Monday, December 10, 2018

stamped cookies

I came upon this photo yesterday

not mine!

and remembered the glass Christmas cookie stamps I bought years ago. I used them on a chocolatey shortbread cookie I used to make - the design never showed up very well. But the above photo made me want to try (although maybe these aren't stamped, but molded? I don't know.)

I found this gingerbread recipe tonight and they turned out tasty, but - you still couldn't see the designs. So I tried pressing a few colored sprinkles onto a batch.


All right, I suppose. The next batch I just pressed them down with a plain glass. And took a toothpick and drew "snowflakes" on each one. Then, pressed a white pearly thing in the center of each.


At least the design is visible; I'm not sure I'll keep those cookie stamps.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

in the Advent mist

I lifted this entire meditation from today's entry in Magnificat because it seemed so perfect to me, even though much longer than my usual -


"In accordance with our nature, nations and families have their times and seasons for days of special celebration. This specialness is sacramentalized in the Church's year. She too has red-letter days, seasons marked out in a special way to commemorate God's saving, life-giving love.

Are we right in claiming that God offers himself more fully at these times? That the living water of grace is flowing even more abundantly? The wise answer is, I think, that as human beings we need to think so, and therefore it is so. The Church, in this manner, educates us in a more concentrated way, provides a more intense stimulation to faith so that, if we respond, we are better prepared for the Lord to give himself more fully to us.

Advent is one of those special times as a season of preparation for the feast of Christmas...

But faith in his coming does not grow out of itself. We have to nourish our faith, exercise it. We don't sit idly at home waiting for his arrival - we must run out to make him welcome. We must question him: Are you he? We must ponder the sacred texts, try to discover their meaning, receive their message.

There has to be effort in our daily living. We must climb the mountain heights where the God of Jacob makes his home, for we want him to teach us how to love him; we want to follow where he leads.

We must move into the shadowy mists of detachment. Far on the horizon, see - God appears, and his coming spreads a mist over all the earth. We should want this silencing, shadowing mist, that cuts us off from unnecessary things - things that are not him for us. We cannot truly see them until he comes, so it is better to live in the mist - detachment, silence of desire - accepting the mystery. We must shroud our souls in Advent mist.

It may be, and in my experience often happens, that instead of the inner silence we so desire, our emotions are upset and our thoughts tend to run off. We can feel very discouraged about this lack of inner peace, but there is no need to be. This is merely temptation, the cross. In no way do these feelings come between God and us provided we quietly resist, and bear with ourselves sweetly and patiently. It may be, in fact, a far deeper Advent in that we realize our immense need of a Savior - and what a blessing that is!"

                                -  Sister Ruth Burroughs, a Carmelite nun at Quidenham, in Norfolk, England



Saturday, December 8, 2018

flowers everywhere

My boss buys flowers at the supermarket for us when our birthdays come; you get a lot in those groupings. A large vase of flowers doesn't seem to do well in our house, so when I brought mine home, I split it up into many.

Some asters in a crock behind Mary and Joseph while they wait for the Baby


bright pink carnations


statice


(did I even need to put water in that bottle? Statice is a dried flower.)

A lily yet to open 


In the living room - a calla lily


and everything else, including some alstroemeria with more statice and asters. 


I like these little bouquets much better.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

a real "wow" of a cake

My co-worker, Katie signed up to do my birthday cake. She is known among us as having an excellent instinct for anything in the way of decorating, whether that's in a home, on a bulletin board or even how she dresses. She tried to copy a cake she saw online - we all could see that hers looked much better than the original.


It was a spice cake with a brown sugar buttercream; they don't sell those ten inch cinnamon sticks where I shop, or the bay leaves that look like they came off a rhododendron. I saved those herbs and spices along with the rosemary underneath - with the frosting cleaned off, they will be very welcome. As was the cake!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

portrait of Sweetie

How very clever of Sweetie to jump on the back of this chair yesterday afternoon while the sun was full on it!


And then to pose for me so nicely.

Monday, December 3, 2018

calamondin oranges in a lemon pie

We have an orange tree in the library that someone gave us years ago; it's about four and a half feet tall and two or three times a year fragrant, white flowers appear and then the little oranges. Most of the time they go to waste, but I hate to see that. They are edible, although very sour. Last week I picked as many as were ready or almost ready. I had a pie in mind.


