Monday, December 31, 2018


"One doesn't ultimately ground hope on whether the world situation seems to be improving or worsening. It doesn't go up and down with the stock market. It's not based on empirical facts as these are reported - or distorted - in the news.

Hope is believing in the promise of God and believing that God has the power to fulfill that promise.

God has promised that history - our personal, communal and cosmic history - will one day come together in an ecstatic oneness, a heaven, a paradise, a community of life around Christ and in God within which there will be no tears and no death."

                                          - Fr. Damian Carr

Saturday, December 29, 2018

brightening up the wreath

Thursday was sunny and beautiful, so I slipped out to find a few berries for the wreath.

There were some red ones in the azalea - they really seemed part of the azalea, which was a surprise to me. And some soft, juicy-looking ones were hanging out in the forsythia hedge - along with everything else under the sun.

I quickly stuck them in here and there, and it was enough.

Monday, December 24, 2018

salvador mundi natus est

The shepherdes were compassed right
About them was a great light:
"Dread ye nought", said the angel bright,
Salvador mundi natus est.

a little Christmas miracle

We're having a Christmas snow;  it won't amount to much, except for the gladness on my part that we're having snow at all. 

But that isn't what I'm talking about. While I was listening to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols live from England, Diane called me to say that she's got Mr. Kibble in her house. He went in, willingly! Thank you, St. Joseph!

I will miss his little face, but he is safe from the snow, safe from the cold. She had let him in this summer one day when he seemed interested, but once inside, he became panicky and ran around in a confused manner until she opened all the doors so he could run out again. He's had time now to think about it, and I guess he was ready. He will have a peaceful Christmas.

Sunday, December 23, 2018


I couldn't make up my mind for a while - did I like this combination, or not?  I decided that I do, and now most of the wrapping is done. Another thing off the list!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

so far

So far, my brother has received some peanut brittle,

two square tins of cookies,

just the top layer

plus a mini fruitcake and a sealed bag of some kind of cookies, all homemade.

A bag of chocolate truffles, a gold box labeled "Belgian Chocolate Selection" and some chocolate snowmen. Not homemade.

I told him I'm chronicling his Christmas goodies, and now we're wondering if this will be the year when it all slows down. Because - not to complain! - this is nothing.

"the real point of prayer"

"Prayer must become a way for ourselves on which gradually we learn to see more. It must not end in us shutting ourselves off in our egoism. Through prayer we must become freer, take ourselves less and him more seriously, and thus find our way to the real point of prayer: to ask God for the salvation of the world - even today."

                                                  -   Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), from Magnificat

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

letting him take root in us

"For most people, God is non-existent, because they know of him only words empty of meaning and alluding to a master, a pharaoh, to a limitation, to someone who spells a threat for them. They do not know that, at the heart of their heart, a loving Presence is waiting for them. And, if they do not know this, it is often because our life is so similar to theirs that they have never had the slightest suspicion that we carry in ourselves a treasure capable of changing the whole universe, and that we hold in our possession the revelation that leads man to himself.

In the same way that we cannot hang love on a coat hanger, nor hide the truth under piles of sheets, we cannot reach God without letting him take root in us. In order that God may become a reality of history with some weight, holding the first place, drawing and directing all our lives, he must necessarily take root in us through our willing consent to offer him our whole existence as a space in which his Life may prolong itself."

                                                  -  Father Maurice Zundel,  from Magnificat, December 2018

Monday, December 17, 2018

pop-up Christmas card

I got a really cute Christmas card from the people who took Cindy four years ago. It's a pop-up - a white kitty with a row of presents behind.

I showed it to Dolly, of course.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

down like showers

He shall come down like showers
Upon the fruitful earth;
And joy, and hope, like flowers,
Spring in his path to birth.
Before him, on the mountains,
Shall peace, the herald, go,
And righteousness, in fountains,
From hill to valley flow.

- from Magnificat, December, 2018

"Lo, I am sending my messenger before me; and suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek, and the messenger of the covenant whom you desire. Yes, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts."

                                                    -  Malachi 3:1

Friday, December 14, 2018

a jolly supper

I went to Boston the other day with a friend. At the Museum of Fine Art we saw many wonderful things, and one strange thing. An old Last Supper, it struck me right away as different from any other. I called my friend over.

She said, "They look very jolly!" I said, "You can tell they're Italian." (I can say that.)

the Four Tenors?

