Monday, January 15, 2018

a surprise gift

My brother was in New York City over part of the weekend, so he met up with our cousins who live there. I was informed that he'd be bringing home a blanket that Yoko had made for me. I know she likes crocheting, but that was just a guess - I was told nothing else.


It's crochet, all right. All cream, with blue and bronzy-brown. 

Are you beginning to see how fabulous it is? 

This is a treasure - heirloom quality.

I can crochet, but I could not do anything like this.  I'm flabbergasted.

I've got it over the chair in the hallway. Away from cats and claws.

Sunday, January 14, 2018


"One of the most important words in the Gospel of John is menein (to remain, or to stay, or to abide). Phrases containing this word sound like a refrain throughout the fourth Gospel: Remain in my love; Remain in me as I remain in my Father; If you abide in my Word, you are truly my disciples; Whoever does not remain in me is thrown away like a branch and withers. What is being signaled here is something fundamental to the Christian faith, namely, that Jesus is infinitely more than a teacher whose instruction we follow or a moral hero whose example we imitate; rather, he is a field of force, a power, in which we are immersed. Saint Paul indicates the same truth when he speaks, over and again, if being in Christ."

                                  -     Bishop Robert Barron,  from Magnificat, January 2018

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

hard tasks

It seems to take me so long to read anything of Gladys Taber's; the books consist of a great many short sections on a number of things, each one separate and most of them worth pondering for a while - you can't just plow ahead like with most books.

"...better to live one day at a time. This is a hard task, often, for we tend to keep going to the past and trying to live it over again or looking ahead and uselessly trying to forecast tomorrow and next week and next year. But somebody has said all the time we really have is the NOW."

                                                        -  from Stillmeadow Daybook

Sunday, January 7, 2018

wind and cold

The other day when it snowed, we got ten or eleven inches. That is nothing unusual for this part of the world, but the cold we've had here since a little after Christmas has been quite unusual, and the wind at times!

"Now great winds roar down the canyons of the sky. Branches crash, brooks race, snow scuds along greystone walls. ...despite the scientists I find nobody knows whence it comes or whither it goes. The dark of north woods is in it, the white breath of polar ice - how it blows away the settled feelings of snug hearth and flickering candlelight!"

-   Gladys Taber

And this morning, the coldest of them all, arriving at church to find the heat wasn't on! Not working!  I was dressed warmly with down coat, tall boots and warm gloves which stayed on my hands as much as possible during Mass, but I had to sit in our warm sunny living room a long time afterward to get warmed up. I read a lot of this and that, under a blanket.

Which brings me to another story from Gladys:

"This weekend Connie came home and on Sunday morning went to church with me. In the middle of the sermon, a terrible crash sounded, a crackling, bashing sound... The minister was talking about Paul, and he only paused a minute and went on about Paul and the shipwreck. Paul said the ship would not be wrecked, in Acts something or other. I admired Paul's courage. Another crack came. 
Then the sweet-faced organist stepped over and murmured something to the minister and moved to the back of the church. It turned out the organ pipes had sort of blown up as it was a very cold day. It sometimes happens, announced the minister."

I thank God for the people who make down coats, cashmere gloves, wool sweaters and 180s (ear protectors).

Saturday, January 6, 2018

through all the darkness

"God our Father, you sent your son into the world as a beacon toward which we travel in faith, trusting that by his light we will find our way through all darkness into the glory of your everlasting love. Guide us on our road and bring us safely to our rest, through Christ our Lord. Amen."

Magnificat, January 2018

Thursday, January 4, 2018

eleventh day of Christmas

big snowstorm outside

cheery lights inside

"It's a comforting thought that beautiful moments never die. One can collect them, store them away, and they are always at hand to bring forth again and appreciate. There are many of them, and all one needs is an awareness to have them."

Gladys Taber

Monday, January 1, 2018

from darkness to radiance

Loving Father, darkness is for ever changed because of the Birth of the Light: Jesus Christ your Son. Take all the darkness of our lives and replace it with the radiance of our newborn Savior. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

-  from Magnificat, December 2017

Saturday, December 30, 2017

red and green and snow

We had more snow today - not much, but the Christmas lights inside sparkle so much more when it's darker out, so it's never dreary indoors at this time of year. 

