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Saturday, December 24, 2011

An Irish Blessing For Christmas

May you have:
A world of wishes at your command.
God and his angels close to hand.
Friends and family their love impart,
and Irish blessings in your heart!

May you always walk in sunshine.
May you never want for more.
May Irish angels rest their wings right beside your door.

May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you,
those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.

~~Irish Blessing

image CC St Malachy's Roman Catholic Church,
Alfred Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland, May 2010 by Ardfern

Monday, December 19, 2011

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice 

This photo was taken the morning of the 2000 Winter Solstice near Ames, Iowa. The halo is made by sunlight shining through millions of ice crystals.

The Winter Solstice begins Wednesday, December 21 as the Sun begins its annual trek through Capricorn. We experience the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the longest night.  

In this time of the longest night we share the rebirth from darkness into light as our annual cycle of life begins again. 

This is the time of the great Goddess preparing her movement from spirit into matter again, a time of the lessening of Yin Energy and the rising of Yang Energy.

 The yin yang symbol to the left reflects this cycle. If you think of the top being the summer soltice in June and the bottom the winter soltice in December then you can see the white yang energy slowly rising as the season moves into spring. 

Even at its peak the yang energy still has a dot of yin or darkness within the light. As we move into the autumn the black yin energy increases again with a dot of yang or light within the dark
Humans have made calendars, or measurements of time, beginning near this time of year for thousands of years. A famous example of this is a solstice calendar of surprising accuracy, Stonehenge dates back almost 5,000 years. 

Image Winter Solstice (Nasa photo)
Philip Appleton (SIRTF Science Center),Caltech

Edited 5/1/17

Sunday, August 07, 2011


"We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend." -- Robert Lewis Stevenson 

I have been a long-time fan of  "Painter's Keys" Robert Genn's website, and receiving his Twice-Weekly Newsletter.  I save the posts that particularly speak to me so that I can refer to them on occasion.

Because it is International Friendship Day, the subject of "friends" has been on my mind. As I reread the following post, I wanted to share it. I hope it will speak to you. I would love to hear your thoughts.

I'm posting this with permission:


Unexpected Blessings

On Thursday morning I was at my easel when a courier appeared at the door. He was delivering an envelope from a friend, a local lawyer of my acquaintance. The letter stated that in 1974 I had brought some of my work to his office, and a recent bookeeping search revealed he had never paid me for them. Lorne's note was filled with contrition and guilt. "How much do I owe you?" he asked. "Do I owe you a ton for arrears? Do I pay you the current market value? What about the money you would have earned on the money you should have had for the paintings?" As I was contemplating these thoughts a $10,000 "down-payment" cheque fluttered from the envelope.

Thinking back those thirty-odd years, I vaguely recalled the delivery. More recently I had noticed two paintings in his office when I'd been getting his help in transferring some property. I had thought nothing of the earlier transaction, took it for granted that he owned the paintings, and only noted their need for cleaning.

Over the phone, Lorne and I had a good laugh. I put his mind at ease by disclosing my own sloppy billing and sieve-like mind. Carol Ann and I looked over our ancient records and came up with nada. A subsequent visit to Lorne's office found four, not two paintings. I measured them, determined their probable cost when new, ran them by my current price list, cut that in half, and he cut me a cheque. I'm now in the process of cleaning and reframing them for free.

As I was removing three decades of lawyer-office-cigar from the surfaces, I was thinking of Samuel Johnson's remark, "We need to keep our friendships in constant repair." Deeper than this, I thought, there's a sort of Karma and integrity that mystically guides the creative life. You might say it's one of our unexpected blessings. Every one of us has such a story. People respect artists and look out for them. The surprising and singular finding of my lifetime has been the value of friends and the sense of trust that builds between them. This includes not only collectors, but fellow artists, dealers, agents and curious observers. Sometimes I think friendships are even more important than the art. "Life is human relationships," said the wise man from the East. By sharing our creative magic with others we reap the magic of their friendship. 

Best regards,


PS: "Friendship multiplies blessings and minimizes misfortunes;
it is a unique remedy against adversity and it soothes the soul."
(Baltasar Gracian)

Esoterica: That's not to say humour and passive amusement do not play a part in friendships. Among artists and their patrons I notice a mild form of banter. Perhaps it's some sort of jealousy that lies beneath both surfaces--something to do with the fragility of the human condition and the fickle mystery of art. George Bernard Shaw wrote a note to Winston Churchill: "I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play;
bring a friend... if you have one." To which Churchill replied, "Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second... if there is one."

(c) Copyright 2008 Robert Genn. Used with permission

Contact Robert Genn by email: genn@saraphina.com

Yes, please go ahead and forward this to a friend.

