Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Winter Has Begun!

Yes, winter is upon us. The winter solstice began on Friday December 21, 2012 at 6:11am, and it marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. The sun appears at its lowest point in the sky, and its noontime elevation appears to be the same for several days before and after the solstice. Hence the origin of the word solstice, which comes from Latin soltitium, from sol, "sun" and -stitium,"a stoppage." Following the winter solstice, the days begin to grow longer and the nights shorter.

 It really is a pretty time of year, although it can be challenging. Like that cute little black cat climbing on a slippery snowy roof, we must forge ahead, courageously, unafraid, but carefully. Be dressed and prepared to face the ever changing elements of winter and you will enjoy it. Snowy days can give us opportunities to enjoy simple pleasures in life. Recently, I purchased an intriguing book entitled "Paw Prints in the Moonlight". It is a heartwarming true story of one man and his cat. It is a special tale of one kind man and a cat that thought he was human, who changed this man's life forever. The story takes place in the rural splendor of Northumberland, England. I have not read it yet but anxiously look forward to it. Here is beautiful display of winter scenes we hope to see this winter. Enjoy!
We know that many people celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th, Christmas day, and though many do so out of sincere love and devotion to Jesus, more are finding it a challenge to achieve what they view the real meaning of Christmas to be. Especially in view of many of it's customs being of pagan background, and Jesus not even born on that day, millions have chosen not to participate in celebration of Christmas at all. Please view the video presented below on this blog that shows the real meaning behind the Yuletide traditions. It is an amazing expose of this so called "christian" holiday. It is long, about 35 minutes, but well worth watching. Also, I encourage everyone who has not read the December 1, 2012 Awake! article "Something Better Than Christmas", to please read it. It is presented in such a fine way.

 Enjoy the rest of this year, and I will see you next year, 2013, Jehovah willing.

 This is Raven - as the crow flies!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Galloping Into And Out Of The Fall Season

The fall season for 2012 began at approximately 10:49am, September 22.  Where did the time go.  Here we are close to the end of fall going into winter.  Don't ask me what happen.  Life happened.  I wanted so much to get on the blog to write about something, just to let everyone know I am still alive.

Of course we started a new service year, and that's always exciting.  New avenues of service like the "Manhattan Project" is proving to be very successful. Also, helping many others to come to know the truth through the computer using our official web site, and being able to read literature in their own language is nothing short of a miracle. Jehovah is speeding things up, just like this horse that is running.  Isn't this a beautiful horse?  It's a black Friesian running into and out of the fall, and soon to run into the winter season. It is a beautiful breed of horse I would love to have.  If not in this system, definitely in the new system.  Here are a few facts about this beautiful animal.

The Friesian (also Frisian) is a horse breed originating in Friesland, Netherlands. Although the breed's conformation resembles that of a light draft horse, Friesians are graceful and nimble for their size. During the Middle Ages, it is believed that the ancestors of Friesian horses were in great demand as war horses throughout continental Europe. Through the Early Middle Ages and High Middle Ages, their size enabled them to carry a knight in armor. In the Late Middle Ages, heavier, draft type animals were needed. Though the breed nearly became extinct on more than one occasion, the modern day Friesian horse is growing in numbers and popularity, used both in harness and under saddle. Most recently, the breed is being introduced to the field of dressage.

Distinguishing features
Black, 15-17 hands, powerfully muscled, agile with elegant action, thick mane and tail, feather on lower legs.

Alternative names
Belgian Black (UK)

Country of origin

Please click on the link below to see a video of these magnificent creatures, and I guarantee you will want one too.

Enjoy the rest of the fall season, and for that matter the rest of 2012, it's almost over. In the meantime I am hoping to take a little time to try my hand at sketching and watercolor painting, something I always wanted to do.  Watching a movie about Beatrix Potter, the author of children's books really inspired me.  If you haven't seen the movie "Miss Potter", I highly recommend it.  It is rated G!

This blog is short, I know, but it's good to be back!  Don't know when the next installment will be, but be assured I will try to keep it up.

This is Raven - as the crow flies

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Days Are Here!

Time has seemed to escape me.  The summer began June 20th, 2012 a day earlier than normal because we are in a leap year.  Life is busy as usual but honestly it seems to have taken on supersonic speed.  Here we are in July and so far I have to say the summer weather is living up to it's name.

 For those who love the summer I know you are happy.  There is a lot to love about summer. A sweet serenity now possesses the land. The green world is now fully green. It is the days of long twilights, and balmy evenings, a delightful invitation to dine out of doors, with family and friends.  Fruits and vegetables, perhaps from your own garden.  Nothing like a delicious homegrown tomato just picked from the vine.

Picnics, barbecues, boating, fishing, relaxing in those easy chairs at the ocean and swimming at the beach, or pool.  Graduation parties, weddings, and most important District Conventions, being held around the world, and which some of our friends will be attending. Hopefully we will be able to go next time.

Yes, summer is a time to have fun in the sun.  It also can get so hot you can see the heat quiver over fields of ripening grain, and the grass gets sun burnt and dry and you could fry an egg on the blistering hot pavement.  Make sure you wear plenty of sun screen, and have plenty of fans!!

