The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

31 December 2009

Comfort and joy

Happy New Year, dear reader. I hope for many dreams fulfilled for you in 2010. Life is full of challenges -- may it also be sprinkled with comfort and joy in good measure.

Thanks for keeping me company here at the Lighthouse. God bless you and yours,


30 December 2009

Love letter

My dearest Pop,

I love you, and I miss you. I've tried to write this so many times today: to tell you about the memories floating through my mind; how suddenly I feel the aching emptiness again, like at the beginning; how I wish you were still here, while at the same time I'm grateful for the good that has happened this year, and am so glad you no longer have to endure suffering.

I know that you are praying for us. I feel you nudging me, telling me to get on with it and I'm trying to make you proud. We are doing ok, even if we're still a little shaky at times. This year has brought me to a place of peace and freedom in a way I never could have imagined before - I think you would approve, Pop.

We talk about you often, especially with the Peanuts. We tell them your stories, and we see you in them in so many ways. They keep you with us, and keep us going, as only kids can. Thank goodness for them, or we'd really be lost. Please pray for them, Pop; Malcolm especially could probably use your Guardian Angels.

And don't forget about us. You're still my dad, and I still need you, so don't forget. With God's grace I will see you again some day.

I love you,


29 December 2009

Pass the Dutchy

I am Dutch. I'm a Dutch girl. Some people are Irish, but when they say they're Irish, they mean they've got the whole of the British Empire swimming in their gene pool, but they like to drink green bear on March 17. Both sides of my family tree are very tidily Dutch, which is lovely, because the Dutch are a tidy people.

I'm proud of it, my tree. I think the country is beautiful, I love the traditions, and the people are an intriguing blend of practical, adventurous, staid and open minded. I have a Dutch name, and when I try hard, I can spit in the distinctive way the Dutch have when speaking (think Schhhhhiphol airport). However, I'm short, my once blonde hair has long since turned brown, it's been years since I've been on a bike, and I'm really not very fond of fish - pickled, fried, dried or otherwise. This little nut has not grown up to be like the rest of its tree.

Every now and then, I have to do what I did today: visit a Dutch store, stock up on salty Dutch candy, browse the endless variety of cookies stuffed with almond paste, listen to the music, scan the magazines, drool over the cheese, get misty-eyed over the wooden shoes, and reconnect with memories and traditions from childhood.

I feel a kinship with the people who work there, and recognize a certain something in the guy scooping big helpings of double salt black licorice out of the bin, or the woman having a hard time choosing between mild Edam, or smoked Gouda to go with her crusty rolls.

Every Dutch store sells Delft tiles, and to me they are not only beautiful, but familiar, and right. They are as much 'home' to me as a post card of the CN Tower is to Torontonians. Tulip fields, windmills, pastures of cows, tidy canals - they signal comfort and contentment to me.

You might not know it to look at me, but I've got Holland running through my veins. It felt good today, to acknowledge that part of me that remembers where I come from.

27 December 2009

Eat, pray, love

I am reading this fabulous book, Eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was highly recommended to me by someone who's literary taste I trust completely - my sister. She read it and got a lot from it, and so, finding myself between reads, I borrowed it from the library. I'm on page 72 of 331 so far, and I agree with her completely: it's a fabulous book. Way back on page 14 I knew I wanted to have a copy of my own so I would be able to really savour it, linger over it, and read it again and again. The very best books are the ones you can dip into, at any part, read only a page or two, and experience the same fulfillment you had at reading the whole thing, cover to cover for the first time.

This is the true accounting of a year Liz spent 'finding herself'. I was worried at first that it was going to be very self-conscious, condescending, and new age emptiness. It is none of those things. She writes with honesty, kindness and wit. She is obviously a woman who loves words and has worked at perfecting her craft of writing.

I am definitely going to be telling you more about this book, but I can't stop reading it yet to talk about it.

26 December 2009

CTKS - Christmas version

At Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, as the carolling came to an end the lights came up in preparation for the liturgy. Number Four Peanut became very excited, and called out "Hooray!"

At the end of Mass, Four again, became very excited, this time calling out "We did it!" To which Three replied with "Yeah! Now we can go home and open presents!"

