Thursday, December 31, 2020

a Christmas gift

Trisha made one of these for each of us at work.

A jar of cranberries. You put in water, as much as you like, and the little candle sits on top of the floating cranberries. Charming.

Monday, December 28, 2020

a new recipe, and just in time

 I had some kielbasa and some cabbage, and I was planning supper. Meanwhile, I've been going through some magazines one more time before recycling, in case I there's anything I want to save.

I had an issue of Yankee from the fall, and there was a recipe for roasted onion, winter squash and sausage - it looked good.What timing! Their version called for a large red onion, I used two small yellow. They used Italian sausage, I had Polish. My apple was not firm or tart - I don't know what it was, but it was an apple. And I happened to have some already-cut thick slices of butternut squash left from the Christmas Day lasagna, when I cut up a whole squash but didn't need it all. I used dried herbs and didn't heat them in the oil. In short, I did it my way, and  cooked some cabbage on the stove to go along with it. Did you notice there are actually cranberries in the recipe? I didn't mess with that amount. I was afraid to, since I've never heard of roasting cranberries and didn't want to overdo it. But it was good! I'd gladly make it again. But it did take almost twice as long to cook as they said it would - isn't that often the way?

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Christmas musings

 Christmas has been so quiet for us, but it's still always wonderful. We didn't go to Joanne's, no lively visit with the Italian cousins. No rum cake that she always makes, that her mother made before her. I thought about that and decided to make it for work. 

It's not cake, but a kind of trifle. You cut up some pound cake, wet it with a rum/milk mixture, chill it for an hour. Meanwhile cook up some vanilla pudding and pour it over, then let it set. Another layer of cake and rum, then chill. Then chocolate pudding. Whipped cream over all. It came out delicious, but was soggy. I didn't think I wet the cake too much but maybe I did; Joanne's is never soggy. She's had more practice.

The cats are enjoying the Christmas cds I'm playing; Dolly is also enjoying the tree. As soon as I put it up, she seemed interested in it, and I think she remembers it in past years. She lays near it every day for a spell. I say near it because not even a small cat can go under it - a certain young person has climbed it enough times and bent the lower branches down too far. They don't seem to bend back up and it looks pretty dumb but we won't go there today. 

Christmas Eve I made minestrone but wanted something more, so I made some parmesan crackers. I've been wanting to try making crackers for ages - it was pretty easy. I could have kept them in the oven longer, but they were a nice treat. 

I'm still reading the Chesterton biography, still enjoying it. He and Frances never were able to have children, but they loved them.

"On the sands I romped with children
Do you blame me that I did not improve myself
By bottling anemones?
But I say that these children will be men and women
And I say that the anemones will not be men and women
     (Not just yet, at least, let us say),
And I say that the greatest men of the world might romp with children
And that I should like to see Shakespeare romping with children
And Browning and Darwin romping with children
And Mr. Gladstone romping with children
And Professor Huxley romping with children
And all the Bishops romping with children;
And I say that if a man had climbed to the stars
And found the secrets of the angels,
The best thing and the most useful thing he could do
Would be to come back and romp with children."

Look there at the star!
I, among the least,
Will arise and take
A journey to the East.
But what shall I bring
As a present for the King?
What shall I bring to the Manger?

I will bring a song.
A song that I will sing,
A song for the King
In the manger.

Watch out for my flocks,
Do not let them stray.
I am going on a journey
Far, far away.
But what shall I bring
As a present for the Child?
What shall I bring to the Manger?

I will bring a lamb,
Gentle, meek, and mild,
A lamb for the Child
In the Manger.

I'm just a shepherd boy.
Very poor I am -
But I know there is
A King in Bethlehem.
What shall I bring
As a present for Him?
What shall I bring to the Manger?

I will bring my heart
And give my heart to Him.
I will bring my heart
To the Manger.

- Langston Hughes, Shepherd's Song at Christmas          

Thursday, December 24, 2020

lovelier than the world can show

Christmas Eve

Christmas hath a darkness
Brighter than the blazing noon,
Christmas hath a chillness
Warmer than the heat of June,
Christmas hath a beauty
Lovelier than the world can show:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

Earth, strike up your music,
Birds that sing and bells that ring;
Heaven hath answering music
For all Angels soon to sing:
Earth, put on your whitest
Bridal robe of spotless snow:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

-  Christina Rossetti

what's coming

 The snow globe look will soon be gone.

Tomorrow night heavy rains and wild winds are coming. *

A child shall be born for us,
and he will be called God, the Almighty,
every tribe of the earth shall be blest in him.

*That's actually tonight, because I'm up later than I should be.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Sunday, December 20, 2020

fourth Sunday of Advent

 While I was working on dinner, snow began to fall and it continued for several hours, coming down gently. It was beautiful! And Christmas-y.  I stepped outside a few times to get photos - always of the same view, but that's my view! 