I thought about this post - am I being irreverent? About this piece of art, yes; about the real Last Supper, (which can't have been like this), no. 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

homegrown wreath for the front door

Two years ago I happened upon this video showing how to make a wreath; I bought a large frame and green wire just like she uses there. but never got around to it that year. Last season I intended to make a wreath, but we had more snow than I wanted to wade through. This year I also was looking for an opportunity.

The library's been closed this week, getting new carpet. I took the week off but many of my co-workers are there in the back room working on a project, and we decided to have our Christmas party in there today.

After a string of sunny days today was overcast and it began lightly snowing before we started out; when I got home I had enough of that holiday feeling from the snow and the party, and I was already in my boots and jacket - I decided to go out and cut some greenery around the yard for a wreath.

I had to force myself - I didn't know what I was doing. Making my way around the property I cut mostly arbor vitae and some yew. I was happy to see the azalea leaves which gave a different reddish blackish tinge and across the brook was a patch of a broad leafed evergreen that I think the birds must have planted, with leaves that are small, glossy and dark. It may be inkberry - we used to have one of those shrubs.

I really liked the evergreen above but could hardly reach it; I didn't want to slip into the brook.

I brought my collection inside and began with the method described in the video,

running out about two thirds of the way through and having to go back out, but I finished! I searched through the pretty ribbon and found a beautiful red length with gold edges to fill in one small sparse area. It's on the front door now!

I love it! Tomorrow I want to go back out to look for some berries or bits of color I can stick in here or there. But it's just the kind of thing I like - sort of undone and natural looking. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

woodpecker damage

At certain times of the day, certain times of the year, we hear the tap-tapping of a woodpecker on our house - outside my bedroom, and on the other end of the house, near the chimney. My brother went outside on Sunday to chase him away and noticed big holes in the shingles. He ended up having to replace and paint that area.

Awful! But what's worse, today he was back. I chased him off, thinking if we keep at him, he won't be able to repeat the damage, but my brother went out to look - he has already made a good sized hole! Not good.

Kibble update

Well, this morning when my brother returned from his walk, he saw Mr. Kibble in his hutch! So he came along during the night, apparently. No word of explanation, of course, but he seems his same little self.

Thank God and St. Joseph! And thanks to everyone for their concern - we were really giving up hope when we went to bed last night.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

prayers for Mr. Kibble

This was the gospel for today's Mass:

"Jesus said to his disciples, What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly father that one of these little ones be lost."

I was going out this morning at nine, but before I went I opened the back door to see if Mr. K. would come out to eat, and he did. I was leaving soon, so I put out two bowls of canned food for him, and he was eating heartily. I returned at 6:30 this evening to see a note from my brother, that he'd been home three times, Mr. Kibble hadn't come out of his shelter, so my brother looked inside to realize he wasn't in there. It's cold - it's been in the thirties during the day, and he has enjoyed being cozy in there, with three heated beds, not to mention the clear plastic flaps over the exits to prevent wind blowing through, and the bit of insulation bro put up on the "ceiling". 

I called Diane - her husband was home and hadn't seen him. Then I bundled up and tried to search in the back yard with a flashlight but it was hard to see well even with the light. My brother drove around all the streets in the area on his way home tonight, but didn't see any sign of him. We are worried about our little friend.

Monday, December 10, 2018

stamped cookies

I came upon this photo yesterday

not mine!

and remembered the glass Christmas cookie stamps I bought years ago. I used them on a chocolatey shortbread cookie I used to make - the design never showed up very well. But the above photo made me want to try (although maybe these aren't stamped, but molded? I don't know.)

I found this gingerbread recipe tonight and they turned out tasty, but - you still couldn't see the designs. So I tried pressing a few colored sprinkles onto a batch.

All right, I suppose. The next batch I just pressed them down with a plain glass. And took a toothpick and drew "snowflakes" on each one. Then, pressed a white pearly thing in the center of each.

At least the design is visible; I'm not sure I'll keep those cookie stamps.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

in the Advent mist

I lifted this entire meditation from today's entry in Magnificat because it seemed so perfect to me, even though much longer than my usual -

"In accordance with our nature, nations and families have their times and seasons for days of special celebration. This specialness is sacramentalized in the Church's year. She too has red-letter days, seasons marked out in a special way to commemorate God's saving, life-giving love.