Sitting at supper on Boxing Day, Two said he wished that Santa Claus would come back. Thinking I knew the answer ('cause Santa would bring more presents), I asked him why. He said it was so that he could say thank you for the underwear.

Five got a lot of cars for Christmas. A lot. Cars in his stocking, cars from Mommy and Daddy, a car from Oma. He now wanders around the house, clutching five or six of them - depending on how many he can hold - in both hands and holding them to his belly with his arms. If one drops, he gets very upset, because he hasn't figured out how to pick it up without losing the rest of them. He gets very insistent that you help him. If he is called away from car holding for any reason - say for a meal or a diaper change - he very carefully puts them down one by one, meticulously lined up in a row.

We've had a snowfall here in Sohoe. Two, who is a SnowPeanut if ever there was one, said he hoped there would be two 'grownup feet' of it in the morning.

Leg of lamb for supper. Two picked at a piece on his plate, saying it looked a little gross. Maybe it was an eye socket or something. Anatomy is not yet his strong suit.

Why the hair industry sucks

This topic was suggested by my sister (who is known for the purposes of this blog by turns as JB, my sister, Mama Nut, Big Nut and whatever else strikes me in the moment). Fifteen minutes ago she flew out of the house, hopped in the car, and hied off to Schmoppers Drug Mart. Five minutes ago, she peeked in my room to share with me her latest hair woe: she had purchased a new contraption - a hair band - with super grippers on it (like those on the socks of wee children to prevent them from slipping on the floor) which are meant to keep the band from sliding over the hair and off the head.

(Background: her hair is growing out, and needs managing. The go-to solution of many women is a simple ponytail. But when JB works out, a lump on the back of her head can be uncomfortable. Hence the mad dash for an alternate)

She stood in my room, holding her herself delicately still, as if she was balancing volatile nitro glycerin on her head. We could both see the grip-equipped hair band begin to travel from its original location, before finally morphing into a ponytail holder at the back of her head, which, as she already has a stash of elastics, makes this new purchase redundant. Unless of course, it had actually performed as it was supposed to: staying wrapped from just back of the forehead to the nape of the neck, keeping her hair out of her face.

Why is it that toothpaste comes in 47 formulations, cough medicine is practically individually prepared to meet your specific symptoms, and ketchup is available in 14 different dispenser options, but when it comes to women's hair accessories, the selection is woefully limited? My sister and I come from a long line of thick-and-stubborn-haired people. Thick-and-stubborn hair has greatly different needs than thin-and-fine hair, or curly-and-wild hair, or perfect-and-annoying hair. One clip or elastic or bobby pin or hair band is not going to be the Fabulous Product each of those hair types is looking for.

The hair industry needs to get on board this issue, and offer accessories for all women. I just might start a movement - we'll march, and petition, and run impassioned fund-raisers on public television. I'll design a ribbon for our cause: a very large and sturdy hair band.

24 December 2009

Christmas Eve

We are balanced on the delicate edge of excitement and losing our minds here, in the House of Nuts. With five boys under the age of 10 having endured four weeks of building up to this moment - Christmas Eve - there is a simmering awareness that the least thing could ignite the powder keg, causing them to spontaneously combust, taking us Big Nuts with them in a haze of giddy insanity.

It's a difficult task, curbing their enthusiasm without extinguishing their wonder and joy, but a necessary one, because they can't maintain the high level of excitement without burning out. And frankly, we can't endure it any more than they can.

How wise the Church is to guide us throughout the year, giving us periods of fasting, preparation, celebrating, and ordinariness. We need all of them, in balance, in their proper time. We have had four weeks of Advent - a time of waiting and preparation - and now, at last, Christmas is upon us!

I've felt a great deal of trepidition about this one. It's The First One without Pop, and if you had asked me four weeks ago, I would have preferred to not do it at all, thank you very much. However, the intervening time has brought some peace. Most of all I've come to accept that I don't miss him any less because we're still celebrating Christmas. It's ok that I'm not miserable without him. It's taken a year to come to this point - a very long Advent.

Christmas is about hope and promises fulfilled. My Christmas wish for you, dear reader, is that you will experience the truth of that over the next 12 days.