Joanna Gaines has a nice recipe for a large lemon pie that I thought I could make using these instead; I would squeeze them all, then add lemon juice to get to the right amount. Well, I had so many that I didn't need any lemons! In fact, I had the exact amount required.


One problem, though. It calls for three cups of condensed milk, and I had only two cans of it. I could have cut the whole recipe back by a third - but, since I had the perfect amount of juice, I didn't want to do that. 

I had cream, so I added that with spoonfuls of light brown sugar and vanilla. It certainly wasn't thick like condensed milk, but I took the chance. The pie appears good in every respect and I will bring it to work tomorrow for a "homegrown" treat.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

the promised day of God

Thy kingdom come! on bended knee
The passing ages pray;
And faithful souls have yearned to see
On earth that kingdom's day.

But the slow watches of the night
Not less to God belong;
And for the everlasting right
The silent stars are strong.

And lo, already on the hills
The flags of dawn appear;
Gird up your loins, ye prophet souls,
Proclaim the day is near.

The day in whose clear shining light
All wrong shall stand revealed,
When justice shall be throned in might,
And every hurt be healed.

When knowledge, hand in hand with peace,
Shall walk the earth abroad;
The day of perfect righteousness,
The promised day of God.


- from Magnificat, December 2018

Thursday, November 29, 2018

"practice resurrection"

I heard this poem today. When I read the title I thought I wouldn't like it - I was wrong about that.


Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it: Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

                                   -  Wendell Berry

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

turkey, after all

Tonight we had turkey drumsticks


with the rest of the leftovers.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

the feeling at dusk

"There is a feeling at dusk, a prescience of short and shorter days and pale pure dawns. I hope that squirrels have all their nuts tucked safely in...  I have not talked myself into a mood for winter yet. Summer's lease seems to have shorter and shorter a date and autumn is nothing more than a comma in the sentence of the year. It would be nice to pack away a whole day or two and bring it out in January."

                                         -  Gladys Taber



Friday, November 23, 2018

the countdown

Before Thanksgiving, my brother came home with a lemon poppy seed cake from a client. It isn't Advent yet, but I am counting this anyway, counting it as the beginning of the holiday offerings which inundate us every December.

very tasty

I talk about it here, but this year I'm photographing everything. Then, you'll see. Because you don't get it, I know you don't. But you'll see.*


*of course, it's possible this Christmas things will change, and we won't get so much. That would be okay. 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

another reason to be thankful, or Where's the stuffing?

but I didn't even really hear that question.

I worked hard Monday, yesterday and today cooking for Thanksgiving dinner. I suppose I was a little bleary-eyed when we sat down. There were three of us, and our friend and my brother ate heartily, seeming to enjoy everything, taking extra helpings. Afterward, they retired to the living room while I did some cleanup.

we had a chicken this year

I was downstairs at the basement refrigerator when I remembered - and let out a yell. My brother came to the doorway, What's the matter? Did Dolly poop on the floor down there? 

No, I said, nothing like that. I just realized that I never served the stuffing. The STUFFING! Can you imagine? And nobody noticed.

And all I could be was thankful that the people I cook for are content to eat whatever I put on the table. Meanwhile, there are always leftovers.


the coldest Thanksgiving Day on record

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

night visitors

When Mr. Kibble comes out to eat after dark, we have to be sure to remove his dish when he's finished because there are other little neighbors who will appear, looking for food. One night I went to the back door and I was sure there was a Norway rat on our doorstep - I'd read about those very large creatures but never wanted to see one. It's back was to me, and when it turned I saw it was only a possum (I should say opossum, but nobody does around here), a rather slim one, which is why I thought he was a rat. What a relief! He scuttled off when I greeted him, but not before he finished off Mr. K's leavings.

Another night while Kibbelino was eating, a skunk ambled along - ambled is truly the right word for the skunk's travels; it's not exactly a direct path, but more like a little this way and a little that. His nose was leading him and he went sniffing around the shelter. I tried to scare him off - Mr. K. was oblivious - afraid he'd try to go inside, but interestingly, he paid me no heed. Either he was hard of hearing or they just aren't that sensitive to the presence of others. Or maybe just very focused. Thankfully, he wandered off. I find these visits so interesting, and feel sorry, especially in the cold.

