Saturday, November 20, 2004

"I'm trying to write a modern poem," smirks Elai. "One with no rhymes."

"Is it possible?" I laugh. Elai is the Queen of Rhymes.

"I think so," she says.

As soon as she finishes her dessert, she brings her notebook and pen to the table so she can write down whatever lines have popped into her head during the meal. While she's writing, we all play a little rhyming game. One person says a word and then we go around the table saying the first rhyming word that comes to mind.

"Hat." Since it was my idea, I begin the game and pick an easy word so the little ones can play too.

The responses come: fat, cat, sat, mat, that, splat, drat... around and around the table until we run out of -at rhymes.

Then we make it harder. Instead of just a rhyming word, a couplet is required.

The game begins with mouse.

"There once was a mouse
who lived in a house."

The next person has to add to the story, making a couplet using "cat," which was chosen by the last player.

"There once was a mouse
who lived in a house.
He hid from the cat
by wearing a hat."

Around the table the silly story grows until it ends with a verse involving a book and a hook.

While we're cleaning up, Elai tells me she has finished her poem.

"Is it depressing and angsty?" I ask. "All proper modern poems are depressing and angsty, you know."

"Hmmm, well, I wasn't feeling angsty when I wrote it..."

So I read it and naturally I think it's good - I'm her mama after all. It is a bit depressing and angsty, I suppose, but I don't think it's particularly modern.

ghost sighs

I used to remember more but now
only precious snatches are left; soft fires, tall trees,
horses’ hooves on gravel, dresses that rustled –
silk dresses that whispered me to sleep

hiding now in the darkness, weeping,
although nobody hears, no rest for me
no rest oh God, I’m so tired
and once
hid my face for a hundred years

covered my ears to escape the sounds
sounds that are alien now or I’m alien
and when I couldn’t bear the silence
and the darkness that deafened and blinded

came out and looked and wept again
for the rustling dresses and horses’ hooves on gravel
for a world of soft fires and tall trees
and blue skies and calm rivers

all gone all destroyed in a world of metal
and plastic and staring houses and grey skies
that didn’t feel my tears like other skies had felt
foul air and foul sounds and foul people

dressed in ugly clothes that pinched and sagged and
no rustles no whispers only fear in their hearts and
anger in their faces rushing on to death in metal boxes
only angry roaring in the air masking the cries for help

a dead world covered with dead people
fighting and dying so more living dead could
fight and die sobs in the air that they wouldn’t hear
cries for a world and a people destroyed

crying for horses’ hooves on gravel no one will ever hear,
soft fires in the hearth no one will ever feel,
tall trees no one will ever see, and silk dresses rustling,
all gone never again no more silk dresses.

Friday, November 19, 2004

This random post is specially dedicated to Janet :-)
We've been hoping to attend the Christmas Ball in Monroe, LA, next month, so the girls and I are making several dresses and innumerable petticoats and pantalets. I bought the fabric and got it all washed two weeks ago and began cutting out, but have not made much progress since then. I'm not quite to the panic stage yet, but I'll be sure and let y'all know when it's time for prayers of desperation. ;-)

Latest pet peeve: seeing those yellow ribbon "support our troops" magnets stuck onto vehicles sideways.

I really need to update my blog template. My blue asters have been dead for three weeks - the orange mums came and went without my being able either to find a usable picture online or talk the resident artist into making one for me. There are several new blogs I want to add to the blogroll, plus several I really ought to remove since I haven't visited them in ages, and a few others that ought to be rearranged to fit my reading habits, which have changed somewhat since I first set up the current blogroll.

Gardening stuff: Our tomatoes were not very good this year. Naturally, they tasted better than grocery store tomatoes, but were smallish and ugly, and nowhere near as abundant as they were last year. On the other hand the bell peppers have been successful - large, beautiful and tasty. The green beans were a total loss, the corn only yielded enough for two meals, the pumpkins were plentiful, but small. (Were they supposed to be this small? I don't rememeber which variety we planted. I really must have a garden journal next time!) I'm taking pumpkin pies to my mom's for Thanksgiving and mean to use our own pumpkins for them. I suppose I should make a test batch to be sure they turn out well. If they don't, I'll use Libby's canned pumpkin, which I've always done with excellent results, though I only use about half the sugar the recipe calls for.

