Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Whining Day

Sewing together parts of a sweater --- essential, but essentially boooring!

When folks retire, they are supposed to have tons of time to relax and do whatever.  Somehow, that doesn’t seem to be the case with me.  I never have any spare time, and I also don’t feel like I ever get anything done.  You have probably noticed the scarcity of blog posts telling you of my fabulous accomplishments.  I am always thinking about things to say, but never am able to set aside a few minutes to say them.  Rebecca and I have been running (actually trotting) twice a week, and that takes some time.  But not that much.  I had some Lenten practices that took a bit of time, but again, not that much.  The best of the Lenten practices was macaroni and cheese every Friday with The Twins.  I used a different recipe – none of them very healthy, but all of them very yummy – every week, and am now trying to decide which one I liked best. But that too, didn’t take much time.  One of my Lenten penances – well, to tell the truth, my only Lenten penance – was to give up my computer card game of Skat with the little mousies Rachael and Lillian.  That in itself should have given me lots of extra time, as  I am such an addict to card games. 

I recently told you about my gardening, and sadly, that one hour or two is the only gardening I have done this season.  The grass is now ankle high in the best spots, and knee high in others.  Gaaaaaah!!

One tiny accomplishment!  A year or more ago, a bunch of friends and I (including Rebecca and Ana) all knitted the same sweater – a rather complex Alice Starmore pattern, for those in the know.  Everyone else’s was adorable – sleek, chic, and well fitting. Mine would have fit an orangutan! With horror, I realized that I had made a tragic gauge error.  Major Bummer!  I was filled with envy every time they wore theirs.  I finally started wearing mine to bed, so as go get some use out of it.  Then I decided to make another one, just to show that I could, and this time, use the proper size needles, so as to get the correct gauge.  I knit the body and sleeves of the sweater (i.e., 95% of the project) relatively quickly, but I think that fear of another failure stalled me completely at that point.  I just kept making excuses (Christmas knitting, just have to make this scarf, really need another pair of gloves, Becca needs new socks, etc.) and so not doing the collar.  Finally I knit about half of the collar and then found more excuses.  When I went back to the collar, I couldn’t figure out where I had left off and so had to start it over.  Another reason to put the whole project aside.  Realizing how silly this all was, I put the parts of the sweater in a box, and put the box in the middle of my dining room table where it could nag me.  The nagging didn’t really help. Then my pal Peggy came over for a knitting morning.  The perfect time to do an hideously boring task.  Charming company makes light work of the odious. I got the sweater body half sewn together.  Another visit from a friend, and I got the second half and the sleeves done.   At that point, I could see that the sweater would probably fit.  Finally, I was inspired to do the collar, which I just finished.  Now I am on the home stretch, and expect to have the whole thing done any day.  If the horrible weather holds up, I will even be able to wear it this season.  So, I feel like I have accomplished at least one thing.  Yay!

The light at the end of the tunnel has finally come into view.

I even had prepared some flashback photos of my darling little Easter Mousie Rachael for an Easter message, and then was too lazy busy to do the post. 

Rachael with her chocolate bunny.

Gathering Easter Rabbit largesse.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Sunny Day

I just detest gardening.  In fact, I don't really like to be outside at all, for the most part.  I like a walk in the woods or on the beach, but that is somehow quite different from toiling over weeds among bugs and thorns in one's own garden.  I enjoy having things look nice, and I love being able to run out and grab some herbs for my soup, or a tomato that actually tastes like a tomato.  And I even like sitting on my garden swing, reading a book and communing with the birds, but only for a very, very short time.  But working in the soil and getting dirty?  Ugh!  It would be so nice if someone else would do it.  But no one will.  

Social pressure drove me to haul out my lawn mower and take the first swipe of the year at my grass, which was getting to be knee high.  I felt that I was being incredibly virtuous somehow and that this might even garner a star in my heavenly crown. I suppose that is being overly optimistic. There were, however, some other rewards in the sweet little flora peeping out from beneath the leafy clutter.  

One young fellow was piteously crying out that he would be very happy to help me if only I would let him.  But alas, I would not.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Very Special Day

There are so many wonderful things happening at St. James, but sometimes something truly eclipses the day to day wonderfulness.  That is what happened this Saturday at the Mass for the Special Needs Community.  I had planned to go to this Mass in the past, but either work or inertia seemed always to prevent me.  I heard that one should bring a hankie if attending, but I felt that I am so hardened that I wouldn’t need one.  Silly me!  I was overwhelmed.  Fortunately, I was prepared, as I always carry a hankie,  sniffles being constantly just around the corner lurking on a pollen grain. 

