Throwback

I think I’m a bit of a throwback.

In this fast-paced world, I get great pleasure out of the slow, quiet activities that were perhaps more commonplace years ago, in a time when people had less money, fewer gadgets, more patience.

I was thinking about that this afternoon while I was fixing a silly little Christmas doorknob ornament that I bought a few years ago at the dollar store. George and I both enjoy the happy little jingle it makes whenever we open or close the door. It’s worth next to nothing, and so when the little bell on the bottom fell off today, most people would probably simply have thrown it out.

I couldn’t. Fixing it was such a simple matter. bell2A little thread, a few stitches, and the little bell is jingling once again. I didn’t do it to save money; like I said, I paid mere pennies for it. But I got such a sense of satisfaction out of extending the life of this small trinket instead of adding it to the always-growing piles of refuse our country generates.

I sat in the quiet at my sewing machine, my dog in her bed behind me, and enjoyed the simple rhythm of the stitches. It was a housewifely sort of thing to do, one of the details of keeping a home running without spending unnecessarily. It was using what I had. It was a kind of creativity.

I sat at the machine a few days ago doing the same kind of thing. My new pajamas were a mile too long, and instead of just rolling them up, or letting them drag on the floor until they were frayed and ugly, I decided to shorten them. It wasn’t a straightforward hem, though. The bottom was a separate piece with a little bit of contrasting fabric along the hemtop edge. I could have just cut it off and hemmed it the normal way, but what would have been the fun of that?

So, I painstakingly snipped the stitches until I could pull the hem apart, cut off the excess, and reattached the bottom strip with its little contrasting edge. Not only did I end up with pajama bottoms that fit properly, but I now can save the piece I cut off to include in some future quilting project. Everything gets used, and I just love that feeling.

I take great delight in those hands-on kinds of little jobs that really equal good stewardship, using, mending, repurposing, wasting not. I like to wash plastic bags, save vegetable water for the next batch of soup, reuse the padded envelopes that come with things we’ve ordered. I take delight in the simple things of caring for a home. I love putting a good meal on the table and watching George enjoy it; I pull his clothes out of the hamper with deliberation and enjoy getting them clean and ironed so he looks good when he leaves here. And it works both ways. He scrapes the windows on my car when I head out on a frosty morning and he carries the heavy bags of groceries for me. Today he fixed the bird feeder that had fallen when the wire broke.

To me, mending, reusing, repurposing shows respect for the hard work we put into acquiring those things. It shows gratitude. A few generations ago, people did those things because they had no choice. I do it because I do have one, and it seems the better option than rampant consuming with the waste that accompanies it.

Maybe that’s why I love the old term that has largely fallen by the wayside in this day and age: homemaker. It involves a lot more than the so-called drudgery of housework. It’s about the delight of nest-building.

I suspect there are other throwbacks out there, tending and husbanding their lives with quiet contentment.

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Posted in Lifestyle, lost arts, Reflection, sewing, Social commentary, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Recipe tell-all

Usually when I post food blogs, I’m writing about healthy choices in our menu. If you’ve come to expect that from me, don’t finish this article.

Now that you’re forewarned, I’ll preface this by saying that you all probably have that one decadent recipe you can’t resist, at least not all the time. Now and then, you give in. You have green-bean casserole on Thanksgiving, pecan pie at Christmas, cheesy hash-brown casserole with your Easter ham. Admit it. You do.

Well, this is my decadent recipe, my culinary Achilles heel. I have a terrible weakness for bacon sarnies.

If you’ve just frowned in puzzlement, never having heard of bacon sarnies, that’s OK. I hadn’t either until I watched a British TV series called “Keeping Up Appearances.” Bone-idle Onslow was always going on about wanting his wife Daisy to fix him a bacon butty, and in one episode, Daisy said nothing could perturb her any more because she had discovered bacon sarnies. As she bit into what looked like a mouth-watering sandwich, her face a picture of ecstasy, I knew I had to figure out just what she was eating.