Yummy food I made last night, intending to take it to the home school group's Thanksgiving dinner, which we did not attend after all for a really stupid reason, and NO I don't wanna talk about it. :-p

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Sweet Potato Souffle

3 large sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick butter

1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans

Put 1/2 stick of butter into 8x8 baking dish, or 2 quart casserole, and melt in 350° oven. Mix together the rest of the souffle ingredients, adding melted butter, and beat until fluffy. Pour into baking dish. Meanwhile, melt 1/2 stick of butter in small saucepan on the stove. Remove from heat and add the flour and brown sugar, mixing well. Stir in pecans. Spread evenly over sweet potato mix. Cook, uncovered, in 350° oven for 35 minutes. Makes six side servings.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

This recipe originally called for a lot more sugar than what I use - I think it was a cup of sugar in the sweet potato part and 1/2 cup in the topping part, but then you could hardly taste the sweet potatoes for all the sugar! I've also made this cutting the butter back drastically. You can melt one tablespoon of butter in the baking dish and not worry about mixing any into the sweet potatoes, and you can cut the amount of butter in the topping in half and still have decent results. But I beg you not to use margerine. At Thanksgiving you must use real butter in all of your creations.

Three weeks ago I saw a fully decorated and lit Christmas tree in someone's house. Lots of houses around here already have their trees up and Christmas lights on. I don't get it. I just. Don't. Get it.

Actually, now that I think about it, this being a military town and all, the Air Force deploys a fresh crew of folks right around Thanksgiving, so it could be military families celebrating Christmas early. The year that Mike was in Alaska, he came home for three weeks in November and we celebrated Christmas then, but I didn't put our tree up until the usual time, and I still had regular Christmas-time celebrations, too.

My brain works better late at night. Why is that?

Last night just as I was going to bed, I thought of something really funny to put here, but I'd already shut down down the computer and I resisted the temptation to turn it back on again. Now I can't remember what it was I wanted to tell y'all! Please pretend like I said something very clever and laugh at it, okay? Thanks. Y'all made my day!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Thankful Thursday
I will extol thee, my God, O king, and will bless thy name for ever and ever... Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing...
(Psalm 145)

1. Handwritten letters from a dear friend.
2. Clear blue skies after a week of dreary wet weather.
3. Older children who manage things so I can rest when I'm not well.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Psalm 98
1 O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.
2 The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.
3 He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
4 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
5 Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.
6 With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.
7 Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
8 Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together
9 Before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Thankful Thursday
O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
(Psalm 51:15)

1. Mike was off work today since it was Veteran's Day.
2. Friends who impute charitable motives even when I behave stupidly.
3. The patience God is growing in me by keeping the ISP down all day today.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

More on Advent

Part of what we’re trying to do in raising our children, is to bring them up in an environment that is so suffused with Scripture and the story of our salvation, that our lives are ordered according to God’s Word, not just on the intellectual and spiritual planes, but physically as well. We want the reality of God’s covenant to impress itself on our children through every possible means - through reading and listening to God’s Word of course, but also through the senses of taste and smell and touch, and through the very rhythm of our lives.

In his article on The Seasons of the Church Year, Dr. Dennis Bratcher writes:
We keep track of time and seasons of the year by using calendars that provide us opportunities to observe, commemorate, and celebrate certain events or occasions. The changing seasons of the year also provide us with recurring opportunities to celebrate the Christian Faith in worship. The Christian church, following earlier Jewish tradition, has long used the seasons of the year as an opportunity for festivals and holidays, sacred time set aside to worship God as the Lord of life.

While Jewish celebration revolves around the Exodus from Egypt, the Christian Church year focuses on the life and ministry of Jesus. The sequence of festivals from Advent to Resurrection Sunday becomes an annual spiritual journey for worshippers as they kneel at the manger, listen on a hillside, walk the streets of Jerusalem, hear the roar of the mob, stand beneath the cross, and witness the resurrection! The rest of the church year provides opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the coming of Jesus and his commission to his people to be a light to the world.

He has also written an article on The Season of Advent: Anticipation and Hope, which gives more information on the origins of Advent and suggestions for celebrating it. There are also articles that explain all of the Church seasons more fully than I can, plus he tells why Advent wreaths traditionally have three purple candles and one pink candle.

Allison posted three links in the comments to this post at Richard's blog, the second of which is the same as the one I posted just above. The third link there also has recipes for some yummy-looking treats.

I'm still looking for traditions and recipes associated with the celebrations of Pentecost and Ascension, as I mentioned at Carmon's blog last month Any tips would be greatly appreciated! BBG Valerie is also looking for info on celebrating the Church's holy days.

Just got a notice in my email from Doorposts about a booklet they are offering, Advent and Christmas in Family Worship. This booklet is new to me, but I've used several of their resources and have been very pleased with them.
Tomorrow is Thankful Thursday. What if I run out of things to be thankful for? Am I allowed to recycle thankful things? Or do I have to make my own rule?