Are we right in claiming that God offers himself more fully at these times? That the living water of grace is flowing even more abundantly? The wise answer is, I think, that as human beings we need to think so, and therefore it is so. The Church, in this manner, educates us in a more concentrated way, provides a more intense stimulation to faith so that, if we respond, we are better prepared for the Lord to give himself more fully to us.

Advent is one of those special times as a season of preparation for the feast of Christmas...

But faith in his coming does not grow out of itself. We have to nourish our faith, exercise it. We don't sit idly at home waiting for his arrival - we must run out to make him welcome. We must question him: Are you he? We must ponder the sacred texts, try to discover their meaning, receive their message.

There has to be effort in our daily living. We must climb the mountain heights where the God of Jacob makes his home, for we want him to teach us how to love him; we want to follow where he leads.

We must move into the shadowy mists of detachment. Far on the horizon, see - God appears, and his coming spreads a mist over all the earth. We should want this silencing, shadowing mist, that cuts us off from unnecessary things - things that are not him for us. We cannot truly see them until he comes, so it is better to live in the mist - detachment, silence of desire - accepting the mystery. We must shroud our souls in Advent mist.

It may be, and in my experience often happens, that instead of the inner silence we so desire, our emotions are upset and our thoughts tend to run off. We can feel very discouraged about this lack of inner peace, but there is no need to be. This is merely temptation, the cross. In no way do these feelings come between God and us provided we quietly resist, and bear with ourselves sweetly and patiently. It may be, in fact, a far deeper Advent in that we realize our immense need of a Savior - and what a blessing that is!"

                                -  Sister Ruth Burroughs, a Carmelite nun at Quidenham, in Norfolk, England

Saturday, December 8, 2018

flowers everywhere

My boss buys flowers at the supermarket for us when our birthdays come; you get a lot in those groupings. A large vase of flowers doesn't seem to do well in our house, so when I brought mine home, I split it up into many.

Some asters in a crock behind Mary and Joseph while they wait for the Baby

bright pink carnations


(did I even need to put water in that bottle? Statice is a dried flower.)

A lily yet to open 

In the living room - a calla lily

and everything else, including some alstroemeria with more statice and asters. 

I like these little bouquets much better.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

a real "wow" of a cake

My co-worker, Katie signed up to do my birthday cake. She is known among us as having an excellent instinct for anything in the way of decorating, whether that's in a home, on a bulletin board or even how she dresses. She tried to copy a cake she saw online - we all could see that hers looked much better than the original.

It was a spice cake with a brown sugar buttercream; they don't sell those ten inch cinnamon sticks where I shop, or the bay leaves that look like they came off a rhododendron. I saved those herbs and spices along with the rosemary underneath - with the frosting cleaned off, they will be very welcome. As was the cake!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

portrait of Sweetie

How very clever of Sweetie to jump on the back of this chair yesterday afternoon while the sun was full on it!

And then to pose for me so nicely.

Monday, December 3, 2018

calamondin oranges in a lemon pie

We have an orange tree in the library that someone gave us years ago; it's about four and a half feet tall and two or three times a year fragrant, white flowers appear and then the little oranges. Most of the time they go to waste, but I hate to see that. They are edible, although very sour. Last week I picked as many as were ready or almost ready. I had a pie in mind.

Joanna Gaines has a nice recipe for a large lemon pie that I thought I could make using these instead; I would squeeze them all, then add lemon juice to get to the right amount. Well, I had so many that I didn't need any lemons! In fact, I had the exact amount required.

One problem, though. It calls for three cups of condensed milk, and I had only two cans of it. I could have cut the whole recipe back by a third - but, since I had the perfect amount of juice, I didn't want to do that. 

I had cream, so I added that with spoonfuls of light brown sugar and vanilla. It certainly wasn't thick like condensed milk, but I took the chance. The pie appears good in every respect and I will bring it to work tomorrow for a "homegrown" treat.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

the promised day of God

Thy kingdom come! on bended knee
The passing ages pray;
And faithful souls have yearned to see
On earth that kingdom's day.

But the slow watches of the night
Not less to God belong;
And for the everlasting right
The silent stars are strong.

And lo, already on the hills
The flags of dawn appear;
Gird up your loins, ye prophet souls,
Proclaim the day is near.

The day in whose clear shining light
All wrong shall stand revealed,
When justice shall be throned in might,
And every hurt be healed.

