Joyeux Noel Cardinal

Joyeux Noel CardinalThe first of this season’s holiday themed sketches, completed last night. The upper left corner needs something. I’m just not sure what and didn’t want to overwork it. I’m also not convinced on the pine needles. Feel free to give me ideas to draw. I’m definitely open to suggestions.

*Attribution: Sketched from John Flannery‘s photo titled, Cardinal.

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Happy Hallowchristmathanksmas!

The idea for this sketch has floated around in my brain for a couple of years. I finally sat down and sketched it out last night, finishing it up today. I have to give David credit for coming up with “Happy Hallowchristmathanksmas!” That was his response to the following post I made on Facebook a couple of nights ago:

As I was checking out at [a local grocery store], I asked the cashier, “You guys do realize that it’s not even November yet, right?” Heck, it’s not even Halloween, yet; and I must have heard at least 5 or 6 Christmas songs in there while shopping. THIS is the reason why I have come to detest the holiday season and no longer want to participate. Yep, I’m playing the part of the Grinch this year because I’m sick of having Christmas shoved down my throat every year. Looks like I’ll be shopping with headphones from now until the end of the year!

It’s not that I hate Christmas or Christmas music. I actually like most Christmas music – at the right time of the year, after Thanksgiving. Earlier and earlier each year, the commercialized holiday season bombards everyone with nonstop messages of “buy this” or “shop here,” creating an atmosphere of frenzied shoppers that for emotionally sensitive people like me (and maybe, others, as well) is, quite frankly, unbearable!

I detest what Christmas has become.

It’s not the same holiday that I celebrated with my family as a child. I no longer wake up on Christmas morning with that same excitement and special enjoyment that I once felt. Maybe, that’s just part of growing up because I haven’t really felt that since childhood; but even more, now, I’m relieved when the holiday season is finally over. And that’s just it; instead of being a “holiday,” it’s a “holiday season,” one that seems to grow longer and longer with each passing year.

We didn’t get pumpkins this year to carve for Halloween. We didn’t even buy candy to give out, not that we get many trick-or-treaters. My guess is that the next two months will pass in a blur like previous years. Until then, I just want to hibernate, haha!

366 Photo Catch-Up

I decided I would catch up on my 366 project in one post rather than several posts. It’s hard to believe that I only have 5 more days until my year-long project will be complete. I put a lot of time and effort into this, and I’m proud of my determination to see it through to the end. I’m afraid this post ended up a lot longer than normal, but it is in total 7 days worth of daily photos.

This holiday season has been much more of a challenge than earlier years. Prior to my trip back to East Tennessee to visit family for the holidays, I was experiencing a great deal of anxiety, more so than normal. I have no explanation for why the anxiety was so bad this year. It just felt like I was suffocating before I even left on my trip.

I barely did any Christmas shopping this year which is the reason I decided to stop at West Town Mall on my way through Knoxville. It was a stormy day on Thursday. I thought the drive would be much worse than it was. For the most part, the rain wasn’t too bad. Other than high winds pushing my car around a bit on the interstate, I had no problems at all, not even at the mall. The clouds were absolutely breathtaking! I drove in awe the entire way.

Day 355 High Winds & Stormy Skies (12.20.12) – Taken at West Town Mall, Knoxville, TN.

I arrived at Mom’s later that evening, and we stayed up past midnight catching up and talking. Early the next morning, I awoke to strange sounds coming from my mom’s room. I ran into her bedroom and found her in the floor next to the bed. She appeared unhurt and at times, giggled as if she was caught in some waking dream. After about 45 minutes to an hour, I managed to get her back into bed.

My mother is in her mid-70’s and has numerous health problems, including Type-2 Diabetes. Over the past few months, there have apparently been several instances of her falling out of bed. Needless to say, this particular instance gave me quite a scare; but I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I kept checking on her until she finally woke up for the day. She said she felt fine other than a slight headache. Later that evening, we attended the family dinner with all the extended family.

Day 356 Peaceful Sanctuary (12.21.12) – The view from my mom’s front porch. Isn’t it beautiful?

On Saturday, I took Mom to do a little Christmas shopping in Morristown. Governor’s Square Mall was crowded and noisy; so we didn’t stay very long. After I dropped Mom off at home, I took a drive out to Douglas Dam in order to “recharge my batteries.” I had hoped to visit the Great Smoky Mountains while I was home this time, but there wasn’t an opportunity. At least, I got to see them from a distance at Douglas Dam. The view from the overlook there is quite beautiful.

Day 357 Douglas Dam at Sunset (12.22.12) – View from the lower overlook.

The video is from the upper overlook. I’m sorry this video is a little shaky. It was really cold out there! “Douglas Dam is a hydroelectric dam on the French Broad River in Sevier County, Tennessee, in the southeastern United States.” [Via – Wikipedia]

Again on Sunday morning around the same time as Friday morning, I awoke to the sounds of moaning coming from Mom’s room. I rushed into her room; and this time, I found her pinned between the wall and the bed. I quickly phoned my sister after I managed to get the bed moved over enough to give her a little more space. She told me to call 911 so we could get some answers as to what was going on. Two ER’s later, she was finally admitted to the hospital for observation and medication adjustments.

Day 358 Prayers for Mom (12.23.12)

I don’t have the words to express the emotional turmoil that I’m sure my mother is feeling at this time. No one wants to spend Christmas in the hospital. The added expense of more hospital bills certainly adds more stress than she needs. I was surprised to learn that hospital staff were already harassing her for money before she even left the ER. That was so wrong!

