Sunday, March 19, 2017

We ended up with about a foot of snow from the storm on Tuesday. As far as winter storms go, it really wasn't so bad. The rest of the week was fairly cold and sunny with beautiful skies. Although the landscape is white and wintery, about half the snow has already melted.

My Christmas cactus has been providing me with constant blooms and cheer since the end of October. I do believe this is the last blossom--it almost made it to Easter!

On the day of the storm, daughter no.1's work was cancelled, so she got to stay home and bake gingerbread cats and bears from this recipe--oh, so yummy!

My 85 year old writing desk. This year I am using an A4 size planner for my daily diary. I've written in it faithfully since the day after Christmas. Each morning I write down my thoughts about the day before. Here is my entry for yesterday, March 18th:
A beautiful day weather wise-45° + bright sunshine. There is still a ton of snow, but its slowly shrinking, and I can see a tiny patch of grass on the Lunds' hill. I did the bills this morning, and then the girls, L and I went to the movies! We had free tickets to a private showing of the new Beauty & the Beast, complete with a breakfast buffet, courtesy of one of our doctors.. The movie was entertaining. L rated it 6 out of 10. However, if I was a little girl, it would have frightened me; the imagery was grotesque-- but not the Beast; he was beautiful. Liz sent me a lovely card. She is worried that I'm sad. Am I? I don't know. Just out-of-sorts I guess. We watched Poldark last night + Francis died. In the past few months I have felt surrounded by death. Perhaps it is always here, but I'm just now more aware of it.
The moon this month has been particularly lovely, large and luminous. Now it is waning, but I still step out into the cold to look for it every night.

The gentle lilac light of the eastern sky at sunset sometimes holds my attention longer than the dazzling brightness in the west.

Daughter no. 2 made delicious, fluffy bread on Friday. Warm out of the oven with a bit of butter, it tasted better than cake.

No matter how much I dislike March, its skies are gorgeous.

Last night I had to rip back 12 rows on my nap blanket because I was one stitch off in the pattern. One stitch weirdly skewed the whole thing. So. Frustrating. But, I am no less determined to finish the project despite the constant set-backs. In fact, I really wish I would have used different colors for it. I have in my mind a solid gray background with color shifting leaves in the "lake front" colorway (Knitpicks' Chroma yarn) so, a second afghan may be in my future. : )

I read a thought-provoking essay this week by Phyllis Theroux on the topic of 'home'. She included a quote by Dag Hammarskjold which caught my attention:  
"To have humility is to experience reality, not in relation to ourselves but in its sacred independence."  
This is an idea I have contemplated often over the years, especially in becoming Catholic, which was a bewildering decision to many of my friends, but thankfully, not to my family since they are used to me doing things they don't understand: abandoning my 'career', having 'too many kids', practicing extended breastfeeding, bed-sharing, home schooling, having too many animals, living in a too-little house, etc., etc. My friends, however,--several of whom I lost over this decision--could not come to terms with why I would enter into a religious tradition historically steeped in scandal and which included some things I did not fully comprehend or embrace. The priest who gave me my first sacraments was confident that I understood and believed all I needed to in order to enter into full communion with the church. "The rest will come in time", is what he said. 

I stopped protesting the Catholic Church when I began to 'experience reality in its sacred independence'--when I began to acknowledge that if I really wanted to know a person or thing I had to relinquish my attitudes and beliefs and see it as it really is. It didn't happen overnight. It took about three years of inquiry, study, prayer, and living before I took formal steps to enter the Church. I can admit that fourteen years later there are still things about the Faith I don't understand or fully embrace (just as there are things about my husband I don't understand or embrace . . . but he is thee, and I am me, and together we are We). But I can also admit that it was only when I began to see God as having a will and life outside of my will and life--as sacred and independent--that I understood reverence, and my heart was stirred to the longing necessary for be-longing. 