I bought this armful of winterberry and greenery at the farmers' market about a month ago. I couldn't resist, although not quite knowing what I would do with it all. But there is a small plastic table on the front step outside - painted the same color as the house, so really you can't tell what it's made of - and a container on it. (I had planted nasturtium seeds there and was really hoping they'd bloom before the frost, but they didn't.) I looked at that empty (except for the shriveled nasturtium) pot every day, telling myself I really should empty it out and put it away. I'm glad I didn't! When I got home, those branches were easily pushed into the soft potting soil and there they've stayed since, merry and bright.

It's been unusually cold for December, in the teens during the day. I wonder what kind of winter we will have.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

"the luminous meaning of life"

"The newborn Child challenges us. He calls us to leave behind fleeting illusions and to turn to what is essential, to renounce our insatiable cravings, to abandon our endless yearning for things we will never have. We do well to leave such things behind, in order to discover, in the simplicity of the divine Child, peace, joy, and the luminous meaning of life."

                                                            - Pope Francis

Sunday, December 24, 2017

glad tidings

"Shepherds, rejoice! Lift up your eyes,
And send your fears away;
News from the region of the skies;
Salvation's born today!"

-  Isaac Watts

Saturday, December 23, 2017

getting ready

The weather people were predicting a warm day today, in the fifties, but it sure wasn't. We had ice all day and it's still there.

My brother had to oh-so carefully move out to his car this morning; to show me how icy it was, he placed the jug of ice melt on the driveway and it slid about two feet by itself. But the roads were okay.

I asked him when he wanted to eat tomorrow, since he'll be going out to help at the four o'clock Mass and then at the midnight. And then I realized the best thing to do is embrace this crazy schedule and make a brunch for after church, and with my birthday omelet fresh in my mind, I prepared as much as I could ahead of time. I made two omelets today, and I'm going to fill them with salmon, spinach and some cheese, so I also cooked the spinach and the fish ahead.

I can throw it all together as soon as we get home with homemade applesauce from a customer of his, toast and tea - I think it should hold us till he gets back in the evening, and then we can have soup and toasted cheese sandwiches. Cookies in between, of course.

I tried to do some last-minute cleaning today, after neglecting my usual routine this week. Thursday I ignored housework (except dinner and laundry) and finished the Christmas cards. Yesterday I focused on wrapping. I am realizing something that I didn't get before: if I devote a day to writing cards and ignore all else, it could be an enjoyable day, and I'd probably be able to do it in one day. But, because I try to fit it in with everything else I want to do, it drags on and I'm still doing it at the eleventh hour. This applies to any extra but important task, and I am beginning to see that I need to just embrace having to do it - the housework can be caught up (more or less) another time. I hope I remember this - I need to try it.

"I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them (as their God)."

Revelation 21:3

not for ourselves alone

"It is very important to remember during these few days before Christmas that we never receive any grace for ourselves alone but for the building up of the entire Mystical Body."

                                                      - Mother Marie des Douleurs,  from Magnificat, December 2017

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Lamb Chop

If you're around my age, you may remember Shari Lewis, and Lamb Chop. Do you?

I was at the supermarket today and as I passed by the dog section on the way to get cat food, there was a plush Lamb Chop with antlers there, hanging up, apparently a dog toy. Three dollars and seventy four cents - half price.

What do you think I did?

Would there be any point to my insisting that I'm never drawn to silly Christmas decorations, that Christmas is a serious business to me?  But, Lamb Chop.

She's sitting in the little chair in the living room right now. She doesn't really have a place in our Christmas decor. But, she's Lamb Chop.

She makes a noise when you squeeze her tummy or her hand. I don't know where to keep it; I'm not sorry I bought it. It's Lamb Chop.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

running smoothly

I was relieved yesterday when the dough rose promptly, since the house is cool and I use as little yeast as I can get away with(out) when making bread.

