Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Winter's Sleep

These are the longest nights. From now until mid-January the sun will set before most of us are done with the day's work. We'll be coming home in darkness and leaving the house again before dawn. Some folks never see their home in daylight this time of year except on weekends.

This is a time of torpor, when many mammals take to their burrows for hibernation. Colder weather and shorter days signal biological changes in the Earth's creatures, including man. Holidays alone are not the reason we do more shopping, put on more weight and feel more tired than usual.
Each of us comes with a built-in biological clock that affects virtually every function of our bodies, including sleep. Blood pressure rises and falls, pulse quickens and slows, and glands secrete proteins according to daily -- or Circadian -- rhythms established by this inner timepiece.

Continued at... A Winter's Sleep.

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1995. All rights reserved.
Rural Delivery
Second Nature
Out There
Artwork: Hibernation by Gun Legler

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Right Jolly Old Elf

"He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself"
    -- C. Clement Moore

This Santa Claus is certainly a magical fellow. He flies through the sky, is rarely seen outside of shopping malls, possesses an uncanny intelligence about who has been naughty or nice, and has a seemingly inexhaustible supply of toys.

Some say he is descended -- or evolved -- from Kris Kringle, a legendary figure from Norse folk tales. Or perhaps he's related to Odin, the Lord of the Winds who rode through the stormy nights on an eight-legged flying horse.

Continued at... A Right Jolly Old Elf.

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved.

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Holidays and Notable Events
Artwork: Spirit Of Santa by Tom Browning

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Carol's Tale

Most songs don't keep. People sing them for a few years, then lose interest. New tunes replace the old in a continuous cycle and yesterday's lyrics are soon forgotten.
Even Christmas carols, the most traditional sounds in American music, have fairly shallow roots. The most popular Christmas song to date, "White Christmas," was composed by Irving Berlin in 1942. "Do You Hear What I Hear?" only dates back to 1962 and "Away in a Manger" is just over a century old.
Hardly anyone sings old Christmas classics like "La Bonna Novella" and "Nowell" any more. Both were big European hits in the 16th and 17th centuries. So was the German carol "Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen" ("Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming.")
Like a well-worn pair of boots left on the back porch, old songs lie forgotten until they lose their usefulness. Then they don't seem to fit any occasion.

Continued at... A Carol's Tale

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2007. All rights reserved.
Out of the Past
Holidays and Notable Events
Artwork: Church Choir Singing by Mary Evans

Friday, December 6, 2013

Risk Assessment

You know it's going to be a bad day when an official from the Environmental Protection Agency shows up at your door and wants to test your water.
A few years back my wife and I lived in an old mining camp high in the Pioneer Mountains of central Idaho. It was a incredibly scenic location, couched in a mountain valley with rugged snow-capped peaks rising in all directions. Our home was a prospector's cabin fashioned from rough-hewn lumber, rustic and full of character.

Early century miners drew tons of silver ore out of the nearby hills, crushed it to a fine powder and separated out the precious metals. They left behind mounds of overburden and large lagoons of mill tailings, the kinds of rock piles and mine wastes seen all across the American West.

Continued at... Risk Assessment

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1992. All rights reserved.
Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Here's How To... Test a Well
Artwork: Mine Waste Dump 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas Letter

Folks used to correspond regularly with friends and family; perhaps some still do.
Nowadays it's a whole lot easier to dial or fax or text or e-mail or post something on Facebook. The physical act of writing, folding, stamping and posting a letter is becoming as rare as the horse-drawn wagon or the home-cooked meal.

Sure, we send out birthday cards and Mother's Day missives, and the occasional picture postcard, but in our home the only true attempt at formal letter-writing comes at Christmastime.

Continued at... Christmas Letter

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2007. All rights reserved.
Rural Delivery
Holidays and Notable Events
Out of the Past
Artwork: 1945 Print Ad for Parker 51 Pen