Monday, October 19, 2020

everything you need to know

 My brother sees many people in his work and the talk is often about politics. But when complaints are made about a candidate, it often happens that the customer hasn't gone to the party's website and read their platform. This is frustrating, so with a great deal of time and effort, he got a URL and put as much information pertinent to this election on there; his name isn't on it and he's not tracking anything.

This is it, if you're curious.

 nothing to do with the election

Thursday, October 15, 2020

blue sky, low sugar and easy stew

 Today could only be described as magnificent - deep blue above, bright leaves, in the warm seventies and quite windy. I do like the wind. 

it was really bluer than this

I washed another window; it was a heavenly experience! Rain tomorrow, and then below sixty on Saturday; I was so fortunate to have this lovely day off.

Great news: Dolly had her blood tested again and it's down to 195! I'm amazed! This is about a hundred points below my expectation. 

I made stew in the crock-pot today - I definitely prefer it on the stove, where I can have more control while it's cooking. But the trade-off is that I was able to work around here all day and not have to think about dinner afterward.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

a warm light over all

 Today was very dark and gloomy, with rain pouring at times. But we know this water is needed rather desperately, so no complaining. After, when I came home from work and was moving about the kitchen, my eye kept going outside to the bright swamp maple all orangey, and another maple still green, but with many red-tipped leaves. And the light was yellow-ish - not eerie, not really golden, but a soft yellow tinge over everything. So I took a picture.

I don't think this photo really captures it, but it's all I've got. You'll just have to take my word for it. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

a better acquaintance with the slow cooker

 My crock-pot is an older model, but it still works fine. I recently had the notion to utilize it more, not only for slow cooked recipes but also adapting others. 

So, I read the little booklet and learned what I need to know for adapting recipes. I find it preferable to not have so much kitchen work at the end of the day, after doing housework; to have most of it done is such a relief. 

Anyway, I adapted an apple cider chicken recipe, which was nice, but I made it again with some ingredient changes and that was even better! Thursday I think I'll use the pot for beef stew. 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Queen Dolly

 I saw something I Never thought I'd see. Sweetie was scratching around in the litter box (we are keeping one in the living room now) and Dolly passed by. She stopped and bopped Sweetie on the head! I was ready to panic, thinking there'd be a fight; Sweetie has always been so unpredictable. Does Dolly remember how for almost four years she avoided Sweetie and was apprehensive all the time? Maybe, but maybe not. 

Meanwhile, Sweetie had no problem with it! This whole episode reinforced my confusion about cat behavior. But one thing was plain: Dolly knew what was going on, and so did Sweetie. So what does it matter if I don't? And Dolly is still The Queen. 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

clean windows before supper

 In the midst of a number of cool days, today came like a warm blessing. Sunshine and rather windy - it was wonderful! I washed a window, and the breezes were so heavenly that I washed another - even though it was nearing suppertime. 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

mean sky

A threatening sky after work yesterday. Thankfully it didn't amount to much.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020


 "The Christian will be judged, not by his ability to escape from his human tasks and responsibilities, but, on the contrary, according to the fresh meaning which he has discovered in them and the renewed devotion with which he has discharged them...

The sacramental world is essentially a link between two other worlds, the world of eternity, in which the risen Christ lives, and the world of today, in which we have to live and attain in ourselves the life of the Risen One."

                                                                 - Father Louis Bouyer, from Magnificat, October 2020

Sunday, October 4, 2020

early October

 So far, so good.

a vineyard dream

The keeper of a vineyard dreamed 
Of vines alive with fruit
And tended vine and dream alike
Down years of sharp dispute,
As others came to claim the land,
To drink its fruit as spoil,
Without a grower's love of growth
Or farmer's love of soil.

The keeper had a child, firstborn,
Who came to work the land.
The malcontents desired his life
But did not understand -
This life, once it was given up,
This blood, once spilled like wine,
Would soak down deep into the ground
And rise up in the vine.

And then the plant, fresh charged, would be
Itself a vein of grace,
A way the keeper might extend
A hopeful, green embrace,
Connecting child and foe and friend,
Co-mingled an entwined,
To be and bear the fruit of God
In one life-giving vine.

-  a hymn by Michael Hudson, from Magnificat, October 2020

Saturday, October 3, 2020

playing fetch with Annie

 Not long after Annie came to live with us, my brother noticed that she'd dropped a ball behind his chair at the kitchen table. They ended up playing fetch, and nobody taught her how - it's just something she knew. She's gone through periods where she'd fetch, and spells where she wouldn't. But lately we figured out that a smallish piece of crumpled paper is perfect for her little mouth to carry and I've tossed as many as ten times to her, with her carrying it back to me. This is awfully cute. 