It turns out the butty and the sarnie are pretty much the same thing, and they’re very British. Restaurants serve them, people eat them for breakfast, lunch or snacks, with or without milky tea, and they turn up regularly on the list of the Brits’ top 10 favorite foods. They use “streaky bacon,” which we Americans call our regular bacon, or they use what we would call Canadian bacon.

OK, now we get to the recipe. This is your last chance to shut the article down and go nibble on a stalk of celery. No? Read on.

A proper bacon sarnie consists of several slices of properly sarniecooked bacon–neither too soft nor too crisp–served between two slices of plain white bread that have been slathered with butter and generous dollops of HP Brown sauce–a uniquely British condiment that’s similar to and about as ubiquitous as our American catsup. No healthy brown or grain breads allowed. No toasted bread. Occasionally they’ll serve them on a hamburger bun. No added ingredients.

I made my first bacon sarnie according to tradition, with one exception. I’m not a catsup eater, so I put a little mayo on my bread slices. What’s that you say? Sounds like an untoasted BLT without the L or the T? Yep, that’s just about right. The B’s the best part of that anyway, and the more B the better.

Yesterday I made George his first bacon sarnie, and he immediately tried to wiggle out of the seeming plainness of it all. How about some of the millet bread you made? he suggested. Nope, doesn’t follow protocol. Well, could you at least toast it? I did cave in on that one. Do we have any tomatoes in the house…? Now listen, I said. Do you want a sarnie or not? We’re not sprucing it up. He reluctantly acquiesced.
But, I had him with the first bite. Even as he rolled his eyes, as if to say I was making a big deal out of nothing, he went back for a second, bigger bite. By the time he’d finished, and I said I’d like nothing better than to have a second one, he said Me too!

We didn’t, of course. A bacon sarnie, for us, is one of those VERY occasional treats. Any more and we’d be looking like Daisy and Onslow. (You really should try to hunt up that series on Netflix or maybe Amazon Prime. See for yourself.)

One more note: Don’t be fooled if you ever find a restaurant, even in the UK, offering “bacon sandwiches.” A sarnie, or a butty, by any other name, probably isn’t the same.

There you have it. My secret’s out.

Posted in cooking, Food, recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Captive!

We’ve all done it–chucked the to-do lists, and the must-do lists, and let life roll on without any help from us while we hunkered down with a book that we just can’t let go.

Today was my day for that. I knew from the moment my eyes opened and focused on fresh snow, rain, blustery wind and darkened skies that this would be a day for staying inside and doing absolutely nothing except reading the book that I could hardly put down last night.

Even though I’m retired, a luxury like this doesn’t happen every day. There are appointments to keep, errands to run, writing assignments to tend to, obligations to meet–and my dad’s voice still echoing in my head, telling me I MUST do something besides read all day. None of that intruded today, though. I checked the calendar and there it was, January 7, a blank space with nothing written on it.

I managed to make breakfast, but didn’t manage to get dressed until noon. I did call my sister and wish her a happy birthday, but most of the morning was spent in a tiny, out-of-the-way town being held hostage by bad guys with guns. readingThe handyman-hero and B&B owner-heroine were thrown together in their new roles to venture forth and save the day, amid a few dead bodies, mob plans, and uncooperative weather–with a little sexual tension sizzling in the background. Oh yes, definitely the material for a reading frenzy.

George put on some jazz, which helped block out the sound of rattling windows and pelting rain–but I likely wouldn’t have heard them anyway. When these reading attacks strike, I’m oblivious to the world around me. Now and then I did glance up, surprised to look outside and see, not the Idaho mountains and townspeople barricaded behind makeshift shelters, but my own yard shrouded in winter blech. Icy raindrops clung to the screens and window panes like swarms of crystal bugs, but they distracted me for only a moment. Then it was back to the book.

I broke for lunch. I probably wouldn’t have if not for George. Heated up the Cajun bean soup, even did the dishes in trade for his taking the dog out. Then I headed back to be comfy chair and the book that awaited. The phone rang once, but luckily the call wasn’t for me. I wouldn’t have been happy if it had been.

I think it was about 3 o’clock that I read the satisfying last page and looked up, bleary-eyed, sorry to see the characters go, anxious to start another book waiting on the coffee table. I didn’t, though. I virtuously took myself to the sewing room instead to finish hemming a pair of pajamas, sitting in the quiet as I picked out stitches, thinking back on the plot and characters that had kept me so riveted.

