Saturday, December 27, 2008

puer natus in Bethlehem

I've sung in church on Christmas Eve every year since 1990. This year, I went with Dear Daughter to the Children's Mass (5:30pm) at St James Cathedral, where she sings in the Schola Cantorum. The kids sounded great, although they were underutilized as the tenor soloist sang some of their bits, and I had the (uncommon - for me) experience of sitting through a Christmas Eve service as part of the congregation. It was lovely.

After the 5:30 Mass, we slowly drove from the Cathedral to St Catherine's. The roads were terrible - snow and slush and ice - and even with chains on it was a tricky drive. But both kids sing in the Children's Choir at St Catherine's, where they go to school, and that Christmas Eve Mass had started at 7pm. Dear Husband and Son were already there, and while I'd told the choir director that Dear Daughter would be late, I think I'd imagined we'd be there before the Offertory ended. Oh well. It was a tricky drive, and we did the best we could.

Then once Communion started at that Mass, I took off for Blessed Sacrament. I was the solo cantor for the 9pm Mass, along with a harp, cello & organ. We had planned some pretty cool music for Communion, although the cellist either fainted or had a seizure right before the Creed, which was scary. They took her over to the Priory and she was able to walk on her own, but I don't know how she's doing now. After that Mass was the rehearsal for the Carol Service, which started at 11pm, and then Midnight Mass. The choir was the best I've sung with at Blessed Sacrament, and it was all a lot of fun. Then I went home and made a cup of hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps and whipped cream out of the can. Tasty. We have some Trader Joes "Sipping Chocolate" that's dark and not too sweet and really good. It was a just reward for my night's effort.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mary was a Riot Grrl

So last night I was rehearsing with the Women's Chant Choir, and at the end of the rehearsal decided to teach them this Ave Maris Stella hymn. I've sung this hymn at a chant retreat that I've attended the last few years, and it always seems to have a different kind of energy than other Gregorian hymns I've sung. It's so simple, and the way the word stresses fall make it feel more rhythmic without actually putting any dotted rhythms into it. There's kind of a wild energy that can happen with this piece, especially when you start throwing drones into it, or maybe some organum, and it's really cool. I tried to communicate that to the choir, but don't think I did a very good job of it.

It started me thinking this morning, though, about how the kind of energy that I hear in this piece might reflect on the person it was written about. Did Mary have that wild energy? Was she fierce? What you read about her in the bible is so sketchy - there are very few places that actually mention her - that it's possible to read all kinds of things into her. But I think the answer to my questions is 'yes', she was fierce. While probably her most famous line, "Let it be done to me according to your will", is fairly passive, I think it took enormous willpower to then get up and go out and face the neighbors knowing they were at least likely to think you were crazy, if not worse. And, having been pregnant a couple of times, I can tell you that riding anywhere on a donkey near the end of my pregnancy would have been beyond my capability. Anyone who's ever dealt with a 2-year-old knows it takes some attitude. There's only so many times you can stand to hear the word "No"! And in the end, she witnessed the death of her child, and I don't care how your child dies, crucifixion or cancer or stupid teenage drinking accidents, coping with it takes a strength that I'm not sure I have. The brief mentions she gets in the Bible smooth out so much of the stuff of daily life that she comes out submissive, "contemplating things in her heart" instead of taking an active part in the proceedings. But anyone who's ever been a parent knows that can't be the whole story.

To me this hymn is sung to the young Mary, the one who talked to the Angel and rode the donkey and gave birth in the manger. It's a young girl's voice I hear, and I can't altogether explain it. But I know it needs a different kind of energy than what we usually bring to chant, and I want the Chant Choir to have the range needed to capture that, as well as the more subdued stuff. It took a fierce and awesome will to accomplish what she did and I want this hymn to be a tribute to that.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

sunday evening post

Finally! Two pairs of socks are done. Only 3 more to go before Christmas. Or thereabouts. It did turn out that with both socks from the larger pair the variagations lined up in a fairly regular chevron pattern. Didn't look for anything special in the yarn when I started each one off, so it must have been the difference between making 48 stitches around vs 44 stitches. The next pair I make will be with a similar variagated yarn, but will be even larger, so we'll see how that works out.