I want to share this beautiful video that captures the sights and sounds of summer, and draws us closer to the one who made it all Jehovah our heavenly Father and Creator.  "How many your works are O Jehovah! All of them in wisdom you have made. The earth is full of your productions." Psalms 104:24,25.

This is Raven - as the crow flies!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Spring Things

April is aglow with spring things.  Why, it's very name is derived from the Latin 'aperire' meaning to open, and in truth April is a month of openings. 

It is a gardener's month, for the trees bud overhead and the bulbs at our feet.  The variety of color among the tree blossoms, pink and white, and the blossoming flowers, as well as the varying shades of green leaves emerging from the trees as if over night, is truly a feast to the eyes and senses, prompting worshipful praise to the one who made it.  "How many your works are, O Jehovah! All of them in wisdom you have made.  The earth is full of your productions." ( Psalms 104:24)

How many spring things have you taken note of that brings you delight?  Yes let's take time to "smell the flowers."  Spring comes around only once a year.

Here are some more spring things I'd like to share with you. Aren't they cute?

Hope this blog on "Spring Things" has brought a smile to your face and encouraged you to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

Also, nothing could be better than to enjoy the spring while listening to Vivaldi's Spring!  Take a few minutes to enjoy this delightful musical masterpiece.  It will put a "spring" in your step.

Have a happy, healthy Spring, and remember, April showers bring May flowers!
This is Raven - as the crow flies!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Springs Around The Corner

March 20th marks the first day of spring.  But truthfully, weather wise, it seems like it already has begun. This winter has been unseasonably warm, and traditionally March is a fickle stormy month either coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb or coming in like a lamb and going out like a lion.

For the most part so far, March has been mild and warm giving us all the proverbial "spring fever".  We have even seen sure signs of spring like the crocus blooming, many Robins appearing, although as Sparrow tells us, they never left.  Soon we will see the many varieties of daffodils bobbing their heads and delighting us with a cheerful array of varying shades of yellow.  In the words of William Shakespeare..."Daffodils, that come before the swallow dares, and take the winds of March with beauty".

Although the weather forecast for the rest of March seems to be  calm and warm no snow in sight, who knows what lies ahead with fickle March.  Don't put the snow shovels away just yet.

Remember this too, In March, July, October and May, the Ides are on the fifteenth day!  Beware of the Ides of March!  I love saying that phrase.

Ah Spring - when nature awakens.  It's a time of new beginnings.  A new flower season, a new fashion season, spring cleaning season.

 But most important this is the memorial season, a time of increased activity in showing our love, honor, and deep appreciation to Jesus for willingly sacrificing his perfect life for us, and Jehovah who out of undeserved kindness and love provided his only begotten son Jesus as ransom for our sins.  We always want to show our appreciation, but especially now in obedience to Jesus command "Keep doing this in remembrance of me".  And so Jehovah's people will gather together around the world on April 5th after sundown to celebrate the Lord's evening meal.  We hope all those we invite will be with us as well.

Another sure sign that spring is near is all the seed catalogs coming through the mail.  We have such a delight picking out the different varieties of seed we are anxious to plant in the garden.  Believe it or not I think we will be planting some cold weather crops like snow peas, lettuce, radishes, collards and kale a little earlier because of this warmer weather.  Other vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, squash, string beans and corn will have to wait until May.

Well another season is coming quickly upon us.  Enjoy it for there will not be another like it, and time goes by so quickly.  Until we meet again.

This is Raven - as the crow flies!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 29, 2012 - It's A Leap Year!

I didn't want to miss this opportunity on the last day of a snow less February to mention a few folk lore "facts" on leap years.  After all we won't have another one until four years from now.

There was a lot mentioned about leap years on the inter-net today and I thought it would be fun to incorporate a few of them on the last blog for this month.  They are funny, and we need some laughter, because if the" weather lore" from my last blog is right, we are not going to have a great summer. Maybe we'll have two dismal winters.  Let's hope not!

With 2012 comes the gift of an extra day.  24 hours for our calendar to catch up with the sun - and for us to catch up on a zillion things which we will need a zillion years.  While February 29 may feel like your average day, its once, every- four- years status has long linked it to myth and lore.  Here are some for example:

Astronomy Lesson

Despite what our elementary teachers told us, a year isn't really 365days.  Our planet actually takes 365 1/4 days to revolve around the sun.  These six additional hours each year add up to an extra 24 hours over four years, at which point we add a day to our calendar in order to keep us in sync with the sun.  Without leap day, annual events would slowly shift seasons - eventually Christmas would be celebrated in July.  It might as well be because we know Jesus wasn't born in December anyway.

One Glitch

While the first leap day was likely observed by the Egyptians, Caesar is credited for incorporating a leap year into the Julian calendar in 46 B.C.  However scientists noticed that annual events were still shifting over extended periods of time.  while the calculation of 365 1/4 days for the earth to lap the sun was close, the true figure is actually about 11 minutes short of that and this tiny miscalculation caused a day of discrepancy every 128 years.  Pope Gregory XIII came to the rescue in 1582, ruling that leap year would be skipped every four centuries to fix the snag.

