Tuesday, July 7, 2020

nice for salads

A bottle of fig vinegar I got for half price at the supermarket, for which I'd never pay full price.

Monday, July 6, 2020

that still, small voice

My brother just told me a story; he was intent on my hearing it - it was his confession.

He was not further than a mile away from our home this morning, doing errands, and noticed a dead squirrel in the street that had been hit. He usually stops and moves these creatures to the roadside, so they don't get run over - even though past help, it still seems the right thing. But he didn't listen to that inner voice as he was in a hurry, trying to make good time. When he passed by again, someone had run over the squirrel.

A little later he returned that way and there was a dead hawk in the spot; it had stopped to eat and someone else had come along and hit it.

He knows this was all because he didn't listen to that inner urge.  It's not always easy, is it, to hear that, to be attuned to it?  But he'll remember this.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

garden peas

Our own peas!

In Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes tells of a trip to town, where she passed a woman sitting outside her doorway, cat sleeping at her feet, and shelling a huge pile of peas. "She looked up and rapidly said something in Italian and I smiled, only to realize as I walked on that she'd said, It shouldn't happen to a dog."

After I'd shelled this small amount, my brother came by and wondered why I'd done it. The pods are edible. Well - I had wondered what was different about them! That's okay; I put them in a salad today.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Poem in Praise of the Continental Congress: a Fourth of July hymn

Thank you, Mr. Jefferson,
For bearding the British brass.
And thank  you, Mr. Adams,
Of Braintree (Quincy) Mass.
Carroll and Clark and Clymer,
Harrison, Hancock, Hart,
Printer Franklin and Planter Hall,
I thank you one and I thank you all
For rising up at your country's call
And giving the Fourth a start.
Thanks with gratitude more than cursory
For handing July an anniversary.

What is so rare in these sovereign states
As festive weather on festive dates?
Sneezes hamper the Yuletide kiss.
Autumn glooms on the Armistice.
Easter's certain to be contrary.
Washington picked out February.
But east and west and south and north
There's strawberry shortcake on the Fourth.

So hip and hip and a loud hooray
For glorious Independence Day,
Day auspicious for every comer
Because it falls on the Fourth of summer,
When winds are soft and air's a prism
And climate's conducive to patriotism.
Fathers, I'm grateful when I remember
You might have fixed on the Fourth of November.

You might have chosen August,
When lawns begin to parch,
Defended Man in the middle of Jan.
Or the horrible first of March.
But you thought of parades and picnics,
Of a blue American sky,
Of driving fast in a brand-new car,
Of rowing boats and of breaking par,
And you set it down on your calendar
That you'd choose the Fourth of July.

So thank you, Button Gwinnett,
For a celebration blithe.
And thank you, Roger Sherman,
And thank you, Mr. Wythe.
Hopkinson, Hooper, Heyward,
Livingston, Lewis, Lee,
Merchant Morris, of Morrisania,
Morton, the jurist from Pennsylvania,
I'm happy you surged with that freedomania.
Thanks for the Land of the Free,
For giving us liberty's deathless chime
And a holiday in the summertime.

-   Phyllis McGinley

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

catching up

Okay, so Sue said that New England cottontails don't dig burrows like European rabbits do. I looked it up, and found this. And after several days of not seeing any, I did see one today. The grass is longer, and we think that's maybe the reason. My brother had cut the lawn and the clover was mostly gone for a while. It's all a guessing game to figure them out.

hydrangeas are blooming everywhere now

Today was the feast of the first martyrs of the church, just about thirty years after the death of Jesus. A devastating fire broke out in Rome and Nero blamed the Christians, about whom little was known but too much was speculation. How quickly things can change in this world, as we all have been seeing lately. 

Next week we open the library to the public. We've been working together, our small group, through these three and a half months, through the trepidations, the confusions, the distancings, the trying-to-figure-out-how-to-serve-the-public discussions, and now it's time to see what happens in the next step. We are still going to offer curbside pickups, and we've tried to think of everything. I think we're going to be extremely busy. And we've got to wear those blasted, stifling masks all day. Sorry, I just had to say that - I don't look forward to it; it's bad enough having the thing on at the supermarket. 
But anyway, I made brownies today to bring to work, to sort of mark the end of this phase. I took them out of the oven too soon and had to put them back in. Twice. They seem fine now. 