And then at work the other night I had time to finish one more bookmark. It might be a bad thing to post about stitching at work, but really I'm there on call, so if the babies behave, I have time to stitch. I kinda like this bookmark. Instead of using perle cotton to make the kloster blocks, I used a fine alpaca wool. It's really soft, and I like the contrast between the wool, the silk thread I used for the rest of the stitching, and the linen I worked it on. I only have one more bookmark to work, and then I'll have a dozen for the Advent Fair. I started the last one this evening at a birthday party. The party was for a good friend's daughter, and since this friend is the one who's coordinating my participation in the Advent Fair anyway, it seemed appropriate to work on the bookmark at her house. And I thought if I was stitching I wouldn't eat as much. Yah, right. But I got a fair amount of work done on the bookmark, and the Advent Fair's not until next weekend, so I'm in good shape. And then I can go back to crocheting socks.
I have to say that I'm a lot more relaxed about The Coming Of Christmas than I've been the last couple of years. Last year I remember approaching Advent with an almost overwhelming feeling of dread. I just had no idea how I was going to get everything done. Well, this year I have no more time and even less money, but I'm pretty sure it'll all work out. I've been thinking a lot about what's important to me at Christmas, and it's really 3 main things. I want to spend good time with my husband and children, spend good time with friends, and make good music. Not necessarily in that order. ;)
Toward that end, I can say that this weekend has covered all those bases. Laughed a lot with friends at the party tonight, had a date with the Dear Husband last night, have hugged the kids at least once every day, and made some good music at Mass last night. The Women's Chant Choir and I did the Verbum Supernum Prodiens hymn that I posted about a couple weeks ago, and if I do say so myself, it rocked. Hard. If it's possible for a 1000 year old Gregorian hymn to rock, it did. So Advent's gotten off to a good start, and I'm almost done with the bookmarks, and the socks look do-able, and I'm in an ok place.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

what I am thankful for

I am exceedingly thankful for the three people in the photo above. Dear Husband is a wonderful man, and the Dear Children are bright and happy and healthy and a lot of fun to be around.

I am thankful for all the benefits the Lord has shared with me: a warm house, a good job, and wonderful friends.

I am thankful for our new President and I am thankful to be alive now, in challenging times, and hope to be up to the challenge.

I am thankful for my garden.

I am thankful that I have the eyes and hands that can do really cool needlework and crochet.

I am thankful that I have the opportunity to share my music with others.

Illumina faciem tuam super servum tuum, et salvum me fac in tua misericordia: Domina, non confundar, quonium invocavite. (Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me in thy mercy. Let me not be confounded, O Lord, for I have called upon thee.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

this was supposed to be easy....

Ok, so here's another installment in the saga of the Christmas socks. The good news is, I actually finished a pair. And (always looking for the positive), I'm really REALLY getting to know this pattern. One might suggest that I could have saved myself some trouble by reading the pattern book more carefully before beginning, but that would have been very much out of character. It's been an interesting journey, though. It took me a while to figure out that the stitch I'm using has a right and a wrong side. And I still haven't figured out how to make the right side of the body of the sock match up with the right side of the heel (sort of a cable pattern) without leaving out a row of single crochet. Last weekend I took one of the finished socks (in a nearly finished state) as well as one of the three false-starts to Pacific Fabrics, where I was going to ask a salesperson for advice. I had the good luck to run into a crochet instructor at the end of a class, and she looked at what I was doing and said, "well, if you need to leave out the row of single crochet to get it to work, then leave it out, because what you're doing looks fine". Duh! I was making myself crazy over that, and she made it so simple.

