Archive for December, 2009

On the fourth day of Christmas…

December 28, 2009

Well, my true love didn’t give me four calling birds, but maybe ten cackling hens and one crowing rooster would substitute for not only the calling birds, but also the three French hens, and two turtle doves?  And there was a crow cawing up in a tree…not a partridge and for sure, not a pear tree, but still…I’d rather have the chickens than all those fancy, useless poultry anyway…

It is snowing and quite lovely out.  No wind,  just a steady snow.  The woodstove is crankin’ out nice heat.  The choir of  Trinity Church, Boston, is singing out Christmas hymns and carols courtesy of  our CD player.  (There is a particularly lovely Scottish carol on this recording I’d never heard before…I really love it.  It reminds me of the novels recently lent to me by my friend, Vicky, which take place in Scotland…makes me want to visit…

With so few animals being wintered over, chores in the morning are easy and pleasant, even yesterday in the pouring rain!  The two new(ish) little (a relative term; they’re still bigger than the full grown jacobs, but “lambish”) coopworth lambs are very cute, following me around, hoping for a little treat in the shed while the rest are pigging out and pushing them away out at the feeding sleds.  This morning, Mimi Jacob had somehow managed a unique Christmas decoration: she had a length of bailing twine around one horn, and down and wound around her right front hoof, hobbling her somewhat…which made it real easy to catch her and remove it.  She was very grateful.  (Or so I imagined.)

I should make banana bread today, but the chickens were on strike yesterday and I have no eggs, and I’m NOT going out 9 miles to the store, just to buy eggs.  I don’t go out for ONE chore anymore…seems a waste of gasoline.   I was also going to go to Staples to copy off the Christmas letter, but in the snow, I think I’ll just stay home and read another novel…I also have all the Christmas gifts for the grands to wrap…and some soup to make…and I guess I could make some cinnamon rolls, since they take no eggs…or not.  Mostly, I’m enjoying the solitude.

Ponderings in the night…

December 18, 2009

I woke up early this morning (some might say the middle of the night!) pondering many things, most of them theological, so if that isn’t something you want to think about, you might well quit now!

It started with ponderings about Christmas and Epiphany…for I am celebrating and preaching on January 3, the Second Sunday of Christmas, while Susan, our priest is away recovering from Christmas.  (Priests tend to get exhausted by Christmas and Easter doings…)  We are using the Epiphany readings and hymns that day, essentially celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany…in the season of Christmas…I am loathe to give up even one day of the twelve days of Christmas, the only 12 days of the year we can sing all those Christmas hymns.  (Anglicans celebrate a SEASON of Christmas, 12 days, and don’t celebrate Christmas during Advent.  This is different from the secular Christmas season which begins the day after Halloween (used to be Thanksgiving!) and goes through Dec. 26th, when many people take down their decorations and start preparing for New Year’s Eve!  Many churches, since churches tend to fit into the culture and re-interpret it for their own purposes, seem to be doing the same; you can hear Christmas hymns during Advent, there are pageants and “Christmas fairs” as well during those weeks leading up to Christmas.  )  Anyway, I’m big on tradition, and hate to see tradition going out the window, both in secular and sacred matters!  For example, Wednesday I took a friend out for lunch to celebrate her birthday to a relatively upscale restaurant.  We ordered pie for dessert, and when the waitress brought it out, she put down by our plates with a flourish…a long handled sundae spoon with which I guess we were to eat this pie.  NOT ME!  I grabbed a fork from the next table, albeit a dinner fork, not a pie fork.  I don’t eat pie with a spoon.  On top of that, given the length of the spoon handle, it would have been rather difficult to cut the pie crust with the spoon.  Miss Manners might well be horrified.  I was annoyed.  Tradition!  Details!

Anyway, back to Christmas and Epiphany.  TRADITIONALLY, on Christmas II, instead of a sermon, I like to sing Christmas hymns, the last time we can do that for a year…so I will, despite the fact that the organist (who apparently hasn’t read in the canons that the priest is in charge of worship!) declined to play for these hymns, since we’re celebrating Epiphany that day.  Oh, well, thank God they are familiar and we can sing them without accompaniment!

So, from that annoying little altercation, my thoughts went on to the Epiphany story…and I realized how incredible it is, really. Epiphany means manifestation, or light; it is the season wherein we look at all the ways Jesus made himself known to the people of biblical times, and today, as the Christ, the son of God.  Christmas is the season of God in us, God with us; Epiphany underscores that in many ways.  But the Epiphany gospel itself, I realized, goes us one better.  Before Peter and Paul in the New Testament have a fight over whether Gentiles need to be circumcised, whether you need to be a Jew to be a Christian; before the rest of the world started condemning other forms of worship and exploration of who God is…here it is: “wise men” (nice way to avoid the depth of the story), Magi, Astrologers, shamans of a sort, holy men in their own religious tradition, determined, THROUGH THEIR TRADITION, that there was something going on in Bethlehem, something they saw in the reading of the stars which is one way that God manifested Godself to them, and they took off on a long journey to find out what was going on.  That is, they saw the legitimacy of another religious tradition, they were able to see God in us in a Jewish baby born in a manger, something foreign to their religious system.  And they worshipped him.  That doesn’t mean they became Jews.  It means that through their tradition, they saw evidence of holiness and worshipped.  And here we are today, condemning other religious traditions, sometimes saying ours is the only TRUE way to God…even Christian denominations condemning other Christian denominations for not getting it right, not believing properly, going to hell because of it.  Yoikes!  And here it is in scripture: honor other traditions, learn from them, anything that brings you closer to God is from God. Wow!