When knowledge, hand in hand with peace,
Shall walk the earth abroad;
The day of perfect righteousness,
The promised day of God.

- from Magnificat, December 2018

Thursday, November 29, 2018

"practice resurrection"

I heard this poem today. When I read the title I thought I wouldn't like it - I was wrong about that.

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it: Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

                                   -  Wendell Berry

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

turkey, after all

Tonight we had turkey drumsticks

with the rest of the leftovers.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

the feeling at dusk

"There is a feeling at dusk, a prescience of short and shorter days and pale pure dawns. I hope that squirrels have all their nuts tucked safely in...  I have not talked myself into a mood for winter yet. Summer's lease seems to have shorter and shorter a date and autumn is nothing more than a comma in the sentence of the year. It would be nice to pack away a whole day or two and bring it out in January."

                                         -  Gladys Taber

Friday, November 23, 2018

the countdown

Before Thanksgiving, my brother came home with a lemon poppy seed cake from a client. It isn't Advent yet, but I am counting this anyway, counting it as the beginning of the holiday offerings which inundate us every December.

very tasty

I talk about it here, but this year I'm photographing everything. Then, you'll see. Because you don't get it, I know you don't. But you'll see.*

*of course, it's possible this Christmas things will change, and we won't get so much. That would be okay. 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

another reason to be thankful, or Where's the stuffing?

but I didn't even really hear that question.

I worked hard Monday, yesterday and today cooking for Thanksgiving dinner. I suppose I was a little bleary-eyed when we sat down. There were three of us, and our friend and my brother ate heartily, seeming to enjoy everything, taking extra helpings. Afterward, they retired to the living room while I did some cleanup.

we had a chicken this year

I was downstairs at the basement refrigerator when I remembered - and let out a yell. My brother came to the doorway, What's the matter? Did Dolly poop on the floor down there? 

No, I said, nothing like that. I just realized that I never served the stuffing. The STUFFING! Can you imagine? And nobody noticed.

And all I could be was thankful that the people I cook for are content to eat whatever I put on the table. Meanwhile, there are always leftovers.

the coldest Thanksgiving Day on record

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

night visitors

When Mr. Kibble comes out to eat after dark, we have to be sure to remove his dish when he's finished because there are other little neighbors who will appear, looking for food. One night I went to the back door and I was sure there was a Norway rat on our doorstep - I'd read about those very large creatures but never wanted to see one. It's back was to me, and when it turned I saw it was only a possum (I should say opossum, but nobody does around here), a rather slim one, which is why I thought he was a rat. What a relief! He scuttled off when I greeted him, but not before he finished off Mr. K's leavings.

Another night while Kibbelino was eating, a skunk ambled along - ambled is truly the right word for the skunk's travels; it's not exactly a direct path, but more like a little this way and a little that. His nose was leading him and he went sniffing around the shelter. I tried to scare him off - Mr. K. was oblivious - afraid he'd try to go inside, but interestingly, he paid me no heed. Either he was hard of hearing or they just aren't that sensitive to the presence of others. Or maybe just very focused. Thankfully, he wandered off. I find these visits so interesting, and feel sorry, especially in the cold.

-  from Stillmeadow and Sugarbridge:

"One morning, as I was about to open the door from our kitchen into a sort of garden-room where the tools of country living collect, I happened to glance through the upper glass panes first. In through the doorway open to the outside there stepped gaily a little black and white skunk. His eyes were very bright, and his coat as shiny, he gave off a fine feeling of vitality and alertness. I got the impression that he was smiling while he ambled  (see? same word!) about this place I considered my own, as though it were his own. Utterly off guard, he bit a piece out of a paper carton and spit it out, he tried the lid to the garbage pail, unsuccessfully; he considered a stray hickory nut and discarded it. I watched hypnotized, not daring to breathe. Finally he turned and scuttled out again, and at last I opened the door. There was no trace of noxious odor, and no dissertation upon the more desirable qualities of skunks could have convinced me as this brief experience had done that they are really rather amusing little fellows."

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

know your cat

Dolly's one of those cats who like to burrow. My brother always makes a spot for her under his bedspread, right beside the pillow; he knows just what she likes.

 She comes out for meals, briefly.

Monday, November 19, 2018

in the kitchen all day

trying to stay ahead of Thanksgiving.

I made applesauce, stock for the gravy, and the pie crust dough. Also boiled the sweet potatoes for pie.

