Wednesday, December 28, 2016

On the Fourth Day of Christmas

Good morning, friends! 

I had my carry-on sitting out because a friend had asked to borrow it for an upcoming trip, but the kittens thought it made a great snuggly bed. I'm not sure she's going to get it away from them.

So here is it, the Fourth Day of Christmas. Did you receive your four calling birds yet? And in case you (like I), had forgotten what 'calling birds' are, let's review, shall we, class?:

'Four Colly Birds: The birds are really Colly Birds, not Calling Birds.  
Colly birds may be any of several coal-black birds – crows, jackdaws, rooks, or ravens. These birds of the night carry the power and mystery of the dark season of the year. The raven was the bird of battle.' That's one definition (from somewhere on the internet). Another says that the four 'calling birds' referred to the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Hmmm. I'm thinking the first is more likely. Colly, as in Collier, Coal, etc. etc. Well, anyway...moving along...
I spent all day Christmas Day and the Second Day of Christmas in bed with an intensely achy virus. As they say, 'I'd like tuh died.' Once when our younger daughter was little, she and I came down with the flu on Christmas and spent the day in bed, listening to Christmas carols on the radio. She was selfish enough to grow up, get married, and move away, so it was just the cats on the bed with me, attacking my feet through the blankets. Mr. C. was very kind and compassionate, however, which is always much appreciated by someone who feels they're at death's door - or wishes they could be and get it over with.

 How can I even look at these right now??

All better on The Third Day of Christmas, so that I was able to do laundry, do a little walking, and make another double batch of Andes Mint Truffle Cookies - recipe at that link - (but not in any mood yet to eat them). I'm letting you know right now not to bother to make a single batch. Start out with either a double or quadruple batch. They're so easy and there's enough time to make them for New Year's Eve. And you can even get a half dozen eaten before you start your New Year's resolutions!  You know, the one where you're not ever going to eat sugar again.

Little grandsons, budding artists, Christmas Eve
I wonder if this is how Ferrante and Teicher started out. 

For some reason, the past couple nights after being sick I've been on a Hercule Poirot (David Suchet) marathon. I didn't care much for some of the very earliest ones, but then they start getting pretty good, like The Yellow Iris, The Case of The Missing Will, The Chocolate Box, etc. It's been fun to see them again after all this time.

I might have to replace the lights out by the pond next spring.

Christmas Eve Eve
Neighbors with two combines in the corn field,
trying to beat an incoming snowstorm

We're expecting family to start arriving Friday and we'll spend the weekend together. It's always wonderful to have them here. That's also why I made a quadruple batch of those chocolate mint truffle cookies! 

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year's Day. Have you made New Year's resolutions?
Mine involve more exercise, getting out of the cold at least a few days during February, more Bible study, and cleaning out the house. I know, I know, I said the cleaning out the house thing last year, but 2017 is THE YEAR.

See you in the new year!

 Princess Elsa


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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Hodgepodging the Countdown...

Sunrise, looking SSE from the front porch
with the ever-present lawn ornament

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1. What's left to be done on your Christmas to-do list? 

With only 4 more sleeps 'til Christmas, my list consists of cleaning the house and making New Year's Day menu plans. Everything's organized, at least on paper. And for me, once it's on paper, I'm good. I already have the minced clams for Christmas Eve's clam chowder that we'll eat, along with popovers, after the church service.

 Snowmen in the library

2. The Hodgepodge lands on the first day of winter this year. What's your favorite thing about winter? 

My favorite thing about winter is the last day of it, which is sometime in April (when you live in northern Wisconsin). 

The barn on a cold!! winter afternoon

An armful of energy

3. In what area of your life are you immature? Feel free to elaborate or not. 

I'm not immature in any way, and why are you asking this anyway? Did someone tell you that I'm immature???

 Santa on the cookstove

4. What was the most (or one of the most) important lessons you learned in 2016? 

There's no quick way to learn patience.

Another wheelbarrow full of wood for the stove

In case some are wondering, Mr. C. pulls the wheelbarrow backwards into the house because it's just easier that way. It might seem odd to those who don't live in the frozen North and who don't burn wood. But believe me, when staying warm takes top priority, we get the wood into the house as quickly and efficiently as possible.

5. It's Fried Shrimp Day...are you a fan? What's your favorite way to eat shrimp? Will there be shrimp somewhere in your holiday feastings? 

I think that shrimp was (were) meant to be part of the food chain, to be consumed by something else that lives in the sea, not by humans.

