Tag Archives: tradition

The Longest Night

Thank you Liza for reassuring us that we can bring back and expand the light.

photo: Candle in the dark, by Andy Hay

Like Liza, I have been sifting through memories of my Christmas Pasts, to find ones that nourish new possibilities. I am so content with what I have, my seasonal joy is now from gifting things to people who are in dark times, to surprise and delight them.

When I studied Psychology, I learned that people collapse under crises just after the worst is over. Forget the common idiom, “the darkest hour is just before dawn”; the darkest hour is the one just after dawn. People tend to give up just as things start to get better. That is one reason to appreciate that Christmas and New Years are after the Solstice; after the darkest, longest night. That means that the most important time for action is now.

What is making your days merry and bright? How are you brightening the dark times of others?


(This might be especially true for people close to the North Pole. I have not found a comparable tradition for Southerners; short days are less drastic for them.)

Deeper Roots

Tonight is the longest night. At 5:03 the shortest day of the year ended and the winter solstice, the longest night began.

My family lit candles – six candles on the menorah for the six (thus far) nights of Hannukah and four candles on the Advent Wreath for Peace, Hope, Joy, Love. We won’t light the Christ candle until Christmas Day. My family gathered in the flickering flame. The light looked so fragile, the shadow and the darkness beyond so vast and enclosing.

It feels like it is the longest night in our nation as well.   The President of the New York Police Department Union said “There’s blood on many hands tonight….That blood on the hands starts on the steps of city hall in the office of the mayor.” In fact there is blood on many hands. There has been for many generations. Since the first Native was murdered, since…

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Reblog: CBC Creative Nonfiction Short List

Of course, when Brandee told me that her daughter died, I knew how painful that must be, but I had no idea, really. Her story gives me a glimpse of how painful losing a child is. I had never taken the time to imagine such detail, nor did I have the resources to do so.

Another friend of mine had told of “viewing” a parent from a small room, on the other side of a window. The “unpreserved body” had to be isolated, according to health law. I greatly appreciate that Brandee was able to be “with” her Erica. Less theatrical.

Thank you, Brandee, for letting your heart retch out this experience so we can tread more silently, touch more gently, and see more clearly what such an experience is like.

Dear Reader, you have an opportunity to read, comment and vote for this and the other four finalists at the announcement page for the 2014 CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize.

Canadian Dirtbags

I made the CBC nonfiction short list. I was unsure whether to mention it, when the list was announced yesterday. The story is nothing to do with the building or homesteading that remains the focus of this blog. It’s an intensely personal story. Both of these things factored against posting my news here.

Ultimately though: you are all a part of my journey and many have been since the start of this great experiment of ours. You’ve cheered on our victories and encouraged me during times of frustration, and graciously even shared your own triumphs, tribulations, and aspirations. I may not have met everyone face-to-face but you are just as real a community as the one that I live in.

Like all of our adventures, writing is something I’ve embarked on without a clear map or idea of where it’ll take me. This seems a good start though. You can…

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Reblog: Meet Susanne Alleyn’s Main Character

originally posted at:

The “Meet My Main Character” Blog Tour

June 23, 2014
by Susanne Alleyn

WeaverGrace tagged me to continue a tradition of bloggers begun here. Meet My Main Character Blog Tours resemble radio interviews: keep on reading for answers to questions posed to me, and a week or two later for answers to the same questions posed to a couple of other authors whom I’ve selected. This tour asks the authors of works-in-progress (in my case, the sequel to The Executioner’s Heir) to answer questions about the main characters of their historical novels. So, meet my main character . . .

What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Charles-Henri Sanson is my main character, and he was a real person. Born in 1739, he was destined to be the master executioner—maître des hautes œuvres—for the city of Paris in the second half of the 18th century . . . Despite his official title and the “yuck” reaction most of us would have to a professional executioner, Charles Sanson was a decent, compassionate man trying to make the best of a terrible career that he was stuck with because of fate and social pressure . . . He realizes that he can never break away from the profession and title of executioner, and his goal becomes, instead, to be the most honorable and humane man he can be, within the job that he can’t escape, even during the Revolution. . .

read more at Susanne’s blog

Reblog: Meet Jessica Gajda’s Main Character

originally posted at:

The “Meet My Main Character” Blog Tour

June 24, 2014
by JMGajda

Last week the amazing Weaver Grace was kind enough to ask me to participate in an interview where authors of works-in-progress discuss the main character of their historical fiction. While the book I’m writing isn’t strictly historical fiction per se (it’s a fantasy based on a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood), it’s based on 16th – 18th century Afro-Brazilian culture and late medieval English nunneries.

I’ve been researching extensively, reading scholarly works such as Eileen Power’s eye-opening ‪Medieval English Nunneries:‪ C.1275 to 1535 (available for free on Kindle), which dispels any notions of quiet-living, pious women. It must be remembered that many women of this period who ended up in convents were not necessarily there because they felt called to serve God, but often because they had no choice. Late Medieval English nunneries were sometimes used as dumping grounds for unmarriageable or unwanted females of the nobility and the upper class (untitled, rich merchants and such) . . .

1. What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Porcelana is my main character and she is fictional. She is an Afro-Brazilian albino who’s been hand-picked to train to become one of the warrior/nuns of Convento do Pano Vermelho (The Convent of the Red Cloth), the protectors of her town who hunt the savage wolves said to roam freely in the surrounding forests . . .

Young Porcelana
Young Porcelana (Photo of Young Afro-Brazilian Girl by Gustavo Lacerda)

My inspiration images for the young Porcelana are from the amazing Brazilian photographer Gustavo Lacerda whose website you can visit by clicking here . . .

read more at Jessica’s blog