The Irish peasantry had a saying to inspire hope under adverse circumstances ~  Remember that the darkest hour of all is the hour before day.

Personally, I like it to be a lot less dark, so I look for some light.


After December 21, the light begins its inevitable return, and the days grow longer.  The mid-December solstice marks the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and brings the shortest day and the longest night of the year. The novelist Alan Furst has one of his characters nicely observe, the day the sun is said to pause.  Pleasing, that idea.


Around the time of the December solstice is your longest noontime shadow of the year.


Such precision we have about the solstice these days. No one’s really sure how long ago humans recognized the winter solstice as a turning point ~ the day that marks the return of the sun. One delightful little book written in 1948, 4,000 Years of Christmas, puts its theory right up in the title. The Mesopotamians were first, it claims, with a 12-day festival of renewal, designed to help the god Marduk tame the monsters of chaos for one more year.



“Shall we liken Christmas to the web in a loom? There are many weavers, who work into the pattern the experience of their lives. When one generation goes, another comes to take up the weft where it has been dropped. The pattern changes as the mind changes, yet never begins quite anew. At first, we are not sure that we discern the pattern, but at last we see that, unknown to the weavers themselves, something has taken shape before our eyes, and that they have made something very beautiful, something which compels our understanding.”

-Earl W. Count, 4,000 Years of Christmas



Other than the few facts above, and the annual radio/TV/Internet reminder about the winter solstice, I must admit I know little else. That’s why I read the NYT science section and listen to the NPR Science Friday podcast.  The journalists and guests demystify why apples fall down or how echolocation works or what’s with those brain waves, anyway.  The language is clear and they assume the reader/listener knows nothing. (A fine assumption, in my case ~ I am not offended.)



I’m a fan of logical style blended with storytelling skill. Rachel Carson launched an entire movement with her book, Silent Spring. She wasn’t a writer. She was a marine biologist who could think on the page and was passionate about her subject.  Did you ever notice how scientists who write well start with one narrow fact and lead the reader from there to an understanding of a broader concept?  Think: Oliver Sacks (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat), Stephen Jay Gould (The Panda’s Thumb), Charles Darwin (Voyage of the Beagle).

[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[Science Friday did a podcast about the hidden science of Christmas trees. About needle retention. Really. A team of researchers at Nova Scotia Agricultural College knows how to block the ethylene in a balsam fir from reaching the tree’s receptors. This ‘intervention’ keeps the tree green, tender, and fresh-looking long after an untreated tree has lost its needles. Gosh, it’s a good life.

I revere all trees ~ especially this one.


Toni 12/29/13

(NaBloPoMo) “There Be Dragons,” One Congressman Mutters to the Other (an utterance I imagine one of them making when I watch a span of legislators talking amongst themselves as someone testifies about affordable care for all or the use of alternative energy to combat climate change. How to Help Congress? I Have a Suggestion. (A 420 Character 9-Line Poem by Patty)

Dragons of Varna
Dragons of Varna (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(NaBloPoMo) “There Be Dragons,” One Congressman Mutters to the Other (an utterance I imagine one of them making when I watch a span of legislators talking amongst themselves as someone testifies about affordable health care for all or the use of alternative energy to combat climate change. How to Help Congress? I Have a Suggestion. (A 420 Character 9-Line Poem by Patty)

The Unknown.

So scary that ancient maps drew Dragons to symbolize the unknown;

travel there was to go “where there be dragons.”

So, is it just fear of the unknown

that creates Congressional enemies of Affordable Care for All

(like the rest of the developed world has)

or Carbon Sequestration to Combat Climate Change?

Nix the dragons w/: Ted Talks, Sessions with Phil Nye the Science Guy, or NPR.

Make Known the Unknown.


Moses Pitt - 1680
Moses Pitt – 1680 (Photo credit: amphalon)

Let’s learn facts. Or it’s all going to be too close to what the Onion portrays Congress to be in this piece:

Congress Debates Merits Of New Catchphrase

Rep. William Cummings (D-VA) defends his use of the slang word “pronk” as a legitimate catchphrase.

the frameborder=”no” width=”480″ height=”270″ scrolling=”no” src=”″></iframe><br /><a href=”,14227/&#8221; target=”_blank” title=”Congress Debates Merits Of New Catchphrase”>Congress Debates Merits Of New Catchphrase</a>

But, I think the guys in an early Congress had an excuse for believing in dragons. They didn’t have access to Ted and his Talks.

Another Idea: our fearful, non-productive Congress could  seize the dragon by the horns (oops, mixed metaphor; but, um, I like it; so it stays.) and go on one of the study abroad programs organized by this amazing company, or ones of its ilk. The company’s called Where There Be Dragons:

Who We Are

Dragons Student Travel: Who We AreDragons programs are authentic, rugged and profound student travel adventures that expose the beautiful and complex realities of the countries in which we travel. Featuring extended itineraries, Dragons programs encourage deep immersion into strikingly different physical and cultural landscapes, combining the best in experiential education, travel, service learning, and physically and intellectually challenging experiences.

While Dragons programs vary in their focus—with some trekking and wilderness intensive, others strong on service and development studies, and still others language-oriented—all Dragons journeys are designed above all else to be fun, safe and honest educational experiences.




There’s some Better-Than-Great Folks I am grateful to and, on the Almost-Three-Year Anniversary of WWWW, it’s time I told them so.


Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm.  I think he was incandescently clever.  Just like Matthew Mullenweg ~ One. Very. Enthusiastic. Guy.  Mullenweg is the founding developer of WordPress, the blogging software that runs this site and millions of other sites around the world.  The website says WordPress is “a state-of-the-art semantic personal publishing platform”.  I say WordPress is the rabbit hole that winked me into Wonderland.


genius 1

In his Voyage of the Beagle, Charles Darwin wrote that he “passed the day delightfully wandering through the forest”, spending untold hours observing creatures in the field. Starting this blog involved hours (weeks,months,years) of messy and unpredictable blunders, snafus and goof-ups. But I don’t go it alone. I have my awesome Darwinesque partner Patty who wanders with me. And we’re both lucky enough to have a Genius of unlimited patience at the Apple store. She doesn’t always have the exact solution (since we don’t always know what the exact problem is) but she does have scads of suggestions. Like the Little Engine That Could, she lets us Know-We-Can.



As for a Better-Than-Great Guy, my GymRat is the best of the bunch.

I dance.  He claps.

He gives me the Gift of Time.  Time to break through sludge and sloth as murky as a jungle river and unload my words onto the screen like a flock of finches.

And he helps me “write” as we drive, make bread, pull weeds and troll through possibilities that might pass for dinner.

Now, here I am, looking back on almost three years and 700 posts in, well, amazement. A bunch of musings I let fly like darts about everything from bedbugs to LeBron.




As Click and Clack, the NPR Car Guys, say, with a chortle followed by a loud guffaw ~ Welcome to the shameless commerce division of the show.

Consider this ~ Subscribe and share our blog with friends on Twitter, Tumbler, Stumble, Google, email, Facebook and Pinterest.  WWWW itches for your comments. So loosen your tie, get personal.


Would you guess that we’ve had endless requests for Words We Women Write tote bags and t-shirts, mugs and magnets, evening gowns and monogramed umbrellas? Well, we haven’t ~ yet. So we won’t be opening a store anytime soon. But when we do, we’ll use the proceeds to take exotic trips around the world cover our hosting fees.


 Dear Readers and Subscribers and

Guest Bloggers and Likers and Abettors ~

THX, you are Zazzorific!

Toni 3/21/2013