Sunday, March 27, 2022

the Cause of our wonder

 From The Mystery of the Cross, by the late Cardinal Basil Hume of England:

"What are the Articles of Faith to you and me? They are pointers to the mystery, they are starting points for endless exploration, right down the ages, and that exploration is never completed, either by the Church itself, or by us individually. One of the problems in the Church today is that there are people who think that doctrine does not evolve. But I was encouraged when I read these words by a Greek Orthodox theologian:  

                We see that it is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of a mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder."

Saturday, March 26, 2022

"nor death nor hell shall harm"

 Thou art the Way: to thee alone
from sin and death we flee;
and he who would the Father seek
must seek him, Lord, by thee.

Thou art the Truth: thy word alone
true wisdom can impart;
Thou only can inform the mind,
and purify the heart.

Thou art the Life: the rending tomb
proclaims thy conquering arm,
and those who put their trust in thee
nor death nor hell shall harm

Thou art the Way, the Truth, the Life:
grant us that Way to know,
that Truth to keep, that Life to win,
whose joys eternal flow.

          -  George Washington Doane from Magnificat, March 2022

Monday, March 21, 2022

birds singing, threads breaking

 It's wonderful to hear the birds singing so much. The cardinals are whistlingrobins are laughing. Everyone is busy doing spring things. Dolly is feeling cold lately it seems, because she's been wanting to burrow.

I made the cake; it came out of the pans beautifully. Always a relief. I found a broken thread on my linen dress with the tucks - the one I put on backward once - maybe you remember. 

I went into my embroidery floss, looking for an exact match - and actually found one! It will be easy to repair.

prayers for Ukraine

 Here is something from some Benedictine monks, remembering the situation and people in Ukraine.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

third Sunday of Lent

 The grass turned green the day before St. Patrick's; it's been warm. Friday it was in the seventies! One hardly knows what to wear, when the clothes in the closet are for the forties. New Englanders always have something to complain about in the weather. :)


When I brought pieces of the gluten-free, sugar-free cake to work, it was very well received. So, I'm making it up tomorrow for Wednesday's celebration. Meanwhile, I still haven't done my taxes. It's always this way - I wait long enough for all the pertinent forms and things to come in the mail, and then things like this come up and before you know it, it's the eleventh hour. But I still have a little time.

In Malcolm Guite's poetry guide through Lent, this week Dante will accompany us. He says: "Most of us are under pressure, external and internal, to do everything, be good at everything, be accountable to everyone for everything! It is not so. In the divine economy each of us has a particular grace, gift and devotion. Finding out what that is, and learning how to be guilt-free about not doing everything else, may be part of what our Lenten journey is for." I underlined that last line! But I still must do my taxes.


I like this magazine

At the supermarket I thought to get a kielbasa for Easter and the local brand I like was twenty two dollars! I bought the ten dollar one - they taste the same to me. I'm not quarrelling with their price - maybe they source better ingredients, maybe they pay their employees better wages and benefits, I have no idea, but I just can't bring myself to pay that much. 

The Gospel reading at Mass today was from St. Luke, chapter 13:

"Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus said to them in reply:

Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them - do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!"

St. Patrick pray for us

Thursday, March 17, 2022

a timely psalm

This morning's psalm in my prayer book:

 Why do you boast of your wickedness,
you champion of evil?
You love evil more than good;
lies more than truth.

For this God will destroy you
and remove you forever.
He will snatch you from your tent and uproot you
from the land of the living.

The just shall see and fear.
They shall laugh and say:
So this is the man who refused
to take God as his stronghold,
but trusted in the greatness of his wealth
and grew powerful by his crimes?

- Psalm 52: 3-7

Monday, March 14, 2022

cake experiments

 I made a cake today. I've made this recipe before, and had written "excellent" on the paper, which I'd cut out from Gourmet Magazine, May 1993. It has no eggs, if that might be of interest to you. If you make it, I guarantee enthusiasm from your guests (or family, as the case may be). But today I took a chance and changed up some things.

Someone at work has been on a sugar-free, dairy-free and wheat-free regimen, and she's having a birthday soon. What to do? I was very curious about what would happen if I took a known recipe and subbed some crucial ingredients. It came out quite good, I think.

It rose nicely. Came out of the pan easily. 

I used King Arthur gluten-free Measure for Measure flour. I also used Nature's Besti sugar replacement with monk fruit (very little, I believe, even though in BIG LETTERS on the package). I was nervous about it, but it tastes pretty good. This was a trial run; I'll bring a few pieces to work to see what people think, while keeping it secret from the Birthday Person. 

The fake sugar taste isn't quite like real sugar, and is seventy percent as sweet. This woman can have maple syrup, actually, so I'm considering using half the amount of the Besti and using half maple syrup - the batter is so thick, I don't think there'd be a problem with doing that. I'd rather have it thinned out, in fact; it was hard to smooth out in the pan, sticking to the spatula. It does contain dairy - I could try using coconut milk, but another thing this cake doesn't have: baking powder. I think I'd have to include it with coconut milk. We'll have to discuss all these issues. It's quite possible she'd have a piece no matter what, but frankly, the challenge appealed to me.

The frosting: I wish I could find a maple syrup frosting, but nothing turns up. There are plenty which claim to be that, but they all contain powdered sugar, too. Perhaps it can't be done. I may make regular buttercream in case she's willing to indulge - if not, she can avoid eating it.

