Blue Moon Diddle

                         Image courtesy of

December 31 is not only the end of the year and the end of the decade. It’s a night with a second full moon in a calendar month–a “bluemoon.” 

National Geographic reports:

If the skies are clear, revelers looking up at midnight will get an eyeful of the second full moon of the month—commonly called a blue moon. The last time a blue moon appeared on New Year’s Eve was in 1990, and it won’t happen again until 2028.

A blue moon isn’t actually blue—as commonly defined, the name reflects the relative rarity of twofull moons in a month and is linked to the saying “once in a blue moon.”

Most years on average have 12 full moons, with 1 appearing each month.

The term “blue moon” can also refer to the rare instances when the moon actually seems to turn blue, as can happen under certain atmospheric conditions.

Rising in the east at sunset, the New Year’s Evefull moon will reach its highest point at midnight, noted JackHorkheimer, director of the Miami Space-Transit Planetarium and host of PBS television’s long-running show Star Gazer.

“Full moons around winter solstice rise their highest for the entire year,”Horkheimer added. “Even if you are downtown in a large city, if it is clear at the stroke of midnight the moon will be very visible if you look up.”

In any location, the high, silvery orb will seem like a floodlight cast on the landscape, added Horkheimer, who is organizing a national moon-howling contest around this year’s blue moon.

“This is especially true where the ground is covered with a blanket of snow.There is nothing quite so spectacular as a snow-covered scene under a December full moon at midnight.” Source

Happy New Year’s Eve! And here is a Blue Moon Diddle — a riff off of the English nursery rhyme, Hey Diddle Diddle.

 Hey diddle diddle, the moon is blue
After Hey Diddle Diddle, English Nursery Rhyme
Annette Marie Hyder

Tell all the trees
let the rocks know too
the rivers shall be notified
about the moon’s blue hue.

The sky saved up all year
for this special surprise
so that this new year’s eve
would have an indigo moonrise.

Blue as a robin’s egg or
blue as in rare
we’re in on the wink
from the moon up there.

When the cat sees that
he  throws down his fiddle
he pulls out his iPod
and listens to Biddle.

The cow is amazed
that her graceful leap
sent her over the moon
she blushes at her own hoofed feet.

The little dog laughs to see such sport
and begins to chase his tail
when he catches it, he bites it
and then begins to wail.

The spoon is in a fine romance
the dish is his object of woo
her porcelain just  sparkles
at the romance and the view

of the moon decked out in party best
and champagne starlight going to her head.
That pretty happiness is two parts why
the two ran off and straightaway wed.

Lacy things

Image courtesy Tatting for Beginners

Sometimes the whitest snow falls from the bluest sky as the sun sinks slowly carrying its shoulder-load of lit firewood and casting a glow both pink and orange over the cold fields. Night is coming and the moon will dance in the empty ballroom of the sky which will be lit by a myriad celestial candles as she twirls all alone and as the night deepens she will dance and dance, becoming fainter and more ethereal — until she resembles the snowflakes that mirror her from below.

moss diamond snow
on a cold patterned night

Annette Marie Hyder

a delicate tatting of snow
covers the fields below
and a triple-cast black dye surrounds
the lace doily moon in the sky


Knitting Stitch Patterns: Moss Diamond
Knitting on the net
Shuttle Tatting instructions

What’s open on Christmas day?

Pauline Baynes
Illustration for The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S Lewis

What’s open here in Minnesota on Christmas day?

  • Sno-ho-ho! Despite the snowstorm, that some have been calling “snowmageddon”, the roads are open. Caution is advised though, as driving conditions are always dangerous when a snow emergency has been declared.

Star Tribune snowstorm report
Snow emergencies declared

Restaurants open on Christmas Day in Minnesota

Additional links for more info:

For a list that includes ice-skating, Como Park and Como Zoo, skiing, snowbarding and snowtubing, check out this link:
Things to do in Minneapolis on Christmas day (and St. Paul too)
World News Buzz has a handy list
NPR, What’s open on Christmas Day?

Don’t get sick or they’ll call the police on you

My daughter and I were talking about the police and how there are so many stories about police corruption, wrongdoing and abuse of power (all featured prominently on YouTube).

I remember growing up with the idea that the police were there to help me if I got in trouble or danger and I felt sad that my daughter’s worldview didn’t include that perspective. I felt sad too to realize that my perspective has changed over the years to more of a wary avoidance of police (specifically in traffic situations) and an attitude of distrust — a worry about being treated unfairly should I ever find myself in a position of dealing with the police.

I told Jasmine that when I was her age I had the expectation that the police were good and honest.

How the world has changed.

Knowing how it is so easy to focus on the negative and to allow bad experiences to overshadow good ones, I made an effort to think of times in my daughter’s lifetime (she is thirteen) that the police had been on “our side”.

