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Holiday Cards

select cards,

gather pens, labels, stamps,

select card and envelope, write a greeting,

Slide it all into the envelope, with our love.

carolaspot@aol.com

copyright 12/22 /2021

Blind Decorating November 30, 2021

It is time for the annual decorating of the interior of the home. That includes the clearing of the mantle to hold the manger and figures coming to the Creche scene. The wall above the tableau is festooned with rice lights and hanging angels.

My job is to place all items relying on my memory while trying not to cause too much breakage.

This year, I had only one casualty, one of the glass angels playing a horn wanted a closer look at the manger. She took a header directly into the baby Jesus. She was history!

I have gone modern with the light switchs. Instead of contorting to plug and unplug the mantle lights, I have a plug that Alexa can turn on. I simply ask the A lady to turn on the TV. light. It is near the television so that was the indicated light. She can turn on and off the whole scene with a command.

Our Christmas tree has shunk from a six footer to a four foot tree that sits on a table in the sunroom. Icicle lights hand around the four sides of the room. Trying to minimize damage by wrapping the tree and stand with soft artificial snow blanket. I try to put every ornament on the tree until the boughs are weighted down. Every year, I vow to use less on the tree but memories of handmade ornaments make their way onto the tree.

The tree is reflected in each of the windows of the porch making a small tree lot of trees in the backyard. Again, I remember this and hope the neighbors enjoy the display.

The whole sunroom’s lights are plugged into a a plug controlled by an interior wall switch.

It will take me hours to put the decorations on the tree as I tell myself the origin and story behind each ornament. Maybe, I will find the time to photograph the ornaments to augment the stories. Again I will take photos with the directions of my smart phone.

Wish me luck!

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Sugar snow

Sugar snow sprinkles the wreaths.

Icy winds shape snow on walls and branches.

Icicles sparkle in the light of the setting sun.

Mother Nature is busy decorating for the season.

I watch her handiwork while I trim my tree.

It is a poor imitation of nature’s glory.

carolaspot@aol.com

copyright 11-30-21

Thanksgiving Day November 25, 2021

Carol is busy celebrating with her family in her hometown of Northville, Michigan. Here is an Acrostic poem for you all. Have pleasant time visiting with family and friends, even if it’s only a phone call.

Carol Farnsworth

Thanksgiving

Time to come together and remember,

Hearts filled with love and hands touching with love,

All the generations tell stories of past meals,

Now weaving the past with preset events,

Kids play while adults talk,

In rising and falling voices,

Gone in a moment, the present is the past,

Gladness changes to melancholy as the day ends,

It is up to each of us to keep the stories of the past,

Visiting each tale for the next generation,

Including even the smallest child in the celebration,

Now is the time to share those memories,

Giving to laughter and tears, we remember in thankfulness.

carolaspot@aol.com

copyright 11/25/2021

Stuffin Muffins , November 23, 2021

When it comes to the Thanksgiving meal each family has it’s favorite sides. When my Mother hosted the gathering, she made rainbow jello. It had thin layers of different jellos with layers of white made from sour cream, milk, sugar and un-flavored gelatin. It took over a day to assenble and cool the salad. I remember being told to walk softly in the kitchen so the layers of jello were not disturbed. The masterpiece for the table was sixteen layers in each slice.

My daughter’s favorite side is a batch of stuffin Muffins. When she was a teen, she loved the Hannah Swensen Mysteries, written by Joanne Fluke. Each mystery had recipes sprinkled in the story and at the back of the book.Ruth tried many of these recipes but loved the muffins made from stuffing.

We added hot chilies and jalapanos and other spices. They freeze well and have been taken from the freezer to microwave to plate in less than one minute.

I will be taking them down to put in Ruth’s freezer. We will be taking other bisquits to the meal at my brother’s home.

During the meal, the men will sneak out to see what is happening with the Lions and Bears football game. My Mother wisely served the Thanksgiving meal at half time.

Un-like last year, we will gather in person in small groups and I will finally get to see my newest grand niece, Evie.

So make your dishes and think of the stories that go behind those dishes.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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Carolaspot@aol.com

copyright 11/23/2021