Thursday, October 18, 2018

doing our daily duty

"The dimensions of paradise in us comprise the large-hearted and minute accomplishment of our duties each day... Doing our daily duty involves being glad to be where we are so that the Kingdom of God may reach us, may spread across this piece of earth that is ourselves; it is accepting as a large act of obedience the matter that we are made of, the family of which we are a member, the profession that we belong to, the people who are ours, the continent which surrounds us, the world we are inserted into, and the time that we are living in. .. It is in paying this debt in contributions of one cent at a time each second that make us just."

                                                              - Madeleine Delbrel,  from Magnificat, October 2018

not September

This is what I call a September sky. At least, where we live.

Trouble is, it's twenty degrees too cold. And it's not September. And I guess I'm just a complainer.

Now I'll look forward to some proper October weather. Otherwise, it's a long time until April.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

thinking of next summer already

At the height of summer's heat, I found myself longing for a slip of a dress (or two) to just throw over my head and be cool. I purchased fabric for two dresses, but couldn't get to them in time. Still, I don't want to leave them until next year. I just finished one, an orange gingham

and the other is a chambray with an all-over white floral. They will be so nice when the time comes!

Monday, October 15, 2018


We picked the green tomatoes at the same time.

There's one in every group, isn't there?

Saturday, October 13, 2018

the advantages of a well thought-out shopping list

As soon as I entered the supermarket, I realized I'd left the coupons, the money and the shopping list at home. So I went from memory.

I didn't forget a thing, except the cans of beets for the local shelter! I guess my memory isn't as bad as I've been thinking.

Saturday doin's

I had to put on shoes today, and it's only mid October. I so didn't want to! But when it's raining (again) and in the fifties, well.

I don't think our heat has come on yet, but when I'm home I make a point to use the oven, if possible and that helps to warm up the house, along with other cooking and my ever present ironing.

There are our own squashes! I fit them all in the roasting pan and cooked them up first thing today. Acorn squash are so hard to cut - I just poke a few holes in each and roast them whole. What beauties!

Otherwise, outside it looks more like November in places.

But I can never resist the silhouettes of almost-bare trees.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

next year, bush beans

We never got many green beans this year, from that late-blooming beanstalk outside our door; the blossoms just appeared too late, and we wanted to end the garden and put Mr. K's shelter over there near the outlet for the heated cat bed.

My brother said, "Next year, I'm going back to bush beans."

Saturday, October 6, 2018

a nice dream

"Try being governed by those who can still look at the stars at night, or spend an hour watching a beetle under a dry leaf in the forest, or dream over a glow worm in a field of May wheat."

                                                                 -  Carlo Carretto, from Magnificat, October 2018

Friday, October 5, 2018

autumn with Robin Hood

"...the time of fall had come, bringing with it its own pleasures and joyousness; for now, when the harvest was gathered home, merry bands of gleaners roamed the country about, singing along the roads in the daytime, and sleeping beneath the hedgerows and the hayricks at night. Now the hips burned red in the tangled thickets and the haws waxed black in the hedgerows, the stubble lay all crisp and naked to the sky, and the green leaves were fast turning russet and brown. Also, at this merry season, good things of the year are gathered in in great store.
  So passed the seasons then, so they pass now, and so they will pass in time to come, whilst we come and go like leaves of the tree that fall and are soon forgotten."

                                         -      Robin Hood, by Howard Pyle

I am so enjoying this delightful book!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

a little gift

Beth came by the library and was bemoaning her overflow of zucchini and cukes.

She came by another day with two jars of relish for me. Tucked neatly into a crocheted bag - she is an ace crocheter.

just big enough for two jelly jars

We used up the relish almost immediately. I had made a meatloaf, so we just had the zucchini relish with it, in lieu of gravy. I mixed some of the cucumber relish in with some tuna salad the next day. Home grown, homemade and very welcome!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

a good day for Mr. Kibble

I haven't said much about our little friend lately, but there is always so much that could be said.

Mr. Kibble had stopped using the shelter about two months ago, and my brother was afraid it was his fault - he had brought the food dish and put it inside while Mr. K. was in there. We weren't sure this was the reason, but it's quite possible that the little fellow had thought his whereabouts were a secret.

