Friday, December 29, 2006

what we did today

  1. had lunch out, L, D, and I: trout; tenderloin tips; breast of quail; shared a trio of desserts: eggnog cheesecake, rich chocolate cake, and creme brulee
  2. went to the video store
  3. rented Little Miss Sunshine and The Red Violin
  4. watched Little Miss Sunshine with L, but
  5. missed half of Little Miss Sunshine while working on Ene's Scarf
  6. called knit store maven to leave message concerning possible stitch problem with Ene's Scarf
  7. rued day knit store maven decided on career change
  8. plan to watch Little Miss Sunshine again tomorrow, sans Ene's Scarf project

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

L doesn't know

but the first present she opened on Christmas Day was the Last Doll. I remember when I got mine; I was about her age and it was a pretty fancy one, in its own trunk with several changes of clothes. And I remember feeling pretty sad that it was the last one. That doll resides on a shelf, high up in my closet, and I can't remember the last time I took her out, but I'll take her out again, just to make sure she's all right.

Later that day, L told me she a bit disappointed at first when she opened the doll, but then decided she liked the idea of getting a doll, an unexpected toy, for Christmas, among all the CDs and clothes and other acoutrements of the teenaged.

It is just another step down the road, away from childhood, but that Last Doll seems to sum up so much that really shouldn't disappear into our grown up selves: pretending, playing, acting parts. Maybe it won't be the last, after all. And maybe I'd better take mine out soon, and check on her.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

On Christmas Day,

it was just the three of us. We got up early, of course, because that excitement to see what appeared under the tree during the night never disappears. Santa still leaves the gifts and fills the stocking I knitted ten years ago. All of us came away well satisfied and happy. Some of us wore what we received and some of us drank some champagne from a special handblown glass.

Still, we made a big dinner; our organic CSA had goofed and had an 18 pound turkey for us, so creativity at mealtime will play a big factor in the coming days! And we had roasted Brussels sprouts, mashed potato, butternut squash, stuffing, the world's best gravy. Very calm and most relaxing Christmas, until the washing up part.

L and I had made the easiest candy for giving: white chocolate, pistachio, and dried cherry bark, which involved merely melting the chocolate, adding the nuts and cherries, spreading the lot on a lined baking sheet and sticking it in the fridge to harden. Then we broke it up into large shards and packaged them up in cellophane bags. Different.

Today I worked on something due tomorrow and promised L a trip for school clothes and to return somethings at the mall. Not looking forward to this. I ran into someone who had gone to the mall a few days before Christmas to visit a particular store in the perimeter; once she got churned into the clog of traffic, she couldn't get out! She spent an hour getting OUT of the mall, and never got to the store at all, fearing if she extricated herself from the ooze, she'd never get back in.

Friday, December 22, 2006


What if the Star of Bethlehem should shine this Christmas Eve?
Would we follow its rays to the stable small and the Christ Child receive?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The tree

Here it is, and quite a lovely shape it is, too. Now we have to remember where it was we stashed the lights last year. We discovered some old outdoor ones from several years ago, but not the inside ones.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

inching along

For some reason, I saw fit to clean my ovens over the weekend; the top one is self-cleaning, but the bottom one required some elbow grease, as it were. I left a bowl of boiling water and one of ammonia in there overnight, anticipating clearing away the muck with a wet sponge. No such luck, as nothing had "melted." So, much scraping and scrubbing and an hour or so made it much more presentable. Then I tackled the entire cooktop, which gets a going-over once a week, because whatever it's made up shows any spatter immediately. Wish I'd known this when we bought it, or we may have ended up with a much different option.

It does feel better, doesn't it, knowing the inside of your oven is clean?

However, all this meant that the tree didn't get up until this morning. Now it awaits lights and then decorations. No breakable ones, what with Bear, the new(ish) kitten eyeing the trunk as an interesting climbing option.

The snowmen are coming out gradually, too, so we are finally getting festive. The last box of presents to L's godmother is going out today. Will she get it by Christmas? We'll see . . .

How's it going at your house?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Saturday and then Sunday

This Saturday was the greening of the church, a work time to hang yards and yards of pine garlands, hang wreaths, set out candles, and generally get everything set for Christmas (no red, however, during Advent, so no berries yet). The person in charge wanted to have a "vision" for the decoration, to do something new. When I go to these work-bees, I generally want to be as efficient as possible, to get as much done in as little time as it takes! Luckily, there was a like-minded, vision-less person there also, so we accomplished our setup rather swiftly! Still, I was there for 2-1/2 hours

When I got home, I was of a mind to cook something a little different, so I used a recipe from a cookbook I've never used before, but that I've been reading: the Pedaling Through Provence Cookbook, by Sarah Leah Chase. This is something called Black Olive and Swiss Chard Tarte, and it was a hit. Next time, I'll blind-bake the crust before adding the filling, but it was quite delicious (if I do say so myself). This photo doesn't show it, but there is a sprinkling of pinenuts on top, as well as the olive.

