It’s That Time of Year.

Winter Storm Gail was thundering into the northeastern coast of America, with dire predictions of 8 – 14 inches to fall on the  north shore of Long Island. So, you know what that means here at Too Many Cats Manor. . .

. . . time to break out the Champagne-O-Meter! (For new readers, the Champagne-O-Meter is the bottle of champagne that I put out in the backyard to use as my gauge, in order to quantify snowfall, because “inches” are bafflingly quaint for those of us who think in “meters”, and “meters” are a threat to our way of life for those of us who think in “inches”, but everyone can be happy thinking in terms of ice-cold, Mother Nature-chilled bubbly.)

The first snow started to fall at 3:38 PM on Wednesday:

This is the little breakfast table on our back patio, as seen through the picture window in the den.

It was already dark an hour later, at 4:30 PM:

This is what it looked like at 7:30 PM:

Right before I went to bed at 9, the rate of snowfall had definitely increased:

I left the Champagne-O-Meter in the good hands of our crack team of weather analysts:

The cats are allowed to use the couches in the den as their scratching posts because that’s what they are going to do ANYWAY.

Yay, we didn’t lose power all night  so we kept heat on all through the blizzard, it was nice and snugly warm when I got up and waited for sunrise at 7:30 AM to document the overnight accumulation:

The feeder was open for Birdie Breakfast Buffet:

We declared a Snow Day, and Top Cat took a day off from his essential work in Manhattan, I decided to read a book instead of doing a 5-mile run, we both dipped into our stash of hand-made dark chocolates instead of food for lunch, and the cats wondered, “How is a Snow Day different from every other Thursday in Cat Land?”

What I mean is, all they do is sleep and eat any way.

The snow stopped at 11:35 AM.

Official Champagne-O-Meter accumulation: 10.75 inches. (273 millimeters.)

Last night Top Cat and I turned off all the lights and watched the snow fall, he with his bourbon and I with my vodka and cream soda (a drink I call the Philadelphia South Paw because Philadelphians drink more cream soda than anyone else in America and I’m left handed) — is there anything more quietly thrilling than the first big snow of the year?  Top Cat and I keep putting off leaving Long Island for more age-appropriate locales (somewhere warmer, or closer to his grown children), because we would hate to miss this, the blustery and dramatic arrival of the majestic fourth season of the year.

Which makes for the perfect segue to the annual Winter festival that I call


I haven’t done this in a couple of years, so let’s take a wander through my back pages. He’s a catalogue of the designs of the cards that I send out in honor of this year-end holiday:

I was a brand new author/watercolor-illustrator-in-waiting when I sent out my first Winter Holiday card in 2007. It was very corny and cutest, as is to be expected by a baby watercolor illustrator:

The next year I ditched the cliche Xmas trimmings and made a catalogue of everything that makes a cold Winter day such a delight for body and soul:

In 2009 my theme was “Winter on My Beautiful Long Island Sound”:

I don’t know exactly what year this was (if I still have the original art work I haven’t seen it since The Good Wife was still on TV), but I used an illustration from a children’s book from the 1940s as inspiration in style, and made a portrait of me, watched by my cats, howling at the moon like a pagan, and a bookcase loaded with all my favorite books :

This one, below, that I painted scenes from upstate New York, c. 2011, was the first time I used my own name for the Holiday: ChrisHanuKwanSolstice.  The “Solstice” part of this holiday is the only one that I actually celebrate, so in these vignettes I wanted to show Light in Winter in Oneida County:

In 2014, the year that my one and only dog Boogie Girl died, I made this picture of her and my first best cat, Woody Robinson, together in the light of Heaven:

The more I think about ChrisHanuKwanSolstice, the more I want to show how, through the return of the light on the Winter Solstice, an amazing light, seen or intuited, illuminates the deepest and darkest days of Winter:

In 2017, I had been playing with paper sculptures that year, so I made a 3-D version of that rainbow-in-the-forest idea:

Last year’s card was all about my on-going semi-obsession with cutting up books and making castles out of them. For the lights of Solstice I used real, actual little fairy lights in the background (it took me ages to figure out how to do that in a photograph):

This year I was back to my theme of Light in The Forest. I like to use trees because  Solstice, called Yule by us Northern Hemispheric tree-hugging pagans, is when the evergreens are worshipped for being green in the depths of  our Winter. That’s where the Xmas tree and mistletoe traditions come from, but I’m not going to go on about that because everybody probably already knows about that.

This year I used a new media for my cards. Glitter.

I had envisioned a concept for this year’s card, of a other-worldly-colored CHKS beyond-evegreen tree  shining in the midst of a bluesy Winter forest. I was going to use only the power of watercolor to make my card dazzling, but then I found out that my darling Elmer’s makes glitter glue

Glitter Glue.

So, I squeezed a drop of glitter glue onto each leaf and, with a paintbrush, I brushed the glue evenly over each tiny frond. I let dry overnight, and voila:

Not very glittery in photographs.

Happy ChrisHanuKwanSolstice, everyone.