Meanwhile, the kitchen garden plants got pulled up a week ago and the shelter moved back near the outlet; it's been getting cooler and now it's near the outlet so the heated beds can be turned on. But he didn't seem to pay it any attention.

Then my brother started putting Mr. Kibble's food bowl right outside the entrance - he would eat, and then come back to us for more, maybe glancing inside briefly. We would later see him sleeping in our flower beds (no flowers, just shrubs) in front of the house, on the mulch. He really seemed to like it in there, sometimes where it gave him a good view of the road, and others right behind and under the rhododendron. And when it rained, as it has so often lately, underneath the picture window which juts out enough to keep him dry.

on a dry day

But we hated to see it - a warm, dry shelter waiting for him, while he spent a wet night in a flower bed. It was sad. We wondered if he'd ever forget his negative experience in the shelter and give it another try. 

Well, I have to credit my brother's persistence in putting that food dish right near the shelter - this morning we saw him exit the place before he came up to get food! Hallelujah! I think he's in there now. I'm grateful. Yesterday was rain all day, and I saw him in the front bed but around suppertime the rain got heavy and there was thunder. Maybe that was the deciding factor. I asked St. Joseph to please see if he could get him into the place, and lo! 

This makes us feel a little better with winter coming on. Meanwhile, Diane came by the other day and it seems she may try and get him inside again this year - we'll see. If he only knew the plotting and planning which whirls around the thought of him!

two in one

When I sew, I tend to take my time; I am prone to hastiness, which often leads to error, which I then have to fix. But I do think it takes me too long to make a project.

I finished the apron the other day. It's plain, but I didn't have any appealing ideas for decoration, so that's what it will be, but it is reversible.

One side is this soft green all-over print and the other is

this, which if you're a lover of the Old Country Roses china pattern, will be familiar to you.

I was copying the apron Margaret sent me a few years ago  -

a very simple shape which I used for a pattern. Hers is not reversible; she used three fabrics for this: the large floral, the solid light blue and a bold stripe on the inside

as a channel for the ties.

I had three fabrics, the two above and a solid green. But I couldn't decide which of the two prints would look better for the main apron piece. I'm not good at imagining how a finished thing will look and I couldn't "see" if the green floral with a pocket from the larger floral would look better, or the other way around. I was going to use the solid green for the tie and other areas of trim. While my mind was dithering, I saw this on pinterest:

basically the same shape, but reversible! So that decided me. But this one has sewn-on ties, and I wanted to use Margaret's method.

I don't if she made this up or used a pattern, but the way the ties work is a pretty good idea. There is one long (88 inches) tie which runs through a channel of bias binding on the wrong side of the apron; it goes around your neck and when you tie it in the back, it adjusts to your size by scrunching up along the channel. Do you get what I'm saying?

See the scrunching?

Because I was using two layers, I didn't need to make any binding, I just sewed a certain distance away from the curved side edges and made the channel that way, leaving openings at either end. For the tie, I used a length of double fold bias and stitched the edges together. 

It's so plain because I was afraid a pocket on one side would make it bulky and less attractive when wearing the other side. This is a gift for a young woman friend of Debra's who just got married - I barely know her, but I know she has one apron. I knew she needed another. Now she will have three options!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

more from Gladys

"To make a home beautiful, to create a good family life, seems to me a job as important and dignified as any, and there is no reason why pushing a vacuum cleaner is incompatible with thinking about Plato or Aristotle or Parker's Aesthetics."

                                              - Gladys Taber

Saturday, September 29, 2018

"art in the small ways of living"

"How much art there can be,... in the small ways of living. Sometimes we get lazy, but I think the effort spent in putting an ironstone bowl of pine branches on the table is well spent. And getting out the fragile grandmother china is worth it too. Often we do not bother to use the small gracious touches, and it is a pity. For no matter what heaven may be like, there is no use just waiting for it."

                                                 -   Gladys Taber

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

the day's work

"Even if the work of each day has been perfectly achieved we don't know what use the Lord is going to make of it...and if it is extremely clumsy and poorly done we know even less how it will be used.

All we know is that anything surrendered to God is never lost."

