Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Pantry

I got a comment on my last post that made me go to Dawson's photoblog since I've not looked at it in a couple days, and there it is - My Pantry! So click on the above link to see it. His wide-angle lens took a couple great pics. View it in the slideshow format.

I just finished cooking up a batch of All-Purpose Basic Ground Meat Mix to freeze in six portions. When first married I had the Make-A-Mix cookbook in two books, now in one, and I got one for Travis and Sarah, and now Heather. That's where I'm getting ideas from. And I'm now going to start making a lasanga and will freeze the rest of it after we have some for supper tonight, along with the cheesecake I made, from my Hearth&Home cookbook (are you getting hungry?! ;^)

Heather has not had her baby. She's having contractions regularly tho ...

Old Fashioned Caramel Frosting

I've loved the flavor of spiced cake and caramel or maple frosting since I was a kid, so my mom always made it for me for my birthday. I carried on that tradition, making it for me from scratch for my birthday since I got married. And like I said in the last posting, where I wrote the cake recipe, my daughter Heather made it for me for this year's birthday when Monte and me arrived at her new home in Texas. She left for me, the frosting to make. 

It's considered a Boiled or Cooked Frosting, and I've been making it from the Joy of Cooking cookbook all these years. But when we moved to 8000 feet elevation in Evergreen, Colorado from Tucson, Arizona, the recipe did not work and I had to do a lot of reading and figuring.

Old-Fashioned Caramel Frosting
In a medium saucepan heat and stir until sugar is dissolved:
2 c packed brown sugar
1 c heavy cream
Cover and simmer for 2 minutes. Spoon down any sugar on the sides of the pan and cook uncovered, hardly stirring, until the syrup reaches 238 degrees. Remove from the heat and add, without stirring:
3 Tb butter (unsalted if you have it)
Set aside, without stirring, until the mixture cools to 110 degrees and stir in:
1 tsp vanilla.

The 238 degrees is where I had to change the recipe (and it has an optional addition of rum flavoring which I don't like). It was in the Joy of Cooking's "Know Your Ingredients" chapter, and maybe under making candy, and maybe even canning, that I figured it out. Cooking and canning temperatures and timings are set for sea level. At 8000 ft I had to lower the temperature to 18_ degrees (I'm not at home with my cookbook and notes. But at my elevation, boiling water temp is at 186, which means 20 minutes of waterbath canning time stretches out to 46 minutes for me! And I think when making candy, that soft-ball stage at 238 has to lower about 2 degrees per thousand ft or is it hundreds?)

Once the frosting is cooled and vanilla added you beat it with a hand mixer in the pan (or you have to transfer it to a mixing bowl) till it gets thickened creamy.

The recipe actually makes more frosting than the cake needs, but my kids always wanted the extra to add to their cake slices or spread on ginger cookies or graham crackers. Yummm ....

In Ogema, Wisconsin, Monte's Aunt Ruby makes this cake frosting. Even last year she had it at an event and I recognized it and we talked about it. She says it's everybody's favorite. Aunt Ruby is the only other person I know who makes it. She raised her family on a dairy farm, so you know her cream had to be the BEST ever! 

Friday, January 30, 2009

Spice Cake

I've been asked several times for the Spice Cake recipe I use for my favorite cake - My favorite birthday cake since I was a kid. I've been making it for years from The Joy of Cooking cookbook. But, as usual, I don't do the exact recipe...

First off, I have to say, I am not a cake person. I've never loved cakes for dessert, preferring pies, cheesecakes, and now Tiramisu. Also, I rarely eat desserts. I have to choose the types of carbs I consume carefully. I'm pretty good at avoiding store bought desserts and processed flour products. Since the only place my body can grow is out, when I take in foods, they are nutrient rich, phytonutrient rich choices. I even have to limit my homemade breads.

