Monday, May 30, 2022

simple pleasures

 Last year, Cyndi had told me there was a schedule online of the military flyovers on Memorial Day - I never thought of looking it up - it was always a case of running outside the second you start to hear the rumbling. So I found out they were coming over our town between eleven thirty and twelve. Meanwhile, my brother was out mowing, and one came along early and I missed it. 

The neighboring town had a much earlier time slot, so that must have been it, since we're near the border. But at eleven thirty I headed to the front step with my tablet and a bottle of nail polish, intending to stay for a half hour. And they came. At 11:38 one appeared, flying over our neighbor's property and I got a good view of him. At twelve I came in, but ten minutes later I felt the rumbling and looked out - another pass! 

In between these appearances I was listening to a podcast; they were discussing two books by G. K. Chesterton, Manalive and his book about St. Francis. The point of their discussion was Chesterton's emphasis on the importance of enjoying our lives as a way of expressing gratitude to God, and boredom as an opposite attitude. I can say that when these planes fly overhead, I'm like a kid in my excitement; I wait for them every year. 

Several minutes later, I heard more rumblings, and one of those big helicopters came along, with two regular ones tagging behind. Some years we miss them entirely, so this was really fun! And now I will go back to my Memorial Day preparations. 

Happy Memorial Day! 

Sunday, May 29, 2022

not orphans

 From today's Mass readings:

"I, John, heard a voice saying to me: Behold, I am coming soon. I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."

                                                   Rev. 22:12,13 

Alleluia, alleluia. I will not leave you as orphans, says the Lord. I will come back to you, and your hearts will rejoice. Alleluia, alleluia.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

slow Saturday

 It was another very humid day today, and a thunderstorm came along in the middle of it - not too bad, and Dolly and I stopped our work and rested while the wind blew the rain against the north windows, and I said my rosary with my plastic beads. A violent storm is an opportunity for praying, or waiting, but not much else. I have a plastic rosary given to me by a priest who got a bunch of them when he was on retreat in the Holy Land; he gave them out one Easter. I always reach for them during electrical storms. 

The Orphan turned three the other day. She's definitely more sedate, or maybe I should say she's less crazy, less often. But I recently noticed she will sleep for hours on a full tummy, which seems a little much for someone so young. I can't help but wonder if she feels left out, watching us give so much attention to the high-maintenance Dolly. Or is she bored in our small house? She has always played so well by herself that we don't feel too guilty if we aren't playing with her, but I think she's been feeling it. So, I'm making her wait longer now between meals and making her play for a while when I have a minute. She already seems better, poor thing. She's so good natured, and I'm afraid she's been wondering where she fits in. That's awful, isn't it? 

I've been reading a book about another of our founders, a man named Gouverneur Morris. I chose this book because I found out he wrote the preamble to our Constitution. I had no idea. The others liked the way he worded things, in the same way they like the way Jefferson worded things for the Declaration. Morris had an interesting life, - spent ten years in France when things were starting to simmer and then boil - I learned a lot about that time from reading this. He seemed sensible and very likeable to me,  despite the fact he had numerous affairs with married women. Why is it easier for me to excuse the same failings in those from the past, than for those alive now? Maybe because the former are in God's hands now, and have gotten their reward or punishment, and being angry with them won't make any difference to anything. 

"To try to do good, to avoid evil, a little severity for oneself, a little indulgence for others - this is the means to obtain some good result out of our poor existence. To love one's friends, to be beloved by them - this is the means to brighten it."

                                        -  Gouverneur Morris, from Gentleman Revolutionary by Richard Brookhiser 

Thursday, May 26, 2022

a prayer on the Ascension of the Lord

Loving Father,
because of the
 Ascension of your Son
 our human nature
is now at home with you in heaven.
 May this truth
be our lasting encouragement and hope. 

- from Magnificat, May 2022

Monday, May 23, 2022

a fresh day

 The windows are all open and it's almost cold in the house, but I'm okay with it. It was up over ninety the past two days, and oppressively humid - this bright sun and crisp air is welcome. I can hear a lawn being mowed, birds having a conversation, things are growing - it's wonderful. 

Friday, May 20, 2022


 A co-worker brought in a bouquet of lilacs, and they perfumed the workroom at the library. But it wasn't overpowering and I was surprised that it didn't bother me. Meanwhile, I read this the other day - and I hope it's okay to reprint it here. 


