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.

...it 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.

ahem.



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 now 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

leftovers

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 Nazareth...is 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

preparation

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.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Henry eats

Henry can often be found at mealtimes, graciously finishing off the other cats' leavings -


Saturday, November 11, 2017

golden leaves

At sunset the other day the tree in back had turned to gold.


Friday, November 10, 2017

more light in the hallway

We painted the dark paneling in the living room years ago, but never got around to doing the far end of the hallway.  Yesterday I decided to just do it, and was so anxious to get it accomplished that I practically slapped it on. The paint in the can was several years old and very thick and I had to stir in lots of water. The wall shelf also got painted.


And just like in the living room, the light color alters everything now - it almost looks stark. I may need to arrange things a little differently.

Benjamin Moore, Indian White, same as in the kitchen. It needs a new switchplate, but I like it.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

birthday fun and other things

Tootsie went home with her people on Tuesday. I miss her a little; it's much easier to see her good points when she's separated from the other cats and isn't stressed out. I miss seeing her curled up in a laundry basket, resting on the shelf above the radio and listening, trying to get into the fridge for some greens, "talking" to me and really seeming like she's giving answers at the right times, the way she would sometimes stick out her front paws in a stiff way when you pick her up, or curl her "arms" around your shoulder like a child and not want to be put down for a while.

Okay, enough sentimentalism - things are back to normal here, and simpler. And she is happy at home.

My brother turns sixty tomorrow. Today I made him a cheesecake. But Nancy and Eileen had us over for lunch on Monday - it was to be a surprise birthday lunch, and my brother was indeed surprised!  I'd made a cake the previous week, which Eileen picked up and kept in their freezer. Made the frosting on Monday morning, stuffed it in a cute bag with some candles and decorations and gussied up the cake after our meal while he was chatting away.



 It was a lovely lunch and visit, very Novembery and overcast. If there were no holidays to look forward to at this time, this month would probably drag me down, but as it is, when it gets cold and even gloomy, it just seems more cozy to me and I look forward gladly to what's coming. Their home is so charming (two artists!) and Nancy set a pretty autumn table. They have a squirrel creamer -



A good memory.


We were there till late afternoon, and even though it was sprinkling, When we got home I managed to get the last window washed before the cold set in, because it is much colder - tomorrow will be in the twenties! Everyone is saying how fast Thanksgiving is approaching, and I think it must be due to the deceptively warm October we had; it was like an extended summer. Now, it's like winter is upon us!



Wednesday, November 8, 2017

fir tree rock


The latest rock found at the library. This one is my favorite so far - I realized I am often attracted to winter tree designs.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

won't rest until I've got it

I was looking for something homemade at a bake sale, and spied a chocolate babka.


Well, it was fabulous! And I found out who made it - I want that recipe. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

surprise blossom

I really can't keep houseplants - we have one window where they'd get sufficient light, and the cats like to sit there (front picture window).  I do have one little geranium in a small pot because I love to smell the spicy leaves. It hasn't grown but since I don't fertilize it and don't water regularly, that shouldn't surprise. In fact, for at least the past week it has needed water and finally today I made myself do it.


How surprised I was to see a bloom! With a cluster of buds! Why? It was dry as a bone, and it's November, for Pete's sake. I immediately thought of poinsettias which set buds when they're deprived of light and water, but a geranium? Well. And in spite of the cat hairs.

Friday, November 3, 2017

eventually red

When the first cold night threatened, my brother picked all the tomatoes, pulled up all the plants and put the garden to bed. The tomatoes were entirely and thoroughly green. I put them in a bowl on the counter and was too preoccupied to do anything but let them be.



I was positive they were too unripe to turn red - don't they have to at least seem inclined to be red in order to turn? I guess not. I don't like the idea of eating green tomatoes, though - so I just ignored them. And it's taken about three weeks for the last one to start turning, but turn they all have. So you don't have to put them in a bag, or wrap them in newspaper or whatever "they" advise. Just let them alone. As long as it takes.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

for those who went before

Today of the feast of All Souls, and this is what Catholics believe. In case you've ever wondered.

(All the following taken from Magnificat, November 2017)

"The commemoration of All Souls is rooted in the Church's strong conviction that we, the living, have a serious responsibility in love to accompany with prayer those who have died but who must yet complete the purificatory preparation every human being needs to be able to dwell in the all-encompassing love of God."
                                                     

Remember those, O Lord,
Who in your peace have died,
Yet may not gain love's high reward
Till love is purified.

With you they faced death's night
Sealed with your victory sign;
Soon may the splendor of your light
On them for ever shine!



"I would go so far as to say that if there was no purgatory, then we would have to invent it, for who would dare say of himself that he was able to stand directly before God. And yet we don't want to be, to use an image from Scripture, 'a pot that turned out wrong', that has to be thrown away; we want to be able to be put right. Purgatory basically means that God can put the pieces back together again. That he can cleanse us in such a way that we are able to be with him and can stand there in the fullness of life. Purgatory strips off from one person what is unbearable and from another the inability to bear certain things, so that in each of them a pure heart is revealed, and we can see that we all belong together in one enormous symphony of being."

