Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I'm not sure I agree...

On Sunday, Joe and I tried to find a footpath connecting our neighborhood to one just off of Charles St., one of the main roads through town. It looked on the map as if the neighborhoods should connect somehow, and a path would make a handy shortcut to the library.

The other neighborhood was pretty, with some older houses set along a treeful hill. But I guess we won't be walking there much, because where there used to be a shortcut, there are now two fences, a pile of brush, and a sign that says "Sidewalks are the best way."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

We've all been writing lately

I wonder at it every time, how words that seems so set in my head are forced to become something else altogether on paper.

Days Like This

The winter sun shines off both the clouds and the road, and all the drivers have to squint against it. At stoplights you can turn to see their faces, lit golden under puckered brows.

The road seems thin, the world stretched tight, as if it could snap against the flood of hopes underneath it. The Love that sustains us feels sharp and clear, a breath in the cold.

(I edited this once since posting it, taking out a couple words and adding in another.)

Monday, December 29, 2008


Rejected by the Red Cross! It stings! 

(Maybe I will get to try again soon. In the meantime, does anyone want to give blood in my place?)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christ passing by

After dark on Christmas Eve, Joe and I were driving from church to my parents' house to celebrate when an older woman crossed in front of us at a stoplight. I was the only one who saw her as she passed, walking like she had a ways to go and pushing a metal cart, like homeless people sometimes do.

I didn't know if she had a home or anyone to celebrate with, but she was Christ passing by, in a way, and I suddenly wondered if there was anything I could do for her. Ask her to dinner? (But would she want to hop into my car for a 15-minute ride with a pair of strangers?) Give her a present? (But what could I offer?) It didn't seem right to just stick my head out the window to wish her a merry Christmas after she had already started to go, if I didn't know how merry her Christmas would really  be... 

So the light changed, and I drove away.

She has been on my mind. I hope her Christmas was happy. I wish I had parked and jumped out. I remember now that I had a loaf of banana bread in the backseat... 

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Love came down...

Blessed Christmas, everyone.


The priest came by for a few minutes yesterday to bless the house yesterday. The was holy water EVERYWHERE.

(I say that with a grin, but Joe was a little shocked!)

Plus, we had a nice conversation about straw.

Monday, December 22, 2008


It was 19 degrees when we left the house today, and the puddles from all the rain had frozen over.

I've hardly taken my coat off all day.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Early-morning surprise

I had nodded off in the pew before church at the monastery this morning when one of the women there came up to Joe and me, wished us a Merry Christmas (startling me awake) and then gave us a beautifully wrapped present! 

It took me a few seconds to recover from the shock. Joe, a little more collected, thanked her.

We both puzzled over what it might be and then opened it as soon as we left. A Christmas ornament! 

Some lettering on Minnie's skirt reads "1st Christmas together." The lettering on the package reads "2006," hehe.

I'm touched.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A pretty season

Stars above the dining table

Stockings on the bannister

Angels near the front door

Friday, December 12, 2008


For almost two weeks now, Joseph and Mary have been alone in the nativity scene with the animals. The Christ-child will appear on Christmas, and so will the angel to proclaim His birth. There will be shepherds -- okay, well, our nativity set did not come with any shepherds -- and wise men from the East to offer reverence.

Things are quieter and simpler in the meantime. There is no manger with a baby lying in it, but Joseph and Mary have each other. I like to peek into the nativity scene now, because Joseph and Mary look like they are waiting, but also content. They look like they are in love.

This time of year, I sing "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" a lot. I always seem to mess things up in December, and it is a good song for crying out. It is a good time to remember that redemption is near indeed.

O, come! O, come, Emmanuel
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appears.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hello, Mr. Chicken

Today I cooked a whole chicken. I have cooked a lot of meat in the last few months, but nothing that so much resembled the animal it once was, and nothing so big all at once.

It was easier than I imagined. Washed it, added salt and butter, and stuck it in the stove... The hardest part was waiting for the juices to run clear. I pulled it out and pricked the thigh a few times, but had to stick it back in because the meat was still a bit bloody.

Joe just chopped it into fourths and ate a quarter for dinner -- all but the bones. I'd been reading about all the complicated ways to carve it and things to do with the leftovers, but it looks like I won't have anything but the neck and giblets for stock.

I consider this a warm-up for the 12-pound turkey I bought during a sale before Thanksgiving. It awaits me in the freezer, and I am not so frightened of it now.

Also, I unpacked the last boxes that were hanging around the kitchen! The kitchen seems so much bigger now!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Advent wreath situation

When I was home yesterday to see my grandmother, I went toward the woods to look for greenery so I could fix up our advent wreath. We are not getting a Christmas tree this year, so it's our big Christmas decoration.

Yes, that is a ball of tinfoil. It worked fine, but was not so pretty.

Back at the parents' house in Cloverly, I set out toward the woods with clippers. But I didn't even make it to the pine trees there, because my neighbor's compost pile had some big  pine branches lying right on top! I clipped and clipped.


There was plenty for the Advent wreath.

Much better

Then I made a pine garland.


Today Joe and I put it up and added some greenery to the door.


And here are some silly shots Joe took. 

Added later: Maybe next year I will try adding cranberries! But how would one pose with cranberries?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Shopping list

One of my wonderful sisters-in-law came over today! She and I had lunch, and her toddler son mashed the cheese and lunchmeats. Then she helped me clean the "room of doom," also known as the art room because it has Joe's easel in it. Now we have cleared away some boxes and he can actually get near the easel, woo!

In the last week or two, the house has started to look better instead of worse, and it is a huge relief.

After the visitors left, I felt really sleepy, so sat and sifted through some papers to figure out whether they were trash. This list is from March 4, 2005:


Could also use: lettuce.

(WSJ means Wall Street Journal, for those of you who did not consider it a staple item.)

Oh yes, Joe had a business meeting in York on Tuesday, so I went along and got to see some of my York friends. On the way back, we stopped by College Park for Mass and dinner with one of Joe's college friends, which seems only fair after I had so much fun earlier in the day. (I had fun at dinner, too, but it was even nicer for Joe.) Then Joe's woodcarving club had a Christmas party yesterday. We went and ate elk. Phew! It has been fun, but tiring.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A million birds fly...

I am not sure how many birds just flew past, but there must have been thousands of them, a line stretching all the way across town. They were little birds, but the whole neighborhood was full of the sound of them calling to each other. Only the stragglers were quiet as they tried to catch up, groups of a few dozen winging toward the others.