So, now I've started the second pair, and, apparently, grabbed the yarn in the right spot to make the variagations line up in a nice chevron pattern instead of the random look the first pair of socks had. Don't know if it really is where I started with the yarn or if it has more to do with the fact that I'm making this pair a size larger so using that extra bit of yarn shifts everything around enough to line it up. Guess we'll see when I start the second sock from this pair - although if anyone who reads this knows the answer, feel free to comment. And, as you can see from the picture, I still need to work on the first pair, because I've made one foot longer than the other. Will try them on Dear Daughter (they're intended for her cousin, who's the same age and approximately the same size) and see which one fits better, then try to make an adjustment. Good thing the actual crochet doesn't take long, because I still need to finish a couple of bookmarks, and have bought yarn for two more pairs of socks that I want to get done before Christmas!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

hydrangeas are cool

Up 6 cement steps from our front walkway, there's a small landing and the front door. The area at the top of the steps is small enough that if the kids go up the steps in front of me it can be tricky to actually get to the door. Of course, despite the lack of space, I've got planters all along the perimeter of the landing, making it even smaller. And, at the bottom of the steps, there are three hydrangea shrubs in pots. Hydrangeas are my favorite family of plants, and I think the picture above shows why. Here it is November and this cluster of planters is one of the high points in my yard. The shrub on the left, w/ the scarlet leaves, has burgundy flowers that fade to all different colors. The shrub in the middle, with purplish flowers, blooms blue. It was given to me as a baby shower present when my Dear Son, who's 9 now, was born. And you can just see the third shrub at the far right. It's one that came from a cutting from a really big hydrangea that used to be outside the 5th floor entrance at Seattle Children's Hospital. The groundskeeper there is really cool and sold me a couple starts at their annual plant sale. That was several years ago, and honestly the poor thing spent a few years planted in a very unhappy place until finally year before last some kid or pet or other landed on it and broke it in half. I took the bigger half and put it in this pot, where it looks better than it ever has. From the other broken half I took 4 cuttings and rooted them, and now they're growing fairly well in 4" pots along the edge of the landing at the top of the stairs.

On a completely different note, here's a link to a video I posted last night. It's Dear Husband and me singing a song at his cousin's wedding reception in Aspen. It was recorded by my brother-in-law on his little camera, and the picture quality isn't great. The sound's ok - you get the gist of it anyway - and there are a couple of places where I'd like a do-over on the tuning. But, it shows the moment, and I love the song, and I really loved working with Dear Husband on it. In his own band(s) he doesn't sing lead much (great back-up singer, though, with a huge range and generally in tune) and doesn't really play the guitar much, although he's probably the best bass player I've ever worked with. So this was a bigger stretch for him than it was for me (Resident Diva), and I totally admire him for it.

If you listen to the lyrics, it might seem like a strange choice for a wedding reception, but it really catches where we're at after 13 years of marriage. And at the reception, we found that while the bride and groom were pleasantly confused by our choice, the married couples in the crowd totally got where we were coming from. Recently I read a blog post by Sister Julie, an IMH Nun who writes about being a Nun in contemporary society. In this post, she has asked Sister Candyce Rekart, IMH about whether she's ever reevaluated her vocation. The post includes a video clip of Sister Candyce responding to the question, and at the end of her response, she talks about how there are times when she gets up in the morning and reaffirms her commitment to her vocation, then gets up the next morning and has to make the same reaffirmation. I'm not able to show the depth of her response here, but the point I heard from her response is that her commitment is a daily process. And I was completely struck by how closely that compares to marriage. There are times when it's really easy, but other times when it takes a daily reminder of my vow. And there are times when I know staying married takes a level of Divine Intervention, because it doesn't just come from the two of us.

And finally, here's a photo of the chickens that live in my back yard. I had an idea for this when I uploaded the pix, but now I've lost it. It's not that important but I can't figure out how to delete the image. Their names are Eight Ball, Lacie, and Beulah Mae. And they do lay eggs. In Seattle. It's cool.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

cool Advent hymn

Last night was a chant choir rehearsal. We're getting ready to sing the Vigil for the First Sunday in Advent. When I put the schedule together (last August) I'd picked an Advent hymn, Verbum Supernum Prodiens, for the choir to sing at Communion. The problem was, there are two sets of texts associated with the title "Verbum Supernum Prodiens". (Also two hymn tunes that I've found, but that's another story). One text is the Advent hymn, which is early, possibly 2nd half of the 5th century but likely 7-8th century. The other (later, associated with St Thomas) is a hymn for Corpus Christi.

