Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday again

The Rambler spent a good part of yesterday and most of an SOS pad cleaning the rings'n'pans on the top of her stove. They tell me there are such things out there as smooth-top electric ranges, but we don't put no trust in setch notions in these parts.

And then, this morning, inspired by the wonderfulness of it all, got up early and commenced upon Sourdough Buttermilk Biscuits. Yes, I started a new 'starter' last week. Yeast had been in the fridge -- date on jar of yeast, "Jan 2008" but nonetheless it came up out of the flour and water just roaring and bubbling so ON WE GO. Out of buttermilk, but have the 'heel' of the last making of plain yogurt in the fridge, which substitutes just fine.

I can tell you it has been a long time since flour was the predominant note in the chaos that is the Rambler's kitchen.

First crisis -- WHERE is my pastry cutter??? Irony here is that kitchen clean-up since retirement disclosed that there were TWO pastry cutters floating about in the batterie de cuisine. Two. Now I ask you, expecting no answer, WHO in her right mind would have TWO pastry cutters? Disposed of one to Daughter Unit. And WHERE did I put the other one???

But it turned up after only minimal excavation and we moved right along to...

Second crisis -- the removal of about 25 pounds of mixed foodstuffs from the Sacred Place on the kitchen counter devoted to Rolling Stuff Out.

The previous inhabitants of Tether's End, here, had a series of nannies/au pairs, one of whom set a hot saucepan down on the countertop and burnt a big hole in the Arborite. So they replaced the damaged section with a Corningware SLAB...not only is it heat proof, but being non-porous and perpetually cool it is like a pastry marble that doesn't have to be moved, put away, hauled about, etc.

The rolling pin was not as hard to find as the pastry cutter had been.

And there are not-quite-a-dozen nice biscuits cooling on a rack. There were a dozen. Soon after they came out of the oven, #1 Son Unit came wafting up the stairs from his bedroom...

I have heated milk in my Enormous Black cup, and spiked it with freshmade stove-top espresso, and am about ready to contemplate the day.

Celebrated at St. Curious last night with one young lady and one elderly lady and great happiness. Shared with them Prudentius' Hymnus ad Galli Cantum. And now I'll share it with you.

Awake! the shining day is born!
The herald cock proclaims the morn:
And Christ, the soul's Awakener, cries,
Bidding us back to life arise.

Away the sluggard's bed! away
The slumber of the soul's decay!
Ye chaste and just and temperate,
Watch! I am standing at the gate.

After the sun hath risen red
'Tis late for men to scorn their bed,
Unless a portion of the night
They seize for labours of the light.

Mark ye, what time the dawn draws nigh,
How 'neath the eaves the swallows cry?
Know that by true similitude
Their notes our Judge's voice prelude.

When hid by shades of dark malign
On beds of softness we recline,
They call us forth with music clear
Warning us that the day is near.

When breezes bright of orient morn
With rosy hues the heavens adorn,
They cheer with hope of gladdening light
The hearts that spend in toil their might.

Though sleep be but a passing guest
'Tis type of death's perpetual rest:
Our sins are as a ghastly night,
And seal with slumbers deep our sight.

But from the wide roof of the sky
Christ's voice peals forth with urgent cry,
Calling our sleep-bound hearts to rise
And greet the dawn with wakeful eyes.

He bids us fear lest sensual ease
Unto life's end the spirit seize
And in the tomb of shame us bind,
Till we are to the true light blind.

'Tis said that baleful spirits roam
Abroad beneath the dark's vast dome;
But, when the cock crows, take their flight
Sudden dispersed in sore affright.

For the foul votaries of the night
Abhor the coming of the light,
And shamed before salvation's grace
The hosts of darkness hide their face.

They know the cock doth prophesy
Of Hope's long-promised morning sky,
When comes the Majesty Divine
Upon awakened worlds to shine.

The Lord to Peter once foretold
What meaning that shrill strain should hold,
How he before cock-crow would lie
And thrice his Master dear deny.

For 'tis a law that sin is done
Before the herald of the sun
To humankind the dawn proclaims
And with his cry the sinner shames.

Then wept he bitter tears aghast
That from his lips the words had passed,
Though guileless he his soul possessed
And faith still reigned within his breast.