Sunset and the old farm fuel tank

6. What sound lulls you to sleep?

The car engine (whether or not I'm driving.)

 Evening, View SE from the front porch

7. What one word best describes your 2016? 


8.  Insert your own random thought here.

 Yea, Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing.

I'm including the last paragraph of a Christmas letter we received from a friend. I thought it nicely summed up what Christmas is all about. Thank you, Laurel:

'A simple birth - not the end of the story nor the beginning, but the pivotal moment in history when God's promise to send a Saviour was put into motion on earth. God loved us enough to send His Son to redeem us from the consequence of sin, so we can have peace with God, the joy of knowing we are His, and hope for the future. His perfect justice is tempered with the gift of mercy for anyone who will believe the truth and tear open the ribbons! Merry Christmas!' 

Have a blessed and very merry Christmas, friends, as we celebrate the birth of our Rescuer, Jesus. He gives us every reason for Joy.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Churches of Minneapolis

When we woke up Sunday morning, it was -24 F, but it warmed up to a balmy -10 F. during the day. We did some Bible study, stayed close to the fire, and made Christmas cookies and candy (and played with those cute kittens). With the nice Christmas music of Carols From Trinity and also Tingstad and Rumble, it was a pleasant day altogether. After a few days of this ridiculously cold weather, though, I'm beginning to feel antsy.

Ignore the picture of the kittens if I've already posted it. It's just that the days are all starting to seem the same.


Last week, for our wedding anniversary, we drove to Minneapolis and toured The Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis. Not your idea of a romantic getaway?

Well, just in case you ever wondered what the difference is between a basilica and cathedral, the following is from a website with the very long explanation.

"The word basilica is derived from a Greek term meaning “royal house.” In the Catholic world, a basilica is a church building that has been accorded special privileges by the pope. There are two kinds of basilicas. The world’s four major, or papal, basilicas are St. John Lateran, St. Peter, St. Paul Outside the Walls, and St. Mary Major, all in Rome.

"Minor, or lesser, basilicas are significant churches in Rome and elsewhere in the world that meet certain criteria and are given special ecclesiastical privileges. Minor basilicas are traditionally named because of their antiquity, dignity, historical value, architectural and artistic worth, and/or significance as centers of worship. A basilica must “stand out as a center of active and pastoral liturgy,” according to the 1989 Vatican document Domus ecclesiae. 

"Because designation as a basilica indicates a special bond of communion with the pope, the parish must celebrate “with particular care” the feast of the Chair of Peter on Feb. 22, the solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul on June 29, and the anniversary of the pope’s election or his inauguration into his pastoral ministry. In the case of Pope Benedict XVI, those dates would be April 19 (his election) and April 24 (his inauguration).

More than 1,580 churches worldwide have been honored as basilicas. As of last year, 325 basilicas had been designated in the Americas; there are now 69 in the United States

"Three physical signs indicate that a church is a lesser basilica. The first is the presence of the conopaeum — a silk canopy designed with stripes of yellow and red, traditional papal colors. The second is the tintinnabulum, or bell. It is mounted on a pole and carried processionally, along with the conopaeum, at the head of the clergy on special occasions. 

"Third, minor basilicas have the right to display the papal symbol—crossed keys—on banners, on furnishings, and on the seal of the basilica. In addition, the basilica’s rector may wear a black mozetta, or cape, with red piping, buttons, and buttonholes in the exercise of his office."


I wonder how  many people actually remember all of this. I hope we're not going to be tested on it.  But anyway, the Basilica of Saint Mary is a beautiful building, and as we entered, I asked the janitor if it was OK that I took photos. Just so you know.

Westminster Presbyterian on Nicollet Avenue

Then we drove a few blocks to Westminster Presbyterian, where we had to buzz at the front door, state our cause, and wait to be admitted. I felt kinda like a spy. But...Nicollet Avenue is all torn up in frozen road construction, but I suspect they'll try to get it finished this next summer. It's really a mess. Any construction has completely ceased for the time being.

Westminster Presbyterian is a beautiful building, but...

 Westminster Presbyterian, Minneapolis, sanctuary

And then there's St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, which we had planned to attend for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Sunday evening. Needless to say, with the frigid temps we weren't going anywhere. Photos from 2013.

And of course we had to stop in at Brit's Pub for fish and chips before leaving the Big City.

The people to the left of the fireplace are merely ornamental.

I hope everyone's had a good weekend. I hear that the average temperature for the continental U.S. was 16 degrees F. today! Stay warm, everyone.

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Totally Random...