And while I worked and while it snowed, the radio just happened to be playing Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker. How perfect! It may warm up and possibly rain on Christmas, so I'm happy to see this now, at least. 

I made a simple and very delicious crockpot salmon for the third time. I am always nervous about fish, not wanting to over-cook it and I have baked salmon successfully, but still don't feel confident about it. If you've got two hours to spare, this is just right. Basically, you line the slow cooker with parchment, lay lemon slices along the bottom and place the fish on it. Generously salt and pepper it, add some dill weed, then pour a cup and a half of veg stock and the juice of half a lemon over it, with some more lemon slices, if you want. Cook on low for two hours. Lovely! We had salad, roasted cauliflower and twice-baked sweet potatoes with it. I don't need to make dessert because my brother's been getting goodies from his people. We sampled a few cookies and some chocolate truffles. But not too many. 

And in case you're wondering, the Polish lady has given us the gingerbread, and it's in the freezer. 

Drop down dew from above, you heavens,
and let the clouds rain down the Just One;
let the earth be opened and bring forth a Savior.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

the sublime and the ridiculous

 I would love to have a Christmas tree in every room, but can't figure out how yet - too much clutter, I guess. Still, in the kitchen I put a small, rustic tree on a catch-all shelving unit. The little tree has lights, and is really cheery there, so I always make room for it. 

Next to the cat dishes.

ten inches


It sifts from leaden sieves,
It powders all the wood,
It fills with alabaster wool
The wrinkles of the road.

It makes an even face
Of mountain and of plain, -
Unbroken forehead from the east
Unto the east again.

It reaches to the fence,
It wraps it, rail by rail,
Till it is lost in fleeces;
It flings a crystal veil

On stump and stack and stem, -
The summer's empty room,
Acres of seams where harvests were,
Recordless, but for them.

It ruffles wrists of posts,
As ankles of a queen, -
Then stills its artisans like ghosts,
Denying they have been.

-    The Snow, by Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

the reason in this season

 See the rope? It's making sure nobody can take down the tree. See that furry one there? It's the reason for the rope.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

more butter

 A few days ago I was somewhere online, not sure where but it may have been Instagram, and somebody had made scones. She said she used more butter than called for - maybe double? - and she always does that. My thought was how unnecessary

Meanwhile, yesterday I baked some scones from my little scone recipe book. Gingerbread scones - sounds delightful! I baked them for the minimum amount of time called for; they came out dry. I mean, baking them for less time wouldn't have improved them much, the recipe really needs  -   more butter. 

I've made scones many times, and have noticed some are softer than others - fat content, I guess - but never made any which seemed too dry. It's funny that it happened right after I made that judgment. I guess her scones really needed more butter, and she knew it. And I have to work on not being so critical. :)

Monday, December 14, 2020


Rejoice, rejoice, believers,
and let your lights appear.
The evening is advancing,
and darker night is near.
The Bridegroom is arising,
and soon he will draw nigh,
Up, pray, and watch, and wrestle:
At midnight comes the cry.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

an early morning surprise

 It's sixty degrees out; for Wednesday some are predicting a big snowstorm. But it's not a certainty.

At five thirty this morning I got up to make a trip to the bathroom and noticed my brother's light on; when he heard me moving about he said, "There's no water." He was online, trying to find a number to call. The water company is rather elusive, it seems. On their website there's only the regular customer service number, which wasn't allowing him to leave a message - it doesn't seem to work! I dug out a recent bill but that was the same number.  He called the police station and found out a big water main had burst and half the town was without water, so he went out to buy some. When we got up again later the flow had at least returned but was dirty, and I still don't trust it. Have received two emails from them since, both of which had an emergency phone number on it - so, why isn't that number on the bills, or their website?? I wrote it down. 

And I do remember last Christmas, when we didn't have water for a while. Doesn't exactly impart a feeling of confidence.

she was purring when I shot this, happy in the box

I used to make a point of bringing my camera with me - now, I hardly think of it. Consequently, I have to rely on my powers of description. Yesterday, Deb and I went to a lovely shop which has been in our town most of my life but recently moved to a different location, after being in someone's home for over fifty years - now run by her granddaughter and granddaughter-in-law. Isn't that nice? It was quite gloomy out, foggy and rainy, but they had a brazier going with seats near it for shoppers who might be waiting for their companions, fir trees ranged along the way, some with lights, and one with moving branches, as I spotted a bird making itself cozy in there. 