Monday, December 18, 2017

so much to do

"Almighty and merciful God, may no earthly undertaking hinder those who set out in haste to meet your Son, but may our learning of heavenly wisdom gain us admittance to his company. Amen."

                                                  -  from the collect for the Mass of December 10th

Sunday, December 17, 2017

good finds

Recently I was able to unload some things at the thrift store, but then of course I also found some things:

  • a large, red basket with a handle
  • one pretty luncheon sized plate, deep blue with a raised  white snowflake pattern 
  • three wide mouth pint mason jars (see above), perfect for my overnight oats and so much easier to clean
  • two small half size jelly jars, all with lids 
  • a beautiful queen size cotton flat sheet, in a soft yellow and unusually heavy fabric for a sheet
  • one cotton pillowcase
Not to mention the two Christmas presents I found later at a consignment shop! All very useful items.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

way beyond sugar

It snowed a little more again yesterday. I was watching a movie (Maudie - excellent story) and afterward I looked outside in the light of the street light.

I saw the snow sparkle more than I had ever seen it. I called my brother over to look - it was not the usual sugary looking snow with sparkles here and there - no. The surface of snow was twinkling as if mirrors had been smashed and the bits sprinkled over all. I went to the back and turned on the spotlight. It reminded me of children's movies, when the special effects people add that Tinkerbelle-y fairy dust over everything - it didn't seem entirely real. I suppose it was more icy than usual?

Today it was back-to-normal twinkling.  But what a sight to remember!

Oh beautiful at nightfall
The soft spitting snow
And beautiful of bare boughs
Rubbing to and fro

- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

more mighty than any other power

"Christmas Eve is my favorite time.  The trappings are fun, the holiday exciting, but more than that, I feel it has a significance not lost in the glitter, not really. is good to remember that the carpenter's son was born, and taught, and died so long ago and yet is so alive, that we celebrate his birthday.   And what a miracle it is that down the centuries, in the midst of wars and destruction and famines and pestilence the spirit of this carpenter has proved more mighty than any other power for it grows and shines in our day as it did then.

Somehow I feel that at Christmas time, we may stop and look at God and let God look at us.  I think most mothers get tired during the Christmas rush. I do. There is always a low moment when I fervently wish it were just over and I could SIT DOWN. I wish it were August. And nothing at all going on.

And yet, when the children say 'Thank you for a wonderful Christmas, best we ever had,' and one child whispers, 'this was just all I wanted - how did you know?' and one child curls up to read the book you have chosen so carefully, and one says 'we never had such a Christmas,' suddenly then all the tiredness ebbs away, and a pure happiness floods in."

                                                     -  from Gladys Taber,  published in 1955.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

snowflakes and evergreens

A bulletin board at the library:

I work with some clever and artistic people.

(I had nothing to do with this.)

Monday, December 11, 2017

a memorable birthday treat

First of all, I would like to publicly thank Gail for remembering my birthday. I did not remember hers on September 23rd, not until I opened her card and then remembered. This also happened last year. But, she is organized.


Debra and I went to our favorite brunch place for a treat, and it was snowing. We arrived and were afraid they were closed because the parking lot was pretty empty. But that was because of the snow.

They specialize in omelets - at least they do on Saturdays, which is when we always go there. We both had the same thing: omelet stuffed with roast beef, onions in ale and honey, and cheddar. It was as good as it sounds! And some chocolate mint tea. (I ordered some from Amazon when I got home.) We never have dessert when we go, but for some reason (maybe the snow) we both had the desire for it. I had a Russian cream. How delicious, and I'd never heard of it! I googled the recipe later. I want to make it, fabulous stuff! Heavy cream, gelatin, sour cream, berry sauce - what a dessert! 

It was a delightful birthday treat.

just somebody's house along the way

Sunday, December 10, 2017

it happened yesterday

mid-morning, yesterday

a neighbor cat, watching the snow fall

afternoon, with the Christmas tree reflection

"The first snowfall is worth having winter for. First a few tranquil flakes float down, then they come faster, and with purpose. The old greystone walls silver over, the swamp wears a mantle whiter than foam. The pine trees on the slope begin to cast feathers of snow from their branches. Inside the house there is a curious luminous look to everything, and outside the sharp etchings of November begin to blur."