A most blessed Christmas season to you and yours from the Lighthouse.

23 December 2009

Of ice and skates, eh?

It is a stereotype of Canadians that we were all born on the ice, knowing how to skate. Fortunately for our mothers, we aren't actually born with skates on our feet, but we are all expected to know how to swoosh around a rink with competence.

Tonight I swooshed on a rink overlooking the Falls, which was pretty spectacular in itself, but I was excited to just be on the ice. It was like I was taking my place in a Canadian brotherhood - the Brotherhood of the Ice.

By no means am I a champion skater, but I love the sound of my blades biting into the ice, and how my body feels when it remembers how to stay fluid through the knees. I love going fast enough that I can feel wind through my hair. I love leaning into the corners, balanced on the outside edge of one blade. It's a solitary activity I can do in the company of other people - perfect for a reclusive introvert who needs prompting to interact with others. I enjoy the challenge of having to look out for where other people are, anticipating their movements and maneuvering my way around them. Successfuly evading log jams, pile ups and groups of giggly girls on the ice gives me a zippy high; it satisfies my competitive self without anyone else knowing the game we're playing.

Now, the morning after, I still have a happy glow. It's like I've renewed my membership dues: I went skating, and I. AM. CANADIAN!


I am going to be wrapping Christmas presents today! (Mama Nut, making an announcement)

Oh! Can I help? (Number Two Nephew, very eagerly)

No you can't help! (Mama Nut, surprisingly declining his offer)

But I promise I won't look! Or I'll only look at the back of them! (Two, trying very hard to change mommy's mind)

Number Five Nephew, after having a clean diaper put on, stood up to put his pants back on. Both of his legs somehow ended up in the same pants leg. He looked like a little mermaid ...merboy? He leaned against me, resting his head on my shoulder, and said "Oh no" in a very sweet little voice, and waited patiently for me to help him fix it. He had to wait a while, because I couldn't stop laughing.

Oma Nut arrived a week ago, and the Peanuts were very concerned that when she came into the house, she didn't bring any presents with her. She told them that she had forgotten the gifts at home, to which they replied "Don't worry, Oma. They have toy stores here, too!"

22 December 2009

How toilet paper brought a tear to my eye

I had a car-less period which lasted for about 3 years, a few years ago. That was in The Place before The Last Place I lived. I managed to get around quite well, with the bus service and the intervention of some good friends. Those friends were greatly appreciated because I was very self conscious about transporting toilet paper on the bus, so whenever the opportunity presented itself, I would buy a large package (36 double rolls) in order to spare myself the mortification of having other people know that I, too, used paper. Silly, I know. I like to think of it as an endearing quirk.

Today, while waiting outside the store mentioned in the post below, I spied a family of a mom and three kids come out, each of them carrying a large package of toilet paper! I got misty-eyed at the memories of those days I would get home, satisfied that I was well stocked in the tp department.

It's the simple things, folks.

Of products - not projects

Inspiration for this post came from my Friend From The Tree. Today, I am going to discuss products. Hooray!

One of my favourite places to get products, is the pharmaceutical supplier known as... Schmopper's Drug Mart. I can spend hours wandering the aisles of this schmopper's mecca - and not for their selection of drugs which are actually quite limited, considering the word is right there in the name. If you don't already know, this is the place to for the latest best selling novel, gift wrap, scented candles, phone cards, photo developing, processed cheese slices, bathroom paper, and my favourite - cleaning supplies!

That's right - I get excited about cleaning supplies and I don't care who knows it. There is a brand from this store that I really like, called Method (as I have nothing but good to say about it, I won't bother disguising the name). Everything about it is good, from the packaging to the product. They have laundry detergent, hand soap, all purpose cleaner, wood care and -- this is what I recently got giddy over -- a floor cleaner that doesn't have to be diluted in a big bucket and mucked about the floor with a stinky old mop. It can be sprayed from a specially designed spray nozzle right on to the floor (guaranteed to not puddle, but rather land in a perfectly dispersed mist) and then swished around with your implement of choice. Hoorah! I like clean floors, but I don't like having to dispose of the yucky water after the fact. I haven't had the chance to try it yet, but I'm presenting this as my first Fabulous Product.

