Monday, August 13, 2018

summer dresses

I made another dress with my go-to pattern: a pull over the head a-line with short sleeves in a crisp quilting cotton, sort of a chartreuse with little orange metallic hash marks all over it. It looks much nicer than it sounds. 

Two previous dresses from this pattern are unwearable now for reasons I should be ashamed to admit; I had put them together so hastily that I did nothing to finish off any of the seams. Consequently, after a few washings the seam allowances raveled and then the seams became compromised with no way to repair them without making the dress smaller by taking in everything. Won't do that again!

After the chartreuse dress, I reached up to my stash shelf, pulled down some medium weight linen, and asked myself what I could do with it. I decided that the same dress would be nice, only sleeveless and with some wide lace sewn at the bottom. So, that's what I'm in the middle of now.

It's not as warmly colored as this photo; it's a deep warm blue and the bindings (I don't like facings) are gray. The lace hem will be the tricky part.

the land of Fancy

"Here is a country bearing a well-known name, wherein no chill mists press upon our spirits, and no rain falls but what rolls off our backs like April showers off the backs of sleek drakes; where flowers bloom forever and birds are always singing; where every fellow hath a merry catch as he travels the roads, and ale and beer and wine flow like water in a brook.

This country is not Fairy-land. What is it? 'Tis the land of Fancy, and it is of that pleasant kind that, when you tire of it, - whisk! - you clap the leaves of this book together and 'tis gone, and you are ready for every-day life, with no harm done."

                                                    -  from the preface to Robin Hood, by Howard Pyle

Saturday, August 11, 2018

another day, another baseball game

I was folding laundry in the spare bedroom and I heard someone talking. Had my brother left his radio on? But I would have heard it before. It sounded like it was in my room.

Sweetie was in the window, but my radio was turned on to - you guessed it - the ball game. She has done this before. And while I stood there, they got two home runs. I guess she's a real fan.

But she doesn't talk about it.

Friday, August 10, 2018

keeping dry

There's a flash flood watch for our area from about now, until eight on Sunday morning. Where do outdoor cats go to stay dry?

After not seeing Mr. K. at all Wednesday or Thursday, he came this morning, later than his usual morning appearance, which is somewhere between four thirty and five fifteen. I asked him where he'd been, but he didn't say. We assume - and hope - that he's been over at Diane's. 

He has finally "discovered" the cat shelter and been utilizing it, which is huge to us. My brother tried last summer to get him into it and he did go in once, but Yogi was near and went in after him - Mr. Kibble just ran out the exit and took off. This year, he seems to have used it on some cooler nights for sleeping (it's hard to know exactly, as we don't want to peer into it and put him off), and when it's a bit warmer, resting on top as he's doing above. But it's been so hot recently that I think he's gone to  more leafy, shady places to snooze.  

The other day I fed him supper and then some thunder and lightning started up; I hoped he'd go into the shelter and realize that he could stay dry in there, but it didn't seem like he did. It's hard to know why animals do anything they do, there could be so many reasons. I'm sure that heavy rain would be loud on the roof, so that would probably scare him. I just hope he stays away from the brook area tomorrow, because after a heavy rain last week, it became a torrent (like last year)

Thursday, August 9, 2018

such easy iced tea

I used to make iced tea like this - which is the usual way, I think, unless you use a mix. Boil the water, steep the tea, and chill. But last year Carmella said she just puts cold water in a pitcher with tea bags and refrigerates it, removing the bags the next day. What an idea!

So that's what I do now, except I put it in a half-gallon mason jar and it goes fast.

Monday, August 6, 2018

hugging the fans

That's what we've been doing on this beautiful and very hot day. But now I'm putting on the AC.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Mr. Kibble: trying to help

Well, I left off last time where Diane had managed to get Mr. Kibble into her house. She later told me she was concerned that he wouldn't make it through the winter, so she and her husband managed to trap him in a large carrier they had. She is not afraid of cats, but I guess he kind of went crazy after being captured, but they got the whole business into the basement and left him alone for a while.