So when it comes to foods with flour, I make everything from home-ground grains. That way I know they are nutrient rich and at their optimal. So I've made all my pie crusts, cookies, and cakes from ground whole wheat. I use either pastry berries or white wheat, not the red winter wheat berries.

When I look at cakes, all cakes made from cake mixes have a plasticky sheen to them. Maybe it's just my self-conscious seeing things. Maybe my baked goods aren't as light and fluffy, but that's what's been built into our likes from the era when processed flour was introduced as a 'rich mans' food, just like processed white sugar was coveted in the same way.

In the Joy of Cooking, it's the Velvet Spice Cake
but here's my version:

I start by beating
4 egg whites 
1/8 tsp cream of tartar, till soft peaks form and gradually add in
1/4 c sugar, till peaks stiffer, but not dry.
I scrape this mixture into another bowl to add in at the end.

Next I beat 
1 1/2 sticks butter (12 Tb) in my Bosch mixer bowl, with the butter (usually unsalted if I have it) sliced in pieces so the whips don't get bent. And add in
1 1/4 c sugar
Beat in 3-4 lg egg yolks
Adding in the dry ingredients:
2 1/4 c whole grain flour (and I never sift either)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (I do have a cute nutmeg grinder)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp grd cloves
1/2 tsp salt
Fold in beaten egg whites.
(The eggs can be done whole, without mixing them separate if you don't mind the cake being denser.)

Pour into greased and floured tube or bundt pan, and it works in a 9x13.
Bake at 350 degrees about 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool about 10 minutes to invert the cake out of the pan (or just leave it in the 9x13 if you want).

I always make a boiled brown sugar frosting for it. I don't have time to post it right this minute, so will do it later.

Just a side note: The Joy of Cooking has changed over the years and I don't know what's still in the newer versions. I heard it talked of on a program. Mainly editing out some of the details and maybe ingredients or recipes that people today don't stock. Hopefully it's still making everything from scratch.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Calendar Girl me is doing pretty much nothing this month. I'm not home and some things I see I posted last January are not on my computer calendar. So if you're curious about some church calendar things and more, click on January 2008 in the side bar. Like I posted about Thomas Aquinas, John Bunyan, St Anthony the Desert Father ... 

And I don't even think I mentioned I had a birthday this month. We arrived here in Texas the day before my birthday and Heather had made my favorite cake - spice cake from scratch, leaving me the boiled brown sugar frosting to make. I hadn't made it for myself for awhile, so it tasted good!

Will Heather and Bill's baby be born in January or February, the month that holds my mom's birthday. It's looking like it will be February. We went to the military hospital OBGYN today and they checked on the baby's heart and amount of fluid and all's okay, and she's having regular mild contractions, but hardly any cervix softening. So unless the baby chooses to come soon, her midwife scheduled us to go on Tuesday for inducing since she'll be 2 weeks overdue. Heather really wants the baby to come when it wants to, so we'll see. We've been walking, and the other day was in FRIZZLE!! - little blades of ice hitting our faces! 

January is the month I love sitting with all the garden catalogues that have poured in and dream and plan my gardens. I usually order seeds now. BUT, we joined for another year a somewhat local, organic farm - weekly produce starting in June thru mid December. They can grow so much more than I can at my altitude, and we loved it last year. So what do I want to plant this year is the question. I'll probably start certain flower favorites soon. Probably still grow broccoli, snow peas, green beans ... there's still stuff I like to walk out and pick and eat! I still have my herb bed and of course tons of perennials! Thinking ...

Waiting ... More time to read and knit. Nothing else to organize, just some sewing to do, and I found Heather had a bunch of stitcherys done, so got some frames for them. Still cooking, thinking big for extra to freeze.

Bill's safely in Kuwait, or Iraq by now. He calls and emails Heather daily. We'll mail stuff to him tomorrow - lots of flat-rate boxes I can help her carry. The next, last, big thing, will be his guitar - we'll mail next week.