Right away, I have a second Fabulous Product selection: household wipes. Doesn't matter the brand - I haven't come across one yet that doesn't do the job, though there may be one or two that are a little better than the others. I think it's a wonderful concept: a cloth that already has the cleaning solution on it, and can then be thrown away. No need to keep the old germs and gunk hanging around the house. They are perfect for quickly wiping down the bathroom, for sanitizing door knobs and faucets, scrubbing countertops or whatever else needs doing. I even use them to quickly go over the bathroom and kitchen floors. Convenient! Clean! Two of my favourite qualities.

Something that will not make it onto my Fabulous Products list is blister packaging. A thing more frustrating is hard to conceive. Have you ever found yourself struggling with increasingly larger pairs of scissors until you have a machete in your hands, trying to get at the Batman action figure, or the toothbrush say, only to end up with tiny cuts on your hands and fingers? Whose idea was that, and how did they think it was a good one? Not fabulous at all.

21 December 2009


I often go to to loosen up the writing muscles. That's a good idea, actually - I only now realized it. Writing is an activity that requires endurance and focus and practice, much like running does (well, except it isn't aerobic or cardio or anything like that) so it only makes sense to limber up first, instead of jumping in cold. is a website that provides a word every day, with a little box in which to write, and a 60 second countdown. Once you click 'write', the word is revealed, and you have 60 seconds in which to write something inspired by the word of the day. Then you can choose to have your blurb posted on the website, or not, as you like.

Today, the word is 'supreme', and I wrote about pizza. Deep, huh? Deep in profundity, that is. I didn't mean deep-dish Boston-type pies. Though I could have written about those, to be sure. I would have said that they aren't to my taste at all; that regular crust is the way to go, and the more sauce and cheese there is, the better it is.

Other posts on the website talked about God, and the supreme court. I felt very... intelligent with my pizza contribution. What would you have written about, if you had 60 seconds to write about 'supreme'?

19 December 2009

Mysterious ways

I've had cause to reflect on the mysterious ways of God, lately. It has led me to think about people who struggle with the idea of God, and those who do not believe at all - atheists. I'm one of those Catholics who is in it all the way: Papal infallibility, Immaculate Conception, virgin birth, sin, redemption, sanctity of life from conception to natural death (including the whole business covered by Love and responsibility/Theology of the body), miracles and eternal life - all of it.

Even freely believing in God and accepting the teachings of my faith, having had a little instruction, there are many things I do not understand. One of the big ones is how God moves in our lives. He is real and present in our individual lives. That can be relatively easy to accept - it speaks of love and tenderness, and let's face it, once you've accepted the concept of a 'supreme being' who has created the universe and so on, it's not a big leap to also accept He would be aware of you, right?

The trouble comes with the dichotomy of the Omnipotent who is not also a puppet-master. As ominous as it sounds, our God is all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful, but it's important to know that He does not do everything...He does not live our lives for us, manipulating our every thought and action. He is the source of all things, He is the initiator, the creator, the artist. Do you see the distinction? He is not the action or the work itself, but rather the spark of imagination, or the impulse to serve.

This has been made clear to me in my own life over the past year. For example: my dad died last December, and death brings with it many challenges, from the practical details of arrangements and finances to the intimate reality of grief and mourning. If God were a puppet master, I would expect Him to remove the difficulties altogether, Instead, He worked through other people to provide our family with the love, support and skilled help we have needed over the past year.

As another example, I have been unable to find steady work since moving a year ago. So many people in many beautiful ways have reached out to me, providing me with shelter, contract work, the opportunity to pursue a dream by taking some classes, and now literally everything (from food to kleenex) comes from the generosity of people who love me. Such heroic generosity is possible because they are open to the Divine Impulse - they allow God to work through them.

God's economy blesses every party involved: my generous benefactors grow in holiness and experience joy; I - a chronic worry-wort, needing to be self-reliant and independent - have been given the gift of knowing Matthew 6:25 is true:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet
your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

God provides. But the truly beautiful thing is that He makes it personal: through your generosity to me, I have seen the Face of God. Thank you.

