Sunday, December 5, 2021

instead of a listless spirit

 O God of glory, 
you have sent your only Son into our midst
to bear us in joy into your presence.
Waken those whose faith slumbers;
stir up those whose love has waned into indifference;
rouse to fullness of life those who have abandoned their journey 
toward you amid the hardships they have met along the way.
Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners, To announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God, to comfort all who mourn; To place on those who mourn in Zion a diadem instead of ashes, To give them oil of gladness in place of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit. 

                                                                 -  Isaiah 61:1-3

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Christmas with the cats

 The tree is up, and the lights. I need to find a sensible method of doing the lights but now's not the time to think about it. And Tricia came by to give me a darling little hedgehog ornament! I clipped it on, and it's starting to look Christmas-y.

The Orphan finally had an appointment with the vet for a checkup, Thursday morning. We'd put it off for over a year, with so many appointments for Sweetie and Dolly. Meanwhile I went to give Dolly her insulin shot Wednesday night. She was curled up, sleeping. I wanted to wake her first; I poked her, Dolly, Dolly. She didn't move. My brother came in and we were poking her, but not pushing. After a minute or so, she finally awoke, made a sound and stretched. Gosh! But then I thought about how over the past few days she'd been eating less, sleeping more and seeming out of it, otherwise. I decided to take her in instead of Annie. She's got an infection!  Upper respiratory. After four doses of Clavamox, she is already eating much better and like her old self again. Poor Dolly! And Orphan Annie has a short reprieve (because I know she does not like going into the carrier), until the 28th. 

And speaking of Annie, on Cyber Monday I happened on a youtube video of the Kitten Lady testing the DNA of all her cats with a company called Wisdom. There was a link and a sale. I ordered it! It's Clare's doing - she started this when she thought Annie might be Burmese, and it seems to me like she is, reading about the characteristics. Now we'll find out for sure!  I always wished I knew what kind of cat Henry was, but I don't think they had these kits back then. Of course Dolly may well have some fancy lineage, but it's rather expensive, and Annie is more surely part fancy cat. And I got forty five dollars off. (I hope she won't mind getting the inside of her cheek scraped for half a minute!) 

on a better day

Saturday, November 27, 2021


 I just read this:

Nothing is more repugnant to capable, reasonable people than grace.

-   John Wesley

Friday, November 26, 2021


I am grateful for being able to cook much of the Thanksgiving food the day before, while I had a nauseous headache. 

I'm grateful I was able to eat dinner today with a nauseous headache, and feel better afterward.

I am grateful for two people who didn't care that it just wasn't in me to make the mashed potato and turnip, or the glazed carrots. They ate what I did make, and complimented me on it.

I'm grateful to be working in a place that's always closed the day after Thanksgiving.

I am grateful for Exedrin, kombucha and peppermint tea.

I'm grateful that after thinking I'd have to cook an eight pound turkey breast for over three hours, I found Ina Garten's recipe which said it would only take a little more than two. At the same temp. It was perfect!

Dolly is grateful for an evening of pleasurable jazz, which I saw her enjoying every time I came into my room, where she was snuggled up to the radio.

In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

 -    I Thessalonians 5:18

Monday, November 22, 2021

moondancing in the kitchen

The golden leaves which were on the cherry tree last Thursday, that glorious day, fell almost entirely off the next day, when the (normal) colder weather returned. I guess it was a shock, because most of the leaves are down everywhere. Not that it was so cold, but after such a day - 

I always think of Moondance by Van Morrison; he's singing of October skies, and leaves falling. Our leaves fall in November - surely the Irish climate is milder than ours? I guess it's poetic license, and I love the song all the same. And now we're settling in for winter. 

I bought some gluten-free flour substitute, some spelt and some einkorn flour, and I'm experimenting. I made a batch of brownies I've made many times, with the gluten-free, and a little less sugar, and they were just as delicious as the original. But today I made a pie crust dough with part einkorn and part spelt. This is for the sweet potato pie I'm going to bake on Wednesday. I wanted to bake it a little so the filling wouldn't make the dough gummy, but it was practically melting and I ended up tossing it. This caused me to look up the why's and wherefore's of pie crust. These flours I used have less gluten, and the crust I made seemed like it was just melting after a short time in the oven. I learned from my researches that a moderate amount of gluten makes the best crust. Maybe I should stick to what I know, especially on a big holiday! 


