Friday, December 28, 2012

Reflections on the Year 2012

From RevGalBlogPals
1. What is some "old news" this year that you'd like to repeat for 2013?
      Mindful eating (except on the cruise)
2. What "new thing" have you started that you want to keep going in 2013?
     Actually taking a day off and keeping Sabbath.
3. What event, experience or gift would you just as soon "Return to Sender"? Maybe it was a disastrous sermon, a congregational kerfuffle, a vacation nightmare, or your own mis-step. It can be funny or sad. 
      I was very ill in July.  I NEVER want to do that again.
4. Share the brightest bit of joy that was a part of your year.
      Being on the crew of the Ladyslipper in June.  This is the only all woman crew in the festival and I have wanted to do this for a decade.  It is a week of hard work poling the boat down the James River and is more fun than a woman my age ought to be having.  If you go to you can find out about it.
5. Share a picture that says far more than words. (You can use it to illustrate one of the above.) 

Share a recipe! I'm in the doldrums and need some healthy eating options for my menu planning. Soup, stew, main dish, side dish or a healthy dessert - any and all are welcome!


1 lb dried white beans (the best beans for this are flageolet, a dried pale green bean that cook to a creamy consistency)
1 smoked hock
1 chopped onion
3-4 chopped garlic cloves
4 cups cubed mixed leftover meats
     lamb, turkey, chicken, ham, pork
     goose, pheasant are all good 
½ lb hot sausage or polish sausage
2 c breadcrumbs
1 stick butter
“the mouse”
            1 stick celery, some parsley,
1 sage leaf, 1 T rosemary,
            1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp oregano,
           3 cloves. 1 bay leaf

Pick over and wash beans.  Soak beans overnight in water to cover.  Make “the mouse” by laying ½ celery stick on cheesecloth square.  Put herbs and spices on the celery, lay other half of celery stick on top.  Fold cheesecloth around bunch of herbs and celery and tie with string leaving long “tail”.  Drain beans.  Cover with water.  Add ham hock, onion, garlic and “the mouse” to the beans.  Cook until beans are nearly tender.  Remove “the mouse” (this is fun to do when kids are around) and discard.  Remove ham hock and cut meat from bones.  Add meat from hock back into pot.  Add mixed leftover meats.  Saute sausage or slice polish sausage.  Add to pot.  Cook until beans are tender.  Put bean and meaty mixture in a large casserole.  Cover with buttered bread crumbs.  Bake at 350° until top is golden brown.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

St Elizabeth in Advent Cookies

OK, they are just Mexican Wedding Cookies, but I put a half of a pecan in the middle and rolled the cookie into a ball around it.  They, like Elizabeth, have snow on the roof, but have a little nut inside.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Today is the beginning of what Sam Portaro refers to as the Autumn Triduum.  These three days are set aside for a feast time which reflects the Spring Triduum from Maundy Thursday evening service through the Feast of the Resurrection.  The Spring Triduum is about new life...the Autumn is about remembering the dead.  Tonight the goulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night will invade our spaces.  It is an ancient practice to keep away the evil spirits that may walk this earth at this thin time.  Tomorrow we remember the Saints, holy women and holy men who have shown us Christ in one another, and then on  Friday we redundently remember the souls of the faithful departed who are also saints.

The ancestors called this feast Samhain (pronounced Sowan).  They lit fires and moved into a silent reflection on mortality.  The lush fruitful garden has been put to bed, we are hopefully saying farewell to ticks, fleas, stinkbugs, and ladybugs, and regretfully saying farewell to geese and remembering the hummingbirds who have already found warmer places to winter over.

I silently sit by my fire and give thanks for those who have contributed to its making.  For Missi who contributed the kindling, for Ben who contibuted the tinder (old WSJs), for the Goochland Rotary club who sells firewood to fund their community outreach, for my dh Bob who split the wood.  I give thanks to God for the trees that are our so very renewable resource, and for deliverance from the storm.