17 December 2009

Finish line

Well, dear reader, the job is done. At around 4.30 this morning, I was able to add those wonderful words "The End" to my short story. (I didn't actually write those words, but I sure said them to myself. Out loud. I may have woken somebody up, but I'm not sorry for it.)

It feels so good to have it done at last. As it is right now I don't think it's very good, but I do think it has good potential. I plan to keep working on it for myself, because the areas that need tweaking bother me, and I don't want to leave it in this incomplete state. The important thing is, the deadline was met. Hoorah! My eyelids have felt like they had gravel in them all day long, but that is a small price to pay.

I'm already looking forward to the next class, but am so very glad there is a bit of a break. The last day I remember this week was Monday. I'm pretty sure today is Thursday, but I have no idea how we got to this point. I think Tuesday and Wednesday were good days, but I couldn't swear to it.

For now, I can write just for fun! How exciting! I feel like I've been set free to play with all the toys, and I'm a little giddy at the thought.

16 December 2009


I can now count by hours how much time I have left to finish the last writing assignment. Tick tock. I think I heard clocks ticking in my dreams last night. Even the digital ones went tick tock. I've avoided, procrastinated, excused and moaned. Some of you have been recipients of one or all of the above, and I humbly beg your forgiveness for it.

This behaviour baffles me, because while I am stellar at avoiding mundane details of life, I'm not typically one to put off school work. Something about this assignment has gotten under my skin; it makes me uncomfortable. It has provided insight to myself...and that is hardly ever completely pleasant. The difficulty I've been having with this last unit - the one I deliberately saved for last - took me by surprise. Of all the kinds of writing we've covered, I was sure that straightforward fiction would be the easiest. To quote Depeche Mode: Wrong! I've been wiggling like a worm on a hook, unable to find a decent plot idea, develop believable characters...even deciding whether it would be humorous or not has been difficult.

Two nights ago, around 9.30, I got a flash of an idea, and right away knew: This is good! It came from one line of Scripture (I don't remember what it was...I had the Bible with me, hoping for inspiration or at least a Divine kick in the posterior. God has nudged me to action in the past.) And so I began to write. For hours. Until 4.30 in the morning. 2,362 words later, I went to bed, knowing where the story was going, and realizing that the beginning was no good, but workable. Reading it again the next morning, I realized what I had bled into the keyboard the night before was clumsy and full of unnecessary filler. So I started over again, reworking the opening altogether, but still content with the general concept. I also did something I'd never done before - not even for essays and reports in school - I mocked up an outline, working out the progression of the plot, and working out precisely how it would end. All day yesterday, I managed to complete one and a half paragraphs...and today I am unhappy with them, because I have boxed myself into the scene. I have to scrap another day's work.

This morning, I have had another idea about how to handle point of view and arc. But I have only today to do the whole thing: first draft, editing, rewriting, editing, rewriting. It's going to take a miracle of inspiration, discipline, focus, industry... and perseverance.

I came across this quote today:
Though perseverance does not come from our power, yet it comes from within our power
~ St. Francis deSales

A subtle nuance in the words of dear old St. F deS. Perseverance is not ours (it comes from God) but it is up to us to apply it. Like all grace, actually. Charity (love), forgiveness, endurance, fidelity, holiness etc. are all attributes which require our effort. We must practice them - just like the piano - in order to become good at them.

I've leaned that writing is work. Boy, is it work. It is hard! Laborious. I've felt betrayed by that realization, because until now, writing has been something I do only because I enjoy it, and I have a certain facility for it. I've never had to persevere with writing when not flushed with inspiration. It's been rather humbling to face the fact that even I (!) have to slog through the effort of production when there is no inspiration to pave the way.

I have to guard against distraction (like the men working outside our window doing who knows what with the telephone cables, the cute-as-buttons-Peanuts, and the ever seductive internet), and discipline myself to persevere through the dry periods.

There are only hours left to complete this mamouth task. My dad was very disciplined (in certain areas of his life. Even he struggled with it in other ways), so I'm asking for his intercession today. I need help, Pop. I've got to get this done, and I want to do it well. Be beside me today, and guide me through this difficulty. But I know the effort is mine to make.

Whatever there may be in your life that offers a challenge of perseverance, I pray that you will be able to meet it and overcome it.