You stand beneath the lilac bush at night
And smell her heavy blossoms, think, ah, right,
I've caught this scent a thousand times before,
Which, subtle though it is, you can't ignore.
It fills the mind and yet escapes it, too,
As every mystery worth the name will do.
Perhaps that's why, like baby faces, ants,
The curious innards of a marshland's plants,
Like love songs or the neighbor's lab you pet,
No matter how familiar, we still get
A pulse of wonder and a hint of fear
That some ethereal visitant draws near.

-   James Matthew Wilson, from National Review, May 16, 2022

Thursday, May 19, 2022

red lentil soup for a damp day

 It really seems like summer has begun early this year, except for today. It was barely sixty and rainy. I made a new recipe for the second time, a hearty red lentil soup on this damp day. I don't remember where I cut it out from, but the paper says it was developed by a Bill Millholland. Thanks, Bill. 

Dice up a large onion, two carrots and two celery stalks, and saute in olive oil for ten minutes. Add three minced garlic cloves, a tablespoon of tomato paste, a half teaspoon of ground cumin, one quarter teaspoon of saffron and one quarter teaspoon of turmeric. Stir around for another minute. 

Add four cups of chicken stock and one and a half c. water, half a bag of frozen spinach and a pound of red lentils, rinsed well. Cook this for twenty minutes. I end up adding another quart of water, it's so thick, so you will, too. It's still like porridge when it's done. One teaspoon kosher salt and a half tsp. black pepper. This is really tasty and filling.

Monday, May 16, 2022

red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet

 We had a bit of a thunderstorm at suppertime. Well, it's been hot and humid for a few days - like July! I wonder if summer has already begun. 

Anyway, the storm. There wasn't much to it, but then while it was sprinkling, the sun came out and you know what that means. A rainbow! 

It was a double - you can see it! 

I have never seen the colors so clearly in a rainbow before; I saw every single shade.

You'll have to pretend that dark spot isn't there - my camera is old. 

It got brighter and brighter; it lasted so long! And then I looked over to the right, and could see the other end 

This is unusual for our neighborhood. It was lovely! 

And now it will be comfortable and in the seventies for a few days. 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

prayer for the coming week

 God is love; to Christ we pray -

You are the way:
   - lead us in your ways today and throughout the coming week. 

You are the truth:
   - let truth be our guide in every conversation.

You are the life:
   - teach us to live according to your love.

                 Show us the way we should choose!

                                        -  from Magnficat, May 2022

Saturday, May 14, 2022

hanging a plant already

 Ordinarily I'd never buy a hanging plant this early; we usually can expect frosts in mid-May. But the days are actually hot, and this pretty plant at the supermarket caught my fancy. 

Yellow would never be my first choice, but it hangs over the pot so prettily! And that's what matters - hanging plants need to hang. So I guess the color is of secondary importance. I looked ahead two weeks on the Accuweather site, and it seems like these warm temperatures will continue through the month's end. Unless, of course, things change. But this is quite unusual.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Dolly cools off

 We're having very summery weather, like eighty-something, and with humidity. Dolly has definitely been  uncomfortable, restlessly going here and then there, trying to find a cooler surface. After supper it went down to seventy and she was lying on the bare floor in the living room, limp as a rag. On a whim, I grabbed a quilt and her harness, scooped her up and went outside in the front yard. She came alive instantly, and I wish I had a photo, but I didn't want to take too many things. She ate grass, walked around and then sat near me, giving me a little bite on the hand in cat gratitude. We watched people drive and walk by, and we came in when it got damp after sunset, but I've got window fans in two windows on the north side and the house is cooling fast. It'll only go as low as sixty five tonight, so I'll run these till bedtime - they are a little noisy. But she is much better. 

But poor Annie cried from the window. We'll have to see what we can do about that.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

new things to plant

 A year ago we took down two trees, and lost a lot of shade in the back yard. We researched different tree types but then the nursery didn't have those. It was hard to decide what to do - we never bought any replacements last fall. 

Well, my brother picked up a white crabapple tree today, and a couple of variegated hollies. The arbor vitaes that are along the side fence are all yellowed, and I think it's from the two overflows we had last summer - here's a film of one. We were told that crabapple trees can take some wet conditions. The little dogwood is totally dead, too! And it did so well last year. It has to be from all the water. 

So the hollies will replace the arbor vitaes and I think the crab will also be on the side somewhere, but we want to get two more trees and more shrubs. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

discovering Rick Bragg, finally

 I had to read a biography of someone living, for my reading challenge. I kept this in the back of my mind for some time - it would mostly likely be somebody I admire, or at least find interesting. But no one name occurred to me. 

I decided to go through the biography section at work, until I remembered that we don't have it anymore; they are all interfiled throughout the non-fiction. So I wandered over to the new books to have a look. 

