Friday, October 31, 2008


I did not know I was marrying someone who would want to decorate for Halloween! Here is our front door, all covered in newspapers.

Here is a close up. The poem is by Sir Walter Scott.

We (mostly Joe) also carved this pumpkin. It looks neat when it glows from the inside.

We dressed up and amused ourselves while waiting for trick-or-treaters. Here Joe is pulling an invisible rope.

We had candy, too.

(I am wearing a little of Joe's scary make-up.)

We danced for a while.

(Not really dancing.)

But only four trick-or-treaters came by.

So we ate lots of candy and talked about what what colors we should paint the walls.

(The end.)

Finally got around to it!

At long last! I made my own laundry detergent. Look!

Here is the recipe I used. The ingredients are washing soda, borax, water and a bar of soap. It is yellow because I used yellow-orange "gold soap" from CVS. I might use a different color next time... part of the process involves shaving the soap into a pot of warm water on the stove to melt it, and it looked just like egg drop soup.

Making it was more complicated than it should be because I ran out of room in my bucket. (See the milk jug full of stuff off to the side? There's some more in an old detergent container, too.) As a result, it took me about an hour. I will get a larger bucket or just make a 2/3rd batch next time, which should speed things up considerably.

Also, it is much thicker than I expected -- more a gel than a liquid. Fun and slimy, but I don't think it will pour very easily from my milk jug! Maybe when I get a larger bucket, I will get one with a lid for easy storage.

I am still astounded at the number of people who think taking on such a project makes me certifiably crazy. It's fun! It saves money! And anyone who doesn't want to do it can just go buy some detergent at the store! :~)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Look, Orion

When we leave the house now to go to the monastery for Mass, we can see the stars as we get in the car, and when we get out again, the chapel is chilly.

Some days I wonder if it is worth going, especially on days when I sleep through much of Mass. But I never wonder on the mornings when we have the harp to accompany us. We can't see it, since it is back with the nuns, but it is sweet to hear and makes everything seem so lovely.

The blessings I get vary from day to day and from priest to priest. Today it was: "May the dear Lord bless you -- always." On the way back to our pew, we can see a cross shape in the stained glass over the door.

Christ's way seems so bright some days.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Shopping day

I misplaced some eggs today. Got home, unpacked the groceries, and only later realized that the dozen eggs I'd paid for at the farmer's market weren't among my bags. 

Back to the market I went. A couple hours had passed, but I got a "Back again?" from the man who sells the colorful mums. Went to the stand where I'd bought the eggs... had they seen the eggs I'd lost between there and home? The farmer there said, no, they hadn't... what size had I lost? I said the larger one, and he looked in his cooler and pulled out another. I moved to pay -- but he said, no, I didn't have to. I thought that was strange!

"Well, now if I didn't leave them here, I should pay for these," I said.

"The chickens will replace them!" came the answer. 

Well! I thought of protesting some more, but instead I left with the eggs, feeling a bit sheepish.

It turns out I didn't need to take the eggs after all. When I asked the farmer at the next stand if he'd seen any eggs, he turned around and pulled them off his truck. I returned the gift-eggs. "Ah, you found them!" Yes. Apparently I need to be more careful as I shuffle my purchases from my hands into my tote bags.

The whole thing reminds me of one of my first days in York, when the man at the corner store gave me a mango on credit, and the first time someone in the farmer's market there offered to let me take my fruit and pay another day. Each time, I was a bit shocked: someone trusts me? Someone cares about me? The people at the market here don't even know my name.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Latvian sighting

I spent miles driving behind a little green car with an LV bumper sticker. The driver even had little pastalas (the leather shoes ancient Latvians wore) hanging from her rearview mirror. Ah! I am hungry for Latvians, but she was talking on intently on her cell phone, so I did not try to get her attention before she turned west at one of the stoplights in Waldorf. Alas.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It thinks it's clever

Woke up to the alarm, got ready to teach Latvian school, had Joe join me for breakfast. It seemed very light outside, so I figured it would be a nice, sunny day. 

It was only after breakfast that Joe noticed and asked why all the other clocks were showing the time an hour later than our alarm clock. Ah! The alarm automatically resets for Daylight Saving Time, but because of the changes this year, my clock fell back a week ahead of schedule. I had an hour's drive ahead of me, and no way to make it in time to teach my first class.

It was the cap of a frustrating few days -- the kind in which I rushed around looking for things I'd lost, only to run into the doorframe. On my late drive to Latvian school, I listened to this song

"There's only One who never fails to beckon the morning light.
There's only One who sets loose the gales and ties the trees down tight.
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and sway.
There's only One, only One
Holy One."

Things actually turned out fine. Some teachers and I rearranged our schedule, so I got to teach all three of my usual classes. And it was indeed a sunny day. When I got back, Joe and I walked to town for a festival, and we saw a play in the afternoon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Oh! Now it has warmed up and is all fresh and breezy. The windows are open and I don't care if the papers are blowing around inside.

I had to mow the lawn today, and it was so nice I kept coming up with more little chores in our tiny yard, just to keep me outside.

The view out the office window

Didn't feel like writing at the time!

When Joe and I were unpacking my things, I declared that we were to save the small jar of applesauce and the animal crackers (even if Joe protested that he likes applesauce very much). I'd read somewhere that it's a good idea to have on hand the kinds of things you want when you are sick, because when you are sick, you cannot always get to the store.

A few weeks later (that is, about a month ago), Joe and I got terribly sick. We are pretty sure it was the stomach bug that was going through the area, and we spent a night seeing each other at something close to our worst. And the next afternoon, when we felt a little better, all we wanted to eat was animal crackers, applesauce and a bit of ramen we had in a cupboard. When Joe went back to work, he even took some little applesauce cups, given to us by a friend after we all had a picnic together.

Now I am building up our stash again, and this time Joe is giving me new ideas: ginger ale, ramen, vegetable and chicken soups, saltines along with the animal crackers, and applesauce cups as well as a jar to save.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Change of season

Last night -- I could see my breath all white! And today -- frost on the grass!

Even when I'll tire of the cold, these things will keep their thrill. 

We have turned the heat on and pulled out the mittens. And I feel unexpectedly clever for having bought all these tomatoes:

(a big box of canning tomatoes: $10 at the farmer's market)

This isn't even all of them!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Morning mist

Fog came down while we were in Mass, so the drive back to town was misty white with the shadows of horses running along the road.

Migla, migla, liela rasa,
Man pazuda kumeliņš. 
Nu, Dieviņi, tavā vaļā, 
Nu, tavāi rociņā...

(I hope those familiar with the song will forgive me for rearranging the words.)