Wednesday, December 28, 2016

obscure delights of Christmas

"...the spirit of Christmas is a paradox precisely because its largeness is made manifest in the smallest of ways: in little kindnesses, tiny pleasures, and obscure delights among ordinary people in the simplest of circumstances."

                                                      - from Christmas Spirit, by George Grant and Gregory Wilbur

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


I had just said to my brother two weeks ago, "Can it be your clients all know that you're not eating so many sugary things?"  He hadn't come home with anything; and if you've been reading here for a while, you know the mountains of stuff he gets at Christmas.

Well. I just needed a little patience.

He brought all of it home last week.

I've been trying to keep it under the tree just on one side, so the cats can get under there if they want to. This is growing. There's more, though.

This, plus three plates of cookies on the kitchen table; three cakes in the freezer. 

When I came home this evening, I found Henry between two tins of goodies, looking as if all he wanted was to figure out how to get them open. They had been left right in the middle of the doorway to the living room, although my brother insists he didn't leave them like that. Will we ever find out what that was all about? I doubt it. 

Right now, Henry is laying under the tree with his cheek resting on one of the tins. Yes, Henry, we do have Too Many Cookies. No, you won't be getting any.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas gifts

O rich the gifts you bring to us,
yourself made poor and weak; 
O love beyond compare that thus
can foes and sinners seek!
For this we raise a gladsome voice
on high to you alone,
and evermore with thanks rejoice 
before your glorious throne.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

little by little

A man came in the library today wearing a Santa hat. It was red, but he was not Santa.

I keep getting asked if I'm ready for Christmas, and surprisingly, I say that I'm doing pretty well. Wrapping one present here and there when I have time is working out well. The cards aren't done yet, but a few of those at a time, without getting too overworked about it, and I'm getting them out little by little, too. Even the cookies are being baked, a batch here, and a batch there. I am trying not to feel that I "must" do this or that; I am doing what I honestly can, and what I'm seeing is that right in front of me is what I should do next. It's a different way for me, and interesting. May it continue.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

the King comes on in might

Hope, O you broken hearts, at last!
The King comes on in might,
He loved us in the ages past
When we sat wrapped in night;
Now are our sorrow o'er, and fear
And wrath to joy give place,
Since God has made us in his grace
His children evermore.

Friday, December 16, 2016

"a delightful land"

"Thus says the Lord; observe what is right, do what is just; for my salvation is about to come. .."

-   from Isaiah 56

"Then all nations shall call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land, says the Lord of hosts."

- Malachy 3:12

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Santa's favorite cookie

Santa came in the library today. It was Santa Claus himself - he couldn't have been anyone else; a full, snowy beard, and a Santa hat. Except it wasn't red.

His shirt was tan plaid flannel, and the hat was also tan or some other neutral color; I got the idea he was having some time off. There was a lady with him who was researching something, and he stayed quietly nearby. When she approached me to ask a question, I said, sotto voce, "He needs to get back to the North Pole!" She assured me he was working Very Hard, so I let it go. She would know better than I, wouldn't she?

As they left, I called out, " 'bye, Santa!" He turned to me and, with a thumbs up, said, "Remember - chocolate chip!"

You heard it here.

Monday, December 12, 2016

snow, and some wrapping, but maybe no ornaments

I said it was supposed to snow last week, but the snow didn't appear. Last night, however, it did!

And it covered the ground, and was still there this morning, but then it turned to rain and melted eventually.  But it was enough to make me play some Gabrieli brass music, for a festive air. And I made cookies. There is not enough time to do everything.

I got the tree up yesterday, and in a different spot than usual - you can see it from the kitchen. I had to shift around only a couple of things and it's all so perfect! We'll never put it in the corner again. It needed a garland, so I decided to use my precious length of wide red satin ribbon - it's just barely long enough. I told my brother that I'd eventually get around to the ornaments, but not yet. He surprised me by saying he didn't care if I left them off, because he likes it. That's how I feel! I'll take them out next week, but don't know what I'll do with them. Dolly and Henry love to lay under there, ornaments or not.

I've been wrapping one thing each day, and it's working out pretty well. Better than getting overwhelmed.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

look up

Arise, the kingdom is at hand,
the King is drawing nigh;
Arise with joy, you faithful band,
to meet the Lord most high!
Look up, you souls, weighed down with care,
the Sovereign is not far;
Look up, faint hearts, from your despair,
Behold the Morning Star!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dolly gets cozy

Sometimes Dolly likes to get inside one of the dresser drawers

and sometimes we let her.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

snow soon

It sifts from Leaden Sieves -
It powders all the Wood.
It fills with Alabaster Wool
The wrinkles of the Road.