I've been struggling to put up the tree, with a certain purrson wanting to help me. She still wants to climb it, and she's not the little kitten she was last year, so any thought of getting a tree with lights that work would just end in ruination and despair, since she has bent some of these downward where I can't figure any way to bend them back. We'd managed to find one string of lights last Christmas, when only one-third of the tree didn't light, but by the end of the season none of them did. However, this fall a stop at a tag sale found me a very long light strand for a couple of dollars - it's more than enough to light the tree! So the wooden snowflakes are up with the orange slices, and it's beginning to look like something. 

But it's Gaudete Sunday, and I love that song from the Medieval times - makes me feel like dancing. And this one's even better. :)

Monday, December 7, 2020

getting ready for Christmas

 It was supposed to rain Saturday, then they said it would snow, and it did. And it's still white, because it's cold, too. 

I'm getting back to making bread again. I always stop in summer. Then there's the tasty supermarket bakery "artisan" bread in the reduced section for half price. I like it, so as long as it was available I didn't need to make my own. But I was missing it. We had to withdraw some older bread machine cookbooks at work, and I took them home, adapting recipes for regular oven use. So far: an oatmeal bread Saturday, and today an oat/wheat bread, substituting a cinnamon-orange simple syrup for the honey it called for. Very fragrant! I love to try new recipes.

I tried drying orange slices. Four hours at 200, and they still weren't entirely dry. 

Not quite what I expected. But I want to try again. I guess some people just let them air dry, but I haven't got a space for that, so I'll have to find a better "recipe". 

We just heard that a 7-CD boxed set of the works of Paul Desmond was released earlier this year. Don't tell Dolly! She'll want it for Christmas. 

Friday, December 4, 2020

stuff and bother

 I thought it would be nice to exercise my brain and do some memory work. This hymn was sung at Mass Sunday, it was the first Sunday of Advent, it's an Advent hymn, so. 

The words are in a book I've had for a number of years; I focus on a couple of lines every day, and at this point I've (almost) learned the first section. 

Wake, awake, for night is flying,
The watchmen on the heights are crying,
Awake, Jerusalem, at last!

Midnight hears the welcome voices
And at the thrilling cry rejoices:
Come forth, ye virgins, night is past!

The Bridegroom comes, awake,
Your lamps with gladness take, alleluja!
And for his marriage feast prepare
For ye must go to meet him there.

Okay. Today I thought of it, didn't have the book with me and couldn't remember something, so I googled the lyrics. I happened on a Catholic site, and - guess what?  Well, this song was written in another language. So, there are translations. So, I landed on a different translation. Oh, brother!

 A fine kettle of fish. Here I am, trying to do something worthwhile, and - this. I'm Catholic, I suppose I should know the Catholic version, the one which is sung in church. Except, I'm not sure which it was because last Sunday was before I started memorizing it. And the hymn books are gone, along with every else that's put away because of COVID. So. 

Then there's the fact that I have become attached to these words I've learned. Oh, for Pete's sake. 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

a new beginning

 Well, it's Advent, and I'm glad. 

The Lord will come and not be slow,
His footsteps cannot err;
Before him righteousness shall go,
His royal harbinger.

Truth from the earth, like to a flower,
Shall bud and blossom then;
And justice, from her heav'nly bower,
Look down on mortal men.

- John Milton

"You, O Lord, are our father, our redeemer you are named forever. Why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage. Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before you, while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for, such as they had not heard of from of old."

-  from the book of Isaiah

"Thus says the Lord: I will return to Zion, and I will dwell within Jerusalem"

-  from the book of Zechariah

And this hymn, again. 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

a good day


Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers. To everyone else, you should adopt this holiday, it's lovely. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

far more than the family dinner

 "Of course, Thanksgiving is far more than the family dinner and the national festival. All people have always had harvest celebrations of one kind or another, so there is nothing distinctive about a feast time after the crops are in. But our Thanksgiving seems very close to our relation with God. It has a deep religious significance not always spoken of, but, I think, felt.

I am thankful for love, and friends, and the family gathering together. For starlight over the old apple orchard. For the chilly sweetness of peepers in April. For my winter birds, so brave, so hungry, and particularly for my little chickadee with the bent wing who bangs away at the suet cake right while I type. He cocks a shining eye at me and seems to say, 'Life is really what you make of it, eh?'

And it is good to take time to be thankful, for it is all too easy to let the world's trouble sweep over one in a dark flood and to fall into despair."

                                                                           -   Gladys Taber

Monday, November 23, 2020

a fancy cat

 When Orphan Annie came to live with us, my brother showed a photo of her to a client - the lady said she must be part Russian Blue. Well, she isn't remotely blue colored, she's kind of a dark warm gray; when she was young you could see faint stripes, and I thought she might be part tabby, but not a Russian Blue.

Her profile, even from the first, always brought to mind those ancient Egyptian cat statues

although, honestly, I don't think the above photo shows it. I'll keep trying, but she does move around so! Anyway, then Clare said something which made me do a bit of research. 