I’ll wait until tonight, after supper, to start that next book. And yes, I have to check the calendar, to see if by any chance there’s another free day tomorrow.

(For those of you wondering, the book that held me captive was “Cover of Night” by Linda Howard.)

Posted in Humor, reading, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Oh deer!

In the middle of the night they were just dark shadows, a smudge of movement under the tree.

I was in the bathroom–one of those nighttime runs–and had glanced casually out the window as I sipped a glass of water. There they were, nosing daintily at the bird feeder, licking up the sunflower seeds and proving my suspicions: that it was deer orchestrating the nightly raids that turned the full feeders into Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard in the morning.

Despite my state of undress, my first urge was to throw open the window and shout at them to leave, get away, find food somewhere else that was actually meant for them.

deer

Via Bing Images

It was a short-lived urge. I watched them, and they seemed so–trusting. So needy, even. Their bellies are harder to fill in these cold and snowy months. Hunger is hard to deny. and it wasn’t in me to deny them now that I was watching them, face to face.

As long as they’re anonymous raiders, scarfing up the seed meant for birds, coming and going when I’m not aware, then I can be irritated. Then I can rant about them, and threaten them in my mind, and plot ways to foil their scavenging. It’s harder to do that when I see what they see: a thoughtful smorgasbord set out for them, ripe for the taking and hunger assuaging.

Once, their ancestors gleaned fruit on this same site when it was a cherry orchard. Before that, they foraged in what was a wooded area, their domain, until we moved in on them.

In the midst of urban sprawl, in our carefully manicured properties, these dainty deer are seen as the invaders. I guess, just as they didn’t gang up on us as we took over, I won’t gang up on them as they attempt to share what we have. It’s because I saw them, and they stopped being faceless.

Maybe, too, if we move out from behind our computer screens, if we leave our familiar places and look into the faces of the humans we resent as refugees and perceive as taking what’s ours, we will step back, wait, recognize their various hungers, and find it in our hearts not just to share, but to welcome.

In the middle of the night, I finished my glass of water and slipped quietly back into bed, leaving the munching deer to their midnight snack. I stopped worrying. There’s enough to go around.

Posted in Animal antics, contemplation, nature, Reflection, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

I’ve got rhythm…

December and most of January are months when I know most of the feast days without even checking the calendar. I can’t wait for them to parade past, morning after morning, each with its own special saint, special prayers, special reason and place in the liturgical calendar.

There’s St. Nicholas, of course, on Dec. 6; and St. Juan Diego on the 9th to whom Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in Mexico in the 16th century. She’s Dec. 12. The 11th is my birthday and the feast of St. Damasus, the Pope who, in the 4th century, approved the final compilation of the books that make up the Bible as we calendarknow it today.

There’s St. Lucy with her eyeballs on a platter (you’ll have to look that one up) on the 13th, and Gaudate Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent, when the purple candles of the Advent wreath give way to the pink one. Gaudete, meaning Joy, the shout of enthusiasm that bursts forth amid the preparations because it’s just so exciting to know that Jesus’ birth is coming soon.

Each year I can hardly wait for the final countdown to Christmas that begins on December 17, the O Antiphons, prayers recited before the daily Gospel reading and in the invocation before the Magnificat of Evening Prayer. They are the verses in “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” but most of us sing that favorite carol without realizing its significance.

After Christmas, among many others, are the feasts of the Holy Innocents on the 28th, the first to be martyred for Christ; and St. Thomas Becket, a 12th century Lord Chancellor and victim to an English King Henry just as Thomas More was to Henry VIII a few centuries later. They’re good heroes for this age, too.

There’s the feast of the Holy Family on the Sunday after Christmas, Epiphany the Sunday after that (it used to be on January 6 but was moved to a Sunday so no one would miss the Bible readings for that day’s Mass) and finally, the next Sunday, the baptism of the Lord and the last day of the Christmas season. And of course, I can’t forget the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. Most of the world calls it New Year’s Day.