Nor ever reckless word he said
Thereafter, by his tongue betrayed,
But at the cock's familiar cry
Humbled he turned from vanity.

Therefore it is we hold to-day
That, as the world in stillness lay,
What hour the cock doth greet the skies,
Christ from deep Hades did arise.

Lo! then the bands of death were burst,
Shattered the sway of hell accurst:
Then did the Day's superior might
Swiftly dispel the hosts of Night.

Now let base deeds to silence fall,
Black thoughts be stilled beyond recall:
Now let sin's opiate spell retire
To that deep sleep it doth inspire.

For all the hours that still remain
Until the dark his goal attain,
Alert for duty's stern command
Let every soul a sentry stand.

With sober prayer on Jesus call;
Let tears with our strong crying fall;
Sleep cannot on the pure soul steal
That supplicates with fervent zeal.

Too long did dull oblivion cloud
Our motions and our senses shroud:
Lulled by her numbing touch, we stray
In dreamland's ineffectual way.

Bound by the dazzling world's soft chain
'Tis false and fleeting gauds we gain,
Like those who in deep slumbers lie:--
Let us awake! the truth is nigh.

Gold, honours, pleasure, wealth and ease,
And all the joys that mortals please,
Joys with a fatal glamour fraught--
When morning comes, lo! all are nought.

But thou, O Christ, put sleep to flight
And break the iron bands of night,
Free us from burden of past sin
And shed Thy morning rays within.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In re: Ann Coulter, et al.

The Ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for Man,
But one prize is beyond his reach:
The Ogre cannot master speech.

About a subjugated plain,
Among its desperate and slain,
The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips.

-- W. H. Auden, "August, 1968" City Without Walls

Monday, March 22, 2010


What have I done today so far?

I got up, I got my bath, I got dressed, I had a homemade latte and two pieces of toast, I took all my meds, I emptied and rationalized the contents of the messy plastic shopping bag full of miscellaneous plastic containers and lids, also recycled plastic bags (all good) -- moved some stuff into the box that will go to the foodbank later this week.
Unloaded the dishwasher and began to reload it.
Fed the cat. Watered and fertilized all the houseplants. (Moving steadily down the great chain of being here!). Worked a couple of crosswords in my calendar pad, and the sudoku in the newspaper. Read or skimmed most of the newspaper.
I assembled a sourdough starter to share with a friend (periodically I go out to the kitchen and beat it back into submission...)
I eliminated 40 emails in the inbox and emptied the deleted messages file.
Went out to the car and retrieved my bookbag, containing daytimer, just to verify I really didn't need to get out of bed in the first place today! Seemed a bit... circular!
I cooked some zucchini in olive oil and warmed up some of last night's chicken Veronique and couscous, for my lunch...nice!

What's yet on schedule...finish reading Take this Bread, which I'm REALLY enjoying, and reflect on it for a bit.
Re-read Christ on Trial and make some notes for the last class meeting tomorrow night.
Take Barchester Towers back to the library.
Drop by Superstore or some other emporium and purchase some towels for the Pedilavium next week.
All small stuff -- in order to avoid the Great Horrible Task of sorting out books, papers, files...

Reflecting a bit on the post-clergy role. Listening to colleagues at a clergy gathering last week... we were given -- yet again -- the Five Marks of Mission, and invited to list the ways we embodied them not just in our parish, but in our "life." I know that at least two of the clergy tables, the overpowering conclusion was that we HAVE NO LIFE apart from our parishes..."Life? Who he?" And that's not right. Not at all.
I'm enjoying LIVING in my house, for a start...not just treating it as the culvert I crawl into between bouts of work...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

another day.

Nothing accelerates housecleaning like the imminent prospect of house-guests, I think.

Brother Unit arrives tomorrow evening, and all, but ALL, tomorrow morning is taken up with a para-academic meeting--a bit difficult at this point to believe it will be worth the time it will take, but there it is.

So it's going to be an intense weekend...as I'm preaching and presiding at St. Curious on Sunday, with a parish lunch group scheduled for the noon time -- and have already arranged with Offspring to blitz the remaining belongings still back at MH & U on Sunday afternoon, with their help and temporary use of a suitable TRUCK. I hope that a couple of hours will allow us to vanish permanently into the middle distance, leaving not a wrack behind or at least, if we do leave a wrack behind, it will be a wrack belonging to MH & U, not belonging to me. I also have -- hurray -- a nice little cache of gift cards for Adjacent Steakhouse so am prepared to feed the office movers sumptuously Saturday evening...