Sunday, November 21, 2021

King of the Universe

Today is the last Sunday in the church year, next week being the first Sunday of Advent - already!

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha'Olam! 

this means Blessed are You, King of the Universe (roughly - I don't speak Hebrew, but I know this prayer).

To Thee be endless praise,
For Thou for us hast died;
Be Thou, O Lord, through endless days
Adored and magnified.

from Crown Him with Many Crowns

Thursday, November 18, 2021

happy day

 Today was the dreamiest of days! Well up into the sixties and bright sun. Windows were opened, fresh air was welcomed in! A day to be remembered.

I had noticed a few days ago that the cherry tree turned yellow overnight. Now, it's golden, and the Japanese maple's leaves are brilliant red; the sun was shining through them today making them look like jewels. I tried again to capture some reds with the camera.

Better, but not good enough. I tell you, it was like a tree of rubies. Anyway, I stayed out as long as I could think of things to do - I cut back the leggy canes on the roses, since they'll break under the first heavy snow without the pruning. I swept around the foundation to remove dead grass and spider webs, and pulled a few weeds. 

I was thinking the beautiful day was going to take me away from my plans to make curtains for the living room, but I managed it. A happy day.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

trying to repair the ruins

 "The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the nearest by possessing our souls of true virtue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith makes up the highest perfection."

                                                              -  John Milton

Saturday, November 13, 2021

bare trees and birds

There is a group of bushes next to the grocery store entrance, and every week lately - for how long, I don't know because I haven't always paid attention - it sounds like dozens of birds talking and fussing in there, every week in the late afternoon, when we go in and when we come out.  Last week it was dark, but they still chattered. I was there earlier today and the bushes were quiet, so it's an end-of-the-day thing. I wonder what they talk about. 

Speaking of birds at the supermarket, while I was in the checkout line a woman came in with a scarlet and blue macaw; I'm not kidding! The young cashier and bagger were saying, "Here it is again", and complaining about the raucous cries. A therapy bird? She was holding it close to her chest - how did she manage to gather her groceries? 

Many of the leaves came off the trees yesterday in some very strong winds and warm rain. Today was bright and beautiful; we have one window where I always admire the trees and their branches.

The same scene late afternoon, during a wild thunderstorm

I never tire of looking out, while I'm doing things around the house.

Speaking of which, there is a patch of brilliant red across the brook, which I can see plainly from the kitchen, but I wanted to take a picture. It didn't transfer to the photo. I couldn't capture it for anything. Of course, I do need a new point-and-shoot. But I see these bright, bright reds around town and they're so beautiful - not burning bush, though - it's just a patch of something, growing where the birds planted it, but I'm afraid it's poisonous so I'm reluctant to pick any. I really need to continue my identifications of the plant life on our property.

There were a few holiday book returns at the library yesterday. I wasn't thinking of Christmas at all yet, with my mind on planning the Thanksgiving menu, but these books are hard to resist when they cross my path.

So I took it home. I'll see if there's anything in there that might be helpful. 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

long sentences and short memories

 It's Veteran's Day.

I'm still with How to Train a Fox, and I do want to finish it, even though it's dry and I haven't picked it up much lately. Jane Eyre is going to take me a while (am I kidding myself? all books take me a while), since it's so fat; I have read it before, but I recently went back to an earlier podcast of Close Reads where they had a great conversation about it, and I determined to first watch all the modern versions of it I could get, which was pretty easy, since we have four at the library! (wasn't it Hemingway who wrote over-long sentences? I haven't read Hemingway yet, but I know that sentence was too long.) While I was in the midst of this, somebody dropped off unwanted books and this paperback was there for my taking.