Sweetie has been bothered by a problem with her mouth for a couple of months, which we couldn't figure out, but today the traveling vet discovered that she's got a growth in there. So, a biopsy is planned. 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

no Mr. McGregors here

We noticed a rabbit inside the garden again a few days ago. So now we think they have an entrance (or exit) to their warren inside the garden, in the middle of the bean patch. Of course, when you start a garden you try to make it so nobody can get in and mess up your intentions, but once they get in, well - we were both thinking the whole idea of rabbits living in the garden is kind of cute. But it's funny that since then, we haven't seen a rabbit. So I googled the behavior of wild rabbits.

For weeks, I would see them every day, late afternoons usually, across the brook, in the back yard between the shed and garden, every single day. But then Diane's cats started hanging around on the hot days, laying in the cool grass, and they must have seen the rabbits. The day my brother was showing me the bean patch, one of the cats was sniffing the garden fence - he knows they're around. They felt safer before, and now are being more cautious.

I did read Watership Down years ago, but until I saw this article wasn't really thinking about their whole underground life. I suppose putting up a fence around a garden would never deter a rabbit - they don't need to get through the fence to establish themselves there; they can just dig up into the space from underground.

I find them too cute to be angry with them. But we'll see what transpires now. It's a good thing we have a kitchen garden close to the house!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Midsummer's Day

I didn't hang out the sheet till six o'clock, but it still had time to dry.  And I ate the rest of the strawberries. (No freezer jam this year.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Midsummer Eve

I love to make a big deal out of Midsummer Day if I can. I am working tomorrow, but tonight it's the eve, so I thought I'd try making ice cream sandwiches for a treat. I bought the cookies and made the ice cream with some of the strawberries. I also was going to try and make it without the ice cream machine, as the freezer is rather full of other stuff, but they always say you can just keep stirring it until it's stiff, in order to keep ice crystals from forming.

It's nice, and very refreshing, but there are ice crystals. And I took it out to stir vigorously many times. I suppose if I try this again I could use the blender, or the mixer? Not as simple as they say. And it took too long to harden, so I ended up just having some with a few cookies. I need to start way in advance for this project. Next time.

Anyway, I never got to the freezer jam. I hope the strawberries keep.

Monday, June 22, 2020

lost it

Well, I just deleted all the photos I took this month. By accident, of course - the whole folder for June 2020.

except this one

This morning I put our Dolly in my bedroom window and she saw something which interested her. I looked out - a rabbit inside the garden!  My brother went out and discovered an opening near the bottom so he closed it up. Later, the bunny came back with a baby! They contented themselves with the clover flowers rampant in our grass. This was at the heat of the day, and a very humid one, in the nineties. I didn't know they moved around at that hour. I did have a picture of the clover. Gone.

I had a photo of farmer's market strawberries, with which I hope to make freezer jam. Lost that one. I found some instant pectin around the house, but it's not the low-sugar kind. I'll use it anyway, and it will be sweeter than I care for. And I will buy the other stuff next time. Actually, these strawberries, which are soft and so juicy, are not sweet. So, maybe it's not such a bad thing to have the wrong pectin this time! 

homeland and culture

"If they had lost the dearest country on earth [England], they had no choice but to create another dear country in its place."

                                            - from Those Who Love, by Irving Stone 
                                      (a historical novel about John and Abigail Adams)

"Culture may even be described as that which makes life worth living."

                                 -  T. S. Eliot

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

three pretty things, and one ridiculous

Have you ever seen anything so ridiculous?

She was actually dozing in that position.

I looked out and saw a contrail lit up near the morning sun - it was prettier than this -

I've had a problem with my British Country Living subscription lately; I decided to cancel getting it through Amazon, and re-subscribed directly from the magazine. So I was excited to receive one today - it was the May issue. This is leftover from the Amazon problem; here's hoping July's will arrive in better time. I gave up on June and am re-reading the one from last year.

The orphan, sleeping in her cutely normal way.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Corpus Christi

Today was the church feast of Corpus Christi, which refers to the Body of Christ. There is an irony in this, since the churches were closed for three months and still aren't open for Sunday Mass, so there was no communion for us today.

Laud, O Zion, your salvation,
Laud with hymns of exultation.
Christ, your king and shepherd true:

Bring him all the praise you know,
He is more than you bestow.
Never can you reach his due.