Tomorrow, we'll see how the greening looks with all the candles lit and the altar set. L is playing for someone's birthday lunch aftward--for payment!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas, knitting, and transitions

Christmas is coming soon. L's exams are finished. She met up with some friends for lunch, and I went to sit in my soon-to-be-departed knitting shop to wait and knit for an hour or so.

When the shop closes, I'll be looking for a place to knit, but I don't think I'll find any spot quite so congenial, or one that will open up quite such an interesting network of friends and aquaintances. Without the bonhomie, I don't think I would have finished so many projects (started, yes, but finished? I don't think so!) It's hard to keep a small business going on your own, as B has tried to do, especially in the present economy (no, we're not booming; quite the contrary). I'm a rather shy person, so coming every week, not really knowing who will be there, has been an interpersonal challenge!

However, I think B is landing on her feet, and this experience has been a positive one for her. There are plans to keep meeting somewhere else, maybe on Saturday or in the evening. So who knows what's in store for 2007? I know I have 3 projects on my needles (a sweater, a scarf, and a lace shawl), so I'll keep going, one stitch, then one row, at a time . . .

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Things I did today:

Attended church, and did my altar guild cleanup (but did not attend the annual meeting!)

Finished my second linen hand towel, from Mason-Dixon Knitting, which is now being washed and dried to full

Encouraged D and L to go get a tree, which they did and which tree is now in a bucket of water outside (we don't really decorate until a few days before Christmas)

Worked on an editing "test"; these things are always nerve-wracking, as I know, no matter how many times I go over, it there will still be something I've missed--but it is like doing a crossword. You have to get into the "zone" of concentration; when you achieve that, then it's pretty smooth and sometimes even (well, almost) fun

Tried not to think about my beloved knit shop closing, where I've spent many productive, gossipy hours at the round table. But I'll write more on that at a later date.

Fed the cats numerous times, and let Soul out and in numerous times. Bear allowed me to knit without reaching for my yarn.

Did laundry (but didn't make my bed . . .)

What did you do?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The 4 meme

I've been tagged by Angela to respond to my second-ever meme:

4 Jobs I have Had.

1. In high school, I cleaned women's houses who didn't want to spring for a cleaning lady's wages (!)
1. In college, I was a waitress at my college, which still had waitressed meals for students.
2. I worked for air freight forwarders after college, because I didn't want to be in the ususal corporate track. And very interesting it was . . .
3. And now, I'm a copy editor (I don't quite see the progression)

4 Movies I would Watch Over and Over

Hmm . . . I don't go to lots.

1. Rushmore (O, R they?)
2. I Capture the Castle
3. Notting Hill
4. Etre et Avoir

4 TV Shows.

1. The Office (U.S. and British, though British is almost too painful to watch)
2. Fawlty Towers (I agree with Angela)
3. Dancing with the Stars (yes, sorry)
4. Anything with Nigella

4 Places I Have Visted.

Athens (when I was in college)
southern France (two years ago; may return to the same house next year)
Cambridge, UK (right before Princess D died)
Quebec City

4 Favourite Foods.

1. spaghetti and meatballs
2. roast chicken
3. a beef stew of any stripe
4. chicken noodle soup

(cooked at home. by me. I'm a fan of my own cooking)

4 Websites I visit daily.
1. NY Times
2. the blogs I read
3. L's school's website
4. my local paper's website

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Poetry Thursday

Poetry Thursday proposed answering this meme:

1. The first poem I remember reading/hearing/reacting to was …
Besides When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne, I was read to out of a little book called Silver Pennies, which had lots of great little poems for little chiledren. And the Golden Treasury of Poetry!

2. I was forced to memorize (name of poem) in school and …
You know, I don't remember being made to memorize any poems, but my daughter has had to memorize several. She has gotten quite a bit from the experience of being made to memorize; she can think about the meaning of the poem because now it is part of her. I wish I had been required to memorize some.

3. I read/don’t read poetry because …
I read poetry because sometimes I like the flow of the words; sometimes I like the puzzle of figuring what the poet is actually talking about. I find reading poetry to be a very active kind of reading. Even funny ones have deeper meanings (Wendy Cope).

4. A poem I’m likely to think about when asked about a favorite poem is …
Most poems by Mary Oliver; I've kept a book by Carolyn Forche, Gathering the Tribes, close by for years. I like Phyllis McGinley, who wrote so many good poems about ordinary family life. Hmm . . . I don't see any men in here.

5. I write/don’t write poetry, but …
I don't write poetry. I think I'm afraid to explore things in that depth and to use figurative language effectively.

6. My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature …
Because I read and reread a poem over and over again; every single word is there for a reason, and understanding the ryhthm and flow and meaning takes time.

