Monday, April 23, 2018

dreaming of pies

This is a picture of the blueberry pie I made for Easter dessert (we also had chocolates, and wonderful ice cream from a lovely place in the center of town). The blueberries were from a co-worker's freezer. She's had surgery and a slow recovery - my brother has gone over there a few times to cut her hair. He wouldn't take money, so she paid us in blueberries - so many!

Today we went there again and came away with So Many Bags of: frozen peaches, strawberries, black raspberries, and more blueberries. How exciting! Think of all the pies!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

our little queen turns fifteen, the rest of us being barbarians

Our girl has a birthday today.

 And she's quite well, thanks for asking.

The other day at work I had a sudden desire to read a gardening journal of some sort. I looked through the 635s and came up with Onward and Upward in the Garden, by Katharine S. White.
She was married to E.B. White - yes, him! - and these are essays published in the late 50s through 1970. I don't think I'll glean any practical advice from them, but the first few entries are critiques of seed and plant catalogs ; I've never thought deeply when looking at one of these, but now I'm thinking I've been remiss. 

She then moves on to books and here she speaks of a Mrs. Loudon, author of The Ladies' Companion to the Flower-Garden. 

"[Mrs. Loudon] even includes a few unpopular flowers, the most invigorating of which I think is

The Squirting Cucumber. An annual gourd-like plant, with woolly leaves, and yellow flowers, the fruit of which resembles a small cucumber; and which, when ripe, bursts the moment it is touched, scattering its seeds, and the half-liquid, pulpy matter in which they are contained, to a considerable distance. This quality made it a favorite, in gardens, a century ago, when some people were yet in a state of sufficient barbarism to find amusement in the annoyance of others; but it has now deservedly fallen into disrepute, and is seldom grown.

I'm afraid I know several little modern American barbarians who would be delighted if their grandmothers would grow them a supply of squirting cucumbers."

Don't we all. I may be one of them. :D

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Psalm 71

It is you, O Lord, who are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, since my youth.
On you I have leaned from my birth,
from my mother's womb you have been my help. 
My hope has always been in you.

I will declare the Lord's mighty deeds
proclaiming your justice, yours alone.
O God, you have taught me from my youth
and I proclaim your wonders still.

Now that I am old and grey-headed,
do not forsake me, God.
Let me tell of your power to all ages,
praise your strength and justice to the skies,
tell of you who have worked such wonders.
O God, who is like you?

You have burdened me with bitter troubles
but you will give me back my life.
You will raise me from the depths of the earth;
you will exalt me and console me again.

So I will give you thanks on the lyre
for your faithful love, my God.
When I sing to you my lips shall rejoice
and my soul, which you have redeemed.

verses 5, 6 16-22a &23

Friday, April 20, 2018

Thursday, April 19, 2018

this is just what leftovers are for

I had two leeks in the fridge, and lots of potatoes, so the other day I we had potato leek soup with BLTs. Today I planned to make minestrone for supper but mid-day felt so weary I knew it would be a mistake to force myself. 

almost minestrone

I had also defrosted leftovers early in the week, not knowing what I'd be able to throw together after work. There was some potato leek soup left, so I heated it up, added more broth and put in the remains of our corned beef dinner from St. Patrick's Day. With a few carrots and green beans also leftover, I think the potato and leek base was the perfect complement to the meat! A bit of toast and some butter - I do feel a lot better now and it was very little work.

Monday, April 16, 2018

June came by

this morning

June came by on Saturday; the temperatures were in the seventies, and how welcome that was! But she didn't stay, and April hasn't behaved like she's supposed to. Actually, April's behavior  is usually all over the place, but this year....  Let me just say that we had snow again last night and I had really thought that was behind us and I can see that this blog can all too easily descend into one long complaint about the weather.

Easter was lovely, although my brother had a cold. One week later, I came down with it, and then of course it always turns into bronchitis; it was particularly bad this time and I was home from work all last week. Thank God I'm much better but the coughing will take a while to go. Meanwhile, my brother kept getting days of tiredness and/or feeling like an elevated temp, and we realized that maybe our thing was a flu - and then on the radio this morning they said flu cases rose again in our state. And I was just saying that with all the talk of flu this winter, I didn't know a soul who'd had it.