14 December 2009

Monday of joy

Hello, dear reader. It is the Monday after Gaudete Sunday, sometimes called Joy Sunday, or Pink Sunday. It's the third week of Advent, during which we light the pink candle...get it? The anticipation for Christmas is building, and the light is growing brighter as we get closer to the coming of the Christ Child.

Here in the House of Nuts we had a really lovely pink candle day. The tree was strung with lights, and baubles full of memories were hung in its boughs; Peanuts were bursting with exuberance; the sun shone (well, actually it rained, but for the purposes of the theme I've got going, let's pretend the sun shone brightly); yummy aromas of baking permeated the house (that part is true).

In the picture, is Five, waiting patiently after lunch, while we were busy cleaning in the kitchen, for someone to come and get him out of his chair. He would occasionally call out "all done!", and wait some more.

Do you remember the story of the cookie sheets? The ones that I'd originally bought didn't fit in our wee oven, so I gave them to Oma who has an oven of adequate size. However, here in SOHOE, we have an actual grown-up stove with full-sized oven, so Oma graciously gave the cookie sheets back. Yesterday, I put them to good use, baking up a batch of delicious pumpkin cookies. The cookie sheets are aMAZing! I feel as proud of them as if they were my own invention. (I was so struck by the beauty and size of the trays, I had to take a picture before the cookies were even baked. Note the wings on the sides for easy handling with oven mitts; the smooth edge closest to us, so delicate creations can be gently scootched off, rather than manhandled over the rim...genius! And the size! 25 large cookies on one sheet!)

After the Peanuts were in bed, we put on the special extended version of Lord of the Rings. The story seems perfectly in keeping with this time of year. Tolkien didn't set out deliberately to write a Christian allegory, but as a devout Catholic, his imagination, creativity and craft were undeniably informed by his faith. LOTR is a story about struggle, journey, enduring, hope, and ultimately, victory of good over evil. Sound familiar? We only made it to the end of the Council of Elrond...a mere 1/6 of the way through the whole saga. We are sadly out of movie marathoning practice!

And, to top it off, there was wonderful football news. While my beloved United lost their game on Saturday (a great upset, as all the stats pointed to a sure win... goes to show, numbers lie threfore math is pointless) my bestest player of all, Ryan Giggs - he of the Welsh national team, and 20 years of devoted Unitedness - has won the BBC sports personality of the year award. With all the awards and accolades he's received over the years, this is nowhere near the top in terms of prestige, but reading headlines about it today, nearly all mention something about "Humble Giggs" or "Modest Ryan". They also go on to mention something about declining years, swan songs or other such blather. He's 36 years and one week old, which may be 85 in footballer years, but he's showing no signs of needing to hang up his boots. I think he's got a lot of beautiful football left in him. Congratulations, Mr. Giggs.

I wish you all a week of joy.

11 December 2009


Squirrels are random thoughts that run across your mind, distracting you from what you were just thinking, saying or doing.

I have a few such random thoughts to offer today:

Why do film sound editors not realize that scenes with music or action should only be as loud as scenes with dialogue? When characters are talking, we have to crank the volume up. When music enters in, we have to dial it way down. Annoying.

Today I saw a car with two sets of fake antlers attached to the windows, much like people display hockey flags during the interminable playoff season. One on each side of the car. It looked odd, to be sure, but it made me smile.

There is a large Creche set up outside one of the public buildings in our nearest city. Baby Jesus is already in His crib - a few days early - but they're all there, nearly large as life, and right out there in plain sight. Hooray! I must remember to let someone know I approve and appreciate it.

I had to call a government agency today, and while I waited for a while for my call to be picked up from the "priority seqquence", the person who ended up taking my call was very friendly, very capable, competent and kind. Not only was she able to answer my question, but was able to do much of what needed doing for me right on the phone. Wowza! (An experience of good customer service!)

We have bananas that need doing with. I'm thinking banana bread.

I have an ear worm (a song that goes around and around in your head; you can't get rid of it for love nor money). It's a rather annoying one that goes something like: ra ra ra - la la - la la la ga ga ga...I want your love. I don't know what it means, and that makes me feel old.