7. I find poetry …
to be something I turn to when I can devote myself to reading or hearing it with attention.

8. The last time I heard poetry …
Garrison Keillor was reading it through my computer on an NPR station via iTunes.

9. I think poetry is like …
a stone being tossed into a pool; the words reverberate out. And the effect they have on the reader/listener can often be surprising.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

this time of year

we always receive a paper ornament that L's godmother has made. I think this year's is especially appropriate.

The quote is from Marshall McLuhan. On the back, she has written "Safe journey with treasured memories."

Something to think about . . .

Poetry Thursday meme

Poetry Thursday proposed answering this meme:

1. The first poem I remember reading/hearing/reacting to was …
Besides When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne, I was read to out of a little book called Silver Pennies, which had lots of great little poems for little chiledren. And the Golden Treasury of Poetry!

2. I was forced to memorize (name of poem) in school and …
You know, I don't remember being made to memorize any poems, but my daughter has had to memorize several. She has gotten quite a bit from the experience of being made to memorize; she can think about the meaning of the poem because now it is part of her. I wish I had been required to memorize some.

3. I read/don’t read poetry because …
I read poetry because sometimes I like the flow of the words; sometimes I like the puzzle of figuring what the poet is actually talking about. I find reading poetry to be a very active kind of reading. Even funny ones have deeper meanings (Wendy Cope).

4. A poem I’m likely to think about when asked about a favorite poem is …
Most poems by Mary Oliver; I've kept a book by Carolyn Forche, Gathering the Tribes, close by for years. I like Phyllis McGinley, who wrote so many good poems about ordinary family life. Hmm . . . I don't see any men in here.

5. I write/don’t write poetry, but …
I don't write poetry. I think I'm afraid to explore things in that depth and to use figurative language effectively.

6. My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature …
Because I read and reread a poem over and over again; every single word is there for a reason, and understanding the ryhthm and flow and meaning takes time.

7. I find poetry …
to be something I turn to when I can devote myself to reading or hearing it with attention.

8. The last time I heard poetry …
Garrison Keillor was reading it through my computer on an NPR station via iTunes.

9. I think poetry is like …
a stone being tossed into a pool; the words reverberate out. And the effect they have on the reader/listener can often be surprising.

Monday, December 04, 2006

little trees; why not make some, too?

Today, I had a little fun (though this photo isn't so great) making some of these that Stephanie kindly gave the pattern for:

I filled the bottom, for weight, with dried black-eyed peas; in the U.S. South, it is good luck to eat Hoppin' John, a beans-and-rice dish, for good luck in the New Year, and black-eyed peas are an ingredient (I think; I'm not from around here . . .)

Now I have to figure out Flickr, so I can post my picture with those of the others in the soft trees group. It's never-ending, isn't it, the technological side of things? Maybe if I weren't in a Mac-based environment, things would be easier . . .

Sunday, December 03, 2006

First Sunday of Advent

Today, one candle was lit in the Advent wreath. The sermon was about impatience in this season of waiting. I couldn't resist taking the Old Santas out of their hibernation. They have made a yearly appearance since D was a little boy.

We have our wreath on the front door and a Welcome wreath, with two snowmen, on our kitchen door. I feel this year I have room to breathe, finally!

L and her Sunday school mates are shopping for presents for a family not fortunate enough to buy their own. Near disaster was averted, however, when it was revealed that one of them is still expecting Santa to pay a visit on Christmas Eve!

I'm looking forward to all of it this year. I'm impatient to begin!

Friday, December 01, 2006

sugar bowls and creamers

Over at Willow House, there was a nice series of teapots. My mother was a great collector, and had a good eye; this is part of some of the things that she collected.

This one is from Limoges, in France (THE Limoges?); wouldn't you like to know whose hands rubbed the gilt from its handles, and over what conversation, and at what table?

This is an old English one. I keep these up high on a shelf, where I can see them, but I can't break them. I think I should get them down and use them, to keep their spirits alive . . .

And these are thick pottery ones you would have seen in a diner or restaurant. We actually use these:

The one in the foreground is from Norway; the yellow emblem on the front makes it look like it might have been used in a dining car of some kind; it has that "transit" feel.

We have gone from 70 degrees F to under 40 degrees F in 24 hr! December seems to be coming in, in a proper way for Advent.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

December, almost, plus meatballs and cats

But it's still in the 70s here. Thank goodness I can visit blogs all over the world, to see some photos of snow.

We are to have spaghetti and meatballs, so I'm practicing with my camera:

And, oddly enough, this occurred while I was working:

If you knew how these guys scratch and wrestle, you'd be very surprised at this calm setting! They even settled down for a nap together.

This has been a very interesting month of putting up a blog every day and reading new ones; I haven't found my voice—that's for sure—but I think teetering out on the ice has been a good thing. I'll keep going until the ice breaks and I fall in over my head.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

something big to come down

Since we moved here there have been many changes. Of course, the usual day-to-day shifts— moving from one grade in school to the next, a new car, new kittens to grow into grumpy cats.

