21 December 2012

Out of the darkness

I have consciously tried not to anxiously await the date when the days begin to grow longer. This goes for any other definable moments in the future...wishing time away seems like a terrible waste when it is so precious. That said, I can't help but feel elated that those of us in the northern hemisphere have made the shift toward longer daysimperceptible though it is. (Imagine how people living in the Arctic Circle must feel!)

In the past I've noticed that sunrise & sunset continue to remain pretty much the same for a while after the solstice, but I only just realized that this is alluded to by the word's etymology:

solstice |ˈsōlstis|
ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French, from Latin solstitium, from sol ‘sun’ + stit- ‘stopped, stationary’ (from the verb sistere).

With the sun hovering at more or less the same light/darkness ratio during this period—for example, between 30 November & 18 December, the variation of the time of sunset was a mere +1/-1 minutethe sun's rising & setting time has indeed stopped its usual faster rate of change. In fact, we will have only two seconds more of light tomorrow than today (and it may well be a couple of extra moments of gray)...but by the second of January we will have worked ourselves up to a nine-hour day!


And now, back to this month's ROY G BIV challenge (see my last entry if you missed it)... My original plan was to use photos of last year's winter solstice. We had gathered ceramic & glass containers from all over the house & put tea light candles in them, filling the living room with light. I suppose because I remembered the candles/some of the candle 'holders' and the tablecloth being white, I thought the photos would be suitable for the 'white' theme, but in fact the best shots showed the glowing light against a black backgroundfitting in spirit, perhaps, but not in color.

So, today seemed like the better day to post a couple of those images of last year's winter solstice ritual. Last Christmas's gingerbread cookies, my favorite 'star' lights, and one morning's cappuccino also feature in this quartet.

In last year's blog entry (from the former 'Arzigogolare'), written on the day of the winter solstice, I recalled our first one in this apartment. I will never forget how my plans went awry:
I bundled together fifty white taper candles with a ribbon to serve as the centerpiece for our evening meal. Unfortunately, I had underestimated the intensity of their combined heat: the fifty flames joined forces, fusing the candles into a single mass almost instantly. In a matter of seconds, the wax began flowing all over the table, then dripping on the rug, before we managed to extinguish the flames!

In contrast, last year's celebration was considerably more sereneand that is what I hope for around the world tonight, whether you are enjoying the shortest day of your year or the longest.

{My source for sunrise/sunset times (and much more) is this site.}


Even though the whole gingerbread cookie dough/baking/decorating process often takes us three days, last year it was accomplished in record time, with great success. This weekend we will be making cookies with my parents in Montepulciano, so it should be even easier!

{The recipe for the cookies can be found here.}


And now a couple of PaperSynthesis-related notes... Saturday, 22 December is the last day to order electronic gift cards to be sent out this year; there are some new choices in the shop, under the listing in the 'Calendars+GiftCards+' category. (Orders are accepted at any time, but will not be sent until 2 January if placed after tomorrow.) Also, items ordered by Monday 7 January 2012 will ship for free during the week of 14 January. A few more of the new items I have been working on this year will be showing up in the shop soon as well... 


  1. Your description of your first attempt at a solstice celebration (with the 50 tapers)just had me laughing!! I can just imagine the craziness. How calm the tea candles must have seemed in contrast. I love the photo quartet and think that would make for a lovely card. Have fun with your parents and baking cookies.

    1. I'm glad you got a kick out of the candle story...I don't think my daughter will ever forget that winter solstice celebration!! This year's candle ritual ended up being very calm, peaceful & beautiful...there's nothing like the effect of many lit candles brought together (and thank goodness for tea lights!). Thank you for your wishes (cookie baking went well today!)
      - Lisa

  2. The first shot of the lit candles is so warm and inviting that I wish I could be part of it.
    I just had a new look at your shop, those embossed maps you are announcing are just gorgeous!

    1. Thank you Ersi! We don't have a fireplace, but having a room full of candles is the next best thing. Wishing you a warm & cozy holiday...
      - Lisa
      P.S. Glad to hear you liked the embossed maps - I am very excited about them and hope to get them all photographed after Christmas...


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