Ms. Theroux writes about 'home' as a place in time. She identifies 'home' as the 'center of our universe', and the places where we live as "circles within circles" in time. She goes back to the place of her childhood where she "knows and is known by people whose memories are long enough to tell you how much around the eyes you look like like your grandmother" and who provide "a deeper context than you can give yourself." She writes about a beach that is the place of many important memories in her life. But, midway through her visit back 'home' she feels the pull of the place that is currently the center of her universe and longs to return to it. "I have sometimes viewed my house as a kind of exterior brain cavity, my thoughts contained within the folds of the curtains, leaves of the books, and dents in the sofa cushions." 

At the end of her essay Ms. Theroux asks, "But tell me this: Is the circumference where you grew up or where you're growing now?" This is an interesting question to me because it supposes a forward trajectory of growth in the human person. I don't want to make anyone's head hurt, but having experienced significant set-backs in the last two years, I just don't know if human development works that way at all. In every age I see myself trying to make sense of what I hear and see and feel while attempting to love and live peacefully with those around me. Sometimes I do all right, and sometimes I don't. Sometimes I think I did better in another time and place than I am doing now. There were certainly times in my life when things seemed clearer to me. But, oddly, despite my uncertainty, there has never been a time when I have felt more at home. 

Until next week. ♥

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The March moon is called the Worm Moon, but last night it was butter yellow and caught in the branches of our tree. I wanted to climb up and fill my cup with buttermilk moonlight.

March is my least favorite month of the year. Have I mentioned this before? I'm sure I must have. Last week was spring and this week is winter, and that is the miserably unpredictable dynamic personality of March. This morning the temperature was 10°F/-12°C. Oh, and a n'oreaster is forecast for Tuesday: up to two feet of snow, biting winds, and coastal flooding. Won't that be exciting?

I felt poorly for most of the week, so I pulled out a knitting project (one I started last spring) and attempted to work on it while I was resting. It is the kind of pattern that requires a lot of concentration for each row. Frustrating, really. But, the finished project--a nap blanket with a lovely fern pattern--is so lovely; I am determined to finish it this year. Progress, however, is slow. I spend a lot of time ripping back and re-knitting.

On Thursday we went to Winchester center and I remembered my camera. Winchester has such pretty shops and store fronts. At the left corner of the beautiful brick building (second photo from the bottom) is Book Ends, my favorite bookstore. I received a giftcard for my birthday, so I bought The Vicar's Wife, by Katherine Swartz. It's just the kind of book I like, and I am really enjoying it. All winter I have struggled with being able to read, and I have sorely missed time spent with books.

Daughter no. two baked scrumptious s'mores bars this week AND some super yummy blueberry muffins. (Oddly, there are fresh blueberries at a good price available at the grocery store just now). Every recipe we have tried from Monique's site (Diva's Can Cook) has been outstanding.

This morning I went to church, and after Mass I barely made it to the car before I started sobbing. I think it was the music. It was sentimental and sad and depressing.  It affected me deeply and not in a positive or relgious way. I went for the Sacrament, but I got a lot of other stuff that I didn't want or need. It made me think about how individual churches shape people's experiences and thoughts about God. Hmm.

I want to tell you how very grateful I am that you have followed me to this new blog. I think I will always miss my old blog (the name of which I cannot mention because You-Know-Who might Google it and find me here). Thank you for taking the time to read my rambling thoughts and for leaving such warm, kind comments. It is my intention to reply to every one--although it may take me the whole week to do it.

Until next week. ♥

Sunday, March 5, 2017


Most of last week looked and felt like spring. All of the snow melted, and birdsong filled the mornings. Then, on Friday winter returned with snow squalls, high winds and bitter cold temperatures. It's still pretty cold out today, but we'll be back in the 40°s and 50°s over the next few days--balmy temps compared to yesterday's 12°.

