Thursday, July 2, 2015

Plan B

"...success in life is not how well we execute Plan A; it's how smoothly we cope with Plan B."

                                                      -  from  Simple Abundance


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

saving green beans


I was darned if I was going to let those beans go to waste. I just bought them the day before - not loose, but the kind that comes in a bag - and they already had that slimy feeling. I knew that inside they were fine, so I put 'em in the colander, sprinkled baking soda over them and "scrubbed" under running water till they were squeaky clean again.

Monday, June 29, 2015

old linens


We have an old table runner which I really like; it's linen-y, with a wide cotton crochet edge all around. I had to mend it today because the edging was coming away in places. One spot was easier than the other. In one area, the edge of the fabric was shredded-looking, as if some weft threads had been removed there. Not knowing how to fix it properly, I placed a piece of similar fabric underneath and just did some running stitches by hand on the right side. Over and over, in a matching thread, which was very hard to see.


What I ended up with is an obvious patched-up area, but it doesn't bother me. The loose threads are all stitched down, and they're not going anywhere. So, I'm satisfied.

I also have a small almost-square tablecloth of sorts, which was faded when I saw it at the thrift store, but I liked it because of the colors. I'm sure it's made in India. But it doesn't cover much and yesterday I suddenly thought it would be better cut up for napkins. I've been wanting more cloth napkins. So I cut that up and pressed under the edges today. They're waiting to be sewn.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

God and Tennyson

The sun, the moon, the stars, the seas, the hills and plains,
are not these, O Soul, the Vision of Him who reigns?

Is not the Vision He, tho' He be not that which He seems?
Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?

Earth, these solid stars, this weight of body and limb,
are they not sign and symbol of thy division from Him?

Dark is the world to thee; thyself art the reason why,
for is He not all but thou, that hast power to feel "I am I"?

Glory about thee, without thee; and thou fulfillest thy doom,
making Him broken gleams and a stifled splendour and gloom.

Speak to Him, thou, for He hears, and Spirit with Spirit can meet -
closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.

God is law, say the wise; O soul, and let us rejoice.
for is He thunder by law the thunder is yet His voice.

Law is God, say some; no God at all, says the fool,
for all we have power to see is a straight staff bent in a pool;

and the ear of man cannot hear, and the eye of man cannot see;
but if we could see and hear, this Vision - were it not He?

                                   -   Tennyson


(I don't pretend to know exactly what Tennyson was meaning here, or to imagine his and my beliefs are the same, but I like this poem.)




Saturday, June 27, 2015

a pleasant day

berry picking,
 washer running,
dishes draining,
jazz playing,
kitties napping,
birds singing,
pickle making,
supper cooking,
garden growing,
fans blowing,
rain coming.




Thursday, June 25, 2015

moth on the bathroom window

He came by long enough to be photographed


and then went on his mothy way.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

John the Baptist

Today was the feast of St. John the Baptist.

"Why does the church celebrate the birthday of John the Baptist? Because "John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last".  He "goes before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah". John the Baptist "is the Lord's immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way," who "inaugurates the Gospel...from his mother's womb". John the Baptist "proclaims the imminence of the consolation of Israel, he is the 'voice' of the Consoler who is coming". With John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit begins the restoration to man of the 'divine likeness'."

                                                   - from Magnificat, June 2015, quotes from the Cathechism of the Catholic Church

Michael York as the Baptist from Jesus of Nazareth

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

homesick flower


One lone little blossom growing outside of the shed. I brought it in; but after three days I find it turned to the window, looking for more light and its previous existence.

Monday, June 22, 2015

fancy pickles

I try to go to to the bottom of my pinterest recipe boards regularly, so the older stuff doesn't get forgotten. I had pinned a beautiful photo of a jar of pickles way back; now it's summer, and I decided I had to make them.

Here is the blog and the recipe (and the beautiful photos!)  I had to buy the mustard seeds, the cinnamon sticks and the red onion.  This is mine:


They are so delicious, I can't begin to tell you. They got mixed up in the morning and we had them with dinner, which was less than the four hour minimum she advised; but, who cares?  I'll make these again.

