Friday, November 6, 2015

some gentle domesticity for a change...

 Well again.  I managed to accomplish two projects in my kitchen today -- first I stemmed, seeded, and halved about a half-dozen small jalapenos for the freezer.  Double rubber-gloves, with talcum, so it appears I got the gloves on and off without transferring any pepper juice to my skin.  Not sure whether it was aerosolized pepper juice or flying talcum that made me cough, though.  Never mind, that chore's out of the way.  I cut the peppers in half lengthways and then later on I can pull out a chunk and mince it up fiercely while it's still frozen and relatively helpless...

Second job was a bit more complex; all "free gratis," I had come by some lovely fresh local dark red beets, about golf ball sized or a wee bit larger, as pictured above.  So I Harvard'ed them, just now, in memory of a Great Treat of my childhood.  The recipe (from the ancient Purity Flour cookbook)(that's the Canadiana part) calls for a double-boiler, which I haven't had for years, but I do have a serviceable steel bowl which fits tightly in my largest Paderno steel saucepan, and that did just fine.  I had enough beets for a small "non-Harvard" serving as part of my supper...the rest went into the recipe which claims to create 6 or 8 servings.  I'll bag single servings in Ziploc bags and freeze them.  Along with the sugar, vinegar, and flour in the sauce, instant minced onion was called for.  I used onion powder instead -- and looking for it in the cupboard, I found my jar of granulated lime zest, so the beets got a shot of that as well.  Doesn't seem to have done any harm!

The noon meal was DINNER, today -- and supper will be a sequence of small veggie nibbles.  I find I sleep better that way...and I am going to bed very early and then waking up between 2 and 5...This morning I sat up and finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society before breakfast...having picked it up for practically nothing in a thrift shop some time back; a very satisfying read, indeed.

So I don't believe there is anything in the fridge at this point requiring urgent processing -- a comfortable feeling.  I'll assemble some salads-in-jars for the weekend; then perhaps I can turn my flagging attention to something else.

The sermon is done.  LOVE-love-love the RCL readings for this the sermon is a revision of one I preached -- at least six years ago, maybe nine!  I was content with it then, and I'm content with it now (and I have a 'new' congregation, praise be--"fresh ears! fresh ears!").  

Snow threatening...glad to have winter tires already installed.  The 'new' congregation is 120 km away -- 75 miles as near as makes no difference -- with the likelihood of "black ice" here and there, it behooves me to leave betimes, between 7:30 and 8 a.m. for the 10 am service.  Coffee in my big mug, a couple of muffins and some fruit for a rolling breakfast.  And I'll be driving into the sunrise; need to sit up Very Tall behind the visor for a few miles anyway. 


Thursday, November 5, 2015

On matters military...

Well, there has been a good deal of jabber on the intar-webs and other media this week about the new Cabinet Ministers who were sworn in yesterday in Ottawa, and a lot of THAT has been swirling around something only semi-accurately labelled "diversity."  In practice, diversity appears to mean something like "different, but the kind of different we approve of, double-plus-good."

Case in point, the "diversity" of the new Minister of National Defense.  He is a Sikh -- a Lt.-Colonel in the Canadian Forces -- a decorated veteran of three separate tours of duty in Afghanistan, and a former detective officer in the Vancouver Police Department.  His photo in combat gear is posted above.

It isn't "diversity" that I applaud here.  Because he's not diverse, and neither am I.  What gives me great joy (other than just plain flat-out "purty," happy sigh) -- is "alterity."  Here is a person who is "other," not at all like me*.  And I think I am better off because that is so.

["not at all like me BUT ON MY SIDE" to be precise.]

Now I admit I am a foolish-fond old woman, and I can't help remembering that whenever "Punjab" showed up, in the funny papers, Little Orphan Annie's fortunes took a turn for the better.

One way and another, I feel more defended than I did last week.

Also, when he's not being a wild man in the Khyber Pass, he cleans up nicely.



Wednesday, November 4, 2015

of baking, and other things.

Working on what I guess is the NaBloPoMo 'thing' although not following any directions, just trying to get prose on the screen here every day before lunch, somehow.

Pause to deal with The Last Pan of oatmeal cookies (the pan that traditionally gets burnt to a crisp because the baker forgets to set the timer).  These are the variant called "Aggression Cookies" -- rumour has it that the recipe comes from the American Mental Health Association -- as a way to work off rage for which one has no legal outlet, because the cookie ingredients (butter/marge, flour, oats, dark brown sugar, a little baking soda if you happen to remember, I usually don't) are mixed in something huge like a jam kettle, with one's bare hands, until they are as close to homogenous as their nature allows.

