Monday, December 30, 2013

afternoon delights

A sunny spot in the living room with a bit of hand stitching, listening to Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring on the radio.

With company.

Friday, December 27, 2013

time for crossing the desert

"If, as Herod, we fill our lives with things, and again with things; if we consider ourselves so unimportant that we must fill every moment of our lives with action, when will we have the time to make the long, slow journey across the desert as did the Magi? Or sit and watch the stars as did the shepherds? Or brood over the coming of the child as did Mary?"

                                        -  anonymous  (from Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

an Italian time

Like every Christmas, we spent it with my Italian side of the family. 

Very lively. Kissing everybody. Rum cake. Laughing.

And a new ornament - the Italian flag - and everybody got one.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

"the incredible truth"

"We do not dare to believe or trust the incredible truth that God could live in us, and live there out of choice, out of preference. The message of hope the contemplative offers you is not that you need to find your way through the jungle of language and problems that today surround God; but that whether you understand or not, God loves you, is present to you, lives in you, dwells in you, calls you, saves you, and offers you an understanding and light which are like nothing you ever found in books or heard in sermons."

                                   -   Thomas Merton

Friday, December 20, 2013

a smart cookie

The Smart Cookie I'm talking about is me. 

I've mentioned these before. Once you've had them you don't forget them. And I've never met a person who didn't love them. 

You roll the little balls of dough in some sugar, and since it's holiday time, I got out my silver sugar, which is rod-shaped and can really make a statement. Mixed it up with the granulated sugar, and they came out perfect. Very wintery looking, as if they'd blown into the kitchen after a tumble through the ice and snow.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

two winter yarns

I'm joining Ginny again for yarnalong. I've begun knitting a cowl for myself, just because it's a good way to use up some Wool Ease Chunky - I don't know if I'll even like it. We'll see. I'm using the Simple Ribbed Cowl pattern here on Ravelry

I have issues with using circular needles - it feels like my gauge is loose when I use them, at least at the beginning of the work until I get going. So it was fortuitous that when I decided to make this, I didn't have any size thirteen circulars and had to go with the elevens.

My book is one of Anne Perry's annual Christmas mysteries, A Christmas Odyssey, from three years ago. These are always enjoyable and there are about a dozen by now, and can be read in any order since they're not a series.

"not now"

I see him, though not now;
I behold him, though not near;
A star shall advance from Jacob,
and a staff shall rise from Israel.

- Numbers 24:17

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

in a Christmas dreamland

The Music Lover, lulled to sleep after enjoying Christmas carols.

Monday, December 16, 2013

the reds

We've got some snow on the ground; now it's really winter. It's feeling like Christmas. And another of the things I do in Advent is get out the reds. A throw, dishes, ornaments, napkins - it turns everything warm, cozy and cheerful.

A crocheted ornament from Tracy, hanging from the kitchen light with a snowman gift tag.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

a reason why Catholics are devoted to the mother of Jesus

"The genuine significance of Catholic devotion to Mary is to be seen in the light of the Incarnation itself. The Church believes that the one who was closest to him in this great mystery was the one who participated most perfectly in the gift.

Mary, who was empty of all egotism, free from all sin, was as pure as the glass of a very clean window that has no other function than to admit the light of the sun. If we rejoice in that light, we implicitly praise the cleanness of the window. And, of course, it might be argued that in such a case we might well forget the window altogether. This is true. And yet the Son of God, in emptying himself of his majestic power, having become a child, abandoning himself in complete dependence to the loving care of a human mother, in a certain sense draws our attention once again to her.

The Light has wished to remind us of the window, because he is grateful to her and because he has an infinitely tender and personal love for her. If he asks us to share this love, it is certainly a great grace and a privilege, and one of the most important aspects of this privilege is that it enables us, to some extent, to appreciate the mystery of God's great love and respect for his creatures."

                                               -  Thomas Merton

(Madonna and Child, by Marianne Stokes)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Santa Lucia

Today was the feast of St. Lucy, who is especially revered in Sweden. Which is a fascination to me, as Protestants don't generally want to pay much attention to the saints.  I like to play this cd on her day (but not just today); beautifully performed by students in an elementary school for singing, but very professional.

When the days are cold and grey and the nights long and overcast
and summer sleeps like frozen earth
When snow has fallen brightly from a grey and cloudy sky
and everyone dresses warmly against the bitter cold
then a light reaches into every dark corner
for look, Lucia is standing among you.

- from Lucia Song

Thursday, December 12, 2013

easy winter scene

In the current issue of Country Living is an awfully cute idea with inexpensive salt shakers, small bottle brush trees, a miniature stag and salt for snow.  Meanwhile, I found myself at the thrift store yesterday and found one of those great mason jars with a glass lid and wire closure. It's pretty good sized; the opening being about three inches with plenty of room inside for a little winter scene. 