In the Liber Usualis, there's the Corpus Christi hymn, and I found the Advent text on-line (but no music, just words). The challenge was to somehow get something on paper that had the music with the Advent text. If I was a more organized person, I could have contact St Meinrad and ordered a copy of their chant writing software, but I'm not. I tried to find something I could just download, hopefully for free, but didn't have any luck w/ that, either. So after spending a good three hours yesterday afternoon trying to figure something out, I ended up taking a sheet of vellum art paper with notebook paper underneath it and writing it out by hand. The girls thought it looked pretty, and they could sing from it fairly easily, so it was a success.

The text is really dark and at rehearsal we spent a while looking it over before we sang it. As an example, the fourth verse goes like this:

Non demum artemur malis/ pro qualitate criminis/ sed cum beatis compotes/ simus perennes caelites.

which translates as:

Saved from the whirling black abyss/ forever more to us be given/ to share the feast of saintly bliss/ and see the face of God in heaven.

I was a little concerned that it might be too dark for the group, but they totally got into it. I loved it when Miss Soprano T said, "it reminds me that He's not a tame lion", and she went on about the strength and power of God, and how we should feel awe at times. It was a great discussion, and we will be singing an ancient Advent hymn for the first Saturday in Advent. Cool.

On the home front, I was over half way done with a crocheted sock, but decided I didn't like how it was going so I ripped it out and started over. The good thing was that if I hadn't ripped it out, I'd have probably finished it last night, which means I crocheted a sock in two days, which is greatly encouraging considering I want to get three pairs of socks (at least) done for Christmas.

And then there's the ongoing saga of my Dear Son and his winter sports choice. He really really really wants to play football next fall, and I'm using that to motivate him to join swim team this winter. I really don't think 9 year olds should play football, but I guess it's probably better to play when everyone's under 100 lbs than it would be when they're all 200+. I need a break from him playing team sports, until he gets his temper under better control, and he's a good swimmer, so I've made him a deal. He swims for several months w/o complaining, and I sign him up for football without complaining. It sounds so simple all written out here, but it's taken sometimes twice-daily phone calls to Mom (MY mother!) to work it all out in my head. Mom is so patient....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

the shower was a success

Had a shower for the kid's school music teacher on Sunday, and, if I do say so myself, it was a great success. It was also clearly a team effort. I had to clean house, but it was Dear Husband who freshened up the paint in several places and who took the kids off to a movie during the event. My friend D did all the flowers, which were just over the top (see above), and my friend T did the cake, which was delicious (also above). My friend the Kitchen Goddess took over and ran the food. It was great fun to bring up the vintage Wedgwood that I've collected from Ebay over the years and it all just looked so cool when we pulled it together. Instead of party games, we decorated onesies w/ fabric paint, so now she has a stash of newborn to 18 month sized onesies. I know the mother-to-be appreciated it, and I've heard back from some who attended that they had a lot of fun. Good times - and since I ended up working 2 - 24-hour shifts the week before, I could not have done it w/o the help that I had.

And then there's the ongoing saga of the bookmarks. I finished the white snowflake bookmark that I'd started on the night before the election, and I liked it so well that I did another one. I think it's the prettiest pattern I've come up with so far. The picture doesn't really show the sparkle. It's subtle, but I used a Kreinick opalescent thread for the eyelets, for the border between the buttonhole stitch edge and the kloster blocks, and also for the starbursts in the middle. They look really cool, and I'll probably do one more. I also finished another new-ish idea. It's cream 22 count (I think) lugana (I think) fabric with ecru perle cotton for the hardanger and a variagated green Weeks Dye Works floss for the blackwork stitches around the hardanger cross. It's pretty, but I wish the green were just a tad darker so it would stand out more.