-  from Stillmeadow and Sugarbridge:

"One morning, as I was about to open the door from our kitchen into a sort of garden-room where the tools of country living collect, I happened to glance through the upper glass panes first. In through the doorway open to the outside there stepped gaily a little black and white skunk. His eyes were very bright, and his coat as shiny, he gave off a fine feeling of vitality and alertness. I got the impression that he was smiling while he ambled  (see? same word!) about this place I considered my own, as though it were his own. Utterly off guard, he bit a piece out of a paper carton and spit it out, he tried the lid to the garbage pail, unsuccessfully; he considered a stray hickory nut and discarded it. I watched hypnotized, not daring to breathe. Finally he turned and scuttled out again, and at last I opened the door. There was no trace of noxious odor, and no dissertation upon the more desirable qualities of skunks could have convinced me as this brief experience had done that they are really rather amusing little fellows."


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

know your cat

Dolly's one of those cats who like to burrow. My brother always makes a spot for her under his bedspread, right beside the pillow; he knows just what she likes.


 She comes out for meals, briefly.

Monday, November 19, 2018

in the kitchen all day

trying to stay ahead of Thanksgiving.

I made applesauce, stock for the gravy, and the pie crust dough. Also boiled the sweet potatoes for pie.

And washed a lot of dishes.


Saturday, November 17, 2018

deliver us

O God of earth and altar,
Bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide,
Take not thy thunder from us,
But take away our pride.

From all that terror teaches,
From lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches
That comfort cruel men,
From sale and profanation
Of honor, and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation,
Deliver us, good Lord!

Tie in a living tether
The prince and priest and thrall,
Bind all our lives together,
Smite us and save us all;
In ire and exultation
Aflame with faith, and free,
Lift up a living nation,
A single sword to thee.

- G. K. Chesterton, from Magnificat, November 2018

Thursday, November 15, 2018

an early winter

We're having our first snow, as I write this. It's kind of early. It's been colder than mid-November usually is, but the early part of the month - at least - was very nice.

a bright afternoon from the other day

I'm a sucker for nicely photographed food, and today I tried something torn from a past magazine. Baked butternut squash, with the flesh scooped out and mixed with goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts, topped with sage leaves, and baked again. It was just okay. But I suppose with the amounts adjusted: less cheese, nuts sprinkled on top, maybe, and don't eat the sage leaves whatever you do    
(bitter!), it might be very nice.  Oh, well.

I also made bread today. I don't want to eat bread a lot, but I love to make it. A dilemma! I decided to keep making it - breadcrumbs are always handy, if it comes to that. 

Mr. Kibble's hutch is off the ground, about ten inches, I think. I think he'll be okay in the snow - we may get that much before it turns to rain. We are concerned about how the winter will be for him in there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"let strife and tumult cease"

Let all that now unites us
More true and lasting prove,
A closer bond of union,
In a blest land of love.
Let war be learned no longer,
Let strife and tumult cease,
All earth his blessed kingdom,
The Lord and Prince of peace.

-  from Magnificat, November 2018

Monday, November 12, 2018

big rabbit through the window

taken through a foggy window

A big rabbit stopped a while in our back yard this afternoon. They do that sometimes, keeping completely still; he was only there about five minutes but I've seen them stop longer than that, twenty minutes or more.

He was really large, an older rabbit?


And then he was gone.

I don't think Mr. Kibble saw him. He continues to eat us into the poor house but otherwise appeared to have a good day, sunning on our back step in the cool but beautiful weather. My brother got the idea to clean the big outside glass on the picture window, and I was happy to help and be outside, but that's it - the air is too cold now and the other windows will have to get a lick and a promise.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

yarn along, Robin Hood and Gladys Taber

I started to knit a poncho, so I can join Ginny's yarnalong this month. I was never keen on ponchos, until I bought one from Lands End overstocks - wool rich, for fifteen dollars. I figured it might come in handy. It did, but after washing it gently in the washer every spring for a few years it felted enough so that it's too constricting now. And I miss having a poncho.



The pattern is on Ravelry, it's a Coats and Clark design by Marilyn Coleman, very poorly photographed. The yarn is Cascade 220 aran superwash. I wanted it warm, but washable. It isn't cheap to knit a poncho if you want some substance to it, so this pattern and this yarn seemed the best course. Let's hope.