I find this sort of thing so interesting. Meanwhile, check out the link to the recipe, especially if you're looking for a good chocolate cake and you've got buttermilk on hand. It makes one delicious layer.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

someone calls us by our name

This morning we stepped out and were brought back in time to the depth of winter - breezy and frigid after a very windy night. Yesterday snow fell, accumulating rapidly; the sun poked through later for a while, then a squally sort of snow returned for the rest of the evening. Everything got covered. But the forecast has us in the fifties and sixties the rest of the week - then spring comes on Sunday. I am peering into my closet to make sure I have things to wear for these warm days.

I liked Malcolm Guite's Advent guide so much, I have his Lenten one, The Word in the Wilderness. He wrote a beautiful meditation last Friday on The Song of Wandering Aengus (Sam Neill again - I love his reading!)   He speaks of the key line of the whole poem: "And someone called me by my name", and how our Christian vocation is a calling of us by name - a call out of nothingness into being, a call out of darkness into light, and "all our lives, all our journeyings, 'through hollow lands and hilly lands', are a response to that call."

I finished a terrible pile of mending, terrible because it was around too long, not because it was so hard to actually do. Procrastination is always bad. Now to get back to "real" sewing.

I went out to a hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread.

And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:

It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;

And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

Friday, March 11, 2022

little diversions

 It was truly a winter wonderland yesterday morning, snow sticking to all the tree branches and the clothesline. But it was just a diversion because the temp went up to fifty and the snow mostly went away. I don't miss it - my daffodil leaves are up, very clumped together and I can see I'll have to divide them after blooming. 

A co-worker introduced me to Wordle - do you know it? I'm not one for crosswords, though I used to like the cryptograms in the Sunday paper years ago. Wordle appears on the New York Times website every day; it's always a five-letter word that you have to guess, and you've got six tries. If you've got a letter right, it shows in yellow and if it's also in the correct spot, it shows up green. It's a little thing to get your mind working, and I love it. And the fact that it's every day, clean fun and others you know may be doing it is also a nice thing. You can also go back to previous games because they're archived. It may be just what you need. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

a bit of fresh air

It began to snow around eleven, and I had the desire for some brisk, cold air, so I put on my scarf and hand mitts and took the camera with me. 

 It's going to be on and off through the day, with an inch or two as the result.

Monday, March 7, 2022

moving into Lent

 The robins are back.

 I've already washed two of my warm and woolly turtlenecks. Even though it's been kind of cold, it's almost spring and I have crewneck sweaters which can keep me warm enough. 

Our friend came over yesterday and I thought a fruit dessert would be nice for a Sunday in Lent, not too dessert-y. I had cranberries in the house, so I made a cranberry crisp. The recipe I use is for pears or apples and it always works well, but I hadn't ever made one with only cranberries. I put thickener in it - flour. I used maple syrup instead of sugar. It came out too thick, and too tart. What to do? 

I got an idea - I got out some fancy dessert dishes and put some in each. At serving time, I plopped plain yogurt on top and drizzled a bit of maple syrup over all. A lovely dessert! I was a little nervous about the tart yogurt over the tart berries, but my brother said it tasted good with the "whipped cream". I told him I'd remember that he thought my yogurt tastes like whipped cream. 

I think that cranberries have so much pectin, they don't need thickener. Next time.

Like last year, I am playing my chant music during Lent and I was reminded how much Sweetie enjoyed it last year. Was she really around a year ago?  Meanwhile, Dolly eschewed the monks of Norcia and listened to Bolero, of all things. It was on the radio. I kept laughing; there's something funny about that, even in this house.

Dolly listening to Bolero

She didn't mind when it gets loudish, at the end. She liked it. Of course.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

"when you rest, you tell the truth about the world"

 I'm reading Joy Clarkson's new book, Aggressively Happy.

"The metaphors we use to describe ourselves matter. I've noticed that we often talk about ourselves like we're machines. We "adjust." We "process" life events. We "recharge our batteries" when we're worn out. On their own, these metaphors might be harmless enough, but when they become ingrained in our self-imagination, they can become destructive. We act like we should be able to expect the same things from ourselves every day. We demand consistency; we are hard on ourselves when we don't perform, function, work. Machines work and so should we. When machines break, we throw the useless things away, or melt them down for parts. 

You are not a machine. You are more like a garden. You need different things on different days, a little more sun today, a little less water tomorrow. You have fallow and fruitful seasons. This is not a design flaw; it is wiser than perpetual sameness. 

...What does your garden need today? This morning mine needed solitude and enough sleep....People call this self-care, but I think there's something more. "Self-care" implies that I, my "self", am capable of caring for myself. ...But there's also something else. When I pause to take care of myself, I acknowledge implicitly that the world will go on without me. That my "self" cannot do everything. That I am not God. ...When you rest, you tell the truth about the world.

Forgetting you have a body is not heroism; it is hubris."

Thursday, March 3, 2022

a weight

Remembering Ukraine. That situation hangs like a weight over everything we all do, all day, every moment, doesn't it? The other night I wasn't sleepy for some reason; but I wondered if anyone in Kyiv was able to sleep at all anymore.

A co-worker of mine worked her last day today at the library - she was with us for twenty three years. There was a nice party yesterday, but someone thought we should show up at eight o'clock tonight  to give her a final send-off, if possible, since only three people work till closing. So, a few of us came with cupcakes and a balloon. She was touched, but she's not a sentimental person, and glad to be retiring. It's strange when they go, and another one will be leaving too, moving to Florida soon. There's a lot of that going on, it seems.

Annie purring on the bed

O great Physician of the soul
To whom the helpless pray,
We come to you to make us whole;
Oh, cast us not away.