I've spent much time on the couch near the vaporizer with a blanket and some books and magazines in between napping. But today I thought I should do more to get ready to go back to work, so I made bread (really the KitchenAid does the work) and found a nice simple recipe for potato leek soup; that was our supper with BLTs. The soup actually was kind of irritating to my bronchials while it cooked so I had to run the exhaust fan, but my hope is the leeks will drive out any baddies still lurking in our systems.

Sweetie had a birthday last week and we thought she was thirteen, but my brother saw Diane today and she said Sweetie is nine. Well, that explains her liveliness - I was always amazed at so much activity for her age. So she is our youngest one. And speaking of cats, last week I stumbled upon this lovely video on youtube . A young man in Istanbul has been taking in injured cats and paying for their treatments. He's a pianist and these cats have filled a void in his life but one cat in particular loves to sit on the piano, right in the middle, and this fellow just smiles and plays around him. The clip is five minutes - you have to watch the whole thing because it's a compilation somebody did from his videos. If you like cats, it will really touch your heart. God bless him.

Here is a picture from last April -

I wouldn't believe it if there weren't a date on the photo. That tree won't be blooming in April this year!

Friday, April 6, 2018

two quick snows and a wet cat

March went out like the veriest lamb of lambs. I had taken Holy Week off with an intention of doing spring cleaning. I've never done it this early but suddenly realized it might be a good thing to get it mostly out of the way before it became too nice out. I did quite well with that plan, but I was looking for the nicest day in the forecast to go outside and prune the roses. Saturday turned out to be the day;  it was so warm and sunny I had to remove my sweater and go dig out my sandals.

I cut some branches of forsythia and forced them in time for Easter, then stuck them in the "urn" in front.

They look as well today as they did Sunday, and considering the weather we've had... 

Monday early it began snowing, and snowed for a few hours, covering everything like this. By the end of the day it was mostly gone.

same day!

April snow. Which has been known to happen in these parts. Like again today, for instance. It snowed from late morning with big fat flakes, but didn't accumulate.  I didn't take pictures. A true spring is an elusive thing here - we really never get them properly.

We discovered that the Library Cat doesn't mind water - he sits in the sink under the trickling faucet and laps it up, not minding his wet coat.

He is lovely.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

a new world

"The tomb of Jesus was the tomb of a world that had ended... In this new world, the humanity of Jesus would no longer be bound by time and space. To experience his presence, his followers did not have to look back to the old world buried in the tomb. Jesus is not found in the past as a source of inspired teachings to be literally applied to our circumstances today. 'What would Jesus do?' is not really a Christian question. Instead, the Holy Spirit makes him present in every circumstance of our lives today. Our question is: 'What does Jesus want to give to us through what is happening?' "

                                                      -  Fr. Lorenzo Albacetefrom Magnificat, April 2018

The Empty Tomb, by Mikhail Nesterov

Saturday, March 31, 2018

is God asleep?

"There is a scene in the Gospel that anticipates the silence of Holy Saturday in a stimulating way and thus also appears as a portrait of our historical hour. Christ is sleeping in a boat about to sink for being battered by the sea. The prophet Elijah had once mocked the priests of Baal who were screaming loudly and futilely to their god to supply fire for the sacrifice by saying that their god was probably sleeping; they might have to call more loudly in order to wake him.. But is God not really sleeping? Does the jibe of the prophet not finally find its mark in the believers of the God of Israel who are traveling with him in a sinking boat? God sleeps while his affairs are about to sink - is that not the experience of our own lives? Do the Church and the faith not appear like a little sinking ship that uselessly struggles against wind and waves while God is absent?

The Apostles in utter despair shake the Lord and cry out to waken him, but he appears surprised and scolds them for their lack of faith. Is it any different for us?

When the storm has passed, we will recognize how foolish our faint-hearted faith was. And yet, Lord, we cannot do otherwise than shake you, the silent, sleeping God, crying out to you: Wake up - don't you see that we are sinking? Wake up, don't let the darkness of Holy Saturday last forever, let a gleam of Easter fall in our day too. Go with us when we walk despondently to Emmaus so that our hearts may be enkindled by your nearness. You who, in hiddenness, guided Israel's path, until finally you were a man among men, don't leave us in darkness; don't let your Word be drowned in the prattle of these days. Lord help us, for without you we would perish. Amen."