The Peanuts are watching Where's Nemo. Oops, that's Waldo. I mean Finding Nemo. It's the part where Ellen Degeneres speaks in whale - one of the funniest bits ever.

Over and out.

08 December 2009

Pie, deuxieme partie

You may (or may not) remember the Grape Pie Incident. (Go here to read about it)
You also may or may not know that I have been 'home alone' for the past 4 days. Well, all the Peanuts are coming home today, and yes, I am going to attempt to feed them upon their arrival. I have been able to muster a decent spaghetti a time or two, but really, who can't open a can of sauce? And, I've always had Mama Nut (my sister) around to be backup, should I forget something dire, like how to chop an onion. (Actually, to be brutally honest, I've never mastered the proper onion chopping technique - that oh so elegent way of 'slice slice let go' to make beautiful little cubes of onion fall apart onto your cutting board. I tend to just go at it with a sharp knife until it's in bitty pieces)

I am, dear reader, going to attempt another pie, but this time, I am going to make the crust myself. HA! I have found something called "The Best Ever Pie Crust Recipe" on, which sounds rather convincingly good. Not precisely easy, but my sister JB, assures me that most people take far too precious an attitude toward crust. So I shall rely on TBEPCR for quantities, and then just go for it. No freezing of ingredients or utensils. No chilling. No Novenas to St. Zita, the patron of kitchens. I shall just march into the kitchen with confidence. I am master of my flour and fat and...salt (had to double check the recipe on that) and the result will be two bee-yew-tee-ful meat pies, ready for my beloved family to feast on.

Speaking of feasts, it is, today, a superlative feast day, as you will see in the post below. So, I have also baked a chocolate cake. This was a cheater though, as it came from a mix. Hmph. Still, I shall devise something yummy to accompany it with frozen blueberries, which I know are snuggled in the basement freezer, waiting to be useful.

If I am able, I shall post pictures, but really, don't hold your breath.

* ~ *


Whose idea was this? Stoopid pie thing.
The lump of dough and I have retreated to neutral corners; we're not quite seeing eye to eye.
I'm comforting myself with the knowledge that the meat filling tastes sublime.

* ~ *

Further update:

After residing in the fridge for an hour (or so), and then sat upon the counter to 'rest' (because sitting in the fridge is exhausting, no?), the dough balls were attacked. That's right: I attacked them. First with a sharp knife to divide them, then with a rolling pin to flatten them, stretch them, and generally beat them into submission. But only after they reduced me to tears. Nearly. I tried to roll them out, just like in the helpful videos I watched online. I tried flipping the dough, and giving it a quarter turn after each pass of the pin. It cracked at the edges, stuck to the counter, broke into pieces...argh! I eventually put it together like a puzzle in the pie plate, scooped the yummy meat filling in, and managed to cover the top with another blanket of dough. It turned out, in the end. Hoorah!

Mater Dei, Ora pro nobis

Today is the great Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Many people (too many Catholics among them) think that the 'Immaculate Conception' has to do with Mary's virginity. I can see how the misunderstanding happens, because it sounds about right. However, it has to do with the fact that at her own conception, in the womb of her mother, Mary herself was made immaculate - free from the stain of original sin. God prepared Mary with the grace required, should she choose to accept the call to bear the Son of God. He made it possible for her to say yes, but the yes was hers to give.

That is an extraordinary gift, freedom from original sin -- and while we have not been given that grace, God does give us the gifts we need, individually, to answer His call, whatever it may be. Our part is to choose how we will answer.

Mary, Mother of God, you who were conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.

07 December 2009

My snow globe


Dear reader, I am conducting an informal pole:

Do you feel a fundamental obligation to answer the phone when it rings?
Do you have to answer the door when someone knocks?
Are you unable to not reply to an email?

If a person answered no to all of the above, does that make them mysteriously reclusive or merely a dysfunctional antisocial?

Cue Christmas

Today I feel like I should start to get ready for Christmas. There's been some talk around the house about Christmas plans, and I know that some little things have been tucked away in secret corners for the Day. We've got the Advent candles on the dining table, and we've been praying the Advent prayers before meals. Advent calendars have been raided each morning for their chocolate treasures, and daily readings have been replete with messages to prepare the way, make straight the path and so on.