Later, she went down intending to let him out, but couldn't get near the door of it; she didn't describe his behavior to me, but I guess it was pretty wild -  she was at a loss until she eventually thought to remove the pins from the back of the contraption to take it apart, and then she ran upstairs. A few hours later, he had calmed down.

sunning himself recently atop the cat shelter - his new home, I guess!

This was early November, and they intended to keep him inside unless they could be sure he would stay close to home. He kept to himself downstairs most of the time; the other cats would go down, but there was never any trouble. Eventually, he did come upstairs at feeding times where he'd wait for food with the others, and that went well. 

But one day, there was a fight with one of her females, the only one of her cats who hasn't been neutered, a female house cat. Mr. K. bit her on the paw and stomach.  Diane felt she had to let him out. She doesn't know who started it, but she had to think of her own cat's safety. This was in mid-May. I didn't know any of this until one fine spring day I looked out to see him coming up our driveway; I called Diane and she told me the story.

So, between the two of us, and an elderly neighbor who also keeps dry cat food out, we have been trying very hard to keep our eyes peeled for him to keep him near so he won't be tempted to wander where we won't know how he is. 

To be continued. 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

greenly summer

In spite of the extreme humidity we've been having, and knowing I could barely survive without the air conditioning, I am still glad for the long hours of sun and the bright green everywhere, the sounds of summer through open windows and warm breezes when they blow.

I thank you God for this most amazing day, 
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees,
and for the blue dream of sky
and for everything which is natural,
which is infinite,
which is yes.

-  e.e. cummings

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

building the spiritual house

from Magnificat -

"All of us are given a spiritual 'house' to build, to live in, and to hand on to future generations: what will yours look like?"

from Psalm 127:
If the Lord does not build the house,
in vain do its builders labor;
if the Lord does not watch over the city,
in vain does the watchman keep vigil.

In vain is your earlier rising,
your going later to rest,
you who toil for the bread you eat:
when he pours gifts on his beloved while they slumber.

Monday, July 30, 2018

it takes all kinds

Debra was leaving town and had too many peaches; they were all ripe and did I want some? Yes!

After reminding my brother for the second time that we had some local peaches, and feeling guilty that I was eating them all, he said, "I suppose I could eat one as a penance." !! 

How strange - I tend to think of peaches as something which must be on Heaven's menu.

No more guilt.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

a little warning

I went to make ice cream the other day and poured a cup of milk into the blender, whereupon I saw a moth floating. Fortunately, I had more milk. Don't let this happen to you!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

our apprenticeship

"When we hold a newspaper upside down, we see the strange forms of the printed characters. When we turn it upright again, we do not see the characters. We see the words. A passenger in a boat seized by the tempest only knows the complex combination of wind, current, and swell with the position of the boat, its form, its sails, and its rudder.

In the same way that we learn to read or learn a trade, we must learn to sense in everything, above all and almost only, the obedience of the universe to God. This is truly an apprenticeship. Like an apprenticeship, it demands time and effort. For those who have completed their term, there is no more difference between things, between events, than the difference felt by someone who knows how to read the same phrases reproduced several times, written in red ink, in blue ink. or printed with this, that or other characters. Those who don't know how to read only see the differences. For those who know how to read, it is all equivalent since the phrase is the same. For the one who achieves apprenticeship, things and events, everywhere and always, are the vibrations of the same, infinitely fresh (sweet) divine word."

                                                            -  Simone Weil,  from Magnificat, July 2018

Monday, July 23, 2018

Mr. Kibble: the current situation

One morning a year ago, we were getting ready for work, when I saw a cat on a lower back step, stretched out and resting. It was Mr. Kibble - we had not seen him for eight or nine months, which was nothing unusual. He meowed, which was.

My brother had been feeding the cats anyway (it's his job in the mornings), so he got some food ready and stepped outside with it. That's when we noticed Mr. K's condition. His coat looked dusty and dull and he had a desperate air about him; and, more alarming, his movements were very awkward.

