Quote of the Day


Mary's Song by Luci Shaw

If you are not familiar with Luci Shaw's poetry, give yourself a gift this season and pick up one of her beautiful books.

Mary's Song

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest ...
you who have had so far
to come.) Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
whose vigour hurled
a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.
His breath (so slight it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world.
Charmed by dove's voices, the whisper of straw,
he dreams,
hearing no music from his other spheres.
Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed
who overflowed all skies,
all years.
Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught that I might be free,
blind in my womb to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth
for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.


The Barn

The Barn

"I am tired of this barn!" said the colt
"And every day it snows.
Outside there's no grass any more
and icicles grow on my nose.
I am tired of hearing the cows
breathing and talking together.
I am sick of these clucking hens.
I HATE stables and winter weather!"

"Hush, little colt" said the mare,
"And a story I will tell
of a barn like this one of ours
and the wonders that there befell.
It was weather much like this
and the beasts stood as we stand now
in the warm good dark of the barn,
a horse and an ass and a cow."

"And sheep?" asked the colt. "Yes, sheep
and a pig and a goat and a hen.
All the beasts of the barnyard
the usual servants of men.
And into their midst came a lady
and she was as cold as death,
but the animals leaned above her
and made her warm with their breath.

"There was her baby born
and laid to sleep in the hay
while music flooded the rafters
and the barn was as light as day,
and angels and kings and shepherds
came to worship the babe from afar,
but we looked at Him first of all creatures
by the bright strange light of a star!

~ Elizabeth Coatsworth


Christmas stocking stuffer ideas

Some ideas, for your stuffing pleasure

:: reusable shopping tote
:: earbuds 

:: battery charger
:: batteries
Rainbow Mice - Bag of 12 - Cat Toy:: bath poofs
:: tea 
:: stationary
:: octopus clips
:: scarves
:: toy mice for humans owned by cats
:: chewies and tennis balls for humans owned by dogs
:: postage stamps for anyone off at college
:: good cheeses
:: nuts
:: Christmas ornaments for young adults
:: pocket flashlights for the cars
:: chapsticks
:: Atlas garden gloves
:: hand-warmer packets for those in cold climates

:: tulip or daffodil bulbs
:: long matches
:: smoked oysters
:: SmartWool socks
:: Starbuck's cards
:: Trader Joe's cards
:: iTunes cards
:: pencils and erasers for school kids - especially home-schooling families
:: chocolate oranges
:: bottle of favorite fragrance
:: paint brushes and  other artsy supplies (hat tip to Audrey)
:: LUSH bubble bars

:: drill bits
:: hairclippies and rubber bands for little girls
:: sparkly glue

What did I miss ?


The annual Thanksgiving Checklist: 10 people, my house

Time for the annual Thanksgiving post.  I print it an put it on my cupboard door and then, when my brain freezes over, I just do the next thing.

because proper preparation and planning prevents poor performance!

at least 1 week before
1. purchase free-range turkey
2. finalize menu

  • pumpkin soup - Jamie & I
  • green salad of some sort - Jamie and I 
  • marshmallow salad - mom
  • green bean casserole - mom
  • mashed potatoes - Jamie & I
  • Roast Butternut Squash  - mil
  • turkey - Jamie & I
  • dressing - Jamie & I
  • gravy - Jamie & I
  • bread/rolls - Jamie & I
  • dessert: pecan pie, pumpkin pie, apple dumplings - Jamie & I
  • beverages - brother
  • Trader Joe's cranberry sauce - brother
2. make up grocery list
3. make and freeze pie crusts
4. timeline food prep
5. confirm that the food thermometer works

1. grocery shop

1. make mashed potatoes
2. roast pumpkins
3. make pumpkin soup
4. mix up brine

1. pick up turkey
2. brine big turkey
3. mix up turkey rub
4. make dressing
5. prep sweet potatoes
6. mix up pecan pie filling
7. stage apple dumplings

1. remove potatoes from fridge
2. rub down turkey if you didn't brine
3. make bread rolls
4. run & empty dishwasher
5. confirm garbage can is empty
6. sweep front porch and walk
7. stage tea station

1. make a thermos of coffee & prep coffee maker for next round
2. make sure you have eaten something sustaining
3. check your clothes: are you bespattered?

1. confirm small lamps and candles are on/lit
2. confirm dishwasher is empty
3. turn on coffee pot

1. dine

1. rest whilst others clean up.