I had put up the video where Annie is playing fetch with me, and I said we'd never taught her this. Clare said there might be Burmese in her. I looked it up.

Well! Rover has a very interesting article, and almost right away something got my attention: They are heavier than they appear. Bingo! This little cat weighs a ton! I always marvel at it. In fact, they are referred to as "silk covered bricks" - yes! Her fur is so flat and shiny it doesn't seem to require combing. This article also mentions the fetching, and other dog-like behavior and cute personality. 

The cats in the photos don't look like Annie, their faces are rounder. The article says there are American Burmese (rounder faces) and British Burmese (more angular faces), so maybe she's a British. They are supposed to have yellow eyes; Annie's eyes are yellow with a green ring around the pupil. They were yellow when we took her in, though. 

Then I wandered over to an article on the Russian Blue. They sure had her angular facial features. They also have faint stripes when young! And, they all have green eyes when fully grown, but first their eyes are yellow with a green ring! 

Well, if she's got Russian Blue in her, it probably isn't much, but I believe she's got lots of Burmese in her. I don't think her eye color will change anymore, but it's pretty funny to me that a fancy cat just sort of ended up here with us. Thank you, Clare, for sending me down that rabbit hole!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

new customer at the drive-thru

 The bird feeder went up this week, and then I saw an unfamiliar bird there. I thought at first glance it was a chickadee, but it had a stripe along the head unlike the chickadee. Small and roundish like a wren, but it was gray, not brown. I got the bird book.

"borrowed" from the internet

A red-breasted nuthatch. We are used to seeing a different kind of nuthatch, the white-breasted - very different looking, with a white face. 

But I did think of a nuthatch when I saw him go upside down on the pole, like nuthatches do. 

I wonder how common they are, since the feeder is up every winter and I like to look up new (to me) birds - this cute fellow I don't think I've seen.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

bright leaves, bright bird

 This morning I sat by the window to put on makeup and saw such pretty bright leaves on my neighbor's apple tree. I got the camera - I guess you can sort of see them. 

Then a cardinal was suddenly on the tree, right in the middle.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

eat your spinach

 I lately picked up a Gladys Taber book, which is what you do when all around you seems to be falling apart.

"Somehow I feel it is a tradition with children not to like spinach, and I wonder when it started. The dislike seems to go from one generation to the next, spurred no doubt by parents who say it is so good for you. I think if parents would say, 'You are not old enough to eat this', the story might be different."

                                            - from The Best of Stillmeadow: A Treasury of Country Living

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

the last brights of November

As I move about the house doing my thing(s), my eye is always drawn out the window to a patch of bright color at the edge of the brook. It really jumps out at me in contrast to the quieter tones of November's usual offerings.

So I went to capture it before the rain starts.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Soul Cakes

 November is the month we remember the souls of those who have gone before us, and may need some help before they reach everlasting joy. 

There was a recipe linked on the Aleteia website , for - Soul Cakes!  Have you heard Sting's winter album? He sings a song called "Soul Cake". I love it. It's old

I made the recipe last night. Of course! It was sixty thirty but so dark out that when I realized it was early, I got to work baking. They are a shortbread, very nice flavor, with currants. We ate a couple, and now the rest are in the freezer.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

a commentary of sorts

 G. K. Chesterton on socialism:

"...for my own part, I cannot in the least agree with those who see no difference between Christian and modern Socialism... No reasonable man can read the Sermon on the Mount and think that its tone is not very different from that of the most collectivist speculation of the present day... There is a difference between Christ's Socialist program and that of our own time...

...the modern socialist is saying, 'What will society do?' while his prototype [the Christian]...said, 'What shall I do?' The modern socialist regards his theory of regeneration as a duty which society owes to him, the early Christian regarded it as a duty which he owed to society; the modern socialist is busy framing schemes for its fulfillment, the early Christian was busy considering whether he would himself fulfill it there and then; the ideal of modern socialism is an elaborate Utopia to which he hopes the world may be tending, the ideal of the early Christian was an actual nucleus "living the new life" to whom he might join himself if he liked. 

The modern socialist regards Communism as a distant panacea for society, the early Christian regarded it as an immediate and difficult regeneration of himself."

Rejoice, rejoice, believers,
And let your lights appear.
The evening is advancing,
And darker night is near.

- from a hymn by Laurentius Laurenti, in Magnificat, November, 2020

We spoke to a young Polish woman after Mass, who was amazed that America would ever turn socialist. They never thought it could happen here.

