Tag Archives: holidays

Cookies and Arrangements

23 Dec

Yesterday M and X came and we made two kinds of cookies and Christmas arrangements.

X brought a Sichuan dish of mung bean noodles with garlic, cilantro and herbs that we ate at room temperature.  We also had leftover venison chili on rice.  I made chai, which X and M had not had before.  That was a surprise to me.  We went over the various spices I used: cardamon, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, star anise.  Cardamon and nutmeg were not familiar to them.

We made chocolate chip cookies from the recipe on the yellow bag: a typical All-American cookie.  Chinese homes, they explained, do not have ovens and they had been at a loss to use the ones found in their apartments here.  X’s daughter and husband in particular wished her to learn how to use the oven to make cookies!  Chocolate chip cookies!  We made and decorated chocolate spritz Christmas tree cookies.

All that butter.  Another thing not used in Chinese cooking.

Then we went out and collected assorted greens, berries, and plant material for the arrangements.

M’s very lovely artistic result:


What I made for X:

That morning the Paperwhite narcissus Ellie gave me had come into full enough bloom that i cut them and added them to the arrangement already on our table.

We had such a lovely time.

The Light of Christ

20 Dec

An Advent piece I wrote in 2004.


Isaiah 9:1-2, Matthew 4:12


Let’s walk out and meet the morning.  It is an hour or more before dawn.  Wear lots of layers — it is cold outside. How dark it is!  We can distinguish the dark grey of the road, the black trees, the lumps of houses, and the midnight blue night sky — impenetrable save for the diamond stars.  Careful — stay on the road — without a light it is easy to stumble in the dark.  There are countless stars shining their feeble light like shiny bits of glass on dark velvet.  And up above us is the Milky Way.  The Incans thought it was the road to heaven. They did their best to find a path to God in the dark.


If we keep moving we will eventually warm up. You probably know that most ancient nations believed the sun was a god.  Many myths anticipate some aspect of Jesus’ coming.  The Aztecs thought only human blood sacrifice would keep the sun rising each day. The Incans chose special children to be messengers to the sun.  The Greeks have the story of Helios daily driving his chariot of the sun through the sky dragged by fiery horses.  Though his father tried to save him, Phaeton, Helios’ human son, wanted to be just like Dad and tried one day to drive the sun chariot.  The result was chaos and destruction for earth and death for Phaeton.  All peoples were walking in darkness, longing to know God.


Look– the eastern sky is becoming pale.  The dark and the stars fade.   Truth is stranger than any fiction.  From time’s beginning the Triune God planned the death of His only begotten son to bring mankind redemption through a new covenant.   Jesus stepped off His throne and came to us robed in flesh as a human baby.  The road to heaven is through Him–God’s messenger to mankind.  He came not as an equal to His Father, but as a servant, laying down his life. He fulfilled man’s longing.  The sky displays the majesty of a god coming: just above the horizon is a pale butterscotch; the clouds overlaying it are bright fuchsia and an incandescent orange.  All stories were swept away by the True Son’s coming just as the veil of night is swept away by the sun’s rising.  Jesus, the Great Light,  came to all who live in the land of the shadow of death.


Wow–Look at that sky!  Dark rose and pink now spread high up into the clouds in the eastern sky, and are reflected even in the west. A scarlet thread of light is seeping, bleeding across the dark horizon’s edge. Each dawn is a symbol of the mercy and forgiveness available to all through the blood of Christ. The sun shines on all people.  It gives light and heat even if hidden by stormy weather.  Just so, God’s redeeming love is available to all, regardless of circumstances.   Now we people of the Light prepare our hearts anew to celebrate the coming of our King of Light.  Let us shine His glory upon those around us who still walk in darkness and live in the shadow of death.  Dawn has come; God Himself came to be with us.  The sky is turning golden– here comes the great light once again.


Angels We Have Heard

19 Dec

There are quite a few scripture passages about people being afraid when they see angels.  And the angels are not described, so we assume

they look human-like. Winged messengers from God.  But what if:

There are giant chicken angels over the one small nativity we have out so far this year.