1. set out desserts
2. receive second wave of guests.
3. listen to bluegrass jam session and chatter in a happy daze.


warts and all

And I don't mean this figuratively.

Fifteen years ago I took a warty-looking mark on my foot to my (former) doctor who told me it was a pressure point. So I ignored it.  Then about five years ago my "pressure point" sprouted numerous warty-looking babies.  My new (and obviously superior) doctor confirmed that they were in fact warts, all off-spring from the now very well-established Mother of All Warts.

We froze.  We Compound-W-ed. We injected bug venom. We froze and Compound-W-ed some more.  Last spring, we cut them all out. I had FIVE huge wounds in my foot, which I will not describe in detail. Just use your imagination and then some.

They came back and brought some babies with them.  Apparently all that fresh tissue is the perfect thing in which to grow new warts.

You are wondering, about now, why I am sharing this obnoxious information with you.  I'm wondering this too.  But since we got this far . . .

Last week I saw a dermatologist who prescribed Fluorouracil -- a topical chemotherapy -- and duct tape.  Weird huh?

Guess who has 3 fewer warts this week? 

And I suppose that is why I am sharing it.  If you are anyone you know is suffering from persistent reoccurring warts and you are not afraid of a tube of chemotherapy and a roll of duct tape, this post is for you!

But you will want to know that you won't be able to walk properly, as instead of getting better each day, the pain gets worse, as the treatment is basically to put on your body some goopus that eats holes in whatever it touches.


Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
By Wallace Stevens
Among twenty snowy mountains,   
The only moving thing   
Was the eye of the blackbird.   

I was of three minds,   
Like a tree   
In which there are three blackbirds.   

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.   
It was a small part of the pantomime.   

A man and a woman   
Are one.   
A man and a woman and a blackbird   
Are one.   

I do not know which to prefer,   
The beauty of inflections   
Or the beauty of innuendoes,   
The blackbird whistling   
Or just after.   

Icicles filled the long window   
With barbaric glass.   
The shadow of the blackbird   
Crossed it, to and fro.   
The mood   
Traced in the shadow   
An indecipherable cause.   

O thin men of Haddam,   
Why do you imagine golden birds?   
Do you not see how the blackbird   
Walks around the feet   
Of the women about you?   

I know noble accents   
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;   
But I know, too,   
That the blackbird is involved   
In what I know.   

When the blackbird flew out of sight,   
It marked the edge   
Of one of many circles.   

At the sight of blackbirds   
Flying in a green light,   
Even the bawds of euphony   
Would cry out sharply.   

He rode over Connecticut   
In a glass coach.   
Once, a fear pierced him,   
In that he mistook   
The shadow of his equipage   
For blackbirds.   

The river is moving.   
The blackbird must be flying.   

It was evening all afternoon.   
It was snowing   
And it was going to snow.   
The blackbird sat   
In the cedar-limbs.

Wallace Stevens, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” from The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens.


God’s World

God’s World

O World,
I cannot hold thee close enough
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists that roll and rise.
Thy wood, this autumn day, that ache and sag.
And all but cry with colour!
That gaunt crag To crush!
To lift the lean of that black bluff.
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough.

Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this:
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart –
Lord I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me – let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

-- Edna St. Vincent Millay


Sea Fever

Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking,

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

 I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

~ John Masefield 

This is the poem that my children are memorizing this week and I liked it so much I thought I would share it with you.


still homeschooling?

I find this conversation both revealing and perplexing and annoying:

Relative: Ohhhh, you're still homeschooling?
Child: Yes
(Me, silently): still?
Relative: Do you just home-school or do you ever get to be with other kids?
Child: Oh we do lots of other stuff with other kids -- book club, co-op classes, basketball . . .
(Me, silently): just?  and is education supposed to be about being with other kids?
Relative: Oh good.  Is that just once-in-awhile, or every week?
Child: It varies.
(Me, silently): Why don't you ask them what they are learning?
Relative -- to me:  How long will you do this? Will you let them go to high-school?
Me: As long as we think it is appropriate.
(Me, silently): let them?  Here they are, getting a great education, and you speak as if I am depriving them of something.

It's revealing in that it shows the relative's assumption that school is about socializing. It's perplexing in that I've always thought that school was about education.  It's annoying in that it introduces to my child this rather skewed view of school and home-schooling.