So I'm not flying home on January 31st. Don't know when yet ...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happenings, and Still No Baby

I just came back to my computer to look for the Roasted Brussel Sprout recipe I often do. Though I could search for it, it's easiest to look at my blog, where I posted it in 2007 November.

Heather's not had her baby yet. We've heard probably all the wives tales. Don't think we'll do the castor oil Kerry; we have been walking most everyday, sometimes with errands, but a brisk walk in her neighborhood, sometimes with her dog, every other day. Habaneros Travis? Heather says "NO"! (She did have some spicy Chipotle food Sunday.) She still does her exercise video too, since it helps her back.

I've started sewing her window valances/curtains. The rods (and blinds) are already there (everything is white!), and I just want to add some color! When I get some of them done, I'll post more pictures. I did get her bed skirt done. I'm still organizing her craft/sewing stuff. The rest of the house, with her knowing where all is filed, Bill's tools are and what some of them might be needed for, instructions on all appliances and baby stuff in one place ... and the kitchen, are all pretty much organized and functioning well.

Now I've been cooking large-amount suppers so I can freeze some extra meals for her. Bill is over in Kuwait for a bit and calls Heather daily, sometimes twice a day, and emails a lot. Once he gets his headphones mailed to him, they can do the camera thing and 'talk' to one another. We joke about having the baby on her lap so he sees and hears "Dada".

Weather report? Last Thursday and Friday when I was outside painting, it was pleasantly in the upper 70's, low 80's - I loved it! (It's been freezing in Evergreen and snow showers.) BUT now, here in mid-Texas this week, it's cloudy, drizzly, and cold! Looks to be sunny after today. Good, or I'd get that SAD depression.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pictures and Patience

Still no baby. Monte's here at Heather's home again, but leaving tomorrow. Since no baby yet, I'm probably going to be staying longer. I feel so fortunate to be able to stay longer. The only thing I really feel committed to, in returning to Evergreen, is starting seeds in my greenhouse for this years veggie garden, and flowers. If that's the main thing "calling" to me, I guess that shows one of my main loves in life. I'm able to read here (once I'm not so organizational focused) and knit (tho the main project I brought I've taken out several times - I'm at the point of thinking the pattern is wrong!). The weather's nice for outdoor activities, like walking, and we may get a garden going.

I posted some pictures on two days.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Happenings, and Still No Baby

Okay, I'm sore (actually better now that I sat knitting watching a good oldie movie). I painted all the parts of 4 windsor style chairs and table dark olive green. Tomorrow I'll finish up the flat horizontal surfaces blue. My getting-older-body does not straighten as easy after scrunching and sitting and stretching in all sorts of angles. Gotta finish before it might rain Friday.

Rain? That means the barometer will be changing ... that's one of those possibilities for bringing on babies. Monte left this morning for a few days, so it's me that'll be off to the hospital with Heather (the military hospital is only 1/2-1 mile away). So every night before we go to bed I think about clothes, phone and camera in purse, and my knitting ready.

Heather has a piano. At home she used to play the piano almost daily, so we knew it would be something that she'd really enjoy this year, and Bill wanted her to have one too. Monte and me had seen a decent one, minus a bench, at a second hand store ... is it okay? ... then the hassle of getting it here ... So Sunday morning at church Monte talked with the pianist (Heather sometimes went to her house to play her piano), she called us while we were eating out after church, with a phone number of an older man she's used for piano tuning for years. Monte called him. He had gotten a good piano in the day before, tho he no longer has his store. We went and looked at it with Heather Monday. It had a cute little screw up piano seat. And you know what?! He was coming to the base the next day to tune all the school's pianos while the kids were on break! So Heather got her piano the next day! 