The Year of Our Lord 1943 is subtitled Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis, and I've only just started it. The author is talking about the failure of the churches to hold back the decline of society, their failure to be enough of an influence on young people. Then he (Alan Jacobs) mentions a book published in that year by Amy Buller, Darkness Over Germany, and she says: "I record these stories (of conversations with young Germans) to emphasize the need for youth and those who plan the training of youth to consider carefully the full significance of the tragedy of a whole generation of German youth, who, having no faith, made Nazism their religion." Then Alan Jacobs says: "But Buller insists that even this wholesale ecclesiastical collapse would not have been sufficient to ruin almost the whole of German youth if the universities had not been equally complicit in the Nazification of the country." This, I fear, is happening all over again.

I'm also working on a skirt, with a bit of light blue corduroy that Cyndi gave me long ago. I'm using Amy Butler's (not the above-mentioned Amy Buller - funny!) Barcelona skirt pattern.

It has layers, but not gathered, and they have raw edges - so, we'll see how that looks in corduroy. I do like my frayed edges.

Monday, November 8, 2021

this is November


It's November - right now everything is a cross between old gold and faded orange and it's fantastic.

Saturday, November 6, 2021


 O God of love, grant us your peace,
Within each restless mind.
May all our inner turmoil cease,
God show us how to find
Your quiet rest, your still, small voice,
Your light upon life's way,
To walk with you our humble choice,
God give us grace to pray.

O God of all, grant us your peace,
We share one human bond,
And so when others seek release,
God, help us to respond
To heal the sick, to seek the lost,
To set the captive free,
To serve and never count the cost,
May we live peacefully!

                   - from Magnificat, November 2021

Thursday, November 4, 2021

frosty mornings

 We've been having frosts at night. The other day I picked the rest of the little crops - I say "little" because it was all small peppers and itty bitty tomatoes. But they're all in now and I have to do something with them.

When my brother tilled the garden, he left the marigolds blooming along the edge, so I ran out and cut a few for inside.

They look nice with copper, but they're rather stinky. 

Monday, November 1, 2021

a little refresh

 It may have almost ten degrees cooler today, but the sun was bright, and before starting dinner I just had to go outside and walk in it. I crossed the bridge to the other side of the brook. Just for a moment.


Sunday, October 31, 2021

another Halloween record

 Well, we had a record one hundred and eighty four kids come for candy tonight. But we still bought way too much candy, so the leftovers are going to the local soup kitchen. Dolly was more interested in the jazz cd I was playing, but Annie was very excited about all the activity. We had princesses, two fisherman with poles and a "fish" hanging at the end, ghouls galore and one Grim Reaper, a parachuter, a bottle of ketchup and a girl who was carrying a rabbit! It was real, I petted it! There was a large, inflated dinosaur who had a hard time coming up the steps; as she went down I heard her advise the others to never buy an inflatable costume.

A lot of dads brought their children, and four of them were glad to take a chocolate bar for themselves when asked.

But the piece de resistance was a young man dressed like the fellows who guard the Queen's palace - you know, the red uniform with a tall, black fuzzy hat. I got excited and asked if he'd met the Queen, but he said no. I told him he should say yes. He was a Scots Guard, I think, as there was no colored feather on his head gear. The day was dreamy, and the evening was lovely. 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

tree curiosity

 My brother came in the other day to say he'd seen a garden snake laying in a sunny patch of dirt, put down after the fellow finally came to remove the ground-up wood chips. I have never seen a snake on our property, but of course they are there, so I said let's go back out - I want to see it. We went right out again - but he was gone.

Meanwhile, there we were, across the brook where I'd been examining the leaves of the trees out there, because I haven't paid attention and don't even know what they are. I know the tall swamp maple, because it's the brilliant one every October. And I did know the sassafras, with three different types of leaves on one tree -

one, a sort of mitten shape, one, with three lobes (is that the right word?) and another just oval-ish. I'd also noticed a maple with very large leaves, and this tree is still green! I guess it does this (or rather, doesn't do it) every fall, but as I said, I never noticed. So I picked a leaf and looked in my guide. It's most probably a Norway maple. Seems to be considered a pest by many, and it doesn't get pretty in the fall. 