The closing hymn at church was Glory, Glory, Hallelujah - I was surprised, but I sang with gusto.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored
He has loosed the fateful lightening of His terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on. 
Glory, glory, hallelujah 
Glory, glory, hallelujah 
Glory, glory, hallelujah
His truth is marching on
I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps
I can read His righteous sentence in the dim and flaring lamps
His day is marching on
Glory, glory, hallelujah
Glory, glory, hallelujah
Glory glory hallelujah
His truth is marching on
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me
As He died to make men holy let us live to make men free
While God is marching on
Glory, glory, hallelujah
Glory, glory, hallelujah
Glory glory hallelujah
His truth is marching on
Glory, glory, hallelujah
Glory, glory, hallelujah
Glory glory hallelujah
His truth is marching on.

Also known as The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Indian summer

I slept with my window open last night. It is November 7th. 

Few phrases evoke as much delight as Indian Summer. Our past couple of days have been sunny, glittering - trees with dried leaves hanging like burnished pieces of old gold. We always call it Indian summer when it gets warm again in September or October, but I read someplace, and I think it was something Tasha Tudor said, that real Indian Summer comes in November, after the frost has come, after it's been cold. This is what Gladys Taber says about it:

"When Indian summer comes, nothing indoors seems important. I must carry my breakfast tray to the terrace and eat in the wine-bright sun. There is always a haze on the hills, making them dreamlike. Perhaps it is such an enchanted time because it is a promise that another summer will come, after winter goes. Actually there is no set date for Indian summer; it comes when it is ready. Sometimes it seems to come after a cold spell in October, but it may even come around Thanksgiving. The later it comes the better, I think - like an extra dividend."

A week ago there was snow on the ground. Now, the days are in the seventies, for a little while. Wonderful.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

one-stop shopping in the bargain basement

 A few times it's happened that an object suddenly appears, from out of nowhere, but we know the Orphan has brought it. She's scrounged it out of who-knows-where, something we've either never before seen, or had forgotten was in the house. 

Once it was a small alphabet block with charming images on it. We can't imagine how it came to be in the house, or where she found it. It's of no use to us; still, I didn't toss it - too cute.  Recently some sort of kitchen scrubber showed up. It's like she gets into the basement closets and goes shopping. 

So today it was a maraca.

It has taken me all day for the distant memory to return of these maracas I used to enjoy shaking as a kid. Didn't know we still had them. Where the heck has it been? 

Of course, the other part of the question is: Did she really carry that upstairs? Really? 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

I voted

 I got one of the fancy ones this time, and put it right in front on my Thanksgiving Dottie Angel dress.

Monday, November 2, 2020

the real thing


For some reason, homegrown winter squash seems more exciting a thing than homegrown tomatoes, cukes or other things we grow every year. I cut into one and can't believe it's the right color inside. 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

another Halloween

 We had forty six trick-or-treaters! I wouldn't have expected any, except somebody said on Facebook there was talk of parents bringing their children out, so we bought candy. 

And the little girls said the kitty was pretty. As they always do.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

autumn: how it is and how it's supposed to be

 "Autumn had touched the world with the tips of her fingers. In the mornings the valleys were always filled with mist and above them the slopes of the moors, covered with fading heather, were rose-pink. The hips and haws were scarlet in the hedges and here and there the green leaves had turned to pure pale gold. The gardens were filled with Michaelmas daisies and blazing dahlias, the blackberries were ripe and the children were gathering the sloes for winter-prick-wine. Threshing was in progress and in the centuries-old orchards, under the gnarled old trees, the cider apples were stacked in glowing piles. The rhythm of the autumn harvesting went on as usual, in spite of all, and the beauty of it stole into anxious hearts and brought its peace."

                                           -  Elizabeth Goudge,  The Castle on the Hill

That's how autumn should be.

It actually snowed yesterday, beginning while I was getting ready for work, slowing down around three o'clock. Before Halloween, and feeling like Christmas. It really could have been December, with temperatures only in the thirties! Except it's October. 

I took this shot at work. 

 Today it was like March, with snow melting and mud appearing. But we're glad to see it go; we tend to get nervous here when there's snow in October. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

half-past October

 I knew it would be warm today, but it wasn't. It was hot, and the air conditioners were put to bed last week. So I would do some cleaning, and then do some reading. Do more housework, and then watch a youtube video. Balance.

Just a couple of days ago I washed my lightweight summer robe, but it's on me now; I had to dig out a cotton nightgown I'd put away just two days ago. 

The oscillating fans were waiting to be cleaned and put in the basement - I'm glad I didn't get around to it. They are both in service at this moment. I know my two bedroom windows will be open tonight. And when I looked outside just fifteen minutes before dark, I saw beautiful goldens and oranges everywhere  outside the window. 

I saw this poem online today, at Tea with Mrs. Mourning Dove:


Maybe night is about to come
calling, but right now
the sun is still high in the sky.
It's half-past October, the woods
are on fire, blue skies stretch
all the way to heaven. Of course,
we know that winter is coming, its thin
winding sheets and its hard narrow bed.
But right now, the season's fermented
to fullness, so slip into something
light, like your skeleton; while these old
bones are still working, my darling,
lets dance.