I worry a lot about her living alone, but she is determined to remain independent and stay in her own home. And why shouldn’t she? It’s where she is most comfortable. The house is paid for. Selling it now would only cause her more emotional and financial stress in the long run.

Day 359 Hospital Christmas Tree (12.24.12)

There are no easy answers when it comes to caring for aging parents. It’s a difficult situation to be in. I feel my mother deserves the respect and freedom to make her own choices, but I’m also feeling pressured to abandon my own life to go care for her. A conversation was relayed to me by my sister between her and Mom’s doctor that led me to believe that this is expected of me since I’m not working and “otherwise unattached.”

I understand how hard it is to be dependent on others for personal care because I’ve been in that situation for many years, now, due to my own mental illness. I rely on David for many things like reminding me to eat and to tell me if my thinking is irrational. He’s the one person who was consistently there for me over the last 12 years when others were not, even when we were not dating.

Since my family has never acknowledged my personal issues or witnessed first-hand any of the struggles in my own life over the last 16 years, I can’t expect them to understand why asking me to do this could be dangerous for the both of us. I don’t exactly have the best judgment. I never have. Believe me when I say, I’m not trying to make excuses here. I’m simply stating my experience.

Day 360 Merry Christmas (12.25.12)

Well, it wasn’t my intent to turn this blog entry into a rant; but it is what it is. I needed to get a few things off my chest. I’m convinced that no one in my family reads my blog, so I feel that my openness won’t be judged harshly by my faithful readers. I do hope each and every one of you had a very Merry Christmas! I hope the New Year brings each of us closer and blesses us with peace and prosperity.

Day 361 Red-bellied Woodpecker (12.26.12)

This last photo brings me up-to-date with my 366 project. We got a light dusting of snow today and a flurry of activity at the bird feeder. I saw Blue Jays, Downy Woodpeckers, lots of Cardinals (as always), Tufted Titmouse (Titmice?), Eastern Bluebirds, and of course, this Red-bellied Woodpecker. I’ve tried to get a good photo of him for ages! This one is better than nothing.

As always, thanks for stopping by! And feel free to leave comments or suggestions.

Day 342 Brooding Sky

Day 342 Brooding Sky by pixygiggles
Day 342 Brooding Sky, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

The skies this past week have reflected my own mood, dark and brooding. The week started off pretty raunchy. I wanted to attend Cookeville’s Christmas parade Monday night and even made the attempt to go. However, I left my house much later than intended and didn’t anticipate problems in finding a place to park my car. After half an hour of driving around aimlessly, I became overwhelmed and frustrated with the crowd. I finally returned home, completely missing the parade. The rest of the week seemed overshadowed by this disappointment.

Financial stress is weighing heavily on my mind. I’ve been through much harder times than these, but the holidays make it so much worse. Commercial advertising during this season does little more than sicken and disgust me. Even if I had the money to shop for loved ones, I’m not so sure that I would be able to do so in good conscience. David calls it “Gimme Day.” Honestly, I can’t blame him a bit for that. I seem to find myself redefining what the holiday season means to me and what traditions I wish to include in the celebration thereof.

Having been brought up in a Christian household, I understand the reasoning behind, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” As a child and teen, I would have argued that myself. However now, I see this holiday season as so much more than only the observed celebration of Christ’s birth. Further back in history, celebrations of this time of year observed the cycles of change that affected everyone’s life and a renewed hope that all would be well. I so look forward to the winter solstice which marks the turning point of the year when the “rebirth of the sun” begins the gradual increase in sunlight once again. This aspect of the holiday is so often overlooked nowadays.

Here it is closer to midnight than I intended to release my thoughts. I will only add that I’m sorry that I’ve been a little more quiet than usual in my comments and responses lately. I’m afraid that the darker the days grow so does my mood and my ability to communicate effectively. At least I know in my heart that this cycle is one of contemplation and introspection. It’s as necessary as the leaves falling from the trees. Change is guaranteed in that respect. The end of one cycle brings hope for new beginnings.

Day 341 Christmas Kisses

Day 341 Christmas Kisses by pixygiggles
Day 341 Christmas Kisses, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

I wanted to get my daily photo posted before midnight, so I’m posting this one as the best in the series of photos I took a few minutes ago. Yes, I know, much later than normal; but I got a little sidetracked today. I’ll be updating this post in a little while with a few others that I wanted to put together as a series or maybe a triptych.

Update 12.7.12:

I wanted to share this second group of photos because I thought it would make a good public service announcement and reminder about pets and chocolate. Any time I am taking photos, Sasha loves to be in the middle of whatever I’m doing. She is our most curious and playful kitty. These are a few out-takes from yesterday’s daily photo,  showing her most mischievous side. Don’t worry, I took the Hershey’s Kiss away from her immediately after she batted it off and gave her a more appropriate toy. Chocolate is toxic for cats and dogs; so remember to keep your pet’s safety in mind. Life gets particularly hectic this time of year. It can be especially tempting for pets when human treats like chocolates are more readily available in the home. From PetMD:

Chocolate is derived from the roasted seeds of Theobroma cacao, which contains certain properties that can be toxic to cats: caffeine and theobromine. When ingested, these two ingredients can lead to various medical complications and may even prove fatal for your cat.

For more information about chocolate and your pet’s health visit:

Happy Holidays!

My mom has these wonderful Christmas toys around her house. I decided to put them all together to create a Christmas greeting for my friends & family. I hope everyone has a very safe & happy holiday season! ♥ ♥ ♥