Samhain Fire

Silence descends
a cloak warming and wrapping
the inner soul's self

Here are three days
of seeking the heart's desire
and hearth's fire
burning offerings of past pain.

I offer my self
cleansed on an altar of fire
to face the cold silent season
with warmth and joy.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


We were blessed here in Central Virginia with a near miss from the huge storm event.  No trees down at the rectory, just a lot of needed rain and some wind.  We are heading out to Crickhollow later in the week to see if there is any damage out there.  We have heard that there was snow out there.  I am keeping my friends and family in the hardest hit areas in my prayers.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Crickhollow Sabbath

Keeping sabbath at Crickhollow is different this week because my mom is with me.  She is recovering from a pinched nerve that has caused sciatica and she is with me so I can take her to physical therapy.  We are learning to get along.  She finds it hard to accept my help.  Sometimes it is like having a 3 year old who always want's to do it herself.  Our relationship changes as we work out our differences.  Meanwhile I am enjoying autumn colors in the woods and cool mornings.  I love fall.  I love the woodsmoke and the mist in the hills in the morning.  I love the clear skies at night and the starshow with the near new moon. Thank you God that I still have my mother to work on our relationship.  Thank you for a beautiful autumn, for the gift of a hunting hawk in the morning as I sit outside with my coffee, for all of creation that is spread out in its complexity and wonder.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mom comes to Crickhollow

Yesterday, Harriet, my Atlanta sister-in-law, and my 90 year old mother came for lunch in the country.  It was a good visit stretching from lunchtime until evening with time spent in the garden admiring the herbs and flowers and ignoring the weeds.  Mom is pretty sharp for a nonagenarian.  She wants one of everything for her garden when I get ready to dig up and split some of my plants and she was fascinated by the moonflower vine.  We chatted in front of the fire sipping wine and eating pie until the light began to fade, discussing our histories, our relatives, Sunday's sermons in our churches, and what was coming up for us next.  After they left for Mom's home I sat outside watching the waxing gibbous moon rise over the trees and waited for my darling husband.  As I watched, I saw his truck move very slowly down the drive, occasionally stopping.  When he finally parked beside the house he explained that a very large red fox had been walking in front of him all the way down the drive.  When he neared the house the fox turned and looked at him then slipped into the forest.  He reckoned that what I thought was a young cougar was actually this large red fox.  Maybe...or maybe it is a shapechanger.  The Cherokee, from whose people I claim some of my genetic makeup, believed that the fox brought healing.  As I continue to find limitations in my stamina I am glad to have been blessed with the presence of a fox.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bovine Blues

Keeping Sabbath at Crickhollow takes many forms for me.  Knitting by a fire, cooking some slow food, swimming, gardening, walking in the woods, or just sitting outside with a glass of wine are all ways of keeping Sabbath, because these solitary moments open me up to the presence of God.  I woke up on Friday morning to a sound in the distance that took me back to the Chicago El (no, not the God of Chicago, but their public transport train system).  There was often a man under the tracks playing his saxaphone.  He would play marvelous jazzy bluesy music that always brought a smile to my face as I walked from the EL station.  With my eyes closed I snuggled down in the covers and listened to the distant music, when I realized it was cattle bellowing somewhere off beyond the woods.  These cows were pretty good at their mournful music.  A little later I sat outside with my morning coffee listening to the music of life around me, birds singing, woodpeckers laughing, dogs barking, and the mournful background of Bovine Blues.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Crickhollow Retreat

The herb lady came to Crickhollow for a 24 hour retreat.  She helped me harvest herbs and hang them in between meditation and reading.  While picking herbs we discovered a beautiful zipper spider on the dining room window.  It was a time of listening to birdsong, watching lizards, sharing food and dreams, enjoying fire, water, earth, and clean crisp air.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Watermelon Rind Pickles

I always feel so frugal when I make these crisp little pickles.  Using the part of the watermelon that usually goes into a landfill or at best into a compost bin satisfies my soul.  And they are like candy: sweet, tart, and delicious!  When their lids go "pop" it is one of my favorite tunes.  As I work on them I pray for the folks on my prayer list, especially my daughter Stefanie who is in the hospital right now 850 miles away.  She will be OK, but I still worry and pray.  Stef and I used to make gallons of apple butter together when we lived close.  I especially miss her when the canning kettle comes out.  We connect by phone, facebook and blogs and keep up with what's up with kids, what's on the stove, and what's on the needles/hook.  It's not the same as being together, but it is the best we can do right now.