That pin was the first time I'd seen that young woman's blog; her name is Hannah Queen and she's only in her twenties. She lives in Georgia and started getting into cooking and baking, using very local and available fresh ingredients; then started a blog. Her photography is gorgeous and I guess someone was paying attention, because she came out with a cookbook two months ago.  All seasonal dessert recipes.

But her triumph is a bittersweet one, because there's another part to this story - her mother died last fall.  I was reminded of all this as I poked around her blog to look at the pickle recipe. So, even though I've been more intent on getting rid of books than acquiring them, I decided to buy Hannah's.



This one, I will keep.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

rain and other storms

I woke up at three, and heard the rain descending like it was being poured; on and off like that even for the next few hours.


And then the readings at Mass all had to do with water - and the gospel being about Jesus calming the storm:

The Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said, Who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling bands? When I set limits for it and fastened the bar of its door, and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stilled!

-  Job 38: 1, 8-11


They who sailed the sea in ships,
trading on the deep waters,
these saw the works of the Lord
and his wonders in the abyss.

His command raised up a storm wind
which tossed its waves on high.
They mounted up to heaven; they sank to the depths;
their hearts melted away in their plight.

They cried to the Lord in their distress;
from their straits he rescued them,
he hushed the storm to a gentle breeze,
and the billows of the sea were stilled.

-  from Psalm 107


On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples: Let us cross to the other side. Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?  He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, Quiet! Be still! The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith? They were filled with great awe and said to one another, Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?

-  Mark 4: 35-41



Friday, June 19, 2015

twilight times

I buy the Farmers' Almanac every year just so I can read the sunrise and sunset times. I like to know.


But I had no idea, until I discovered this site (no, I'm not in Norway) that there were three levels of twilight.

After sunset, there is a period of civil twilight. There is still enough light that you can do things. Then comes a period of nautical twilight, and you would probably need a lamp outdoors to see what you're doing. Last is the astronomical twilight which is getting dark but not the black of night. And the situation is reversed in the morning, of course. In Oslo right now they don't have actual night darkness  - how interesting that must be.

There was a day last week when I was so tired I actually plopped into bed at nine, and then realized it wasn't even dark yet!  I always feel these daylight hours shouldn't be wasted - that I should be able to be awake for all of them. But God made us so we need some sleep, and I was tired that night. I ended up getting out of bed at two to take my shower - it felt good! I was rested at that point, and why not get it out of the way?


Enjoy your summer twilights, wherever you are.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

grow, grow

 "Every blade of grass has its Angel that bends over it and whispers, Grow, grow'."

                                                    -  the Talmud

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

a camp meeting

"Praise the Lord for his goodness,
and bless the King of the ages,
so that his tent may be rebuilt in you with joy."

-  Tobit 13: 10a


Monday, June 15, 2015

strawberry balsamic freezer jam

From this -


to this -


in a very short time.

The recipe.  I've wanted to try this for so long!  Besides maybe forgetting to let it set on the counter for a day, it's delicious,  -  better than you are probably imagining it is.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

knitting in public



Well, I didn't know this till later in the day, but today is World Wide Knit in Public Day. Did you know that?  I had no plans to go out, so I made a point of sitting out on the back step for a while.  Next to the old watering can, with the sweet scent of the wild roses nearby.


But I don't think anyone saw me.  I've picked up my hand warmers again - I'd finished one, but then got sidetracked on them till the other day.

I've been reading The Princes in the Tower, by Alison Weir. All the to-do about Richard III's skeleton gave me a keen interest in the subject; then I discovered we had a book about it at the library. There are apparently many written since the discovery. It all happened so long ago - you kind of would like to think everybody's been wrong about him. I also read Josephine Tey's Daughter of Time - I did enjoy that and was beginning to really believe Richard wasn't the monster of history, but... Alison Weir thinks differently. In fact, she says she used to think he was innocent, too. Until she started digging (no pun meant). So, I'm feeling my disappointment rise as I read along. She deals in facts; it seems Richard's defenders deal mostly in emotion. Oh, well.

Joining Ginny's yarnalong.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

sugar jar


We had a generic sugar bowl years ago and then when it broke, the sugar ended up being kept in a jar. There's a sugar bowl which goes with the everyday dishes and one for the china. But we don't bother with them - we just keep it in a jar.