So today I put the camera on the floor, and took my chances. As for the sheet-covered furniture, what you see is what you get.

Did you see her flip over at the end? She seems to like going head first, never worrying about her little noggin. 

Thursday, October 1, 2020


 We were driving along after Mass down an old tree-lined street and noticed a woodchuck strolling on the sidewalk! That was unexpected; perhaps he is a connoisseur of architecture - there are nice old homes there.

It's October, and I'm happy to say it was October-y today, with balmy air and the constant background music from the insects. It's a good start.

My brother reports that early this morning he found a "new" cat toy on the floor and gently kicked it to the kitchen. Later in full sunlight, he saw what it was: A little tomato, still intact. It is the Orphan's work to bring items from the Far Corners of the Earth into the living spaces and she does a good job of it. 

Since we got rid of our hawthorn trees years ago (my brother being tired of the needles stabbing him while mowing), the mockingbirds have less reason to come to our property. So I've been happy lately to see one enjoying the bird bath, several times. And that seemed to give his cousin (a cat bird) the idea. So, it's a busy spot with the brook dry, and Diane's cats also come to stand up and drink from it. We're trying to keep it fresh and clean for them.

Sweetie seems pretty cheerful these days; I feel badly about the thing growing in her throat. Dolly's blood sugar is improving. It started out at 412 and after a week of keeping her off dry food it went down to 384. Two weeks later, and after trying many types of higher protein and lower carb wet food, it's down to 343. Dr. Joe wants it below 300, so we go back in two weeks again. Meanwhile, she is so much more alert! This is amazing to us. Behavior we were attributing to old age may well have been due to this. Poor Dolly! She doesn't seem to miss the crunchies, as long as she can eat when she wants (which is often! too often)

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Christ in us

"If Christ is formed of our lives, it means that he will suffer in us. Or, more truly, we will suffer in him.

 If you are an office worker and the person over you is trying, perhaps rather limited in intelligence, so that you imagine you have some kind of right to be irritable, well, it is not you at all that must be obedient and humble and gracious, it is Christ, Christ, who said to the weak and timid civil servant, Pontius Pilate: You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above

It really needs to be practiced to be understood. We need to say to ourselves a thousand times a day, 'Christ wants to do this; Christ wants to suffer this.' And we shall thus come to realize that when we resent our circumstances or try to spare ourselves what we should undergo, we are being like Peter when he tried to dissuade our Lord from the Passion."

                                                                           -  Carryl Houselander, from Magnificat, September, 2020

Thursday, September 24, 2020

the return of Sweetie

 Sweetie is in the house!  Diane called this morning to say Sweetie was there, having some dry food with her own cats. She was able to pick her up with no problem and carry her over here without struggles. She was a little hesitant with me at first, but now she is fine, like she never left. 

What had happened was I could not get her into the carrier and there was MUCH energetic resistance on her part. When the vet came, I just carried her out to the van - the vet said to leave the carrier outside the van door. 

Now, it is a new carrier. I'm not sure I like the design; there are plastic hinges which are unusual and I did have the thought to show it to the doctor, but I said to myself, no, they've seen all different styles of carrier already. Next thing I know, I see her outside, holding the carrier door and Sweetie ahead of her - she just split, and fast. The vet blamed it on the carrier which, she thought, was a lemon. I didn't correct her; I should have listened to that small voice and explained it to her. I didn't even try to follow Sweetie, since she was moving fast. 

I do hope she enjoyed her little outing; the first night was quite cold - down near thirty degrees. She knows the area so I guess she knew places to go. But when she came in, she drank a great deal - our brook is still dry and it looks like she may not have had any water source. Right now, she is in front of me while I'm trying to type, rubbing on my face and purring like she never left. I am beginning to think that Clare was right and she was confused and afraid for a while. It's hard to know for sure. I asked her where she went, but she didn't tell me.

I guess we could say this was Sweetie's last adventure, since she doesn't have much time left, apparently. The tumor is growing back; it's not as big as before, but there's no point in removing it, since these things also grow back into the tongue, where it can't be excised. Poor Sweetie. But for now, things are much better than the day before! Thanks for all the prayers! xo

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Sweetie at large

 Yesterday the travelling vet came to see Sweetie. Her tumor is coming back in and there's no point to removing it, since it also is growing into her tongue, so - she is okay enough for now, but ...