                                                             -  Pope Benedict XVI


For all the dead whom we have loved in life: 
           Raise them up, O Lord.

For all the dead among those who have harmed us:
           Raise them up, O Lord.

For all the dead whom no one remembers in prayer:
           Raise them up, O Lord.



"If he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought."

                                            -  First Maccabees, 12: 44,45



Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Feast of All Saints

All holiness flows from God's holiness. Jesus Christ, God's Only Begotten Son, is the wealth of his house; the Spirit pouring out upon the world through his Death and Resurrection is the stream of God's delight and the source of life. These gifts of God's love are what make human beings holy.

                                                               - from Magnificat, November 2017

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

the final tally


A record: one hundred forty five kids for Halloween, and we didn't run out. Of candy. And Dolly didn't run out either (outside, that is), and Henry slept throughout despite the cold air coming in the door.

Monday, October 30, 2017

a library cat

We've got a cat coming into the library; he lives two houses away. He began by hanging around outside the front (electric) doors, greeting everybody who approached, and I mean everybody. He is the most friendly cat I ever saw, but he never came in. One day it was lovely and warm out and I set the doors to stay open; he came inside. Apparently it was the movement of the doors which he didn't understand, but now he's got it and he's in a lot.


He is just darling, and uses the library as a napping place - we don't give him food.


As far as I can tell, his people bother with him very little -  he's on his own a lot. Most of us here enjoy seeing him, but the last two library cats both met their ends getting hit by cars on this busy street.  I wish they'd keep him inside.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

m&m's and lilacs

As a lifelong chocolate lover, even as a kid, I felt certain they must serve m&m's in Heaven (and hot dogs in Hell, since I have never liked them). 


"I'm sure heaven is bounded by a white picket fence that never needs repainting, and with lilacs always in bloom hanging deep clusters over it."

                                                                 -  Gladys Taber Stillmeadow Daybook

Saturday, October 28, 2017

more cute rocks

I was beginning to think the little painted rock thing was past, when after two weeks, a new flurry of them have appeared.






Terrible photos, cute rocks. :)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

falling

A lot of wind and rain yesterday, and leaves are starting to come down.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

desire for truth, need for good

"The various emperors of the world can strip the Church of every resource, discredit it in every way, make it powerless to do the works of the Gospel, but no one will ever be able to take the Gospel away, the joy of its Lord....No earthly authority will be able to possess the heart of man forever through the propaganda of lies, with masked promises and apparent democracies. The conscience can remain dazed for a long time, but sooner or later, something happens that reawakens and regenerates it, since at its root there is an indestructible core: the desire for truth and the need for good. Let no one be deceived: Christianity can be reduced to a visible minority, but it can never be eliminated, because the Lord said, Do not be afraid, I am with you until the end of the world, and because the human soul is made for God. And this is stronger than all of the persecutions and all of the lies that circulate so rapidly in the air today."

                                                 - Cardinal Angelo Bagnascofrom Magnificat, October 2017

Monday, October 23, 2017

meatballs, improved


We get our ground beef from someone we know who has a dairy farm, and the meat is rather lean - because they're dairy cows? I don't know. Anyway, it make for dry-ish meatballs. I once tried adding olive oil but it made no difference. Then one day I thought of adding some oats, my reasoning being that oatmeal is slimy and that might be a good thing. Well, it worked!

I put in about two tablespoons per cup, with everything else the same. The only time it doesn't work is when I forget to add it.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

another visit from Tootsie

If you've been reading here a while, you may remember Tootsie, previously Cindy, who used to live with us. Well, her people are currently cruising around Australia so we have her for six weeks.

yes, this is the best picture I could get

I can't believe how well things are going. This is how it was last time, and I've been dreading this visit for a year and a half because of the last time. But the best thing you can do when you dread something is to pray about it, and that's what I did. After all, we have another cat here now - I couldn't imagine how we were going to shift them around and stay sane. 

My brother announced she'd have to stay in the basement. I felt really bad, but you know what? She is more peaceful than she's been any other time we've kept her. You know how they say that children need to know there are boundaries? That dogs feel safer in a crate sometimes? Well, I realized something about this cat. She used to be so aggressive towards Dolly (and still would be if we gave her the chance) and now I get it that she feels threatened by other cats; this time she's in a space that's all her own. She doesn't see the others and they don't bother her. My brother built two wooden platforms up near each window (with bedding up there) and ramps to go up to each; on every nice day he removes the glass and she gets the fresh air and hears the sounds of the day. The pantry closet is there, a fridge, and washer and dryer, so we often go down to get things or do laundry. There's a lot of places to poke around and she has her own radio, which really seems to appeal to her and make her less restless. It's been three and a half weeks already - I can't believe it! The other day we found her sleeping in a laundry basket - so cute, but as soon as my camera appeared she started squiggling around and trying to pose. 

Anyway, thank God!