Best Wishes that

2020 ChrisHanuKwanSolstice

brings Joy, Serenity, and Awe

to all you become in 2021.



There are a few current events on my mind this week, so let’s start with the one that makes me the happiest:

Am I the only one who thinks Hillary would make a great Attorney General? You know, the person in charge of seeking justice for the American people v. Trump and all his cronies?

As you know, the control of Congress, and with that the success of the Biden administration, depends on Democrats winning the two run-off elections for senator in the state of Georgia on January 5. Early voting has already started and citizens are turning out in record numbers — 168,000 on the first day. This has Republicans worried.

And this:

Remember Rand Paul (above), the Republican senator from Kentucky, who is also a “doctor”. We’ll catch up with him again later.

I saw this (below) and I wondered, If these are the guys we’re fighting against, do we need to be afraid?

Or should we be very afraid?

The other dust up this week was over a stupid Op-Ed printed in the Wall Street Journal, written by an 83-year old Republican trying to be relevant, mocking Jill Biden for using the honorific “doctor”. Jill Biden has a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Delaware.

This is the current First Lady:


And this is our First-Lady-elect:


And here’s the kind of “doctor” that the Republicans don’t have a problem with:

Let’s have a side-by-side comparison:

So, yeah. . . 

And this ends our political portion of today’s post because

Anyway, it’s a special week in the life of the world. It doesn’t matter what you celebrate, Dear Ones, we’re all going to have a celestial Solstice on Monday (Winter Solstice in the Northen Hemisphere, Summer Solstice in the Southern half of the orb, and for you in Kuala Lumpur, Nairobi, Kinshasa, Bogota, Singapore, Cali, Quito; well, it’s just another day in December on the equator).

Have a Happy ChrisHanuKwanSolstice everyone!

Enjoy these photos of Cats Being Jerks and celebrate the light and laughter (oh god, that’s so corny). 











7 Comments, RSS

  1. Margot Boyer

    I so love the HannuChrisKwanSolstice cards, but especially the water color “portrait of me, watched by my cats, howling at the moon like a pagan, and a bookcase loaded with all my favorite books..
    You know you could sell the cards in sets of 10 or 12, and raise a bunch of money for libraries or cat rescue or Democratic candidates or champagne, right? Just sayin.
    Happy Solstice, happy Jupiter-Saturn conjunction, Happy All The Winter Holydays, and happy Caturday to all of you. Your blogs are recurring bright spots in the long weeks at home.

  2. Casey

    I want a Philadelphia South Paw! The cats made me laugh, yours and the internet ones. Those little yellow toes and the cat with the car keys are the cats I want in my life.

    Happy CHKS to you, Vivian, and everyone, yes, celebrate whatever it is that gives you peace and love to you and those you love.

  3. Kirra

    Wow! Always impressed by the champagne-o-meter but this is a lot of snow. Glad you enjoyed it having a snow day at home.

    Thanks for sharing your archive of ChrisHanuKawanSolstice cards, they are all great but this year’s with the glitter glue is rather lovely.

    As a teacher I was highly unimpressed with the stupid article about Dr.Biden. You’re right they have totally lost the plot if they’re criticizing the validity of qualifications of the incoming president and his wife rather than the current pair.

    Thank you for the hilarious cats!

    Thinking of you all staying at home and hope you have a bit of a festive break! Enjoying the summer holidays here in the Southern Hemisphere.

  4. Too much to love here! I’m glad you like the snow. Want some? I don’t have it yet, but it will come. But I know what you mean about the first one being beautiful and magical. It’s the ones that come in February and March that make me crazy!

    Please tell me how you did the skies and snow in Christmas 2009. Extremely careful and well done masking fluid? White acrylic over watercolor? Some other magical trick? It’s beautiful. These cards remind me it’s time for my bi-annual re-read monthly read of “Wanderers” again. Have you picked glitter out of the carpet yet or did the glitter glue stay put. I’ve had results of both! I love the card and seeing all the evolution!

    Thanks for the cat funnies! After eight years I learned Lizzie (who never gets on the counters in my presence) is a regular at licking the butter in the butter dish. And welcome back, champagne-o-meter!

  5. Alex

    Thank you for the lovely CHKS card — it’s the only one on my mantel that sparkles, and the forest of trees is ever so lovely and evocative. And as a fellow pagan, I am always delighted to get non-denominational cards this time of year.

    I’m wondering now why, when I worked as a public health school graduate advisor, I always called the faculty “Dr.” so-and-so, just because they had Ph.D.s. What a bunch of uppity, entitled people! Sheesh. I’m not a news follower–I like to read only happy things–but at least once a day around noon I go to the ABC news web site to, as I call it, “Check on the Crazy.” Haven’t had a non-crazy day in a long, long time.

    No snow in the Evergreen State yet — in fact, here in the southeastern corner, we are set to break a December record (61). I’ve lounged on the patio the past few afternoons. Must be 2020 still…..

  6. Christine

    Wishing you every good thing that may come with this Season! Joy and a Light Spirit!

    Fellow Followers of Vivian:
    I wish you the same!

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