Saturday, September 23, 2017

a surprise find

In an unfamiliar supermarket the other day, and this was on clearance. I didn't know you could even buy sprouted wheat flour! Thought you had to sprout it yourself. I look forward to using it.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

round and round we go

"Everything that needs to be said has already been said", counseled Andre Gide, "but since no one was listening, everything must be said again."
                                      -    Philip Pilkington, in American Affairs 

Monday, September 18, 2017

pretty with pink

Could it be that our Dolly is secretly a little homebody?

Or is it just the color scheme?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

charming acts of randomness

It's a thing, I guess. On Facebook, so I didn't know about it, since I'm not there. But people are taking smooth rocks and painting on them. Then they leave them randomly about for others to find, and hopefully be delighted, amused or something else pleasant. In the past week, five of them have turned up at the library.

Here are the two from yesterday, although later I saw a third as we were leaving, sitting on the copier. But this one was found in the young adult section

and Katie came across this one on the stairs going up to the children's department

So cute! A week ago a patron saw one on her way in, among the flowers in the big planter - it was a charming little cottage. And there was one on the bench outside that was painted to look like a cheeseburger! They all have the name of your town and the word "rocks" on the back, like "New York Rocks", for example.  Are they doing this where you live?

They're not for us; I guess you're supposed to take it and put it someplace where you think somebody else would enjoy seeing it. We left them, feeling this was up to the patrons to do.

It's nice to think that when somebody wants to drop off one of these, the library comes to mind.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

unexpected vegetable

At the beginning of summer, my brother was given a vegetable plant. He put the medium-sized pot in the garden near the house amongst the other things, and they grew up around it and he never actually put it in the ground. It got tall.

Last week I wondered about a pretty purplish flower on it, but he couldn't remember what type of plant it was.

Now we know. And there are two, growing out of a not-very-big pot. A nice surprise!

Friday, September 8, 2017


"...Anne went herself to the east gable and sat down by her window in the darkness alone with her tears and her heaviness of heart. How sadly things had changed since she had sat there the night after coming home! Then she had been full of hope and joy and the future had looked rosy with promise. Anne felt as if she had lived years since then, but before she went to bed there was a smile on her lips and peace in her heart. She had looked her duty courageously in the face and found it a friend - as duty ever is when we meet it frankly."

                                                                  -   Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery

Thursday, September 7, 2017

time for applesauce

We're picking the apples now; they are quite small, but clear. The first batch of applesauce was bland - how strange! These apples made delicious applesauce last time. But anyway, I flavored the next batch and it was good. Lots of cooking ahead.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

for strength, not ease

Father, hear the prayer we offer:
Not for ease that prayer shall be,
But for strength that we may ever
Live our lives courageously.

Not for ever in green pastures
Do we ask our way to be;
But the steep and rugged pathway
May we tread rejoicingly.

Not for ever by still waters
Would we idly rest and stay;
But would smite the living fountains
From the rocks along the way.

Be our strength in hours of weakness
In our wand'rings be our guide;
Through endeavor, failure, danger,
Father, be there at our side.

-   from Magnificat, September 2017

Thursday, August 31, 2017

little buddy

She sleeps with me every night; she was just on my lap as I was typing.

Last night my brother referred to her as "the barnacle". 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

just a little blue cheese

I've discovered how delicious a garden tomato salad can be with a bit of crumbled blue cheese and vinaigrette.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

feral cats in Rome

I've been reading a new and very, very interesting book, The Inner Life of Cats, by Thomas McNamee. One chapter treats the feral cat issue, particularly in Rome, with more than 100 cat colonies; in one colony called Largo Argentina the population density was equivalent to 38,000 cats per square mile. 

"But studies have shown that where food is abundant, cats develop completely new systems of sociality that can allow for high density. Picture how New Yorkers and Parisians preserve their dignity on a crowded subway car."

In 1988 the Roman authorities forbade euthanasia of any cat or dog except those incurably ill or fatally injured, and in 1991 the Italian Parliament proclaimed that feral cats had a right to live free and couldn't be moved from their colony. 