Over the years, when Rick Bragg's name passed by, I would always feel a pull, and wonder about his writing. Never did anything about it. So I'm looking through the new non-fiction and I see a small book with a dog on the cover. The Speckled Beauty. It's about a beloved dog of his (no, the dog doesn't die at the end.) So, I said to myself, you've always wanted to read something of his, and this looks like a biography - of a dog, but so what? I read it. It was a beautiful story. If you're a dog lover, or an animal lover, you may want to give it a try. Rick Bragg is a poet.

So now, I've got something of his called Where I Come From: Stories from the Deep South. I expect to enjoy it, because of his beautiful story-telling ability. 

"The stories in this collection are of the South's gentler, easier nature. It is a litany of great talkers, blue-green waters, deep casseroles, kitchen sink permanents, lying fishermen, haunted mansions, and dogs that never die, things that make this place more than a dotted line on a map or a long-ago failed rebellion, even if only in some cold-weather dream."

Monday, May 9, 2022

Potato Leek Soup, delicious

 Melt 3 (or 4) tablespoons of butter. Add two leeks, which have been cleaned up and sliced, two stalks of celery, chopped, and a clove of garlic, minced. Throw in some thyme and saute it for ten minutes. Add eight cups of chicken stock, a few potatoes, peeled and cut up (a pound and a half or so), and some tarragon and parsley - dried or fresh, as much as you want, but plenty!). Cover and cook for forty minutes. Press it all down with a potato masher and then add some cream or coconut milk, as much as you like. Put in a bit of white pepper and taste to see if it needs salt. 

Adapted from Food and Wine magazine. I love this recipe, so thought I'd better share it. 

This evening. You can see where they've marked the road, preparatory to replacing the pipe. We don't have an appointment yet.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

not much to complain about

 It's May now - surely it's safe enough to put away my boots. 

Everyone I know has high hopes for this month - April was a disappointment, too cool. Today is certainly lovely and will get over seventy, which is above normal but no one will be complaining about it.

I could complain about our sinks draining too slowly. Drano hasn't done much, so the rooter fellow was called. I could complain that he had bad news for us; the pipe underground which goes to the street isn't good. (they're made of cardboard and tar!) The front yard will have to be dug up. We'll have to be without water for a few days, who knows how long. The water company was called and they notified a subcontractor to come out and assess things. 

Well, the fellow said the whole business will take one day - less! They would start 9-ish and be done changing the pipe by lunchtime. An inspector will come (quickly) and it will all be filled in by two! Compared to what my imagination was telling me, there is very little to complain about here. In our state, there is an insurance you can pay into in case of water pipe problems: there are three levels to the coverage and we had the middle one, until our neighbor had bad problems a few years ago. After his situation I decided to up our coverage to the third level, and now I think we won't have to pay anything. 

The mountain laurel will have to go - that's okay, and we may decide to move it, although it doesn't look good. He thinks the cherry tree may get partly damaged by the work, but we'll just wait and see how it goes. All in all, not bad!

Sunday, May 1, 2022

paying attention

I had a cold last week, and am shedding the residual effects of it. I reached for a book to read, wanting a pleasant distraction, and picked up L. M. Montgomery's Jane of Lantern Hill. I was just beginning to ask myself if it wasn't too much a children's book and maybe I should find something else. But when Janes's father shows up and they spend the summer together at the shore, the descriptions of their days and the scenery just take over. His car broke down, and he had to hire a horse and buggy, so they got to enjoy the scenery:

"A blithe soul was Jane as they drove away. The glow at her heart went with her across the Island. ...The road was full of lovely surprises...a glimpse of far-off hills that seemed made of opal dust...a whiff of wind that had been blowing over a clover field....brooks that appeared from nowhere and and ran off into green shadowy woods where long branches of spicy fir hung over the laced water....great white cloud mountains towering up in the blue sky....a hollow of tipsy buttercups....a tidal river unbelievably blue. Everything seemed just on the point of whispering a secret of happiness."

The other day I was looking at some clouds and trees and searching for words of description -  could not find any. I'm not a writer - I know it. But I knew that the clouds could have been described in a glowing way by someone like Lucy Maud Montgomery, if not me. There are many things we see, and many moments like she writes of, which are worth remembering in this way. If we try to pay attention.


 Now the bright morning-star, day's harbinger,
Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her
The flowery May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.
Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire
Mirth, and youth, and warm desire!
Woods and groves are of thy dressing;
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
Thus we salute thee with our early song,
And welcome thee, and wish thee long.

                       -  John Milton from Magnificat, May 2022