Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas is over

Christmas goes by so quickly each year. Each year it is the same and each year it is different. This year I didn't put the glass ornaments up because of the October earthquake and I do miss them. I also did not put up the creches--saving them for good and for another year. The tree is pretty and the focal point of my Christmas. There were presents there and I am grateful.

Some of the things that remain the same are the beautiful liturgy, the glorious Christmas chant and the carols which I love. After the bombardment of cheap commercial music on tv and the onslaught from the retailers it is a gift to turn to a local classical music station and listen to nothing but Christmas music for 36 hours. (Well, not while I am sleeping, of course.)

The day was so beautiful with a marvelous sunset at the end. Friends brought me a delicious dinner and their company which made it quite different, more peaceful and more celebratory that any of the other Christmas's since Papa died. I do miss him more at this time of the year.

Hopefully, I will have another Christmas or two in this house, but I am ready to go. If a retirement community or religious community would take me, I would welcome the change. More about that, I am sure will come into this blog as 2008 goes by.

Our baby is growing and looks totally darling in his green and red Christmas suit. My family grew by more than double this year, so that is a blessing to reflect upon on Christmas.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pie for Breakfast

Apple and Pumpkin. Friends have been feeding me and the days are getting away from me! Chinese food for dinner Monday and a very enjoyable and challenging conversation with my friend who is an economist. He makes me think and stretch my brain! Thank you!

Yesterday lunch with my nearest neighbor and dear friend who also brought me the pleasure of an amaryllis last year. It was red and white and well-photographed. It will appear soon on my cards here. This year she brought me one which is supposed to be pink and white. We will see.

Last night dinner and presents with my dearest girl friend G. We have known each other since before our hair turned gray and our joints arthritic! Thank you!

So yummy food has been a theme for the last few days!

As if all this were not enough fun, UPS delivered the Amazon package that I purchased with my families gift certificate. How did they accomplish this so fast? I had just received the email about the shipment and it was at the door! So glad for this.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

third Sunday of Advent

The third Sunday of Advent is also known as the "pink" Sunday because of its traditional rose-colored vestments. Today three candles are lighted on the Advent wreath, the third one is the pink candle. This change in color signals that our waiting is nearly over, that only one more Sunday of Advent is left and then our Christmas joy will be complete, our expectation and hope fulfilled as we commemorate anew the Birth of our Savior, Jesus at Bethlehem all those years ago.

My Christmas tree is up and I am feeling happy about the coming holiday even though it will be, as all of my holidays are, a simple one. As all of my days are, actually! I will try to write some Christmas cards this year, I think.

This year, in honor of my new resolve to attempt to diet, I am not baking the marvelous goodies of yore. (I was one of those people who made a list of all the cookies I was going to bake and then made the grocery list and went out and hauled home enough butter to feed the neighborhood for a year. One year this extravaganza included eighteen kinds of cookies. Some of the recipes would be doubled and I frequently ended the baking at 11:00 pm dropping into bed exhausted and dreaming of more. I only stopped doing this when for several years running we had infestations of ants in the walk-in closet pantry in our kitchen. A mouth full of ants instead of a mouth full of favorite cookie was not my idea of fun. Now all those cookies would truly be extravagant considering how we are all trying to keep our carb and fat consumption low.)

Eighteen kinds of Christmas cookies! It's hard to believe. But we did share them. They went to the church coffee hour and as presents to many people. There are a few that I do miss. A wonderful recipe from a vintage Gourmet for Viennese Marzipan Stars. I made the marzipan too from an old cookbook of my mother's. A delicate lemon and pistachio cookie from Italy. Springerle, made with my great-grandmother's springerle board. These have no fat, but a great many eggs. In the last few years I have made only two: gingerbread and cappuccino flats. Chocolate!

By the third Sunday in Advent the baking would have been in full swing. This year it is sufficient to reminisce and I hope pick up my old missal and absorb myself in the texts.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is today. My new room, the one that M painted last summer has three pale green walls to blend in with a beautiful poster of Our Lady of Guadalupe that is now mounted where it is a focal point not only for the room but for me as I walk down the hall. I remember reading the story when I was still a child; roses and a miraculous and splendidly beautiful painting. It is one of my favorites. When we moved to California, we became much more aware of the contributions of Mexican culture to our area. Many of our fellow parishioners were several genaration Mexican as we had been several generation French Canadian. They maintained cultural heritage and so our parish celebrated a Posada as part of the Christmas pageant and the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

A mariachi band processed down the street our church is on, turning into the parking lot just before the beginnings of early Mass (I think 6:30 am). After Mass a feast was held in the Parish Hall. My late father relished the story of how he accepted a steaming bowl of minudo and when he ate it rather gingerly his friend's then six year old son, said, "Daddy if the man does not want the minudo can I have it, please?"