-   Gladys Taber from the December chapter of Stillmeadow Daybook

Saturday, December 9, 2017

come quickly

Come, quickly come, great King of all;
Reign all around us, and within;
Let sin no more our souls enthrall,
Let pain and sorrow die with sin;
Come, quickly come: for you alone
Can make your scattered people one.

Come, quickly come, true Life of all;
The curse of death is on the ground;
On every home his shadows fall,
On every heart his mark is found:
Come, quickly come, for grief and pain
Can never cloud your glorious reign.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

come and save us

The Lord will come and not be slow,
His footsteps cannot err;
Before him righteousness shall go,
His royal harbinger.

Truth from the earth, like to a flower,
Shall bud and blossom then;
And justice, from her heav'nly bower,
Look down on mortal men.

Rise, God, judge thou the earth in might,
This wicked earth redress;
For thou art he who shalt by right
The nations all possess.

The nations all whom thou hast made
Shall come, and all shall frame
To bow them low before thee, Lord,
And glorify thy name.

For great thou art, and wonders great
By thy strong hand are done:
Thou in thine everlasting seat
Remainest God alone.

"As servants waiting for the Master's return, we pray:

        Come, Lord, and save us!

From the emptiness when we do not recognize your presence:
         Come, Lord, and save us!

From the silence in which we do not hear your voice:
         Come, Lord, and save us!

From the darkness in which we do not see your light:
          Come, Lord, and save us!"

                - from Magnificat, December 2017

Friday, December 1, 2017

pretty knits

Every year after Thanksgiving a large tree is put up in the library, filled with knitted/crocheted items, mostly handmade but some purchased. Before Christmas everything will be donated to those who are in need.  It's nice to look at.

Here is something different - a baby sweater knitted in a thicker yarn. Pale pink rollneck with gray trim. What a great design!

I also spied this -

the rows of gold are like knitted smocking - if you stretch it out it's flat;  leave it and it's "gathered".
It would cover a little baby, but it really is much smaller than the typical baby blanket.

Two items which caught my eye.

Thursday, November 30, 2017


Advent this year is as short as it can be. And Thanksgiving was as early as it could be, I think, so there's a long space in between which makes me feel in a kind of limbo. Many homes are decorating for Christmas, but I don't want to do anything until Advent begins. But it's almost here - I'll get out the window candles on Saturday evening.

I am finally getting to the bottom of the leftovers from Thanksgiving; there was a recipe in the newspaper today for a lentil soup with leftover turkey in it. I had no lentils, so I put in all the arborio rice I had and topped off the measuring cup with barley. I also mashed in the acorn squash remains - it tasted delicious, and I was relieved to make good use of the end of the turkey. I think I'll keep the recipe, even though I departed from it; it contains ground cumin and coriander, which are things I have, but would never think to put in soup. 

the mystery of evening

From Gladys Taber:

"There is always one moment in a day when I think my heart will break. Such a moment I think all women have, and men too, when all the meaning of life seems distilled and caught up and you feel you can never, never bear to leave it. It may be when you turn and look down a blazing autumn road or it may be when you see your house under great ancient trees or it may be, in the city, when you look up at a towering apartment building and see one light and think 'that is mine'. It may be any one of a number of things, according to the circumstances of your life.

But there is the moment, and all the heartaches and sorrows of your life suddenly diminish and only the fine brave things stand out. You breathe sharp clean air, your eyes lift to the eternal wideness of the sky.

Anybody has moments like this to store up, but some people are too busy adding up their frustrations to appreciate them. And yet all we need is an awareness of the beauty in life to make us richly content. My definition of happiness is just the ability to garner the perfect moments."

