Tuesday, March 21, 2023

fur and foolishness

 Can you guess what this picture reminds me of?

I think it was when I saw the "ribbons" hanging down the side -

Lizzie's, of course, is much more elegant.

Monday, March 20, 2023

quiet trust and faithful labor

 It's the feast of St. Joseph - a day later than usual because Sundays take precedence over saint's days.

Almighty God, who called Saint Joseph to a life of quiet trust and faithful labor,
grant us the grace to imitate Christ's foster father, that we may be pillars 
of patience and integrity in our homes and places of work, through Christ our Lord.

- from Magnificat, March 2023

Thursday, March 16, 2023


The snow has vanished - it's fifty one degrees. Tomorrow is the feast of St. Patrick, and the grass is suddenly green!

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

another snow day

The weather people said a big snowfall was coming, from Monday, through Wednesday. It would start with rain, then snow mixed in, until the real snow began - six to ten inches predicted. 

After raining most of the night, snow was supposed falling around eight this morning and continue heavily all day. Our town offices decided yesterday afternoon to close for the day.

I waited all morning for the snow to commence, for that cozy feeling to come. But Accuweather kept changing the snow times: to eleven, twelve, then two. I couldn't see any whiteness in the sky that always precedes a snowfall; it was just rainy, gray and overcast; I was not convinced we'd have snow at all! Finally it did begin in earnest around three thirty. 

The ground is very wet, and it's a few degrees above freezing; it isn't likely we'll get six inches. The businesses which closed could have stayed open. Other parts of New England did get hit hard. But here, it was nice to have an extra day off.

I made some rye bread, and did a bit of knitting. It was restful and quiet, and I appreciated it.

Monday, March 13, 2023

the real thing

My brother actually has a customer who works for Kerrygold. And at Christmas the man gave him ten or so coupons for the cheese and the butter -  Free Coupons - did I say that? Some for cheese, some for butter.

I didn't want to wipe out the store, so I used two each week until they were gone. We ate the cheddar, but the butter is safely in the freezer. 

Sunday, March 12, 2023

like a child at home

The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may your house be my abode
And all my work be praise.

There would I find a settled rest,
While others go and come;
No more a stranger, nor a guest,
But like a child at home. 

Isaac Watts

Thursday, March 9, 2023

signs of life

 I went outside looking for new life.

some buds on the crabapple

the rhododendron

the daffodils! It's a little soon, isn't it?

"It isn't quite a dead garden," she cried out softly to herself. "Even if the roses are dead, there are other things alive."

                                                      - from The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

Monday, March 6, 2023

surprised by three books

 I finished The Middle Window. It was a very compelling story, well written, as all her work is. But it took a turn and went into the past, to two young lovers not unlike the modern-day ones in the earlier part, and there was sort of a thing going on where the couple from the past - the husband of which was involved in the Battle of Culloden - they and their vision for their land were living on in the later, modern era couple. For a brief time the present-day (well, not exactly, the book was written in the 1930s) couple's minds were taken over by "memories" from the past. It was a little far fetched and fanciful, even for me, and I certainly didn't expect it from this author. 

Sarah Clarkson's book for this month is The Secret Garden, which I've read once, a few years back - not as a child. I didn't actually read a lot of classic children's books as a child, but I'm happy to make up for it now and then. Anyway, I'm surprised at how much I am liking this, more than I did the first time. And Beowulf! I never imagined I'd want to read that, but there's a category in the reading challenge for an epic poem and for some reason this is what came to mind. And I actually like it! I've got the Seamus Heaney version from the library. 

Sunday, March 5, 2023

the blessed desert of Lent

 "God is very present in the deserts of our lives. It is in the desert that God revealed himself to Abraham. It is in our dryness and desolation that God is often working the most marvelous transformations. Let us rejoice in this blessed desert of Lent where Christ reveals himself."

                                                -  Magnificat,  March 2023

bark from the brave little cherry tree

Saturday, March 4, 2023


 Our pretty snowfall melted on Thursday, as always is the way in March. But more came today, with some sleet mixed in, It wasn't as bad as it could have been; it didn't get cold enough to be icy. But it looks nice.

Indoors, I made this cake and froze it for Easter Sunday dessert. Today, though, I used a gluten-free flour and sugar substitute - not erythritol! bad stuff! - but an allulose/monk fruit mixture I've used before. The only sugar in it is from the chocolate chips I put in. I like to experiment with recipes I'm very familiar with, to see if we still like it with other ingredients. 