Special theme for glad thanksgiving
Is the quick'ning and the living
Bread today before you set:

From his hands of old partaken,
As we know, by faith unshaken,
Where the Twelve at supper met.

Full and clear ring out your chanting,
Joy nor sweetest grace be wanting,
From your heart let praises burst:

For today the feast is holden,
When the institution olden
Of that supper was rehearsed.

Here the new the old effaces,
Truth away the shadow chases,
Light dispels the gloom of night.

What he did at supper seated,
Christ ordained to be repeated,
His memorial ne'er to cease;

And his rule for guidance taking,
Bread and wine we hallow, making
Thus our sacrifice of peace.

This the truth each Christian learns,
Bread into his flesh he turns,
To his precious blood the wine:

Sight has fail'd, nor thought conceives,
But a dauntless faith believes,
Resting on a pow'r divine.

Here beneath these signs are hidden
Priceless things to sense forbidden;
Signs, not things are all we see:

Blood is poured and flesh is broken,
Yet in either wondrous token
Christ entire we know to be.

Whoso of this food partakes,
Does not rend the Lord not breaks;
Christ is whole to all that taste:

Thousands are, as one, receivers,
One, as thousands of believers,
Eats of him who cannot waste.

Bad and good the feast are sharing,
Of what divers dooms preparing,
Endless death, or endless life.

Life to these, to those damnation,
See how like participation
Is with unlike issues rife.

When the sacrament is broken,
Doubt not, but believe 'tis spoken,
That each sever'd outward token
doth the very whole contain.

Nought the precious gift divides,
Breaking but the sign betides
Jesus still the same abides,
still unbroken does remain.

Lo! the angels food is given
To the pilgrim who has striven;
See the children's bread from heaven,
which on dogs may not be spent.

Truth the ancient types fulfilling,
Isaac bound, a victim willing,
Paschal lamb, its lifeblood spilling,
manna to the fathers sent.

Very bread, good shepherd, tend us,
Jesu, of your love befriend us,
You refresh us, you defend us,
Your eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see.

You who all things can and know,
 Who on earth such food bestow,
Grant us with your saints, though lowest,
Where the heav'nly feast you show,
Fellow heirs and guests to be. Amen. Alleluia.

Dagnan-Bouveret's Last Supper

Thursday, June 11, 2020

next door

Yesterday I got lots done early, and when it got too warm and humid, Dolly said she wanted to go out. So, we did.

The trees are done, but the rhododendrons are everywhere in bloom.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

in the sewing room

I made another mask today. My brother took several to his workplace, and there they are; I have three, but I'd rather have a few more than that.

Meanwhile, I've been poking around in my pinterest boards, and this caught my eye. It's an old photo from an etsy shop. I thought I'd try and make one and was looking through the fabric scraps, when I found a ready-made log cabin square - I'd forgot I made it. I looked online for a bird silhouette shape, re-drew it, and I guess I'm ready to go.

Monday, June 8, 2020

at least one

Feeling the breeze come in, I seized a pleasant opportunity to wash a window. I'll focus on the one clean. Rather than how many are dirty.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

little things

The past two days have been August-like, meaning that I lost all my stuffing and kept sitting down to read in between doing things which had to be done. The dew point was 70 yesterday; it really was uncomfortable. Then there was a thunderstorm, the wind came up and the temperature dropped. The air eventually got drier, and today was downright cool in comparison - really too cool but I dare not sound like I'm complaining. At this moment, the dew point is 45 degrees.

Meanwhile, I'm focusing once again on food that's nice to eat in warm weather, and more importantly, doesn't take long to cook. I'm always pleased when I find discover a reliable method for cooking a certain cut of meat, and I happened upon a good way for cooking skinless, boneless chicken thighs. It comes with a recipe containing bacon, mushrooms and a bit of cream sauce, but in the heat none of that interested me, just the method.

So, you put your chicken thighs in a bowl, and mix them up with a teaspoon of paprika and as much salt and pepper as you like, and maybe even some more paprika. Heat up oil or another fat in a skillet on medium and cook the meat for four minutes. Then, flip the pieces over and into a roasting pan and bake them at 400 F for twenty five minutes. Comes out perfect - I've done it twice.

I cut them up here with some cuke and tomato, then made a minty dressing for it - a cool dinner. I am relieved to know exactly how to cook this meat so it's perfectly done - don't have to think about it. It's the little things.