This photo was taken that day - his paws are far apart because his balance was so off, and he looked up at us with a weird angle to his neck.

Every time we went out to refresh his food he would hastily and awkwardly back down the stairs and it was plain he had some sort of neurological issue. He'd always seemed to have a peaceful dignity to me, and now it was gone. I was afraid he had a degenerative disease or a parasite.

My brother left the house before I did, so I watched Mr. Kibble to see where he would go. He ambled through the back yard toward the bridge and underneath it, but fell over on his left side two or three times along the way. He had no trouble getting up again, however.

The next day I spoke to Diane, who was as alarmed as we were over his condition. It turns out she was more familiar with him than we - she said he'd been coming around for ten years or so, and didn't make trouble with her cats, but she had never been able to get near him. We determined to keep our eyes on him.

We watched for his appearance every day at mid-morning and in the evenings in case he showed up.  My brother moved the cat shelter near the house and cut another entrance to it near the railing, so he could easily get inside from the step; we had all sorts of plans to try and get him used to going inside, so when winter came, he'd be safe and nearby. But after three weeks he stopped coming, and we had no idea what happened. The logical thing would have been to call Diane, but since we're not actually chummy, I never did.

Meanwhile, Cyndi came over with her new Ragdoll kitten. She lives a mile away, and it seems she has a neighbor who feeds and shelters stray cats. It turns out that Mr. Kibble had been that way just a couple of months before! I had no idea cats roamed so far. So the time went by, with us often looking out the windows for him, but afraid something terrible had happened.

Then one day in late October I was making dinner - it was a beautiful day and in between cooking I stepped to the back; I noticed a black and white cat laying right underneath the screen door and when he looked up at me - it was Mr. Kibble! He was much improved - his coat was shiny and his movements were at least eighty percent better, I'd say. I saw him again a week later, and that was it, until we found out that Diane and her husband had managed to trap him and get him into her house before the cold weather came.

We figured he must have had a stroke, because cats can often recover from that, whereas if he had a disease it isn't likely he would have gotten better. I missed seeing him around, but he was safe in a house, and Diane told me she wasn't going to let him at all, unless she could be sure he wouldn't go back to his old wandering ways.

To be continued.

Mr. Kibble this spring

Sunday, July 22, 2018


"The servant of God, then, must believe without the slightest doubt that the invisible God is near him, yes, within him. He should stand before his eyes like a chaste spouse, with holy fear, with reverence and humility, saying with Elijah the prophet: The Lord lives, in whose sight I stand. Often also should he repeat such words as these within himself: The Lord is here; the Lord sees me. When he has been much distracted, he may easily bring himself back to the remembrance of God's presence by these or suchlike words."

                                                      - Dom Blosius the Venerable, from Magnificat, July 2018

Saturday, July 21, 2018

kitchen garden

My brother is so organized in his gardening, and it's such a pleasant thing to look at. When we come out of the back door, we see the beans trained up the railing and then climbing some string tied to the awning.

From the driveway:

The other plants look wildly messy, don't they? But it's just the angle - it's really quite neat.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

just housework

I made new curtains for my brother's room today - his old ones were torn.

I used a sheet from the thrift store.

I guess I was preoccupied last week - we had a cookout for all the cousins on my mother's side of the family. There were sixteen adults and two little ones. It was very hot and humid, but we sat under trees and nobody minded. They did all enjoy it, but we hadn't entertained so many before, and there's a lot to think about, isn't there? I'm not sure what I could have done better; I'll have to think about it.
Dolly escaped out the back door twice, so we harnessed her up and she was a hit with little two year old Ollie, so patient with his pettings. She impressed everyone.

She peed on the new rug. (Sorry to mention such a thing, but I like to share.)