Meanwhile, Daisy continues to get into everything. This afternoon she tried to burrow underneath a throw on the back of a chair; I didn't move fast enough.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

first real snow of the winter


Well, the last day of February, and we have our first *real* snowfall. And, contrary to what I expected, a snow day! The library and other town offices are closed for the day. I had really given up the idea of snow, and even the desire for it, but - here it is, and I do love to see it. But.......it does make one feel like we may be going back in time - to winter's beginning - which is not what we want for March!!

It isn't that much, at most five inches, and we are above freezing, so it won't last very long. The transformation will be of short duration; the magic will soon be gone.

My brother said the snow blower started right up. 

Monday, February 27, 2023

cute as a button

 Daisy, as I've previously described, observing how water fills the sink. 

She is everywhere: when I vacuum, she is nearby; when I damp mop the floor, she's chasing the mop; if I want to wash my tights in the sink in peace I have to shut myself in the bathroom. Today I had my peds soaking in a soapy bowl on the kitchen counter. I came by a few minutes later and one of them was outside the bowl, right next to it. Not the first time she'd gone fishing.

She's everywhere.

holy madness

 "So completely have we depended on material things, on money in particular, so terribly are we influenced by fear, that simply to abandon ourselves to God and really to mean it seems to be madness. Those who care for us see that we are in danger of becoming poor, as we really replace the old maxims such as "Charity begins at home"; "It is my duty to look after myself"; "Business is business", and so on, by, "If a man asks for your coat, give him your cloak also"; "He who saves his life shall lose it"; and "Go sell what thou hast and give it to the poor."

                                                    -  Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God

Saturday, February 25, 2023

the snow of home

 We actually had some snow today. It almost covers the ground, and didn't melt because it's so cold. It will be gone tomorrow, but Tuesday may be interesting, the final day of February. 

You wake up on a winter morning and pull up the shade, and what lay there the evening before is no longer there - the sodden gray yard, the dog droppings, the tire tracks in the frozen mud, the broken lawn chair you forgot to take in last fall. All this has disappeared overnight, and what you look out on is not the snow of Narnia but the snow of home, which is no less shimmering and white as it falls. The earth is covered with it, and it is falling still in silence so deep that you can hear its silence. It is snow to be shoveled, to make driving even worse than usual, snow to be joked about and cursed at, but unless the child in you is entirely dead, it is snow, too, that can make the heart beat faster when it catches you by surprise that way, before your defenses are up. It is snow that can awaken memories of things more wonderful than anything you ever knew or dreamed. 

                                                                                         - Frederick Buechner

Daisy looks at the snow

We may get five to eight inches Monday evening into Tuesday. 

Thursday, February 23, 2023

reading in Lent

I had a wicked cold a few days ago, and picked up an Elizabeth Goudge. It's a funny thing about reading novels during Lent - to me, novel-reading doesn't seem to fit in with that season's atmosphere of austerity. But of course there are novels which are so helpful in ways that non-fiction can't always be; you learn many things by reading non-fiction, but the way you learn from fiction is through the back door, so to speak. If it speaks to you, you end up absorbing it, kind of from the inside out. Both methods are worthy. But not all fiction is equal. So, I was feeling lousy, and I had this book on hand since she's my favorite author but I haven't read all her work, and I think I should - so now, interestingly, I'm finding that it fits quite nicely with the whole spirit of Lent. Surprise!

To be very brief, the heroine is a young socialite woman who drags her parents and fiance to remote Scotland, a run-down castle which is periodically let by the laird to bring in a little money for himself. She is powerfully drawn to the almost bleak aura of the whole landscape and way of living there. She is embarking on an inner journey.

She realized that to the questing mind and spirit there are worlds beyond worlds, never ending. To enter into possession of one was to stand on the threshold of another, and it seemed to her that on each threshold there took place a death and a birth. Any laziness or weakness of mind or spirit, conquered and killed, seemed always to be followed instantly by an inrush of new energy, and the harder the death the more joyful the corresponding life. (emphasis mine)

Doesn't that describe Lent, and then Easter, perfectly? 

Monday, February 20, 2023

cats in the sun

 they had the same idea at the same time

but in different places.

Saturday, February 18, 2023


"We can't dismiss the point that democratic self-governance requires a kind of cultivation among citizens that can only happen when they don't devote all of their energy to earning a living. In Aristotle's words, a citizen's virtue requires that one be 'freed from necessary tasks'; it requires the capacity for 'leisured activity' or schole, from which we derive the word school.

