Thursday, May 26, 2022

a prayer on the Ascension of the Lord

Loving Father,
because of the
 Ascension of your Son
 our human nature
is now at home with you in heaven.
 May this truth
be our lasting encouragement and hope. 

- from Magnificat, May 2022

Monday, May 23, 2022

a fresh day

 The windows are all open and it's almost cold in the house, but I'm okay with it. It was up over ninety the past two days, and oppressively humid - this bright sun and crisp air is welcome. I can hear a lawn being mowed, birds having a conversation, things are growing - it's wonderful. 

Friday, May 20, 2022


 A co-worker brought in a bouquet of lilacs, and they perfumed the workroom at the library. But it wasn't overpowering and I was surprised that it didn't bother me. Meanwhile, I read this the other day - and I hope it's okay to reprint it here. 


You stand beneath the lilac bush at night
And smell her heavy blossoms, think, ah, right,
I've caught this scent a thousand times before,
Which, subtle though it is, you can't ignore.
It fills the mind and yet escapes it, too,
As every mystery worth the name will do.
Perhaps that's why, like baby faces, ants,
The curious innards of a marshland's plants,
Like love songs or the neighbor's lab you pet,
No matter how familiar, we still get
A pulse of wonder and a hint of fear
That some ethereal visitant draws near.

-   James Matthew Wilson, from National Review, May 16, 2022

Thursday, May 19, 2022

red lentil soup for a damp day

 It really seems like summer has begun early this year, except for today. It was barely sixty and rainy. I made a new recipe for the second time, a hearty red lentil soup on this damp day. I don't remember where I cut it out from, but the paper says it was developed by a Bill Millholland. Thanks, Bill. 

Dice up a large onion, two carrots and two celery stalks, and saute in olive oil for ten minutes. Add three minced garlic cloves, a tablespoon of tomato paste, a half teaspoon of ground cumin, one quarter teaspoon of saffron and one quarter teaspoon of turmeric. Stir around for another minute. 

Add four cups of chicken stock and one and a half c. water, half a bag of frozen spinach and a pound of red lentils, rinsed well. Cook this for twenty minutes. I end up adding another quart of water, it's so thick, so you will, too. It's still like porridge when it's done. One teaspoon kosher salt and a half tsp. black pepper. This is really tasty and filling.

Monday, May 16, 2022

red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet

 We had a bit of a thunderstorm at suppertime. Well, it's been hot and humid for a few days - like July! I wonder if summer has already begun. 

Anyway, the storm. There wasn't much to it, but then while it was sprinkling, the sun came out and you know what that means. A rainbow! 

It was a double - you can see it! 

I have never seen the colors so clearly in a rainbow before; I saw every single shade.

You'll have to pretend that dark spot isn't there - my camera is old. 

It got brighter and brighter; it lasted so long! And then I looked over to the right, and could see the other end 

This is unusual for our neighborhood. It was lovely! 

And now it will be comfortable and in the seventies for a few days. 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

prayer for the coming week

 God is love; to Christ we pray -

You are the way:
   - lead us in your ways today and throughout the coming week. 

You are the truth:
   - let truth be our guide in every conversation.

You are the life:
   - teach us to live according to your love.

                 Show us the way we should choose!

                                        -  from Magnficat, May 2022

Saturday, May 14, 2022

hanging a plant already

 Ordinarily I'd never buy a hanging plant this early; we usually can expect frosts in mid-May. But the days are actually hot, and this pretty plant at the supermarket caught my fancy. 

Yellow would never be my first choice, but it hangs over the pot so prettily! And that's what matters - hanging plants need to hang. So I guess the color is of secondary importance. I looked ahead two weeks on the Accuweather site, and it seems like these warm temperatures will continue through the month's end. Unless, of course, things change. But this is quite unusual.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Dolly cools off

 We're having very summery weather, like eighty-something, and with humidity. Dolly has definitely been  uncomfortable, restlessly going here and then there, trying to find a cooler surface. After supper it went down to seventy and she was lying on the bare floor in the living room, limp as a rag. On a whim, I grabbed a quilt and her harness, scooped her up and went outside in the front yard. She came alive instantly, and I wish I had a photo, but I didn't want to take too many things. She ate grass, walked around and then sat near me, giving me a little bite on the hand in cat gratitude. We watched people drive and walk by, and we came in when it got damp after sunset, but I've got window fans in two windows on the north side and the house is cooling fast. It'll only go as low as sixty five tonight, so I'll run these till bedtime - they are a little noisy. But she is much better. 