One of the visiting chickens, a Red Comet, accidentally stayed outside Thursday night when there were high winds.  Jay found her Friday morning wandering by the side of the house and returned her to the coop. We think she spent the night in the giant rhododendron. Chickens are not meant to spend the night out-of-doors in the cold winds. There were small spots of blood on the snow where she walked.  Her back end was icy.

Yet she seemed OK until Saturday  late in the day when Jay noticed she was not eating and was hanging apart from the other hens.  She was very light.  He moved her into a pen in the basement, warmer, dry.  Jay coaxed her to start drinking; she was interested but kept falling asleep–or was very hypothermic.  Eventually she started drinking, then drinking with gusto, then eating again; wheat, corn meal, apple.  I put her out with the others this morning.

Easter Eggs to Break

26 Apr

Following directions (sort of) found online, I removed about a one-inch circle from the bottom of some eggs, emptied, washed, and boiled the shells in slightly acidic water for about 15 minutes, then dyed them in blue vegetable dye.

Let them dry hanging from bamboo skewers, stuffed them with little treats, put glue around the hole and stuck directions and a small candy paper to the bottom.

Dried Siberian Iris leaves served nicely as ‘grass’ for the baskets this year.

Our 24th Anniversary

18 May

What a busy day! Jay got up (very) early to go turkey hunting.   After walking Hawthorne (those bobolink songs are so wonderful!) I listened to a phone message from my folks and found the mother squirrel dead on the side of the road.  Saw one of the youngsters eating leaves.  For moisture?  So put out small dishes of water on either side of the house for them, along with whole hickory nuts and sunflower seeds sans shells.

Then a neighbor called: we ran down and picked up a nearly dead rooster,  the victim of internecine fighting, and fed some fresh alfalfa and clover to poor Willie, the 12 year -old goat who is slowly fading away from life.

Jay returned with an exciting tale, but no turkey, alas.  I took some feathers from the rooster then he took the meat and buried the carcass.

Then while Jay took the girl to her grandmothers’ (I had gone over her to-do list for the day), I made reservations for two of us to go to a Big City for a last visit with friends who are moving East.

Upon his return, we drove a meandering route to Skaneateles , stopping to buy ice cream cones on the way. The high hills were not yet green.  Jay thought it might be an altitude effect.  The oaks are higher up.  And the hickories? The hickorys in the woods are just now starting to leaf out.

Once there we walked around, saw a few trout in the lake, two drakes and one mother duck with 11 day or two old ducklings, ate a pastry each, shared a fish fry from Doug’s, went in and out of shops, and had a good time being alone, just the two of us.  Stopping at a church thrift shop is one of our yearly stops.  A new section of sidewalk was being put in.  We saw the completed restoration (from the outside) of an enormous old home; lots of cast iron railings.  And two new beautiful monstrosities in the building stages–both homes, we think.  Another world.

Drove home.  What a beautiful green drive. Called my folks.  Ate salad and hot dogs for supper, watched the four baby squirrels run around.  One more shared ice cream cone, then we went to get the girl.

In the mailbox before supper I discovered a nice note from an aunt and a small box containing a very dry hellebore.  A Red Lady.  Put the poor thing to soak for a bit.  Part of an order that had not arrived with the others.  One more to come, still.

Wandered around my SIL’s lovely upper lawn. Admired the blue hillside.  It is blue because it is completely covered with forget-me-nots. At dusk it seems to glow. Then Isabelle discovered a large colony of small Gypsy moth caterpillars on a youngish maple.  We walked around all the young oak trees and picked them off and squished them.

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig.  Planted the hellebore.  Jay transplanted some plants (bupleurum and poppies) into a row so he can rototill, again.  Watered them in.

Hawthorne was out in the west field dogging around while we were doing that.  But he did not come when I called him and squeaked his toy.  No indeed.  He looked right at me as if to say “Huh, you left me in that pen all day, alone, and now you expect everything to be OK between us?  I am angry with you!” And turned and walked the opposite direction.  So I went after him, and he got faster.  Then he turned and crossed the road while I yelled for him to come and not to cross the road!  The wretch.  So I followed, calling and squeaking his toy.  Across a field and behind the neighbor’s home he disappeared into a piny woods.  I decided that was it.  I was not going to follow any more.

So I sank to my haunches and called him.  And Hawthorne came.  Eventually.  With his head hanging.  He knew.  I told him he was a good dog.  We walked home, me holding his collar.