Carrie, over at Northwoods Scrapbook blog, another northern Wisconsin blogger, has inspired me. The coziness of her lovely bay home, partly because of the candlelight, actually prompted me to go digging out some things in which to place tea lights.

I have an old candelabra which used to hold 5 candles, but one of the arms broke off. I suppose I could have thrown it out, but why?  Three has more Biblical significance than five anyway, and now I have three candles, slightly leaning, on top of one of the bookshelves. I've got to do something about that candle on the left.

Like many others, we're getting lots of snow and deep-freeze temps, which have caused several event cancellations. So for this weekend, we're forecasted to get 5-8 additional inches of snow and an air temp high of -9F on Sunday. Brrr. I'm so thankful for our wood-burning stove, not to mention the man who cuts the wood and brings it into the house!

I hope one of the grandkids doesn't think that huge red box is a present for him or her. They would be very disappointed. It's actually a huge empty cardboard box that I wrapped because I had to have something to set the TV antenna on. I know this is ridiculous, but we can't get cable out here in the middle of nowhere, and wouldn't even if we could, (believe me, Mr. C. and I have been at a motel and tried a couple hundred channels to discover absolutely nothing worth watching) but we do have an antenna that's supposed to bring in a signal within about 40 miles and the transmitting tower is something like 50 miles away. We do this all to get PBS for Masterpiece. It better be good this season! Anyway, so, that means we don't get a picture, unless......we put the antenna thing up very high in the room, facing the south windows, the weather is just right, and we boil butterfly wings and chicken beaks in a cauldron out in the backyard during a full moon.  I decided that at Christmas time it might be nice to take down the stack of books the antenna was resting on and replace it with something more festive - The big red box. Santa Lucia looks on.

 More light. Thanks for the inspiration, Carrie.


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Times past: Three grandsons on a snow mountain in our backyard -  in April.

 From December of 2015
At least December is predictable.
It looks just like this now.

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Snowstorm, St. Lucia, and an Anniversary

 Star of Wonder, Star of Light

Hi friends,
I hope you all had a good weekend. We got a snowstorm that came in on Saturday and left us with quite a bit of snow, and still snowing Sunday morning as we made our way to church. I can't even tell you how blessed I was by the Christmas program/play put on by the children and young people of our church. And then I found out that the script was written by our pastor. It was all about Jesus, our rescuer - who frees us not only from death and hell, but from ourselves - our pride and self-righteousness, and our fear and guilt - in spite of the constant voices of condemnation we hear in our own heads - so that at last we can have peace with God.

Jesus is King. He is Lord of all creation. He is our Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. We look to him, not ourselves, for our Hope. Hope in this life and in the life to come.


The photo below is in B&W simply because after I made the collage, I realized that the only color was in the lights on the tree. Everything else was gray or shades thereof, so the photos of the tree on the porch looked out of place. Hence, they were turned to B&W as well.

December 13 (tomorrow) is not only Mr. C.'s and my wedding anniversary, but also the date of the Battle of Fredericksburg in America's Civil War (and I'll resist the strong temptation to turn this into a post about General James Longstreet, (General Lee's senior subordinate officer), BUT, it is also St. Lucia's Day.

 My St. Lucia doll
from Cousin Bobby

'Around Christmas time in Sweden, one of the biggest celebrations is St. Lucia's Day (or St. Lucy's Day) on December 13th. The celebration comes from stories that were told by Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden.

'St Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304. The most common story told about St Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means 'light' so this is a very appropriate name.'

P.S. The story goes that my paternal grandfather Nelson was born on the ship on the way to the United States, as his parents emigrated from Sweden.

 The darling little granddaughter above is now 18 years old.
I took this photo in 2005, during a St. Lucia program.

 And the sweetie in the pink PJs above actually is named Lucia,
our littlest granddaughter, photo taken by her mama this month.
The happy boy (bottom left)  is her cousin, whom she adores, kneeling beside
the Christmas tree in their home - photo sent to me by his dad.

Fortunately, we will get to see both of these kids and their families during the next month. I am so looking forward to that! And did you notice those sweet kitties??

 Mr. C. and his wife
Passport photos from 1989. And we'd already been married for eons!
Happy Anniversary, Mr. C.
I'd still rather spend time with you than with anyone else! 

One year we actually had plans to celebrate our anniversary on the battlefield at Fredericksburg, but plans fell through due to one of the kids getting sick. Doesn't everyone celebrate their wedding anniversary on a battlefield? I was greatly disappointed. (Happy to say that yes, the child recovered, but still...)


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