This leaf is about nine inches across. And I also saw another shaped leaf, but I had to take one from the ground, since the branches are too high up. It's an elm! I think, a slippery elm, which is nice to have around; I used to love those slippery elm lozenges by Thayer. They don't make them anymore.

However, I'm glad to know what an elm leaf looks like. Meanwhile, my brother saw a snake again today, but I wasn't there, again. I'm sure I'd be startled to see a long snake in the grass, but I'm not afraid of them. 

late in blooming

 I'm still reading the book about domesticating foxes - I'd put it aside for a while in order to concentrate on the Coleridge book. So I've started the Anthony Esolen Inferno translation and it's good! Easy to read, but I'm sure I should have read it soon after the last version, in order to be able to compare them; as it is, I can't remember what the other one was like, and have no idea which is really better. Still, it's a good thing to be challenged in one's reading habits and I'm liking it.

I also have The Silver Chair. I've been slowly progressing through Narnia, since around the beginnings of COVID.

It took so long for the pot of mums near the shed to fully bloom. But, so pretty now.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

sweet concordance

I lift my eyes to you, O Lord,
Until you speak your promised word;
Mine like the eyes of maids who stand
Until the mistress waves her hand.

So shall I wait upon your will,
Commands that seem of good or ill.
For even harshest words from you
Shall still prove holy, good and true.

So Jesus listened and obeyed
When in his human will afraid.
Despised, rejected, sought and killed -
He yet attended to your will.

So may this Church which you have wrought,
And with your own blood dearly bought,
Delight to ponder and obey
The hard or gentle words you say.

Have mercy, Lord, have mercy long,
Our very weakness render strong,
Until the earth, like heav'n is filled
With sweet concordance to your will.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

so long to Thrush Green and Coleridge

 I finally finished reading Malcolm Guite's Mariner, about Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner. If textbooks were written like this, everyone would love school and learn better. And apparently it was STC's birthday the other day; a difficult life, but he held on to God throughout. And so I have only two things left on my reading challenge, and one is a 14th, 15th or 16th century book, or something about those eras. I'm going with Anthony Esolen's Inferno translation. I read the whole thing several years ago, and then wanted to try another translation, so I bought this and it's been on my shelf ever since. Meanwhile, so much time has gone by, and since I didn't keep the first one I can't compare them. I do like this so far, though. I also finished all the Thrush Green books from the library. It took me a long time, but they were very pleasant. And the last one, A Year at Thrush Green, or something like that, was especially nice for some reason. I was wondering if it might have been the last of the series because it seemed to make everything feel settled in a way. 

I am still getting used to Windows 10 and my laptop, while also trying to re-organize the pantry and wash windows. The computer is not at the top of the priority list. 

I have a little long and narrow pillow from the thrift store which I've meaning to hopefully cover in a nice way - it's got a thin layer of something over it which holds it together; but a small person somehow ripped this thin layer and now I have to remake that cover, too. It wasn't Dolly. (not that you thought it was)

Monday, October 18, 2021

wanting it both ways

 The weather today turned a corner. They said it wouldn't reach sixty, and I dug out some fall-type clothes; I was waiting to feel like it was time. So I dressed for the weather and was comfortable on an otherwise beautiful day, and I had to ask myself why it is that I still love summer best, when I am unable to function in humidity? I know why: It's the long days, the fireflies, the possibility of outdoor living, the bare feet, the open windows all day. But it's also the air conditioning, (or) the sweating, the limited menu because you don't want to heat the house by too much cooking, the lack of energy, seeing the cats lay around like 

all credit to Gary Larson! :D

Today, even though cool, I washed a window! I was comfortable! But it was dark at six thirty. And it's been forty five degrees at night. 


Monday, October 11, 2021

still around

 Well, I don't think I ever stayed away from blogging this long. My laptop finally stopped recognizing the wifi, so I had to buy a new one, which I'm sorting out. And even though I have a tablet, trying to type (sometimes) long posts would have been troublesome, so I just didn't bother. 