-  by Barbara Crooker

Monday, October 19, 2020

everything you need to know

 My brother sees many people in his work and the talk is often about politics. But when complaints are made about a candidate, it often happens that the customer hasn't gone to the party's website and read their platform. This is frustrating, so with a great deal of time and effort, he got a URL and put as much information pertinent to this election on there; his name isn't on it and he's not tracking anything.

This is it, if you're curious.

 nothing to do with the election

Thursday, October 15, 2020

blue sky, low sugar and easy stew

 Today could only be described as magnificent - deep blue above, bright leaves, in the warm seventies and quite windy. I do like the wind. 

it was really bluer than this

I washed another window; it was a heavenly experience! Rain tomorrow, and then below sixty on Saturday; I was so fortunate to have this lovely day off.

Great news: Dolly had her blood tested again and it's down to 195! I'm amazed! This is about a hundred points below my expectation. 

I made stew in the crock-pot today - I definitely prefer it on the stove, where I can have more control while it's cooking. But the trade-off is that I was able to work around here all day and not have to think about dinner afterward.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

a warm light over all

 Today was very dark and gloomy, with rain pouring at times. But we know this water is needed rather desperately, so no complaining. After, when I came home from work and was moving about the kitchen, my eye kept going outside to the bright swamp maple all orangey, and another maple still green, but with many red-tipped leaves. And the light was yellow-ish - not eerie, not really golden, but a soft yellow tinge over everything. So I took a picture.

I don't think this photo really captures it, but it's all I've got. You'll just have to take my word for it. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

a better acquaintance with the slow cooker

 My crock-pot is an older model, but it still works fine. I recently had the notion to utilize it more, not only for slow cooked recipes but also adapting others. 

So, I read the little booklet and learned what I need to know for adapting recipes. I find it preferable to not have so much kitchen work at the end of the day, after doing housework; to have most of it done is such a relief. 

Anyway, I adapted an apple cider chicken recipe, which was nice, but I made it again with some ingredient changes and that was even better! Thursday I think I'll use the pot for beef stew. 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Queen Dolly

 I saw something I Never thought I'd see. Sweetie was scratching around in the litter box (we are keeping one in the living room now) and Dolly passed by. She stopped and bopped Sweetie on the head! I was ready to panic, thinking there'd be a fight; Sweetie has always been so unpredictable. Does Dolly remember how for almost four years she avoided Sweetie and was apprehensive all the time? Maybe, but maybe not. 

Meanwhile, Sweetie had no problem with it! This whole episode reinforced my confusion about cat behavior. But one thing was plain: Dolly knew what was going on, and so did Sweetie. So what does it matter if I don't? And Dolly is still The Queen. 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

clean windows before supper

 In the midst of a number of cool days, today came like a warm blessing. Sunshine and rather windy - it was wonderful! I washed a window, and the breezes were so heavenly that I washed another - even though it was nearing suppertime. 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

mean sky

A threatening sky after work yesterday. Thankfully it didn't amount to much.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020


 "The Christian will be judged, not by his ability to escape from his human tasks and responsibilities, but, on the contrary, according to the fresh meaning which he has discovered in them and the renewed devotion with which he has discharged them...

The sacramental world is essentially a link between two other worlds, the world of eternity, in which the risen Christ lives, and the world of today, in which we have to live and attain in ourselves the life of the Risen One."

                                                                 - Father Louis Bouyer, from Magnificat, October 2020

Sunday, October 4, 2020

early October

 So far, so good.

a vineyard dream

The keeper of a vineyard dreamed 
Of vines alive with fruit
And tended vine and dream alike
Down years of sharp dispute,
As others came to claim the land,
To drink its fruit as spoil,
Without a grower's love of growth
Or farmer's love of soil.

The keeper had a child, firstborn,
Who came to work the land.
The malcontents desired his life
But did not understand -
This life, once it was given up,
This blood, once spilled like wine,
Would soak down deep into the ground
And rise up in the vine.

And then the plant, fresh charged, would be
Itself a vein of grace,
A way the keeper might extend
A hopeful, green embrace,
Connecting child and foe and friend,
Co-mingled an entwined,
To be and bear the fruit of God
In one life-giving vine.

-  a hymn by Michael Hudson, from Magnificat, October 2020

Saturday, October 3, 2020

playing fetch with Annie

 Not long after Annie came to live with us, my brother noticed that she'd dropped a ball behind his chair at the kitchen table. They ended up playing fetch, and nobody taught her how - it's just something she knew. She's gone through periods where she'd fetch, and spells where she wouldn't. But lately we figured out that a smallish piece of crumpled paper is perfect for her little mouth to carry and I've tossed as many as ten times to her, with her carrying it back to me. This is awfully cute. 