So when Emily came again today, I sent her outside to gather some sticks and greenery. Our little glass deer fits right in with yew pieces behind and red berries in the "snow".

We included a taller stick to give the crowded arrangement some balance. You could do a lot with this idea.

Now our little fawn is sitting happily on a shelf in the secretary.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

sentiment on a Christmas card

This, inside a card we received yesterday:

   During this Holy Season, may your hearts be warmed with the golden memories of all the happy days you have ever known. 

   May every gift God has given you fill the hearts of all who are dear to you with its fragrance.

   And may the peace-giving smile of the Infant Jesus abide with you always, keeping you lovingly near to Him and to Mary, His Virgin Mother, and to St. Joseph.

And I also wish this for all my blogging friends.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

incredible sunrise

Yes, it was the sun rise. I could hardly believe it. And then we had snow all day. "Sailors take warning."

Monday, December 9, 2013

perfect for a tablecloth

I used it last year for the tree skirt, but I suddenly realized how perfect it works on the table. A yarn-dyed cotton plaid in navy and "natural", it may be homespun but I'm not sure - the only homespun I've seen was heavier and stiffer than this.

The blue (plastic) and the patterned (plastic) placemats look well on it. Our red New England-y patterned dishware looks fine with it, as do the cheap (microwaveable) blue plates from the supermarket.

The china, too!

It also blends very well with the wallpaper. And looks as okay rumply as smooth. I'm thrilled!
It fits on the table with just a little to spare, and all I'm going to do is zigzag the cut edges.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

"the most obvious reason we might think of cats as little people"

"Cynics often suggest that cats trick people into providing food and shelter through false displays of affection, and that cat owners project their own emotions onto their cats, imagining that the love they feel for their pet is reciprocated.

We cannot dismiss these claims lightly, but surely we feel such affection for cats with good reason. ..Our emotional bond with cats does not stem from gratitude for mere utility; in fact, many of today's cat owners find themselves disgusted by their cat's hunting prowess, while continuing to love them as pets. So it is indeed possible that we humans are somewhat credulous, drawn in by some quality cats possess that encourages us to anthropomorphize their behavior.

The most obvious reason we might think of cats as little people is the humanlike qualities of their facial features. Their eyes face forward, like ours and unlike those of most animals...Their heads are round and their foreheads are large, reminding us of a human baby's face."

                                  -   Cat Sense,   John Bradshaw

Friday, December 6, 2013

a handsome neighbor

Emily dropped by yesterday, and a neighborhood cat came along and sat on top of her warm hood.

He's a favorite of ours for some reason. I like his wide-eyed, frank gaze and his long nose, and the fur around his neck is longer, like a mane. I am assuming he's a he, but I don't know. He came along one day when I had Dolly outside, but when she started meowing in a funny way I brought her in. So, I think of him as her boyfriend.

There are several cats in the neighborhood, but we always comment when this guy comes around.

(no, we're not looking to take in another cat - we just like him!)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

green mitts and cats

I am still enamored with knitting these hand warmers, and getting better at it, too.  Susan showed me where to learn how to avoid those holes you get near the thumbs.  Practice.  Here is the link.

I've been reading Cat Sense by John Bradshaw, been quoting it here and am still at it - it's detailed and my reading's been slacking off lately.   Cats seem incapable of forming alliances between family groups, unlike, for example, some primates; negotiation skills of this sophistication lie beyond their capabilities. It's all quite interesting.

joining Ginny for yarnalong.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas baking

doesn't have to be all cookies. These cranberry-orange muffins just came out of the oven.

I think they'd be pretty good with a bit of orange-y icing, when the time comes.

Monday, December 2, 2013

the second Advent thing

the second thing I always want to do when Advent begins is hang up the gaudy wreath. It makes a big splash.

"The Advent liturgy builds up the excitement and anticipatory joy about the coming of the Lord. But is this not a preparation that can only lead to an anticlimax? I don't think so.

Advent does not lead to nervous tension stemming from expectation of something spectacular about to happen. Rather, it leads to a growing inner stillness and joy allowing me to realize that the One for whom I am waiting has already arrived and speaks to me in the silence of my heart."

                                                         -  Henri Nouwen

Sunday, December 1, 2013

in the silence of prayer

"In this silence [of prayer] we find a new energy and a real unity. God's energy becomes ours, allowing us to perform things well. There is a unity of our thoughts with his thoughts, of our prayers with his prayers, of our actions with his actions, of our life with his life.

If we follow this way, our faith will grow, our conviction will grow, and the striving for holiness will become our daily task."

                                                -     Mother Theresa