Monday, September 30, 2019

a gift

Once or twice I've mentioned a wise old man. I learned much from him, spiritually, I mean.

He was acquainted with a hermit - yes, a real hermit, the Catholic variety. He passed away in March of this year.

I knew him a little. He lived in this town for a little while twenty or so years ago, and would say Mass at the old man's house, and I was able to go sometimes. Those were special days for me. The hermit, Father P., was good with wood and there was a crucifix he'd carved at the old man's house. They both told me that they wanted me to have it, when the time came.

The hermit ended up in Belgium; the old man didn't forget. When my brother and I visited him a year or so ago, he had my brother write my name on the back of it.

Well, the time came, and the old man died two months ago, at the age of 101. And now I have the crucifix on my wall.

It's large-ish, but surprisingly lightweight. I have no idea what wood Fr. P. used.

I am honored to have this.  Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. Let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

dizzy inside, sparkly out

The weather has been terrific this week, but my sinuses are terrible, so I'm inside for the most part, with a stuffed head but of course the windows are open anyway - who could resist? Yesterday after having a cup of tea (green tea!) I became off-balance for the rest of the day, almost dizzy.  No tea now for a while. (is tea related to ragweed?) But I still appreciate the beauty of these perfect days. There is a difference between a breezy summer day and a breezy autumn day. The rustling of the trees sounds different. And the sparkle in the air when the sun is out is only there at this time of year.

I'm not sure that sparkle is quite the right word, since it also seems like one is looking through a very thin veil of something which makes it slightly less clear, but more glimmery. And maybe you think I've got an overactive imagination.

I figured out how I'll do my quilting on this thing, finally. I don't think I'll change my mind anymore after this; the third time is the charm. I'm happy with it, but more stitching will have to come out (again).

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

reading Homer

I have found a few podcasts I really enjoy, and right now, Close Reads is going through The Odyssey of Homer, using a new translation by Emily Wilson, which we happen to have at our library (I asked my boss to get it). I can't believe I'm reading this! But when you've got a few interesting and appealing personalities discussing a work, it helps to carry you along.

It isn't ponderous at all but quite easy to follow, and the people in the podcast know about that era, so any cultural gaps are easily filled in during the conversation. I don't always listen to Close Reads, but this time I am. The Circe Institute also has a Daily Poem podcast, and The Play's the Thing, which is all Shakespeare. They are doing Othello right now, but I've put that aside to read the Homer.

But that's not the only thing I'm surprised to be reading. The Literary Life podcast did a few short stories over the summer, all of which can easily be found online, and one of them was by James Joyce of all people. (Now, I have to say that I never thought I'd ever read James Joyce; since I didn't go to college, I never had to read any.) Then there's another podcast at the BBC with Melvyn Bragg, called In Our Time , on every subject imaginable; I pick and choose with those.

Podcast listening takes time - they are mostly an hour or more, at least the American ones. I just try to fit it in here and there.

"Even a fool learns something once it hits him."

-   Homer

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

getting back to my projects

I had started quilting on this project a couple of months ago and then left it, but today decided to rip it out and begin again differently. Then I turned around and found that it was occupied by somebody.

It matches her yellow eyes.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

"His creatures' home"

Spirit seeking life and beauty,
Heart that longest for thy rest,
Soul athirst for understanding,
Only thus can ye be blest:
Through the vastness of creation
Though your restless thought may roam,
God is all that you can long for,
God is all his creatures' home.

                                                                      - from Magnificat, September 2019

Friday, September 20, 2019

"just pay attention"


It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

-  Mary Oliver

Thursday, September 19, 2019

the best medicine

Not that I'm needing medicine, particularly. But I was laughing.

Trying to change the sheets on my brother's bed today, and this one - up against the wall, under the bed, popping up like Jack-in-the-Box, diving down again. Madness. But I was desperate to get a photo and got one just barely, because when I stopped she wouldn't appear. I almost gave up. I laughed. A lot.

The wild asters are more white than anything this year. There are some clumps of them on the edge of the garden in back.

They're usually a pale purple.

A month ago I cooked up some slightly wilted salad greens and made a sort of stock, which I froze in a few quart containers. I wanted to make soup today and thought of them, so I defrosted one. Well, it took a lot of thinking to figure out what kind of soup wouldn't mind being greenish; I decided on minestrone. It just looks a little muddy, which is fine. Only a slight down-side.

The cold last night wasn't too, and now it's going to get warmer for a while, the way it usually does.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

cold night

The weatherman said it might go into the thirties tonight - he said, "Take your plants in!" 

I tossed some thrifted sheets over the very tall tomatoes; covered the pepper plants with cut-open trash bags and then a piece of fabric which hopefully won't weigh them down very much. After this it will warm up again.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


The things are three
   Which I discern
Less easily
   As the years turn.

Three things seem sliding
   From my sight:
The line dividing
   Wrong from right;

Whereto we hie
   From where we've been to;
The needle's eye
   A thread goes into.
- Honest Confession, by Phyllis McGinley

Monday, September 16, 2019

feeling good about being frugal

I'm rather pleased with myself today in the food department, with regard to two things.


First: I had defrosted some leftover chicken on Saturday and decided to make chicken salad sandwiches for supper. Well, there was a lot of it and we didn't finished it up. What to do? It isn't my brother's favorite, so I really couldn't serve it again. I think it was the mayonnaise which reminded me of this recipe, because it's got mayo in it already, but first I had to make this. That was fine - as long as I plan ahead I can do it easily. For the vegetables I used up a combo of broccoli, carrots and leftover green beans; it really is delicious.