I had the week off, too, and did many things but couldn't share. It's looking like fall here, and has felt it sometimes but I think it's also warmer than normal - lots of temps in the seventies. But the trees are turning and this afternoon I picked a few little aster and goldenrod blossoms, along with some from the lovely hanging plant, and placed them carefully in some book pages to dry. I've never done this, but I have a project in mind, so we'll see how they come out.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

"pumpkin" scones

 I bought a calabaza squash at the supermarket; it was pretty big. After roasting it whole, it was well cooked inside after only an hour and a half. 

I then scooped up the flesh into a Very Large container, which it filled, and we had some with our roast the next day - it only needed some butter. There was a lot left.

So many seeds in that thing, I thought I should save them -

they should make a nice addition to granola. So then I found a pumpkin scone recipe. It barely made a dent. 

Really good! (But the orangey color isn't so appealing, is it?)  Still, it's really kind of fun to have the challenge of using up this squash. Next, probably a pumpkin bread.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

a work in progress

"God calls us to freedom. But instead of being given to us instantaneously and in full measure, this freedom is built up progressively and patiently day by day, by being faithful to God's calls. .. As the story in Genesis of creation and the fall makes clear, sin is a rejection of life as God's child, bringing enslavement with it. Through pride, human beings refuse to accept life and happiness from the Father's hands, with confident and loving dependency, preferring to be the source of life for themselves. Suspicions, fears, worries, and inflamed desires are the result.  Looking for happiness not to God, but to ourselves, we feverishly seek it in things...

Openness to God's calls frees us from pride. It sweeps aside the attitude of self-sufficiency, the pretense that one is the sole master of one's life. In its place come dependency, availability to another, humility, and confident submission. .. This is the human tragedy: to seek to realize an image of happiness proposed to us by the surrounding culture, without ever finding true happiness. As Saint Paul says: What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him. Sorrow and renunciation, struggle and agony are part of the opening up to reality. This is a work in progress, never complete here on earth, that makes possible for us an ever more abundant and fulfilling life."

                                                   -  Father Jacques Philippe, from Magnificat, September, 2021

Rather lengthy, but interesting, I thought

Thursday, September 23, 2021

dainty and pretty

I saw that a sprig of asters was growing inside the forsythia row near the back door. 

It contained a multitude of dainty blooms. 

Monday, September 20, 2021

peppers, at least

 I don't recall if I already said this, but our big garden was a bust this summer - my brother didn't roto-till it as early as usual, and the very wet July killed several plants - most of them! I do think our preoccupation with Sweetie's illness was a factor. 

The little garden beside the back door is giving us plenty of peppers, though. There are always white blossoms on the plants. 

Something to be grateful for.

Sunday, September 19, 2021


 Reading my Bible last night, this intrigued me, a commentary on Luke, chapter 4 - which deals with the temptation of Jesus - by Bishop Robert Barron

"What is most interesting about this second temptation is that the devil couldn't offer all of the kingdoms of the world to Jesus unless, he, the devil, owned them. All the kingdoms of the world, Luke tells us, belong to a fallen spiritual force. I don't know a passage in any of the literature of the world that is as critical of political power as this one! 

Whereas many (if not most) cultures both ancient and modern tend to apotheosize their political leaders, the Bible sees right through politics and politicians. One of the most important contributions of the Scriptures to contemporary politics, at least in the West, is this deep suspicion that power tends to corrupt. The institutionalization of this suspicion in complex systems of checks and balances is a healthy outgrowth of the biblical view.

To be sure, scripturally minded people should not allow their suspicion to give way to a complete cynicism regarding politics. Since God is powerful, power in itself cannot be construed as something evil, and indeed the Bible frequently states that legitimate political authority participates in God's own governance of the cosmos. But given the general human tendency toward self-absorption and violence - about which the Bible is remarkably clear-eyed - one should never put one's total trust in political systems, leaders, or programs. And one should be ever aware of the fact that human legal arrangements are under the judgment and authority of God."


"Power is extremely seductive. Many would gladly eschew material things or attention or fame in order to get it. Jesus' great answer in Matthew's account of this story is 'away with you, Satan'. To seek power is to serve Satan - it is stated that bluntly."