                                                          -  Pope Benedict XVIfrom Magnificat, March 2018

Christ Asleep in His Boat, by Jules Joseph Meynier

Friday, March 30, 2018

"these things the Lord has done"

Psalm 22

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
You are far from my plea and the cry of my distress.
O my God, I call by day and you give no reply;
I call by night and I find no peace.

Yet you, O God, are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you set them free.
When they cried to you, they escaped.
In you they trusted and never in vain.

But I am a worm and no man,
the butt of men, laughing-stock of the people,
all who see me deride me.
They curl their lips, they toss their heads.
"He trusted in the Lord, let him save him;
let him release him if this is his friend."

Yes, it was you who took me from the womb,
entrusted me to my mother's breast.
To you I was committed from my birth,
from my mother's womb you have been my God.
Do not leave me alone in my distress;
come close, there is none else to help.

Like water I am poured out,
disjointed are all my bones.
My heart has become like wax,
it is melted within my breast.

Parched as burnt clay is my throat,
my tongue cleaves to my jaws.

Many dogs have surrounded me,
a band of the wicked beset me.
They tear holes in my hands and my feet
and lay me in the dust of death.

I can count every one of my bones.
These people stare at me and gloat;
they divide my clothing among them.
They cast lots for my robe.

O Lord, do not leave me alone,
my strength, make haste to help me!
Rescue my soul from the sword,
my life from the grip of these dogs.
Save my life from the jaws of these lions,
my poor soul from the horns of these oxen.

I will tell of your name to my brethren
and praise you where they are assembled.
"You who fear the Lord give him praise;
all sons of Jacob, give him glory.
Revere him, Israel's sons.

For he has never despised
nor scorned the poverty of the poor.
From him he has not hidden his face,
but he heard the poor man when he cried."

And my soul shall live for him, my children serve him.
They shall tell of the Lord to generations yet to come,
declare his faithfulness to peoples yet unborn,
"These things the Lord has done."

The Raising of the Cross - Peter Paul Rubens

Thursday, March 29, 2018

the best we can

At the supermarket today I ran into a man from church. He said, "I am doing the very best I can. Are you doing the very best you can?" I said, "yes!" He said, "That's all God expects of us. So, we're in good hands, and the hands aren't Allstate!" * 

My brother later told me he says this to everyone who asks how he's doing; but it stayed with me, especially struggling over an Easter week menu and trying not to leave out anything as I made out the shopping list. I was truly doing the best I could, and I his silly little remark helped me to feel more settled afterward.

And then I bought some pretty jonquils.

* A well-known insurance company in the U.S, whose slogan is "You're in good hands with Allstate."

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

like bunny rabbits

I told myself at the beginning of Lent that I should work on the mending pile, and I have been!

But it increases when I'm not looking.

Monday, March 26, 2018

"the thought of God"

"... the happiness of the soul consists in the exercise of the affections; ... As hunger and thirst, as taste, sound, and smell, are the channels through which this bodily frame receives pleasure, so the affections are the instruments by which the soul has pleasure. When they are exercised duly, it is happy; when they are undeveloped, restrained, or thwarted, it is not happy. This is our real and true bliss, ... to love, to hope, to joy, to admire, to revere, to adore. Our real and true bliss lies in the possession of those objects on which our hearts may rest and be satisfied...  the thought of God, and nothing short of it, is the happiness of man; for though there is much besides to serve as subject of knowledge, or motive for action, or means of excitement, yet the affections require a something more vast and more enduring than anything created. .. He alone is sufficient for the heart."

                                                     -  A Mind at Peace

Sunday, March 25, 2018

taking worship seriously

"Worship is not merely a therapeutic practice. In fact, worship has a therapeutic effect only on the soul of a person who takes seriously its claims of truth."

                    -  A Mind at Peace: Reclaiming an Ordered Soul in the Age of Distraction,
                                                  by Christopher O. Blum and Joshua P. Hochschild

Saturday, March 24, 2018

return of the tabby

After a good three months at home, the library kitty suddenly appeared this week.