One of those funny things people do, I guess. (and you can tell I'm not changing it anytime soon.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

vegetable omelet

I forget that I should make this more often. A recipe I found in Country Living in an Eggland ad. In a large skillet, you put in a cup and a half of sliced zucchini, a cup of corn, half cup of chopped red peppers, one quarter cup chopped onion, one tablespoon of water and a quarter teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Cover it up and cook till it's getting tender and then pour in four eggs whisked with a quarter cup of milk, and cook it on low heat till almost set. Sprinkle shredded cheddar on top (a quarter cup, at least!) and put under the broiler till cheese melts. 

cooking

Of course, today I didn't have zucchini, but I did have baby spinach and some mushrooms, and of course it was still good. And I didn't mind doing it after work.

Monday, June 8, 2015

foccaccia

I made foccaccia today.

It's funny - I've never had foccaccia before. I haven't been tempted to try it, because it's just flavored bread; it's like a thick pizza crust (I like thin) with no topping. But I couldn't resist the temptation to make some.


It's really good.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

a little journey into India

Yesterday, in Leila's weekly Bits and Pieces, she linked to an article on how technology has affected our modern textile industry; but I have to say I only glanced at the essay because a video link on the side caught my attention.

A fourteen minute journey into India, where you meet women who work in factories where cast-off clothing from western countries such as France, Italy and the U.S. are gathered, shredded up and re-woven into threads again. A seemingly massive undertaking. One beautiful woman in particular named Reshma does much of the talking; she's never traveled, never apparently even seen a Westerner, but she's very curious about a people who throw away so much clothing, much of which looks like it's never been worn. These women work cheerfully and smilingly at these factories where the only beauty to be seen is themselves: their colorful clothing, jewelry and their beautiful smiles. I've always loved the way Indian women dress - so feminine. These look like bright flowers blooming in a dump.

I don't know what groups are sending these clothes over there, but it's a wonderful thing to know that someone is trying to counteract wastefulness. Watch it, and you may see yourself in a slightly different light. It's an eye-opener.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

bread ruminations


I've been very into bread making for the two months or so. There were two things which finally got the fire under me: one, something Jane Brocket said in an email response. She told me she was making a loaf of bread every day with her sourdough starter in order to practice her technique. The second was simply what you'd expect from any restaurant; Crescent Dragonwagon was saying that in her restaurant they had a nice assortment of rolls at all times. Before reading these, I think I was too focused on finding the perfect recipe for rye bread, which is our favorite. Afterward, I suddenly felt freed from this endless searching - I was just going to try any and all bread recipes which sounded good. And that's what I've been doing.

I'm just looking for ingredients lists, really; the directions are only a suggestion. I have my own method, which is based on Leila's (she uses her KitchenAid).  I've got an old Better Homes and Gardens bread machine cookbook from the library, which means I have to figure out what temperature the oven needs to be, and how long to bake it, but it's working!

This is what I made today -


an Italian-style bread with some whole wheat flour in it, and a bit of sage.  So, here's the recipe, and this is what I did.

Italian Whole Wheat Sage Bread  from BH&G Best Bread Machine Recipes

1 1/3 c. water
4 tsp. olive oil
2 2/3 c.  bread flour
1 1/3 c. whole wheat flour
1 T. fresh sage, crumbled
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. yeast

I didn't follow this, exactly. I used all-purpose flour, because I wasn't using a bread machine, so didn't need to use it. I used only one teaspoon of yeast, because I like to use as little as possible, and I figure one teaspoon per loaf is usually enough. (in my opinion) Also, they said if you have only dried sage, to use 1/4 tsp, but I had the powdered, so I used only 1/8 tsp.

My method:  last night, I dissolved the yeast into the 1 1/3 c. of water - cold water. Then I put it the whole wheat flour. This is what I always do: mix the yeast with the entire amount of water, cold, and add an equal amount of flour. Whisk it till smooth, cover with a thin towel and leave it on a kitchen shelf overnight, till I'm darn good and ready to get back to it the next day.