Gotta let the dog Max in for the night and go to bed. Oh ... while painting, besides listening for a dove (I finally did hear one, but there's so much excavation for a new neighborhood nearby all you hear the most of is the back-up beep-beeps of trucks and tractors)(Heather's got a large "live"[green year round] oak tree in the front yard with lots of birds), I was analyzing the social psychology of dogs in a neighborhood of many dogs - at what do they bark?!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

No Baby Yet

Today is Heather's due date, and no baby yet. When we got here, we were expecting Bill to be deployed the next morning, but that was extended out to Saturday, and now he's for sure leaving tomorrow morning.
So the above is what I wrote Sunday morning minus a lot more, but the internet wireless connection I pick up from some neighbor was so spotty yesterday that it didn't post.

Bill is off to Iraq and no baby came on her due date. We were up last night at 1am to drive Bill to his check-in and wait in a gym sitting on bleachers watching the 2 units come together. We ate grilled hot dogs at 2am and the 4 buses of guys drove off at 3am. I was fine till I saw a maybe 12 year old boy walk away with his mom with red, teary eyes, after saying their goodbyes at the bus. Heather stood by Bill's bus window till it drove off. She's sad.

3/4 of the people around here when we're out shopping, eating, and in church are military family peoples. And there's a great mix of so many varieties of people at church and everywhere- from Oriental, Hispanic, Blacks and all. It all feels so healthy and whole. We feel Heather will be surrounded by people who are familiar with long separations and are a great support to one another. She's looking forward to next year's return and helping out with all the homecoming events, which is really a big deal around here.

On base you hear trumpet tunes at 6:30am, 5pm and taps at 11pm. It's not loud, so if the home's not quiet, you miss them. I'm starting to look at clocks at 5 to check their timing, and it's a nice sound. We need ID's to get back on the base when we leave, and because I didn't check in with Monte at the visitor center, or I might need my own vehicle rental, I can't go off by myself without either Monte or Heather. I guess this will help us feel that Heather will be safe here alone.

Gotta go. Monte and me found an old town street last Friday that had lots of used furniture stores and we've found some great bargains for some of the cozy needs around here. So today we paint them. I'll try and post pictures some time soon.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Velveteen House III

I'm all packed. Monte and me are flying out tomorrow morning to Texas to stay with Heather and await their baby. We're wanting to be there sooner than later, since Bill is being redeployed to Iraq for his fourth time, before the baby is due.

Yesterday, I had a felting class all day. I've not done one all day there before. It worked! Customers at the shop were very interested in what we were doing, and there may be demands for more classes. One of my students printed "Birth Certificates" for all the students to fill out and keep, since the main part of the class is creating a 'person' - I was to sign it as the 'Midwife'. That student originally came thinking she was going to create a Molly. "But they often create themselves" I said, "and what if 'it' wants to be someone else, and you are not letting it be itself?!" Her person altered to a Priscilla, and finally an Ethel (really hilariously cute - I took a picture of it with my iPhone).

This morning we put meat in the crockpot and got out tortillas, chilies, etc from the freezer. Travis and Sarah arrived this late afternoon with three other couples, to go skiing in the morning. Dawson will take us to the airport, rent telemark skis, and join them skiing.

Good thing we keep pads in the bunk house for overflow of sleepers. So a couple is in the guest room, another in the laundry room, another in the living room and another in the great room.

They basically threw the supper together (and cleaned up) while I was finishing up laundry and packing. Now extrovert Monte is visiting with them while they play a game.

I'll be writing from Heather's. How will upper 50's - low 60's feel with 90% humidity (what to pack)? I plan on cooking simple, exercising - like walking Max the dog a lot (my exercise belly-dance DVD didn't come), reading, and knitting. Heather wants me to help her look at her home and help organize it better and make it cozy. Monte will do some geology and not be able to stay as long as me. 

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Intimacy Quotes

A current benedictine monk said, "Naked we come into this world, and naked we shall return. But not quite: our hope is that when Christ receives us, he will recognize his own image in our hearts."