I've done a total of 11 bookmarks so far, and my goal was to take 12 to the Advent Fair 12/7. Last week, however, a friend saw them and liked them so well that she ended up buying one from me. I tried to give it to her, but she wanted to support Operation Nightwatch (which is where all the $$ from the bookmarks is going). So I actually only have 10 on hand, and I was debating whether to stitch one more and take 11 to the fair, or stitch two more so that I'd have 12. I was worried, though that then I'd have stitched a total of 13, which might be a bad omen. Told my friend T that, and she said, "They, there were 13 at the table, so it'll be ok". That was the end of that worry. So I'll probably stitch one more snowflake pattern and one other TBA before the fair. But for today, I'm going to start crocheting socks, because I'm starting to stress that I won't have enough time to get 3 pairs done before Christmas.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

these are making me happy

The top picture is one of my dozen bookmarks, #8, and I finished it Sunday. The bottom picture will be #9. It's a new idea that I started working on Sunday evening. Yesterday at work, it was pretty mellow, so I had time to stitch in the evening. I finished the buttonhole edging, then started working on the stitching up the sides and the eyelets in the middle of the kloster blocks. I used a white silk floss with a Kreinik opalescent metalic for the stitching along the sides and for the eyelets, and,while the photo doesn't really show it, it's really pretty. Reminds me of snowflakes, and maybe a bit of drawn thread work. I'll cut the center out and needle weave it, probably doing some twisted threads to make a snowflake pattern in the center. We'll see. But I'm really happy with how it's looking.
I sat up late last night, stitching. I was at work for a 24 hour shift and the babies were mellow, as I said. The resident and the med student took naps, but I sat up watching Bill Maher on the Craig Fergusen show. I've been so nervous about the election, that it felt really good to work on something beautiful. Bill Maher was talking about his movie, Religulous, and he sounded like a fair idiot. "So, let me see, Mr Senator, you believe in a group that tells stories about talking snakes? Don't know if I want that kind of person running my government". Well, yes, Mr Maher, there is a talking snake, if you will, back in the Garden of Eden. But do you need to be so absolute, concrete and literal? Perhaps there is more to life than what you can see and hear and smell and taste. My faith brings such a beautiful rich sweetness to my life, and reducing it to talking snakes and old bronze age stories "told by people who didn't even know where the sun went at night" sorta misses the point. But I wish you well in your determined literalism. It was a good reminder that, on the eve of this most important election in my life, there's a bigger picture.
Addendum: I was talking to the unit Pharmacist yesterday, telling her about my fear that I was holding Sarah P to a different standard that was increasing my negative reaction to her. She said that we were obviously holding her to a different standard, pointing out that no one in the media has published or cares about how much $$ any of the male candidates spent on their wardrobe. Being an attractive woman, and using it to your advantage, is a double-edged sword.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

new bookmark idea

So in my ongoing effort to create a dozen bookmarks to sell at the St James Advent fair, I came up with a new pattern this week. It's a combination of hardanger kloster blocks and blackwork embroidery finished with a buttonhole edge. The blocks are supposed to look like a crucifix, in a nod to the religious nature of the event. Not sure if I might be the only one who sees that, but I do like the contrast between the bright white and the embroidery. I used a red soy floss for the outline, then used a Weeks Dye Works overdyed floss "Noel" for the embroidery. It has kind of a folk art feel that I like, and I'm working on a second one, this time using a higher thread count linen and tweaking the embroidery some. Still have 4 1/2 left to stitch by 12/7....

And on a totally different topic, like most of the people in this country I've been obsessing on the election, . Here's a link to what might be the best use of Andrew Lloyd Weber ever:

It's fairly complicated. One the one hand, there's part of me that does want to be happy that a woman is a serious candidate for Vice President. One the other, it really pisses me off that it's THIS woman. In addition to the fact that I disagree w/ just about everything she says, she's exactly the kind of girl I would have hated in high school. There's something so cynical and calculated about the decision to add her to the ticket that it makes me shiver.

