Outside my window- Rising temperatures have melted most of Friday's lovely few inches of snow. But 27 is still chilly enough for January. It's interesting to visit blogs of southern ladies and try to imagine what it would be like to have sunshine and flowers this time of year.
I am hearing- Lydia on the harp as she puts those new Irish Session Tunes books to good use. Little girls chattering as they empty the dishwasher.
I also remain thankful we are all healthy and have been all winter. Deo Gratias!
From the kitchen- Just pulled a pan of Pleasant View Anna's Schoolhouse Gingerbread out of the oven and a freshly filled teapot sits on the table. A giant pot of applesauce is simmering on the stove and sweet potatoes are baking in the oven. It smells good in here.
Living the Liturgical Year- Today is Septuagesima Sunday, the first day of this season of Pre-Lent, a time to prepare and make ready for the arrival of Lent on Ash Wednesday. A good article on the history of this season and some of the customs and practices associated with it can be found here: Septuagesima: The Time that Land Forgot. While the revised church calendar does not observe Septuagesima, those using the Extraordinary Form of the Mass still follow the old calendar and observe this preparatory season. The vestments used for Mass are already the penitential purple and the Gloria and Alleluia are omitted. Jonathan explained to me how last night's vespers had a bit of a special farewell to the Alleluia as it is fondly set aside until the glorious celebration of Easter. We listened to this excellent sermon on Septuagesima and Lent by one of our favorite Audio Sancto priests. There is also another Septuagesima sermon available on Planning for Lent.
Around the house- We still have our Christmas decorations
around and about and it seems they will remain until Candlemas on
February second. It is so cheery to have the pretty lights to brighten
up these grey winter days - we will miss them when they go. (Although we have been known to put up some interesting lights for Valentine's Day.)
We are creating- All sorts of things! Jonathan is working on more backgammon boards for the shop. Josiah is busy with an intensive January term engineering graphics course. He's working very hard but is obviously having lots of fun at the same time. Lydia has a couple of rosary rose orders so she's working on those for her current car crocheting. Indoors she's painting birds, working on a special saint picture, or drawing in her sketch book (sit still for ten minutes and you're likely to end up in there). Anna Ruth has been working on some custom saint bookmarks - an appropriate way to spend a Sunday afternoon's drawing. Mary Rose has just started a large work on a full size sheet (22 x 30) of Bristol: a collage of various scenes from The Lord of the Rings. She finished a colored pencil of Helm's Deep and gave it to us for Christmas, and she seems to like doing large works every now and then. Kateri is crocheting lengths of chain stitch in her favorite colors and hanging them around the house bunting style for Valentine's decor. :-) I have various little projects going but they are all gifts so no details! You know, the things you didn't finish for Christmas or even Epiphany will henceforth be known as Valentine's Day presents.
A few plans for the rest of the week- It would be nice to make some beeswax candles this week so they can be blessed on Candlemas. We have some beeswax that we got from a local beekeeper a few years ago. We rendered it ourselves and use it for wood polish and skin care items and the like, but we've never actually made candles with it. This might just be the year.
One of my favorite things- Pomegranates! One of our grocery stores here has them for a mere dollar a piece and so we have been feasting on ever so many of them. Never mind their incredible messiness, breaking open one of the dull red fruits to reveal all the little beautiful jewels of juicy sweetness that taste sooo good always makes me happy.
Some picture thoughts- Yesterday at church, after the Saturday morning Mass, we helped to take the Nativity scene down and store it away until next year. I remembered the immense joy we all felt at Midnight Mass when Lydia Grace Thérèse had the great honor of carrying in the Infant to be placed in the Creche by Father at the very beginning of Christmas.
And then yesterday I watched as the Infant was carried away by a newly widowed elderly member of the church, not in a ceremonial procession but in a simple act of service. It was such a poignant sight to see her struggling just a bit to climb the steps to the storage area, carrying Baby Jesus, knowing that when we celebrated His birth she still had a husband and now he is gone. But she carries such hope and faith with her and shows such strength in her sorrow, just as she devotedly carried Him in her arms up to His resting place. I think I will always remember that sight.
We'll also surely remember Eliza's great love of the Nativity this year. Every day since Christmas she would go up to the front of church after Mass and kneel down before the Crèche and say a prayer. And then when she stood back up she wouldn't leave until she had stretched up on tippy toes and touched the Infant, transferring a kiss from her fingertips to whatever she could reach of Baby Jesus or His crib. Even if she was sleepy when she arrived at early morning daily Mass she would always perk up and eagerly make her little visit afterwards. On Sundays she would make a beeline for the Nativity as soon as she arrived in the church - she didn't care who was watching or what was going on around her she just got in there and headed straight for Jesus and wouldn't leave and go sit down until she gave Him a kiss. And then she'd have to visit Him again after Mass as well. I would do well to remember and follow her example: pay no never mind to the hubbub of life around me, just tuck my head down and run straight for Jesus, every day.
We were afraid Eliza would be really sad about putting away the Nativity but she took it all in stride and very cheerfully helped to carry things away.
And of course putting away the Nativity reminds me of the day we helped to set it up on the Saturday before Christmas. Eliza was glad to help then too and was fascinated to watch everything being brought out and arranged.
The figurines were carried out from the storage area and set on the floor while the men assembled the platform and stable and set up the trees and all. Eliza went right over to the Blessed Mother and knelt down in front of her, folded her hands and presumably offered an Ave. And then she got up and just sat herself right down next her to watch the proceedings. She put her arm right around Our Lady and didn't move from her side until she was taken away to be placed in the stable. She must have hung out like that for a good half an hour or so, just sitting around with Our Lady like she was her best pal. Occasionally she gave her a fond little pat or caressed her halo, but mostly she just sat. She acted like it was the most natural thing in the world, to just sit on the floor with your arm around the Blessed Mother.