There have been others; having relatives staying during Thanksiving meant remembering my mother, whose sudden death in 2001 left such a void and was such a shock that I missed most of that year.

Talking about her and other relatives has brought back my sleepwalking, which hasn't come up since right after L was born. Waking while walking in the dark is the most disorienting experience; it is eerie to suddenly come upon yourself, facing a wall in the bathroom, say, when you were otherwise engaged in your dreams. Like reawakening to a shift in your reality.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

random thoughts and an image

I've been meaning to write about this oddity; I asked my guests during Thanksgiving if they had heard of this before (they of course living near a much more cosmopolitan city than I do) and they never had. In fact, their looks could only be described as quizzical. Let me give you a quote from our local paper from a food column that ran recently:

Using hot rocks is a new cooking method taking larger cities by storm. Restaurant X will be the only place [here] for diners to experience it. It's a process that brings certain uncooked foods to the table, where they are cooked on hot rocks tableside.

I'm not sure what this process would even look like! And what "certain uncooked foods" are they talking about? How big are the rocks? Big and flat? Many stones together?? Where's the heat source?

Also, just to give you an idea how much I detest folding and putting away laundry (strangely, I don't mind separating it and putting it in the machine and the dryer), also giving me a chance to use my camera, here is my shameful clean laundry basket. The washer is full of clean wet clothes and the dryer is full of clean dry clothes. Does anyone like to fold and put away laundry??

Monday, November 27, 2006

time to think

We've bid our guests goodby; they have a six-hour drive ahead of them. But we're sorry to see them go; they are always thoughtful and up for anything. We are pretty tame here, though. Friday, we took an amble around, crossing the bridge twice:

We ended up sitting outside at a restaurant, having some appetizers and wine, then took a walk along the river.

We took a drive, ate out quite a bit, but mostly we sat around and worked on these:

L and I helped teach Sunday school; we helped girls make Anglican rosaries, which we learned quite a bit about. Then a baptism. A full day.

But our guests and we reminded each other of things our parents had done or said, so it was a nice way to reconnect with the past and keep some memories alive, which otherwise may have been in danger of disappearing.

After the whirlwind of Thanksgiving dinner, the rest of the time flowed along, nothing to eddy the currents of our visiting.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


It's been difficult to write during this time, with people popping in and out, hosting, helping with Sunday school. I will be more inclined to circumspection next week, when I have time. After I clean the house, clear out the laundry room, and get back to work, that is!

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Lot's of time on the road to a destination that wasn't as much fun as it had been.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Friday after

We are not going to any mall. Instead, we're going downtown to take a walk and sample some free samples at various independent sellers.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Not much, you?

Not much to say. Relatives have arrived and we are talking. Tomorrow we will have 9 for dinner.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

a lot of work

Every Thanksgiving, I find myself trying new recipes, like the new one for stuffing/dressing I made today. This involved making a pan of cornbread. Then, cutting up apples, pears, and onions; sauteing onions; adding mushrooms, sage, thyme; adding the fruit and some cranberries and cooking. Now the fruit mixture awaits meeting up with the cubed cornbread inside the turkey on Thursday. And of course, I'll make of batch of the regular Pepperidge Farm kind for those who won't try the exotic.

I also made the cranberry mixture from Gourmet and parboiled and peeled three pounds of tiny white boiling onions for creamed onions and those caramelized onions in mustard and maple syrup.

D came through the kitchen while this was going on and said, "Well, you've got most of it done!"


Sunday, November 19, 2006


Birds like these
are tucked away in an old biscuit tin; they were begun when my mother was a child. Now I have them; will they be completed in my lifetime, or will they go on, in their unfinished state, to haunt my daughter, to taunt? I've gotten them out to remind me of my mother, my grandmother. And to finish them, and stitch them together into a fabric that will tie up the generations.

windfall (er, not)

This morning, an e-mail that begain like this

Attn: Dear Beneficiary,
On behalf of the Trustees and Executor of the estate of Late Engr. Heather Stuart; I once again
try to notify you as my earlier letter was returned undelivered.
I hereby attempt to reach you again by this same email address stated on the WILL.
I wish to notify you that late Engr. Heather Stuart made you a beneficiary to her WILL.
She left the sum of Seven Million One Hundred Thousand Dollars (USD$7,100.000.00) to you in the
codicil and last testament to her WILL.
Engr. Heather Stuart until her death was a member of the Helicopter Society and the Institute of
Electronic & Electrical Engineers.

was in my e-mail in box!

Wouldn't it be utterly fantastic if this were true! I wonder if anyone responds to these spams? I hope not!

