The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

31 March 2013

The Easter chicken

As mentioned previously, I am flying solo this Easter. I'm really enjoying it, actually. I thought I'd be morose the whole time, thinking about the fun and frivolity at Oma's house, full of Peanuts One through Five, and Mama and Papa Nut, too.  (There is always a giggle or two to be had whenever Mama Nut - my sister, you know - and I are in the same room together)

To be honest, when they send me text messages rife with pictures of the latest gustatory treat, in this case, blue cheese and pear paninis, I think to myself, "Gosh, that sure does look yummy" as I swirl my spoon in the bowl of cereal that was this morning's breakfast. But I'm enjoying myself immensely, including the meal preparation.  But more on that anon.

I peeled myself out of bed at a decidedly cranky hour this morning, and toodled off down the highway to attend the early Easter morning Mass. The presider was the elderly but oh so sweet Father F., whose homilies I always enjoy because of his old school enthusiasm. "My dear friends in Christ" he calls us. He's so full of love of God that I am abashed when I take Communion from his hands. My big treat for leaving a warm house before the birds were conscious is the drive home through the country side. Have I mentioned to you before just how much I love living here?  Lake Town is in the same region as Sohoe (Slice of Heaven on Earth) and it truly is a place that demonstrates the artistic and aesthetic ability of Him who created it. It delights my eyes and gladdens my spirit. Naturally I arrive home feeling at peace with my fellow man.  Even the man who nearly took off my bumper on that last turn before heading down the hill.  Yes, even him.

A pleasant interval was spent arranging tulips and pussy willows - inexpertly, I grant you, but it's a touch of home, for mom would always do the same thing: buy fresh flowers and tuck them out of sight, to be brought out for Easter Sunday.  Tulips are my favourite flower, and seeing them in their pretty glass vase reminds me that spring really and truly is not far off.

The event that loomed largest in my mind was the main meal.  Now, dear reader, you may have gleaned from various stories through the years that I'm not gifted in the kitchen. I want to change that, though, and become at least competent. So, to challenge myself, I purchased a chicken.  A whole, entire, uncooked, bird.  Thankfully it came already plucked and gutted, otherwise the story would end there.

I realize it's really not a big deal to roast a bird.  People do it all the time with no great mishaps. I've seen it done at least once a year all my life, so how is it that I've never done it myself?  I'm wily that way, that's how.  I investigated a few recipes to get a sense of what was expected of me, and nearly gave it up when I realized I don't own skewers to keep its neck closed, or kitchen twine to bind its legs. Nor do I have a meat thermometer, so was salmonella inevitable?

To ease the pressure from the rest of the meal, I planned to accompany the fowl with vegetables I've prepared dozens of times: roasted potatoes, and steamed carrots and green beans.  Nothing could be simpler!

Turns out the bird was the most successful bit.  I seasoned it, slathered it in mayonnaise mixed with a little dijon, stuffed most of a lemon up its fundament (please do excuse the imagery) and bunged it in the oven, left it alone for nearly an hour and a half, and it was done to a turn.  The steamed veggies were nearly raw, however, and the potatoes were practically carbonized. Another first was a really good gravy made from the pan drippings, a lemon wedge,and a splash of sherry.

Turns out a really good gravy goes with everything.  Even a white t-shirt.

The carcass is now simmering on the stove, in theory turning itself into a broth.  What I think I'm going to do with a big pot of broth, I've no idea, but the Easter chicken is going to give until its got nothing left to give.

He is not here... the tomb is empty... He is risen from the dead!

29 March 2013

Sturm und drang; and trimming and pruning

It has been a most unlikely Good Friday, ending a most unlikely Lent.

Good Friday is so often accompanied by grey and gloomy weather, if not outright sturm und drang. Today was soft and gentle, the birds chirping madly, and everywhere are signs of Spring creeping toward us.

Lent has been rather like that - soft and gentle.  At least on the surface.  I never did get around to settling on a specific Lenten fast to adhere to. I didn't give up chocolate or movies or music. Instead, it has been six weeks of trying to keep my head above water, settling in after the move, learning a new job, and tackling a rather unnerving public speaking engagement. There have been spiritual, mental, and emotional challenges... sturm und drang enough for any epic by those German romantics. What will Easter be like after a Lent such as that?

For about a week now, work has been going on in the vineyards, trimming and pruning. It occurs to me a trim and a prune (verb, not noun) would be most welcome; to have all the dead Tess cut away to allow a vigorous surge of new growth, new life, new man.