So, then, the question for me becomes how to honor other religious traditions and still keep my own.  Just because we are all Christians in the Christian world doesn’t mean we all have to do it all the same.  We are a 12 days of Christmas denomination…we have lots of things peculiar (I am using that word on purpose, but not pejoratively) to the Anglican communion that we needn’t give up in order to honor other traditions.  This is who we are.  Doubtless your tradition is the same:  there are things that are unique to your tradition: hymns, liturgical traditions, theological beliefs.  My theory is we all get part of it right, and most of it wrong.  Luckily, God has a sense of humor and blesses us for trying, not necessarily in succeeding, to understand who God is and who we are as children of God.  So, how to move forward and grow and at the same time, honor who we are and our traditions…that is the question for me to ponder.  I am reminded that once upon a time, the metaphor for this country was “melting pot” until we realized that we were giving up a lot of wonderful traditions by all melting into the same thing, and salad bowl might well work better than melting pot: a metaphor that allows us to be a “whole” while still maintaining our individual traditions and ideas.  Perhaps that would work for religion as well.  In Christianity, Jesus at one point suggests that we all should be one.   I am convinced that that didn’t mean we all have to think the same, do the same, worship the same, sing the same; we can be a salad bowl of Christianity.  And beyond that, a salad bowl of the children of God, no matter what their religious bent.  We are seekers after the holy, that is how we are one…in the seeking, not in the interpretation of what we find.  Perhaps the world would be a better place if we could adopt that philosophy; I don’t know.

Oh, well, regardless, Lizzie is whining that it’s time to go feed her sheep, and despite the morning reading of -1 out on the back porch, I guess it’s time to brave the cold, and bring food and water to those critters with whom we share this land and this life.  Stay warm.

REALLY snowing!

December 9, 2009

We are in the midst of the first BIG snow of the year…still not a huge snow, but 6–10 inches they are saying…It started around 4 a.m., I think, judging from accumulation when I took Lizzie out at 5:45.  So far, we have about 5 inches, possibly six.  It’s very dark out…lots of snow up there still, I guess.  The sheep are all snuggled in the shed, where I put their hay and grain. Chickens are in their winter house, talking and moving around looking for the corn I threw on their bedding to amuse them for the morning.  The turkeys are under their shelter , but if there’s a lot of snow, it might well bring it down. Perhaps they’ll move to the ram shed, which is a lot bigger and sturdier.  In a while, I’ll go out and knock the snow off the turkey shelter.  They have another week before going into the freezer.

Yesterday I made 250 cookies.  When I finish this, I will go knit awhile on my aran sweater, which is very slow going, but I figure if I do 10 rows a day I’ll probably finish it before I die!  Then, cookie press cookies…a much neater experience than the rolled out ones yesterday, in which I managed to get flour all over everything in sight.  I finished up last night frosting the gingerbred cookies.  So, today’s will be easier. I think I’ll also get some bread started in the Zojirushi (still LOVE that word!).  I hope to get some photos later when there’s a little more light out there, and will post them.

I love SNOW! (In December, Jan. and Feb.  By March it is getting a little old. In April it’s annoying.  In May, it’s downright ugly.  We won’t even talk about June…for in truth, it doesn’t snow much in June.  Only about twice since we’re up here.  I do recall that there was a year, not sure when, when it snowed every month in Vermont!)

Yes, SNOW!

December 5, 2009

Just a short note: it is snowing out!  First real snow of the season…It started about 2 p.m., and there was a bit on the ground an hour later when a friend stopped in with her two grandkids, delightful children, to show them the sheep, the turkeys and the chickens.  Later, almost at dark, I went out and locked the chickens up: they had gone into their summerhouses to get shelter from the snow, and I closed the doors.  Tomorrow morning they will go to winter quarters.  All but the two roosters cooperated.  They will get caught tomorrow night!

I don’t expect there will be much snow…predictions range from 1-4 inches still…we shall see. I believe there are about 1-1/2 inches at the moment.

John went to see his mother, while I finish up the pot roast and vegetables for dinner.  Then, another couple of episodes of “All Creatures Great and Small”.

And tomorrow, the Sugar River Spinners have their annual Christmas party.  I took a ham out of the freezer, will cook it in the morning, while we’re at church.

Snow?

December 5, 2009

It’s very white/grey up in the sky…the weather guys agree that today there will be flurries, and tonight some accumulation, though they are not in agreement as to how much, in any case, no more than a couple of inches.  The day has about it a sense of expectation, that feeling in the air when a storm is coming…Out for chores this morning, I prepared the chickens’ winter quarters, getting out the heater for the waterer, spreading shavings on the floor of the shed, moving things around in preparation…Perhaps tonight, I’ll go out at dark, and shut them in their pens where they roost. (Ordinarily, I don’t restrict them, or close the doors; they are behind electronetting and safe enough.)  But tonight may well be the night…then, tomorrow morning, I can easily catch them and put them in their winter shed, one more thing to do on the road to winter.  I also picked up that last length of electronetting which hadn’t been tied up and placed under the shelter where the rolls winter over.  One more thing done.

Then, I came inside, read a bit, and made today’s batch of Christmas cookies.  (At this time of year, my biggest “decoration” effort is to make a batch of cookies every day, sometimes every other day, so that by Christmas, I have many different kinds for when company comes, for coffee hours at church, for making up packets for mailmen, newspaper deliverers, neighbors, etc.  So, yesterday, there were chocolate chip cookies made. Today, preserve-filled cookies.  Two down, lots more to go. Now, the real trick is to keep John from eating them all during Advent, so that come Christmas, we’re left with none.

I just got in two quarts of frozen soup: chicken vegetable for him, and Irish vegetable for me (read: pureed).  And I put bread in the machine when I made the cookies, so they’ll be fresh bread in an hour or so, to go with the soup, a good lunch for a chilly, maybe snowy day.  I’ll keep you posted!