Friday, December 31, 2021

oft told Christmas tales

 I have a book called A Literary Christmas which I've been going through here and there. A Washington Irving excerpt caught my fancy and it turned out we had the complete piece at the library.

"It seemed to throw open every door, and unlock every heart. It brought the peasant and the peer together, and blended all ranks in one warm generous flow of joy and kindness. The old halls of castles and manor houses resounded with the harp and the Christmas carol, and their ample boards groaned under the weight of hospitality. Even the poorest cottage welcomed the festive season with green decorations of bay and holly - the cheerful fire glanced its rays through the lattice, inviting the passenger to raise the latch, and join the gossip knot huddled round the hearth, beguiling the long evening with legendary jokes, and oft told Christmas tales."

                                                                             - from The Sketch Book, "Christmas"

Monday, December 27, 2021


 Christmas has been so nice and quiet, which is what's usually needed after all the hubbub that always comes before. But we did have some ice Christmas morning, and almost thought we wouldn't make it to church

but we did. Then things got warmer on Sunday and it mostly melted and I am still grateful at how amazing it all was, to snow just in time for Christmas and melt away right after. 

A patron brought in some homemade goodies for us at work last week, and I asked her for a particular cookie recipe. They are chocolate drop cookies with chocolate chips and dried cherries, which sort of dissolve and give a fruity flavor. Well, mine spread out too much and looked unattractive; she didn't say to chill the dough. Anyway, I hadn't baked the whole batch, so I pressed the remainder into a small cake pan and cooked it that way.

I like it like that! At least it looks more appealing. The recipe is worth keeping. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

like magic

 And there was snow, this morning, Christmas Eve day. And yesterday I scrubbed the kitchen floor. What more could I want?

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, a verse from Christmas Eve

Thursday, December 23, 2021

the Advent of our daily lives

 "The liturgy of Advent... is not just about commemorating the historical event which occurred some two thousand years ago in a little village of Judea. Instead we must understand that our whole life should be an advent in vigilant expectation of Christ's final coming. To prepare our hearts to welcome the Lord who will come one day to judge the living and the dead, we must learn to recognize his presence in the events of daily life. Advent is then a period of intense training that directs us decisively to the One who has already come, who will come, and who continuously comes."

                                                                                       - St. John Paul II, from Magnificat, December 2021

Monday, December 20, 2021

naughty, naughty cat

 I can't believe I attached a favorite bird ornament on the tree with her watching. When I went in to unplug the tree, there were white feathers scattered underneath it. The bird was laying there, no tail feathers. Naughty Annie! Stupid Lisa.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

soon and very soon

 We sing this hymn at least once during Advent in recent years in church, and we did this morning. 

There isn't enough time in the week for me to do every thing that comes to my mind to do. We will see what happens. 

The advent of our God
Our prayers must now employ,
And we must meet him on his road
With hymns of holy joy.

Daughter of Zion, rise
To meet your lowly King,
Nor let your faithless heart despise
The peace he comes to bring.

- from Magnificat, December 2021

Saturday, December 18, 2021

one more week

 There was a fantastic sunrise this week -

I had to dial down the light coming into the camera; this is how the sky really looked, with that purply-pink color and the pieces of cloud, don't know what they're called.

And now it's cold again. It's been rainy today and may turn to snowy stuff during the night, but it doesn't look like a white Christmas this year. 

I made yogurt today. I usually do it overnight, but this time started it in the morning, and I just put the Instant Pot liner in the fridge. I tell you, the Instant Pot makes the best yogurt! The secret must be it's ability to keep it at a steady temperature indefinitely - today I let it ferment for ten hours. It comes out so thick I don't need to strain it, so there's no waste; if I start out with half a gallon of milk, that's what I end up with, or maybe a little less due to a little evaporation when it heats up initially.

A man and his daughter came up to the children's desk at work yesterday to check out two books. He put them on the counter and began fiddling with his watch. I thought what's he doing? Well, he had a smart watch and his library barcode was on there - he stuck out his wrist and I scanned it! 