They're delicious too -- basically, it's shortbread with oats in it -- and all that squshing around in the butter and oats is very very good for one's cuticles.  So it's win/win!

And the last pan is now cooling.

I've been on a kitchen-jag the last couple of days, almost finished -- the aim is pre-prepped fast meals so as to free up time during the week for other, non-culinary, pursuits ...and also the avoidance of WASTE.

Meditating overnight on the angers of little children and how best and most wisely to engage with them, as an adult (well, officially, an adult).  All the little Things are pretty prompt in announcing to the cosmos when they're not pleased...but from time to time one or other of them gets "stuck" in that place.  It seems to Grandma, here, that helpless rage is a form of misery, and should be dealt with promptly, just like bruises and blisters and bleeding.  I can remember being SO angry as a child that I made myself ill... so I am cogitating on how as a Grandma I am going to handle these episodes.  (I get some opportunity to practise, too!)

Any thoughts on this?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

the first of the snow...

In a bit of a dark spot this morning -- not on my own account but on account of, on behalf of, people that I love.  But venting and grumbling and gnashing and damning-and-blasting on their account will do them no good whatever and will waste energy I might possibly use to better purpose.  So.

SNOW has definitely fallen this morning, and has lain around, for a while, some of it, on some surfaces.  So everything is nice and soggy including eight aspen trees' worth of leaves in my back yard on the trajectory between the trunk of Harriet-the-Chariot, containing summer tires, and Tohu-bohu, the Shed of Total Disorder--where the tires ought to be.  I see a soggy, muddy, chilly chore between now and lunchtime.

In and around that reality -- quite a lot of Italian grammar (less soggy), and a bowlful of beets to a) bag for the freezer OR b) Harvardize... and five pounds of ground beef to compose into cookworthy form (it's all in a lump, unfrozen, at this point)...and a recipe of sourdough/yogurt biscuits...and a PIE, God willing.

A little time with next Sunday's readings would not come amiss either.  I've had my hour with ("Just call me...") Lopez already, and it was a productive one.

Better push the laundry forward a bit also -- and iron the clean surplice, and the communion-kit linens (so I can return the latter to the parish I "borrowed" them from).  The life of a circuit-rider is practically and ethically challenging!!

Going to have penne for lunch with mushroom-enhanced red-sauce on it -- and some salad.

Plenty to keep one from brooding unhealthily on Original Sin, anyhow.

Monday, November 2, 2015

All those souls...

Working on some new disciplines here.

Yesterday was a good'un -- two church services in two different communities with (highly different) potluck meals after each.  My oath, those ladies can COOK.  Wow.  Anglican baptism with Eucharist in the morning, and preached; Taize singing, with no sermon, in the evening.

On the way home, before I reached the Big Highway -- here came the SNOW out of the north-west.  It was an interesting 120-kilometer drive home, but NO difficulty, lots of traffic but nobody doing anything quixotic in my vicinity.

Meditating on saint-ness...and its misunderstandings.  Things never yet quite adequately explained to my satisfaction.  Not "holy celebrity."  Not "co-dependent martyrdom."  The term "personal holiness" gets bandied about more than is useful or comfortable, (or it used to) and I have never ever heard it defined or illustrated as anything other than -- basically -- inexperience, of a particularly sidling, bridling, eyes-rolled-upward sort.  

Who was it, now, who said that the saint we most admire -- instinctively -- may be the greatest threat to our spiritual/moral wellbeing?

Ah well.  We sang Sine Nomine at least once, yesterday, all verses, although we could have had a bit more "WHOMP" -- (this is the hymn known in my household as "WHOMP For All the Saints" you understand).

So here's to the saints with some WHOMP in their natures.

The coffee's made, speaking of WHOMP, and this to-do list isn't going to do itself.  Defend yourself, Monday!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Celebrating "all them saints," this morning with the Giotto Madonna from Ognissanti in Florence (I see there is a splendid new book about the Umiliati as patrons of painters...)

And here we go, trying this blogging bit, yet again.  A timed exercise, this morning.

I am still trying to find a schedule that will accomplish the things that MUST be done (and there are more than a few, even among "the retired") and leave as much time -- and energy -- and daylight! -- as possible for the WANT to be done...the reading and writing, the small creativities, the sociable moments.

I'm not there yet!  But partly in aid of that, and in reflection that I am now not just in the second half of my life but in the fourth quarter, in fact -- I've embarked upon the Ignatian Exercises ("in daily life" -- i.e., spread over 8 - 9 months instead of packed into a month).