Which reminds me of another quote I read several years ago in the book Deep Unto Deep. "When I stand before Him face to face one day soon, when I meet His eyes for the first time, will I experience a memory in that gaze? Will there be familiarity?"

Oh do I yearn for this intimacy as I live this life, rather than just knowing about God.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


The 12 Days of Christmas are now over and this day, Epiphany, we remember the wise men of Matthew coming from afar following a star to find a child who they recognize as a king. They came bearing gifts.

The art piece is by Fabriano. I change out art on an easel in my house. I like making friends with art work. Art touches me, often judging me.

God made the stars for 'signs and seasons'. And here in Matthew God is bringing astrologers into Jesus' story. I posted several days ago about the phenomena of planets in our sky the month of December which made me think of the Magi following ... something.

Were there exactly three wise men? We are told of three gifts. The book Ben Hur names three kings and opens with a dramatic description of how they might have met and traveled together to Bethlehem, but there could have been a whole entourage.

If you were dramatizing the whole Advent season with nativity figures, your wise men would be off in a distance in your house progressing to Joseph and Mary - who would in December be progressing by Donkey to Bethlehem. And baby Jesus and the Shepherds wouldn't show up until Christmas Eve or Christmas day? Many, don't do gift giving until this day.

What ever came of these strangers in Jesus' story? Jesus began his ministering when he was 30. Were the shepherds and magi still alive? Did they hear of Jesus? In the silence of 30 years, I often wonder if the shepherds thought that night a bizarre event, maybe even embarrassed about their extravagance ... maybe the most passionate thing they ever did in their life.

I like to wonder and ponder.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Simeon the Stylite

When I speak on the Calendar, I love to mention Simeon Stylite, who died on this day in 459. He was the most notorious of the popular pillar-sitting anchorites.

The son of a shepherd, he was moved by hearing the Beatitudes. Wanting to be 'pure of heart' he tried living in monasteries, but they all kicked him out for his extremism in self-mortifications. So in his naivete, he literally did what he could to get closer to God.

This is a piece of early church history. Christians were persecuted and martyred, but when Constantine made the empire 'Christian' in the early 300's, the pagans were persecuted. Seeking safety they went to churches bringing their paganism with them.

Serious Christians, frustrated with the watered down churches were asking, "How now to be holy?" Thus the serge of monasteries, and desert fathers.
Outside of Antioch were many 'pillar saints'. People would pack lunches and for entertainment go listen to a pillar saint preach - they were tourist attractions.

I wonder if these pillar saints could read and if they knew much of scripture. What would they preach about?
Since Simeon had 'separated' himself at age 13, when did he mingle with people to be able to truly know much of life, or have personal experience stuff to preach from. Pillar saints had converts: locals, Armenians, Persians, and Arabs. Simeon had followers - disciples, who in choosing to live close, ended up building a monastery.

Simeon started out on a 10-foot-high pillar. For the last 37 years of his life he lived on a series of ever higher pillars. His final earthly home was a 6-foot-square platform on a 60-foot-high pillar!!! Now set your imagination to work: no roof or walls ... did he cut his hair? how did he sleep? how did he eat? what about excrement? Lightening strikes were prevalent. Maybe a sign of divine displeasure?

Lord Alfred Tennyson wrote a long poem entitled "St Simeon Stylites". Here's a link if you care to read it.
A year ago when I posted about Simeon, the picture I used was one I drew and had in my "Cycle of Celebrations" powerpoint presentation. Well ... My one present I got for Christmas was an Intuos Pen Tablet. So the above picture is my first attempt at playing with my new art toy. I put the scanned drawing into Photoshop and literally 'painted' over the sketch. Oh how fun!!!! I didn't want to stop (Dawson helped me with some pointers since he had a Photoshop class last year in college). But I just scratched the surface (still don't know how to erase) in all the potential of what it can do. Monte's graphic artist for his geology posters (they are works of art!) uses this tool. She told me to just play, she can't learn from books. But I'm taking my Photoshop Classroom in a Book with me to Texas, when I go in a week to stay with Heather ... waiting on that baby.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Self Improvement?