But poor Annie cried from the window. We'll have to see what we can do about that.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

new things to plant

 A year ago we took down two trees, and lost a lot of shade in the back yard. We researched different tree types but then the nursery didn't have those. It was hard to decide what to do - we never bought any replacements last fall. 

Well, my brother picked up a white crabapple tree today, and a couple of variegated hollies. The arbor vitaes that are along the side fence are all yellowed, and I think it's from the two overflows we had last summer - here's a film of one. We were told that crabapple trees can take some wet conditions. The little dogwood is totally dead, too! And it did so well last year. It has to be from all the water. 

So the hollies will replace the arbor vitaes and I think the crab will also be on the side somewhere, but we want to get two more trees and more shrubs. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

discovering Rick Bragg, finally

 I had to read a biography of someone living, for my reading challenge. I kept this in the back of my mind for some time - it would mostly likely be somebody I admire, or at least find interesting. But no one name occurred to me. 

I decided to go through the biography section at work, until I remembered that we don't have it anymore; they are all interfiled throughout the non-fiction. So I wandered over to the new books to have a look. 

Over the years, when Rick Bragg's name passed by, I would always feel a pull, and wonder about his writing. Never did anything about it. So I'm looking through the new non-fiction and I see a small book with a dog on the cover. The Speckled Beauty. It's about a beloved dog of his (no, the dog doesn't die at the end.) So, I said to myself, you've always wanted to read something of his, and this looks like a biography - of a dog, but so what? I read it. It was a beautiful story. If you're a dog lover, or an animal lover, you may want to give it a try. Rick Bragg is a poet.

So now, I've got something of his called Where I Come From: Stories from the Deep South. I expect to enjoy it, because of his beautiful story-telling ability. 

"The stories in this collection are of the South's gentler, easier nature. It is a litany of great talkers, blue-green waters, deep casseroles, kitchen sink permanents, lying fishermen, haunted mansions, and dogs that never die, things that make this place more than a dotted line on a map or a long-ago failed rebellion, even if only in some cold-weather dream."

Monday, May 9, 2022

Potato Leek Soup, delicious

 Melt 3 (or 4) tablespoons of butter. Add two leeks, which have been cleaned up and sliced, two stalks of celery, chopped, and a clove of garlic, minced. Throw in some thyme and saute it for ten minutes. Add eight cups of chicken stock, a few potatoes, peeled and cut up (a pound and a half or so), and some tarragon and parsley - dried or fresh, as much as you want, but plenty!). Cover and cook for forty minutes. Press it all down with a potato masher and then add some cream or coconut milk, as much as you like. Put in a bit of white pepper and taste to see if it needs salt. 

Adapted from Food and Wine magazine. I love this recipe, so thought I'd better share it. 

This evening. You can see where they've marked the road, preparatory to replacing the pipe. We don't have an appointment yet.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

not much to complain about

 It's May now - surely it's safe enough to put away my boots. 

Everyone I know has high hopes for this month - April was a disappointment, too cool. Today is certainly lovely and will get over seventy, which is above normal but no one will be complaining about it.

I could complain about our sinks draining too slowly. Drano hasn't done much, so the rooter fellow was called. I could complain that he had bad news for us; the pipe underground which goes to the street isn't good. (they're made of cardboard and tar!) The front yard will have to be dug up. We'll have to be without water for a few days, who knows how long. The water company was called and they notified a subcontractor to come out and assess things. 

Well, the fellow said the whole business will take one day - less! They would start 9-ish and be done changing the pipe by lunchtime. An inspector will come (quickly) and it will all be filled in by two! Compared to what my imagination was telling me, there is very little to complain about here. In our state, there is an insurance you can pay into in case of water pipe problems: there are three levels to the coverage and we had the middle one, until our neighbor had bad problems a few years ago. After his situation I decided to up our coverage to the third level, and now I think we won't have to pay anything. 

The mountain laurel will have to go - that's okay, and we may decide to move it, although it doesn't look good. He thinks the cherry tree may get partly damaged by the work, but we'll just wait and see how it goes. All in all, not bad!

Sunday, May 1, 2022

paying attention

I had a cold last week, and am shedding the residual effects of it. I reached for a book to read, wanting a pleasant distraction, and picked up L. M. Montgomery's Jane of Lantern Hill. I was just beginning to ask myself if it wasn't too much a children's book and maybe I should find something else. But when Janes's father shows up and they spend the summer together at the shore, the descriptions of their days and the scenery just take over. His car broke down, and he had to hire a horse and buggy, so they got to enjoy the scenery:

"A blithe soul was Jane as they drove away. The glow at her heart went with her across the Island. ...The road was full of lovely surprises...a glimpse of far-off hills that seemed made of opal dust...a whiff of wind that had been blowing over a clover field....brooks that appeared from nowhere and and ran off into green shadowy woods where long branches of spicy fir hung over the laced water....great white cloud mountains towering up in the blue sky....a hollow of tipsy buttercups....a tidal river unbelievably blue. Everything seemed just on the point of whispering a secret of happiness."