We've been having lots of soup this Advent and it's been nice - one more week to go. The other day it was chicken soup with some greens and this piece ended up on the spoon rest (which is really the cover to a plastic container). It looks like a frog, doesn't it? 

It's not.

I made granola today, too. I like to make it at night. I overload the roasting pan with about ten cups of stuff, stir it a few times while it stays an hour and a half in a low oven and then it sits in the warm oven overnight, where it dries out completely by morning. Granola is expensive to buy, but I am not sure it's much cheaper to make, since I like to put so many things in it. 

I went to confession today; I always feel lighter when I come out - I even felt like that as a child. It's a good thing, right before Christmas. It's the second day of the O Antiphons. Eleven years ago I posted each of the O Antiphons with a piece of art from online that I really enjoyed choosing. I can't believe that was so long ago. Here they are, if you're interested. They don't appear in order in the link, so you'll have to skip up and down to read them properly. 

The promised one shall come and rule over us in peace. 

Thursday, December 16, 2021

very near

 Today was so mild, but I also had another headache. It may have been due to the warmer weather, but I can never be sure. So, my dreams of sitting quietly and diligently at the table writing Christmas cards did not come to pass. But I did dust the kitchen, do my regular cleaning and make chicken soup. I think I have to be content with just keeping up with laundry and dishes. I had some windows open for a while, and even stepped outside just to take a turn around the yard and talk to the birds.

Look up, O drooping hearts, today,
The King is very near;
O cast your griefs and fears away,
For, lo, your help is here!
Hope on, O broken hearts, at last
The King comes in his might;
He loved us in the ages past
When we lay wrapped in night.

             -  from Magnificat, December 2021

I found a dried orange slice, broken in half, in the living room this morning. Naughty Annie.

Monday, December 13, 2021


It seems about two weeks before Christmas I get the urge to bring out more glitter and shine; this may have something to do with Gaudete Sunday, which was yesterday. Now things are looking more like Christmas around here, but I haven't finished yet. 

I organized another shelf in one of the basement closets, and it's so neat now. There are some cake pans, birthday candles, cookie cutters and colored sugars and other sprinkles, etc., and I tend to use those decorations at this time of year mostly. I haven't made any cookies yet, but I think I'll do better by making quick drop-type cookies, and maybe scones and some cakes which I can slice into portions to give people. Nothing too fussy or time-consuming. 

The bathroom floor is scrubbed and shining. I feel like I'm getting somewhere. 

The orange slices I dried last year still look good - I may do some more. 

Dolly was fussing at us so much earlier this evening - she had food nearby, so we didn't know what was the problem. After quite a while, I put her on my bed on the green quilt and turned on the radio. Immediately, she began to settle and talk in a contented way. Dolly, I apologize that I didn't think to turn it on before! I can't believe this is what she actually wanted - since, when she complains, it always sounds the same, and we always think she's saying,  "I want food". Everything she says sounds the same! Poor Dolly. But she seems to take comfort in hearing the music nearby.

Meanwhile, I am following along this Advent with Malcolm Guite's book, Waiting for the Word, a poem each day with commentary by himself. I love it. 

Friday, December 10, 2021

into His destiny

 "The children who refuse to dance or mourn* represent souls that are anesthetized by self-absorption and doubt. The Son of Man, because of his great love, experienced both exquisite joy and profound sorrow. He invites us into his destiny. Thus, we share in his cross with the assurance that, if we do, our 'name will never be cut off or blotted out from his presence.' Believing this is true wisdom." 

                                                                          - from Magnificat, December 2021

* from Matthew 11:16-19

We await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our mortal bodies, to conform with his glorified body. 

- Phil. 3:20-21

Thursday, December 9, 2021

a short conversation

 The phone rang. I picked it up.

me: Hello?

OP (the other person): Who's this?

me: Hello?!

OP: Who is this?

me: Did you call me?

OP: This is a call-back. I'm calling you back!

me: I didn't call you!

OP: I got a call from this number; I'm calling you back!!

me: I did not call you!

OP: Then, why is this number showing up on my phone?

me: Because certain people have software that does this to be funny  - I assure you, I did not call you. So, anyway, whoever you are, have a nice evening!

