Saturday, July 29, 2017

little fairy girl

I've been reading Grimm's fairy tales lately  -  the complete Grimm's. Why has it taken me twelve years of living with Dolly to realize that she is a human in a cat's body?

It suddenly came to me as she looked into my eyes so earnestly this afternoon. She is enchanted.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

desperate measures

Well, it's been two months and I haven't seen a hummingbird.  And this plant shouldn't really be in a hanger, because it doesn't hang down. Did you ever notice that lots of hanging plants you can buy aren't the type that trail down and make a nice showing?  So, right after I got this one, I saw some coreopsis at the supermarket, of all places. They were six dollars off and I bought two; I admire the airy leaves and daisy-like flowers of coreopsis and they are more suitable for hanging up. So now the lantana is on a small table nearby and there's lots of yellow at the front door this summer.  

Right after hanging them the delicate blossoms got roughed up in a rainstorm. As it struggled to come back, I wondered if it was suitable for a planter. Finally, I had to resort to something I absolutely deplore: Miracle-Gro. My brother relies on it, and of course his hanging plants are lush and full. Of course! The jumped-up stuff. Anyway, it was around and I used it. And they are looking much improved. Of course!

Monday, July 24, 2017

apple tree lookin' good

Outside with Dolly the other day I suddenly realized the apple tree is loaded; I went over to it with some trepidation because, once more, we never sprayed it.

We really want to do right by that tree and those apples, doing whatever we should to promote healthy fruit, the time of year when it's right for spraying, you are supposed to do it on a windless day. Well, on my days off, there weren't any. Then I end up feeling paralyzed by the situation and resign myself to another inedible crop.

So, what happened this year?  Is it just a matter of plenty of water - we are so over that drought of the last few years. Is that all the apples needed? It's only July, so I won't count my apples before they're ripened, but it really looks hopeful this time.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


The saints from long ago had such a blunt and to-the-point way of praying and speaking.

I am "borrowing" this from the monks:

"Do not allow pride to swell in you, let it shrivel instead, and rot. Be disgusted by it, throw it out. Christ is looking for a humble Christian. Christ in heaven, Christ with us, Christ in hell - not to be kept there, but to release others from there. That's the kind of leader we have. He is seated at the right hand of the Father, but he is gathering us up together from the earth: one in this way, one in that; by favoring this one, chastising that one, giving this one joy and that one trouble. May he that gathers gather us up, otherwise we are lost; may he gather us together where we can't get lost, into that land of the living where all deserts are acknowledged and justice is rewarded."

-  St. Augustine


Saturday, July 22, 2017


We've been having very regular rainfalls this summer, and we're more than five inches above the average, according to the weatherman this morning.

The brook usually dries up in August, but I don't think it's going to this year; the other day I went out looking for a rainbow after a short downpour and heard the water raging. It comes from streets up above us, down a hill and then turns a corner right on to our property and it was brown from all the soil carried along in the fast-moving water.

Water Never the Same

Beside a flowing river sit and gaze,
And see how it perpetually runs
In wave on wave, in many thousand turns,
As through the fields it takes its fluid ways.

Thou'lt never see again the wave which first
Flow'd by thee; water never is the same;
It passes day by day, although the name
Of water and river doth persist.

So changes man, and will not be tomorrow
That which he is today, he cannot borrow
That strength which time doth alter and consume:
Until our death one name we do retain;
Although today no parcel doth remain
Of what I was, the name I still assume.

   -   Jean-Bapiste Chassignet,   (trans. by Frank Warnke)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

the gladness of every day

I've been very slowly reading some of Charlotte Mason's work - she is revered by many homeschoolers and I find much about human nature and even myself that I didn't think about before.

Anyway, why do some turns of phrase grab the attention so forcefully? At the book's end - the book is Home Education -  her final thoughts are on helping the child to learn about God in a good way, as a father, "...from whom comes all the gladness of every day".  And even though I didn't sleep well and got up too late, I did have gladness today. I didn't rush, went about my work peacefully and was able to do many things.