-  Emily Dickinson

Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas at the library

Well, we had lots of fun decorating the library last week, and I got some pictures.

We copied this from pinterest, and it looks almost the same.   The topper up close -

these page trees were on each end cap in adult fiction and non-fiction - twelve in all.

The main tree in front of the big window isn't that big, but Katie found a very large star in her basement (the girl is BIG on decorating, and good at it), which made a huge difference hanging above it.

I found it difficult to get a good photo of this, but it draws the eye very well; also looks beautiful at night driving by. All the ornaments are made of book pages: fancy star/snowflakes, a paper chain and little banner. Also, Cheryl found some ornaments she'd made a few years ago, clear balls with curled paper inside.

For a small tree, I made several of these -

we were running out of time, and those were quick and easy.

Here's how Katie's small book tree ended up -


At the end of the hall, we put another tree with some blue lights, then somebody made some stars.

Just right.

A menorah display near the elevator

and a book menorah, too

made with the Encyclopedia of Judaica, which happened to be dark blue. 

Trisha did a good job with the columns in the children's department.

Now they have pale blue snowflakes on them. And two columns downstairs plus one upstairs are nutcrackers.

Doesn't he look great? Katie did most of it. You can see here in the background how effective that big star is on the main tree.

A rather scrawny tree got a funky look with just two ornaments on it

Can you tell what they say?  Read and Books. And that's all for now. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

a certain "something"

"Advent is the time of expectation. True, Christ has already come upon earth. He has been crucified, and has risen. He is with us now, in his Church. And yet, somehow, as the season for commemorating his birth approaches, something stirs in us, something deep and profound, as if we are expecting a great miracle. 

As the Christmas season approaches, everyone feels a certain 'something' that cannot be put into words. There are no words that fit. We begin to realize that we are expecting 'something' - or 'Someone' - and we become a little bit more aware of our insides, of a 'burning' in our heart.

We will find that it is like a candle within us. It is not a big candle. We must keep this flame alight, so that it burns through the layers of whatever we have put on top of it, and allow the expectation that is within us to come forth.

This is so important because, if we can burn away each layer that we have put on through the years, then we will be filled with joy. We will become full of gladness, knowing that a great gift is about to be given to us."

                                          -   Catherine Doherty  

Friday, December 2, 2016

cake and tea

I have a birthday coming up, and Tracy, my pen pal, sent me a card with a sweet calendar inside, and a tea bag. Australian Afternoon tea.

I'm sorry, Tracy - I had it in the morning. It was good! I couldn't wait.

Today at work, Katie called me over to see something. It was on my desk. A winter cake!

She had signed up for my birthday. The tree is made from fresh rosemary; the "ornaments" are sugared cranberries. There are cranberries all around, too. The instructions can be found here.
A chocolate cake, vanilla buttercream. We even ate some of the cranberries! Okay, but raw cranberries are nothing to rave about, although I'm sure they were good for us.

Lovely, lovely surprises.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

"the time for rousing"

"Advent is the time for rousing. Humanity is shaken to the very depths so that we may wake up to the truth of ourselves. The primary condition for a fruitful and rewarding Advent is renunciation, surrender."

                                                        -  Fr. Alfred Delp

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

there's an elephant in the manger

I can't keep her out of there.

She knocked over the Blessed Mother once; otherwise, it's amazing how graceful cats are.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

heavy weather

but welcome. We are so in need of rain.

"For one look at stumps, and roots, and wild animals - and every other unlikely thing - tells...that awesome miracles of grace are about to happen."

-  Magnificat,  November 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016

decorating at the library

My co-worker Katie made this book tree the other day at work. No, she wasn't goofing off; we're trying to decorate the library this year with a definite book theme. So far we made a fairly large one in the periodical room, against a wall, very similar to this. Also a few small ones made of (unwanted) book pages, like this and this  - we really need to do a lot more of those.  In the children's department, we got Trisha to do this - isn't that cute?  We're trying, but the place is big.

The large book tree took three of us to build - there's more to making one of those than we expected. And then, of course, there's our regular work to do - but we have only this week to finish; there's a town wide festival next weekend. I'll try to take more pictures. Wish us luck!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent, already

Arise, arise to meet thy God,
Arise, O Israel,
Arise, arise to meet thy King
Whose beauty none can tell.
More fair is he than light of dawn
That breaks o'er hill and dell,
Or than the gold of ripening corn
In the vale of Jezrahel.

More beautiful, more beautiful
Than sheen of early morn,
O Israel, he is thy King,
Yet crowned with piercing thorn.
Then rouse thyself, awake from sleep,
Arise, O Israel:
Acclaim this King who is thy God,
Whose beauty none can tell.