                                         -  Madeleine Delbrel,  from Magnificat, September 2018

Monday, September 24, 2018

blue heron

A blue heron stopped by yesterday; I saw him out my window, a tall slim creature with legs like a stork. This might be the third time one has happened along; quite a few years ago a heron perched on the garage next door for ages while kids waited for the school bus.

It took him a while to decide on the best course. Meanwhile, he walked along the brook's edge and startled one of Diane's cats who was on the other side. Then, he opened his wings and flew over the house - I heard a soft thud. On the roof!

My brother got the best shot of him.

He stayed a short while.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

not quite like September

We haven't had a day yet that I would consider a quintessential September day. Crisp, clear air and deep blue sky, wonderful for doing anything out of doors. Today began in a promising fashion but ended up mostly cloudy, and feeling a little damp. I stayed in and had much to do.

Still, since fall begins today (in about fifteen minutes) I made more effort than I usually do for a Saturday dinner and I baked a pumpkin pie. I happened to have a can of pumpkin and got a whim to make it, except I had no cream, no milk. Only coconut milk and I was determined. Aside from taking a half hour extra to set, it's very good! A little sweet, maybe.

When my brother mowed across the brook, he left this grouping of wildflowers alone -

I'll have to look them up.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

cute faces

My brother always says that Sweetie has a sad expression. (she's not sad, just her expression!)

The other day it suddenly occurred to me who she reminds me of. I thought of this image:

and this one:

The first illustration is Alice (in Wonderland) and her cat, by John Tenniel; the second is from Tom Kitten, by Beatrix Potter. She has the same flattish face and round eyes, although they are kittens and have bigger eyes. Still. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

how the other half lives

Mr. Kibble, this morning. He came around, but didn't seem very hungry; it's hard to know the reason. But he sat there and looked at us. The other two were sleeping in different rooms, so my brother closed them in and then he propped open the back screen door.

He watched us, but didn't come in.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Sunday, September 16, 2018

His plan

Our God, supreme and good,
how richly you have loved!
But nations die for lack of food,
and are we still unmoved?

So keen to eat and drink,
so anxious what we wear!
Our God, reverse the way we think
and teach us how to share.

You made your purpose known
by one rejected man;
the earth his bed, a cross his throne,
new life for all, his plan.

- Christopher Idle, from Magnificat

Monday, September 10, 2018

very snug

Today I used the oven a lot, which warmed up the house - it's amazing how fast things can cool off after excessive heat and humidity. One day of moderate temperatures followed by a rainy one only in the sixties, but I made good use of my time.

I first did some mending and worked on the apron, but then I was eager to try a new bread method I stumbled on yesterday, on youtube. One loaf, using only a quarter teaspoon of yeast! And very hot water. It came out well; I can see myself using this method in high summer perhaps - the oven temperature was high - 450 - but almost no work. The flavor that you get from using cold water and a long rise isn't there, but it does have a nice flavor - just different.

When the bread came out, in went some peppers from the garden, to roast - same temperature. Then, to use up some plain yogurt, I made Winnie-the-Pooh's chocolate tea bread. Everything's in the freezer now. The peppers are sitting in the fridge, in some olive oil. Did a bit of ironing, and the house feels very cozy.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

why I love Gladys Taber

"I suppose maturity might be defined as a willingness to shell peas. When I was growing up, I would do almost anything to avoid sitting down with a mess of peas to shell. No matter how fast and hard you work, you get a bushel basket of pods on one side and a scattering of small peas just covering the bottom of a small pan on the other. I found it absolutely maddening.

But now I don't mind. I like the smoothness of the pods and the clear green color. And I appreciate the delicate savor of new peas enough to feel rewarded for the effort.

Besides, I have learned that the mind can wander at will while one does the routine tasks, which is one reason housework never has to be dull. Sometimes when the peas plop softly in the pan, I remember places I have been. Like Williamsburg when the redbud is a singing color against the Virginia blue sky. Or crossing the James River at Jamestown about sunset with the sun going down in a deep sky and the lonely stone church tower of the old settlement slowly sinking into the first dark. Or walking on the beach at Ephraim, in Wisconsin, with the lake water rolling in pure and cold over polished white stones, and the sky there is a darker, cooler blue than the Southern sky.