What I do next is scoop it into the mixing bowl and add everything else. I mix it and see how things look. Today it seemed a little thick so I added two teaspoons of water - one at a time - until I was satisfied.  I then shut off the machine and left it for twenty minutes or so (not more than one hour) and then mixed it up some more. At this time it formed a nice ball, and I got it into a greased bowl, turned it over and put it in a corner with towels over it. Almost three hours later it looked good so I deflated it and got it into the greased bread pan and covered it again to proof.  It was about an hour later when I decided I'd bake it at 400 degrees, so I heated up the oven for ten minutes and put it in. I think it took forty three minutes before the loaf seemed brown enough to take out.

It's very nice, and they all are!  I like this cookbook, but I have a feeling that it doesn't matter which one I use - there are a multitude of great bread recipes out there.

There's a funny thing about these breads, too. After the first day or so leaving it out on the counter, I put the loaf in a plastic bag and into the fridge. I often forget about it in there, and I have eaten two week old (or more) bread from the fridge which has no mold on it whatsoever. No green, not even the whitish stuff. It's lovely toasted. I did hear recently that sourdough bread keeps very well. This isn't sourdough, but it's a slower rise and I wonder if that's what makes it keep so well. Anyway, I'm really having a lot of fun with this, not to mention the benefit of eating something with such a short list of ingredients. Hooray for homemade bread, made when it's convenient!




Saturday, May 30, 2015

prayer to the Blessed Mother

Mother of silence, who watches over the mystery of God, save us from the idolatry of the present time, to which those who forget are condemned. Purify the eyes of pastors with the eye-wash of memory. Take us back to the freshness of the origins, for a prayerful, penitent Church. 

Mother of the beauty that blossoms from faithfulness to daily work, lift us from the torpor of laziness, pettiness, and defeatism. Clothe pastors in the compassion that unifies, that makes whole; let us discover the joy of a humble, brotherly, serving Church.

Mother of tenderness who envelops us in patience and mercy, help us burn away the sadness, impatience, and rigidity of those who do not know what it means to belong. Intercede with your Son to obtain that our hands, our feet, our hearts be agile: let us build the Church with the Truth of love.

Mother, we shall be the People of God, pilgrims bound for the Kingdom.  Amen.

-  Pope Francis



Friday, May 29, 2015

Cindy, last summer

I was looking at photos from last summer and found a few of Cindy which almost got lost.






She'll be back with us for two weeks at the end of August.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

al fresco dining

that is, Dolly on my windowsill


where she insisted on having her breakfast.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

hot like summer, but no fireflies yet


I have surprised myself at how well I'm doing with my hand warmers - I've only had to rip it out once, and that was at the beginning. I'm ready to switch back to the smaller needles to do ribbing, bind off, and make the thumb on the first one.

I'm still enjoying Out of Africa - her way of seeing things, and then telling them is so appealing to me. Here she speaks of a plane ride:

We landed on the white shore, that was white-hot as an oven, and lunched there, taking shelter against the sun under the wing of an aeroplane. If you stretched out your hand from the shade, the sun was so hot that it hurt you. Our bottles of beer when they first arrived with us, straight out of the ether, were pleasantly cold, but before we had finished them, in a quarter of an hour, they became as hot as a cup of tea.

I have this week off from work, and even though it's May, it's just like a summer vacation: hot and humid, except the nights are still pleasant, unlike in July when we usually have these temperatures. I'm loving it!  Memorial Day was very nice; quite warm but cloudy, and comfortable to sit outside for hours.  The only things lacking are the fireflies - it's too early for them yet.

making the pasta salad

The Fireflies

Here in the highlands, when the long rains are over, and in the first week of June nights begin to be cold, we get the fireflies in the woods. 
On an evening you will see two or three of them, adventurous lonely stars floating in the clear air, rising and lowering, as if upon waves, or as if curtseying. To that rhythm of their flight they lighten and put out their diminutive lamps. You may catch the insect and make it shine upon the palm of your hand, giving out a strange light, a mysterious message, it turns the flesh pale green in a small circle round it. The next night there are hundreds and hundreds in the woods.
For some reason they keep within a certain height, four or five feet, above the ground. It is impossible then not to imagine that a whole crowd of children of six or seven years, are running through the dark forest carrying candles, little sticks dipped in a magic fire, joyously jumping up and down, and gamboling as they run, and swinging their small pale torches merrily. The woods are filled with a wild frolicsome life, and it is all perfectly silent.