Whole Wheat Egg Sandwich Bread

Whole Wheat Egg Sandwich Bread

Mix in your KitchenAid Standmixer
  • 1 1/2 C water
  • 1 room temperature egg
  • 3 Tb butter, cut up
  • 2 1/3 C  white flour
  • 2 C whole wheat flour
  • 3 T gluten flour
  • 3 T brown sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 1/4 t breadmaker yeast
Turn oven on to lowest setting. Put ingredients into your stand mixer and run mixer on low for 4 minutes.

Turn oven off.  Set a dish cloth over the dough and set into oven. Let dough rise until double (about 1 hour).

Turn oven on to lowest setting. Knead dough for 4 minutes.  Turn oven off. Pop the bread back into the oven to rise until double (about 1 hour).

Turn oven on to lowest setting. Divide dough into two loaves.  Shape. Set into pans. Cover. Pop the bread back into the oven to rise until double (about 1 hour).  Take out of the oven.

Bake at 350 for 24 minutes.


burn first aid

If you tend to get burns when you can -- as I do -- Tecnu First Aid Antiseptic & Pain Relieving Gel is your new favorite thing.  It kills the pain instantly.  Who has time to soak in cold water when there are jars to fill? 

We have had good success when using this on:
* bee stings, mosquito bites, etc.
* nettles
* those scratchy marks that squash plants bestow
* cat scratches -- which are notorious for leaving fine thin scars
* slivers -- makes them stop hurting and swells them up so they ooze themselves out.
* mild hives from food allergies.

It contains Tea Tree Oil and Lidocaine.  I like it so much I'm considering giving it as Christmas presents.


female, respect, deserve

"When Will Female Authors Get the Respect They Deserve?"  Three key words: female, respect, deserve.  I am so weary of this idea that because an individual is a member of a certain group they automatically deserve a certain level of respect above and beyond what they would deserve if they were not part of that group.  Wasn't the whole idea of the civil right movement that we should evaluate people on their individual merits or lack thereof, and not on their status as members of this or that demographic group?

How about "When Will Quality Authors Get the Respect They Deserve?"  That would work for me.


end of summer wardrobe check

One of the things I dread each autumn is going through the kids' clothes and seeing what still fits (not much) and what needs to be replaced.  Not only does it cost me money, but I am stuck in their rooms for hours as they try things on.  Andy is not so bad, but for Juliana, every new article on her body means a new dance routine and conversation.  Even this would not be so bad if she could change clothes and chat at the same time, but she cannot.  She comes to a complete halt and needs eye contact.

The solution:

They bring their clothes down and change behind the divider whilst I make bread, dinner, type blog posts etc.  At least I can get something done during the dance routines.


how to give a dog a pill

Or at least, how to give my dog a pill.

  1. Put some plain live yogurt in her dog dish, make sure she sees this.  Maybe give her a lick the first time, so that she knows what it is.
  2. Chop up some beefstick or other meat.  Make sure she sees this.  
  3. Get out the pill -- antibiotic in our case, hence the yogurt.
  4. Set out the yogurt, treats, and pill where she can see it all.
  5. With a helper, open her mouth and push the pill down her gullet. 
  6. Give her lots of treats, by hand, into her mouth -- you want her to associate your hand in her mouth with good things.
  7. Give her the bowl of yogurt. 
The first time we did this, it took both adults and lots of dog-wrastling.  After 5 doses, I can do it alone and she doesn't resist at all.  She has figured out the the pill is the necessary preliminary to the beefstick and the yogurt.


One Second After by William R. Forstchen

This is a must read. Current technology allows for a device that wipes out electrical systems: phones, cars, radios, freezers, thermostats, security systems, everything. In this alarming story, unknown enemies use this weapon on us and we are thrown back to a pre-electric life-style, without the skills that made it liveable.

Read The Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the U.S. from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack, Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives, One Hundred Eighth Congress, Second Session, Hearing Held July 22, 2004 found at http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/security/has204000.000/has204000_0f.htm


The Dark Is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper

This is a fun good-vs-evil series with lots of connections to old tales. Wholesome and enjoyable middle grade reading.


The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Really enjoyed this narrative of Achilles life told from the perspective of his companion Patroclus. I didn't know that Achilles and Patroclus were thought to be lovers, so that was a bit of a surprise.



Introducing Poppyseed Chandler b. 4.13.12 adopted 8.7.12

She's a first generation YorkiPoo and she'll be the kids' dog, as Nutmeg only has eyes for me.


blueberry facial

Blueberry season has started here, so I'd like to share with you the Joys of Blueberrying.

