Thursday, October 29, 2009

Household Blessings

Today it was 62 in the house when I got up around 8:00 am. That is a bit crisp for this old lady, so I set the thermostat to 67 and let the house warm a bit. Both the easy to use thermostat and the furnace itself, which got major parts last year at this time are household blessings.

After several hours of work at the computer--mostly putting up things on Etsy and Zazzle, tasks made possible by the fact that the darling DSL actually deigned to work, I switched to working on making the products themselves. First lavender was stuffed into bags and its lovely fragrance filled my dining room. Then I filled Booklover's sachets and made another small batch of this lovely potpourri that I derived from Gerard's herbal. I actually have one or two small packets of it that I made twenty years ago that still smell good. The fragrance of this is almost overwhelming though, overpowering the lavender and filling the house. Even though it is all put away now, I can still smell it and it is making me think of Christmas.

Then the UPS man brought two boxes for my Mary Kay business and I happily delved into them and set up a box to ship out. The fact that this came during the afternoon allowed me to play in the sunshine that by now was streaming into the house and warming the dining room. I was, and am, grateful.

Finally, I made a quick dinner from sloppy joe mix that my sister made and froze for me when she visited a month ago. I do believe that food in the freezer is one of the greatest blessings of all--quick fixes on busy days. I watched the news, grateful that I do not have to commute so the problems with the Bay Bridge do not afflict me; grateful that I can work at home.

Now I just need to learn better marketing skills, or networking skills to find customers and I will be able to increase the things that I am grateful for!

No pictures tonight, but maybe tomorrow. Good health and blessings to you all.

Monday, October 26, 2009

First Loaf

One of the benefits of computer technology is the availability of lists or groups set up via email. Our neighborhood has such a list and fairly frequently it is a means of exchange or recycling as people clean house or garage or closets. About a month ago someone decided to pass on a bread machine that she no longer had time to use. I was the first one who emailed her so it came to me. I call this winning the neighborhood list lottery and I think it is great fun. The bread machine is pictured below.

A few weeks later another friend, whom I knew had a bread machine, looked at it and said that it was exactly like the one that she had and would I like her recipe? I was so grateful, for I wasn't looking forward to experimenting until I got it right. (I knew I would eat the experiments, anyway so as not waste them, but I really hoped for bread.) My friend then asked a few days later if I would like a packet of the dry ingredients that she uses for her recipe. She makes up ten packets at a time and freezes them. I will be doing this I think. So I now had a bread machine and packet of ingredients to make bread. (This story is beginning to remind me of Stone Soup, one of my favorite childhood books.)

Today, with help from another friend, because I could not possibly lift that machine, the machine was set up and the bread ingredients placed into it and the settings buttons pushed. Thump, thump, thump it began mixing (kneading). Through several hours as we worked on projects the machine clunked on and off, beeped, kneaded and then began to bake. A lovely odor wafted into the dining room. At last, bread! After the cooling phase completed itself I took out a lovely rounded loaf of bread and cut and ate the first slice. Delicious! Here is the picture of the bread.

While the machine thumps through its kneading phase, it rocks back and forth a little on the old typing table that it is sitting on. At one point I looked at it, lights on, rocking and thumping and exclaimed to my friend, "It looks like R2D2!" She agreed and we laughed.

I am so grateful tonight to neighbors and friends; to a community who helped me bake bread--for another friend with the same machine was also involved in this and gave me a slice of bread she baked. I know that I will not need to be hungry for good bread again. I can make it now in the bread machine or, using the beer batter recipe, in the oven and have good, wholesome food that I have prepared myself.

Gratitude and happiness fill my heart. Thank you to all who helped with this.
(And one of these days, I will remember to proofread before I hit publish.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Beautiful, Beautiful Produce

In the last two weeks, I have lost track of time. Somewhere an entire week of October has simply disappeared. I don't know how I did this. First my friend whom I invited to add her cards to my holiday boutique emailed to ask if I was still doing this. Oh, oh, I thought, isn't that next week? Quick look at the calendar---this week. Scurry, scurry to get it done.

Then I was sure that I was due for my monthly Planet Organics delivery next Friday. While I was having lunch with a friend and enjoying the sunshine streaming in the front door (enjoy it now, its going away soon), the young man who delivers for Planet Organics came up my ramp. Turns out if you don't place a specific order they deliver a minimum container of assorted seasonal produce--very much like the Community Supported Agriculture boxes. The contents are mostly displayed in this picture.

It is so beautiful. There is chard on the bottom that doesn't show and carrots that I set aside and forgot to add. I will prep most of it tomorrow by cooking it and freezing it to eat over the next two weeks. It is a major blessing to have such fine food. Maybe it will keep my brain working better so that I won't be quite so forgetful. (A kind of new memory chip implant--vitamins and minerals from nature.)

Here are the fruits--the box is always a mix of fruit and vegetables, local and organically grown.

I love the size of the fruits, smaller than much of what comes from the supermarket and therefore better scaled to one serving for one person--especially one who is aging and not very active. My late father used to say that the most expensive food we buy is the food we throw out. Maybe the really most expensive is the food that we eat so that we won't feel guilty about throwing it out and it lands on us and we haul it around. I am still fighting with the weight problem. Perhaps more organic fruits and veggies will give me a step toward wining.