Every year I can feel myself preparing to celebrate each of those days with a little ball of excitement spinning giddily within. “It’s the feast of…” I announce with, I confess, a certain amount of fervor, like a kid waiting for presents under the tree. The response is often a “Yeah? So?” from people who may belong to churches that don’t have structured liturgical years, or others who belong to those that do but just don’t get what the big deal is.

People who don’t celebrate think it’s much ado about nothing. Who needs all that liturgical punctuation of the year? they seem to think. That’s fine for you “religious” people, but the rest of us can do without it. Ordinary days and weeks are fine with us.

My friend Amberly Ann Boerschinger recently rebutted that attitude very well, I thought, when we were discussing online our shared delight with the Church’s liturgical year. She thinks, as I do, that we need that ebb and flow of special events.

“I think that it speaks to a rhythm that humans need,” she wrote. “Look at how many ‘national’ holidays our society clings to. National donut day, national black cat day, national visit a library day… None of those are bad, but I often feel like (those days exist) because people want something to celebrate and we have moved away from our common Christian roots and our celebration of liturgical feasts. The Church, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is so wise to the human condition. I love that, too!”

I remember listening with shock when a neighbor responded to my question about his plans for Thanksgiving by shrugging it off. “We’ll eat, that’s it,” he said. “It’s just a day like all the rest.” He mows lawns on Sunday, and his wife hangs her laundry, and their week flows along like a flat line with no upward spurts of celebration, not even a crescendo to a work-free Sunday, with or without church. There’s a paucity of joy that shows in other ways.

I’m not trying to convert anyone here. How you choose to punctuate your weeks and months are up to you. I just feel the need to express my gratitude for this liturgical year that ebbs and flows with prayer and penance, seasons of celebration and seasons of reflection, stories of saints and heroes–and sinners, too–calls to self-examination and challenges to become the beings God intended us to be.

Life is a great and wonderful song, and the liturgical year helps me to sing it.

Posted in Catholic, Catholic life, Christmas, contemplation, Faith-filled living, Holidays, New Year's Eve, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

You asked for it

“I miss your Tillie stories,” a friend told me today.

She was talking about my penchant for posting photos and anecdotes about our beagle on Facebook–the beagle who has a big helping of basset in her ancestral menu. That, in case you didn’t know, makes her a “bagel,” but we don’t go for those fancy names for mixed-breeds. Mostly, we call her “such a dog,” or “what a dog,” when she makes us laugh; or “Tillie darn you!” when she beats us to the best spot in the bed at night; or “what a sweet baby girl” when she flops over on our bed in the morning and waits for us to rub her belly.

“I especially like the stories when she gets into trouble,”

tillie stare

Tillie’s relentless stare when it’s time for her supper. Yes, she knows how to tell time.

my friend said. She thinks, because nothing was posted, that Tillie has been behaving perfectly. She hasn’t. But she HAS been behaving typically, like a beagle, who thinks with her nose and stomach, no matter how blasé she looks lying on the couch, feigning sleep when we leave the house.

A perfect example of that was a month or so ago, when she ignored us completely as we walked out the door. She was sprawled on the couch, and to those who don’t understand beagles, she was the image of a long afternoon’s nap.

But then we got in the car and I realized I’d forgotten my purse. Thirty seconds after we’d walked out of the house, George went back in to get that purse–and found that Tillie had already dragged a plastic package of yarn off the counter in the kitchen. Tillie doesn’t eat yarn, but she does know that food comes in plastic packages and she was checking, just in case. Thirty seconds! I’m sure that’s some kind of record.

George and I told each other that that was a reminder for sure to always shut, lock, hide and close anything a beagle could raid for goodies. But we didn’t.

Two weeks ago I was putting things away after a trip to the grocery store.

pillow dog

Comfort, they name is Tillie.

The last thing was a package of 5 Polish kielbasa that were still sitting on the counter. I went to the pantry to get a plastic freezer bag, and got interrupted by a phone call. I immediately forgot about the sausages. Half an hour later, George and I headed out the door for our thrice-weekly stint at the Y.