Monday, August 20, 2012

On The Needles (OTN)

I am working on the Long Stitch Wrap from Lacy Little Knits by Iris Schreier worked in Schmutzerella Yarns Blinky, Inky, Pinky, and Clyde, a gift of yarn from my DD Stefanie.  I LOVE the colors.  They just scream “fiesta time”.  I may not have enough yarn, so I think I will begin working the two front parts of the wrap at the same time.  I will have a cool neck scarf if there isn’t enough for the shrug. :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Supposing him to be the gardener...

Today began with tea and ended with wine at Beth's house.  Beth is a woman full of spirit.  She is an amazing gardener, something I really respect.  After all, one of God's first creations was a garden, and of course Mary, supposing him to be the gardener....  Beth also interprets dreams and hears and understands what I don't say when I am talking.  We sat on her porch surrounded by plants, hummingbirds, butterflies, goldfinches and the sounds of summer insects in the trees.  It was like being surrounded by Eden.  Thank you God for the gift of Beth in my life and the gift of sitting outside on a beautiful summer day.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Crickhollow Sabbath

We arrived Sunday afternoon having had a wonderful Sunday morning.  I actually made it through the entire service.  My strength returns a little more every day.   The silence here is wonderful.  Mieke alerted us to a young mountain lion in the driveway.  She was sleek and beautiful and wondered at the invaders in the glass house.  Sunday night Shireen and I went out to watch the Perseids.  There were not a lot of meteors before the sky hazed over, but we saw one very large impressive one, and several small.  It was enjoyable just sitting out in the dark and listening to the night sounds of the country.  Monday morning was cooler than it has been in months.  Bob and Shireen left for work and school and I settled into Sabbath enjoying the cool morning and a cup of tea.  Sleep helped my recovery throughout the day with naps, and I finished off my Sabbath with water prayer in our little endless pool and soaking in a hot tub.  Heavenly!

Friday, August 10, 2012


My life has been on hold since recently fighting a life threatening infection.  It started so small.  I thought it was a bite, or a pimple, but within hours it began to spread and grow.  I began to run a very high temp and my DH took me to the hospital.  Before they could figure out what to do my body had gone septic.  When a priest calls in another priest to make her last confession, you know she is in trouble. My beloved husband never left my side and prayers supported me from across the country.  Well, they brought in an amazing surgeon who cut deep into the by then huge cellulitis and found the pockets of infection that had been hiding from the CT scans.  I didn't lose any important body bits and after more than a week on very strong IV antibiotics I was able to go home.  This all started July 2nd and I still don't have my stamina back.  I am assured that it will come back, though.  Meanwhile I rest, pray, write, work part time, and ponder how quickly life can throw a curve ball.  Here is a poem I wrote for my surgeon Dr. Charles M. Jones, III.


He stands,
strong hands working
pushing wedging
as the raw earth surrenders
her will to his.

He sits
wheel’s soft nocturne
accompanies his fixed gaze
careful hands touch shape
build graceful curves
reaching from earth to heaven
and the Spirit smiles

He stands
strong hands probing
pushing finding
life taking infection and disease.

He sits
adagio for pump and knife
in a sterile field
careful hands touch shape
graceful curves
as sleeping women
dream of lover’s hands
and bodies restored
and the Spirit comforts.

There is love here
in the shaping of clay and flesh
in the songs of whirring wheel and pump
in the strong and tender hands
in the compassionate eyes
of a man who knows
the indwelling Spirit’s voice