Saturday, December 16, 2017

Angels in My Head

I have angels in my head. And an old farmhouse, which I will fashion after this work by Billy Jacobs, entitled "The Road Home." I love the painting's grey wintry day, and the browns and the seeming emptiness of the farmhouse.

But there will be angels there...

I have the linen I will use for the ground...wish I knew for sure what kind of linen it is, but it was a part of my mother's collection, and she loved good linen on which to work. After researching it, I believe it is an Irish linen.  That would make sense, as she traveled the British Isles quite often. I have dyed it, intending it to be darker; however, the drabness may just suit my subject after all...

These are the chosen colors thus far, though sometimes photos don't show the real colors...

I'm looking forward to this one, very much.

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Friday, December 15, 2017

Do You Know This Bird?

I had a strange little visitor to my birdbath today...I've never seen one like him before. I love his black bib and speckled breast. His beak is long, thin, and straight.

He was alone until he had some robins for companionship, all sipping from the birdbath...
If you recognize this fine fellow, please comment!

Cute, cute, cute!!!

Update:  After researching a bit, it seems my visitor is a Northern Flicker, a migratory bird related to the woodpecker. Sweet.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Green Witch's Gift From the Garden

I was up with the Moon this morning, and that old Crone Moon got me thinking...

You don't need to spend a lot of money to give someone a thoughtful gift. Go out to your gardens, yes, even in Winter, and see what they have to offer.

Here I've created a very simple Rosemary wreath, accented with a few sprigs of Silver King Artemisia and Yarrow. You don't need a glue gun, just a few strands of raffia and some cheery red ribbon.

It smells wonderful!! Of course, you can get quite fancy...and create a thicker, more elaborate wreath, depending on your garden selections...

For now it hangs on my carved angel from Santa Fe, New Mexico (they're everywhere there!).

I'm a great believer in keeping it simple, and making it fun. :) As Christmas should be...

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Crone Energy

Soul guidance.
                Deep truths.


©2017 Nancy Duncan

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

And...She's Up!

Finally got the Christmas tree up!  So, grab a cup of eggnog and let's check her out!

So many memories in all these boxes, some over the last 30+ years...but lots from my childhood years, too. I'm betting that many of you recognize some of these oldies but goodies...I am especially fond of the little gold lovebirds in the second box. They're each missing a wing...but that doesn't keep them from fluttering in my heart...

The tiny peacocks, one of my faves, are from West Germany...when there was a West Germany! And the little musical gnomes are from darn cute. This one has maracas.

Travels to Russia...the little blue Father Christmas there, purchased in St. Petersburg at an evening folk dance we attended, and the Thistle at the top purchased in a hurry before we boarded our ship to leave Scotland...And, of course, there's Iceland, this year's newest addition...

There's a wood carved one from Gatlinburg, Tennessee...I wish I had an ornament from every country  and special place I've visited, but it wasn't always possible, and really, since we traveled mostly in the summer, we didn't always think of it. And we've got a Cowboys ornament. That's a have-to. :)

Take a look inside the branches of this sweet little tree...look! A wishing well! I always, always have tinsel (icicles), but I wouldn't if I had furry friends because I know it would be dangerous for them...

At the tippy top is a star...vintage 50s. My sister got the one we picked out when we were small children, but she found one exactly like it in an antiques store! So we both have one now, hideous as it may look, lol!  The memory of Daddy taking us to the dime store and letting us pick it out is the precious thing. The Night Before Christmas was a gift from a student years ago during my teaching career...a beautiful book, with charming illustrations...

Tonight, I'll light up the tree, sit back, and savor the warmth...


© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Lady

Today being the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I thought I'd share this beautiful, handmade folk art piece that my daughter brought back for me from Los Cabos last November.

It measures only about 5 x 3 inches, and is decorated in gold and seeds. Yes, seeds, shaped into little sweet.

This second picture I took at night...

Tis lovely to look at, and contemplate...

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Monday, December 11, 2017

For the Love of Books

This morning I awakened to this little fellow eating berries from my Grey Cotoneaster.  And he, being a mockingbird, reminded me of one of my all-time favorite books (and movies): To Kill a Mockingbird, which I taught in my classes for years.

Now, having written a book of my own (which has yet to be published) has me thinking a lot about books lately. I've always been a voracious reader; usually there are at least five books and magazines lying by my side of the bed at any one time. I love books. Not just for what they impart when I read, but their construction fascinates me, which is why I have begun to collect antique ones (does owning two constitute a collection?), a very recent interest.

I found this lovely book of poems and essays in an antique shop last spring and purchased it not just for its sentiment but for the beauty of its construction.  Its cover has obviously darkened with time, which makes it look richer somehow. The spine is pulling away, but it allows me to see what materials it is made of, which is cardboard covered in cloth. I read that in the 1800s this was typical, whereas earlier books were often covered in calf skin (more on that later). I don't yet know how the decorative cover was imprinted, but it's lovely and imprinted with some gilt images, as well (nothing's too good for Mother, of course!)...

The inside cover is a delightful pattern, suited to the content, and the frontispiece is a pen and ink drawing typical of Victorian times...

The title page reveals what it's supposed to...interesting that this book was written by a doctor for his dear mother. And there's even a dedication page...

The illustrations, though, are the best part...isn't this one sweet?  Oh, those Victorians were certainly romantic!