Last week I made scones, and some were still in the freezer. They were kind of like shortcake, so today I defrosted some frozen strawberries and blueberries, added sugar, whipped up a cup of heavy cream and that was dessert.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

a sweet song

Yesterday and today, I've been hearing the sweetest singing out my window. You can ignore the scenery - you've seen it before.

I think it's the catbird, but am not sure. Whoever is singing, it's delightful! Nice and loud, and right outside my bedroom.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

"for trials and for life"

My God, I bless you in your great good works,
For your gifts, your marvels, and all your kindnesses,
For the treasures of your love, peace, and hope
That shed trustfulness upon my days of trial.

For the immense blue sky and the soft breeze
And the radiant sun that makes the flowers bloom
Lord, I bless you for trials and for life.

                                                               - Marthe Robin excerpted from Magnificat, June 2020


Sunday, May 31, 2020

heading to the semi-ordinary

It's Pentecost, and the end of the Easter season.

My brother starts back to work tomorrow. He will be working twelve hour days, six days a week, for hopefully not more than three weeks. He'll come home for lunch, but for much shorter times than usual. He expects he may be caught up after that.

he made a new gate for the garden

He'll have to wear a mask all day. I suppose we'll have to, when we re-open at the library. I don't look forward to that.

it looks nice in there - keeping it up will be my job now

I expect Dolly will notice that he won't be around so much. But he hasn't been in my way, and I told him so. He kept busy all these two and a half months. 

Come, Spirit,
Holy Spirit,
Into every crevice of my heart.
Leave no narrowest defile
For pride to walk,
For hard-lipped judgments to stalk,
Leave no smallest part.

- Mother Mary Francis, from Magnificat, May 2020

Saturday, May 30, 2020

striving for enjoyment

I finished two more face masks today. My brother finally goes back to his shop Monday and I wouldn't want him to be short on masks. Of course he has paper ones for clients who need them, but it's better to save them for that. I would not want to have to wear a face mask all the day long. When it comes down to it, I suppose he'll wear the one which bothers him the least. And we'll see which one that is.

The chickens come through every single day. I get a real kick from seeing them, but I wonder what the neighbors think. They peck around everyone's gardens, which may not be welcome to everyone.

I read this today:  "Enjoyment is a catalyst for owning what one is learning." From The Life Giving Home, by Sally Clarkson.

Friday, May 29, 2020

hope for quickening

I've been listening to the talks given during the Anselm Society's conference, Imagination Redeemed. At the end of this one, this prayer was read, and I had never heard it before.

God of our life, there are days when the burdens we carry
chafe our shoulders and weigh us down; 
when the road seems dreary and endless, the skies gray and threatening;
when our lives have no music in them, and our hearts are lonely,
and our souls have lost their courage. 
Flood the path with light, 
run our eyes to where the skies are full of promise;
tune our hearts to brave music; 
give us the sense of comradeship with heroes and saints of every age;
and so quicken our spirits that we may be able to encourage
the souls of all who journey with us on the road of life, 
to your honor and glory.

                                                                  -  attributed to St. Augustine

Meanwhile, my brother pointed out a robin's nest in the cherry tree, almost hanging over the driveway. 

Life continues.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

a little Anglo-Saxon spirituality

"...the Lord wills that all people be whole and sound and turn toward true knowledge. ...He hears their prayers when they call to him and ask him for grace.

Let us now hasten with all the strength of good works and be eager for God's mercy, now that we can see that the end of the world is approaching. Therefore I exhort and admonish everyone to consider deeply his own deeds so that he might live righteously here in the world before God and in the sight of the highest King."

                                               -   Anglo-Saxon Spirituality*,  from Magnificat, May 2020

* an anthology of sermons, homilies, and poems written during the Anglo-Saxon age, c. (660 to `1066)

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

knitting and reading

My knitting is about twenty two inches long now,but the ball of yarn seems as huge as ever. I can't possibly keep going until it's used up - there's too much of it; the resulting bag would be bigger than anything I could find a use for. I've been thinking about types of handles but can't decide on anything.

I've been reading the most fabulous book about John and Abigail Adams, by Irving Stone. It's old, from my father's book shelf. He loved Irving Stone, and I can finally see why. This is a novel, but history; it's like living through everything with them - just fantastic!