One thing I know is that women get held to a higher standard than men do, and I wonder if I'm holding her to a different standard because she doesn't fit my stereotype of what a "serious woman politician" should be. I wonder if maybe I've been selling her short or painting her too negatively. My undergraduate womens' studies training didn't lead me to expect a pretty, charming, funny woman President. For those of us who are so ardently against Sarah P, are we kind of shooting ourselves in the foot by saying, "yes, let's get a woman into the highest office in the land, but NO, NOT THIS WOMAN"? I don't know the answer, but I think it's just that uncertainty that makes this decision seem so cynical to me.

And then there's the issue of what to do if the Republican ticket wins. I've told my Dear Husband that if they do win, I'd like to find a job in an English-speaking European country or in Australia, and move out of here for a couple of years. Not forever, but if this country insists on going down this path, then I need to get some distance from it, because obviously I'm not getting something. I don't want to feel like I'm running out on my country, but there must be something I need to learn. I believe living outside this country will help me gain some objectivity and will help me understand where the rest of the country is coming from. And I think the kids would benefit from breaking out of their safe and insular Catholic School world and learning about the bigger picture. So we'll see. Not sure that Dear Husband buys into this plan. It's fairly complicated.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fw: one thing off the list

Got the test pair of socks done today. Dear Daughter says they're very cozy. Didn't take me very long - not quite two weeks to get them done. With luck and persistence I should be able to get 2-3 pairs done before Christmas to give as gifts. Dear Daughter is home this afternoon because she had three teeth pulled this morning. So far she's not too uncomfortable, mainly complaining about the numbness in her lips. She's had tylenol and motrin, and will keep getting whatever she needs. Oh, and she had a double scoop of Baskin Robbins Gold Medal Ribbon for lunch. Hey, it had to be something soft.....

Thursday, October 16, 2008

lots to do

So I'm getting started on the whole Christmas thing. Earlier this year than most, but I guess that gives me permission to take on a whole lot of stuff that I wouldn't ordinarily try to do. Last January one of my New Years resolutions was to learn to crochet, which I have done to a certain extent. And, as the picture demonstrates, I'm now learning to crochet socks. My sister pointed out that I could BUY socks if I wanted, and is worried that the economic crunch in Seattle is worse than she thought. It's the hand-made thing, though, and I hope to get three pairs done for Christmas presents - matching socks for my sister-in-law and my neice, and then a third pair for my other sister-in-law. We'll see. If I have more time, I'll do more.

Then there's the Fabio BVM that I'm cross stitching. It's actually a Mirabilia Design "Madonna of the Garden", and it's a fairly complicated piece by my standards. It's also very pretty, like, if this is what Jesus and Mary really looked like, then Joseph must look like Fabio. Or something like that. It's cool to work on such a challenging piece, but it's not really to my taste. I'm thinking it'll be our school auction donation item this year. That gives me till May 2nd to get it done. Well, sooner than that if I want to get it framed.

And then there are the bookmarks. A friend secured a table at the St James Cathedral Advent fair, then asked all her crafty friends to make something to sell. Figured we'd all get credit without each of us having to make enough to stock a booth. My goal for this is to get a dozen bookmarks made. I plan to sell them for $8 each and donate the $$ to Operation Nightwatch. Am using Hardanger embroidery patterns that I designed (well, they're so basic that "designed" is a bit presumptious) although it's fun to play with the colors to tweak each one. They work up pretty quick, like, two evenings of stitching per bookmark. But then they have to be done by the first week of December, so I don't have all the time in the world.