I brought it outside to spot wash. It's cotton, and not heavy, but it's inside now and still smells. The area is on an edge, thank God, so perhaps I can drag it to the tub sometime and soak that section. She ran outside this morning when I opened the front door for a delivery; ran to the neighbor's and actually started to climb his tree! I wanted to say, Dolly, do you know how old you are? She didn't go up, though, and I was able to grab her. Her fur was all fluffed up with the excitement. Mr. Kibble is outside at this moment, and I've never seen him abroad after dark before - we do worry about him, but how much can you do with a cat who won't let you touch him? Except give him food and water. I'll have to get back to that story.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

like dew and heat

"Thus says the Lord to me:

 I will quietly look on from where I dwell,
 like the glowing heat of sunshine,
 like a cloud of dew at harvest time."

- from Isaiah, chapter 18

Monday, July 9, 2018

"the shaping of everyday life"

"She loved beauty and she was creative, but her creativeness found its joy in the shaping of everyday life to a form of comeliness, so that it became not just something that one put up with, but something that was enjoyable and lovely in itself."

                                                   - from The Heart of the Family

Sunday, July 8, 2018

the present toil

"For what is the welcome of the host if behind it there is not the labour of the women? Through the years the three women had lit the fires and spread the sheets, scrubbed the floors and washed the dishes, polished the furniture and baked the bread, tended the children and nursed the sick, comforted the sorrowful and prayed for them. Caroline could never understand how women could dislike looking after a house, especially an old house like this one. Did they never pause sometimes and sit quietly as she was sitting now, and remember the other women and feel their present toil a part of that past toil? A sort of freshness came when one did that, as though the work were a clean wind or a running river that lived forever to cleanse impurities away."

                                                                  -  Elizabeth Goudge, The Heart of the Family

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

for Independence Day

Father of all nations and ages,
we recall the day when our country
claimed its place among the family of nations;
for what has been achieved we give you thanks,
for the work that still remains we ask your help,
and as you have called us from many peoples to be one nation,
grant that, under your providence,
our country may share your blessings
with all the peoples of the earth.

- collect from today's Mass for Independence Day

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

the journey

"This sense of futility... it's nothing - merely the reverse side of aspiration - and inevitable, just as failure is inevitable. Disregard them both. What can we expect when we aspire as we do, yet remain what we are? Struggle is divine in itself, but to ask to see it crowned with success is to ask for that sign which is forbidden to those who must travel by faith alone. Each fresh leap of the flame from the charred wood lights your footsteps a little farther through the dark."

                                                        - again, from The Herb of Grace

The lover of life holds life in his hand,
Like a ring for the bride,
The lover of life is free of dread;
The lover of life holds life in his hand,
As the hills hold the day.

But lust after life waves life like a brand,
For an ensign of pride.
The lust after life is life half-dead:
Yea, lust after life holds life like a brand,
Dreading air and the ray.

For the sake of life,
For that life is dear,
The lust after life
Clings to it fast.
For the sake of life,
For that life is fair,
The lover of life
Flings its broadcast.

The lover of life knows his labour divine,
And therein is at peace.
The lust after life craves a touch and a sign
That the life shall increase.

The lust after life in the chills of its lust
Claims a passport of death.
The lover of life sees the flame in our dust 
And a gift in our breath.

- George Meredith

like vintage port

"To get nicer and nicer you must love the sun and give good juice when you're bruised."

                                                             - from The Herb of Grace

Monday, July 2, 2018

the spirit of a house

"Both houses gave one the feeling of having been built from inside as well as from outside, as though the men and women who had made them...had put them forth bit by bit from their own souls and bodies ... And the strength of their blood and bones still lived on in the wood and stone of each house, plain for all to see, and something of their spirits lived on in the spirit of the house; and the spirit of the house, though so ancient, was not yet full-grown; it waited on those who would come for the perfect flowering."

   " Is that a holy image?  asked Jerry, gazing round-eyed at the deer.
    Yes, said Ben.
    What's a holy image? asked Jose, also round-eyed.
    Something someone makes for the love of God, said Ben steadily.
    Then a house could be a holy image, said Jerry.
    Yes, said Ben."