He was extremely glad to see us and made himself at home, in the way of cats.

I have missed him, but I would be happier if they'd keep him inside their house.

Friday, March 23, 2018

heart to heart

"Only Jesus is holy, the only one pleasing to his Father. Only by allowing him to communicate his holiness to us can we be pleasing to God....It is only by entering into Jesus' relationship with God that we can be in his heart. The only begotten is in the bosom of the Father, nearest to his heart; the beloved disciple is on the bosom of Jesus and drawn by him into the Father's heart, with him, where he is."

                                                        -  Sister Ruth Burrows

Saturday, March 17, 2018

afternoon glow

On sunny days after a fresh snowfall, there comes a time in the afternoon when the sun shines so beautifully on everything. Previously I've been unable to capture it, but this time I think I have. So please, humor me.

It makes kind of a glow

see what I mean?

visible even through a foggy glass.

It doesn't look like this anymore - a lot of our snow is gone - amazingly and there are large patches of green here and there.  But not to worry - we may get another nor'easter on Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

March in New England

Last Wednesday we had a big snowfall, ten inches.

Even though I am wanting spring to come, a snowfall is far prettier than mud. And it's been melting down steadily, considering we had a lot of rain the two weeks before and the ground is saturated. There was some green grass beginning to show on the edges.

But today we had another all-day snow.

By now, you've seen this view almost as much as I have, but -

there is something about a snow day - nobody went anywhere today - that makes time seem almost to stand still. On snow days I never get the urge to try and do a million things. I did just what I had to,  then finished up an old knitting project and planned a new sewing one.

In between tea and cocoa.

Still -  I hope it's gone by Easter.

Monday, March 12, 2018

life is a struggle

You would think that the two biggest creatures in the house could handle the smallest person in the house, wouldn't you?

It was time to change the flea collars on Henry and Sweetie (Dolly had a reaction to hers, so she doesn't get one). Sweetie is a Very Cautious Person, and we barely got the thing on her. The next day the old one was removed. A day or two later we were able to tighten it. A week later, it's still got a long piece hanging there which needs to be trimmed (can you see it?). 

Of course, we could manhandle her, considering our size compared to hers, but we hardly want to do that. It is funny though, how resistant she is to any fussing around with her person. We're used to Dolly, being so compliant and trusting of us. Henry is sort of in-between. Anyway, thank goodness for collars that last eight months!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

nobility in small things

I finished my ankle warmers the other day by just joining the edges to make a tube. I thought they'd be too narrow, so I planned to knit inserts in them with extra solid colored yarn, like a stripe on each. But as I fussed over them I realized they would easily fit without stretching too much without bothering to knit any stripes. So. They are made with Adriafil Bi-Use, a most unromantic name for yarn, especially an Italian one, don't you think?

So hard to get a good picture, but I can still join Ginny's yarnalong.

I've been reading A Mind at Peace: Reclaiming an Ordered Soul in the Age of Distraction, by Christopher O. Blum and Joshua P. Hochschild.

The challenge of Christian life is to find nobility even in small things. We should not need trumpets sounding, red carpets under our feet, or laurels on our heads to remember our dignity and the higher purpose we are called to serve. ..In this sense, even one of the lowliest station can live a noble life.

                                      -   from  A Mind at Peace

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

meal planning this Lent

During Lent, I'm always so glad if I can arrange the meals so I don't have to be overly occupied with food.

This year it's casseroles on Sundays, something with ground beef Mondays (it'll be chili next time) and soup and sandwiches on Thursdays - all the other days are leftovers. It's working out very well, so far.

I found these multicolored baby carrots last week, and served them Sunday with butter and scallions, salt and pepper, along with steamed broccoli, mac and cheese with ham and blueberry pie for dessert. (we had company)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

scent free

I like my flannel nightgowns in winter. I have two, but one is wearing thin.

The really quality ones, like L.L. Bean's, go for sixty dollars or more - Lanz of Salzburg's is around seventy. Then I found a used one on ebay for twenty five dollars, shipping included! But that blasted scented detergent people use - I washed it four times and it still smelled, even with soaking it with some vinegar and baking soda.

Well, I finally did what I should have done at the beginning: I soaked it in warm water with LOTS of baking soda. Of course, the smell disappeared right away. I did know that, but guess I forgot.

