Saturday, September 29, 2018

"art in the small ways of living"

"How much art there can be,... in the small ways of living. Sometimes we get lazy, but I think the effort spent in putting an ironstone bowl of pine branches on the table is well spent. And getting out the fragile grandmother china is worth it too. Often we do not bother to use the small gracious touches, and it is a pity. For no matter what heaven may be like, there is no use just waiting for it."

                                                 -   Gladys Taber

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

the day's work

"Even if the work of each day has been perfectly achieved we don't know what use the Lord is going to make of it...and if it is extremely clumsy and poorly done we know even less how it will be used.

All we know is that anything surrendered to God is never lost."

                                         -  Madeleine Delbrel,  from Magnificat, September 2018

Monday, September 24, 2018

blue heron

A blue heron stopped by yesterday; I saw him out my window, a tall slim creature with legs like a stork. This might be the third time one has happened along; quite a few years ago a heron perched on the garage next door for ages while kids waited for the school bus.

It took him a while to decide on the best course. Meanwhile, he walked along the brook's edge and startled one of Diane's cats who was on the other side. Then, he opened his wings and flew over the house - I heard a soft thud. On the roof!

My brother got the best shot of him.

He stayed a short while.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

not quite like September

We haven't had a day yet that I would consider a quintessential September day. Crisp, clear air and deep blue sky, wonderful for doing anything out of doors. Today began in a promising fashion but ended up mostly cloudy, and feeling a little damp. I stayed in and had much to do.

Still, since fall begins today (in about fifteen minutes) I made more effort than I usually do for a Saturday dinner and I baked a pumpkin pie. I happened to have a can of pumpkin and got a whim to make it, except I had no cream, no milk. Only coconut milk and I was determined. Aside from taking a half hour extra to set, it's very good! A little sweet, maybe.

When my brother mowed across the brook, he left this grouping of wildflowers alone -

I'll have to look them up.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

cute faces

My brother always says that Sweetie has a sad expression. (she's not sad, just her expression!)

The other day it suddenly occurred to me who she reminds me of. I thought of this image:

and this one:

The first illustration is Alice (in Wonderland) and her cat, by John Tenniel; the second is from Tom Kitten, by Beatrix Potter. She has the same flattish face and round eyes, although they are kittens and have bigger eyes. Still. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

how the other half lives

Mr. Kibble, this morning. He came around, but didn't seem very hungry; it's hard to know the reason. But he sat there and looked at us. The other two were sleeping in different rooms, so my brother closed them in and then he propped open the back screen door.

He watched us, but didn't come in.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Sunday, September 16, 2018

His plan

Our God, supreme and good,
how richly you have loved!
But nations die for lack of food,
and are we still unmoved?

So keen to eat and drink,
so anxious what we wear!
Our God, reverse the way we think
and teach us how to share.

You made your purpose known
by one rejected man;
the earth his bed, a cross his throne,
new life for all, his plan.

- Christopher Idle, from Magnificat

Monday, September 10, 2018

very snug

Today I used the oven a lot, which warmed up the house - it's amazing how fast things can cool off after excessive heat and humidity. One day of moderate temperatures followed by a rainy one only in the sixties, but I made good use of my time.

I first did some mending and worked on the apron, but then I was eager to try a new bread method I stumbled on yesterday, on youtube. One loaf, using only a quarter teaspoon of yeast! And very hot water. It came out well; I can see myself using this method in high summer perhaps - the oven temperature was high - 450 - but almost no work. The flavor that you get from using cold water and a long rise isn't there, but it does have a nice flavor - just different.

When the bread came out, in went some peppers from the garden, to roast - same temperature. Then, to use up some plain yogurt, I made Winnie-the-Pooh's chocolate tea bread. Everything's in the freezer now. The peppers are sitting in the fridge, in some olive oil. Did a bit of ironing, and the house feels very cozy.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

why I love Gladys Taber

"I suppose maturity might be defined as a willingness to shell peas. When I was growing up, I would do almost anything to avoid sitting down with a mess of peas to shell. No matter how fast and hard you work, you get a bushel basket of pods on one side and a scattering of small peas just covering the bottom of a small pan on the other. I found it absolutely maddening.