It has been a long time since I undertook anything at even this modest level of discipline (an hour a day).  It's frustrating, but it seems to be helpful.  Good to be confronted again with the Principle and Foundation, for one thing.

Struggling with Ignatian "indifference" (easy come, easy go?).  There was a moment's insight yesterday when I realized that "greed for" (books, let us say, for example, yes) followed up by "neglect of" does NOT, arithmetically, amount to "indifference."  Or "detachment," if that word is more comfortable for you.

So at present I am doing some work "honorarily" at a parish in town, and doing Sunday duty, remunerated financially, at a parish out of town (with the same patron).  This assignment involves about 90 minutes driving each way.  It's eastward to work and westward home -- squinting into the sun, in other words.  But before long it will be dark both ways, as I know, which will solve that problem definitively.

Yesterday afternoon I began a big cooking binge, with the aim of having meals in the fridge or freezer needing only to be warmed up at mealtimes for the rest of the week.  We shall see.  Still trying to adjust my grocery purchasing to the reality of ONE two-legged occupant and ONE (very small) four-legged occupant in this abode.

Hallowe'en last night was not overwhelming.  I might have had a couple of dozen callers, most of them quite, quite young, and all of them very polite.  Trick'or'treaters in this area are heavily parent-accompanied...usually by shadowy figures out on the sidewalk, calling, "What did you SAY?" to cue the "thank you."  But one Mom appeared on my porch as the Seuss Cat, complete with goldfish in bowl, closely partnering her offspring as Thing Two, with a placard explaining that Thing One was felled by chicken-pox.  All this drama!  

It was mild enough for light jackets, fortunately. And then just before eight o'clock a very light rain began, and that was that -- turned off the porch light, blew out the pumpkin-candles, and firmly returned the left-over sweets to the freezer.  

And time's up.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Of time, and routines...

I have been cogitating (agitating the cogs) over what sort of schedule would best suit this semi-retired existence -- more and more truly retired all the time, I realize.

The problem has been that I can think of about eighteen different tasks or functions, each with a serious claim to be First Thing of the Morning. But how to rank them?

And the default resolution of that problem has been to stay in bed and ponder on the matter until either I fall asleep again or the external world intervenes in some fashion, usually less than altogether welcome.

(And yes, those of you with full employment, and/or families, and/or partners and/or roommates, and/or walkable dogs, etc., I can hear your unsympathetic snortings from here, believe me, and I do not blame you.)

For a week now -- a whole week! -- I have had a Trial Schedule working -- and I'm still doing it, which is both unusual and promising.  (I'm working on the general theory that as the day goes, so goes the life, and as the morning goes, so goes the day.  You see there are indeed macro-considerations in play here.)

2. Take morning meds if any as appropriate.
3.  Take large mug of plain hot water downstairs
4.  Ensconce self in library armchair with good light and resources at hand.
5. MORNING PRAYER according to the (old) Book of Common Prayer, without Scripture readings other than the Psalms appointed in the simplest of the reading tables.
5a.  Pluck Biblia Sacra (the Vulgate, that is) off the shelf and have a go at the morning's Psalm or Psalms in Latin, just to shake up the synapses.
5b.  Note prayer concerns in handy notebook by my left shoulder.  Then trot across the landing and hop onto the
6.  ELLIPTICAL TRAINER!!!  for a few more minutes/calories/metres-equivalent than the day before.  Keep heart rate under 150, mostly, and do a sprinting thing in the last 30-40 seconds.  Hop off (high side first!) and step into the laundry/furnace room to
7. SCOOP THE CAT'S BOX (loud cheers from the cat).
8. Wash hands, contemplate what needs to be taken upstairs -- clean laundry, food from the pantry or the freezer or both...

And there I am ready for my shower and my coffee and my breakfast.  And the rest of the day!

Serendipity -- my MP armchair is between the end of one old desk and the bookshelves.  Earlier this week I became aware that just abaft of my right eyebrow, on the shelf with "Eliot, George" and "Eliot, T. S." there was also "Edwards, Jonathan."  That's right -- "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" Edwards (although I've always thought that vice-versa would have made a much more interesting sermon).  

But where the book opened, when I took it down, was his "Resolutions".  And I was stunned to see how often he re-made his resolution to "speak WELL of others," "speak FAIRLY of others": over, and over, and over.  To resist the temptation to DETRACTION, that besetting besetter.

I am working on that one, too.