There is a metro station in the city called Piramide (pyramid)  and "Adjacent to the Pyramid is their nighttime prowling ground, the leafy, cool Protestant Cemetery, where John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley are buried...Many of the monuments are fancifully ornate examples of the gravestone-maker's art, and the whole place is impeccably kept. Somebody, doubtless from the gattare (local cat lovers who leave food, and watch out for them, etc.), evidently picks up the cat poop, because there's none to be seen... Someone - the city of Rome? the volunteers? - has hidden audio somewhere in the ruins, so that at night the cats have classical music playing for them." (emphasis mine)


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

library volunteers

Surprise flowers, that is, growing outside the kitchen window at work.

Monday, August 21, 2017

an eclipse party

If there's an occasion which has some relation to my life, my beliefs, my interests, I want to observe it. Life's too short to ignore these. There was a partial eclipse today in our area - a reason for a picnic outdoors!

Ahead of time, I steamed green beans and popped corn. I dug up some old but still good D batteries and got the boombox outside so we could hear the classical station play sun and moon music (e.g., Clair de Lune, the Moonlight Sonata, Helios Overture  -  even Holst's The Planets).

The party started at 1:25 and ended at four, which is when it all happened. Our friend conveniently brought eclipse glasses, but my brother had made a viewing box just in case. Dolly also attended. (of course)

First, we had snacks. Izze Blackberry carbonated fruit drink and ranch-flavored popcorn (idea courtesy of Magnolia Journal).  The moon was going to cover one third of the sun; it was hot, humid and partly cloudy, but nothing that would obscure our view of the sixty seven per cent eclipse. I was pleased that even though the weatherman said the temperature wouldn't drop, it felt much better to me for much of the event, and only hot again when it was over. But it's funny that if you didn't know an eclipse was happening, you might well have missed it. It was just a matter of there being less sun, but clouds were coming and going anyway. My brother thought the light on the bridge looked artificial.

You tell me; I don't know, but he looks at things with an artist's eye, and I just look at them (and not too keenly at that). Anyway, we then had a big pasta salad with marinated artichokes, green beans, cucumber and black olives, with garden tomato on the side.

A sunny area across the brook:

You'd think, with two thirds of the sun covered, that it would have been darker than this. But anyway, it was nice that it happened on my day off, and nice that we got to experience it.

Afterward we had ice cream.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

summer with Dolly

Dolly and I are taking every opportunity for snatching alfresco hours.

I finally got this quilt bound. After four years. It's a fine size for putting under a tree and lounging.

Dolly's ablutions prevented her from appearing in this photo, but at least her leash was G rated.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

avocado pits in a glass

I just can't throw the avocado pits away - they look like burnished wood.

I'll keep them for a while.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Miss Prim

"It would be utopian to imagine that the present-day world could go into reverse and completely reorganize itself.  

We have...come to believe that contemporary life wears women out, debases the family, and crushes the human capacity for thought."

On whose blog did I first see this book? All I remember is that, curious, I sent out for an inter-library loan, it came quickly, and I couldn't put it down.

It's a story of a well-educated, modern woman who gets a job in a town that may as well be from the past, as far as beliefs and outlooks go. It takes her a while to see the value of this way of living. The author has something definite she wants to say, and I am just amazed that such a book can have been written today. A light, pleasant read with a serious message.

Friday, August 11, 2017

inspiration from Anna

Anna's blog has been such an inspiration to me over the years, and when Debra needed help planning the decoration for her reception, she came instantly to mind.

Anna is a busy person, but she seems to take on what comes her way with gladness, as coming from the Lord. And she uses what's available as if it came from God's hand, too. She hasn't said this to me, but that's my take on it - and I think I'm right. She doesn't want to waste time, so she won't be found wringing her hands over things; she just does what she can and then enjoys the rest. No looking back, like Lot's wife.  ; )  So I told Deb to just look around at Pleasantview Schoolhouse and she'd find plenty of inspiration. 

We ended up pooling our tablecloths, fabric squares and sheets together for table covers and the whole effect was so much prettier than we ever imagined. I gave up all my pint mason jars and Debra cut wildflowers the night before - each table got two of those.

She works full time and cooking all the food wasn't possible, so she got our favorite luncheon spot to cater - we made the appetizers. But, get a load of this salad - they know the importance of presentation:

They also put a nasturtium on the pasta salad! (that's why we love going there)

gluten-free lemon cupcakes from a local health food store - there was a cake, too

Entertaining on that scale was new to both of us, very interesting, and original, thanks to blogging friends. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

the importance of mornings

"You see, here our philosophy is that everything important happens in the morning."