The other day I was looking at some clouds and trees and searching for words of description -  could not find any. I'm not a writer - I know it. But I knew that the clouds could have been described in a glowing way by someone like Lucy Maud Montgomery, if not me. There are many things we see, and many moments like she writes of, which are worth remembering in this way. If we try to pay attention.


 Now the bright morning-star, day's harbinger,
Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her
The flowery May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.
Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire
Mirth, and youth, and warm desire!
Woods and groves are of thy dressing;
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
Thus we salute thee with our early song,
And welcome thee, and wish thee long.

                       -  John Milton from Magnificat, May 2022

Thursday, April 28, 2022

losing a friend

 A month ago, my friend Cyndi called - I hadn't heard from her for a while; we hadn't exchanged Christmas and birthday gifts, and I couldn't get replies to any emails. She told me she had pancreatic cancer. They gave her two weeks. 

I was stunned for a week. At least. She passed away on Monday. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord. Let perpetual light shine upon her, and may she rest in peace. Amen.

Around fifteen years ago, her beloved brother Bob died in his sleep - he was in his fifties. Four years ago her husband who had severe MS, shot himself at home, while she was there. She had to deal with the horror of that for a while. 

We were friends for almost fifty years. It's going to take a while to get used to.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

the Easter challenge

" In the risen Christ, wounded and glorified, we see all our hopes realized. In him all the wounds of our hearts, minds, and bodies are transformed into his holiness. The sorrow and pain of our lives are made the source of our sanctification and joy."

        -  from Magnificat, April 2022

"Everything was different - and so it has to be for us. ..The religious instinct in every person, perhaps, in our time, is beginning to awaken. Who can tell them where to find the truth but those who belong to the Christian community which believes in Christ who died and rose from the dead?"

"Easter challenges us each year..Death is not for us the end of the story. It is the beginning of a new chapter. ..The purpose of our present life is to prepare for that....Life matters...When we know pain or depression, when we feel abandoned, or when we are dying, we remember that Christ had the same experiences. Our suffering brings us closer to Christ and closer to God."

                          -  Cardinal Basil Hume, The Mystery of the Cross

Monday, April 18, 2022

"fearful, yet overjoyed"

 Easter was so lovely this year. I mean, it was too cool - not even fifty degrees - but bright and sunny,   just very Easter-ish. And I was able for once to go to all the services on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, and that's enough to really draw you into the whole experience of the death and resurrection of the Lord. It was terrific.

Meanwhile, I decided to make a favorite veggie lasagna for a change, and after puzzling over what to have for dessert, I remembered the Polish lady had made a babka for us with icing on it, so I defrosted it and served it along with some chocolates we had left over from Christmas. That was plenty! An easy dinner. I like fussing, but I need to be realistic and use what we've got. 

This image is on the current cover of Magnificat, and I like it -

The Maries at the Sepulchre, imitator of Andrea Mantegna

"Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed".*

 Yes, I'm sure they were.

*Matthew 28:8

Sunday, April 17, 2022


Rise, heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Without delays

- George Herbert

Human language falls silent before the mystery of resurrection.
Only one word remains to us: 
from Magnificat

"The sun arising in the East, 
Though he give light, and th'East perfume;
If they should offer to contest
With thy arising, they presume."
- Geo. Herbert

Friday, April 15, 2022

"the seed of divine life"

 "It is finished; the work is done. ..There will still be wars, famines, earthquakes, and other kinds of suffering too, which come in the wake of sin. Mental anguish, anxiety, loss of reason are still part of human living, but now different. He has hidden in human pain the seed of divine life. Hope is now hidden in human despair, joy concealed in human sadness. Anguish, anxiety, the ravages of war and famine - all hide within themselves a rich reward, a precious treasure - life hidden with Christ in God for the sharers in his passion."

                                                     -      Cardinal Basil Hume

Crucified Expiring Jesus, by Zurbaran

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Ash Wednesday is not the norm

April 12th and tonight I showered with the window wide open - what a pleasure! It's just going down into the forties now. 

I am preoccupied lately, and find it hard to come here and say something. So I read now and then, and share when it speaks to me. 