When we got home, maybe an hour later, Tillie greeted us with her usual wild enthusiasm, but wasn’t quite so enthusiastic about the return-home treat she usually gets. That was our first

beagle bench

Keeping an eye on the neighborhood…

clue. The second was the empty package lying on the living room floor.

“Tillie, what’s this!” George hollered in his best outdoors voice. Like a flash she took off down the hall towards the bedroom, so she could hide. She gave us a few minutes to calm down, then came slinking back into the kitchen. We weren’t caving in so easily. “You’re a bad dog!” I told her, and she quit her attempts at fawning on us and headed for the couch,

beagle butt

…And keeping that butt comfy.

where she refused to look at us.

I call that guilt. I call that sure knowledge that what she did was NOT acceptable. What I can’t figure out is why she doesn’t think of that before she pounces on something she’s not supposed to have.

Then, as usually happens, I started to giggle. I was imagining what she must have looked like trying to reach that package on the counter. Although the basset in her makes her bigger than the average beagle, she also has the basset’s shorter legs and heavy butt. The vision of her leaping and clawing, over and over, until she finally got what she wanted… If only I’d had a hidden camera.

We don’t stay mad at her for long, though. I’m told animals soon forget why we’re mad, and only know that we don’t seem to like them any more. That idea breaks my heart. So, in 20 minutes or so, we were both petting her and telling her that she was still our best dog and that she was still a good girl–mostly. All was forgiven, and George went back to the store for more sausages. This time they went into the freezer without delay.

So, Dawn, this is for you. There are ALWAYS Tillie stories, even if we don’t always make them public. Because, you see, it’s hard to admit how often our beagle is smarter than we are.

Posted in Animal antics, beagles, Humor, Living with a dog, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Is it Christmas yet?

At this time of year, I live in a house with a split personality.

On the front door is a wreath wrapped in red-and-green plaid. On the kitchen table is an Advent wreath with purple candles. Christmas stockings hang over the fireplace, while a Jesse tree sits on the coffee table, proclaiming Old Testament prefigures of Christ. The Nativity scene isn’t up yet, but the Christmas tree is.

The liturgical season is Advent; the commercial world says it’s Christmas already. At our house we do both at the same time, but it can be pretty tricky to keep a “prepare the way” reflective atmosphere in the midst of all the hearty ho-ho-ho’s.

What makes it all doable is that preparing for the Lord at Christmas is what Advent is about. So, making out Christmas cards, buying and wrapping Christmas presents, planning Christmas dinner–they are all appropriate Advent activities–as long as we don’t give up on Christmas on Dec. 26. After all, at that point the season is just beginning. Our tree and the creche will stay up until the baptism of the Lord, January 13 this year. (Well, 2019 by then but you know what I mean.)

However, whether it’s Advent or Christmas, I have my own little tradition that works for both. On quiet winter evenings I like to sit in my chair, right next to the tree, and contemplate the ornaments. Some are old, some are relatively new, most tell stories. George and I have his, hers and ours ornaments, and that in itself is a story.

Our ornaments aren’t necessarily chosen for their beauty, nor are they expected to fit a color scheme or a particular theme. They do reflect us, though.

This one, for instance. It proclaims us to be beagle people. We’re on our third one, Tillie, who has taught us that where food is concerned, no hiding place is truly safe.ornament 7

The snowman is actually the handle on a bell that we bought in a little Christmas store near a village north of us. It was the year we each chose a new ornament; we both chose bells but I can’t remember whether this one is mine or George’s.

Ornament 2

George is a musician, so he brought a lot of musically-themed ornaments to our family. Music and Christmas just seem to go together.

ornament 1

I’m a writer, but I don’t have a single pen, typewriter or computer ornament. Actually, only the idea of a pen ornament sounds halfway inviting, and even that doesn’t actually “go” with Christmas. I do like to sew, though, and make many of my gifts each year. I remember my seamstress grandmother’s old converted treadle machine. And so…

ornament 4

George continued his musical theme with little silver bells that actually ring with a sweet tinkle. Every now and then, once of us will purposely give one of them a nudge–you know, to help some wingless angel acquire his.