With every New Year there's a focus on self-improvement. I was reminded of what sits in my pantry as I read an article ...

There's this visual used in many varieties of settings. I've used it myself when I've spoken around the country. I used a large plastic gallon jar and had put very large rocks in it. The example I read this morning had golf balls in a mayonnaise jar. Then we ask, "Is it full?" and the response is, "Yes". I then filled it with gravel, the article- marbles, and "Yes, it's full" is the response again. Then we fill the jar with sand. The response is not quite so sure any more. I poured in water, the article poured in beer - then the jar is full.

Most of us have seen this illustration and know the right answers, but in the reality of daily living our lives answer this visual with, "In all the busyness of life we can always squeeze in more."

I had my old plastic jar with rocks visual sitting around ... I like visual reminders for reminding my heart. One look at the jar and I remember what's most important in my life that I need to make sure I squeeze in first, for my sanity or to be a better person.

One day, looking at that all grey jar, I thought, "That's ugly! That doesn't represent me! I'm made in the image of God who created gorgeous birds, butterflies and animals ... created exotic fruits and vegetables, beautiful sunrises ... all for our enjoyment. I'm a child of God!" I wanted a beautiful jar to look at, full of color!

I can't just end the illustration here. People want to know what I named my stuff in the jar. The sand is all the small stuff in life, like the squeaky wheels demanding attention, and this is what we tend to most. But if the jar is full of sand, we can't then put in the marbles or golf balls.

I share a piece of my life's story with this illustration: for the first third of our marriage I/we (when the kids came along) traveled with Monte as he did his geology, traveling primarily all over the western US, back roads, staying in cabins or kitchenettes. We'd be gone a week, home a couple weeks, then gone again. 

This is the time in one's life when they are establishing patterns, like organizing a home for best functioning and establishing a maintenance program. This traveling lifestyle forced the large important pieces into my life's jar. I had to say no to many things people fill (maybe clutter) their lives with. "No" to long term commitments, committees, sports, music/dance/etc lessons ...

When we stopped traveling ... I was overwhelmed and lost. I knew what life felt like, what I called "beyond maintenance", so I knew what I was missing. But I had never evaluated or named the important things to me in life. I didn't want to just maintain or just survive (tho there's times for that).

Most important in life? Family, health, passions and friends. If everything else is lost and only they remain, our life will still be full. The marbles/gravel represent other big things in life like jobs, house and vehicles ...

We do have a choice (usually). We should be able to control our reactions to outside forces and how we spend our time. There will always be time to clean the house or fix the disposal. We can choose to nurture relationships, take walks, control media. Talk, think, ponder, laugh, and love. It's our choice.

Years ago when I was pondering this message, Monte's dad and I were sitting in his living room and I was looking out the window at the woods. They had recently clear-cut, how they log in Wisconsin, and I couldn't get over how quickly the woods re-grew. Emery made a profound statement: "There are so many seeds laying dormant in the ground just waiting for the right conditions to spring to life."

Cleared for the sun to shine through and not be crowded, and then moisture, allows the seeds to grow. I thought about lives. How many seeds lay dormant in our lives, seeds of creativity ... All they need, to burst forth with life, is a little clearing.

I'm again re-evaluating what I need to remember and do for improvement in 2009.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Velveteen House II

When there's a holiday, school break time, I am reminded of my original Velveteen House post, click hereWhy? Though Dawson is still living at home while going to college, it's during these break times that our home gets more worn with wear. Like with the dialogue in the Velveteen Rabbit classic book, "by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby."

Dawson, Splarah and Conner, are currently eating jalepeno grilled cheese panini sandwiches and tomato soup they just made for themselves for lunch. They are sanding Dawson's new desk he's making in his bedroom. (He just painted his floor red, "to coordinate with the red in my ceiling!", which is red sponged over black, which him and Gary did probably a year ago, needing to re-drywall it.