OP: And you, as well!

me: Good-bye!

OP: Good-bye!

This has happened before. Maybe with caller ID it's not an issue, but this phone I used doesn't have it. 

a welcome delight

 When I got into bed last night, snow was falling. I turned out the light and could still see Dolly's white shape in the bright glow of the snowy atmosphere.

This morning, I'd forgotten all about it, until I heard the snow shovel scraping on the driveway.

Gold-tinged tree branches made me bring out my camera several times; it's very hard to capture. But I didn't expect a snowy landscape from this, and it will be gone when sixty degree temps come on Saturday. So it was a beautiful surprise.

The snow always gives that feeling of newness, freshness, and new beginnings. Which is what Advent is about.

I will give you a new heart
and place a new spirit within you,
taking from your bodies your stony hearts
and giving you natural hearts.

- from Ezekiel, chapter 36

Monday, December 6, 2021

new curtains for the living room

 I was very excited today to finish off the new living room curtains. The curtains I made years ago were impossible to salvage another day. I had hung those every fall, ignoring how faded they were, until last year when I cut them short and used them like valances. Which was rather cute, but it couldn't last.

So, there I was, looking at fabric sites and wondering what look I wanted. Meanwhile I was thinking of things in drawers which could be gotten rid of, or whatever, and I remembered two twin flat sheets, in their packages, which nobody had a use for. I folded over the big hems and slipped them over the rod. 

They are a mocha color and they darkened the room immediately. This can be cozy when winter comes, but they were just hanging there and something else was needed. I searched Pinterest and found this image 

And this is what I did -

It's hard to tell here, but I used brilliant red satin ribbon which I have plenty of and I love it! I decided ahead of time I wanted the curtains pulled up at the lowest window pane. What a difference! I like the idea that it's tied back up and away from frisky kitties - I'd never seen this style before. Thanks to Mom's Secret Recipe blog for posting it.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

instead of a listless spirit

 O God of glory, 
you have sent your only Son into our midst
to bear us in joy into your presence.
Waken those whose faith slumbers;
stir up those whose love has waned into indifference;
rouse to fullness of life those who have abandoned their journey 
toward you amid the hardships they have met along the way.
Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners, To announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God, to comfort all who mourn; To place on those who mourn in Zion a diadem instead of ashes, To give them oil of gladness in place of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit. 

                                                                 -  Isaiah 61:1-3

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Christmas with the cats

 The tree is up, and the lights. I need to find a sensible method of doing the lights but now's not the time to think about it. And Tricia came by to give me a darling little hedgehog ornament! I clipped it on, and it's starting to look Christmas-y.

The Orphan finally had an appointment with the vet for a checkup, Thursday morning. We'd put it off for over a year, with so many appointments for Sweetie and Dolly. Meanwhile I went to give Dolly her insulin shot Wednesday night. She was curled up, sleeping. I wanted to wake her first; I poked her, Dolly, Dolly. She didn't move. My brother came in and we were poking her, but not pushing. After a minute or so, she finally awoke, made a sound and stretched. Gosh! But then I thought about how over the past few days she'd been eating less, sleeping more and seeming out of it, otherwise. I decided to take her in instead of Annie. She's got an infection!  Upper respiratory. After four doses of Clavamox, she is already eating much better and like her old self again. Poor Dolly! And Orphan Annie has a short reprieve (because I know she does not like going into the carrier), until the 28th. 

And speaking of Annie, on Cyber Monday I happened on a youtube video of the Kitten Lady testing the DNA of all her cats with a company called Wisdom. There was a link and a sale. I ordered it! It's Clare's doing - she started this when she thought Annie might be Burmese, and it seems to me like she is, reading about the characteristics. Now we'll find out for sure!  I always wished I knew what kind of cat Henry was, but I don't think they had these kits back then. Of course Dolly may well have some fancy lineage, but it's rather expensive, and Annie is more surely part fancy cat. And I got forty five dollars off. (I hope she won't mind getting the inside of her cheek scraped for half a minute!) 

on a better day