With all of that, I still haven't been feeling remotely Christmas-minded. Part of me is tucked away in a quiet place, because I don't want to do this without my dad. But today something happened which poked at and awakened the Christmas spirit: it snowed. Is snowing, actually. I have to squinch up my eyes to see the snowflakes, and they're far too few and fragile to even make it to the ground, but nonetheless, snowflakes they are. Outside my window.

Now I'm longing for boughs redolent with the aroma of winter woods. I want clusters of red berries to display in clear glass vases. I'd like to hang twinkly lights in front of the windows, and dangle victorian icicles in the tree outside. It's time to ponder Christmas baking. More importantly, I need to really devote some time to examining my spiritual state in order to be able to really enter into Christmas fully prepared to receive the Christ Child.

All of this led me to think about people who live in the Outback, or Monte Carlo or...wherever else the weather doesn't really change from season to season. Falling snow is a cue to deck the halls for us in the Land of the Big White; how do they switch over emotionally from ordinary time to 'Prepare ye the way of the Lord'? Is it the incoming flocks of Canadian geese? The blossoming of an indiginous winter-only flower? I'd like to know.

05 December 2009


I love to putter. Puttering makes me very happy; it satisfies something fundamental in my being. I have done floors and windows, laundry and dishes, even baked a little something. I've watched Band of Brothers, read from Julia Child's account of her life in Paris, and watched a beautiful game of football in which my beloved boys won by a respectable margin of 4-0. It's so good to be productive, and see the results of your efforts.

The key to puttering is to enjoy what you're doing. Do not think about the next job, or rush through what you're doing. It's ok to indulge in a cup of coffee or a glass of something nice. Put on some lovely music to set the mood. There's no need for urgency or stress -- two nasty qualities which take all the joy out of life. They are joy suckers.

It is good to work. It is good to work hard. However, I think we've gone wrong in our understanding of hard work. You don't need deadlines, multitasking, rushing about, unreasonable expectations or an unpleasant boss in order to work. Work shouldn't have money as it's driving principle. Too many people work for money, while their souls wither into prunes without their noticing.

Puttering isn't about being lazy, or selfish. It's about recognizing the value of each day, and desiring to live each moment with my whole being. When I putter, the work I do is accomplished with joy and peace and a willing heart.

I have to go and change the laundry around. Then I'll read the paper over a cup of tea, I think. Happy puttering!

02 December 2009

Dibble dop

That's how a picture book described the sound of rain: dibble dop, dibble dibble dop. It is dibble dopping rather ongoingly here, today. Rain has a way of making a house feel cozy and warm, safe and comfortable. I love the sound of it tapping against the window. Tonight it sounds as though the raindrops are wearing ballet shoes - it's a rather soft, subdued, graceful sort of rain. It makes me a little homesick for the camping we used to do in our trailer. On evenings when it rained, we'd pull out Yahtze and listen to the rain hitting the roof, very thankful to not be in a tent. Rain like this calls for a good book, a cup of something warm and welcoming, and flickering light to read by. If at all possible, do so from inside a trailer just once. That'll be a dibble dop to remember.


When discussing a young boy the Peanuts know, Two wanted to clarify who he was talking about, he said, "You know, Tommy Smith, who lives in my backyard?"

Five is developing a rudimentary vocabulary. Well, sounds that are starting to resemble words. Among them are:
'kay (when you ask him to do something, he says "'kay")
wa you doon? (He goes up to you, and asks what you're up to)
lello (yellow, obviously)
night night; bye bye; hi; low
eye; mou; bow (for eyebrow)
help! Oh! help!
Most of the time, it still sounds like "mng gnk gnk" but he says it with all the love in his heart.


The house is silent. The phone isn't ringing, elephants aren't rampaging through the rooms, light sabres aren't 'vwooing' at top volume. Occasionally a car goes by, but more often than not, it's a dog walking it's pooper scooper past the big front window, but it's like watching a movie on mute. It makes the empty space in my head echo endlessly. That must be why I tend to put music on so often - it fills up the emptiness, and deadens the echo so I can hear my thoughts. The ocean would serve the same purpose. I'd dearly love to be in my lighthouse right now.