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Yes, it's coming, and soon. We're having a total of nine here. I'm using Gourmet magazine this year

[damn! there's a bird pecking on the outside of the house—pound the wall; gone . . .]

and will give Tart Cranberry-Onion Relish; Green Beans with Ginger Butter; Roasted Sweet Potato Spears w/Bacon Vinaigrette; some kind of parsnips (not with the black truffle butter as featured in the mag, though); plus the usual mashed pot./stuffing and of course the turkey.

Tuesday is cleaning day.

Friday, November 17, 2006

lights, camera . . .

Here it is.

The finished product from the receipe found here.

So, today I've taken the first steps into learning to integrate the camera with the computer.

I can tell you, I needed my instruction booklet every step of the way!

Thursday, November 16, 2006


I met with my knitters today; a great way to get some knitting done and listen to all kinds of gossip. But of course anyone who's sat down, needles and yarn in hand, with like-minded individuals knows that!

But, it's like that add for Las Vegas: what happens here, stays here. Or in our case, what's said here!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

cold, wet, and rainy

Today it's better to be in than out, so I'm getting caught up on my work and ordering gift cards (done!) for S, BIL, and Ns. Hope they like where they're being sent to shop.

And I certainly don't want to go out in this weather; not that I can, without borrowing D's key. I've recently mislaid my car key (twice), my watch, the TV remote, my cell phone, and my passport. (I think this may have something to do with the subject of the poem found here.) I've found my key once, but now it's missing again; I just found the remote after several weeks' time of its visiting the space between the bottom of my mattress and the footboard; the cell phone was under the car seat (perhaps key is there?); passport was attached to its renewal form under a stack on my desk.

Maybe I'll start writing little notes to myself on scraps of paper, like my grandmother did, and forget where I've put them . . .

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Yes! we finally have a digital camera, with an instruction booklet more complicated than anything I've seen. I had to have it to hand when I inserted the software disc into the compter so I could follow the steps to open this, and click that.

It's a very intimidating little machine that seems to be able to do everything, including shooting movies.

I can't get used to the fact that there is no film in there; the entire concept is alien. How does this work?

I feel about it as I did about the first computer we got--afraid to touch anything for fear it would disappear into a black hole. Back then, I treated the Mac as if it were an elaborate typewriter--and I guess I still do!

Well, over the next few weeks I'll probably be posting my "art" photos. Beware!

Monday, November 13, 2006

End of the Season

Today is the last pickup at our CSA's drop-off point. Last week we got quite a bit more than I bargained for; who expects eggplant in November?

I love going out there; the road bends around, and the left is indicated only by a handmade wooden sign tacked onto a tree. Down the narrow rutted lane in the woods and suddenly the sky opens up like a bowl overhead. All the plants are laid out in straight rows; no one hurries. Calm like nowhere else.

I miss the garden we had 15 years ago; that was one big patch behind the sagging shed. It was the last place to find snow in the spring. It's where L led my mother down along the rows, naming each vegetable: "lets" "bits" "bokli" "'mato"

We canned a lot from that garden, my mother and I. She taught me how to lay everything out, sterilize the jars, tops, and tongs. How to boil up the pickles and the jam. The kitchen was big enough to push the table across the room, next to the dormant woodstove so we had room to move when the pressure was on, when the pickles had cooked just enough and it was time to fill the jars, just to the right level.

My mother would have preferred we had stayed in that house, instead of moving so far away. I found a canning jar top with her handwriting: pickles, august 1988. I put it away in an envelope, just to look at.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


The weather is clear, cool, crisp; I'm sitting in front of my computer, taking a break from my nutrition text, trying to figure out where all my time has gone to. It seems just last year, not ten years ago, that I had a spirited 5 year old; now my daughter is looking forward to learning to drive! She and her father have decided that I don't have the temperament to teach her (phew); D has already taught two how to manage, and he's exhausted just thinking about a third.

I remember my mother teaching me, in busy New Jersey; at first I would always stop at yellow lights. The notion of slowing was somewhat difficult to grasp; it was either on or off, 0 or 1. Changing lanes on the highway—THERE was a challenge at the beginning. My poor mother saying, " NO, make a smooth transition. You don't TURN into the lane!!"

But I managed to drive myself (with my mother in the passenger position) all the way to the New England state where the car was registered to get my license. With the official in the car, I drove; stopped; turned; signaled; parallel parked.

Then: "Put on the hand brake."

I sat there for what seemed an hour. Then I pushed down on a pedal I hadn't known was there. "Is this it?" I asked.

"Yes, it is," said the official, and signed the document that allowed me to get my license.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

My morning thus far

On my way to do my altar guild duty, I was almost sideswiped. I was lucky; the other driver saw me in time and stopped. But still.

Otherwise, it was a wild, rainy, windy drive down the hill, with the leaves swirling down in front of me and dancing under the wheels of the other cars. At church, there was a group praying on this Veterans Day, so we went about our setup quietly. We have a nice rhythm and routine as we get the church ready for Sunday. The presence light creaks down on its metal cord and is doused, then is replaced and cranks up again.