Marie Claire helped carry in the icon.

Most of the servers and ushers were from the Special Needs Community, and their reverence and attention was a lesson to us all.  Our Music Director, Jim, marshaled together an orchestra comprised of musicians whom I believe were from the L’Arche community.  Many of them are frequent participants in the Friday evening TaizĂ© services.  Jim is at his most wonderful in these situations, and seems effortlessly to bring out the best in the musicians around him.  Some of the Cathedral Choir members joined the L’Arche orchestra, which was one of the most joy filled musical groups imaginable.  Their enthusiasm was unparalleled.

The bell ringers were wonderful!

While the entire Mass was moving in so many ways, the emotional highlight was when Stephanie, one of the bell ringers in the orchestra, presented Archbishop Sartain with her Special Olympics gold medal.  He said that it was the best gift he had ever received, and I am certain that this was true. 

Stephanie Soha, second from left, about to make her presentation.

What a wonderful morning this was!  I feel so fortunate that I was able to participate. 

The K of C Honor Guard

Our own Stacey and her Sophia Grace (sorry for out-of-focusness)

You can see more pictures here.

Thanks to Joe MacKenzie for taking pictures for me, and to Maria L for lending me one!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Some Busy Days

There have been complaints!  No blog post for two weeks.  Is all well?  What is going on?  Well, I’m not sure.  I have decidedly been well, and I haven’t done anything really special or time consuming, but I have been doing lots of time nibbling things.  In short, I have been kind of a busy bee, buzzing about my little hive, but have not much to show for it.  Except maybe a smiling face, as I have been having a very good time doing not much whatever.

I have been cooking!

Felting with friends!  You can see a marvelous movie here, and an even more marvelous movie here.  Be sure to look at both of them!

The little pink eared mousie at about three-thirty is my contribution.

Helping Barbara the Choir Librarian.  We filled seventy-five choir books for the coming liturgical season, and took apart the choir books for the previous season.  This is a rather mind-numbing job, as one has to take care to get everything right, but it is hours of repetition.  The last season, we probably handled 4,000 pieces of music.  The Lenten and Easter books were not so onerous.  This may sound dreadful, but actually, it is not.  I look forward to spending the day with Barbara. It’s an opportunity to help with the music at the Cathedral, and even better, an excellent opportunity to gossip chat with Barbara! 

Back to cooking – The Twins and I are conscientiouely and religiously I observing Lenten practices some of which involve food, and most recently, we observantly ate this cake (hence the photo of the tiny bit that is left.)  I think it is now my favorite.  The original recipe, which I made a few weeks ago, called for a root vegetable – specifically, turnip, rutabaga, or parsnip and whole wheat flour.  Last time, I made it with turnips and it was super.  This time, I decided to be daring and try beets.  As I didn’t have any whole wheat flour, I used regular all purpose.  I expected the cake to turn out red, as was the dough - actually, it was a murky maroon - but I guess the molasses trumped the beets, and the cake came out brown. While not red, it was fluffy and delicious. 

Gingerbeet Cake (adapted from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet

2 eggs
100g dark brown sugar  (1/2 cup)
100g molasses (1/3 cup)
150ml canola oil  (5 oz)
150g grated beets*  ( about 2 medium)
about 2T chopped stem ginger
175g all purpose flour (1 ¼ cup)
2t baking powder
1t baking soda
2t ground ginger

About 3/4 cup powdered sugar
Grated zest of one lemon
Lemon juice (start with 1 tsp)

Line a 20cm cake tin - either spring form or one with a removable bottom – with baking paper. Grease the pan and the paper.

Heat the oven to 350°.

Separate the eggs, reserving one of the egg whites for later.  Beat one white and the two yolks into the sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the molasses and oil and beat well.  Add the grated beets and the chopped ginger.

Mix the dry ingredients well, and add to the wet.  Mix that well. 

Beat the remaining egg white until it forms stiff peaks.  Gently fold this into the bet mixture.  Carefully pour into the prepared pan and bake until the center is firm and a knife inserted into it comes out clean – about 45 minutes. When the cake is cool, remove from the pan and slather on the lemon icing.  Yummmmm!

Lemon icing:  Whisk the lemon juice into the powdered sugar and zest, starting with one tsp, and gradually adding lemon juice until icing is the right consistency.  

*I could not bear to grate them, so they were finely chopped in my food processor.