Anyway, after the examination she got away from the vet and now she's on the loose. It was very cold last night, but she didn't make an appearance. She hasn't had her thyroid medicine for two days. However - just over an hour ago my brother noticed she was on the front step. He called her name and opened the front door, but - she took off. 

I pray she'll want to come back in soon, but since she's outside I hope it's because she's enjoying it and not because five or six times I desperately tried shoving her into the carrier (to no avail) and now she is afraid of me. I don't know how they remember these things or are influenced by them. But the fact that she is near is heartening, because we really had no idea where she was. The temperatures will be warmer for a new days and that's good news. Maybe she'll come in when she's tired of scrounging for food around the neighborhood. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

some lace is always nice

A couple of years ago I was at a local consignment shop and they had a long, narrow table. Since I have a thing for long, narrow tables and this was a deal I bought it. I finagled it into my room where it's used as a desk, more or less. 

I never used to mind laying out my fabric on the floor for cutting but now I'd rather not. The kitchen table isn't always available, but the other day it dawned on me I could clear off the table and use it. It worked great!

It is the same a-line, over the head dress I've made so many times. Sleeveless again this time, but I've got an idea for some sort of a lace collar and it took me a while to find the lace. (Actually, the other day I was aggravated that I didn't recall where it was and I said, "Guardian Angel, where the heck is that lace?" or something to that effect and then looked up to see some jars above me where I'd put it. That's how they work - they give you an inspiration.) Anyway, the lace above is an ecru and salmon which doesn't show up well here. Something I bought many years ago and it looks very pretty with this fabric. And here is my Pinterest board where I've put a few images of what I'm thinking of, either a lace at the neck or on the hem. 

So, I've got to play around with it and decide. And maybe I'll ask Cyndi, who sews way better than I do.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

the beauty of evenings

 Even when it's pleasant outdoors, inside it can trap the heat; I planned to wash my hair a little while before dark, so I could sit outside with wet hair and enjoy the coolness. I suddenly heard a ruckus beginning, like a pack of dogs barking. Then I realized it was the geese - they are starting their journeys back. There were lots of them and they flew pretty low. Then I noticed two bats swooping in their jagged way, back and forth from our place to the neighbors. I need to sit out more often in the evenings.

God in his beauty stills all our useless struggles and gathers us into his peace.

-  from Magnificat

Saturday, September 12, 2020

squirrel visits

 A couple of weeks ago I happened by the front door and saw a squirrel with his head down into the planter on the front step, his little behind in the air. In past years I occasionally had seed in there and immediately thought he was digging for food. Then I realized he must be burying a nut. 

Today I found this. So, did someone else come by to bury a nut? Or did my little friend return to get his little treasure? 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

all about food, I guess

 I haven't been here for a week! I'll have to make up for lost time.

After a few years of eating Siggi's yogurt, I'm going back to making it myself. It's way cheaper and I just feel like doing it again. 

  Something I've wondered about is why the instructions so often tell you to use milk that is only pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized. If they use this method in your country, have you ever noticed how long this ultra stuff lasts? It's amazing. Anyway, there is only one brand at the store where I shop that's simply pasteurized, and I like it well enough; it isn't organic but it's from our state. Still, I finally googled the question. And came upon a New York Times article with some very enlightening comments.

When you make yogurt, you have to heat it up to around 180 or over, then cool it down to around 110. You put in the starter or some from a previous batch and let it sit for hours to ferment. One of the commenters said she uses ultra-pasteurized milk to make hers, and because it's already been cooked enough (I forget how she put it, exactly), she just heats it to 110, adds the starter and continues from there. She skips the first step entirely! I decided to try this. I used a nice organic milk from grass-fed cows but it was ultra-pasteurized. After it had fermented I checked it (what you see above) - the consistency reminded me of Junket (remember that? - I used to love the chocolate one). But after an overnight in the fridge it looked pretty good. I still strained it, as I always do, to make it thicker. 

We found out last week that Dolly is diabetic. Her numbers weren't so high that she needs insulin shots, so we're trying to change her diet - no more dry food.

She is always very anxious about having food nearby. It's going to be hard for her at times, but after a week, her numbers did go down some; meanwhile, we're trying out some higher protein and lower carb brands of the canned stuff and reading a lot of labels. The issue is not whether she'll eat it - she is not a picky eater. But we want food that has quality ingredients. 