1. locate an organic blueberry farm near you
2. pick a mild day or go early in the morning
3. don't bother feeding your kids before you go
4. pick zillions of berries
5. watch kids stuff berries into their mouths.
6. be happy that you don't have to wash the berries first as they don't have nasty sprays on them.
7. go home
8. put berries in bag (do NOT wash them first)
9. freeze bags

(time passes)

(snow falls)

10. open a bag of berries
11. notice with admiration and glee that they are still individual berries, not a frozen mushy clump (this is why you didn't wash the berries before bagging them).
12. put berries on breakfast cereal, in muffins, etc.

Did you know that blueberries are the fountain of youth? Yes indeed. In August of 2006 CNN reported that
Wild blueberries rank Number One in antioxidants for fruit, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with a score of more than 13,000 for total antioxidant capacity per. Cultivated blueberries are the second highest, with about 9,000 (for comparison, Gala apples score around 3,900).
There's no official recommendation for daily antioxidant consumption, but they are known to be important for fighting off free radicals in our body and from the environment. Free radicals cause damage to cells, disrupting the DNA and potentially setting up the body for disease. And the cell damage may be at the root of a host of health issues, from aging to macular degeneration to cancer to Alzheimer's disease. But antioxidants scavenge those free radicals in the body, neutralizing their effects. According to the National Cancer Institute, considerable research suggests that antioxidants may slow or possibly prevent cancer. They also fight inflammation, now known as one of the main causes of diseases like arthritis and cancer.
They are just plain good. Good tasting and good for you, whether applied internally or externally.
In your blender or food processor, combine about
  • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries,
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice,
  • a dollop of honey,
  • 1 Tb cornstarch,
  • 1 Tb rolled oats.
Whirl until it is smooth. Let rest a bit so the oatmeal and cornstarch can absorb the excess liquid. Apply to your face. Sneak up on your kids and say boo! (optional). After about 20-30 minutes, rinse off with warm water.

If you have very fair skin, you should do a test patch, as blueberries make a great dye. My skin is olive colored and I'm tan, so it works fine for me.

:: this post was originally posted in August of 2007

Blueberry Sauce

Blueberry Sauce

  • 2 C Blueberries
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T lime juice


The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski "Loved the dogginess of this story, having a hard time shaking the sorrow of it."

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

The Flight of Gemma Hardy  by Margot Livesey"A nice read, but rather purposeless -- nothing sparkled. It's a Jane Eyre story, set in Iceland and Scotland, and told from the Jane's point of view."


whole wheat sandwich bread

This is the yummiest whole wheat bread ever. EVER. I mean it. It slices well, is soft and chewy at the same time, and has a light nutty flavor, not overbearing. The only problem with it is that I can't leave it alone. Just one more slice . . .

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Mix in your KitchenAid Standmixer
  • 1 1/3 - 1 1/2 C water
  • 3 Tb butter, cut up
  • 2 1/3 C whole wheat bread flour
  • 2 C white flour
  • 3 T gluten flour
  • 3 T brown sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 1/4 t breadmaker yeast
Turn oven on to lowest setting. Put ingredients into your stand mixer and run mixer on low for 4 minutes.

Turn oven off.  Set a dish cloth over the dough and set into oven. L
et dough rise until double (about 1 hour).

Turn oven on to lowest setting. Knead dough for 4 minutes.  Turn oven off. Pop the bread back into the oven to rise until double (about 1 hour).

Turn oven on to lowest setting. Divide dough into two loaves.  Shape. Set into pans. Cover. Pop the bread back into the oven to rise until double (about 1 hour).  Take out of the oven.

Bake at 350 for 24 minutes.



Free-Range Organic Meat Chickens

Just dropped off 21 meat chickens at the butcher. Getting my farm girl on.


how to update your blog from Facebook or Library Thing RSS

My poor little blog has been neglected in favor of other outlets, specifically Library Thing.  I did want my Library Thing book reviews to show up here though, and as posts, not sidebar widgets.  I finally figured out how.

Blogger will let you post to an email address.  That is, you can send an email, and blogger will post it as a post.

Feed my Inbox will let you select RSS feeds and have them sent to your email box.

I bet you can figure out where this is going.

1. Find the RSS of whatever it is that you want to have posted in your blog.
  • Facebook RSS can be found here
  • Library Thing RSS is found on the profile page, in the lower right.  Just "copy link location".
2. Find your blogger email address.
  • left column: Settings
  • Mobile & Email
3. Visit Feed My Inbox.
4. Combine.
5. Repeat as necessary.