Rights and equality before the law mean little in a democracy unless individuals have the scope to develop their humanity in a way that is free from the yoke of economic compulsion."

                                               -  Roosevelt Montas, Rescuing Socrates

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Socrates and Aristotle

 I had windows around the house open today. Just reminding you that it's mid-February. 

Are the trees going to bloom early? What about the spring bulbs? The birds? Will it affect them? I keep telling myself it's not time to go start up the garden.

I've been reading Rescuing Socrates, by Roosevelt Montas. He came to this country from the Dominican Republic as a teenager, and ended up at Columbia University before he was even fluent in English. Now, he's a professor there, and he tells "How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation".  I hope more people read it. And speaking of the ancient Greeks, I am also reading Aristotle's Poetics with the Literary Life podcast - I got it on Hoopla. It's rather dry, but I guess that's Aristotle's reputation - not a particularly compelling writer. But he is dissecting plays and their form, their different aspects, which are (as categorized by himself): character, plot, diction, song and thought. From reading this, you can learn how that art form evolved, so that makes it interesting, and it's a short essay. 

I also have something by Frederick Buechner, as recommended by Sarah Clarkson as the book of the month, so to speak, for her Patreon group. A Protestant theologian? philosopher? his analogies are amazing; I'm rather stupefied at the way his mind worked:

if thou art our Father who art in Heaven, be thou also our Father who art in Hell because Hell is where the action is, it is where men labor and are heavy laden under the burden of their own lives without you. Where they cut themselves shaving and smoke three packs a day though they know the surgeon general's warning by heart.

                   - from Telling the Truth, by Frederick Buechner

A very compelling book, the subtitle of which is The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale. Arisotle also speaks of comedy and tragedy: "Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude.  Comedy is an imitation of characters of a lower type". 

On a much lighter note, I just finished some Cat Club stories by Esther Averill. Have you heard of this children's author, and these charming stories from the 1940s? You have to look them up. A small black cat named Jenny Linsky lives with a Captain Tinker, a sailor. He knitted Jenny a red scarf, which she wears whenever she goes out. There is a club with all the cats of the neighborhood, all sorts of personalities and delightful names. The illustrations are also delightful - if you can find them, read them! They're just what you can expect from books of that era - they show respect, kindness, gratitude, sharing, etc., without preaching like today's fare. A funny thing - one of the categories in the Literary Life's reading challenge this year is to read aloud to someone. Well, I didn't expect to get to that one, but last night while reading this little book, Daisy came along and was so restless and troublesome. So, I petted and rubbed her while I read a story aloud, about Jenny the cat. Afterward, I realized I'd fulfilled the category! It didn't say I couldn't read to a pet! She did seem to like it. 

I also cut out fabric for another skirt. I'm definitely trying to get back to sewing regularly. 

"For I go around doing nothing but persuading both young and old among you not to care for your body or your wealth in preference to or as strongly as for the best possible state of your soul, as I say to you: 'Wealth does not bring about excellence, but excellence makes wealth and everything else good for men, both individually and collectively.'"

                           - The Trial and Death of Socrates, by Plato

Monday, February 13, 2023

you could almost say it was balmy. Almost.

 February thirteenth, and I actually sat out on the back step today. On the concrete step. I knew it was warmed by the sun for several hours, but - hey, it's supposed to be winter. 

I had to open the kitchen window while I was making dinner, to cool off the place!

Sunday, February 12, 2023

prayer intentions

For civil authorities -

-  that they would make wise decisions based not only on the laws in force
but also on the common good.

For scientists and medical researchers -

-  that their work would lead them closer to God,
not further from him.

For those undertaking an academic study of theology -

-  that, unlike the scribes and Pharisees in today's Gospel*,
their hearts might be open to the love of God.

*Matthew 5: 17-37

from Magnificat, February 2023

Monday, February 6, 2023

a robin in winter

 My brother tells me it's supposed to get up near sixty on Friday! I checked - it's so. Before that, a very little snow again tomorrow night for a couple of hours. 

I forgot to mention that Saturday, on the coldest day of this winter, I saw a robin. Now, in this part of the world they tend to go south for the winters, although the Audubon Society says there are some who stay all year. But it's rare that we see them here. In fact, I looked it up in my blogposts, and we saw some nine years ago, and again six years ago. And Saturday. I saw him at the edge of the brook, and stood at the window, staring. Then he flew toward the house and that was it. Just one. I even called my brother at work, because - what the heck - it was unusual. And he said the fellow whose hair he was cutting had also seen one. On the coldest day, of all things. 

