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.