                                                    -  The Awakening of Miss Prim,  Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

retro appetizer

Debra's son was married a few hundred miles away this spring. Saturday was the reception here for those who couldn't attend the wedding, and I helped her out with a few things.

Looking for a simple yet appealing appetizer recipe is daunting - most are not simple at all, so we went with the gut and served bite sizes of assorted fruits, skewers with mozzarella balls, grape tomatoes and I forget what else (not my department) and those very small date nut bread/cream cheese "sandwiches" (my department).  Sensible!

Monday, August 7, 2017

almost perfect

Our apples are quite small, but getting some red on them. The other day I picked one, then braced myself to cut it open. They're always imperfect in some way - gnarly on the outside, streaky on the inside, but this year they're so smooth-skinned, I had to ease my curiosity about the insides.  It was normal! I hope they stay that way.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

perky wildflowers

Several mason jars of wildflowers for the kitchen. A perk for helping Debra plan and set up a reception for her son and his bride. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

"a condition of the Divine energizing"

"In every department of life, physical or spiritual,... there must be a stretching forth of the withered arm before it receives strength."

                                                            - Charlotte Mason

Saturday, July 29, 2017

little fairy girl

I've been reading Grimm's fairy tales lately  -  the complete Grimm's. Why has it taken me twelve years of living with Dolly to realize that she is a human in a cat's body?

It suddenly came to me as she looked into my eyes so earnestly this afternoon. She is enchanted.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

desperate measures

Well, it's been two months and I haven't seen a hummingbird.  And this plant shouldn't really be in a hanger, because it doesn't hang down. Did you ever notice that lots of hanging plants you can buy aren't the type that trail down and make a nice showing?  So, right after I got this one, I saw some coreopsis at the supermarket, of all places. They were six dollars off and I bought two; I admire the airy leaves and daisy-like flowers of coreopsis and they are more suitable for hanging up. So now the lantana is on a small table nearby and there's lots of yellow at the front door this summer.  

Right after hanging them the delicate blossoms got roughed up in a rainstorm. As it struggled to come back, I wondered if it was suitable for a planter. Finally, I had to resort to something I absolutely deplore: Miracle-Gro. My brother relies on it, and of course his hanging plants are lush and full. Of course! The jumped-up stuff. Anyway, it was around and I used it. And they are looking much improved. Of course!

Monday, July 24, 2017

apple tree lookin' good

Outside with Dolly the other day I suddenly realized the apple tree is loaded; I went over to it with some trepidation because, once more, we never sprayed it.

We really want to do right by that tree and those apples, doing whatever we should to promote healthy fruit, the time of year when it's right for spraying, you are supposed to do it on a windless day. Well, on my days off, there weren't any. Then I end up feeling paralyzed by the situation and resign myself to another inedible crop.

So, what happened this year?  Is it just a matter of plenty of water - we are so over that drought of the last few years. Is that all the apples needed? It's only July, so I won't count my apples before they're ripened, but it really looks hopeful this time.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


The saints from long ago had such a blunt and to-the-point way of praying and speaking.

I am "borrowing" this from the monks:

"Do not allow pride to swell in you, let it shrivel instead, and rot. Be disgusted by it, throw it out. Christ is looking for a humble Christian. Christ in heaven, Christ with us, Christ in hell - not to be kept there, but to release others from there. That's the kind of leader we have. He is seated at the right hand of the Father, but he is gathering us up together from the earth: one in this way, one in that; by favoring this one, chastising that one, giving this one joy and that one trouble. May he that gathers gather us up, otherwise we are lost; may he gather us together where we can't get lost, into that land of the living where all deserts are acknowledged and justice is rewarded."

-  St. Augustine


Saturday, July 22, 2017


We've been having very regular rainfalls this summer, and we're more than five inches above the average, according to the weatherman this morning.

The brook usually dries up in August, but I don't think it's going to this year; the other day I went out looking for a rainbow after a short downpour and heard the water raging. It comes from streets up above us, down a hill and then turns a corner right on to our property and it was brown from all the soil carried along in the fast-moving water.

Water Never the Same

Beside a flowing river sit and gaze,
And see how it perpetually runs
In wave on wave, in many thousand turns,
As through the fields it takes its fluid ways.

Thou'lt never see again the wave which first
Flow'd by thee; water never is the same;
It passes day by day, although the name
Of water and river doth persist.

So changes man, and will not be tomorrow
That which he is today, he cannot borrow
That strength which time doth alter and consume:
Until our death one name we do retain;
Although today no parcel doth remain
Of what I was, the name I still assume.