Second: On Fridays I usually make an omelet for my brother's dinner. I had whisked up the eggs when I remembered that he'd eaten egg salad for lunch! So I poured the eggs into a jar and made him something else. But I wanted to use those four eggs. I recalled that Newmarket Cake - sounds very English, doesn't it? - uses four eggs, so I made that and it's snug in the freezer now.

There was a time (not so long ago) when I would intend to make use of these things, but would forget. I guess I've reached a higher plane now. Except in the photography department; I have no record of these triumphs.

Newmarket Cake

3 oz. chocolate chips
2 T. coffee granules
3/4 c. water
2 tsp. vanilla*
8 T. (1 stick) butter
1 1/4 c. sugar
4 large eggs
1 T. baking powder
3 c. flour
2/3 c. chopped pecans or other nuts

Cream butter and sugar till fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat in b. powder. Mix together the water and coffee, and add it alternately with the flour. Stir in the nuts and chips. Bake in greased and floured tube pan (that's what I like to bake it in) at 325 degrees F. 55 to 65 minutes. 

I believe this is taken from a book called "Tea Breads and Coffeecakes" by Elizabeth Alston, but I'm not sure. It was in a magazine many years ago and I made it frequently. One day I realized I'd lost the recipe. I honestly don't know how I tracked it down, but I did - and this was before the internet. That is how much I value this recipe! I think of it as a nice alternative to coffee cake, which I'm not crazy about. 

*And I just realized I left out the vanilla. Do you think anyone will notice? 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

things going missing

Don't leave any bills, or notes to yourself on the table.

They don't disappear entirely (so far), but generally turn up down the hall. On the floor.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

too close for comfort

If you want to know precisely how Sweetie feels about Annie, this photo tells it all. I was surprised the little one even jumped up there beside her; Sweetie didn't see her at first.

Monday, September 9, 2019

cream scones with currants

With my fall capsule menu in mind, what better thing to do with a box of currants than make cream scones and add some in?

They are in the freezer.

This little one had another shot today and she gained two pounds! In the last four weeks! That is double her previous weight, when we took her in. She still seems tiny to us.

Don't cats know how to look comfortable? But she was very tired from the shot, and the pill and the ride in that thing that she didn't like being inside.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

all buttoned up

I guess I'm a bit behindhand with the photos lately.....but I didn't take a picture. My brother asked me to look at his summer sport coat, the buttons. They were getting too loose, so I said I'd re-do them.

When I noticed the absence of a knot on the wrong side, I thought I'd better inquire into the right way - a.k.a. the neat way - to do it, and I found this video.

The original thread was similar to embroidery floss, so that's what I used. The instructions were thorough and very clear. All done!

This is a cute channel with two guys trying to show how to behave like a gentleman - good luck to them!

totally unrelated to the subject at hand

Thursday, September 5, 2019

so sweet

This is a very poor quality photo, but I had to take it anyway. Dolly was on the back of the chair and the next thing I know the little one is up there behind her. I guess Dolly didn't mind - at least, not for ten or fifteen minutes. Then she came down. But that little Annie, she doesn't give up trying to be near the Big Girls.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

the gift taking root

God of might, giver of every good gift, put into our hearts the love of your name, so that, by deepening our sense of reverence, you may nurture in us what is good and, by your watchful care, keep safe what you have nurtured.

-   from Magnificat, September 2019

Monday, September 2, 2019

a fall capsule menu

The idea of a capsule wardrobe is buzzing around in recent years. It has its merits and has given me something to think about. But from it I've suddenly got the idea of making a seasonal capsule menu!

It all came about a week or two ago - I made an Italian style macaroni and cheese. It was good! But I could feel myself falling into a habit of too much carb-y stuff at dinner, and I didn't like it. I'd been watching a few of Audrey's youtube videos about her ideas for capsule dressing, and it came to me that I could use this idea for menu-planning.

And so in a notebook I wrote down all kind of foods which seemed fall-appropriate to me. I went through my recipe box and removed all the ones I might like to eat over the next three or so months. I made a pinterest board with recipes I'd accumulated with seasonal interest.

Now I have lots of options! I feel so relieved, just to have these ideas at hand.

Today, for Labor Day we had a friend over; I made Emeril's sloppy joes, cukes cut up, and Anna's brownies, and there was ice cream. Carbs, yes, but it's inevitable at times, and it's a holiday.

Of course I can depart from it, but it's so helpful to be organized, isn't it?

Sunday, September 1, 2019

it's September

Where I live, in early September we are hearing something outside - insects of some sort making their constant sounds, a background to whatever we do in the house.  If we're quiet. This lasts all day, and through the night, but it sounds more interesting at night.  I wish I knew what they were; I envy the English, who all seem to know their wildlife and all the things in nature they're neighbors with. Families who homeschool also seem to know this, but for many it's lost knowledge.

In September we can expect the skies to get bluer as the air gets drier, but in the mornings fog will frequently appear. Of course it's cooler and more comfortable to sleep at night, but you can still keep the windows open. It is possible at some point that the furnace will turn on, if you let it. Everyone has their own opinions on the subject; many people I know are determined to tough it out until November.

There is goldenrod blooming, and the asters (Michaelmas daisies, if you like). And ragweed, which might make your head feel stuffy. Later in the month, the leaves start to turn and they could be bright orange, golden yellow or glowing red, and we spend the first part of the month wondering how brilliant the trees are going to be.

The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel -
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such,
The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze.

-   John Updike,   September