Our employee based health insurance (through COBRA) runs out this week, so I've had to enter the labyrinth of that nasty dragon known as the Massachusetts Health Connector--the state's health insurance "market place". I won't bore you with the horror of the experience, beyond saying that this monster is even worse than anything you may have heard about it. The thing is, "in the old days" we could have gotten group health insurance through the Builder's Association since my husband's business is part of that industry. But, to appease the dragon, the government has made it The Law of The Land that one must obtain health coverage through the "state market place". I put this term in quotes because a) in a market there are many competitive options, and b) the Health Connector's customer service department is made up of call centers located in other states.  But I digress... We must now pay the dragon a monthly tithe that is double the cost of the insurance we had with my husband's former employer. In return, we will escape heavy government fines and imprisonment. That is all. We will not receive health care; there are no doctors who accept the dragon's pitiful terms. If you think I am kidding, then it is because you have never had to enter the labyrinth.

My next task of the month is to untangle the depressing mess that is our complicated tax situation. I expect sleepless nights and stomach pain--fun times!

March makes me feel like Elvis looks in that last picture.

I do not believe in silver linings or lottery tickets (the lottery is just another shitty state entity that takes money from the people it has made desperate) or that "everything will turn out fine."

I do believe in:
Cookies and cinnamon buns. My gram died when I was twenty-one, and I have been craving her chocolate chip cookies ever since. It turns out they were the Original Toll House Cookie recipe! Can you believe it? I've tried many different chocolate chip cookie recipes over the years, but never the original recipe. They are the best. I'm in heaven. :)  Daughter number two made cinnamon buns from this recipe, and they were amazingly luscious, soft, fluffy, and cinnamony.
The power of pets to lift the veil of artifice that surrounds modern life and to connect us to what's Real. We are crazy lucky, because we have dogs, a cat, a rabbit, guinea pigs, a snake, fish, chickens, and parakeets to love. We were especially lucky this week because: 
         1) Emmeline bought herself a baby budgie she named "Alfie". He's a gorgeous violet and 
             yellow male that she has already managed to hand-tame. We have hopes that he will learn to
         2) A section of fencing fell down in the wind and our Presley (boxer-dog) followed his nose out 
             of the yard and on an adventure through the neighborhood. We are so grateful that he did not 
             get hit by a car down on the busy road. 

The goodness and generosity of my children. Daughter number one surprised me with a skein of  gorgeous 100% BFL sock weight yarn from Adelaide Cottage in the "Cherry Cordial" colorway and a tiny silver pine cone progress keeper. The package arrived beautifully packaged in a polka dot bag and wrapped in tissue. Shauna even tucked a bag of Red Rose caramel apple tea inside. This gift lifted my spirits and made me really happy in the midst of a difficult week. 

The ideas of people who see beyond the propaganda of the corporate media machine. As a lifelong registered democrat, I never thought I would see the day when I would take back my membership, declare myself an independent, and stop watching the news, but here we are. Neo liberalism is neo conservatism without the smirk--and evil is evil whether it comes in the guise of republican or  democrat. We, as a people, are being massively manipulated these days. This is short and worth the read, as is this. This is long, but worth listening to--even if you disagree--if for no other reason than to hear John Waters' Irish lilt.

The constancy of nature.  The red-winged blackbirds are back and the robins. I saw a flock of white-throated sparrows in the woods. And pussy willows. : ) 

Manual writing.  It's a wholly different thing from what comes out when you sit at a keyboard and computer screen. For one thing, it lends itself to doodles, illustrations, and other marginalia. I love the scratch of pens and pencils on paper. I also love my old Hermes 3000 manual typewriter that is currently stationed on my kitchen island for quick "walk by" notes. Try this for a week and see what happens: fill one page every day. With anything. Stories, verses, thoughts, ideas, sketches, dried flowers, feathers, stickers, sequins, maps, quotes, poems. Don't try to make a product, just open yourself to being true. In a week, see what you've got: where you've been and where you might go next. 

If you get the chance, spend some time this week with someone soft and furry. It will help you to love those who are less soft.

Until next week. ♥