   -   Jean-Bapiste Chassignet,   (trans. by Frank Warnke)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

the gladness of every day

I've been very slowly reading some of Charlotte Mason's work - she is revered by many homeschoolers and I find much about human nature and even myself that I didn't think about before.

Anyway, why do some turns of phrase grab the attention so forcefully? At the book's end - the book is Home Education -  her final thoughts are on helping the child to learn about God in a good way, as a father, "...from whom comes all the gladness of every day".  And even though I didn't sleep well and got up too late, I did have gladness today. I didn't rush, went about my work peacefully and was able to do many things.

Yogi came by and I managed to get the camera - gracious, he does not keep still!  But hopefully you can see why I'm so enamored of him. Of course, handsome is as handsome does, and he actually tried to nip me more than once! I think he was over-excited. If he ever got into the house, I know that mayhem would ensue.


These cats have multiplied, and so much so
That they are double the celestial Bears. 
Cats that disport themselves in all-white furs,
Cats that are black and even calico,

And cats with tails and cats quite disentailed.
What I would gladly see (now wouldn't you?)
Is one cat with a hump or curlicue
Like some vain harridan discreetly veiled.

Let laboring mountains cease from all their toil,
For if a mouse were born, poor little brat,
It could not hope to flee so many a cat.

Good housewife, I admonish you to peel
Your eyes and watch the pot about to boil:
Run, look, a cat is carrying off the veal!

Here I must add my bob and wheel.
My sonnet will not have what praise entails
Unless it's like those cats that come with tails.

                                            -  Torquato Tasso (trans. by Lowry Nelson, Jr.)

Monday, July 17, 2017

books and such

I couldn't sleep the other night, and somehow got to thinking about what's in my bookcase. I've weeded, but the desire to pare down doesn't stay satisfied.

I got the idea I should be well acquainted with all the books on my shelf, and that they should be useful to me. I turned on a light and grabbed two: Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts, and a poetry book, all sonnets.

The Ann Voskamp I have read twice. The question is - do I need to keep it? I probably need to read it again before deciding.  What is she trying to say? And should I keep the book around in order to be reminded of it? Or let it go to the next person?

As for the sonnets, I began reading them right away, in the middle of the night. I started penciling marks near the ones I liked, and finished it off at the dentist's this afternoon. I guess I should keep it, at least for a while. I've just never been one for poetry. But here's one:

 Dipped in detergent, dish and chandelier retrieve
their glister, sopped, kitchen floor reflowers, knife
rubbed with cork unrusts, colors of carpetweave
cuffed with shampooer and vacuum will reblush,
prints sprayed and scrubbed no longer peer but stare,
buffed, silver burns, brushed, plaster will gush
hue at you, tops soothed with cloth will clear.

Cleansing the cloud from windows, I let the world win.
It comes in, and its light and heat heave the house,
discolour, dim, darken my surfaces. Then once again,
as for forty years, my fingers must make them rouse.

Round rooms of surfaces I move, round board, books, bed.
Men carve, dig, break, plunge as I smooth, shine, spread.

Caring for Surfaces,  by Mona Van Duyn

Friday, July 14, 2017

trees as social beings

"...why are trees such social beings? Why do they share food with their own species and sometimes even go so far as to nourish their competitors? The reasons are the same as for human communities: there are advantages to working together. A tree is not a forest. On its own, a tree cannot establish a consistent social climate. It is at the mercy of wind and weather. But together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderates extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a great deal of humidity. And in this protected environment, trees can live to be very old. To get to this point, the community must remain intact no matter what. If every tree were looking out only for itself, then quite a few of them would never reach old age. Regular fatalities would result in many large gaps in the tree canopy, which would make it easier for storms to get inside the forest and uproot more trees. The heat of summer would reach the forest floor and dry it out. Every tree would suffer.

Every tree, therefore, is valuable to the community and worth keeping around for as long as possible. And that is why even sick individuals are supported and nourished until they recover. Next time, perhaps it will be the other way round, and the supporting tree might be the one in need of assistance. When thick silver-gray beeches behave like this, they remind me of a herd of elephants. Like the herd, they, too, look after their own, and they help their sick and weak back up onto their feet. They are even reluctant to abandon their dead."

                                                     -  The Hidden Life of Trees,  Peter Wohlleben