...Here in Connecticut, I often feel I could pick a bouquet of stars on a June night, but I never have that feeling in New York, for the stars are remote there... But in the country, the earth grows dark at night, dark is the meadow, and dark are the hills. So the glory of the sky is fully visible and country folk look up a good deal...It is obvious that man is small and should be humble.

Thinking of the places I have been, I can find the peas are all shelled and I have not been bored at all. And there is a nice panful to cook with a mint leaf for lunch."

                                                - from Stillmeadow Seasons, pub. 1950

Friday, September 7, 2018

sewing patches

Something else from Magnificat:

Think of some very humble and ordinary form of making, like the sewing of a patch on a coat. You can regard it as drudgery, and do it with careless or perhaps with savage impatience; and then you turn it into a job...

You can regard the patch very differently. You can do it with pride in your workmanship, so that it becomes a thing of beauty; then you are already an artist. You can do it with love, and so turn it into love-making; and then you are twice an artist. You can do it as an act of worship of God - "I patch this coat for this poor child for whom I am forever responsible as a part of our life together that you have given us and that we turn into worship of you" and then you are three times an artist; you are completely alive. And why should not every action that you do be like this? But we are enslaved by a system that despises art and has no room for love and reverence; and so we can be excused if we think sometimes that the end draws near; the soil is stale.

- Fr. Gerald Vann

Thursday, September 6, 2018

finding the harmony

This was in Magnificat today, and I thought it interesting -

   "Our whole life is an effort towards this unity, this harmony, that we feel the need to recover. It is in the friendship of God that we can, insofar as it is possible, find it again. Is all of this of practical importance? Yes, it explains both our need for the infinite and our powerlessness to attain it.

 'Doctor Faustus', who sought light, knowledge, wisdom, and happiness, could not find them either in study, love, or sorcery, nor in all that the world offered him, because he should have sought them in the supernatural. Why does man glorify sin? Why is there something religious in the sin of man? What gives sin its mystical savor? Because man has a need for the infinite, and because, not having the courage to ascend high enough, he ends up by deifying his desires.

 Human life is made up of this conflict between man and his weakness, because he has lost his unity. All literature can be studied in his light, and it will be noted, for example, how poets and novelists often permeate all the desires of the flesh with this attraction of the divine."

                                                    -   Fr. Maurice Zundel

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

a new name

Well, not entirely.

I was just thinking of Mr. Kibble - his chronic upper respiratory congestion, his missing teeth, his stressed-out hissing and swiping at us. And it kept coming to me about a name, a first name for him. And Francis kept coming to my mind.

We'll still call him Mr. Kibble, but now he has the dignity of a first and a middle name.

Francis Joseph Kibble.

Monday, September 3, 2018

copying an apron

I'm going to make an apron for someone, and even though I have a few patterns, I decided to copy the one Margaret sent me. 

I think it'll be pretty straightforward.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

what matters

"...sundials mark only the hours that shine"

                                                        -  Gladys TaberStillmeadow Seasons

Thursday, August 30, 2018

what faith isn't

" is not some backwoods idea that we attach to our real experiences and bring along with us as our spiritual luggage; and that rebellion, doing it oneself, ("building a better world"), is not the last cry of reason, but that on the contrary the person who rebels and insists on doing it all himself or herself is the person who does not understand and does not perceive who he or she is and what the world is. Faith is not some abstruse philosophy but finding one's way to wisdom, to understanding, to objectivity, to becoming aware of the whole of reality."

                                     -     Pope Benedict XVI from Magnificat, August 2018

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

at last, blossoms

I took this photo of the bean stalks over the weekend. It's really something to come out of the house and have this big, leafy thing on your right. But -

I was all prepared to tell the awful truth: that it may be an impressive looking beanstalk, but there has been nary a bean to be found on it.

And then, it finally happened - the next day, actually. On Monday, we saw blossoms!

Some pretty yellow ones

and some pretty white ones! And they're fragrant. I don't know why the two colors - it's all supposed to be Blue Lake.

But anyway - at last, blossoms!