If you think a friend or fellow artist may find value in this material, please feel free to forward it. If you would like to subscribe to Robert's Twice-Weekly Letter, you can find out about it by going to http://www.painterskeys.com


For quotes, stories, videos and more, go to my website Friendship Day


Monday, June 20, 2011


Midsummer night's dream
encounter with the fairies
Puck enchants our souls
~~ sydsjaanu

Be sure to read up on the Summer Solstice and enjoy your midsummer day and night!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Tartan Week: Celebrating Scottish Heritage

What butter and whiskey won't
cure, there is no cure for.
-Celtic Saying

We celebrate the legacy of our shared Scottish heritage 
every year during March and April's  

In the United States, there are more than 20 million people who can claim descent from Scotland, most of whom take immense pride in their Scottish heritage. Throughout much of the country, the first week of April has come to be known as Tartan Week as the festivities of Tartan Day have increased and are now celebrated throughout the week. The festivities include a wide range of activities, cultural events and ceilidhs ('KAY-lees' - parties with singing and dancing) that celebrate the vibrancy of Scottish culture, past and present.

Woodrow Wilson said: "Every line of strength in American history is a line colored with Scottish blood." And this year's Scotland Week once again confirms Scotland's place in the hearts of Americans - and Canada too!

April 6 designated TARTAN DAY by a Resolution passed by the U.S. Senate March 20, 1998

Numerous groups and societies throughout Canada and America have taken the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath (1320) as their national date to celebrate their Scottish roots.

On December 19th 1991, in response to action initiated by the Clans & Scottish Societies of Canada, the Ontario Legislature passed a resolution proclaiming April 6th as Tartan Day, following the example of other Canadian provinces. America followed suit on March 20th 1998, when Senate Resolution 155 (S.Res. 155), proposed by US Senate Republican majority leader Trent Lott, was passed unanimously.

For as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.
From The Declaration of Arbroath 1320.

How will you celebrate?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hugs for you on Valentine's Day!

I'm sending you love and tea,
To warm your winter's day.
Think of me as you pour your cup
And all the good things we would say.

If we could be together now
Instead of miles apart,
We'd sip our teas and memories,
The sweet warmth fills the heart.
 ~~Susan Young

I appreciate you so very much!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Happiness in a Cup of Tea

...the freedom and happiness to be found in a simple cup of tea.

Oprah is interviewing Thich Nhat Hanh. She asked him "What is Happiness?"

He answers:
"Suppose you are drinking a cup of tea. When you hold your cup, you may like to breathe in, to bring your mind back to your body, and you become fully present. And when you are truly there, something else is also there—life, represented by the cup of tea. In that moment you are real, and the cup of tea is real. You are not lost in the past, in the future, in your projects, in your worries. You are free from all of these afflictions. And in that state of being free, you enjoy your tea. That is the moment of happiness, and of peace. When you brush your teeth, you may have just two minutes, but according to this practice, it is possible to produce freedom and joy during that time, because you are established in the here and now. If you are capable of brushing your teeth in mindfulness, then you will be able to enjoy the time when you take a shower, cook your breakfast, sip your tea."

To which Oprah responds "So from this point of view, there are endless conditions of happiness."

Nhat Hanh's response
"Yes. Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes."

Then Oprah says to him "With you, the tea is real."

Nhat Hanh answers
"I am real, and the tea is real. I am in the present. I don't think of the past. I don't think of the future. There is a real encounter between me and the tea, and peace, happiness and joy are possible during the time I drink."

Then Oprah comments "I never had that much thought about a cup of tea."

Read the whole interview The O Exclusive Interview

Visit the following sites for more:

More info about Thick Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness Bell

edited 1/24/2015

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

January, drink a cup to Hot Tea Month!

January is a time for new beginnings, health and home. 

It's also National Hot Tea Month. 

Let's drink a cup to Hot Tea Month and read a poem about home and tea! 

Is your tea kettle on? 

A True Home
"A roof to keep out the rain. Four walls to keep out the wind. Floors to keep out the cold.

Yes, but home is more than that. It is the laugh of a baby, the song of a mother, the strength of a father.
Warmth of loving hearts, light from happy eyes, kindness, loyalty, comradeship.

Home is first school...for the young ones where they learn what is right, what is good, and what is kind. Where they go for comfort when they are hurt or sick.
Where joy is shared and sorrow eased.
Where fathers and mothers are respected and loved.
Where children are wanted.
Where the simplest food is good enough for kings because it is earned.
Where money is not so important as loving-kindness.
Where even the teakettle sings from happiness.

That is home."

~~Ernestine Schumann-Heink / Drawing by  Anton Pieck 

edited 1/24/2015

Sunday, January 02, 2011

An Irish Blessing For The New Year

May you have:
A world of wishes at your command.
God and his angels close to hand.
Friends and family their love impart,
and Irish blessings in your heart!

May you always walk in sunshine.
May you never want for more.
May Irish angels rest their wings right beside your door.

May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.