Thursday, December 31, 2009


I was trying to rearrange the book shelves yesterday and stumbled across a little zen book with some seasonal poems. Each of those fuzzy clusters is a galaxy. Millions of stars in a tiny picture. Five hundred million years of time captured in a well.

I've got the buckets, but I don't think I'm going to see any stars around here for awhile.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Well, Christmas is over for 2009. I have to admit that it was harder than usual to get in the mood this year. But, the more lights we got up, the happier I got. We’ve had so much fog the last couple of weeks or so. Dark, chilly, and clammy. Just what you need to get in the mood for the season. So not.

The eastern Oregon sister and her family made it over for the first time in a couple of years. Things could have gone a little better in a lot of ways. They both teach and they were so darn tired that I was almost, almost, sorry they made the trip. Between the exhaustion and her inlaws she was just worn out by the time they left for home Monday morning. Sis so needed her own bed. It was good to see them though. Mom took sis shopping at Michael’s with her Christmas and birthday (poor kid was almost a Christmas baby) money. Turned her loose in the beading department and almost didn’t get her out before closing. 

Portland wasn’t coming and then they were coming after all. Good thing we’d already planned on roasting two nice big chickens in the first place. Just didn’t have quite as many leftovers as we anticipated and thank heaven Fred’s wasn’t as busy as I thought they’d be for the last minute last minute shopping. Turned out my last minute shopping was really the next to the last minute shopping. Chalk up the last paragraph to post Christmas delirium.

Still didn’t have everybody in the same zip code. About the time we were putting the chickens in the oven, the freshman Duck was heading for LA and the Rose Bowl. What the heck, we fed him turkey soup and fresh bread the Sunday before. Merry sort of Christmas kid.

We did do a fair amount of baking for the holiday and in the part I like best, proceeded to send almost all of it out the door. Guess I knew deep down that we’d have twice as many people as we thought were coming.

Found a recipe for what turned out to be absolutely fantastic brownies. You can cut these really small and you don’t need to make fudge. Unless you really, really want to.


Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
• 8- 1 ounce squares of unsweetened chocolate
• 1 cup butter
• 5 eggs
• 3 cups sugar
• 1 tablespoon vanilla
• 1-1/2 cups flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2-1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan.
Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla at high speed for 10 minutes**. Blend in chocolate mixture, flour and salt until just mixed. Stir in the nuts. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 35-40 minutes. (Don't overbake.) Cool and frost if desired, but that is not necessary.
** It's not required, but this is when it's very nice to own a stand mixer.

Found this on the internet and the poster is right, these brownies are the absolute ultimate for chocoholics. The author said she got two dozen out of the recipe. We cut ours more like one inch squares. A little went a long way.

Monday, December 21, 2009



Brightener of darkness, hail!
Keeper of Clearness,
Opener of depths.
Gifts of plenty are arising,
Winter wonders, white snows fall.
Joyful be the heart within us,
Open wide the guesting door,
Wisdom waken in abundance,
Warm our beings to the core.

Caitlin Matthews

Happy Solstice, God Yule, Happy Shortest Day of the Year, whatever floats your boat. Now the sun starts moving back up the sky. At this time of year the rises behind the cedar trees in the next block and thanks to the hill behind the house we are in the shade by 1:30 in the afternoon. At the latest. Even with the half day of sun the untrimmed roses are trying to put out new branches and clover we planted in the garden spot is blissfully green. On the rare evenings when the sun is out at sunset it hits the top of another cedar tree. At least a block to the east of us.

So, here’s to the sun. Long may it shine. And it looks like we’ll have some fairly dry, if chilly weather for Christmas. Which means that the Umatilla contingent will make it safely through the Great Northwest Wind Tunnel. And hopefully the Portlanders will have a safe drive to Pasadena next week. They scored tickets to the Rose Bowl and I’m not quite sure how it works, but either the athletic department or the university have an arrangement with some of hotels to give the players families special rates. So they get to head south and watch my nephew warm the bench. Go Ducks.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Brighid was an Irish goddess, in many stories she was three sisters, all named Brighid. When the Christians came to the Isles Brighid became St. Brighid but her special care was still given to poets, healers, smiths, and crafters. An odd combination, but it does cover just about everything.

One special responsibility of the women of the house included putting the hearth fire to bed at night and rekindling it in the morning. Wonderful imagery in this poem. These women were traditional in every way but they were also very powerful in their own special way.

Brighid of the mantle, encompass us,
Lady of the lambs, protect us,
Keeper of the Hearth, kindle us,
Beneath your mantle gather us,
And restore us to memory.

Mothers of our mother,
Foremothers strong,
Guide our hands in yours.
Remind us how
To kindle the hearth,
To keep us bright,
To preserve the flame,
Your hands upon ours,
Our hands within yours,
To kindle the light
Both day and night.

The mantle of Brighid about us,
The memory of Brighid within us,
The protection of Brighid keeping us
From harm, from ignorance, from heartlessness,
This day and night,
From dawn till dark,
From dark till dawn.

Poem by Caitlin Matthews

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Tom Cowan tells a story that echoes the old Irish tale of the voyage of King Bran. As the coracles of Bran and his men sail into the west they are met by a strange vision a chariot and driver are speeding west over the waves. The driver is Mannanan son of Lir one of the Irish gods of the sea. Where the sailors see ocean and dolphins Mannanan sees a field covered with grass and flowers.

Cowan’s tells the tale of two Irish hermits. The first leaves his hut by a lake to catch a fine, fat fish for his breakfast. As he casts his line he spots his neighbor hermit from across the lake. His neighbor is calmly walking across the water. Hailed by the curious boatman he tells him he is seeking flowers for his alter and what is his neighbor doing in a boat in the middle of a flower filled meadow. The confused fisherman tells him he’s looking for breakfast. “The fish are biting over by those foxgloves” says the second hermit and so they are. Each returns to his hut, one with breakfast, the other with his flowers.

Perhaps the difference between paradise and a desert depends on your point of view. And your ability to find a fine, fat fish swimming over by the foxgloves.


Out of the deepfreeze and into the shower. But, before the tap was turned on last night we had a nice sunny morning and the birds were singing there little hearts out. I saw a hopeful pussy willow shrub with its soft, grey “blooms.” The irises we trimmed are showing new green and one of the daylilies never stops. All the others pull back and almost disappear, but Lady Scarlett soldiers on. She’s a little ragged around the edges, but she is GREEN. That’s a rare commodity right now.

I haven’t seen any crocus leaves peaking through yet. The foliage is so fine, I always imagine the first tip pushing through and testing the air so to speak. “Is it safe to come out yet?” Not sure little crocus fairy, not sure. Better wait for January.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I'm thankful that at least the sun is shining this morning. 'Cause otherwise it's colder than all get out. We don't usually wake up to eight degree mornings in this part of the country. That's why we live here, for cryin' out loud.

Although the Weather Channel has just informed me that the record low for the this date was set in 1972. It was minus five. I guess I can be triply thankful today. The sun is shining, we didn't set a record last night and I don't live where the snow is drifting to six to eight feet with some really powerful winds. Western Oregon looks really good right now even if it is twenty two degrees right now.