It would be a distortion to say that I am busy throughout the day; nonetheless I regularly find myself asking, “Where does the time go?” It’s now late afternoon. The sun has already set in league with the approaching hibernal solstice on December 22 at 0:3:28 (when either of earth’s poles reaches its maximum tilt away from the sun depending whether in the Northern or Southern hemisphere).
Although the winter solstice itself lasts only a moment, the term also refers to the day on which it occurs. The term midwinter is also used synonymously with the winter solstice, although it carries other meanings as well. Traditionally, in many temperate regions, the winter solstice is seen as the middle of winter; although today in some countries and calendars it is seen as the beginning of winter. Other names are the “extreme of winter” (Dongzhi), or the “shortest day”.
I can only conclude that it is a privilege of old age to occupy oneself with inconsequential undertakings, complemented by gassing on the telephone, perhaps buying some groceries, Virginia peanuts and hand towels, even making an appointment for car repair. I can’t recall all the details. Though I should mention that we profited by this exceedingly grand day (the temperature soared to 11°C under azure skies) by wheeling our bicycle and tricycle out of the garage onto the open roadways which thankfully were predominantly dried by the uncommon warmth of the sun.
We also started our day earlier this morning in good stead by attending our local bank to deposit a cheque we had long awaited from MasterCard as repayment of a credit (which as we discovered inadvertently the lender refuses to sustain on the credit card for longer than 3 months). Upon deposit of the cheque to our account we were informed by the branch officer that the funds will be “On Hold” until February 1st at 6:00 am. This struck us as both annoying and preposterous – especially as the funds are coming from MasterCard to Bank of Montreal.
The mid-afternoon cycle was less convulsive. Everyone whom I passed on the sidewalk was in a buoyant mood. I wore a light shell atop my shirt and sweater. And no gloves. I saw a gentleman walking with a woman and child whom I presumed to be his family. He wore short pants! Naturally we quipped about his costume.
As usual I paused my cycling outing to take some photos of the local scene which is forever changing. Later at home I culled the impromptu collection and “edited” them in whatever way possible in an attempt to elevate the photography beyond mere amateur snaps. They are as a result economical with the truth. While I have always preferred black and white or sepia-toned photographs for my personal use (that is, in frames) I oddly tolerate the vulgarity of coloured photographs which I tend to magnify with gem colours in particular.
Sepia toning is a specialized treatment to give a black-and-white photographic print a warmer tone and to enhance its archival qualities. The metallic silver in the print is converted to a sulfide compound, which is much more resistant to the effects of environmental pollutants such as atmospheric sulfur compounds. Silver sulfide is at least 50% more stable than silver.
And what would be any day so close to Christmas without an assortment of Christmas music, from Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” to Howard Blake’s “Walking in the Air” or Pyotr Illich Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite”. Thanks again to Apple Music for seemingly unlimited variations of popular and classical themes.
The Nutcracker , Op. 71, is an 1892 two-act classical ballet (conceived as a ballet-féerie) set on Christmas Eve at the foot of a Christmas tree in a child’s imagination.
In the post today we received more Christmas cards. We have already surpassed available display room in convenient locations; so now we’re setting the cards onto less imposing but more spacious plots throughout the drawing room. It has become a race to the finish. I can only hope that whatever further cards we’re fortunate enough to receive will arrive before Christmas – or by the New Year at the latest – because otherwise their allure and inspiration grows rapidly feeble.