Wednesday, February 21, 2018

a tantalizing spring preview

Who would think they could wear their sandals and bare feet in February?  But I did today.

Who would open a window and let February air in? We did, at work. It was near seventy degrees.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Friday, February 16, 2018

a prayer for Lent

or any time:

Prompt our actions with your inspiration, we pray, O Lord,
and further them with your constant help,
that all we do may always begin from you
and by you be brought to completion.

- from Magnificat, February 2018

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Jo strikes again and more mending

Jo continues to leave little rocks at the library; I almost missed this one the other day, laying as it was on our green and black stone counter -

an eggplant! 

I've got another pair of my brother's jeans almost repaired - two patches were required: one on the outside, one inside.

I just put the bit of fabric underneath here and zigzagged over the top.  It'll keep them going a little longer. Not rocket science, but he can't do it. It's good to know how to do a thing of use to someone. We all need to be valuable in that way; even something so simple.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Ash Grove, etc.

We sang this hymn at the end of Mass today:

Sent forth by God's blessing, our true faith confessing,
the people of God from His dwelling take leave.
The supper is ended. Oh, now be extended
the fruits of this service in all who believe.
The seed of His teaching, receptive souls reaching,
shall blossom in action for God and for all.
His grace did invite us, His love shall unite us
To work for God's kingdom and answer His call.

With praise and thanksgiving to God ever living,
the tasks of our everyday life we will face.
Our faith ever sharing, in love ever caring,
embracing His children of each tribe and race.
With Your feast You feed us, with Your light now lead us;
united us as one in this life that we share.
Then may all the living with praise and thanksgiving
give honor to Christ and His name that we bear.

It has a nice, lilting melody, but - the problem is that I've heard it before. 

Every time we sing this my mind goes back to the 1980's Pride and Prejudice with Elizabeth Garvie. During the party at the Lucases, Lizzie sings a song at the piano, and it's this one, with different lyrics, of course.  

Well, I happen to be reading another book about trees -  Fiona Stafford's The Long, Long Life of Trees, and in the chapter about the ash, what do you think I saw? 

Down yonder green valley, where streamlets meander,
when twilight is fading I pensively rove
Or at the bright noontide in solitude wander,
amid the dark shades of the lonely ash grove;
'twas there, while the blackbird was cheerfully singing,
I first met that dear one, the joy of my heart!
Around us for gladness the bluebells were ringing,
ah! then little thought I how soon we should part.

Apparently, it's an old Welsh song called The Ash Grove, no doubt familiar to my (2 or 3) English readers. Ha!

I do think I'm partial to this version; I did hear Lizzie sing it first. Here, two young women do it charmingly, with all the verses.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

more sashiko

My brother's jeans had a big tear at the knee where the machine won't reach. So I tried sashiko again; my rows are even this time! I hope it holds up in the wash.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

a pretty winter so far

So far, the winter hasn't been exactly run-of-the-mill. Much colder at times than usual, and the snowfalls - we've had several small to moderate snowfalls - they last a week or maybe just a couple of days, then melt. A few days later, snow again. For those of you who don't have snowy winters, I can say that this pattern is very nice, because it never stays around long enough to turn black from exhaust fumes, so the romance you get from freshly fallen snow remains - until the melting. How nice.

This picture is not from today, but it doesn't matter - it snowed today, too. Ice was also predicted, and the library closed early. We are all snug inside, thankfully.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

more rocks and a name, but still clueless

We keep finding the painted rocks around the library

and now the originator's name.

But who is Jo? We can't figure it out.

Monday, February 5, 2018

a convenient mistake

I discovered quite by accident that my sewing machine will also take my metal bobbins, which are left over from my previous model! I put one in without thinking; it actually fits in there better than the plastic ones.

So now I instantly have twice as many as I had before.

Friday, February 2, 2018

a thought and an idea

It's Candlemas, or the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. From Christmas Day to February 2 is forty days. Just like the forty years the Israelites wandered in the desert, like Elijah's trek of forty days to Mount Horeb, like Jesus praying and fasting in the desert for forty days, and the forty days from the resurrection of the Lord till his ascension, the number means something. It's the most important thing that ever happened on the earth and I'm never in a hurry to "put Christmas away", so I slowly undecorate, as I slowly decorated the house from the start of Advent up to Christmas Day.

In November the woman I buy my ground beef from sent an invitation to come to her house; during a weekend before Thanksgiving she sells crafts made throughout the year by herself and her family, some jams, and pickles. You can sit at her kitchen table and have homemade rolls and chili and brownies. She's been doing this for many years and always gets a crowd; she says she doesn't care if she sells anything, she just enjoys doing it and having this nice get-together. I bought the above wooden candy canes there, and have meant to post about this since the season began.

What a nice idea for any neighborhood! So I thought I'd share it.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

a rare moment

with the two females on the windowsill, and nobody bothering anybody (i.e., Sweetie not bothering Dolly).  Ahh, peace.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

bright salad

At the library, our lounge has a window, but the little kitchen adjoining the lounge has a wall of windows, and on the other side of the kitchen is a meeting room, with more windows - and when it's cold out, a most inviting place to sit and have lunch if nobody's having a meeting there.

And that's what we did.

Monday, January 22, 2018

first thing

Glory to you, who safe have kept
and have refreshed me while I slept:
Grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake,
I may of endless light partake.

Lord, I renew my vows to you;
scatter my foes as morning dew;
guard my first springs of thought and will,
and with yourself my spirit fill.

from Magnificat, January 2018

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

blackbirds passing through

The blackbirds came by yesterday just like they do in spring and fall. But it isn't. I guess I'll have to call the Audubon Society.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

bakin' in the oven

I had to cook some bacon but didn't look forward to the hovering over it. So I looked up how to do it in the oven.

Foil-covered pan, cold oven, then turn it up to 375, twenty five or thirty minutes if you want it crunchy. A very easy cleanup, and I can use this method when I won't be needing the bacon fat, which tends to last me a while. So much better.

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