But now I don't mind. I like the smoothness of the pods and the clear green color. And I appreciate the delicate savor of new peas enough to feel rewarded for the effort.

Besides, I have learned that the mind can wander at will while one does the routine tasks, which is one reason housework never has to be dull. Sometimes when the peas plop softly in the pan, I remember places I have been. Like Williamsburg when the redbud is a singing color against the Virginia blue sky. Or crossing the James River at Jamestown about sunset with the sun going down in a deep sky and the lonely stone church tower of the old settlement slowly sinking into the first dark. Or walking on the beach at Ephraim, in Wisconsin, with the lake water rolling in pure and cold over polished white stones, and the sky there is a darker, cooler blue than the Southern sky.

...Here in Connecticut, I often feel I could pick a bouquet of stars on a June night, but I never have that feeling in New York, for the stars are remote there... But in the country, the earth grows dark at night, dark is the meadow, and dark are the hills. So the glory of the sky is fully visible and country folk look up a good deal...It is obvious that man is small and should be humble.

Thinking of the places I have been, I can find the peas are all shelled and I have not been bored at all. And there is a nice panful to cook with a mint leaf for lunch."

                                                - from Stillmeadow Seasons, pub. 1950

Friday, September 7, 2018

sewing patches

Something else from Magnificat:

Think of some very humble and ordinary form of making, like the sewing of a patch on a coat. You can regard it as drudgery, and do it with careless or perhaps with savage impatience; and then you turn it into a job...

You can regard the patch very differently. You can do it with pride in your workmanship, so that it becomes a thing of beauty; then you are already an artist. You can do it with love, and so turn it into love-making; and then you are twice an artist. You can do it as an act of worship of God - "I patch this coat for this poor child for whom I am forever responsible as a part of our life together that you have given us and that we turn into worship of you" and then you are three times an artist; you are completely alive. And why should not every action that you do be like this? But we are enslaved by a system that despises art and has no room for love and reverence; and so we can be excused if we think sometimes that the end draws near; the soil is stale.

- Fr. Gerald Vann

Thursday, September 6, 2018

finding the harmony

This was in Magnificat today, and I thought it interesting -

   "Our whole life is an effort towards this unity, this harmony, that we feel the need to recover. It is in the friendship of God that we can, insofar as it is possible, find it again. Is all of this of practical importance? Yes, it explains both our need for the infinite and our powerlessness to attain it.

 'Doctor Faustus', who sought light, knowledge, wisdom, and happiness, could not find them either in study, love, or sorcery, nor in all that the world offered him, because he should have sought them in the supernatural. Why does man glorify sin? Why is there something religious in the sin of man? What gives sin its mystical savor? Because man has a need for the infinite, and because, not having the courage to ascend high enough, he ends up by deifying his desires.

 Human life is made up of this conflict between man and his weakness, because he has lost his unity. All literature can be studied in his light, and it will be noted, for example, how poets and novelists often permeate all the desires of the flesh with this attraction of the divine."

                                                    -   Fr. Maurice Zundel

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

a new name

Well, not entirely.

I was just thinking of Mr. Kibble - his chronic upper respiratory congestion, his missing teeth, his stressed-out hissing and swiping at us. And it kept coming to me about a name, a first name for him. And Francis kept coming to my mind.

We'll still call him Mr. Kibble, but now he has the dignity of a first and a middle name.

Francis Joseph Kibble.

Monday, September 3, 2018

copying an apron

I'm going to make an apron for someone, and even though I have a few patterns, I decided to copy the one Margaret sent me. 

I think it'll be pretty straightforward.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

what matters

"...sundials mark only the hours that shine"

                                                        -  Gladys TaberStillmeadow Seasons