- Out of Africa,  by Isak Dinesen


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

loving plain yogurt

As recently as a year ago, I never thought I'd ever want to eat plain yogurt.


Now, it's what I prefer, with a little fruit and about a teaspoon of honey.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

sparrows at Stop & Shop

Our grocery store keeps its outer doors open in nicer weather, and you can hear birds tweeting high up in the rafters; very occasionally one will get inside. But last evening as I was rounding the corner near the organic aisle, what should I see but three house sparrows on the floor, eating something there.

from the internet - it was just like this, except mother was also present!

I was amazed, and had to stop and watch. They were unconcerned about my presence. Well, of course - there was a baby there and the parents had to stay near it. It was the cutest thing! As I walked around the store, one would whiz by periodically. I hope they're all settled now, where they're supposed to be. 

Pentecost Sunday

I read this yesterday here, and it struck me so -


To the Spirit all creatures turn in their need for sanctification; all living things seek him according to their ability. His breath empowers each to achieve its own natural end.

The Spirit is the source of holiness, a spiritual light, and he offers his own light to every mind to help it in its search for truth. By nature the Spirit is beyond the reach of our mind, but we can know him by his goodness. The power of the Spirit fills the whole universe, but he gives himself only to those who are worthy, acting in each according to the measure of his faith.

Simple in himself, the Spirit is manifold in his mighty works. The whole of his being is present to each individual; the whole of his being is present everywhere. Though shared in by many, he remains unchanged; his self-giving is no loss to himself. Like the sunshine, which permeates all the atmosphere, spreading over land and sea, and yet is enjoyed by each person  as though it were for him alone, so the Spirit pours forth his grace in full measure, sufficient for all, and yet is present as though exclusively to everyone who can receive him. To all creatures that share in him he gives a delight limited only by their own nature, not by his ability to give.

The Spirit raises our hearts to heaven, guides the steps of the weak, and brings to perfection those who are making progress. He enlightens those who have been cleansed from every stain of sin and makes them spiritual by communion with himself. 

As clear, transparent substances become very bright when sunlight falls on them and shine with a new radiance, so also souls in whom the Spirit dwells, and who are enlightened by the Spirit, become spiritual themselves and a source of grace for others.

-  St. Basil the Great


stained glass window from I don't know where

Thursday, May 21, 2015

mostly wool mitts and Out of Africa

I wanted to join Ginny for yarnalong today (which was really yesterday).

Cyndi gave me some different yarns for Christmas which I hadn't done anything with yet; so, I picked out this Kathmandu Aran the other day, which is mostly wool, with some silk and a bit of cashmere, 104 yards. Since I have such a weakness for hand warmers, I chose this pattern - 70 Yard Mitts, by Hannah Fettig. They're cute, and I only just started.


Working with size three dpn's took me a few minutes to get used to, but now I think I'm good. I'll switch to sixes soon (that is, when Linda loans me hers, because I could have sworn I had some, but I guess not). The color is a sort of brick tweed, which is hard to tell here.

Two weeks ago I brought home Out of Africa to watch - had never seen it!  Now I'm reading the book, out of curiosity for the real story, because I know the film was romanticized; and I've looked with interest at it many times at the library. She was a real poet in her descriptions of Africa.

The chief feature of the landscape, and of your life in it, was the air. Looking back on a sojourn in the African highlands, you are struck by your feeling of having lived for a time up in the air. The sky was rarely more than pale blue or violet, with a profusion of mighty, weightless, ever-changing clouds towering up and sailing on it, but it has a blue vigour in it, and at a short distance it painted the ranges of hills and the woods a fresh deep blue. In the middle of the day the air was alive over the land, like a flame burning; it scintillated, waved and shone like running water, mirrored and doubled all objects, and created great Fata Morgana. Up in this high air you breathed easily, drawing in a vital assurance and lightness of heart. In the highlands you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be.