Yesterday morning, walking into the kitchen, Dawson was making pancakes. Since I go into a nutrition talk when they bring home Bisquick, he was being witty, saying he was making them from scratch ... "I've already been out this morning gathering whole grains to grind, and squeezing chickens for eggs" ... Cute! ... I have to smile.

I never know who's sleeping here. Splarah and Lizzy have often been in the guest room and it's been a mix from Conner, Aaron, Caleb to Nick lately, sleeping scattered about (since Dawson's room is disastrously torn apart, with most everything in Heather's old room or the storage room next to Monte's office).

Young people were at the kitchen table drinking sparkling apple cider from goblets, and playing card games, when Monte and me got home from a party. We didn't know they'd be there since they were ice skating for New Year's Eve at Evergreen Lake. But since they were going skiing for the next two days, they decided to sleep here and leave from here.

And now that Dawson is learning to weld and forge metal, people want to participate and experience it too. So young people are wanting to hang out and play. 

House guests come and go. Like yesterday, a young couple we'd not seen for awhile were here for a bit. Everyone loves the well worn wood floor in our great room and don't think we should refinish it. Some people don't come out of the guest bathroom for awhile, cuz they're either reading or writing more graffiti on our chalkboard paint wall.

Ministering seems to come our way. This season of Monte's and my life is full of visiting young people and scientists wanting to hang out here. More memories for the walls of this Velveteen House to bounce off - memories full of stories. Like a plaque in our house says, "Home is where your story begins."


I posted more photos on my photoblog - of Christmas.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

January and a New Year!

Monte and I went to celebrate the roll-over into a new year with friends last night. We (getting old!) weren't going to stay to midnight, but did. Following confetti, horn blowing and champaigne, we prayed for this new year.

Dawson and friends had come home earlier from "Skate the Lake" (Evergreen Lake) and were playing games at the kitchen table. They spent the night. Dawson's skiing, actually telemark skiing, for two days.

January comes from Janus (in the Julian calendar) which was a Roman two-faced god - one looking to the past, the other to the future. I've seen some pictures with an old man and a beard on one side, and the opposite face, a baby. This god guarded entrances or gates.

In the Middle Ages they made New Year March 25, which is the Annunciation on the church calendar. They were probably thinking the Christian year should begin at Conception. Then too, the Jewish religious calendar began with Nisan, which is in the spring (their civil calendar has their New Year celebration with the 7th month, in the fall). If you look at the Latin roots for Sept, Oct, Nov, and Dec, you have 7, 8, 9, and 10, if you begin the year in March. Once the Gregorian calendar was adopted (not by England or the USA until the late 1700's) New Year went back to January.

I'm looking forward to this new year with hope. I'm resolving to exercise more consistently this year.

Naming and Circumcision

'Tis the eighth day of Jesus' life. Torah required boy babies to be circumcised eight days after their birth as a sign of the covenant between God and His people. So since our calendar has Jesus' birth on December 25, January 1 is the 8th day, the Octave Day of Christmas, and yes, the circumcision of Jesus is remembered today - obedience to the law for man.

I'm not wanting to discuss this, but only wanting to say that there's actually works of art depicting the possibilities of this scene! Posting a picture seems a little over the edge. I'll let you search and look, or just imagine.

It was at this time that Jesus was named. God changed Abram's name to Abraham, and then required a covenant in their flesh of circumcision. Sarai's name was changed to Sarah ... Stephen told the story of a people named Israel, starting with Abraham and this covenant of circumcision, and ending the story by calling the people ready to stone him, "resisters of the Holy Spirit with uncircumcised hearts and ears.

Oh God, that my heart be blessed with the true circumcision of Your Spirit, and that I faithfully bear your Name to worship and proclaim You through my life, loving You and my neighbor.
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