ornament 0

A bell with a more poignant story hangs from its original green ribbon. Long ago, my daughter hung that bell around the neck of my first labrador, Magnum. He died in 1995, but his bell lives on.

ornament 6

Other ornaments recall others who have gone before us. My mom, who just died this past April, gave me this horse ornament as a decoration on top of my Christmas present one year, because she knew I’ve always been horse-crazy. I think of her every time I hang it, this year more than ever.

ornament 9

My younger son died 12 years ago at age 28, so this next ornament is especially cherished. It was made for him by his godmother in 1983 when he was 5 years old. Ironically, he is now enjoying the peace that surpasses all others.

ornament 8

Always on our tree are several versions of the reason for this decorating and these ornaments. Celebrating Christmas without Christ, especially if you don’t even believe in him, always seems rather silly to me; but even those who believe can get distracted by all the holiday hoopla. So, our tree always has several nativity scenes, reminders to us of whose party this is.

ornament 3.jpg

Meanwhile, we light our Advent wreath at dinner time and ask Jesus to be born anew in our hearts. And we enjoy the Christmas tree that celebrates his very first coming. Split personality? Nah. We just like to enjoy it all.

Posted in beagles, Catholic life, Christmas, Christmas tree, Holidays, Memories, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Looking for green-bean magic

I finally decided the answer to the mystery is the french-fried onions, but it wasn’t answer enough for me.

The fact that everyone I know has green-bean casserole for Thanksgiving certainly can’t be about that insipid cream of mushroom soup. Or the green beans themselves, which get buried in the soup. It has to be the artery-clogging onions which, I confess, taste pretty darn good, as do all things that aren’t healthy.

When I was a young homemaker, I decided to go with the flow and make that ubiquitous Thanksgiving side. Beans, check. Soup, check. Fried onions, check. That’s it? I thought. That’s all there is to this dish that everyone simply must serve? Something magical must happen while it’s baking in the oven, I figured.

I served it, ate it, wondered where the magic went. I listened to my family rave, and still couldn’t comprehend what all the fuss was about. It was the most uninteresting thing I’d ever tasted, and that was the last time I made it. I found other dishes to turn into family holiday traditions and never missed green bean casserole.

Until George. When your husband looks at the Thanksgiving menu and says, wistfully, “what about green bean casserole?” it’s hard to say no. But there was no way I was going to serve that bland, pasty-looking, uninspired casserole that everyone else seems to love. So, as long as I was using unhealthy french-fried onions, and since it’s just one day out of the year, I decided go all the way and spice it up with more of those oh-so-good ingredients the “experts” tell us we can’t have. George said it was the best he’d ever had, and that was good enough for me.

If you’re game to depart from the “classic” version, you might want to try this:

2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
8 cups cooked, cut green beans
2-2/3 cups french-fried onions
4 strips bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
8 or more large mushrooms, chopped (because the mushrooms in the soup are barely there)
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

Put the green beans in a 3-quart casserole dish. I use a 9 x 13 inch pan so we get more onion crunch to the spoonful.

Empty the soup and milk into a large bowl.

Fry the bacon and crumble it into the soup. Sauté the chopped mushrooms in the bacon grease until they start to brown, then remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Add the mushrooms to the soup.

Add the grated cheese to that, plus 1-1/3 cups of the green bean casserolefrench-fried onions and the crushed red pepper flakes. (For some zing!) Mix well, then pour over the green beans and mix that well.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes, then sprinkle with the remaining onions and bake for another 5 minutes until the onions are golden brown.

And there you have it: the rescue of an otherwise boring, nearly tasteless dish. I’m still not crazy about that canned soup, but this is a much better rendition.

Posted in cooking, Holidays, recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

If that’s bacon, it must be Saturday

Coffee’s brewing. The dog’s been fed and brought out and back in, the birds’ seeds are refilled, and the smell of bacon still lingers in the air. It’s Saturday morning.

I’ve been retired for nearly a decade, but the weekend is still special. George and I talked about that one morning, snuggling together under layers of warm covers. We wondered how weekends can still feel like vacation to people who no longer work full time. It may be, we decided, just a long-ingrained habit from those years when we did work. It could also be that doctor and business appointments can’t be scheduled on these two days. They feel like free days.