"One Ash Wednesday I was motoring up the A1 on my way to give a lecture. Intending to listen to the news, I turned on the radio and heard with joy the familiar strains of Allegri's Miserere. It was quite beautiful. Unfortunately, reception was marred by my having to pass under a series of bridges, and you know how that acts like a dam in the flow of the music.
  Such music and song, superbly performed, raises the spirit and lifts the thoughts into a world of pure beauty where it is good to rest and just be there. Experiences like this are happy reminders that the journey through life, often dull and monotonous like driving on a motorway, is tolerable if the end of the journey will bring happiness and fulfillment. They are pleasant reminders, too, that Ash Wednesday is not the norm. Easter Sunday is."

                                            - Cardinal Basil Hume, from The Mystery of the Cross

Thursday, April 7, 2022

nearing the end of Lent

I see more clearly every day that our contemporary society has, as it were, to begin all over again. In our religious thinking we have lost too much, and we must needs rediscover the central part which Christ must play in the lives of each one of us. 

We have, perhaps, tried to cross the waters relying too much on ourselves alone. Darkness has fallen, and Jesus has not yet come back to us. Meanwhile, there is a strong wind blowing, and the sea is beginning to grow rough. Maybe, if we look hard enough, we shall see him coming towards us, walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat. That might be a frightening experience until we hear him say: It is I. Do not be afraid.

Then we shall take him on board willingly enough; and all at once our boat will reach the land we were making for, that land where deep calls to deep. That is where God's love meets man's, and no matter what cataracts roar, or what waves and breakers roll, we shall know that we are safe, held and led to that heaven which is the vision of the Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit."

                                                -  from The Mystery of the Cross, by Cardinal Basil Hume

Monday, April 4, 2022

singing together

 I was going through some old magazines before passing them on. I found this:

"America is a tune. It must be sung together."   -  Gerald Stanley Lee

Sunday, March 27, 2022

the Cause of our wonder

 From The Mystery of the Cross, by the late Cardinal Basil Hume of England:

"What are the Articles of Faith to you and me? They are pointers to the mystery, they are starting points for endless exploration, right down the ages, and that exploration is never completed, either by the Church itself, or by us individually. One of the problems in the Church today is that there are people who think that doctrine does not evolve. But I was encouraged when I read these words by a Greek Orthodox theologian:  

                We see that it is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of a mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder."

Saturday, March 26, 2022

"nor death nor hell shall harm"

 Thou art the Way: to thee alone
from sin and death we flee;
and he who would the Father seek
must seek him, Lord, by thee.

Thou art the Truth: thy word alone
true wisdom can impart;
Thou only can inform the mind,
and purify the heart.

Thou art the Life: the rending tomb
proclaims thy conquering arm,
and those who put their trust in thee
nor death nor hell shall harm

Thou art the Way, the Truth, the Life:
grant us that Way to know,
that Truth to keep, that Life to win,
whose joys eternal flow.

          -  George Washington Doane from Magnificat, March 2022

Monday, March 21, 2022

birds singing, threads breaking

 It's wonderful to hear the birds singing so much. The cardinals are whistlingrobins are laughing. Everyone is busy doing spring things. Dolly is feeling cold lately it seems, because she's been wanting to burrow.

I made the cake; it came out of the pans beautifully. Always a relief. I found a broken thread on my linen dress with the tucks - the one I put on backward once - maybe you remember. 

I went into my embroidery floss, looking for an exact match - and actually found one! It will be easy to repair.

prayers for Ukraine

 Here is something from some Benedictine monks, remembering the situation and people in Ukraine.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

third Sunday of Lent

 The grass turned green the day before St. Patrick's; it's been warm. Friday it was in the seventies! One hardly knows what to wear, when the clothes in the closet are for the forties. New Englanders always have something to complain about in the weather. :)


When I brought pieces of the gluten-free, sugar-free cake to work, it was very well received. So, I'm making it up tomorrow for Wednesday's celebration. Meanwhile, I still haven't done my taxes. It's always this way - I wait long enough for all the pertinent forms and things to come in the mail, and then things like this come up and before you know it, it's the eleventh hour. But I still have a little time.

In Malcolm Guite's poetry guide through Lent, this week Dante will accompany us. He says: "Most of us are under pressure, external and internal, to do everything, be good at everything, be accountable to everyone for everything! It is not so. In the divine economy each of us has a particular grace, gift and devotion. Finding out what that is, and learning how to be guilt-free about not doing everything else, may be part of what our Lenten journey is for." I underlined that last line! But I still must do my taxes.


I like this magazine

At the supermarket I thought to get a kielbasa for Easter and the local brand I like was twenty two dollars! I bought the ten dollar one - they taste the same to me. I'm not quarrelling with their price - maybe they source better ingredients, maybe they pay their employees better wages and benefits, I have no idea, but I just can't bring myself to pay that much. 