It was a serendipitous day. I am so grateful.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Morning Has Broken

I woke up this morning at first light as the dawn edged around the curtains and daylight crept into my house from the high windows in the living room that run down the whole side of the house. The light reaches all the way across to the hallway outside my bedroom. At this time of the year I also still have a few of the shades up a little from the summer pattern of letting air in although the windows are now locked down for the coming winter.

The words, "Morning has broken like the first morning" sang in my head as I watched the light grow stronger and I thought "what a nice way to wake up." For years I have had the luxury of waking with the light rather than to the sound of an alarm, but this is the first time in many months that my mind has turned to the words of this song/hymn.

First a hymn, it became a popular song in the seventies sung by Cat Stevens. I looked for the words on the net and found that I had long been conflating the first and last verses, so that what I was singing in my head was, "Morning has broken like the first morning.....God's recreation of the new day."

I loved the song and was surprised, some years after its time on the charts, to see the verses included in the Liturgy of the Hours. That is when I discovered that it is a hymn. God's recreation (re-creation) of the new day is an image I have been fond of ever since. This morning as I waited for the light to fill my house so that I could rise without needing to turn on a light, I pondered its meaning. I should have written this post immediately, because much of what I was thinking has been dissipated by the cares of the day--fighting with a bad Internet connection that is making life miserable, washing dishes and paperwork.

Still the gist of what I was thinking was on the relationship of recreation to re-creation. Prayer, worship, sharing meals with others, gardening, laughter and making things with our hands and minds seems to me to be in the nature of re-creation. We use ourselves in the ways that the Creator intended and are connected to Creation, completing a cycle each day so that we may rest and begin anew the next day.

Recreation, on the other hand, the passive entertainment that passes for recreation in our overly technological world, disconnects us from ourselves, from our true purpose in life, from meaning and of course, ultimately from our Creator. It may contribute to keeping us from resting and from being productive in truly human ways.

As I looked for a link on the Internet to the text for Morning Has Broken--which I found here --I discovered that there is a Christmas carol set to the same tune. It can be found here

It is a carol that I hope to come back to as Christmas arrives. The tune it seems is Celtic.

I wish you true recreation--re-creating--tomorrow and the next day and the days hereafter and good rest this night.

I am grateful for that light this morning and for the thoughts it gave me as well as the beautiful day that it gave me as well. I will be even more grateful if and when my DSL finally works as it is supposed to!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday in October

The weather has taken a winterish turn. Overcast and damp, it could be any time of day and much more deeply into winter than it is on this second October Sunday. We are waiting the arrival of a storm. While we are desperately in need of rain, we aren't in need of the wind that is supposed to accompany it. This is always a little scary. The first goodly storm of the season tends to run off since the earth is hard packed and dry from all the baking summer sun. In addition, the power lines are dusty and the rain seems to have the effect of causing this dust to turn to muck and the power lines to short. I hope that we will get the good effects and the bad will be minimized. May the trees stand tall and the power stay on.

Time to remember where I put my long underwear shirts after no longer needing them for the year back in June. Time to hand wash all the hand knitted things that I should have washed by now when the weather was warmer! (I am a champion procrastinator.)

Good weather for baking though and for soup. I will use up all those cans and boxes of soup. (It feels almost as strange to say boxes as it does to pour the soup out of them, but that is a definite advance in technology! No more can openers. No more depending on power to open the cans, either, come to think of it. My hands will no longer work a hand opener.)

Yesterday I made a small batch of booklover's sachets. I love the smell of the patchouli, rosemary and cloves mixed together. So yummy. And no calories. (I should invent a chocolate and vanilla potpourri, but that would make me want to bake.)

Pictures to take, that should have been taken yesterday--when the light was better. Natural light is always better.

Still, it is Sunday. Time to relax and pray, give thanks and count my blessings. I am grateful today that the hot weather is behind us and that when I look at my Etsy shop I see that some of my items have been viewed many times. I wonder, what to do to convert the views to clicks?

Prayers for all my family and friends--and viewers and readers. May your day be truly blessed. (That underlined for was originally a typo--I thought for and typed to. Guess I shouldn't blog on only one cup of coffee. Yes, proofreading would help too.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Coming Back from Vacation

I have had company for the last week. A delightful visit from my sister and her husband from Toledo, Ohio via Phoenix, Arizona where they visited their son, daughter-in-law and grandson in time for their grandson's second birthday. My sixty-second birthday was celebrated Wednesday.

It has been lovely to have this time away from routine, to eat with family and friends and to play Scrabble and watch movies. (I laugh that I may have the greatest shrink wrapped collection of video tapes on the planet. One of those tapes, Tea with Mussolini came out of its wrap yesterday and my sister and I enjoyed watching it together.

We watched several other movies and that gave me practice in finally using the DVD/VCR unit that I bought a year and half ago, but hadn't mastered using! Now I must watch more movies so that I don't forget how to do it.

My sister and I cleared a chest of drawers and she moved it to its new spot in the sewing room, aka Master Bedroom, which I hope I will finally have rearranged between now and Christmas. That will be the completion of a two-year project.

I need to get back to work and hope that the last heat wave of 2009 hit us last weekend. The computer and I both seem to like cooler weather better than hot.

The Fall is really here with crisp mornings, sunny afternoons and the pineapple sage in full bloom outside the kitchen window. My sister and I both love looking at the hummingbird as she feeds on that blooming plant.

More to come, I hope now that summer and vacation are behind me.

I am so grateful for my family and for their visit and praying for safety for travelers as they return home.