Today M is flying home to California after her first semester of college and I am tracking her flight via the Internet. I won't know the precise moment that she and her Mama greet each other, but I will be close.

Now if Our Lady will help me to find the thing in my house which is lost, I will be much happier tomorrow for M and I will have a much easier time decorating my Christmas tree if I have it. (It is a small notebook with the inventory of Christmas boxes.)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

December 8, 2007

Yesterday was Pearl Harbor, "a day that will live in Infamy" as Franklin Roosevelt said. The commemorations were not so big as they were when I was growing up--there are not so many veterans now who remember Pearl or the war that followed. Other wars too, have crowded into our consciousness and sixty-six years is a long time.

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. One of the beautiful Marian Feasts in the Catholic Church calendar and appropriately timed in Advent, which I have always thought is Mary's season, the time of the year when the feminine finally, only briefly comes the fore in the Church's celebrations and recognition.

Today is a crisp, cold clear day where I live, dry after a two day rainy spell and somehow it feels more like winter than the late fall that, technically, it still is here in California. The rain brought snow to the mountains so that skiing is now possible. The winter snow pack is also important to our well-being in this state that is so dependent on water from the winter wet season.

More later, perhaps.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Happy St Nicholas Day!

December 6, The feast day of St. Nicholas. I love St. Nicholas, far more so than Santa Claus. When I was growing up we always had chocolate at our plates on the morning of St. Nicholas Day. It was a German custom that Mama had grown up with since her German grandparents lived close by. She loved Christmas, the sparkling sweet pungent smelling tree with its glistening ropes that had been her mother's and all of the ornaments that she could collect. Mama began Christmas baking in October (shelling nuts) and November, baking fruit cake and making a confection known as brandy balls that didn't have to be baked at all. She played the piano and we would gather around it each evening after dinner to sing carols.

The creches are especially beautiful and I have photographed both of mine and put the pictures on cafepress on products. You can find them on the link to the left. Click on the Christmas link and the designs will open up.

No chocolate for me today as I discovered that most of the chocolate products I was consuming contain soy lecithin and soy is a no-no for the thyroid medicine that I take. I am almost at the point were I no longer miss chocolate. Almost.

Tomorrow is Pearl Harbor Day and then the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. A full week.

It has been a full week for me too as I got my goods ready to go to market in a friend's Christmas bazaar. I will know tomorrow how it succeeded. I have been on pins and needles all day. What if no one bought anything? Everything was so pretty! I loved it all and want it to go out into the world to gladden hearts and help make people's Christmas's pretty and joyful! I hope that it went well.

A joyous St. Nicholas day! I hope that he left goodies and treats--not coal in your shoe or stocking.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Winter is here!

Technically, winter may still be three weeks away but we are having a blast of cold Canadian air this weekend to remind us that weather is not under our control and even in Silicon valley is not always perfect! Very, very glad I don't live in Canada--or anywhere really cold. It is supposed to become cloudy tonight and therefore warmer.

Since it seems that wherever I set the thermostat, the furnace is going to run, I have set it back a bit and found my great outdoor vest to zip on. This is a garment made from polar fleece and wool. I have never seen another made from this mix--and would like more.

Even inside, a hat helps warm me and I wear knitted caps all winter long both day and night. (Remember, "Mama in her kerchief and I in my cap" from the Night before Christmas? There was a reason for that!)

Two pairs of socks help insulate my feet from the cold floor. A footstool or old pillow would help here. Our ancestors opted for the footstool. Most of the time I elevate my feet on another chair so they are level with my wheelchair seat. This counteracts the swelling from post-polio syndrome and lymphedema that I need to combat all year round and makes it easy to wrap up in a fleece throw.

Fingerless gloves help too. In fact, last year about this time I posted my directions for making fingerless gloves, also called wristers, on my Knitting soothes my troubles away Squidoo lens. Wristers make great Christmas presents, if you knit and they knit up very quickly. Some of my favorite yarn sources are posted on that lens too.

Even indoors, I wear a scarf or neck warmer all winter too. Neck warmers are also very easy to knit--just knit a tube. They are essentially the neck of a turtleneck, nothing more and ultra simple.

Last night I let my knitting fall to the tray table I set up across my lap and just enjoyed the Hallmark movie A Grandpa for Christmas. It was charming. I went to bed comforted and warm for a "long winter's nap".

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent. It is one of the most beautiful times of the year in the Liturgy and, I think, the one season that the feminine most comes to the fore. It is such a shame that it gets lost in the shuffle of the commercial bustle. We need to reclaim it. (Wear a button proclaiming I keep Advent from my cafepress store--shameless promotion here--and join me in reclaiming this lovely season.)