Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

Winter solstice + Christmas

collage, acrylic, gouache on Lama Li sketchbook paper
When you combine a winter solstice with a Christmas celebration you get a little bit of magic. In the little town of Bodega California where there are only a few hundred residents you can step back a few centuries. That’s what my son Ben and I did on the 21st. Bodega is on the way to the beach for us, 20 minutes from here, rolling hills with sheep and cows and coastal forests, one block of town with a white church, historic buildings, fire house, restaurant, arts and crafts stores. Our friend Katya was one of the donkey handlers. It was freezing cold when we arrived and dark except for candle and moon light. We were immediately employed in the pageant – Ben to hold the flash for the photographer (another friend Jerry) and I to shake the jingle bells as we followed in the small procession, led by two unruly donkeys in Christmas attire, around the one block in town. A couple played the role of Mary and Joseph and there were violiners playing caroles and a little drummer boy – a small crowd from the hippie LOVE generation. When we reached the “Casino” (local bar/restaurant) the couple knocked on the door and were turned away “because there was no room at the inn”. The crowd sighed deeply and continued on to the fire in an oil drum where, under a wooden arbor, there were hay bails where the baby Jesus soon would be born. We chanted carols accompanined by the musicians by the fire until the baby Jesus arrived, a newborn from the community, who sat with his mother on the hay bales while presents were handed out ot the children present. It felt like a different century, so sweet, simple, profound. We came home then and had our own fire (inside) and drank hot chocolates and ate cookies. (hence my qualifying for the CCCCCC Competition!)
The art piece is a “contemplative sketch” that I did after the event, actually before and after. A piece of a figure sketch here, a cutout of a nectar drop, stamping on a star symbol, and then lastly the procession of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem appeared and it all came together. There are writers in this group who can perhaps give words to this image better than I.

December 23, 2007 - Posted by | Art, Cafe L'Arte, CCCCompetition, Christmas, culture, family, Festivals of the World, Susan Cornelis' Paintings


  1. A lovely entry Susan! I enjoyed a simple, candlelight carol service one Christmas in my home town of Derby. I hadn’t really wanted to go, being non-religious, but it was a lovely experience.

    Comment by kevmoore | December 24, 2007

  2. Nice collage, susan! In a way, I’d say I envy you for living there (I always wished I could see California, especially the Monteray- Carmel region and the coast region were some great photographers did great photographs…) and the ceremony seem also very nice… Being, not exactly non-religious but more like a lapse catholic with traces of ortodox and a main zen buddhist (well, a bit confuse…) and a pronounced suspicion against organized religions, I still can understand a lot of those emotions… My grandparents were simple peasants, greek ortodox or converted to catholicism and I found myself quite often thinking in religious terms and parables…

    Comment by iondanu | December 24, 2007

  3. Susan, are you familiar with the song lyrics -“North of LA., south of Monterey, that’s Santa Rosa?”
    “Santa Rosa”, a great homage to the area by Gino Vanelli.

    Comment by kevmoore | December 24, 2007

  4. Theres so many intellectuals here. I never knew any of this. I’ve been living too much in my mind. Ahhhhhh!!!!

    But I keep on coming here and am absolutely surprised by what painters can do.

    Maybe I should relive my life and paint. No. It was too damned beautiful to give it all up to paint. I’ll stick to the writing.

    Loved this very much!!!!

    Comment by Michael | December 24, 2007

  5. Beautiful entry, Susan, adn a wonderful Christmas gift for all of us here in Café Crem!
    I am not religious myself (whatever that means… I guess, if one doesn’t use the word religion, which makes me unpleasantly goossy all over because of all the awful things done in its name, I might have some kind of religion too…. but I am aware of the magic you are speaking about. There is magic for me inside a church, empty or full, I love church songs, I love the ceremonials, etc… it is a kind of feast for my senses… and of course, I cannot help being touched by the collective communion of souls in these moments…
    Anyway, I would have loved to be there with you.. and great that you never forget to paint..

    Comment by Miki | December 24, 2007

  6. Michael…
    Am I right that I hear you laugh again? Somehow, it comes through the words, this is wonderful! It’s great when you open your mind…
    I think Caf’e Crem Team is a great one. We are all intelligent, kind, creative, trustworthy people, and I guess, with a very interesting personal story each. This is the reason why I love this place so much.
    For me “amazement”, as you say, is the most important part of art. It is so amazing, in fact, what we human can make with words, colours, lines, music notes, etc…
    Technologies have the same effect on me too…

    Comment by Miki | December 24, 2007

  7. The art and the story are beautiful! So many wonderful ways to celebrate.

    Comment by shelleymhouse | December 24, 2007

  8. Yes Miki for the first time in years I am truly laughing. Living as you know with Bipolar or Manic-Depression can work for you or against you and lucky for me since I met you and Kev and everybody else here my sub-depression that follows me around like a cat seemed to wander off somewhere. And I am not going to look for her. I am staying put right here hanging out with the coolest people on the planet. Hey you guys everyone of you are the best. Love you all.
    Ho Ho Ho!!!!

    Comment by Michael | December 24, 2007

  9. This is really so wonderful to hear your true laugh, Michael, you have no idea how pleased I am! Let us hang around here and laugh our heart out of ourselves all these Christmas days!
    Merry Christmas Michael!

    Comment by Miki | December 24, 2007

  10. I’ve been so occupied with holiday/family activities – but just ran across your entries here. So many of us are a mix of religious background with what has come since. In my case, similar to Zen, a spiritual path of siddha yoga with hindu origins, but not anything I would call “religion” with the dogma, etc. I visited Greek orthodox churches years ago when in Greece and felt such a sense of awe.

    Comment by Susan Cornelis | January 3, 2008

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