                                        - both quotes from The Herb of Grace


" was home-making that mattered. Every home was a brick in the great wall of decent living that men erected over and over again as a bulwark against the perpetual flooding in of evil. But women made the bricks, and the durableness of each civilization depended upon their quality; and it was no good weakening oneself by thinking too much about the flood."

                                                    -  Elizabeth GoudgeThe Herb of Grace

Sunday, July 1, 2018

"Why I Wake Early", by Mary Oliver

"Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety -

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light -
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness."

Thursday, June 28, 2018

bare floor in the living room

It's strange to see a bare floor in the living room - the cats are probably glad to lay on the coolness of it. Settling on a suitable area rug is not as simple as I imagined, but I think I know what I want to buy now.

Here is the best photo I've ever been able to take of the beautiful Yogi -

but I am very, very sorry to report that my brother found poor Yogi two streets over on Monday morning, and he'd been hit. He picked him up and brought him to Diane's; they found a box for her husband to bury him in. He was so alive last week! Here he is hovering over Mr. Kibble, which was getting to be a problem, I admit. Not a good way to end a problem, though, is it?

Good-bye, Yogi. But, please God, no more!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Dolly outside

I've been taking Dolly out on all my days off, when weather permits.

And we plan to continue.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

our good Henry

Yesterday morning at five thirty my brother came into my room and said that Henry was laying on the kitchen floor, and he thought he had died. Yes, he had - and he was still warm.  I have tears at the back of my eyes all the time.

my favorite picture of him - and so nice they both looked at the camera

Looking back, lately he has been a little slower to come to meals and sleeping more. He also hadn't been hanging out near the radio as usual. But - we finally got rid of the old living room rug, and I just imagined he didn't like laying on the bare floor, or didn't like the idea of change. But he probably just didn't feel that great; he had been staying on a little rug in my brother's room. Poor Henry! We didn't realize.

He lived with us for seven and a half years, and we didn't know where he came from or his age. So he may have been around Dolly's age - we just didn't expect to lose him yet. He didn't do what I thought cats always did at the end, hide way underneath places, and cry when they're dying. This is what I've experienced. But if Henry had cried out yesterday morning, I think one of us would have heard him, so I really think God was merciful to him and his heart just stopped or something like that. 

He was a pious cat. (We used to joke about this.) But we have a habit of praying a rosary decade on Sunday night, and he would always come by and stay near us. 

"meditating" at Christmas - silly, I suppose, but there it is

when we used to let him out, Henry visiting with our statue of St. Francis

The other cats' mealtimes are all messed up now, because Henry always knew exactly when it was noontime and when it was five o'clock or any time to eat. The others slept later today and then I suddenly remembered to feed them two hours past the right time. He almost always greeted you, even if you just walked by - he would make a little noise, like "huh", or some such. This seemed like good manners to me. He was often underfoot and could be so annoying, but he was always nearby, and I'm missing him so much.

Maybe I will think of more to say in coming days, but for now I'm getting too teary-eyed.

Let us pause in life's pleasures to count its many tears
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears,
Oh! Hard times, come again no more. 

'Tis the song, the cry of the weary,
Hard times, hard times, come again no more;
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door,
Oh! Hard times, come again no more.

While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay
There are frail forms fainting at the door;
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh! Hard times, come again no more.

'Tis the song, the cry of the weary,
Hard times, hard times, come again no more;
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door,
Oh! Hard times, come again no more.

- Stephen Foster

Good night, Henry!

(edited to add a photo - 6/24)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

"the evidence that the thing is there"

"Do you think all beauty is just the evidence of things not seen, David?, she had asked.

If it's anything it's that, he had said. I should say that faith is the belief in something that you don't understand yet, and beauty is the evidence that the thing is there."

                                          -  Elizabeth GoudgeThe Bird in the Tree  (emphasis mine)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

pretty, whatever it is

Outside the kitchen window used to be a forsythia, which got overtaken by a wild rose - was that link photo just taken a year ago?

Because that seems to have been totally replaced by this - something. It was windy, so hard to get a clear shot, but so beautiful!