I read too many things at once. But I'm trying to focus on the bottom two, which are interlibrary loans. The scenery descriptions in Robin Hood evoke everybody's ideal of merry old England, which is just delightful; Stillmeadow and Sugarbridge consists of letters written between Gladys Taber and Barbara Shenton. These women were so articulate, their letters so eloquently descriptive of their normal everyday lives, I feel like a dope because I know I couldn't do that. Of course, I don't try very hard, either; I'm a poor correspondent. But it makes you feel like you should try.

Dear Barbara, 
   So far as I know, none of our dogs has ever caught a frog. But I can hear the popping sounds all day as the poor things leap back into the water as the Irish [setter] lunges at them. When I go down to swim, one very green, very wise frog sits by the stone steps and waits for me, and he knows nobody is going to disturb him. He blinks a watery eye and just watches. He is the first frog I have ever known personally and we have nice little visits. ...

Dear Gladys,
   This morning as we sat at breakfast on the terrace, chairs pleasantly damp and cool from last night's rain, our own mockingbird singing incidental music and the trumpet vine nodding to us in a sunburst of bloom from the top of the gum tree, we cast a contemplative and, in the direction of Stillmeadow, a nostalgic glance back over our finally-realized trip.

I think I would feel better if I knew they had used the typewriter, at least.



Wednesday, November 7, 2018

bubble and squeak


I made Bubble and Squeak the other day. It tasted good, I'd never had Stilton before; but the recipe wanted me to melt butter in the skillet and heat up the potato and cabbage with very little stirring so as to form a crusty bottom. I don't think I'm good at this - how do you check it? Anyway, it wasn't very crusty, but when everything mixed up together, it tasted good and I think that's what matters. Served with sausages and carrots.

It called for chutney, so now I have to find a use for the rest of it.



Tuesday, November 6, 2018

tomorrows

Now that we're back on Standard Time, it is nice to have more light in the mornings. When it isn't raining, that is. It was pretty dark much of today, but yesterday morning this appeared outside my window


I have to say something about the elections. We went after work, right at a few minutes after five. We knew turnout was high, but thought we would avoid the worst of it, since most people would just be getting out of work and still on the way home. Well, there were still long lines;  as soon as we entered the building the line began, then anyone living on a street beginning with H through M had to wait longest - obviously there are too many streets in my town with names starting with those letters! I waited around ten minutes. After checking in and getting my ballot, there was another long line to wait for a spot to fill out the paper ballot, and there were lots of spaces. The whole business took about half an hour. There were several questions on the ballot, also, way more than usual. Now we will wait and see.

Now fades all earthly splendor,
The shades of night descend;
The dying of the daylight
Foretells creation's end.
Though noon gives place to sunset,
Yet dark gives place to light:
The promise of tomorrow
With dawn's new hope is bright.

- from Magnificat

Monday, November 5, 2018

the call

"The call is clear and simple
'Love God and humankind',
But love demands much wisdom
And clarity of mind.

'Be wily as a serpent,
though gentle as a dove',
For many are the dangers
upon the path of love.

O wise and holy Lover,
Teach us as seasons turn
To know ourselves and others
Deep, honest love to learn.

So may we nurture living
In all we say and do,
In strong and gentle giving
To humankind and you."

-  from Magnificat, November, 2018

Sunday, November 4, 2018

blue today, rain tomorrow

Today we went to visit an older lady who used to live in our neighborhood - she had moved south thirty years ago but has come north again to an assisted living place. The day was beautiful; there's lots of russet, but also reds, now that the burning bush (euonymus) has turned. I'm told it's invasive, but it makes such a beautiful display in November - I love it.

The place was very prettily landscaped, and there a few of these trees around -


medium sized, filled with red berries. It was stunning, whatever it is.

At home I planned to bake some fish, which is my Sunday dinner go-to when pressed for time. Well, the cod wasn't thawed, but the freezer came to my rescue: I found some leftover chicken parts and macaroni and cheese; I cooked green beans and heated a bit of soup from the other day. It was enough!

I haven't said much about Mr. Kibble lately - but, I was amazed when my brother told me Mr. K is rubbing against his legs and the food bowl when he feeds him! My brother crouches down near him with the food and he acts just like a cat - I saw it! Of course, when he walks by him on the back step, Kibble "attacks" his legs, as usual. Funny fellow.