But I think it’s attitude. The weekends are special because we make them that way. That lingering bacon smell, for instance. Saturday morning is pancake-and-bacon day.

pancakes

Pancakes, bubbling and ready to flip, full of ground flax, oatmeal, cinnamon and raisins.

Not Tuesday. Not Thursday. Always on Saturday. And although I do house chores on Saturday, or work on the parish newsletter, we gratefully accede to God’s command to keep Sunday holy. No work is allowed in our house that day, except for cooking and doing dishes.

Mass is the high point, time to give God thanks with the rest of our parish family. In the afternoon we may take Tillie for a ride to a “fun place” to walk, or we may stay home, catch up on the Catholic newspapers, play a game, write letters, phone a friend. Sunday evenings are ice cream nights, our weekly indulge. Lately it’s been tin roof sundaes, which we eat without a modicum of guilt because we’re celebrating the day and we’re “good” the rest of the week.

I suppose it’s about rhythm. The ebb and flow of the week. Time for work and business, time for rest and play. God didn’t give us Sunday for no reason, and his reason wasn’t entirely “religious,” I think. He knows what we need even more than we do. I watch my neighbor across the street, who never celebrates Sunday with any change of routine, and who once told me even Thanksgiving is “just another day.” Every day is same-old, same-old. How tedious.

Feast days, fast days, work and play days, days to set the alarm, days to sleep in, special activities reserved for this-day-only. Like the birds that sing one song in the morning and another as the sun goes down, rhythm keeps life interesting, and traditions keep life anchored.

Coffee’s done brewing. Time to go pour a cup.

Posted in Catholic, cooking, getting older, Lifestyle, Reflection, Social commentary, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Wordless in Sturgeon Bay

I’m shocked.

This afternoon I took a casual look at this blog, and realized I haven’t written since April 29. That’s nearly five months, and that’s almost half a year. Usually I always have things to say, but my fingers and thoughts seem to have dried up. People who follow my blog have probably forgotten all about me.

I thought this dry period could be because my mom died in April. Maybe, on a subliminal level, I just didn’t feel like writing something that I couldn’t print off and send to her, like I always did. But then, I wrote two blogs after she died, so there has to be another reason for stopping with those.

Then I thought it might be because I’ve been busy with other writing projects,

typing

Via Bing Images

the kind you actually get paid for. Those have deadlines, people waiting expectantly, and they have to be written no matter what mood I’m in. But that can’t be the reason, because they never stopped me before.

Maybe it was our hot summer that not only desiccated all the flowers I planted, but also stripped me of the energy to do anything terribly meaningful. Or maybe I just got lazy, because writing can be hard work, even when it involves fun things like a blog where there are no restrictions on what I write about it or how I say it.

Quilt front

My husband George and the first-quilt-ever I made for his birthday.

It could be that I’ve discovered quilting, something I said I’d never tackle. I’ve sewn apparel and household items since I was in the seventh grade, but quilting just looked like too much work. Then I heard about quilt-as-you-go, a method that doesn’t have to require tedious piecing and that allows me to quilt just one square at time–a plus when living in a small space. I think about quilting, I dream about quilting, I watch YouTube videos and read books about it, and since there’s only so much time in a day, maybe that’s why this blog has been neglected.

Or maybe, at age 70, I’ve outgrown the need to put my thoughts and my life on paper. After all, I’ve done that for a very long time. I started writing a weekly newspaper column in the late 1980s–in addition to my regular news reporting–and when I retired, I started this blog. That’s a lot of introspection, observation, and one-sided conversation. Maybe it just doesn’t seem that important or even rewarding any more.

If you’re waiting for the definitive answer to my original “why?”, there isn’t one. This also isn’t a swan song. This isn’t a long-winded attempt to explain why I’m ending this blog, because I’m not. I’m just wondering what has taken me so long to show up here again, with nothing much to say and a many-worded way to say it.

So, don’t go away. I’ve been on hiatus, I guess, but I’m back.don't go

Posted in Blogging, Humor, Lifestyle, Reflection, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , | 4 Comments