And this is in Magnificat today:

"Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is the temptation to beset the just one with revilement and torture. This is what Jesus reveals to his disciples: he is to be handed over to men and they will kill him. The disciples' response is to squabble among themselves about who was the greatest. Where do the conflicts among you come from? From your passions that make war within, spurring us to kill and envy. Yet, for all our coveting, we do not find satisfaction. So Jesus puts his arms around a child to show us that he calls us to be peaceable, gentle, full of mercy - qualities we receive by asking for them."

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

the secret lives of ants

 "The ways in which animals play had long been studied. Ornithologists had observed many types of bird play, such as when they hang upside down from tree branches and swing back and forth with apparent glee. Chimpanzees had been observed playing and chasing each other in ways that looked much like children playing tag. Even some insects had been observed to play. In 1929, August Forel, an influential ant researcher, wrote in his book The Social World of the Ants as Compared to Man: 'On fine, calm days when they are feeling no hunger or any other cause of anxiety, certain ants entertain themselves with sham fights, without doing each other any harm; but these games come to an end directly [if] they are scared. This is one of their most amusing habits.'"

                                                      - from How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog)

Who knew?

Monday, September 13, 2021

late summer

 We're having the most lovely weather now, finally. Those insects or tree frogs or whatever they are are singing outside in the night, in a constant hum. Crickets have been heard inside the library for the past three weeks; I had to catch one the other day and put him outside, but I did wait for nice weather to do it. 

Dolly's dish has disappeared. It was last seen on Monday at lunch time. I fed her and Annie, then went out to lunch. When I came home, my brother said he couldn't find it anywhere. I have looked in every closet, cupboard, drawer and other ridiculous places. How do these things happen?

We were given a lovely homegrown cabbage! I made this recipe. Very nice. 

We found this yellow feather outside. I immediately thought of a goldfinch, but - they are small birds. This is five inches long. Goldfinches are about five and a half, with black wings. Here's a link to a good photo. I'll have to email this to the Audubon Society and see what they say.

This plant is the best hanging plant I've ever had - it never stopped blooming all summer, with no encouragement from me, in the way of fertilizer, I mean. Just water. I tried adjusting the color here, but can't get it right; it's warmer toned than this - more of a dusky rose, and I'll try to take a better photo.

But I don't even know what it is!

Sunday, September 12, 2021

nothing wasted

 "Since the time of Adam's fall, God has this invariable draw good out of evil...The cowardice of Pilate, the cunning of Caiaphas, the intriguing, haughty spirit of the priestly leaders and the Scribes and Pharisees were the ladder along which Jesus went to his sacrifice. The tyranny of the Caesars during the first three centuries of the Church gave rise to the multitude of glorious martyrs. The heretics, who continued the persecutions, gave occasion to that group of Fathers and Doctors of the Church. Thus, in the succession of events, God always draws good out of evil.
What God does on a large scale in history, he does on a small scale in each soul."

                                                               -  Luis Maria Martinez

Friday, September 10, 2021

"the potency of God's grace"

 "The food we eat, our use of the world, the justice we bring, the art we make, these are the spaces in which the potency of God's grace shows plainly in the lives of those who love him."

                                                               -  Sarah ClarksonThis Beautiful Truth

Thursday, September 9, 2021

making progress

 These are the books I've been tackling lately. Mariner will take a while because it's thick, and because when I have time to read, I may not always have the mental wherewithal to absorb something like that. That's why the P.G. Wodehouse is in the pile, and a humorous novel is part of the reading challenge, anyway; I didn't know what else would qualify as a "light comedic novel" - do you? The Family Table is one of two cookbooks by Shaye Elliott that I'm actually reading - I know some people read cookbooks, but I never have. Until now, and I'm really getting a lot out of it. This may also help me with the reading challenge, where I'm supposed to read from a genre I don't normally.

How to Tame a Fox is dry, but something I've been interested in for a while - the Russian experiment in domesticating foxes in Siberia for decades. Somebody just dropped off this book at the library, and I grabbed it. This Beautiful Truth is Sarah Clarkson's new book about her lifelong struggles with mental illness. She writes like a poet, and the whole story is beautiful and touching. 

I made another zippered pouch.

In my two favorite colors.