Here are three:

  1. When I was still living in Florida, I locked myself and my baby daughter out of the car (keys still in the ignition) when I went shopping. I called the police and they jimmied the lock for me (they don’t do this anymore because of lawsuits.)
  2. Having just moved to Minnesota, I had the incredible misfortune to leave my wallet at home and then get a flat tire — in the snow. My then-husband was out of town on business and I didn’t know anybody in town. I called the police and they sent a community service unit to give me and my daughter a ride home (from whence I could retrieve my wallet and commence operations to retrieve my car from the Target parking lot).
  3. And finally, last year when I was sick, they came to my door to check on me and make sure I was OK.

(Of course, I had not called them when I was sick. My family in Florida, worried because I was not answering the phone because I was feverish and fluish, called the police to make sure all was well. My daughter was over at her dad’s and so I was alone at my house.)

Imagine, in my flu-induced delirium, I get a knock on the door and peeping blearily out the peephole, I see it is  — the police?

Yes, my family has called the police on me because I am sick

I tell the police that I cannot open the door because I am not dressed. Technically I have just lied to the police because I am dressed — just not dressed for a visit (I am wearing a big holey T-shirt that just covers my panties and schlumpy socks that puddle around my feet). They reply that they will wait for me to get dressed as they cannot leave without making sure that I am OK.

Of course I was furious with my family (yes I am talking about you, Mother and Tommy) for subjecting me to this indignity. I stayed mad for a few days and then realized that my family was just acting out of love and worry for me. And I realized that I should appreciate that I have family that would call (from Florida) the police in St. Paul, Minnesota and tell them that I needed to be checked on. And the police? Well I have to say that a sick-visit from the police — in person — should not be taken for granted. They didn’t bring me chicken soup but they did bring a concern and polite kindness that was — in retrospect — comforting.

Happy winter solstice!

Image created digitally from public domain image of Neuschwanstein Castle

winter solstice

Annette Marie Hyder

winter solstice comes
like a hero to hold back
the encroaching night
a rescuer of day
who has been wasting away
in the stronghold of ice and snow

now the tread of light will lengthen
once again
diminishing the dark
step by step led out and leading
at the same time
because the sun swept down

balancing precariously on the edge of sky
to the lowest point and scooped victory
from the field and placed her to his right hand
and she let him
and so the days will lengthen
and so the warmth will come

green grass and golden light
will never be overcome
red berries will tell this tale
pine needles will stitch it
in the seamless sheets of snow

winds will trumpet this news
as the black birds crow
every rock will shout it
before the cold time’s done
and it will ring in caves of bone
all the way to Jötunheimr

National Geographic reports:

Today is the winter solstice and the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s all due to Earth’s tilt, which ensures that the shortest day of every year falls around December 21.

Since ancient times people have marked the winter solstice with countless cultural and religious traditions—it’s no coincidence the modern holiday season surrounds the first day of winter.

During the winter solstice the sun hugs closer to the horizon than at any other time during the year, yielding the least amount of daylight annually. On the bright side, the day after the winter solstice marks the beginning of lengthening days leading up to the summer solstice.

Read about the astronomy that defines the winter solstice, ancient civilization’s celebrations of the winter solstice and the connection between the winter solstice and Christmas here.

Mistletoe, Nargles and Norse gods
Winter solstice moon

Mother Goose’s Melodies for Children

Image Public Domain

On this day in history in 1719, Mother Goose’s Melodies for Children was published by Thomas Fleet.

England’s John Newbery was the first to publish Mother Goose (it is in his honor and in recognition of Newbery’s pioneering work as an author and publisher of children’s literature that The American Library Association instituted the Newbery Medal to be awarded annually to the most distinguished work of children’s literature). Source

However, Within a few years there were several pirated editions of the Newbery Mother Goose published in America, one with the picture of a sharp-nosed old crone addressing two children as follows:

“Fudge! I tell you that all their batterings can’t deface my beauties, nor their wise pratings my wiser prattlings; and all imitators of my refreshing songs might as well try to write a new Billy Shakespeare as another Mother Goose! We two great poets were born together, and we shall go out of the world together. No, no, my melodies will never die, while nurses sing, or babies cry.” Source

I grew up loving Mother Goose and her avian steed. It wasn’t until well after I’d left the nursery behind that I discovered the deeper history behind the Old Mother and her goose. A great place to start for information about topics ranging from Mother Goose, gossiping, the fecundity of birds and why the stork “brings the baby” is From the Beast to the Blonde, by Marina Warner.

Fake fingerprints: plastic surgery for fingerprints?

The BBC is reporting that a Chinese woman managed to enter Japan illegally by having plastic surgery to alter her fingerprints, thus fooling immigration controls.

BBC reports:

Lin Rong, 27, had previously been deported from Japan for overstaying her visa. She was only discovered when she was arrested on separate charges.