Last weekend our storm door (actually, it's not a storm door, it's just all glass - but you know what I mean, it's not the house door) fell off its hinges, so Monday evening Mike and I went to Lowe's to buy a new one, which made me happy 'cause I've been wanting a real storm door, so I can have fresh air when it's nice out, or just light when it's too hot to have the window open. This one is really nice, and Mike and #1 Son got it almost completely installed this afternoon, all but the handle. You Muffin Mixes out there need to be sure that any potential suitor knows how to fix things. It's so nice having a husband who can do all of that kind of thing himself and teach our sons.

Also last weekend, we spent another evening contra dancing. Everyone has a blast except for the two oldest. They know the steps and are good dancers, but they are evidently too cool to have fun doing anything. I recommend teaching your kids to dance when they are small children so they will grow up enjoying it. Our 5 yod is just perfect - she remembers the steps, she smiles, she moves gracefully. My 4 yos is a very enthusiastic partner but he still cries when he doesn't get to dance with Mama. I'm pretty sure he'll outgrow that part, though.

Sora has a recipe for plum pudding that looks really good - no suet. I think I'll get one started this weekend.

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Why celebrate Advent?

Kelly M asked a question in the comments to the post below that I thought was worth a whole post for an answer. Miss M asked:
Why do you celebrate Advent? I thought it was a Catholic celebration, but what you've posted doesn't look bad to me, so I'm not sure why the protestant church doesn't celebrate it too. And, what made you and Mr. Cumbee decide to start celebrating it?

The short answer is that while Mike and I both grew up in Christian homes and knew that Christmas was the celebration of the birth of our Savior, the focus of the actual celebration in our homes was the Christmas tree and the coming of Santa and presents. We wanted our celebration of Christmas in our own home to focus on why God sent his son, from his birth to his resurrection, and to downplay the "getting presents" part of it, and Advent seemed the ideal tool for doing that.

to be continued...

Sunday, November 7, 2004

Advent preparations

Reposting from last year - plus adding a few ideas.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Our old advent wreath finally broke down after being used more than half a decade, so I'm making a new one. It's not quite done yet - I ran out of greenery, but it's coming along...

I used a foam wreath form, one garland of greenery (n.b. the $2.99 garland from Hobby Lobby is puny - I'm going to have to buy another one), a bunch of holly, and bunch of ivy. I cut the branches off of the garland, and cut the holly and ivy into managable sizes, then stuck everything into the wreath form. It's pretty easy to get good looking results, and only costs about $20 to make, including the candles.

We have used the devotions from Christ in Christmas: A Family Advent Celebration for 10 or 11 years now. The kids love it so much that earlier this year, when Mosey heard Mike and me talking about making a few changes in our Advent celebration, she nearly broke down crying! They love doing the same things each year.

On the first Sunday of Advent, Saturday night for us, we turn out all the lights and the children try to walk around the living room without bumping into each other or the furniture. Then Mike quotes from Isaiah 9:2 "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light," and strikes the match to light the first candle.

This year we'd like to sing more Advent hymns during the season and save the really bright Christmas hymns for the Twelve Days of Christmas, but I only a few Advent hymns. Any ideas?

In the comments to that post, Kristen listed several of her favorite Advent hymns.

We first celebrated Advent in our second year of marriage when we were always broke, so the first Advent wreath I made was four white votive candles and a white pillar sitting on a round tray. No candle holders, and the tray was a wedding gift - total cost, probably less than $5. I don't think I even added any greenery since we were living in an apartment and besides being reluctant to cut greenery not my own, all we had were crape myrtles, and I doubt I would have used those, traditionalist that I am, but you see, you can put together a reasonable Advent "wreath" for very little money.

Also that year, we had not yet bought the book we are currently using, and I had no idea what were the traditions associated with each candle, so we just made up our own thing. For the first week, we read the creation and fall account with the first promise of the Messiah, but I don't remember what we did after that. If anyone is not able to buy a book of Advent devotions, I'd be happy to list the Scriptures and hymns used in our Advent book.

Two other good resources are the lectionaries used by the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church - USA. They both list readings from the Psalms, the Old Testament, Epistles, and Gospels for each day of the year. The REC's lectionary also includes a collect, or prayer, for each week. The daily lectionary of the ECUSA begins on page 27. The ECUSA prayer book has two sets of collects, traditional, and contemporary.

Thursday, November 4, 2004

I'm sorry I've been such a slacker this last week - I just realized nothing has been posted here since last Thursday, but you know, I just couldn't think of anything to blog about. :-p

Thankful Thursday
O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good:
for his mercy endureth for ever.
Psalm 136

1. My step-dad, who had a nasty fall last week, is recovering nicely
2. The weather here has been so cool lately that my 13 year old son has been making a fire for us in the mornings
3. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength. (Isaiah 36:3,4)"