We spoke to Isaac on the phone. Jay will return him home Wednesday.  Then I headed for bed and the new Dietrich Bonhoffer biography.  Which on the strength of the first 8 chapters I can heartily recommend.

Thank you, Lord, for our 24 years of marriage.  May we have another 24.

Exciting Easter

5 Apr

Up from our beds we arose– before 6AM,  arrived at church about 6.35AM bearing homemade hot cross buns (me), violin (the girl) and helping hands (Jay).  After a wonderful Easter morning service celebrating Jesus’s resurrection,  a hearty breakfast, and clean-up, we headed home.

The Christmas Rose was in full bloom–a Resurrection Rose?

Hawthorne got to go on his walk, Isabelle got to eat her chocolate bunny, we all sat in the sun, and I called Mom and Aunt Janice.

Isabelle found another antler on her walk.  There ensued a replay of deer fighting in the fall:

And I decided on using Lamb O’ Lakes yarn to make an EZ baby sweater for a little someone due in Late September, so I made balls from the skein:

Then off the Mom M’s with yet more batches of homemade rolls and hot cross buns for Easter luncheon. Pre-dinner: shrimp, fancy potted cheese and crackers, wines and hard ciders, candied ginger.  Then: ham, beef from Sir Loin, broccoli salad, Julie’s famous green salad, scalloped potatoes, green bean mushroom casserole, the rolls.

A pause, during which Angela and I visited Mom’s hellebores and tried, she successfully, to craft a couple interesting objects from leftover palm fronds and a book on folding tropical flax leaves from her trip to N. Zealand.

Desserts: coffee, raspberry pie, rhubarb pie, lemon meringue pie, blueberry cobbler, raisin tarts.  Full yet?

Since it was such a nice day, Jay wanted very much to go canoeing down Fall Creek.  So we did.

First, home to change and prepare.  And Angela came with us!  Hurrah!

Angela did not like my paddling style. We only had to drag ourselves off rocks twice.  She was with me in the canoe for the first half, then had a kayak to herself for the second.  Jay and Isabelle were in the canoe for the second part while I drove the truck to meet them. Angela found out that the creek is considered a level II rapids!

Home, finally, to change again into dry clothes.  We all got wet, some much more than others.

Then off again, to H and S’s, where we ate yet again, played games, sat and chatted and had a merry old time.  Until it was time to come home so we could get some sleep before morning came.

But wait, one more event to close the day: the long wait and work of trapping a particularly recalcitrant skunk in an attic finally paid off Easter morning.  The clients left a message in the evening–Jay and Aaron went and retrieved said raccoon.  A male.  He had been in and out of an attic the past nine months, digging himself a large den right into the blown cellulose insulation.  No more.  The bait to which he finally succumbed?  Sardines.

To bed.  Then a phone call at about 11.15 from Isaac saying he was back in the states after a jaunt to Canada with friends.  Good night.

The Past few days

3 Apr

There have been two days of extreme heat and today will be another.

Earlier this week we had the first lettuce from the cold frame–after I picked it one could hardly tell, so we will have salads from now on.

Hepatica, bloodroot, spring beauty, violas, violets, scilla all are out now.  The Cornelian cherry is almost in bloom.

I am edging and weeding in the sun wearing my knee pads Jay bought me for the birthday.  All colors of hellebore are out.  Except yellow.  But there will be one arriving soon to plant for the years to come.

No school got done yesterday.  But lots of interesting things happened.  Isabelle discovered bird lice on the girls, so she and Jay Sevin-ed them last night after the Good Friday service.  She has been managing them so they got to spend quite a bit of the day in the dog’s pen, happily scratching and fluffing.

Inside, Isabelle discovered them sharing nest boxes all trying to lay at the same time.

We are working to not have them go broody.  Isabelle tends to catch an egg every day or so–that is how she discovered the lice…

The bluebirds are singing all the time.  I hope the English sparrows do not run them out of the nest boxes, but it is a faint hope, I am afraid.

We walked over to visit the new house our neighbors built and to take a grand tour.  Much baking today and yesterday evening: rolls–hot cross buns, regular rolls and maybe even sweet rolls.

Isabelle worked an hour down at a neighbor’s, raking.

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