So today I put the camera on the floor, and took my chances. As for the sheet-covered furniture, what you see is what you get.

Did you see her flip over at the end? She seems to like going head first, never worrying about her little noggin. 

Thursday, October 1, 2020


 We were driving along after Mass down an old tree-lined street and noticed a woodchuck strolling on the sidewalk! That was unexpected; perhaps he is a connoisseur of architecture - there are nice old homes there.

It's October, and I'm happy to say it was October-y today, with balmy air and the constant background music from the insects. It's a good start.

My brother reports that early this morning he found a "new" cat toy on the floor and gently kicked it to the kitchen. Later in full sunlight, he saw what it was: A little tomato, still intact. It is the Orphan's work to bring items from the Far Corners of the Earth into the living spaces and she does a good job of it. 

Since we got rid of our hawthorn trees years ago (my brother being tired of the needles stabbing him while mowing), the mockingbirds have less reason to come to our property. So I've been happy lately to see one enjoying the bird bath, several times. And that seemed to give his cousin (a cat bird) the idea. So, it's a busy spot with the brook dry, and Diane's cats also come to stand up and drink from it. We're trying to keep it fresh and clean for them.

Sweetie seems pretty cheerful these days; I feel badly about the thing growing in her throat. Dolly's blood sugar is improving. It started out at 412 and after a week of keeping her off dry food it went down to 384. Two weeks later, and after trying many types of higher protein and lower carb wet food, it's down to 343. Dr. Joe wants it below 300, so we go back in two weeks again. Meanwhile, she is so much more alert! This is amazing to us. Behavior we were attributing to old age may well have been due to this. Poor Dolly! She doesn't seem to miss the crunchies, as long as she can eat when she wants (which is often! too often)

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Christ in us

"If Christ is formed of our lives, it means that he will suffer in us. Or, more truly, we will suffer in him.

 If you are an office worker and the person over you is trying, perhaps rather limited in intelligence, so that you imagine you have some kind of right to be irritable, well, it is not you at all that must be obedient and humble and gracious, it is Christ, Christ, who said to the weak and timid civil servant, Pontius Pilate: You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above

It really needs to be practiced to be understood. We need to say to ourselves a thousand times a day, 'Christ wants to do this; Christ wants to suffer this.' And we shall thus come to realize that when we resent our circumstances or try to spare ourselves what we should undergo, we are being like Peter when he tried to dissuade our Lord from the Passion."

                                                                           -  Carryl Houselander, from Magnificat, September, 2020

Thursday, September 24, 2020

the return of Sweetie

 Sweetie is in the house!  Diane called this morning to say Sweetie was there, having some dry food with her own cats. She was able to pick her up with no problem and carry her over here without struggles. She was a little hesitant with me at first, but now she is fine, like she never left. 

What had happened was I could not get her into the carrier and there was MUCH energetic resistance on her part. When the vet came, I just carried her out to the van - the vet said to leave the carrier outside the van door. 

Now, it is a new carrier. I'm not sure I like the design; there are plastic hinges which are unusual and I did have the thought to show it to the doctor, but I said to myself, no, they've seen all different styles of carrier already. Next thing I know, I see her outside, holding the carrier door and Sweetie ahead of her - she just split, and fast. The vet blamed it on the carrier which, she thought, was a lemon. I didn't correct her; I should have listened to that small voice and explained it to her. I didn't even try to follow Sweetie, since she was moving fast. 

I do hope she enjoyed her little outing; the first night was quite cold - down near thirty degrees. She knows the area so I guess she knew places to go. But when she came in, she drank a great deal - our brook is still dry and it looks like she may not have had any water source. Right now, she is in front of me while I'm trying to type, rubbing on my face and purring like she never left. I am beginning to think that Clare was right and she was confused and afraid for a while. It's hard to know for sure. I asked her where she went, but she didn't tell me.

I guess we could say this was Sweetie's last adventure, since she doesn't have much time left, apparently. The tumor is growing back; it's not as big as before, but there's no point in removing it, since these things also grow back into the tongue, where it can't be excised. Poor Sweetie. But for now, things are much better than the day before! Thanks for all the prayers! xo

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Sweetie at large

 Yesterday the travelling vet came to see Sweetie. Her tumor is coming back in and there's no point to removing it, since it also is growing into her tongue, so - she is okay enough for now, but ...

Anyway, after the examination she got away from the vet and now she's on the loose. It was very cold last night, but she didn't make an appearance. She hasn't had her thyroid medicine for two days. However - just over an hour ago my brother noticed she was on the front step. He called her name and opened the front door, but - she took off. 