I also am following along with a podcast about Shakespeare's As You Like It, so I'm reading that again, and just finished one on C. S. Lewis' The Great Divorce. I've read almost none of his work - never read the Narnia series! And, a little at a time of Mike's book, which amazes me, as does his blog - he knows so much about his country. Was he a history teacher? Or is it a hobby of his? He's a mystery, but a nice fellow.

Joining Ginny for yarnalong. 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

improving cookies

My brother got a cookie mix for Christmas, in addition to all the actual cookies. Which are long gone, of course. But this mix was still around.

I finally got around to deciding I would make some a few weeks ago, and was surprised to find three bags of mix inside the box. Well, that explained why it was so heavy. I made up a batch.

Dolly dreams of sitting outside with us tomorrow

They look like peanut butter blossoms, but they're not peanut butter, they're a shortbread and we agreed they seemed a bit bland. So with the second packet I thought I'd salt and some spices - namely, cinnamon and ginger. It is somewhat improved, I think. Unless I'm just imagining it - I could be.

But I'm not sure what to do with the last batch.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

another copy

There's a rabbit who appears across the brook most days, usually in the evenings. They can stay so still, can't they? Indefinitely, it seems. But it's hard to get a decent photo.

Of the three face masks Yoko sent, the one that has a molded shape is the style I have avoided making from the beginning. I saved several different youtube videos and made a few of them. Things aren't always what you imagine - and here I am, realizing that the shaped mask seems the least stifling to wear.

I made a pattern from Yoko's.

It came out very well, and is almost finished.

It wasn't difficult to do!  I'll make more.

"To make the idea of the Holy Spirit more concrete to us we should remember that he is the Spirit of love. He is the divine love sent to infuse us with the sense of God when we read the Gospels, when we pray, when we receive the sacraments, or when we show love for other people."

                                                                 - Ronda Chervin,   from Magnificat, May 2020

Qui diceris Paraclitus,
Altissimi donum Dei,
Fons vivus, ignis, caritas,
Et spiritalis unctio.

Thou who art called the Paraclete,
Best gift of God above,
The living spring, living fire
Sweet unction and true love.

Friday, May 22, 2020

come, Holy Spirit

Pentecost is in nine days. The disciples of Jesus prayed after He ascended, then the Holy Spirit came nine days later. We also will pray until Pentecost.

Veni, Creator Spiritus,
Mentes tuorum visita:
Imple superna gratia,
Quae tu creasti pectora.

Come, O Creator Spirit, come,
and make within our heart thy home;
To us thy grace celestial give,
Who of thy breathing move and live.

Stefano da Verona

Thursday, May 21, 2020

one year old

Little Annie is a year old today.

Well, we don't know what day she was born, but May twenty first was on the receipt the last time we went to the vet, so I guess they figured it out and picked a date.

Meanwhile, it's the Ascension of the Lord, and we still aren't going to church. It's strange. But I'm grateful that I'm still going to work - I still have that structure to my week.

Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. 
  Matthew 28:20

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

warmth ahead

Overnight, I went from wearing my flannel nightgown to one of my summer ones. There's no going back now.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020


The little dogwood looks particularly lovely this spring.

At last.

A package came yesterday from our cousins in New York. Yoko made four masks! They are beautifully done; she sews far better than I.

Three different styles, but you can see best on the red one (with the little snakes), she's got blue pieces at either end which make it look so tidy and perfect.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Dolly says no more cats!

When the weather got nice, we put the little Kibble figure out on the back stoop. Cyndi said it's made to be outdoors, but we still wanted to wait for it to be warmer before putting it outside.

It's about one third the size of a real cat and when I pass by, it does give me a jolt and remind me of our little friend.

Yesterday was like a summer day; I came home from work and Dolly was awake and alert - I said, Dolly, let's go out. When she came out the door and saw the figure she gave it a slap. I had to laugh - that's our Dolly! It looks real to her.

But later, when I put a chair in the doorway for her to sit on, I could tell that she was disturbed to see this "cat" still there - she is bothered by it! And so we moved him over into the side garden where things are starting to get planted. I wonder if I were to bring it in and show her it's not alive, if that would make a difference?

Thursday, May 14, 2020

it's good to laugh

This one likes to go up and underneath the chair covers.

We laugh a lot here.