The Gospel reading at Mass today was from St. Luke, chapter 13:

"Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus said to them in reply:

Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them - do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!"

St. Patrick pray for us

Thursday, March 17, 2022

a timely psalm

This morning's psalm in my prayer book:

 Why do you boast of your wickedness,
you champion of evil?
You love evil more than good;
lies more than truth.

For this God will destroy you
and remove you forever.
He will snatch you from your tent and uproot you
from the land of the living.

The just shall see and fear.
They shall laugh and say:
So this is the man who refused
to take God as his stronghold,
but trusted in the greatness of his wealth
and grew powerful by his crimes?

- Psalm 52: 3-7

Monday, March 14, 2022

cake experiments

 I made a cake today. I've made this recipe before, and had written "excellent" on the paper, which I'd cut out from Gourmet Magazine, May 1993. It has no eggs, if that might be of interest to you. If you make it, I guarantee enthusiasm from your guests (or family, as the case may be). But today I took a chance and changed up some things.

Someone at work has been on a sugar-free, dairy-free and wheat-free regimen, and she's having a birthday soon. What to do? I was very curious about what would happen if I took a known recipe and subbed some crucial ingredients. It came out quite good, I think.

It rose nicely. Came out of the pan easily. 

I used King Arthur gluten-free Measure for Measure flour. I also used Nature's Besti sugar replacement with monk fruit (very little, I believe, even though in BIG LETTERS on the package). I was nervous about it, but it tastes pretty good. This was a trial run; I'll bring a few pieces to work to see what people think, while keeping it secret from the Birthday Person. 

The fake sugar taste isn't quite like real sugar, and is seventy percent as sweet. This woman can have maple syrup, actually, so I'm considering using half the amount of the Besti and using half maple syrup - the batter is so thick, I don't think there'd be a problem with doing that. I'd rather have it thinned out, in fact; it was hard to smooth out in the pan, sticking to the spatula. It does contain dairy - I could try using coconut milk, but another thing this cake doesn't have: baking powder. I think I'd have to include it with coconut milk. We'll have to discuss all these issues. It's quite possible she'd have a piece no matter what, but frankly, the challenge appealed to me.

The frosting: I wish I could find a maple syrup frosting, but nothing turns up. There are plenty which claim to be that, but they all contain powdered sugar, too. Perhaps it can't be done. I may make regular buttercream in case she's willing to indulge - if not, she can avoid eating it.

I find this sort of thing so interesting. Meanwhile, check out the link to the recipe, especially if you're looking for a good chocolate cake and you've got buttermilk on hand. It makes one delicious layer.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

someone calls us by our name

This morning we stepped out and were brought back in time to the depth of winter - breezy and frigid after a very windy night. Yesterday snow fell, accumulating rapidly; the sun poked through later for a while, then a squally sort of snow returned for the rest of the evening. Everything got covered. But the forecast has us in the fifties and sixties the rest of the week - then spring comes on Sunday. I am peering into my closet to make sure I have things to wear for these warm days.

I liked Malcolm Guite's Advent guide so much, I have his Lenten one, The Word in the Wilderness. He wrote a beautiful meditation last Friday on The Song of Wandering Aengus (Sam Neill again - I love his reading!)   He speaks of the key line of the whole poem: "And someone called me by my name", and how our Christian vocation is a calling of us by name - a call out of nothingness into being, a call out of darkness into light, and "all our lives, all our journeyings, 'through hollow lands and hilly lands', are a response to that call."

I finished a terrible pile of mending, terrible because it was around too long, not because it was so hard to actually do. Procrastination is always bad. Now to get back to "real" sewing.

I went out to a hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread.

And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:

It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;

And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

Friday, March 11, 2022

little diversions

 It was truly a winter wonderland yesterday morning, snow sticking to all the tree branches and the clothesline. But it was just a diversion because the temp went up to fifty and the snow mostly went away. I don't miss it - my daffodil leaves are up, very clumped together and I can see I'll have to divide them after blooming. 

A co-worker introduced me to Wordle - do you know it? I'm not one for crosswords, though I used to like the cryptograms in the Sunday paper years ago. Wordle appears on the New York Times website every day; it's always a five-letter word that you have to guess, and you've got six tries. If you've got a letter right, it shows in yellow and if it's also in the correct spot, it shows up green. It's a little thing to get your mind working, and I love it. And the fact that it's every day, clean fun and others you know may be doing it is also a nice thing. You can also go back to previous games because they're archived. It may be just what you need.