Monday, March 5, 2018

on our Lenten journey

"It is all right there in front of our eyes. We do not need to see new things. We need to see the same old things with new eyes. We do not need to hear a different voice. We need to hear the same old voice with different ears. We do not need to escape the circumstances of our life. We need simply to be more fully present to those circumstances. When this happens life is no longer lived on the surface. These are transfigured moments when the picture of our life becomes a window into a new world, and we come face to face with the glory of God. Then by God's grace, his touching us inwardly, we experience as sheer gift the world transfigured and creation filled with divine light. Circumstances haven't changed. We have changed, and that seems to change everything."

                                                           - lifted from here

Saturday, March 3, 2018

in like a lion?

We say about March, that if it comes in like a lion it will go out like a lamb, or it's the other way around.

We had a nor'easter yesterday, with lots of rain and very strong winds, and we, who are the ones who don't lose power when everyone else seems to, actually were in the dark for a few hours overnight. So, I suppose that counts for "coming in like a lion". Except that the day before, which was the first,  it was very mild and pleasant.

So, did March come in like a lamb, or a lion?  Which day counts? I don't know.

Jo's work again. This one makes me think of sprinkles on a  doughnut; it was over near the coffee machine.

Friday, March 2, 2018

for those who need

Many are the needs of those around us; few are our resources; 
great is the generosity of God, and so we pray:

For those who go to bed hungry -
    that they may be fed by those who have more food than they need.

For those who suffer the diseases of poverty -
    that they may find help from those who suffer the diseases of affluence.

For those who are neglected -
    that they may find care from those who are loved.

                                                       -          from Magnificat, March 2018

Thursday, March 1, 2018

little things

What the rich man was looking for in fine garments and sumptuous dining he was meant to find in the beggar on his doorstep. For every person whom God puts on our path becomes the way to the fulfillment we seek. 

                                                              - Magnificat, March 2018


Why do you travel so far for what is so near? The smallest coin in your purse buys what is most dear.

                                                            - Charles Causley

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

good memories

"You must know that there is nothing higher, or stronger, or sounder, or more useful afterwards in life, than some good memory, especially a memory from childhood, from the parental home. You hear a lot said about your education, yet some such beautiful, sacred memory, preserved from childhood, is perhaps the best education. If a man stores up such memories to take into life, then he is saved for his whole life. And even if only one good memory remains with us in our hearts, that alone may serve one day for our salvation....and keep [us] from great evil.

                                                           -  Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

                                                     from Tending the Heart of Virtue, by Vigen Guroian

Monday, February 26, 2018

in the interest of warm ankles

I had two small skeins of this very vibrant yarn.

When I was preparing for work last Wednesday - the day it reached 77 degrees - I knew I wanted to wear my sandals, but it was cool in the morning; also, for all I knew the AC might go on there and I'd freeze. I found myself thinking a pair of ankle warmers would be ideal for both situations. After looking at several patterns I realized anything but the most simple stitch would be competing with these wonderful colors, so I just knitted and purled each skein until it was used up. Now these need to be joined into little tubes, but they could also stand to be just a bit wider, so I've fished around for some solid colors to add a bit of a stripey width.

I think I'm going to knit a narrow piece and then attach it to each side edge. Each leg may have a different color, as I've got very little of my "leftovers", but I think that will be okay. Stash-busting.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

transformation in Christ

"A tendency on massive display in our culture is the reduction of religion to ethics. Very much in the spirit of Immanuel Kant, many people today feel that everything else in religion - art, liturgy, prayer, mysticism, the sacraments, etc. - finally centers around and leads back to morality. How often we hear some version of the following: 'Well, as long as you're a good person, what does it really matter what you believe or how you worship God?'

...if you had asked one of the Church Fathers or medieval masters what Christianity is finally about, they would definitely not have said ethics. They probably would have said...becoming conformed to the divine nature. "

                                                    - Bishop Robert Barron

Lent is a time of transformation. As we gaze in the dark faith of prayer upon the glory of God revealed in Jesus Christ, we are transformed into his likeness. As we leave the work of prayer for the work of charity in our world, we live in his likeness.

-  from Magnificat, February 2018