Tokyo police said she had paid $15,000 (£9,000) to have the surgery in China.

It is Japan’s first case of alleged biometric fraud, but police believe the practice may be widespread.

Japanese police suspect Chinese brokers of taking huge sums to modify fingerprints surgically.

Skin patches on her thumbs and index fingers were removed and then re-grafted on to the matching digits of the opposite hand.

Japanese newspapers said police had noticed that Ms Lin’s fingers had unnatural scars when she was arrested last month for allegedly faking a marriage to a Japanese man.

The apparent ability of illegal migration networks to break through hi-tech controls suggests that other countries who fingerprint visitors could be equally vulnerable – not least the United States, according to BBC Asia analyst Andre Vornic.

Blank pages
/ nonexistent fingerprints

Stories about fingerprints fascinate me. This is probably because when I was growing up my maternal grandmother’s fingerprints were nonexistent. The tips of her fingers were blank and unmarked; she had smooth whorl-free skin where her fingerprints should have been.

where most of us have reams
of DNA information written —
the paper of her fingertips
was script free

Tabula rasa comes from Latin for a smoothed or erased tablet (a tablet being a surface to be written upon) and has come to stand for a blank slate, a new beginning or something in its original pristine state.

My grandmother passed away and took the secret of her tabulae rasae, her blank slates, with her leaving me with the memory of a mystery and an abiding fascination with fingerprints.

Links of interest:
Can fingerprints wear away?
Discussion: Fingerprint scans
I have no fingerprints

“Wrapped in 41,300 white lights, the big oak warms hearts for miles around”

Image courtesy Marlin Levison, Minneapolis Star Tribune

In this season of trees that blaze like chandeliers and branches that look to be draped with stars, the Star Tribune has a story by Mary Lynn Smith, about a light-wrapped tree, A tree glows in Bloomington, that really stands out.

The Star Tribune reports:

On a hill in Bloomington stands a 53-foot oak tree that few notice in the light of day.

But when darkness falls, a switch flips and there is light: 41,300 white lights, to be exact, that wrap the tree’s trunk and every branch, creating a glow that can be seen for miles along the Minnesota River Valley. It’s a spectacular sight along a stretch of Hwy. 77 south of the Mall of America.

They come in cars, tour buses and limousines from the time the tree is lit on Thanksgiving night until the plug is pulled on New Year’s Day.

There was the sailor who stopped by to ask whether he could propose to his girlfriend in front of the tree the next night. The family who snapped a photo for their annual Christmas card. The airline pilot who insisted to his wife that they find the “beacon of light” that he flew over. And then there are the children who dance with wonder under the tree.

“It’s so wonderful for the soul,” Bob Little said. “You only have to see a crippled girl get out of a van at the end of the driveway … and operate this wheelchair, coming up the driveway. Our driveway is 100 yards long. And then you hear her say: ‘Daddy, could we move here? Because this is awesome.’ What better Christmas present can we get?”

Read the full story here.

Russia bans the activities and literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses

Writer and flmmaker, Joel Engardio, has an essay in the Washington Post on the recent Russian Supreme Court
ruling that bans the activities and literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
As noted below, this decision is a dangerous precedent that threatens the freedoms of
press, speech and religion for everyone in Russia.

Here is the info that came across my desk:

December 2009
The Washington Post published an essay by KNOCKING director Joel Engardio urging people to speak out against the recent Russian Supreme Court ruling that bans the activities and literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This decision is a dangerous precedent that threatens the freedoms of press, speech and religion for everyone in Russia.

Take action

If you feel the ban of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia is unwarranted,please forward this message to friends and family. Please post the Washington Post essay on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Also,continue to let people know about KNOCKING. There is a free 8-minute trailer with select scenes on YouTube. Post that link on your Facebook page along with the Washington Post essay.

YouTube KNOCKING link
Washington Post essay link
Knocking relevancy

With the actions of the Russian Supreme Court, the film KNOCKING continues to prove its relevancy. What is happening to Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia today is a repeat of the persecution Witnesses experienced in the United States in the 1940s, as documented in KNOCKING. Hopefully, Russia will see it’s mistake — as the U.S.Supreme Court corrected its own anti-Jehovah’s Witness rulings — and realize that a democratic society protects the rights of all citizens to speak and worship freely.

DVDs are still available in English, Spanish and Portuguese. They have been discounted 30% from the original price. Click link to order:

December issue of InTheFray Magazine

The new issue of InTheFray Magazine themed on Coda is out

Imagine contributor Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt, of Bristow, VA., has three poems in this issue: For Alexis, The jail cell, My daughter says. Click on the Imagine link to read these coda themed poems. Click on the other links to explore this theme more.

editor's notebook

One more thing before I go. [ read more ]

editor’s choice