The only annoying aspect to altar guild is that the hymn numbers are not big enough for their slots on the hymn boards and flutter down to the floor as soon as they are put in place. Someone bakes our Communion bread, so there is always (except once!) a ready supply in the freezer.

It's soothing to be in the nave, with the only light coming in through the stained glass. Mundane activities become meditative. . .

Friday, November 10, 2006


Every Friday is Knit-In, and I shall work on:

Mason-Dixon linen towel's

Ene's Scarf.

I'm having a bit of a hard time sitting down and concentrating on anything for too long a period of time. Plus there seems to be a kind of a crowded situation in the laundry room requiring my attention.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ene's Scarf

Thursday is knitting group; started Ene's Scarf from Scarf Styles, and worked out what was (to me) the knotty issue of the repeats of the pattern moving over to the LEFT each right side row. We googled Ene's scarf, and there are many others who have either made it or are in the process.

I love my group; very different types gather around the circular table. Didn't realize some of us were quite so politically conservative. . . . The results of the election rather rankled. And this is one of the few outlets I have to be in a social setting on a regular basis. Makes me have to participate in the conversation, but it's surprising what issues are brought up. What is it about wool that acts to smooth the way to the confessional?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


The fact is that I'm remembering my writing workshops thirteen or so years ago, going out into the snowy dusk, down one mountain and up the next, to get to the cozy living room, lit with soft light from a few table lamps. Chairs would be pushed companionably around the trunk in the middle of the room, each time holding something different: old photographs, maybe; a collection of stones and feathers; fabrics. A cup of tea, and then we'd begin, each writing in a notebook (or not writing, maybe); thinking.

Then, the most scary time: reading, which was something I couldn't do for quite some time. But I remember Laura's poems especially, and Gene's, too, of course.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


We braved the rain and fog to get to our town's gym to vote in this very heated mid-term election. I'm very worried, as many are, the direction that we're all headed for, locally, generally, globally.

However, I don't think I've ever seen so many people at the polls as I did today; there was barely a parking spot to be had. After signing in at several card tables, I took my ballot to my cubby and blackened the ovals and wrote in one candidate's name for town council. But I can't help thinking: ultimately, will anything change? Is this a fair and honest system, or is it so corrupt that my vote will be, in the end, meaningless? It seems pretty depressing and hopeless out there, and the divide between the super-rich and the super-poor is getting wider, with the middle class disappearing into the breach. Listen, I pay for my own health insurance, so I can't afford to get sick.

My fingers are crossed against what may be the will of the "majority".

Monday, November 06, 2006

In which I make a cake

I need to be doing something else, besides sitting in my office. Or cleaning. Or worrying.

Then I rememberd Laurie Colwin's two collections of writings on food from her Gourmet column. I had a subscription to that magazine when these were coming out, and it was a treat to read them every month; her writing was so immediate and conversational, and it seemed that she and I shared similar ideas. She even bought the same Bread Alone bread I was then buying—and the same Walnut Acres staples! Then her first book, Home Cooking, came out and I got it in hardback.

She was only 48 when she died unexpectedly of a heart attack. Unbelievable; she wrote so lovingly about her young daughter and all the treats she made for her and with her. Her short stories and novels are always the ones I return to when I can't think of what else to read.

So today I made a chocolate cake from More Home Cooking, her friend Karen Edwards's version of buttermilk cocoa cake. And I used up the last of my buttermilk . . .

Here it is:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter and flour a 9- by 2-inch round cake pan.

2. Mix together 1-3/4 cups flour, 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

3. To these ingredients add 1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted butter, and 2 teaspons vanilla.


4. Turn the batter into the pan, bake the cake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean, and let it cool for 5 minutes before turning it out of the pan.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


The news about Rev. Haggard of Colorado, like so many other high-profile evangelical preachers, isn't that he is, and they have been, hypocritical to their preachings and teachings. It's that Haggard had direct, and regular, access to President Bush and the White House! THIS is the story. Why does a confessed deceiver and hypocrite have easy acess to the president, who has descibed himself as "The Decider"? This is not just a regional news item. It's about the nation and its future!! Democrats, pick up on this!


Today, we'll see the matinee and final performance of the play at L's school, at which she and her quartet are performing for a dance scene.

Last night, another member (one who drives!) kindly came by at the appointed hour to pick L up and, once their scene had ended (coinciding with intermission) DRIVE HER HOME!!

D and I laid and lit a fire in the fireplace, settled in for a relaxing evening, when of course the phone rang; L found out her ride was staying for the entire thing and, as she didn't want to, asked/demanded that someone come and pick her up because she had homework to do (Saturday? hmmm).

Sigh. We let our fire die down and wended our way down the hill to school, whose parking lot was jammed to bursting. But out she trotted, right on time.