Farmers' Fears

Though the point of a leap day is to keep our calendar aligned with nature, hundreds of years ago people thought that messing with our months would throw Mother Nature for a loop.  Farmers worried that the change would lower crop yields and sicken livestock.  In fact, a Scottish saying declared that "leap year was never a good sheep year."  Lore also held that leap day babies were unruly and tough to raise. (Maybe we should ask J. Lo, whose twins were born on Feb. 29, 2008 - if this adage proves true.)

Chances of Being Born

Rapper Ja Rule and actor Antonio Sabato Jr. are among the roughly 187,000 lea pings in the U.S. and 4 million worldwide.  Long - expired leap lings include poet John Byrom, bandleader Jimmy Dorsey and writer Dee Brown.  The likelihood of being born on February 29 is roughly 1 in 1,500, and on leap day 2012, (today) approximately 10,000 American babies will enter this exclusive minority.

A Modest Proposal

As the picture in the blog reveals leap year allowed women to propose marriage to men.( that unsuspecting man in the picture is in big trouble.)  Four hundred years ago women were not allowed to propose marriage to men - except on leap day.  While the source of this switcheroo isn't 100 percent clear, folklore traces the tradition to fifth - century Ireland, when St. Bridget supposedly complained to St. Patrick that gals were sick of waiting around for their procrastinating men to pop the question.  Patrick consented to a leap day role reversal and by some accounts, also declared that men who declined the proposal would be fined! ( If I were those men I'd run and hide.)

This was just  a few interesting 'facts' that were brought out on the inter-net.  Times have changed drastically.  Today woman don't wait for leap year to take the lead, any day will do just fine. 

Well, what will you do with your extra day in February? Or should I say 'what did you do' as this day is almost over.  I'm happy to say, I was able to complete this blog. And above all else, let us thank Jehovah and praise him, the giver of life and time.

This is Raven - as the crow flies!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Winter Snow - Where Are You?

Here we are in the month of February, the middle of winter, and unlike this picture there is no snow on the ground.

One of the main reasons Raven loves winter is because of the snow, and for all of those who love snow it hasn't been a great winter.  For those who are happy there is no snow, it's been a great winter.  Jehovah is so good, he pleases everyone.

It's true, we did have a snow storm in October, but it's not the same. It was in the beginning of the fall season.  Totally unexpected.  We did have some snow fall not long ago this winter season, but honestly the next day it was in the mid-50's and it quickly melted away.  We have had some cold raw windy days reminiscent of a real winter. Without the snow it's actually colder, or at least feels that way.

I have a theory for some years now, that if the beginning of the fall season starts out unseasonably cold, it seems we will have a warmer winter with little or no snow.  So far, it appears to be the case unfortunately so.

There still may be hope though.  February 2nd, Ground Hog Day, the ground hog saw his shadow, which means there will be 6 more weeks of winter.  Of course he saw his shadow because the sun was out.  If it was cloudy that day he would not have seen his shadow.
I was curious about how Ground Hog Day got started.  Here is what I found.

Groundhog Day is celebrated every year on February 2nd. The official groundhog lives in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. His name is Punxsutawney Phil. According to legend, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow (the day is bright and sunny), there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow (the day is overcast), there will be an early spring.

The celebration of Groundhog Day began with Pennsylvania's earliest settlers. It stemmed from a combination of religious beliefs and facts associated with hibernating animals. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day.

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

So Ground Hog Day is also called Candlemas Day.  What is that?  

February 2nd is Candlemas Day( The Christian Festival of Lights)  The Ancient Festival marks the midpoint of winter halfway between the shortest day and the spring equinox.  In olden times many people use to say that the Christmas season lasted for 40 days - until the second day of February.

It was the day of the year when all the candles that were to be used in the church during the coming year, were brought into the church and a blessing was said over them - so it was the Festival Day (or 'mass') of the candles.

Candles were important in those days not only because there was no electric lights, but people thought they gave protection against plague and illness and famine.  For nominal Christians it was a reminder of Jesus coming to earth.  Before he came everyone was 'in the dark' so to speak.  Jesus coming to earth with his message was like a guiding light to them in the darkness.  Jesus is called the light of the world - and candles are lit during church services to remind them of this.
With all this said, what hope is there for us to get a good snowstorm?  Maybe if we all do a snow dance that might work.  Perhaps we may get a clue from some weather lore and traditions.

Here are a few.

If Candlemas be fair and clear,  there'll be two winters in the year.

It is said that if the weather is fine and frosty at the close of January and the beginning of February,
There is more winter ahead than behind.

When the cat lies in the sun in February
She will creep behind the stove in March.

Of all the months of the year
Curse a fair February.

If it thunders in February,
It will frost in April.

If February give much snow,
A fine summer it doth fore show.

I keep checking the weather report, and I see no snow in the near future for us, so in the meantime we can dream about it and see it in pictures.

This is Raven - as the crow flies