The reason we have butternut squashes on the front windowsill is that I picked them too early - a moment of madness I can only assume - and they weren't ripe. But we found evidence online that you can let them ripen in the sun, and they are turning that beige-y color, so I guess it's working. The cats aren't bothered by them, except yesterday I caught the Orphan batting one.

Sweetie found a purpose for them -

pretty cute. It's almost two months now, and she still seems the same. I have no idea what's going on inside of her with the cancer. 

Yesterday was Labor Day - sort of the official end of summer. I made an easy hummus, which recipe I found in British Country Living: basically a small jar of artichoke, lemon juice, can of drained butter beans, garlic and basil. Very tasty with crackers. We also had hamburgers and tomato salad - so many tomatoes.

 I also made scones. To have with the ice cream.

Monday, August 31, 2020

all good things

 "All good things are one thing... That is what I am every hour of the day. Sunsets, schools of philosophy, babies, constellations, cathedrals, operas, mountains, horses, poems - all these are merely disguises. One thing is always walking among us in fancy dress, in the grey cloak of a church or the green cloak of a meadow. He is always behind, His form makes the folds fall so superbly."

                              -  Chesterton, in a letter to his fiancee

Sunday, August 30, 2020


 The bird bath is up because the brook has been dry, and the mourning doves are the ones enjoying it the most. Every day I see one there - the same one, I like to think - sitting quietly, facing out and tail in, usually. They are quiet, simple birds and this seems in keeping with their ways. 

I heard this today in a podcast - the quote is from Josef Pieper, the podcast from Christopher Perrin:

"Contemplation is a knowledge about what is present, and thinking is knowledge about what is absent."

Saturday, August 29, 2020

miracle at the grocery store

 I never gave a thought to St. Anthony.

I was at the supermarket, looking at the salad. The ones in the big, rectangular plastic boxes. I suddenly realized I could see out of one eye and not the other - my contact had popped out in a freak sort of occurrence. I rolled my eye around, hoping I'd be able to feel it in there, but - it didn't seem to be in the eye. In fact, I thought I'd heard a tiny "plunk" where it had dropped. 

I knew from experience that it could be caught in my hair, on my mask, sitting on my cheek or in my eyelashes, and I carefully felt around me. I actually removed my mask and was busily searching. Next, I looked on top of the salad boxes, but I didn't see anything. I blessed myself - yeah, in a public place, and I didn't even care - and asked my guardian angel to help me locate it. I kept looking around on the floor in front of me, looking and looking; you can see light reflecting off them if you get the right angle. Nope. I said a Hail Mary - this is my usual procedure when losing a lens. I was calm, but incredulous that it had just popped out in this public place, that I have a week off from work and it would be very hard to do any sewing or anything enjoyable with only one eye, so to speak (that's right, I have No Spare, and No Glasses - judge me if you must) but eventually I had to give up. It had been about five minutes and it was in there somewhere, but it had probably fallen down between a grate under the produce. 

I suddenly realized I hadn't replaced my mask, but the area was unusually quiet. I continued with my shopping, feeling unhappy but telling myself, like Mr. Bennet, that it had been my own doing and I ought to feel it, that I need a new prescription anyway, and other similar things. We finished, and got in line at the register. I could see we were stalled there, and I thought of my contact lens and that maybe I could run over there and look for it one last time. Should I? Should I not bother? 

I Almost Didn't. But something caused me to just quickly run over there and look once more. I picked up a box of salad, and another. I grabbed a third, and there was something on the lid. My lens.

If you're unfamiliar with my history of losing my contacts, you may read this if you like. And I do want to say this: We all have an angel guardian - I am not anybody special. Give yours a thought. They are only too glad to help.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

useful footwear

These perforated clogs were a smart purchase. They make it easy to walk in wet or muddy ground - I wear them when I water the garden or have to go out in the rainy yard. They'll also be a help if I ever have to get into the brook (when it isn't dried up).

Monday, August 24, 2020

pretty butterfly

 There was a butterfly on the zinnias. Butterflies are easy to examine, since they aren't concerned with being looked at.

I got out the butterfly identification guide. It seems to be a tiger swallowtail. Except the one in the book has a black border on the wings, and this one doesn't seem to. I googled it

Now here you can see some black edging on the underside. I don't know what to think. It seems to be the only butterfly of that color for our region. Well, maybe that just means he's an individual! Aren't we all!

Sunday, August 23, 2020


 We've had some misty mornings lately.

There's so much atmosphere to late summer. Let the drama begin.