We'll all see the whole thing today. And we have to get there an hour or so early for tuning up and so forth. But D and I can walk down to the river to watch the regatta—and it's a beautiful day, with a bite in the air. L and I saw some of the activity yesterday, watching them glide under the bridge in their different jerseys (is that the correct term? costume?).

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Stretching Beyond

I discovered the other day that a group, consisting of individuals around the globe, posts a photo a day of something to do with where they are, and the diversity and intimacy is astonishing. On November 1, some of them united to show "something that will disappear soon": I saw a cosy tea table set with an afternoon snack waiting for two boys to come home in Finland; a cigarette in an ashtray on a bar in Paris; even my city is represented! And I'm finding it a challenge to figure out where the local photos have been taken.

This is a good portal to this group. Now I'm considering a digital camera, though I want to figure out how to use my mother's old Yashika-Mat.

Otherwise, L is off to work at the libary; her quartet performs in her school's play tonight (offstage, during a dance sequence). Very demanding schedule this week, but I think it is a good thing. Tomorrow we'll see how Jane Austen has been adapted for the stage.

Friday, November 03, 2006


D and I raked and raked, the leaves still fell all around us, the air crisp, the sky a Mountain Day blue. The activity did not have its usual futile aspect; the pile we raked and created felt like an accomplishment.

It will be great to step out into weather this morning for an amble around, maybe taking the trails with E's dog. I feel much better up and away from my desk.

But, a little black cat has fallen asleep on my lap; I hate to wake her . . .

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Another day

Another day with a little black cat on my lap, but one that started with a beautiful photograph and poem, with their reminder of this time of year remembering those who've gone. Little lights flickering in the dark can focus our attention on what we are really feeling, more so than any words—but sometimes words help us. There is a little book I look at sometimes, The Quiet Eye: A Way of Looking at Pictures, by Sylvia Shaw Hudson, which is quite contemplative, pairing an image (paintings, mostly) with a quote. It sets a smoothness against a jarring day.

I remember lighting candles in France for my mother: one in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse in a church that most certainly was built on a Neolithic holy site, which was lit only by candles and was so dark and cool against the day.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

November 1

I'm sitting here with a little black cat on my lap, after the cello, backpack, laptop, gym bag, L and D have all been flung (or flung themselves) into the "old" car and lumbered off down the hill in various states of mind.

Thank goodness: another Halloween has gone away. But this is merely the portal to the entire series of cataclysmic events known as the HOLIDAY SEASON. Thanksgiving is not so bad, but only because I like to cook and relatives I haven't seen in a while (a few years) will be here.

But then there's Christmas . . . and this year I am not even attempting to buy presents for my S, BIL, and nieces: gift cards for all. The past five years or so have been a general misery of buying things for them, wrapping them, boxing them up, taking them to the post office. I just cannot do it anymore. Leaving this part of the whole Christmas equation off the page will, I think, restore sanity (at least a bit).

I'm not even sure when this generalized miasma overtook me; I used to do all the things that make this time of the year special: bake cookies, make ornaments, decorate, be generally cheerful.

Hmmm. Well, there is yoga to take my mind off all of this.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sunday, October 29, 2006

What we did today

Today, we did not attend a service. Instead, it being a beautiful autumn day, a day so clear and blue it seemed to go on forever, we went to BestBuy, Bed, Bath and Beyond, and finally Target. L and I were out to update our compuer setup with speakers, and we ended up with Bose Companion 2 Series II, and they work so well—and so easy to install! No more leaning down and pressing our ears to the giant Mac's front screen to try to hear a faintly garbled utterance. Now I can hear some French over the Internet and get some practice in understanding. (We may be returning there . . . don't want to jinx it by saying too much.)

Also discovered that iTunes has included 64 public radio links, so I can listen to KCRW without too much trouble. I'm feeling very au courante.

Next, we shall look at digital cameras. But I have to take this foray into technology pretty slowly so I can absorb it all.

Bed Bath and Beyond had a great display of fondue sets! And I had come in expressly for the gel fuel for my set, which has lain dormant for so many years. Fine Cooking has a good sounding receipe on the back cover for cheese fondue, so this week it's on the menu.

Target was as ever, but had some really nice black sweaters, in the designer section. However, L was after a Halloween costume. Pretty picked-over; I suggested she pull the Elmo costume, size 3 - 6 one, over her head and wear red pants, but that suggestion was spurned. I thought it was funny . . .

Now we are looking forward to ribs via Everyday Food for dinner. And I am really glad I'll be getting up with the time change tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Sunday, L, along with five others, was confirmed. We got the retired bishop, famous for once giving a 45-minute sermon; it seemed twice that long. Once it was over, the father of one of the other confirmands muttered, "Jesus"; but I don't think his utterance was of an affirming nature. Also, the NT verse was much garbled because the lector read a completely wrong passage. After all this, we were rewarded with a groaning board of goodies in the parish hall.