Yogi came by and I managed to get the camera - gracious, he does not keep still!  But hopefully you can see why I'm so enamored of him. Of course, handsome is as handsome does, and he actually tried to nip me more than once! I think he was over-excited. If he ever got into the house, I know that mayhem would ensue.


These cats have multiplied, and so much so
That they are double the celestial Bears. 
Cats that disport themselves in all-white furs,
Cats that are black and even calico,

And cats with tails and cats quite disentailed.
What I would gladly see (now wouldn't you?)
Is one cat with a hump or curlicue
Like some vain harridan discreetly veiled.

Let laboring mountains cease from all their toil,
For if a mouse were born, poor little brat,
It could not hope to flee so many a cat.

Good housewife, I admonish you to peel
Your eyes and watch the pot about to boil:
Run, look, a cat is carrying off the veal!

Here I must add my bob and wheel.
My sonnet will not have what praise entails
Unless it's like those cats that come with tails.

                                            -  Torquato Tasso (trans. by Lowry Nelson, Jr.)

Monday, July 17, 2017

books and such

I couldn't sleep the other night, and somehow got to thinking about what's in my bookcase. I've weeded, but the desire to pare down doesn't stay satisfied.

I got the idea I should be well acquainted with all the books on my shelf, and that they should be useful to me. I turned on a light and grabbed two: Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts, and a poetry book, all sonnets.

The Ann Voskamp I have read twice. The question is - do I need to keep it? I probably need to read it again before deciding.  What is she trying to say? And should I keep the book around in order to be reminded of it? Or let it go to the next person?

As for the sonnets, I began reading them right away, in the middle of the night. I started penciling marks near the ones I liked, and finished it off at the dentist's this afternoon. I guess I should keep it, at least for a while. I've just never been one for poetry. But here's one:

 Dipped in detergent, dish and chandelier retrieve
their glister, sopped, kitchen floor reflowers, knife
rubbed with cork unrusts, colors of carpetweave
cuffed with shampooer and vacuum will reblush,
prints sprayed and scrubbed no longer peer but stare,
buffed, silver burns, brushed, plaster will gush
hue at you, tops soothed with cloth will clear.

Cleansing the cloud from windows, I let the world win.
It comes in, and its light and heat heave the house,
discolour, dim, darken my surfaces. Then once again,
as for forty years, my fingers must make them rouse.

Round rooms of surfaces I move, round board, books, bed.
Men carve, dig, break, plunge as I smooth, shine, spread.

Caring for Surfaces,  by Mona Van Duyn

Friday, July 14, 2017

trees as social beings

"...why are trees such social beings? Why do they share food with their own species and sometimes even go so far as to nourish their competitors? The reasons are the same as for human communities: there are advantages to working together. A tree is not a forest. On its own, a tree cannot establish a consistent social climate. It is at the mercy of wind and weather. But together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderates extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a great deal of humidity. And in this protected environment, trees can live to be very old. To get to this point, the community must remain intact no matter what. If every tree were looking out only for itself, then quite a few of them would never reach old age. Regular fatalities would result in many large gaps in the tree canopy, which would make it easier for storms to get inside the forest and uproot more trees. The heat of summer would reach the forest floor and dry it out. Every tree would suffer.

Every tree, therefore, is valuable to the community and worth keeping around for as long as possible. And that is why even sick individuals are supported and nourished until they recover. Next time, perhaps it will be the other way round, and the supporting tree might be the one in need of assistance. When thick silver-gray beeches behave like this, they remind me of a herd of elephants. Like the herd, they, too, look after their own, and they help their sick and weak back up onto their feet. They are even reluctant to abandon their dead."

                                                     -  The Hidden Life of Trees,  Peter Wohlleben

Monday, July 10, 2017

it's a miracle

Well, I think it is.

Dolly in the picture window.  It's close to a year since our Dolly has sat there in peace.

Dolly in a chair in the front doorway.

It was one year July 2nd when we took Sweetie in. They have not gotten along. Many's the time I thought of posting about it, but my heart wasn't in it.  It has been very hard to see Dolly keeping to herself at the other end of the house (her house!) because she wanted to avoid Sweetie.  A year is a long. time, especially in the short life of a cat.