And washed a lot of dishes.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

deliver us

O God of earth and altar,
Bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide,
Take not thy thunder from us,
But take away our pride.

From all that terror teaches,
From lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches
That comfort cruel men,
From sale and profanation
Of honor, and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation,
Deliver us, good Lord!

Tie in a living tether
The prince and priest and thrall,
Bind all our lives together,
Smite us and save us all;
In ire and exultation
Aflame with faith, and free,
Lift up a living nation,
A single sword to thee.

- G. K. Chesterton, from Magnificat, November 2018

Thursday, November 15, 2018

an early winter

We're having our first snow, as I write this. It's kind of early. It's been colder than mid-November usually is, but the early part of the month - at least - was very nice.

a bright afternoon from the other day

I'm a sucker for nicely photographed food, and today I tried something torn from a past magazine. Baked butternut squash, with the flesh scooped out and mixed with goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts, topped with sage leaves, and baked again. It was just okay. But I suppose with the amounts adjusted: less cheese, nuts sprinkled on top, maybe, and don't eat the sage leaves whatever you do    
(bitter!), it might be very nice.  Oh, well.

I also made bread today. I don't want to eat bread a lot, but I love to make it. A dilemma! I decided to keep making it - breadcrumbs are always handy, if it comes to that. 

Mr. Kibble's hutch is off the ground, about ten inches, I think. I think he'll be okay in the snow - we may get that much before it turns to rain. We are concerned about how the winter will be for him in there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"let strife and tumult cease"

Let all that now unites us
More true and lasting prove,
A closer bond of union,
In a blest land of love.
Let war be learned no longer,
Let strife and tumult cease,
All earth his blessed kingdom,
The Lord and Prince of peace.

-  from Magnificat, November 2018

Monday, November 12, 2018

big rabbit through the window

taken through a foggy window

A big rabbit stopped a while in our back yard this afternoon. They do that sometimes, keeping completely still; he was only there about five minutes but I've seen them stop longer than that, twenty minutes or more.

He was really large, an older rabbit?

And then he was gone.

I don't think Mr. Kibble saw him. He continues to eat us into the poor house but otherwise appeared to have a good day, sunning on our back step in the cool but beautiful weather. My brother got the idea to clean the big outside glass on the picture window, and I was happy to help and be outside, but that's it - the air is too cold now and the other windows will have to get a lick and a promise.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

yarn along, Robin Hood and Gladys Taber

I started to knit a poncho, so I can join Ginny's yarnalong this month. I was never keen on ponchos, until I bought one from Lands End overstocks - wool rich, for fifteen dollars. I figured it might come in handy. It did, but after washing it gently in the washer every spring for a few years it felted enough so that it's too constricting now. And I miss having a poncho.

The pattern is on Ravelry, it's a Coats and Clark design by Marilyn Coleman, very poorly photographed. The yarn is Cascade 220 aran superwash. I wanted it warm, but washable. It isn't cheap to knit a poncho if you want some substance to it, so this pattern and this yarn seemed the best course. Let's hope.

I read too many things at once. But I'm trying to focus on the bottom two, which are interlibrary loans. The scenery descriptions in Robin Hood evoke everybody's ideal of merry old England, which is just delightful; Stillmeadow and Sugarbridge consists of letters written between Gladys Taber and Barbara Shenton. These women were so articulate, their letters so eloquently descriptive of their normal everyday lives, I feel like a dope because I know I couldn't do that. Of course, I don't try very hard, either; I'm a poor correspondent. But it makes you feel like you should try.

Dear Barbara, 
   So far as I know, none of our dogs has ever caught a frog. But I can hear the popping sounds all day as the poor things leap back into the water as the Irish [setter] lunges at them. When I go down to swim, one very green, very wise frog sits by the stone steps and waits for me, and he knows nobody is going to disturb him. He blinks a watery eye and just watches. He is the first frog I have ever known personally and we have nice little visits. ...

Dear Gladys,
   This morning as we sat at breakfast on the terrace, chairs pleasantly damp and cool from last night's rain, our own mockingbird singing incidental music and the trumpet vine nodding to us in a sunburst of bloom from the top of the gum tree, we cast a contemplative and, in the direction of Stillmeadow, a nostalgic glance back over our finally-realized trip.

I think I would feel better if I knew they had used the typewriter, at least.