Our librarian has left us, and with her went her great book buying sense. I'm not reading much of anything right now as a result, and this is not a good thing.

Must try to get downtown to the big library; was there Saturday, but was turned away. It had closed early to get ready for a fundraiser for itself. Yes, these are the times in which we live: no funding for the library, but plenty for other, less wholesome activities.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


I can' keep up with all the journaling/writing going on in other venues. I've got such a lot to do with my work, ferrying L-One to the mall to keep up with growth spurts, planning/cooking. Plus reading the writings of others—web and otherwise. I wonder how anyone does all of this.

Anyway, the homily today was quite good, though of course directed toward pledging. L helped with altar guild cleanup. Then on to the organic shop.

No school tomorrow, thank goodness. We can all arise at a reasonable hour.

Little and big kitty getting along famously (well, almost).

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Nigella has returned to television via Foodnetwork. I took a break to watch her; tonight, we shall have the chicken and sausages, the roasted potatoes and garlic, and the pois. The air has become genuinely crisp in the morning, and so autumnal fare is called for. Hmm.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

waiting . . .

I really relish the time I spend every day, waiting for the end of school sitting in my car. No, I don't carpool; I like talking alone with the L-0ne on the way home; sometimes interesting facets of the day arise. Sometimes just the radio is playing, or a CD is on.

While I'm waiting, I can read, knit, listen to a book on tape, put my head back—rest my eyes, as my grandmother would say.

Of course, I look out for a shady spot. It's quiet when I arrive; no girls about yet, except those involved in varsity sports, getting ready to run, or get on the bus for an away game of some sort.

When you work at home, with your spouse in the same working space, a bit of privacy is indeed called for. A great need to get away from all of it, all contained in your car—on the way there, sitting there, dappled (it is hoped) in shade. Just waiting.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


I forgot to mention that I'm enjoying dipping into Fowler's Modern English Usage, 2nd ed. (1965). Many entries quite amusingly dry.


I'm embroiled in my new project, which turns out to be more production oriented than copy editing; I suppose I'm on a "learning curve," as it's called, but it's damned hard to get so mired in the actual Word files, rather than in the prose/continuity of it. Plus this is all still being developed (helped into readable form, I guess you'd say), so there are two oars in the water, paddling in opposite directions. Standstill.

My coffee hour church thing was a success; but having no desserts did not sit well with the younger members. Still, I saw all the kids had most of the food groups offered on their plates, and 90 percent of it was consumed. And the string quartet portion of the Komen race was rained out, so I didn't have to abandon the activity (much as I would've liked) to bring L down to the river to play.

Sundy night, however, brought a big blowout concerning homework; during parents' day, you learn a lot about what's expected/available, and the answer is quite a bit on both counts. Teachers are available to give help (in math) in quite a congenial way, so that's what L will avail herself of.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Anglican Angst

Well, after a year of attending CCE (after a disatrous tenure at StTE), we have finally been tagged to host "coffee hour" after church this Sunday, which is less about a relaxed venue to commune with fellow communicants and more a full body contact one-up-manship on what's on offer. We've been tearing our hair out about what to do, consulting cookbooks. Crockpot? I don't think so. The massive oven there makes reheating something unthinkable. So, we're going with a series of dips from Moosewood, a pita chip cracker receipt from Fine Cooking, baguette, toasted, cider and other such beverages.

What makes this more complicated is L's commitment to participate in the Komen race--playing the cello in a quartet at the edge of the race as the runners and walkers sprint/pass by. So she must appear there at noon, making D the sole host of this repast. Which is fine by me, as I am not a very good small-talker at all, and look for any excuse to ditch the social.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Well, I have to say the Everyday Food has come through again. Last night's featured item—meatloaf—was met with the usual groans and "do we HAVE to" comments, but when I presented the meatloaf as featured in this month's edition, I got (well, not raves; it's meatloaf), but at least a "make this kind again" noise.

Cook and Tell always has something worth trying out, too, but Everyday Food—well, we already have several receipts that are part of the monthly rotation.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sunday, second time around

We of this week's altar guild had a scare; the presence light, which grinds down (and up) via a steel cable had, last week, been loosed from its moorings when the operator had let go of the winding handle. The whole hurtled almost to the floor, although we hadn't been informed. When we got in to church to tidy up, the cable was all caught up around the winding mechanism, making for a scary windup and then -down to try to regain the proper tension. Also, S, the sexton, was clearing away plaster from recent roof repairs, so there was a lot of clumping around in the attic.

Saturday, we stopped at a newly opened take-out eatery housed in an Airstream trailer. L got a milkshake, and we look forward to trying some pulled pork.

I'm finally trying the Euroflax, which is a bit like knitting with string.

I'm also discovering what Blogger will and will not do with Macintosh, which seems to be--NOT MUCH.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Dive into IT

This is my first post, so it is of course the toe into the shallow end, to see what ripples outward.