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

trees as air fresheners

"...depending on the tree species, they contain a selection of defensive compounds produced by the tree. These so-called phytoncides have antibiotic properties, and there has been some impressive research done on them. A biologist from Leningrad, Boris Tokin, described them like this back in 1956: if you add a pinch of crushed spruce or pine needles to a drop of water that contains protozoa, in less than a second, the protozoa are dead. In the same paper, Tokin writes that the air in young pine forests is almost germfree, thanks to the phytoncides released by the needles. In essence, then, trees disinfect their surroundings. But that isn't all. Walnuts have compounds in their leaves that deal so effectively with insects that garden lovers are often advised to put a bench under a canopy of walnuts if they want a comfortable place to relax in the garden, because this is where they will have the least chance of being bitten by mosquitoes."

                                                 - Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

"a new kind of kingship"

"Jesus of so intrinsically king that the title 'King' has actually become his name. By calling ourselves Christians, we label ourselves as followers of the king... God did not intend Israel to have a kingdom. The kingdom was a result of Israel's rebellion against God... The law was to be Israel's king, and, through the law, God himself... God yielded to Israel's obstinacy and so devised a new kind of kingship for them. The King is Jesus; in him God entered humanity and espoused it to himself. This is the usual form of the divine activity in relation to mankind. God does not have a fixed plan that he must carry out; on the contrary, he has many different ways of finding man and even of turning his wrong ways into right ways... The feast of Christ the King is therefore not a feast of those who are subjugated, but a feast of those know that they are in the hands of the one who writes straight on crooked lines."

                                                - Pope Benedict XVIfrom Magnificat, November 2017

Friday, November 24, 2017

excellent pumpkin pie

The pie was so good, and it tickles me that it's an English recipe; I am posting it here, and hope they (British Country Living) won't mind.

Mix together:

  • 3 eggs
  • 200 grams sour cream
  • 1 can (425g) pumpkin puree
  • 125g light muscovado sugar (I used light brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves 
  • zest from one lemon 
Put into your crust of choice and bake at 375F for 40 minutes or so.

I left out the lemon, not wanting to depart too much from tradition. And since I'd used up all my ginger supply in mixing up some pumpkin pie spice, I just put in 2 teaspoons of that. The pie was less custardy and softer than the usual, but very delicious. A keeper!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

James Madison's original proclamation for Thanksgiving Day

"The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States have by a joint resolution signified their desire that a day may be recommended to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnity as a day of thanksgiving and of devout acknowledgments to Almighty God for his great goodness manifested in restoring to them the blessing of peace.

No people ought to feel greater obligations to celebrate the goodness of the Great Disposer of Events of the Destiny of Nations than the people of the United States. His kind providence originally conducted them to one of the best portions of the dwelling place allotted for the great family of the human race. He protected and cherished them under all the difficulties and trials to which they were exposed in their early days. Under his fostering care their habits, their sentiments, and their pursuits prepared them for a transition in due time to a state of independence and self-government. In the arduous struggle by which it was attained they were distinguished by multiplied tokens of his benign interposition.

During the interval which succeeded he reared them into the strength and endowed them with the resources which have enabled them to assert their national rights, and to enhance their national character in another arduous conflict, which is now so happily terminated by a peace and reconciliation with those who have been our enemies. And to the same divine Author of every good and perfect gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land.

It is for blessings such as these, and more especially for the restoration of the blessing of peace, that I now recommend that a day be set apart as a day on which the people of every religious denomination may in their solemn assemblies unite their hearts and their voices in a freewill offering to their Heavenly Benefactor of their homage of thanksgiving and of their songs of praise.

A Proclamation for Thanksgiving Day given at the city of Washington on the 4th day of March, A.D. 1815, and of the Independence of the United States the thirty-ninth."   

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


No, I haven't been anywhere, except in the state of distraction.

It was supposed to rain in the morning and then clear up by afternoon. Then, it was going to rain in late morning and clear up in mid-afternoon. It ended up raining much of the day, and only clearing up right before sunset.

Quite a show.

I cooked the acorn squash, the Brussels sprouts and the pumpkin pie - a recipe from England, no less! It was in British Country Living last month and I determined to try it. It looks like a normal pumpkin pie, so we will see - tomorrow is the day.