There's lots to do. The house needs cleaning, and there's a stack of books that I'd like to read, but the cold wet weather makes me want to stitch. So for now, that's what I'll do.

the view from up here

It's that time of year. Foggy time. This is a photo Dear Daughter took from our dining room window. We have a great view of the sky, if you can overlook Pederson's Plastic Roof next door. It's kind of an eyesore, and the power lines provide a lovely accent. But we do get to see the sky.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Yesterday we had a nearly open day. Between work, school, soccer, and various musical activities, someone almost always has something going. But yesterday there wasn't much on the schedule. So I decided it was a good day to plan a family activity. This idea was met with varying levels of enthusiasm. Dear Husband was on board, but wanted to do something way more involved than what I had in mind (like drive an hour away and visit a zoo and a museum and goodness knows what all else). Talked him out of it fairly easily, though, and he got to work with the What's Happening from the Friday paper, trying to find something a little smaller scale.

Both kids asked about playdates as soon as they were awake. Like, "Good morning, mother. Can I have a playdate with ______?" My son was ok with the family day idea, but my daughter, not so much. She's very close to being a teenager, and I think yesterday she got a little closer. We ended up going to the Carpinito Brothers farm, where they had U-pick pumpkins and a corn maze. Dear Son thought it was all very cool, and spent the afternoon leading us all through the corn maze and evaluating the pumpkins to find three that would work for a pumpkin snowman. Daughter sulked. When she wasn't pouting. Somehow we ended up taking home $40 worth of pumpkins - don't ask me how that happened - and she did manage to get engaged with the process of picking out her pumpkin(s). And she also liked eating the caramel kettle corn. Other than that she did a darned fine imitation of a teenager. So maybe we're in the fall of her childhood, and soon she'll be moving full on into a new phase of life. Last month she took the picture of the Aspens that's attached to this post. She's a good kid, a talented kid, and while it's sad to loose my baby, it's going to be cool watching her grow up.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

baking bread

The picture above is a loaf of Challah bread I baked a couple of years ago. It was my first attempt at Challah bread, and I was so pleased with how it turned out that I took pictures. I haven't tried Challah again, but I do try to bake regular old wheat bread for the kid's lunches. It's nothing special, but my daughter tells me she likes it when her school lunch is made with fresh baked bread. I use organic wheat flour, but then standard white flour because it gets too expensive to use the good white flour. At least I know they aren't getting any preservatives or anything in their bread. The peanut butter may be full of weird stuff, but the bread is good.

It's not hard to bake decent bread, especially since My Dear Friend gave me a stand mixer last Christmas. The way my life goes, it's almost more about timing and scheduling than anything else. Take today, for instance. I worked night shift last night but the babies behaved and I got a couple of hours of sleep. I mixed the bread this morning and it'll rise while I take a nap this morning (very soon!). Then I have a 1pm meeting back at work (which I might sleep through, although it'll mess up the bread). Before the meeting, I'll set it up in bread pans, but then put it in the fridge because I won't be home before it'll be ready to bake. When I get home (after son's soccer practice), I'll set it out to rise, then bake it this evening. Or the husband can bake it if I have to leave for work before it's ready. It's not always this complicated, but sometimes it seems that way.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

follow-up to the previous post

This is a look into my front yard. There are asters (Ruby Morn), japanese anemone, miscanthus, pineapple mint, eucalyptus, and raspberries falling all over the place. But it's pretty.

First one

So I started this process today, but was interrupted by the kids, who wanted lunch. And over lunch we had to have a quick Pig Latin lesson. They're getting better at it. We debated over the correct pronunciation of "I" (ay-I, I think). But now they're back to playing, and I'm back to writing.

Took a couple of quick pictures of my yard, and will try to post one. It's pretty, in a Secret Garden kind of way, but I'm tired of being unable to walk through the front yard without getting mugged by the raspberry plants. And the eucalyptus is kind of in the way and annoying, too. I can't imagine a garden without raspberries, and love picking a big bowl for breakfast, but that's in June. By this time of year, they're sprawling and prickly and not all that much fun. So I'm debating whether to cut them back, but am afraid I won't get any berries next year if I cut back too hard. Of course, it does me no good to have berries if I can't get at them. It's overcast and cool today, so I'm not really motivated to work outside anyway. I guess the raspberries are safe for now.