Sweetie was very well named but Diane warned me "she hisses at other cats - she doesn't like them". She comes from a houseful of cats and people and never really liked it. She's gotten used to Henry by now, but he's totally non-threatening anyway.  After an initial period of Dolly trying to make nice with Sweetie, it didn't work, she just gave up, and overreacted, hissing and running off whenever she appeared. We've wondered if she wasn't confusing Sweetie with Tootsie, who's also a tortie, and is terribly aggressive. But Dolly never acted like this with her - could it be that she was just fed up? (Who understands cats, anyway?)

Up on the shelf between kitchen and living room! All these (not very good, I know) pictures taken the same day!

My aunt passed away, and the funeral was Friday. We came home and everything was changed. There was Dolly: on the kitchen table, in the kitchen window, on the shelf, in the living room window, lying on the rug. As calm as could be. She will still hiss at Sweetie, but she isn't afraid of her anymore. The anxiety is almost gone.  What happened, so suddenly?

Is it due to all my prayers? (you can bet I prayed - what else was there to do? Who can reason with a cat? Anyway, it was breaking my heart that Dolly was apart from us much of the time.) Did she suddenly realize that Sweetie, like herself, doesn't really want trouble? I'm guessing that Sweetie figured out early on that hissing worked in a houseful of cats, but the vet commented that for an outdoor cat she seems to have kept out of trouble, because there aren't scars and marks on her. And I give her credit that she has never encroached on the area that Dolly was keeping to - it's funny that now she can sometimes be found in the spare room, but Dolly isn't interested in going there anymore.

I don't know what happened so suddenly to give Dolly this peace, but Thank God For It.

I'm flabbergasted. And so grateful.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

"the antithesis of narcissism"

"But monastic fidelity to the liturgy is the antithesis of narcissism. ...somewhere, as I write this, as you read it, people are singing Psalms and praying for us all. Knowing that most of us won't notice or care, they are making us a gift of their very lives."
                                                       -  Dakota, Kathleen Norris

Friday, July 7, 2017

wouldn't want to make a monk scream

"...Often it's hard for monks to understand that people coming in from the noise of the world are so impressed by the relative quiet of the monastery that they see a paradise where there is none, and imagine monks to be more angelic than not. Monks are symbols of such a deep human longing that, paradoxically, others often have trouble seeing them as human beings. This is a complaint monks will make to anyone who will listen. 'If another person says, It's so peaceful here, I'll scream', one monk said to me."

                                                                - Dakota,  Kathleen Norris

(Well, I'm glad I only told you and not them!)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

fast food

It was in an issue of Food Network magazine, I believe. Somebody mentioned "Heirloom Tomato, Corn and Basil Salad", and I made a note of it. Not the recipe, which I didn't bother to look at, but the idea.

So I made it up yesterday, and again today because it's so easy to just cut up some good-tasting tomatoes in a bowl with lots of basil, and some frozen corn which you rinse under water until it isn't cold anymore. Then, a little touch of vinaigrette and some feta which needed to move along. Speed is of the essence in a summer recipe.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Knickerbocker Glory on the Fourth

It all began with Rhonda's weekly links of interest. This Mary Berry thing caught my eye. I never heard of this lady, obviously well known in Britain. It's a very delightful program, tempting recipes and this cute old lady with a twinkle in her bright eyes. I watched a few videos. And then saw this one where she goes to the seaside to have what she called a "Knickerbocker Glory" - an ice cream sundae with fruit and a raspberry sauce.

My first thought was that it wouldn't have tempted me as a child because it's totally without chocolate. But it seemed like a nice holiday-ish dessert for the Fourth of July.

I didn't try her ice cream recipe because I wanted chocolate, but I put the mango and the blueberries in it, and I made the raspberry coulis. What a tasty treat! It was melting too fast to get a good "before" photo - sorry! But I am very pleased that on this of all holidays I found an English dessert to enjoy.

a little prayer of hope

For millions still in darkness
within this land of light,
for those who've wandered blindly
from God and home and right
and those who ne'er have seen thee
thou God of love and might,
we earnestly beseech thee
may they receive their sight.

-      from Magnificat, July 2017