-  from  Magnificat, November, 2016

Friday, November 25, 2016

parsnip soup

This is what you do if a friend gives you a pound and a half of parsnips:

Melt four tablespoons of butter in a large stockpot and add

  • one cup chopped onion
  • one cup thinly sliced carrot
  • one cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1/8 teaspoon of powdered savory
and cook together on low until things are getting soft, or until you're done dealing with the parsnips.

Meanwhile, peel and slice your parsnips in 1/8" slices, then add them in, along with five cups of chicken stock. Cover and simmer 25 minutes, then blend all or most of it. Add one eighth teaspoon of nutmeg and taste. Add salt if needed.  Lovely for a quiet and rainy Friday in November.

adapted from an Epicurious recipe

Thursday, November 24, 2016

a nice Thanksgiving

After working hard all week cooking things ahead of time, it was a berry nice Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2016

the best cheesecake, ever. period.

I made the Apple Cider Doughnut Cake from Honey and Jam for a co-worker's birthday. But that's not the cake I want to talk about.

My brother's birthday rolled around again, so it was cheesecake time. And even though I used to rave about that low fat one, I've since come around to the idea that low fat isn't so good after all.

I had pinned a photo of a very high-looking cheesecake with a thick chocolate layer on top. I didn't think the recipe mattered at the time; just the way it looked, higher than the usual, with that chocolate topping. But when I looked at the recipe I liked it. Now I've made it twice, and I still like it.

I made it for work, and everyone loved it. I did make a mistake that time, though - I made a salted chocolate for the top, and didn't like that. You see, the cake is hardly sweet at all! So, a salty topping isn't the right thing for it. I also didn't have the correct pan.

But you can bet I got one before I made it the second time - a seven inch springform - I had to have that height!  And you can see it's nice and high. I made the right topping, too.

This is probably what you'd call a French style cheesecake, and since my brother's always been partial to the New York style, we got him two pieces of that from the local Jewish deli. But you know, he said it didn't taste so good to him anymore. Folks, I think this is it.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

might be privet

-  some berries growing outside the kitchen window.

The little statue, from a consignment shop.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

magic next door

A tree in my neighbor's yard catches my eye when I go near the bedroom windows on the north side. Golden leaves above, and a golden pool beneath. My camera couldn't seem to see it as my eyes were, but I finally got it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

George Washington's patrimony

"Each of us is the parent of his life. Do we know that the first form of self-government is governing ourselves - not through indifference or rigidity, but through respecting our fellows and wanting to play an honorable part in the world? Do we derive our notions of respect and our definitions of honor from our ideas of right and wrong? Do we have the strength and the heart to make them real? We are all citizens: we pay taxes, and if we're not felons we vote. How well is the experiment of our country going? Do we love our rights so much that we would resent laws we had no role in making as slavery? Do we love others enough that if we had unwarranted power over their lives, we would struggle to give it up? Do we teach our principles and honor those who upheld them? Do we understand that liberty isn't a vacation from restraint, but a duty to govern? That is the model that Washington's life gives us; that is his patrimony."

                                                                        -  Richard Brookhiser,  Founding Father 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

another Dottie Angel frock

I wore my Dottie Angel frock the other day to a library class in another town, and I actually got some compliments on it. My feeling is that it looks homemade, but it's always nice to get encouragement. I was going to get a selfie when I got home, but forgot...

Still, I finished another; and I discovered that the light blue scarf I knitted seems to look rather nice with it.

I'm going to do one more in this fall color theme. Three seems like a good amount. For now.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

coins of gold

A spendthrift lover is the Lord
Who never counts the cost
Or asks if heaven can afford
To woo a world that's lost. 
Our lover tosses coins of gold
Across the midnight skies
And stokes the sun against the cold
To warm us when we rise.

Still more is spent in blood and tears
To win the human heart,
To overcome the violent fears
That drive the world apart.
Behold the bruised and thorn-crowned face
Of one who bears our scars
And empties out the wealth and grace
That's hinted by the stars.

How shall we love this heart-strong God
Who gives us everything,
Whose ways to us are strange and odd,
What can we give or bring?
Acceptance of the matchless gift
Is gift enough to give.
The very act will shake and shift
The way we love and live.

- from Magnificat, November 2016

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

instant warmth

This is a photo of two felted, lambswool sleeves off a thrifted heavy-duty sweater/jacket. Today's temperatures were in the 60's, but mornings are much colder. I went to vote this morning in my sandals and these new, heavy legwarmers. They look cute and I love them! All I did was cut - the fit is just right.

Monday, November 7, 2016

being ruled

"Men must live, one way or another, and if they cannot live by ruling themselves, they will submit to the rule of others."

                                              -  from Founding Father, by Richard Brookhiser

Sunday, November 6, 2016