Rain (again) tomorrow.   "But rain, I've been thinking, is to plants as love is to men. They never have enough of it. ...Does anyone ever have enough love and attention? I myself have not yet discovered a person who could not accept a bit more. ..It might well be the cure for every evil." - Gladys Taber
I suppose I should try to stop complaining about so much rain, and think of it as plant love.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

such November

Today was so Novembery - rain the first part of the day, quite heavy at times, windy, but then it would seem to clear up, the sky deep blue and the sun bright, with light on the yellow leaves making them turn bronze against dark clouds; wind gusts, bright sun, dark clouds, red, green, golden, russet, everything blowing and bright, bright, bright when the sun appeared, mild early, turning brisk later. How do you describe such a scene? Only in certain parts of the world, and only in November. I picked up my camera so many times as I was doing laundry, dishes, whatever, amazed at the views, even though it's always the same scenes on this blog, the things I photograph as I'm doing my thing here. It doesn't matter how many times I see it over the years, it is always fabulous and wonderful.

this one doesn't show the drama


imagine the leaves glittering in bronze against a dark cloud

this one is pretty accurate

And far more fantastic than shown here by my poor photography skills. What a day!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

candy with heart

So we had 161 trick-or-treaters last night; it goes up a little every year, it seems. We were relieved Mr. Kibble didn't seem bothered by the comings and goings. But there's too much candy left - and of course it's all stuff we like. I definitely ate too much today and now it must be passed on.

Yesterday Katie brought in candy corn for the library patrons - candy corn does not tempt me, only chocolate candy calls to me. But it's a favorite of hers so she was having some when she found


one that had a heart on it! At first I thought it was a randomly deliberate thing, but that isn't likely, is it? One?  So it's a very funny fluke, but of course it brought Val to mind, Val who looks for hearts everywhere, and who lives very near the site of the synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh. May God give comfort to everyone involved!



Sunday, October 28, 2018

Go, Red Sox!

They have won the World Series.  In their cute "away" uniforms.

internet photo from game 4


Saturday, October 27, 2018

a fine day

Debra and I went to our favorite lunch place today.


It was the perfect day for it; we were having a nor'easter, with heavy bands of rain whipped along by gusty winds. Lots of colorful leaves are on the ground now.  But we were inside, eating our omelets and drinking hot tea. This place has mismatched dishware, flowers at every table, the work of local artists hanging everywhere you look. There is a fireplace for the cold months with a poem or pleasant saying on a large blackboard above, a quiet atmosphere prevailing where they don't rush you out near closing time. I am not sure if omelets or charm is their specialty - both, I guess.

It was so pleasant. Didn't leave me much time to get things done at home, though. And October is almost gone, with no windows washed! I always wash them in October, but this year it was rainy and too cool. I will have to regroup.

"Sometimes when I have a day with many small things going awry, I suddenly think as dusk lets fall her soft violet color, that it is very silly of me to mind the stresses and strains. It was a day, was it not? I had the free air to breathe, and the sky to look on. Why should I complain? ...  A day is a fine thing, and we shall never see this day again.

It is not a thing to take too easily."

                                   -   Gladys Taber, from Stillmeadow and Sugarbridge

Thursday, October 25, 2018

awestruck

Each spring I photograph the cherry tree in the front yard. And every fall I have to photograph the swamp maple in the back. It's the brightest thing on our property.


Some years it glows with red but not this time


this year, orange. I'm always awestruck by it.



Tuesday, October 23, 2018

wisdom from Lucretia Garfield

I borrowed a cookbook from the library, favorite recipes of all the First Ladies up to Lyndon Johnson's time in office. It's rather disappointing - they ate lots of white sauces and thick sorts of foods which are so different from our modern tastes. But this caught my eye about President Garfield's wife, Lucretia:

"Mrs. Garfield had been compelled in the early years to take on many domestic chores for her family which were not always as appealing to her as literary and cultural affairs. Long years before she became the First Lady, while she was deep in the mundane task of kneading bread for her household, she had developed a philosophy of life, which became an integral part of her. ..Making great batches of bread appeared to be an inescapable duty, so she determined that she would overcome her dislike for this chore by taking a very special interest in it. .. she wrote:

The whole of life became brighter. The very sunshine seemed to be flowing down through my spirit into the white loaves, and now I believe my table is furnished with better bread than ever before; and this truth, as old as creation, seems just now to have become fully mine - that I need not be the shrinking slave of toil, but its regal master."


-  from The First Ladies Cook Book