Sunday, February 5, 2023

"they serve him best"

 I recently came upon this poem by John Milton, which I'd only heard the last line of:

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?:
I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best.
His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed 
And post o'er Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.

Saturday, February 4, 2023


Jack came by; he does beautiful work. It was nine below zero this morning, and during the day in the teens, with excessive wind yesterday - we kept exclaiming about it at work, with people coming and going through the staff door (naturally!), and the howling and blowing outside. 

January, on the other hand, was so temperate that we didn't need a "January thaw". It was never below freezing during the day, all month long. I'll try not to complain about the lack of appreciable snow, since we may well get clobbered. We have plenty of time for that! But it isn't like our usual winters.

Daisy is scheduled to be spayed on March 20, and she is uncomfortable in the meantime. She goes through periods (no pun intended!) of crying, squirming, distraction, not eating because she can't seem to focus. Until finally she gets so tired and can sleep for a while. Annie puts up with her as best she can.

It seems that Annie's lot in life is to play second fiddle; she is a stoic, if not by nature, then by circumstance. I often wonder how she feels about it. 

She is a nice cat.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

four farewells

 Four people we know died last week; we went to a funeral today, and attended one on Monday. There was another, yesterday, which I couldn't get to - I was at work and couldn't get anyone to fill in. The fourth was a schoolmate of my brother's.

I found that after both funerals, I came home and didn't feel like just going back to my chores as usual - that I felt like doing only what was essential, like the laundry and dinner, the dishes and feeding the cats, but otherwise it seemed like it should be a quiet time. 

Three of these people were old, and we all know we aren't going to live forever on this earth. Still, you knew them and now they're gone, and it's something to ponder.

May they rest in peace. Amen.

Jesus Christ is the light no darkness can extinguish.  (from Magnificat)

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Christ will be our peace

In labor all creation groans
Till fear and hatred cease,
Till human hearts have understood:
In Christ alone is peace.

In labor all creation groans
Till false divisions cease,
Till differences are reconciled
In Christ who is our peace.

In labor all creation groans
God's justice to increase.
When right in place of might prevails,
Then Christ will be our peace.

- Delores Dufner, from Magnificat, January 2023

Thursday, January 26, 2023

keeping busy


Finally finishing up my flannel skirt. I've also gone into my yarn stash, to try and work it down a little bit,

and found this cute pattern on Etsy.

The reading challenge this year requires a Jane Austen work I hadn't read. We have Sanditon at the library, so I read it. Well, that is I read eleven chapters, which is the part of the book that Jane wrote. The rest has been finished by someone, and I decided to skip it. I'll probably pick up Lady Susan at some point, but for now I'm re-reading Persuasion. Also, Rescuing Socrates, about the value of a liberal arts education by a fellow from the Dominican Republic, who is now teaching at Columbia. I just began it, but it's very promising. 

how it happened

i.e., how the clock broke. A re-enactment, courtesy of Daisy.


Monday, January 23, 2023

winter weather

 Well! It's been snowing all day! 

I wait for this. It can't last; the daytime temperatures are above freezing, and it rained a fair amount before the snow. 

Meanwhile, Daisy broke the kitchen clock. 

I'd rather focus on the snow. 

The birds came along in late afternoon, to fill up. There was much to-ing and fro-ing but the video was too long for blogger, and I couldn't put it up.

A cardinal, and some smaller birds. I imagine their world is a whole lot different when there's a blanket of white over everything, as far as food goes. The snow was a little heavy and there was some wind, and the power "blinked" more than once. The oven even cut off, while the chicken was in it. 

Now, all is quiet. 

Sunday, January 22, 2023

never faint

 Pray without ceasing, pray,
Your captain gives the word;
His summons cheerfully obey
And call upon the Lord;
To God your every want
In instant prayer display,
Pray always; pray and never faint,
Pray, without ceasing, pray!

Charles Wesley
 from Magnificat, January 2023

Monday, January 16, 2023

citizen scientist


She runs over to watch when I buzz the stuff off my sweater; she flies into the bathroom if she hears the water running and the door's open. Just now my brother is writing something on a pad in his lap, and he said she was watching; he said she noticed that the pen was making marks on the paper. That's interesting! When the water runs into the sink, she is focused on the water that accumulates, not on the stream coming down. So it's very intriguing to me that she is looking at the result - if you can put it that way (with the sweaters, I'm not sure what she's observing). 

I told her she's just like Aristotle.