After a frantic few weeks, I made the difficult decision to stay here in my little flat in Lake Town for the Easter Triduum.  The Peanuts are at Oma's house on the other side of the Lake. Tomorrow I shall go to the shore to shout out the usual salute: "Helloooo Ommaaaa" (In manner of, "Hellooo New Jersey!"  If that doesn't ring a bell, I can't explain it.) They will be having a wonderful time.  There is nobody like an Oma to make any occasion special.

I am soaking up the quiet, trying to absorb the peace deep within myself.  I sit in the front window, drinking  Sleepy Time tea, watching the shadows lengthen across the lawn as the clouds darken from pink to mauve. I may watch Into Great Silence a little later on... or I might put my head back, close my eyes, and just be.

20 March 2013

Curtains

One of our student pages (junior library assistant) went to Europe for a 9 day school trip.  It sounds like it was a fun, though whirlwind of an experience. He thought the people were rude, however, quite miffed at how a person would step on your foot and not even apologize.(He's Canadian, poor boy.  Saying "I'm sorry" is in his blood.)

He asked me about my time there, and if I'd been to Poland and Russia.  I told him no, in my time those countries were behind the Iron Curtain.

"Iron Curtain?" he asked, confused.

Boy, did I feel old.

13 March 2013

Habemus Papam Franciscum

Habemus Papam!

Expectamus

I have it on good authority Expectamus means "we wait".

We are expectamusing.  It is so very difficult to expectamus.

My eyes are trained on the smoke watch live cam from the Vatican.  No sign of smoke from the afternoon votes yet.

What are the Cardinals experiencing? Are they close to consensus? Do they know now this is going to take a long time?

I'm imagining what this process was like in the olden days - the days without 24 hour press coverage and instant Google answers to anything. Imagine waiting for the newspaper to arrive with news that there was black smoke... or at last a man had been chosen?  I often and at length lament those days of yore, but today I am ever so grateful for the instant news updates and that little camera trained on the humble smoke stack of the Sistine Chapel.

Meanwhile, Expectamus novum papam nostrum.

12 March 2013

Smoke watch

Here we go.

All the meetings are over.
A Mass for the election of a Roman Pontiff has been said.
Prayers have been prayed.
An oath of secrecy has been sworn.
One hundred and fifteen men in red have been locked in to the Sistine Chapel to cast their votes to elect us a new Shepherd, a new Servant of Servants, a new Holy Father.

The end of the first day of the conclave has brought us one great billowing cloud of blackest black smoke, leaving no room for doubt or guessing: there was a vote and there was no clear nomination.

And so we wait yet another day. And the waiting is becoming hard. I want to know who he is. Who is the man who will guide the Church forward?

I remember what this felt like last time, and this is so very different.  Then, there was so much sorrow from the death of John Paul II, the only Pope I'd known.  But by his side for many many years was another man I loved and admired a great deal, Joseph, Cardinal Ratzinger. The disbelief and utter joy I felt when the announcement of his election was made was powerful. I couldn't believe it was true; it was so unlikely that a man who had served for so long and talked about retiring so often, a man we knew so well would sit in the Chair of Peter.

This time I don't know any of the Cardinals well at all, though I know there are good men among them. I will have to get to know the next Successor of Peter from scratch. I pray that I will love him without reserve or comparison. I pray that no matter what the secular media says of him or speculates of him, the Church will receive him with wide open hearts.

I don't envy him for the yoke about to be laid across his shoulders. I don't envy the Cardinal Electors for the task they have in finding him.

Come Holy Spirit.
Come white smoke!

10 March 2013

01 March 2013

A ha!

Today's a ha moment:

It has been a sad fact that stories about the undead in various incarnations (can the undead be incarnated?) - such as vampires, werewolves and zombies - are popular and infiltrating every genre of book. There are vampire detectives, detectives who hunt vampires, detective vampires falling in love, vampire spouses on the run from FBI agents from the future... nearly any possible permutation you could fathom, someone else has thunk it and published it, and somewhere people are reading it.

It soothes my heart somewhat to realize that another genre is growing in popularity and developing an expansive range of plot lines: "Inspirational Fiction". Mostly these have to do with the Amish community, usually featuring a beautiful woman wearing a long dress and apron on the cover - though the dresses are not really plain, and no cap covers her luxurious hair. Again, every permutation of plot can be found, but at least all the characters are fully in the 'not un-dead' category. There is no sex going on in shades of any colour, and whether solving mysteries or falling in love, God, faith, family, and community play a big role.

Take that, nasty vampires.