Today is cleaning day and sermon day. Last load of laundry is in the washer. Have moved nearly all the bags and boxes of books off the entrance landing and stairs.

Part of the housework project at this point is dealing with the semi-perpetual Miserable Nuisances that have never been just quite nuisance enough to be dealt with yet. So this morning I found a tube of appropriately Savage Glue, and re-attached the magnet latch to the medicine cabinet door, clamped it with a clothespin until the glue dried, and voila, the medicine cabinet door now actually CLOSES. Civilization! wonderful!

Still on the list, serious application of vacuum cleaner to the premises and some mopping of hard floors. Bathroom and kitchen need intense cleaning too... and there should be a trip to the recycle depot.

I have added three elderly bowlfuls of pot-pourri to the compost bin, and am washing the bowls. (Pause to lie down and have the vapours...) It's been a considerable time since there was any "sniff" in any of them. (Note that the Rambler is now open to receive new consignments of roses for the concoction of new pot-pourri, sigh).

Got the bills paid and the car washed earlier in the week...led the third section of the evening course I'm doing on the Passion Gospels. Buoyed by a re-reading of Isaiah 55 from Sunday's lectionary, the group seemed a little more persuaded by the analogy between lectio divina and the eating of rich things like chocolate.

And for my bedtime reading I am midway through Finding Beauty in a Broken World, by Terry Tempest Williams...the making of mosaics, prairie dogs in Bryce Canyon, and now, ossuaries in Rwanda...

Back to finding a little beauty in my excessively messy world!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saturday all day!!!

Another brilliant day and mild enough that it may be safe, later on, to run Harriet-the-Echo through some lucky carwash somewhere... she is filthy all the way to the roof.

I am making a running start on the cleaning bee scheduled for this afternoon by gutting my kitchen drawers. So far, done the two little ones. The principle here is to remove the artefacts which are merely ARCHIVAL...as well as the long since completely useless.

For example -- do I NEED to store my bulky, awkward, used-annually-if-that jar-lifting tongs in the small drawer with the spoons, ladles, etc. that I grope for when I'm actually working at the stove? Answer comes, not at all.
On the other hand I have not relinquished the thought of doing something more in the pickles'n'jam department, one of these summers.
Hence~! tongs go downstairs and are stored out of harm's way in the big canning kettle, with the appropriate jar racks, spare lids'n'rings, etc.

By the way -- here's a linguistic question for you -- what do YOU call the flat-bladed tools that you use to lift and turn food that you are frying -- eggs, pancakes, hamburgers? (see picture above) Are they "lifters"? "turners"? "spatulas"? (I think there are geographic markers in the vocabulary here but I'm not sure!)

Part of the clean-up energy is also the fruit of purchasing a FOOD PROCESSOR yesterday (at an advantageous price, about 1/3 off)...and re-thinking pantry storage for appliances and serving pieces...still somewhat traumatized by the New Year's Eve stand-off with the elderly blender, doing its Danny Glover imitation, "I AM TOO OLD for CHICKPEAS"...it is silly to think I paid $90 for a tool to make hummus with...but every time I watch a cooking show, it seems that at some critically interesting and inspiring juncture, whirr whirr, a food processor is totally necessary.

Meantime Nefertiti-the-cat is having a heyday with the shopping bag I'm hoping to use to deposit relegated kitchen tools on the doorstep of Nameless Parish That Has Rummage Sales. Also having a heyday with the nice fat sparkling-wine corks I am removing from storage. Her mega-fun of the morning was trying to pursue a thrown cork without emerging from her shopping-bag cave...better than the circus, this one.

While I am in this Tomb Raider mood, I'll try to tackle the (shudder) drawer under the stove as well...

and presently I shall have a lovely read of Monk Habits for Everyday People in preparation for a session with university students tomorrow evening, on the virtue of STABILITY. "Stay in your cell, and your cell will teach you all you need to know. And while you're waiting, clean out a few drawers, eh?"