Monday, August 17, 2020

plugging along

 We are having a soaking rain this evening. It's very welcome, as things have been quite dry. The brook has dried up, which it often does in August, but even the lawn is almost dead in places and scratches the bare feet to walk on it. 

But the zinnias are doing very well, and having bright flowers next to the back steps is delightful.

My floral top only needs the armholes finished off, and will be done. 

Finishing them off with bias tape is always a somewhat lengthy affair. I sew it on, turn it to the inside and pin with all-metal pins (not plastic heads!). I spray it with water, press it, spray, press. I leave it to dry. Another day I remove the pins, spray and press again, pinning it again, trying to get the binding to stretch sufficiently. I baste, spray and press again. About half the time, it doesn't get perfect, and I don't know why. Especially at the neckline, the aim is to get it laying flat, and it doesn't always. I've seen videos of women who sew on the binding and then turn it under and top stitch it immediately. What! How is this possible? So, I labor on. But it's almost done.

A month has passed since Sweetie's diagnosis; outwardly, she seems the same. She is still eating, still a picky eater. She still comes in my lap when she's wanting a snack, she still can jump up to the chairs, the beds, the windows. If she's having pain, I can't detect it, but she still fusses at her mouth after eating. For my part, I searched around the house for Holy Water and found some from Medjugorje, so I bless her with that from time to time. And I bought a flower essence which is supposed to support the immune system - I spray her with this three or four times a day. Yes, she is terminal, I know, but it won't hurt her or interfere with her thyroid medication and I prefer to do something rather than be without hope. 

Lord God, you have made heaven and earth by your great might, with your outstretched arm;
nothing is impossible to you.  Jer. 32:17

I really don't expect anything, but I don't want to feel later like I never tried.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

birds and butterflies, cats and Chesterton

I really need to bring a camera when I go into the garden; there was a catbird complaining about something in a nearby bush, and I thought it would have made a cute little film. When I looked around to see who he was upset with, there was one of Diane's fluffy yellow cats - Leo, or Leon - I can't tell them apart. Then as I watered, some sprayed over the zinnias and a monarch butterfly rose up. I need to at least have the thing nearby, in case.

My camera seems to have a smear on the lens, or something. It's old - I need a new point and shoot.

 I've got hold of Maisie Ward's biography of G. K. Chesterton - it's great.

"My great ambition is to give a party at which everybody should meet everybody else and like them very much."


Mr. Gilbert Chesterton
requests the pleasure
Of humanity's company
to tea on Dec. 25th 1896.
Humanity Esq., The Earth, Cosmos E.

"G.K. liked everybody very much, and everything very much. He liked even the things most of us dislike. He liked to get wet. He liked to be tired. After that one short period of struggle he liked to call himself 'always perfectly happy'. And therefore he wanted to say, 'Thank you'."

You say grace before meals.
All right.
But I say grace before the play and the opera,
And grace before the concert and pantomime,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing,
And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.


Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?

what I wish for my dear country

Oh, come in early morning,
The dew is on the flower,
There's laughter in the woodland,
And music in the bower;
The world is full of gladness,
And sings the Maker's praise,
There's not a note of sadness,
To mar the matin lays.

Oh, come in early morning,
The sun is climbing high;
And all the world is smiling,
Beneath a cloudless sky;
There's not a piping blackbird,
But sings with lusty glee;
There's not a little lambkin,
But frolics on the lea.

- from Magnificat, August 2020

Sunday, August 9, 2020

patience and a thimble

 I'm slowly working on my floral top. I had almost forgotten how tightly woven that sheet fabric is; I basted the bias to the neckline with great difficulty, and will probably have to use a thimble when I sew it. 

I guess I'll also have to use patience.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

another kind of bunny

My brother took a truckload of debris to the dump today - this is what's left. It's a pretty big pile.

Guess who is on the cover of the new postage stamp catalog? 

My favorite cartoon character. It's the little things, isn't it? 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

in the nick of time

A storm came our way yesterday, a tropical storm. The library closed early and I was at home with the cats, Dolly crying because I wouldn't let her in the windows. But the wind was too strong and I wanted all the windows shut in case of flying objects.

A big limb came down in back near the bridge, and the corn, which we thought would soon be ready, was every which way.
But my brother picked it all - there were several ears that looked good, though a little small. I took two, and cooked them. Sweet, juicy and delicious! I'm so glad we didn't lose it. 

Today we had lots of people come in the library hoping we had power so they could do some work. It could have been much worse - it could have been a hurricane.