I pray she'll want to come back in soon, but since she's outside I hope it's because she's enjoying it and not because five or six times I desperately tried shoving her into the carrier (to no avail) and now she is afraid of me. I don't know how they remember these things or are influenced by them. But the fact that she is near is heartening, because we really had no idea where she was. The temperatures will be warmer for a new days and that's good news. Maybe she'll come in when she's tired of scrounging for food around the neighborhood. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

some lace is always nice

A couple of years ago I was at a local consignment shop and they had a long, narrow table. Since I have a thing for long, narrow tables and this was a deal I bought it. I finagled it into my room where it's used as a desk, more or less. 

I never used to mind laying out my fabric on the floor for cutting but now I'd rather not. The kitchen table isn't always available, but the other day it dawned on me I could clear off the table and use it. It worked great!

It is the same a-line, over the head dress I've made so many times. Sleeveless again this time, but I've got an idea for some sort of a lace collar and it took me a while to find the lace. (Actually, the other day I was aggravated that I didn't recall where it was and I said, "Guardian Angel, where the heck is that lace?" or something to that effect and then looked up to see some jars above me where I'd put it. That's how they work - they give you an inspiration.) Anyway, the lace above is an ecru and salmon which doesn't show up well here. Something I bought many years ago and it looks very pretty with this fabric. And here is my Pinterest board where I've put a few images of what I'm thinking of, either a lace at the neck or on the hem. 

So, I've got to play around with it and decide. And maybe I'll ask Cyndi, who sews way better than I do.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

the beauty of evenings

 Even when it's pleasant outdoors, inside it can trap the heat; I planned to wash my hair a little while before dark, so I could sit outside with wet hair and enjoy the coolness. I suddenly heard a ruckus beginning, like a pack of dogs barking. Then I realized it was the geese - they are starting their journeys back. There were lots of them and they flew pretty low. Then I noticed two bats swooping in their jagged way, back and forth from our place to the neighbors. I need to sit out more often in the evenings.

God in his beauty stills all our useless struggles and gathers us into his peace.

-  from Magnificat

Saturday, September 12, 2020

squirrel visits

 A couple of weeks ago I happened by the front door and saw a squirrel with his head down into the planter on the front step, his little behind in the air. In past years I occasionally had seed in there and immediately thought he was digging for food. Then I realized he must be burying a nut. 

Today I found this. So, did someone else come by to bury a nut? Or did my little friend return to get his little treasure? 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

all about food, I guess

 I haven't been here for a week! I'll have to make up for lost time.

After a few years of eating Siggi's yogurt, I'm going back to making it myself. It's way cheaper and I just feel like doing it again. 

  Something I've wondered about is why the instructions so often tell you to use milk that is only pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized. If they use this method in your country, have you ever noticed how long this ultra stuff lasts? It's amazing. Anyway, there is only one brand at the store where I shop that's simply pasteurized, and I like it well enough; it isn't organic but it's from our state. Still, I finally googled the question. And came upon a New York Times article with some very enlightening comments.

When you make yogurt, you have to heat it up to around 180 or over, then cool it down to around 110. You put in the starter or some from a previous batch and let it sit for hours to ferment. One of the commenters said she uses ultra-pasteurized milk to make hers, and because it's already been cooked enough (I forget how she put it, exactly), she just heats it to 110, adds the starter and continues from there. She skips the first step entirely! I decided to try this. I used a nice organic milk from grass-fed cows but it was ultra-pasteurized. After it had fermented I checked it (what you see above) - the consistency reminded me of Junket (remember that? - I used to love the chocolate one). But after an overnight in the fridge it looked pretty good. I still strained it, as I always do, to make it thicker. 

We found out last week that Dolly is diabetic. Her numbers weren't so high that she needs insulin shots, so we're trying to change her diet - no more dry food.

She is always very anxious about having food nearby. It's going to be hard for her at times, but after a week, her numbers did go down some; meanwhile, we're trying out some higher protein and lower carb brands of the canned stuff and reading a lot of labels. The issue is not whether she'll eat it - she is not a picky eater. But we want food that has quality ingredients. 

The reason we have butternut squashes on the front windowsill is that I picked them too early - a moment of madness I can only assume - and they weren't ripe. But we found evidence online that you can let them ripen in the sun, and they are turning that beige-y color, so I guess it's working. The cats aren't bothered by them, except yesterday I caught the Orphan batting one.

Sweetie found a purpose for them -

pretty cute. It's almost two months now, and she still seems the same. I have no idea what's going on inside of her with the cancer. 

Yesterday was Labor Day - sort of the official end of summer. I made an easy hummus, which recipe I found in British Country Living: basically a small jar of artichoke, lemon juice, can of drained butter beans, garlic and basil. Very tasty with crackers. We also had hamburgers and tomato salad - so many tomatoes.

 I also made scones. To have with the ice cream.