My most recent antique book purchase has an 1836 copyright and is covered in calf skin. I won't be opening it until Christmas...:)

Kindles and computers are wonderful, but books are special, especially the very olde ones. To preserve one, after all, is to preserve a bit of history...

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Sunday, December 10, 2017

It Waits

It waits...for ornaments decades old, memories of long-ago times with loved ones...for ornaments collected through the years (I would always buy one new ornament a year, usually on the Friday after Thanksgiving)...for ornaments purchased in my travels to other countries and cultures...for lights, the soft, old-fashioned kind...for icicles that add a delicate laciness to the tree.

The tree is a Leyland Cypress, with soft feathery branches that don't drop needles! It came from my sister and brother-in-law's farm...

This year the new ornament is glass, like ice, a gift from my sister...Iceland! In the upper left-hand corner is a little cut-out heart, signifying our favorite stop on the trip...Isafjordur in the West Fjords, waaaay up in the northwest. Thank you, Sis! So thoughtful. :)

Decorated Christmas trees reflect their owners...some are fancy, some exotic, some natural, some color-coordinated, and some traditional. I've always wanted to decorate using all natural things, dried orange slices, herbs, things I've collected in the woods, all tied with bright red ribbon. I would love to have a four-foot white goose feather tree, adorned with tiny antique ornaments! Maybe some day. But for now, it shall remain traditional. What does your tree say about you?

I will decorate the little tree this week, but for now I will enjoy its piney scent and beautiful green branches, as it settles into its new home.

Friday, December 8, 2017


Time to pull out a few of my favorite Santas.  Not all of them will make an appearance this year, as I am simplifying, but this guy is one of my faves, as he is from Germany.  Many moons ago I lived there as a little girl, and thus all things German hold a special place in my heart.   He is an original Kunsthandwerk aus gem Erzgebirge!  But he has one bad habit...he smokes a pipe.  But Santa does that, you know? And I forgive his indulgence. :) I'd better because that bundle of sticks he's carrying is a reminder to me to be goode!  I'd much rather receive something from the sack he's carrying on his back!

For the record, Santa's smoke is actually a small cone of incense that is placed and lit under his coat...

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Tiny Forest

I've been stitching tiny ornaments, one for each of my grandchildren...and I wanted them to be kept in something a little special...

So I found three vintage bottle-brush trees, with snow (how I am wishing for snow this winter!!!), each of which will crown these little boxes which I will cover with material. I don't know yet if I'm going to age the material...I may just keep them pristine. This is my first time to try this, so fingers crossed!

For the eldest of the grandchildren, I will tuck in some spending cash, along with the ornament (what sixteen-year-old doesn't need a little mad money!)...Hey.  That's what we grandmothers do...:)

Update:  First little box is done. A bit shabbily, methinks...but it was my first attempt, mind you.  Nevertheless, it will work...Next time I will paint the interior and the bottom...maybe sand the material for aging.  We'll see.

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Shine On, Little Candles...

Placing a burning candle in the window is a tradition which hearkens back to Colonial times. Just as in Goody Prymm's and Remember's day, the hearth was the center of home life. It brought loved ones together for warmth, food, and light...and the window candle was lit from that fire.

Sometimes it meant waiting for a loved one, far away from home---or served as a beacon to weary travelers.

It was welcoming, regardless...and still is. Every year I place four candles in my front windows, for

Light is Hope...for this season, and all seasons.

***With a nod to Lisa Stanton, Westlake Historical Society

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Cold Moon

The Moon is a loyal companion.

It never leaves. It's always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever as we do.

Every day it's a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan,

sometimes strong and full of light.

The moon understands what it means to be human.




                Cratered by imperfections.

                                                                        ~~from Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

Saturday, December 2, 2017


Every year at Advent, I put up my mother's Creche...figures she painted and baked in a kiln, every single piece.  She did a beautiful job with the painting, such detail! As a child, I would arrange and rearrange the figures...sort of a contemplative "play." I've always been that way, needing quiet and aloneness---think-time, if you will.

So with tomorrow being the First Sunday of Advent, I shall once again arrange my mother's ceramic Nativity scene. If I were to be particularly "proper," I would not put out the Christ Child until Christmas Eve, but I prefer to see the whole scene in the days leading up to Christmas.

Today, though, I put out another Creche, one that I purchased for a mere $10 in an antique store a few years back. What I like about this little Nativity set is that it is from the late 40s, early 50s.  The figures are made of some kind of plaster and are painted in wonderful colors.  Clearly it's missing some figures, but the main ones are there: Mary (ever in blue), Joseph, the Three Kings, one Wise Man, and the darling stable animals: the donkey, a sheep, and an ox. Where is the Christ Child? Well, there's one there, but it clearly wasn't the original one belonging to this set. It seems that the Christ Child in these kinds of sets frequently went missing. This Christ Child figure is more recent and was made in Italy. I must say that I love the animals the most, so sweet. The little lamb is missing an ear, which is particularly endearing to me.

On the bottom of each of the figures is stamped "Made in Western Germany."

The floor is hinged for easier storage, and I think that a night light bulb originally came with the set...

My mother's Creche set is most dear to me.  But this little vintage set, while not worth much monetarily, is nevertheless another sweet reminder of this most beautiful season...

© 2017 Nancy Duncan